Part 6 out of 7
"'When move they on?' |'This sun | at noon
'T is said will see them march from Doune.'
'To-morrow then |makes| meeting stern.'"
160. Earn. That is, the district about Loch Earn and the river
of the same name flowing from the lake.
164. Shaggy glen. As already stated, Trosachs means bristling.
174. Stance. Station; a Scottish word.
177. Trusty targe. The MS. has "Highland targe."
197. Shifting like flashes, etc. That is, like the Northern
Lights. Cf. the Lay, ii. 86:
"And red and bright the streamers light
Were dancing in the glowing north.
. . . . . . .
He knew by the streamers that shot so bright
That spirits were riding the northern light."
The MS. reads:
"Thick as the flashes darted forth
By morrice-dancers of the north;
And saw at morn their |barges ride,
Close moored by the lone islet's side.
Since this rude race dare not abide
Upon their native mountain side,
'T is fit that Douglas should provide
For his dear child some safe abode,
And soon he comes to point the road."
207. No, Allan, etc. The MS. reads:
"No, Allan, no! His words so kind
Were but pretexts my fears to blind.
When in such solemn tone and grave
Douglas a parting blessing gave."
212. Fixed and high. Often misprinted "fixed on high."
215. Stroke. The MS. has "shock," and in the next line
"adamantine" for invulnerable.
223. Trowed. Trusted, believed. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. v. 2. 34:
"So much is more then [than] just to trow." See also Luke, xvii.
231. Cambus-kenneth's fane. Cambus-kenneth Abbey, about a mile
from Stirling, on the other side of the Forth. The massive tower
is now the only part remaining entire.
235. Friends'. Many recent eds. misprint "friend's."
250. Sooth. True. See on i. 476 above.
261. Merry it is, etc. Scott says: "This little fairy tale is
founded upon a very curious Danish ballad which occurs in the
Kaempe Viser, a collection of heroic songs first published in
1591, and reprinted in 1695, inscribed by Anders Sofrensen, the
collector and editor, to Sophia, Queen of Denmark."
The measure is the common ballad-metre, the basis of which is a
line of eight syllables followed by one of six, the even
syllables accented, with the alternate lines rhyming, so as to
form a four-line stanza. It is varied by extra unaccented
syllables, and by rhymes within the longer lines (both of which
modifications we have in 263 and 271), and by "double rhymes"
(like singing and ringing).
262. Mavis and merle. Thrush and blackbird.
267. Wold. Open country, as opposed to wood. Cf. Tennyson, In
Memoriam, 11: "Calm and deep peace on this high wold," etc. See
also 724 below.
274. Glaive. Broadsword. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. iv. 7. 38: "laying
both his hands upon his glave," etc. See also v. 253 below.
277. Pall. A rich fabric used for making palls, or mantles. Cf.
F. Q. i. 7. 16: "He gave her gold and purple pall to weare."
278. Wont. Were accustomed. See on i. 408 above.
282. 'Twas but, etc. The MS. reads:
"'Twas but a midnight chance;
For blindfold was the battle plied,
And fortune held the lance."
283. Darkling. In the dark; a poetical word. Cf. Milton, P. L.
"as the wakeful bird
Shakespeare, Lear, i. 4. 237: "So out went the candle, and we
were left darkling," etc. See also 711 below.
285. Vair. The fur of the squirrel. See Wb.
286. Sheen. See on i. 208 above.
291. Richard. Here accented on the final syllable. Such
license is not unusual in ballad poetry.
298. Woned. Dwelt. See on i. 408 above. Scott has the
following note here:
"In a long dissertation upon the Fairy Superstitions, published
in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, the most valuable part
of which was supplied by my learned and indefatigable friend, Dr.
John Leyden, most of the circumstances are collected which can
throw light upon the popular belief which even yet prevails
respecting them in Scotland. Dr. Grahame, author of an
entertaining work upon the Scenery of the Perthshire Highlands,
already frequently quoted, has recorded with great accuracy the
peculiar tenets held by the Highlanders on this topic, in the
vicinity of Loch Katrine. The learned author is inclined to
deduce the whole mythology from the Druidical system--an opinion
to which there are many objections.
'The Daoine Shi', or Men of Peace, of the Highlanders, though not
absolutely malevolent, are believed to be a peevish, repining
race of beings, who, possessing themselves but a scanty portion
of happiness, are supposed to envy mankind their more complete
and substantial enjoyments. They are supposed to enjoy, in their
subterraneous recesses, a sort of shadowy happiness,--a tinsel
grandeur; which, however, they would willingly exchange for the
more solid joys of mortality.
'They are believed to inhabit certain round grassy eminences,
where they celebrate their nocturnal festivities by the light of
the moon. About a mile beyond the source of the Forth, above Loch
Con, there is a placed called Coirshi'an, or the Cove of the Men
of Peace, which is still supposed to be a favorite place of their
residence. In the neighborhood are to be seen many round conical
eminences, particularly one near the head of the lake, by the
skirts of which many are still afraid to pass after sunset. It
is believed that if, on Hallow-eve, any person, alone, goes round
one of these hills nine times, towards the left hand
(sinistrorsum) a door shall open, by which he will be admitted
into their subterraneous abodes. Many, it is said, of mortal
race have been entertained in their secret recesses. There they
have been received into the most splendid apartments, and regaled
with the most sumptuous banquets and delicious wines. Their
females surpass the daughters of men in beauty. The seemingly
happy inhabitants pass their time in festivity, and in dancing to
notes of the softest music. But unhappy is the mortal who joins
in their joys or ventures to partake of their dainties. By this
indulgence he forfeits for ever the society of men, and is bound
down irrevocably to the condition of Shi'ich, or Man of Peace.'"
301. Why sounds, etc. "It has been already observed that
fairies, if not positively malevolent, are capricious, and easily
offended. They are, like other proprietors of forests, peculiarly
jealous of their rights of vert and venison. ... This jealousy
was also an attribute of the northern Duergar, or dwarfs; to many
of whose distinctions the fairies seem so have succeeded, if,
indeed, they are not the same class of beings. In the huge
metrical record of German chivalry entitled the Helden-Buch, Sir
Hildebrand, and the other heroes of whom it treats, are engaged
in one of their most desperate adventures, from a rash violation
of the rose-garden of an Elfin or Dwarf King.
"There are yet traces of a belief in this worst and most
malicious order of fairies among the Border wilds. Dr. Leyden
has introduced such a dwarf into his ballad entitled The Cout of
Keeldar, and has not forgot his characteristic detestation of the
'The third blast that young Keeldar blew,
Still stood the limber fern,
And a wee man, of swarthy hue,
Upstarted by a cairn.
'His russet weeds were brown as heath
That clothes the upland fell,
And the hair of his head was frizzy red
As the purple heather-bell.
'An urchin, clad in prickles red,
Clung cow'ring to his arm;
The hounds they howl'd, and backward fled,
As struck by fairy charm.
'"Why rises high the staghound's cry,
Where staghound ne'er should be?
Why wakes that horn the silent morn,
Without the leave of me?"--
'"Brown Dwarf, that o'er the muirland strays,
Thy name to Keeldar tell!"--
"The Brown Man of the Muirs, who stays
Beneath the heather-bell.
'"'T is sweet beneath the heather-bell
To live in autumn brown;
And sweet to hear the lav'rock's swell,
Far, far from tower and town.
'"But woe betide the shrilling horn,
The chase's surly cheer!
And ever that hunter is forlorn
Whom first at morn I hear."'
"The poetical picture here given of the Duergar corresponds
exactly with the following Northumberland legend, with which I
was lately favored by my learned and kind friend, Mr. Surtees of
Mainsforth, who has bestowed indefatigable labor upon the
antiquities of the English Border counties. The subject is in
itself so curious, that the length of the note will, I hope, be
'I have only one record to offer of the appearance of our
Northumbrian Duergar. My narratrix is Elizabeth Cockburn, and
old wife of Offerton, in this country, whose credit, in a case of
this kind, will not, I hope, be much impeached when I add that
she is by her dull neighbors supposed to be occasionally insane,
but by herself to be at those times endowed with a faculty of
seeing visions and spectral appearances which shun the common
'In the year before the great rebellion, two young men from
Newcastle were sporting on the high moors above Eldson, and after
pursuing their game several hours, sat down to dine in a green
glen near one of the mountain streams. After their repast, the
younger lad ran to the brook for water, and after stooping to
drink, was surprised, on lifting his head again, by the
appearance of a brown dwarf, who stood on a crag covered with
brackens, across the burn. This extraordinary personage did not
appear to be above half the stature of a common man, but was
uncommonly stout and broad-built, having the appearance of vast
strength. His dress was entirely brown, the color of the
brackens, and his head covered with frizzled red hair. His
countenance was expressive of the most savage ferocity, and his
eyes glared like a bull. It seems he addressed the young man
first, threatening him with his vengeance for having trespassed
on his demesnes, and asking him if he knew in whose presence he
stood? The youth replied that he now supposed him to be the lord
of the moors; that he offended through ignorance; and offered to
bring him the game he had killed. The dwarf was a little
mollified by this submission, but remarked that nothing could be
more offensive to him than such an offer, as he considered the
wild animals as his subjects, and never failed to avenge their
destruction. He condescended further to inform him that he was,
like himself, mortal, though of years far exceeding the lot of
common humanity, and (what I should not have had an idea of) that
he hoped for salvation. He never, he added, fed on anything that
had life, but lived in the summer on whortleberries, and in
winter on nuts and apples, of which he had great store in the
woods. Finally, he invited his new acquaintance to accompany him
home and partake his hospitality, an offer which the youth was on
the point of accepting, and was just going to spring across the
brook (which if he had done, says Elizabeth, the dwarf would
certainly have torn him in pieces), when his foot was arrested by
the voice of his companion, who thought he had tarried long, and
on looking round again, "the wee brown man was fled." The story
adds that he was imprudent enough to slight the admonition, and
to sport over the moors on his way homewards, but soon after his
return he fell into a lingering disorder, and died within the
302. Our moonlight circle's. The MS. has "Our fairy ringlet's."
306. The fairies' fatal green. "As the Daoine Shi', or Men of
Peace, wore green habits, they were supposed to take offence when
any mortals ventured to assume their favorite color. Indeed,
from some reason, which has been, perhaps originally a general
superstition, green is held in Scotland to be unlucky to
particular tribes and counties. The Caithness men, who hold this
belief, allege as a reason that their bands wore that color when
they were cut off at the battle of Flodden; and for the same
reason they avoid crossing the Ord on a Monday, being the day of
the week on which their ill-omened array set forth. Green is
also disliked by those of the name of Ogilvy; but more especially
it is held fatal to the whole clan of Grahame. It is remembered
of an aged gentleman of that name that when his horse fell in a
fox-chase, he accounted for it at once by observing that the
whipcord attached to his lash was of this unlucky color" (Scott).
308. Wert christened man. Scott says: "The Elves were supposed
greatly to envy the privileges acquired by Christian initiation,
and they gave to those mortals who had fallen into their power a
certain precedence, founded upon this advantageous distinction.
Tamlane, in the old ballad, describes his own rank in the fairy
'For I ride on a milk-white steed,
And aye nearest the town;
Because I was a christen'd knight,
They give me that renown.'"
312. The curse of the sleepless eye. Cf. Macbeth, i. 3. 19:
"Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid," etc.
313. Part. Depart. See on ii. 94 above.
322. Grisly. See on i. 704 above.
330. Kindly. Kindred, natural. See Wb., and cf. Shakespeare,
Much Ado, iv. 1. 75:
"that fatherly and kindly power
That you have in her," etc.
345. All is glistening show. "No fact respecting Fairy-land
seems to be better ascertained than the fantastic and illusory
nature of their apparent pleasure and splendour. It has been
already noticed in the former quotations from Dr. Grahame's
entertaining volume, and may be confirmed by the following
Highland tradition:--'A woman, whose new-born child had been
conveyed by them into their secret abodes, was also carried
thither herself, to remain, however, only until she should suckle
her infant. She one day, during this period, observed the
Shi'ichs busily employed in mixing various ingredients in a
boiling caldron, and as soon as the composition was prepared, she
remarked that they all carefully anointed their eyes with it,
laying the remainder aside for future use. In a moment when they
were all absent, she also attempted to anoint her eyes with the
precious drug, but had time to apply it to one eye only, when the
Daoine Shi' returned. But with that eye she was henceforth
enabled to see everything as it really passed in their secret
abodes; she saw every object, not as she hitherto had done, in
deceptive splendour and elegance, but in its genuine colours and
form. The gaudy ornaments of the apartment were reduced to the
walls of a gloomy cavern. Soon after, having discharged her
office, she was dismissed to her own home. Still, however, she
retained the faculty of seeing, with her medicated eye,
everything that was done, anywhere in her presence, by the
deceptive art of the order. One day, amidst a throng of people,
she chanced to observe the Shi'ich, or man of peace, in whose
possession she had left her child, though to every other eye
invisible. Prompted by maternal affection, she inadvertently
accosted him, and began to inquire after the welfare of her
child. The man of peace, astonished at being thus recognized by
one of mortal race, demanded how she had been enabled to discover
him. Awed by the terrible frown of his countenance, she
acknowledged what she had done. He spat in her eye, and
extinguished it for ever.'
"It is very remarkable that this story, translated by Dr. Grahame
from popular Gaelic tradition, is to be found in the Otia
Imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury. [FN #10] A work of great
interest might be compiled upon the original of popular fiction,
and the transmission of similar tales from age to age, and from
country to country. The mythology of one period would then appear
to pass into the romance of the next century, and that into the
nursery tale of the subsequent ages. Such an investigation,
while it went greatly to diminish our ideas of the richness of
human invention, would also show that these fictions, however
wild and childish, possess such charms for the populace as enable
them to penetrate into countries unconnected by manners and
language, and having no apparent intercourse to afford the means
of transmission. It would carry me far beyond my bounds to
produce instances of fable among nations who never borrowed from
each other any thing intrinsically worth learning. Indeed the
wide diffusion of popular factions may be compared to the
facility with which straws and feathers are dispersed abroad by
the wind, while valuable metals cannot be transported without
trouble and labour. There lives, I believe, only one gentleman
whose unlimited acquaintance with this subject might enable him
to do it justice,--I mean my friend Mr. Francis Douce, of the
British Museum, whose usual kindness will, I hope, pardon my
mentioning his name while on a subject so closely connected with
his extensive and curious researches" (Scott).
355. Snatched away, etc. "The subjects of Fairy-land were
recruited from the regions of humanity by a sort of crimping
system, which extended to adults as well as to infants. Many of
those who were in this world supposed to have discharged the debt
of nature, had only become denizens of the 'Londe of Faery'"
357. But wist I, etc. But if I knew, etc. Wist is the past
tense of wit (Matzner). See on i. 596 above.
371. Dunfermline. A town in Fifeshire, 17 miles northwest of
Edinburgh. It was long the residence of the Scottish kings, and
the old abbey, which succeeded Iona as the place of royal
sepulture, has been called "the Westminster of Scotland." Robert
Bruce was the last sovereign buried here.
374. Steepy. Cf. iii. 304 above.
376. Lincoln green. See on i. 464 above.
386. Morning-tide. Cf. iii. 478 above.
387. Bourne. Bound, limit. Cf. the quotation from Milton in
note on iii. 344 above.
392. Scathe. Harm, mischief. Spenser uses the word often; as
in F. Q. i. 12, 34: "To worke new woe and improvided scath," etc.
Cf. Shakespeare, K. John, ii. 1. 75: "To do offence and scathe in
Christendom;" Rich. III. i. 3. 317: "To pray for them that have
done scathe to us," etc.
393. Kern. See on 73 above.
395. Conjure. In prose we should have to write "conjure him."
403. Yet life I hold, etc. Cf. Julius Caesar, i. 2. 84:
"If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honor in one eye and death i' the other,
And I will look on both indifferently;
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honor more than I fear death."
411. Near Bochastle. The MS. has "By Cambusmore." See on i.
103 and 106 above.
413. Bower. Lodging, dwelling. See on i. 217 above.
415. Art. Affectation.
417. Before. That is, at his visit to the Isle. Cf. ii. 96
418. Was idly soothed, etc. The MS. has "Was idly fond thy
praise to hear."
421. Atone. Atone for. Shakespeare uses the verb transitively
several times, but in the sense of reconcile; as in Rich. II. i.
1. 202: "Since we cannot atone you," etc. Cf. v. 735 below.
433. If yet he is. If he is still living.
437. Train. Lure; as in Macbeth, iv. 3. 118:
By many of these trains hath sought to win me
Into his power."
Cf. the use of the verb (= allure, entice); as in C. of E. iii.
2. 45: "O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note;" Scott's
Lay, iii. 146: "He thought to train him to the wood," etc. James
was much given to gallantry, and many of his travels in disguise
were on adventures of this kind. See on i. 409 above and vi. 740
446. As death, etc. As if death, etc. See on ii. 56 above, and
cf. 459 below.
464. This ring. The MS. has "This ring of gold the monarch
471. Lordship. Landed estates.
473. Reck of. Care for; poetical.
474. Ellen, thy hand. The MS. has "Permit this hand;" and
"'Seek thou the King, and on thy knee
Put forth thy suit, whate'er it be,
As ransom of his pledge to me;
My name and this shall make thy way.'
He put the little signet on," etc.
492. He stammered, etc. The MS. reads:
"He stammered forth confused reply:
'Saxon, | I shouted but to scare
'Sir Knight, |
Yon raven from his dainty fare.'"
500. Fared. Went; the original sense of the word. Cf. farewell
(which was at first a friendly wish for "the parting guest"),
wayfarer, thoroughfare, etc.
506. In tattered weeds, etc. The MS. has "Wrapped in a tattered
mantle gray." Weeds is used in the old sense of garments. Cf.
Shakespeare, M. N. D. ii. 1. 256: "Weed wide enough to wrap a
fairy in;" Id. ii. 2. 71: "Weeds of Athens he doth wear;" Milton
L'Allegro, 120: "In weeds of peace," etc. See also v. 465 below.
523. In better time. That is, in better times or days; not in
the musical sense.
524. Chime. Accord, sing; a poetical use of the word. Cf. vi.
531. Allan. "The Allan and Devan are two beautiful streams--the
latter celebrated in the poetry of Burns--which descend from the
hills of Perthshire into the great carse, or plain, of Stirling"
548. 'T is Blanche, etc. The MS. has:
"'A Saxon born, a crazy maid--
T is Blanche of Devan,' Murdoch said."
552. Bridegroom. Here accented on the second syllable. In 682
below it has the ordinary accent.
555. 'Scapes. The word may be so printed here, but not in
Elizabethan poetry. We find it in prose of that day; as in
Bacon, Adv. of L. ii. 14. 9: "such as had scaped shipwreck." See
Wb., and cf. state and estate, etc.
559. Pitched a bar. That is, in athletic contests. Cf. v. 648
562. See the gay pennons, etc. The MS. reads:
"With thee these pennons will I share,
Then seek my true love through the air;
But I'll not lend that savage groom,
To break his fall, one downy plume!
Deep, deep, mid yon disjointed stones,
The wolf shall batten his bones."
567. Batten. Fatten; as in Hamlet, iii. 4. 67: "Batten on this
moor." Milton uses it transitively in Lycidas, 29: "Battening
our flocks with the fresh dews of night."
575. The Lincoln green. "The Lowland garb" (520). Cf. also 376
578. For O my sweet William, etc. The MS. reads:
"Sweet William was a woodsman true,
He stole poor Blanche's heart away;
His coat was of the forest hue,
And sweet he sung the Lowland Lay."
590. The toils are pitched. The nets are set. Cf. Shakespeare,
L. L. L., iv. 3. 2: "they have pitched a toil," etc. "The
meaning is obvious. The hunters are Clan-Alpine's men; the stag
of ten is Fitz-James; the wounded doe is herself" (Taylor).
594. A stag of ten. "Having ten branches on his antlers"
(Scott). Nares says that antlers is an error here, the word
meaning "the short brow horns, not the branched horns;" but see
Wb. Cf. Jonson, Sad Shepherd, i. 2:
"Aud a hart of ten,
Madam, I trow to be;"
and Massinger, Emperor of the East, iv. 2:
"He'll make you royal sport; he is a deer
Of ten, at least."
595. Sturdily. As Taylor notes, the "triple rhymes" in this
song are "of a very loose kind."
609. Blanche's song. Jeffrey says: "No machinery can be
conceived more clumsy for effecting the deliverance of a
distressed hero than the introduction of a mad woman, who,
without knowing or caring about the wanderer, warns him by a song
to take care of the ambush that was set for him. The maniacs or
poetry have indeed had a prescriptive right to be musical, since
the days of Ophelia downwards; but it is rather a rash extension
of this privilege to make them sing good sense, and to make
sensible people be guided by them."
To this Taylor well replied: "This criticism seems unjust. The
cruelty of Roderick's raids in the Lowlands has already been
hinted at, and the sight of the Lowland dress might well stir
associations in the poor girl's mind which would lead her to look
to the knight for help and protection and also to warn him of his
danger. It is plain, from Murdoch's surprise, that her being out
of her captors' sight is looked on as dangerous, from which we
may infer that she is not entirely crazed. Her song is not the
only hint that Fitz-James follows. His suspicions had already
twice been excited, so that the episode seems natural enough. As
giving a distinct personal ground for the combat in canto v., it
serves the poet's purpose still further. Without it, we should
sympathize too much with the robber chief, who thinks that
'plundering Lowland field and fold is naught but retribution
true;' but the sight of this sad fruit of his raids wins us back
to the cause of law and order."
614. Forth at full speed, etc. The MS. reads:
"Forth at full speed the Clansman went,
But in his race his bow he bent,
Halted--and back an arrow sent."
617. Thrilled. Quivered.
627. Thine ambushed kin, etc. The MS. transposes this line and
the next, and goes on thus:
"Resistless as the lightning's flame,
The thrust betwixt his shoulder came."
Just below it reads:
"The o'er him hung, with falcon eye,
And grimly smiled to see him die."
642. Daggled. Wet, soaked. Cf. the Lay, i. 316: "Was daggled
by the dashing spray."
649. Helpless. The MS. has "guiltless."
657. Shred. Cut off; a sense now obsolete. Cf. Withal's
Dictionary (ed. 1608): "The superfluous and wast sprigs of vines,
being cut and shreaded off are called sarmenta."
659. My brain, etc. The MS. has "But now, my champion, it shall
672. Wreak. Avenge. Cf. Shakespeare, R. and J. iii. 5. 102:
"To wreak the love I bore my cousin
Upon his body that hath slaughter'd him;"
Spenser, F. Q. ii. 3. 13: "to wreak so foule despight;" etc.
679. God, in my need, etc. The MS. reads:
"God, in my need, to me be true,
As I wreak this on Roderick Dhu."
686. Favor. The token of the next line; referring to the
knightly custom of wearing such a gift of lady-love or mistress.
Cf. Rich. II. v. 3. 18:
"And from the common'st creature pluck a glove,
And wear it as a favour," etc.
See also the Lay, iv. 334:
"With favor in his crest, or glove,
Memorial of his layde-love."
691. At bay. See on i. 133 above; and for the dangerous foe,
cf. the note on i. 137.
698. Couched him. Lay down. See on i. 142 above.
700. Rash adventures. See on 437 above.
701. Must prove. The 1st ed. has "will prove."
705. Bands at Doune. Cf. 150 above.
711. Darkling. See on 283 above.
722. Not the summer solstice. Not even the heat of the summer.
724. Wold. See on 267 above.
731. Beside its embers, etc. The MS. reads:
"By the decaying flame was laid
A warrior in his Highland plaid."
For the rhyme here, see on i. 363 above. Cf. 764 below.
741. I dare, etc. The MS. reads:
"I dare! to him and all the swarm
He brings to aid his murderous arm."
746. Slip. A hunter's term for letting loose the greyhounds
from the slips, or nooses, by which they were held until sent
after the game. Tubervile (Art of Venerie) says: "We let slip a
greyhound, and we cast off a hound." Cf. Shakespeare, Cor. i. 6.
"Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,
Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
To let him slip at will;"
and for the noun, Hen. V. iii. 1. 31:
"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start."
747. Who ever recked, etc. Scott says: "St. John actually used
this illustration when engaged in confuting the plea of law
proposed for the unfortunate Earl of Strafford: 'It was true, we
gave laws to hares and deer, because they are beasts of chase;
but it was never accounted either cruelty or foul play to knock
foxes or wolves on the head as they can be found, because they
are beasts of prey. In a word, the law and humanity were alike:
the one being more fallacious, and the other more barbarous, than
in any age had been vented in such an authority' (Clarendon's
History of the Rebellion)."
762. The hardened flesh of mountain deer. "The Scottish
Highlanders, in former times, had a concise mode of cooking their
venison, or rather of dispensing with cooking it, which appears
greatly to have surprised the French, whom chance made acquainted
with it. The Vidame of Chartres, when a hostage in England,
during the reign of Edward VI., was permitted to travel into
Scotland, and penetrated as far as to the remote Highlands (au
fin fond des Sauvages). After a great hunting-party, at which a
most wonderful quantity of game was destroyed, he saw these
Scottish savages devour a part of their venison raw, without any
farther preparation than compressing it between two batons of
wood, so as to force out the blood, and render it extremely hard.
This they reckoned a great delicacy; and when the Vidame partook
of it, his compliance with their taste rendered him extremely
popular. This curious trait of manners was communicated by Mons.
de Montmorency, a great friend of the Vidame, to Brantome, by
whom it is recorded in Vies des Hommes Illustres, lxxxix. 14. ...
After all, it may be doubted whether la chaire nostree, for so
the French called the venison thus summarily prepared, was
anything more than a mere rude kind of deer ham" (Scott).
772. A mighty augury. That of the Taghairm.
777. Not for clan. The 1st ed. has "nor for clan."
785. Stock and stone. Cf. i. 130 above.
787. Coilantogle's ford. On the Teith just below its exit from
791. The bittern's cry. See on i. 642 above.
797. And slept, etc. The MS. has "streak" and "lake" for beam
1. Fair as the earliest beam, etc. "This introductory stanza is
well worked in with the story. The morning beam 'lights the
fearful path on mountain side' which the two heroes of the poem
are to traverse, and the comparison which it suggest enlists our
sympathy for Roderick, who is to be the victim of defeat"
5. And lights, etc. The MS. has "And lights the fearful way
along its side."
10. Sheen. See on i. 208.
14. The dappled sky. Cf. Milton, L'Allegro, 44: "Till the
dappled dawn doth rise;" and Shakespeare, Much Ado, v. 3. 25:
"and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of gray."
15. By. The word is used for the rhyme, but perhaps gives the
idea of a hurry--muttered off the prayers.
16. Steal. The word here is expressive of haste.
18. Gael. "The Scottish Highlander calls himself, Gael, or
Gaul, and terms the Lowlanders Sassenach, or Saxons" (Scott).
22. Wildering. Bewildering. See on i. 274 above. For winded,
see on i. 500.
32. Bursting through. That is, as it burst through--"a piece of
loose writing" (Taylor).
36. At length, etc. The MS. reads:
"At length they paced the mountain's side,
And saw beneath the waters wide."
44. The rugged mountain's scanty cloak, etc. The MS. reads:
"The rugged mountain's stunted screen
Was dwarfish | shrubs | with cliffs between."
| copse |
46. Shingles. Gravel or pebbles. See on iii. 171 above.
Taylor says: "Note how the details of this description are used
in stanza ix.--shingles, bracken, broom."
51. Dank. Damp, moist. Cf. Shakespeare, R. and J. ii. 3. 6:
"and night's dank dew;" Milton, Sonnet to Mr. Lawrence: "Now that
the fields are dank, and ways are mire," etc.
64. Sooth to tell. To tell the truth. See on i. 476 above.
Sooth to say, to say sooth, in sooth, in good sooth, etc., are
common in old writers. Cf. the Lay, introd. 57: "the sooth to
65. To claim its aid. The MS. has "to draw my blade."
78. Enough. Suffice it that.
81. A knight's free footsteps, etc. The MS. reads:
"My errant footsteps | far and wide."
A Knight's bold wanderings |
86. I urge thee not. The MS. has "I ask it not," and in 95
"hall" for Doune.
106. Outlawed. The 1st ed. has "exiled."
108. In the Regent's court, etc. Cf. ii. 221 above.
124. Albany. The Regent of 108 above. He was the son of a
younger brother of James III., who had been driven into exile by
his brother's attempts on his life. He took refuge in France,
where his son was made Lord High Admiral. On the death of James
IV. he was called home by the Scottish nobles to assume the
126. Mewed. Shut up. The word seems originally to have meant
to moult, or shed the feathers; and as a noun, "the place,
whether it be abroad or in the house, in which the hawk is put
during the time she casts, or doth change her feathers" (R.
Holmes's Academy of Armory, etc.). Spenser has both noun and
verb; as in F. Q. i. 5. 20: "forth comming from her darksome
mew;" and Id. ii. 3. 34: "In which vaine Braggadocchio was mewd."
Milton uses the verb in the grand description of Liberty in Of
Unlicensed Printing: "Methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her
mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday
beam." In England the noun is still used in the plural to denote
a stable for horses. Pennant says that the royal stables in
London were called mews from the fact that the buildings were
formerly used for keeping the king's falcons.
Scott says here: "There is scarcely a more disorderly period of
Scottish history than that which succeeded the battle of Flodden,
and occupied the minority of James V. Feuds of ancient standing
broke out like old wounds, and every quarrel among the
independent nobility, which occurred daily, and almost hourly,
gave rise to fresh bloodshed. 'There arose,' said Pitscottie,
'great trouble and deadly feuds in many parts of Scotland, both
in the north and west parts. The Master of Forbes, in the north,
slew the Laird of Meldrum, under tryst' (that is, at an agreed
and secure meeting). 'Likewise, the Laird of Drummelzier slew the
Lord Fleming at the hawking; and, likewise, there was slaughter
among many other great lords.' Nor was the matter much mended
under the government of the Earl of Angus; for though he caused
the King to ride through all Scotland, 'under the pretence and
color of justice, to punish thief and traitor, none were found
greater than were in their own company. And none at that time
durst strive with a Douglas, nor yet a Douglas's man; for if they
would, they got the worst. Therefore none durst plainzie of no
extortion, theft, reiff, nor slaughter done to them by the
Douglases or their men; in that cause they were not heard so long
as the Douglas had the court in guiding."
150. Shingles. Cf. 46 above.
152. As to your sires. The target and claymore were the weapons
of the Ancient Britons. Taylor quotes Tacitus, Agricola:
"ingentibus gladiis et brevibus cetris."
161. Rears. Raises. The word was formerly less restricted in
its application than at present. Cf. Shakespeare's "rear my
hand" (Temp. ii. 1. 295, J. C. iii. 1. 30), "rear the higher our
opinion" (A. and C. ii. 1. 35), etc.; Milton's "he rear'd me,"
that is, lifted me up (P. L. viii. 316), "rear'd her lank head"
(Comus, 836), etc. Spenser uses it in the sense of take away
(like the cant lift = steal); as in F. Q. iii. 10. 12:
"She to his closet went, where all his wealth
Lay hid; thereof she countlesse summes did reare;"
and Id. iii. 10. 53:
"like as a Beare,
That creeping close among the hives to reare
An hony-combe," etc.
Wb. does not give this sense, which we believe is found only in
165. Shall with strong hand, etc. Scott has the following note
here: "The ancient Highlanders verified in their practice the
lines of Gray (Fragment on the Alliance of Education and
'An iron race the mountain cliffs maintain,
Foes to the gentler genius of the plain;
For where unwearied sinews must be found,
With side-long plough to quell the flinty ground,
To turn the torrent's swift descending flood,
To tame the savage rushing from the wood,
What wonder if, to patient valor train'd,
They guard with spirit what by strength they gain'd;
And while their rocky ramparts round they see
The rough abode of want and liberty
(As lawless force from confidence will grow),
Insult the plenty of the vales below?'
"So far, indeed, was a Creagh, or foray, from being held
disgraceful, that a young chief was always expected to show his
talents for command so soon as he assumed it, by leading his clan
on a successful enterprise of this nature, either against a
neighboring sept, for which constant feuds usually furnished an
apology, or against the Sassencach, Saxons, or Lowlanders, for
which no apology was necessary. The Gael, great traditional
historians, never forgot that the Lowlands had, at some remote
period, been the property of their Celtic forefathers, which
furnished an ample vindication of all the ravages that they could
make on the unfortunate districts which lay within their reach.
Sir James Grant of Grant is in possession of a letter of apology
from Cameron of Lochiel, whose men had committed some depredation
upon a farm called Moines, occupied by one of the Grants.
Lochiel assures Grant that, however the mistake had happened, his
instructions were precise, that the party should foray the
province of Moray (a Lowland district), where, as he coolly
observes, 'all men take their prey.'"
177. Good faith. In good faith, bona fide; as often in old
192. Bower. See on i. 217 above.
195. This rebel Chieftain, etc. The MS. reads:
"This dark Sir Roderick | and his band;"
This savage Chieftain |
"From copse to copse the signal flew.
Instant, through copse and crags, arose;"
and in 205 "shoots" for sends.
208. And every tuft, etc. The MS. reads:
"And each lone tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warrior armed for strife.
That whistle manned the lonely glen
With full five hundred armed men;"
and below (214):
"All silent, too, they stood, and still,
Watching their leader's beck and will,
While forward step and weapon show
They long to rush upon the foe,
Like the loose crag whose tottering mass
Hung threatening o'er the hollow pass."
219. Verge. See on iv. 83 above.
230. Manned himself. Cf. Addison's "manned his soul," quoted by
238. The stern joy, etc. Cf. iv. 155 above.
239. Foeman. The reading of the 1st ed. and that of 1821;
"foeman" in many recent eds.
246. Their mother Earth, etc. Alluding to the old myths of the
earth-born Giants and of Cadmus.
252. Glinted. Flashed; a Scottish word. Jamieson defines glint
"to glance, gleam, or pass suddenly like a flash of lightning."
253. Glaive. See on iv. 274 above. The jack was "a horseman's
defensive upper garment, quilted and covered with strong leather"
(Nares). It was sometimes also strengthened with iron rings,
plates, or bosses. Cf. Lyly, Euphues: "jackes quilted, and
covered over with leather, fustian, or canvas, over thick plates
of yron that are sowed to the same." Scott, in the Eve of St.
John, speaks of "his plate-jack." For spear the 1st ed. has
267. One valiant hand. The MS. has "one brave man's hand."
268. Lay. Were staked.
270. I only meant, etc. Scott says: "This incident, like some
other passages in the poem, illustrative of the character of the
ancient Gael, is not imaginary, but borrowed from fact. The
Highlanders, with the inconsistency of most nations in the same
state, were alternately capable of great exertions of generosity
and of cruel revenge and perfidy. The following story I can only
quote from tradition, but with such an assurance from those by
whom it was communicated as permits me little doubt of its
authenticity. Early in the last century, John Gunn, a noted
Cateran, or Highland robber, infested Inverness-shire, and levied
black-mail up to the walls of the provincial capital. A garrison
was then maintained in the castle of that town, and their pay
(country banks being unknown) was usually transmitted in specie
under the guard of a small escort. It chanced that the officer
who commanded this little party was unexpectedly obliged to halt,
about thirty miles from Inverness, at a miserable inn. About
nightfall, a stranger in the Highland dress, and of very
prepossessing appearance, entered the same house. Separate
accommodations being impossible, the Englishman offered the
newly-arrived guest a part of his supper, which was accepted with
reluctance. By the conversation he found his new acquaintance
knew well all the passes of the country, which induced him
eagerly to request his company on the ensuing morning. He
neither disguised his business and charge, nor his apprehensions
of that celebrated freebooter, John Gunn. The Highlander
hesitated a moment, and then frankly consented to be his guide.
Forth they set in the morning; and in travelling through a
solitary and dreary glen, the discourse again turned on John
Gunn. 'Would you like to see him?' said the guide; and without
waiting an answer to this alarming question, he whistled, and the
English officer, with his small party, were surrounded by a body
of Highlanders, whose numbers put resistance out of question, and
who were all well armed. 'Stranger,' resumed the guide, 'I am
that very John Gunn by whom you feared to be intercepted, and not
without cause; for I came to the inn last night with the express
purpose of learning your route, that I and my followers might
ease you of your charge by the road. But I am incapable of
betraying the trust you reposed in me, and having convinced you
that you were in my power, I can only dismiss you unplundered and
uninjured.' He then gave the officer directions for his journey,
and disappeared with his party as suddenly as they had presented
277. Flood. Flow; used for the sake of the rhyme, like drew
just below. Wont = wonted.
286. And still, etc. The MS. reads:
"And still, from copse and heather bush,
Fancy saw spear and broadsword ruch."
298. Three mighty lakes. Katrine, Achray, and Vennachar. Scott
says: "The torrent which discharges itself from Loch Vennachar,
the lowest and eastmost of the three lakes which form the scenery
adjoining to the Trosachs, sweeps through a flat and extensive
moor, called Bochastle. Upon a small eminence called the Dun of
Bochastle, and indeed on the plain itself, are some intrenchments
which have been thought Roman. There is adjacent to Callander a
sweet villa, the residence of Captain Fairfoul, entitled the
301. Mouldering. The MS. has "martial."
309. This murderous Chief, etc. Cf. 106 above.
315. All vantageless, etc. Scott says: "The duellists of former
times did not always stand upon those punctilios respecting
equality of arms, which are not judged essential to fair combat.
It is true that in formal combats in the lists the parties were,
by the judges of the field, put as nearly as possible in the same
circumstances. But in private duel it was often otherwise. In
that desperate combat which was fought between Quelus, a minion
of Henry III. of France, and Antraguet, with two seconds on each
side, from which only two persons escaped alive, Quelus
complained that his antagonist had over him the advantage of a
poniard which he used in parrying, while his left hand, which he
was forced to employ for the same purpose, was cruelly mangled.
When he charged Antraguet with this odds, 'Thou hast done wrong,'
answered he, 'to forget thy dagger at home. We are here to
fight, and not to settle punctilios of arms.' In a similar duel,
however, a young brother of the house of Aubayne, in Angoulesme,
behaved more generously on the like occasion, and at once threw
away his dagger when his enemy challenged it as an undue
advantage. But at this time hardly anything can be conceived
more horridly brutal and savage than the mode in which private
quarrels were conducted in France. Those who were most jealous
of the point of honor, and acquired the title of Ruffines, did
not scruple to take advantage of strength, numbers, surprise, and
arms, to accomplish their revenge."
329. By prophet bred, etc. See iii. 91 fol. above; and for the
expression cf. iv. 124.
347. Dark lightning, etc. The MS. has "In lightning flashed the
Chief's dark eye," which might serve as a comment on Dark
349. Kern. See on iv. 73 above.
351. He yields not, etc. The MS. has "He stoops not, he, to
James nor Fate."
356. Carpet knight. Cf. Shakespeare, T. N. iii. 4. 257: "He is
knight, dubbed with unhatched rapier and on carpet
364. Ruth. Pity; obsolete, though we still have ruthless. Cf.
Spenser, F. Q. i. 1. 50:
"to stirre up gentle ruth
Both for her noble blood, and for her tender youth;"
Milton, Lycidas, 163: "Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with
380. His targe. Scott says: "A round target of light wood,
covered with strong leather and studded with brass or iron, was a
necessary part of a Highlander's equipment. In charging regular
troops they received the thrust of the bayonet in this buckler,
twisted it aside, and used the broadsword against the encumbered
soldier. In the civil war of 1745 most of the front rank of the
clans were thus armed; and Captain Grose (Military Antiquities,
vol. i. p. 164) informs us that in 1747 the privates of the 42d
regiment, then in Flanders, were for the most part permitted to
carry targets. A person thus armed had a considerable advantage
in private fray. Among verses between Swift and Sheridan, lately
published by Dr. Barrett, there is an account of such an
encounter, in which the circumstances, and consequently the
relative superiority of the combatants, are precisely the reverse
of those in the text:
'A Highlander once fought a Frenchman at Margate,
The weapons, a rapier, a backsword, and target;
Brisk Monsieur advanced as fast as he could,
But all his fine pushes were caught in the wood,
And Sawny, with backsword, did slash him and nick him,
While t'other, enraged that he could not once prick him,
Cried, "Sirrah, you rascal, you son of a whore,
Me will fight you, be gar! if you'll come from your door."'"
383. Trained abroad. That is, in France. See on i. 163 above.
Scott says here: "The use of defensive armor, and particularly of
the buckler, or target, was general in Queen Elizabeth's time,
although that of the single rapier seems to have been
occasionally practised much earlier (see Douce's Illustrations of
Shakespeare, vol. ii. p. 61). Rowland Yorke, however, who
betrayed the fort of Zutphen to the Spaniards, for which good
service he was afterwards poisoned by them, is said to have been
the first who brought the rapier-fight into general use. Fuller,
speaking of the swash-bucklers, or bullies, of Queen Elizabeth's
time, says, 'West Smithfield was formerly called Ruffian's Hall,
where such men usually met, casually or otherwise, to try
masteries with sword or buckler. More were frightened than hurt,
more hurt than killed therewith, it being accounted unmanly to
strike beneath the knee. But since that desperate traitor Rowland
Yorke first introduced thrusting with rapiers, sword and buckler
are disused.' In The Two Angry Women of Abingdon, a comedy,
printed in 1599, we have a pathetic complaint: 'Sword and buckler
fight begins to grow out of use. I am sorry for it; I shall
never see good manhood again. If it be once gone, this poking
fight of rapier and dagger will come up; then a tall man and a
good sword and buckler man will be spitted like a cat or rabbit.'
But the rapier had upon the Continent long superseded, in private
duel, the use of sword and shield. The masters of the noble
science of defence were chiefly Italians. They made great mystery
of their art and mode of instruction, never suffered any person
to be present but the scholar who was to be taught, and even
examined closets, beds, and other places of possible concealment.
Their lessons often gave the most treacherous advantages; for the
challenged, having the right to choose his weapons, frequently
selected some strange, unusual, and inconvenient kind of arms,
the use of which he practised under these instructors, and thus
killed at his ease his antagonist, to whom it was presented for
the first time on the field of battle. See Brantome's Discourse
on Duels, and the work on the same subject, 'si gentement ecrit,'
by the venerable Dr. Paris de Puteo. The Highlanders continued
to use broadsword and target until disarmed after the affair of
385. Ward. Posture of defence; a technical term in fencing.
Cf. Falstaff's "Thou knowest my old ward" (1 Hen. IV. ii. 4.
387. While less expert, etc. The MS. reads:
"Not Roderick thus, though stronger far,
More tall, and more inured to war."
401, 402. And backward, etc. This couplet is not in the MS.;
and the same is true of 405, 406.
406. Let recreant yield, etc. The MS. has "Yield they alone who
fear to die." Scott says: "I have not ventured to render this
duel so savagely desperate as that of the celebrated Sir Ewan of
Lochiel, chief of the clan Cameron, called, from his sable
complexion, Ewan Dhu. He was the last man in Scotland who
maintained the royal cause during the great Civil War, and his
constant incursions rendered him a very unpleasant neighbor to
the republican garrison at Inverlochy, now Fort William. The
governor of the fort detached a party of three hundred men to lay
waste Lochiel's possessions and cut down his trees; by in a
sudden and desperate attack made upon them by the chieftain with
very inferior numbers, they were almost all cut to pieces. The
skirmish is detailed in a curious memoir of Sir Ewan's life,
printed in the Appendix of Pennant's Scottish Tour (vol. i. p.
'In this engagement Lochiel himself had several wonderful
escapes. In the retreat of the English, one of the strongest and
bravest of the officers retired behind a bush, when he observed
Lochiel pursuing, and seeing him unaccompanied with any, he leapt
out and thought him his prey. They met one another with equal
fury. The combat was long and doubtful: the English gentleman had
by far the advantage in strength and size; but Lochiel, exceeding
him in nimbleness and agility, in the end tript the sword out of
his hand; they closed and wrestled, till both fell to the ground
in each other's arms. The English officer got above Lochiel, and
pressed him hard, but stretching forth his neck, by attempting to
disengage himself, Lochiel, who by this time had his hands at
liberty, with his left hand seized him by the collar, and jumping
at his extended throat, he bit it with his teeth quite through,
and kept such a hold of his grasp, that he brought away his
mouthful; this, he said, was the sweetest bit he ever had in his
435. Unwounded, etc. The MS. reads:
"Panting and breathless on the sands,
But all unwounded, now he stands;"
and just below:
"Redeemed, unhoped, from deadly strife:
Next on his foe his look he | cast,
Whose every breath appeared his last."
447. Unbonneted. Past tense, not participle.
449. Then faint afar. The MS. has "Faint and afar."
452. Lincoln green. See on i. 464 above.
462. We destined, etc. Cf. iv. 411 above.
465. Weed. Dress. See on iv. 506 above.
466. Boune. Ready. See on iv. 36 above.
479. Steel. Spur. Cf. i. 115 above.
485. Carhonie's hill. About a mile from the lower end of Loch
486. Pricked. Spurred. It came to mean ride; as in F. Q. i. 1.
1: "A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine," etc. Cf. 754
490. Torry and Lendrick. These places, like Deanstown, Doune
(see on iv. 19 above), Blair-Drummond, Ochtertyre, and Kier, are
all on the banks of the Teith, between Callander and Stirling.
Lockhart says: "It may be worth noting that the poet marks the
progress of the King by naming in succession places familiar and
dear to his own early recollections--Blair-Drummond, the seat of
the Homes of Kaimes; Kier, that of the principal family of the
name of Stirling; Ochtertyre, that of John Ramsay, the well-known
antiquary, and correspondent of Burns; and Craigforth, that of
the Callenders of Craigforth, almost under the walls of Stirling
Castle;--all hospitable roofs, under which he had spent many of
his younger days."
494. Sees the hoofs strike fire. The MS. has "Saw their hoofs
496. They mark, etc. The to of the infinitive is omitted in
glance, as if mark had been see.
498. Sweltering. The 1st ed. has "swelling."
506. Flinty. The MS. has "steepy;" and in 514 "gains" for
525. Saint Serle. "The King himself is in such distress for a
rhyme as to be obliged to apply to one of the obscurest saints in
the calendar" (Jeffrey). The MS. has "by my word," and "Lord"
for Earl in the next line.
534. Cambus-kenneth's abbey gray. See on iv. 231 above.
547. By. Gone by, past.
551. O sad and fatal mound! "An eminence on the northeast of
the Castle, where state criminals were executed. Stirling was
often polluted with noble blood. It is thus apostrophized by J.
Heu quotis procerum sanguine tinxit humum!
Hoc uno infelix, et felix cetera; nusquam
Laetior aut caeli frons geniusve soli.'
"The fate of William, eighth Earl of Douglas, whom James II.
stabbed in Stirling Castle with his own hand, and while under his
royal safe-conduct, is familiar to all who read Scottish history.
Murdack Duke of Albany, Duncan Earl of Lennox, his father-in-law,
and his two sons, Walter and Alexander Stuart, were executed at
Stirling, in 1425. They were beheaded upon an eminence without
the Castle walls, but making part of the same hill, from whence
they could behold their strong Castle of Doune and their
extensive possessions. This 'heading hill,' as it was sometimes
termed, bears commonly the less terrible name of Hurly-hacket,
from its having been the scene of a courtly amusement alluded to
by Sir David Lindsay, who says of the pastimes in which the young
King was engaged:
'Some harled him to the Hurly-hacket;'
which consisted in sliding--in some sort of chair, it may be
supposed--from top to bottom of a smooth bank. The boys of
Edinburgh, about twenty years ago, used to play at the hurly-
hacket on the Calton Hill, using for their seat a horse's skull"
558. The Franciscan steeple. The Greyfriars Church, built by
James IV. in 1594 on the hill not far from the Castle, is still
standing, and has been recently restored. Here James VI. was
crowned on the 29th of July, 1567, and John Knox preached the
562. Morrice-dancers. The morrice or morris dance was probably
of Spanish (or Moorish, as the name implies) origin, but after
its introduction into England it became blended with the Mayday
games. A full historical account of it is given in Douce's
Illustrations of Shakespeare. The characters in it in early
times were the following: "Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck,
Maid Marian (Robin's mistress and the queen or lady of the May),
the fool, the piper, and several morris-dancers habited, as it
appears, in various modes. Afterwards a hobby-horse and a dragon
were added" (Douce). For a description of the game, see Scott's
Abbot, ch. xiv., and the author's note. See also on 614 below.
564. The burghers hold their sports to-day. Scott has the
following note here:
"Every burgh of Scotland of the least note, but more especially
the considerable towns, had their solemn play, or festival, when
feats of archery were exhibited, and prized distributed to those
who excelled in wrestling, hurling the bar, and the other
gymnastic exercises of the period. Stirling, a usual place of
royal residence, was not likely to be deficient in pomp upon such
occasions, especially since James V. was very partial to them.
His ready participation in these popular amusements was one cause
of his acquiring the title of the King of the Commons, or Rex
Plebeiorum, as Lesley has latinized it. The usual prize to the
best shooter was a silver arrow. Such a one is preserved at
Selkirk and at Peebles. At Dumfries a silver gun was
substituted, and the contention transferred to firearms. The
ceremony, as there performed, is the subject of an excellent
Scottish poem, by Mr. John Mayne, entitled the Siller Gun 1808,
which surpasses the efforts of Fergusson, and comes near those of
"Of James's attachment to archery, Pitscottie, the faithful
though rude recorder of the manners of that period, has given us
'In this year there came an ambassador out of England, named Lord
William Howard, with a bishop with him, with many other
gentlemen, to the number of threescore horse, which were all able
men and waled [picked] men for all kind of games and pastimes,
shooting, louping, running, wrestling, and casting of the stone,
but they were well sayed [essayed or tried] ere they past out of
Scotland, and that by their own provocation; but ever they tint:
till at last, the Queen of Scotland, the King's mother, favoured
the English-men, because she was the King of England's sister;
and therefore she took an enterprise of archery upon the English-
men's hands, contrary her son the King, and any six in Scotland
that he would wale, either gentlemen or yeomen, that the English-
men should shoot against them either at pricks, revers, or buts,
as the Scots pleased.
'The King, hearing this of his mother, was content, and gart her
pawn a hundred crowns and a tun of wine upon the English-men's
hands; and he incontinent laid down as much for the Scottish-men.
The field and ground was chosen in St. Andrews, and three landed
men and three yeomen chosen to shoot against the English-men,--to
wit, David Wemyss of that ilk, David Arnot of that ilk, and Mr.
John Wedderburn, vicar of Dundee; the yeomen, John Thomson, in
Leith, Steven Taburner, with a piper, called Alexander Bailie;
they shot very near, and warred [worsted] the English-men of the
enterprise, and wan the hundred crowns and the tun of wine, which
made the King very merry that his men wan the victory.'"
571. Play my prize. The same expression occurs in Shakespeare,
T. A. i. 1. 399: "You have play'd your prize." Cf. also M. of V.
iii. 2. 142: "Like one of two contending in a prize," etc.
575. The Castle gates. The main entrance to the Castle, not the
postern gate of 532 above.
580. Fair Scotland's King, etc. The MS. reads:
"King James and all his nobles went ...
Ever the King was bending low
To his white jennet's saddle-bow,
Doffing his cap to burgher dame,
Who smiling blushed for pride and shame."
601. There nobles, etc. The MS. reads:
"Nobles who mourned their power restrained,
And the poor burgher's joys disdained;
Dark chief, who, hostage for his clan,
Was from his home a banished man,
Who thought upon his own gray tower,
The waving woods, his feudal bower,
And deemed himself a shameful part
Of pageant that he cursed in heart."
611. With bell at heel. Douce says that "the number of bells
round each leg of the morris-dancers amounted from twenty to
forty;" but Scott, in a note to The Fair Maid of Perth, speaks of
252 small bells in sets of twelve at regular musical intervals.
612. Their mazes wheel. The MS. adds:
"With awkward stride there city groom
Would part of fabled knight assume."
614. Robin Hood. Scott says here: "The exhibition of this
renowned outlaw and his band was a favorite frolic at such
festivals as we are describing. This sporting, in which kings
did not disdain to be actors, was prohibited in Scotland upon the
Reformation, by a statute of the 6th Parliament of Queen Mary, c.
61, A. D. 1555, which ordered, under heavy penalties that 'na
manner of person be chosen Robert Hude, nor Little John, Abbot of
Unreason, Queen of May, nor otherwise.' But in 1561, the 'rascal
multitude,' says John Knox, 'were stirred up to make a Robin
Hude, whilk enormity was of mony years left and damned by statute
and act of Paliament; yet would they not be forbidden.'
Accordingly they raised a very serious tumult, and at length made
prisoners the magistrates who endeavored to suppress it, and
would not release them till they extorted a formal promise that
no one should be punished for his share of the disturbance. It
would seem, from the complaints of the General Assembly of the
Kirk, that these profane festivities were continued down to 1592
(Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 414). Bold Robin was, to say the
least, equally successful in maintaining his ground against the
reformed clergy of England; for the simple and evangelical
Latimer complains of coming to a country church where the people
refused to hear him because it was Robin Hood's day, and his
mitre and rochet were fain to give way to the village pastime.
Much curious information on this subject may be found in the
Preliminary Dissertation to the late Mr. Ritson's edition of the
songs respecting this memorable outlaw. The game of Robin Hood
was usually acted in May; and he was associated with the morrice-
dancers, on whom so much illustration has been bestowed by the
commentators on Shakespeare. A very lively picture of these
festivities, containing a great deal of curious information on
the subject of the private life and amusements of our ancestors,
was thrown, by the late ingenious Mr. Strutt, into his romance
entitled Queen-hoo Hall, published after his death, in 1808."
615. Friar Tuck. "Robin Hood's fat friar," as Shakespeare calls
him (T. G. of V. iv. 1. 36), who figures in the Robin Hood
ballads and in Ivanhoe. Scarlet and Little John are mentioned in
one of Master Silence's snatches of song in 2 Hen. IV. v. 3. 107:
"And Robin, Scarlet, and John." Scathelocke is a brother of
Scarlet in Ben Jonson's Sad Shepherd, which is a "Tale of Robin
Hood," and Mutch is a bailiff in the same play.
626. Stake. Prize.
627. Fondly he watched, etc. The MS. reads:
"Fondly he watched, with watery eye,
For answering glance of sympathy,
But no emotion made reply!
Indifferent as to unknown | wight,
Cold as to unknown yeoman |
The King gave forth the arrow bright."
630. To archer wight. That is, to any ordinary archer. Scott
has the following note here:
"The Douglas of the poem is an imaginary person, a supposed uncle
of the Earl of Angus. But the King's behavior during an
unexpected interview with the Laird of Kilspindie, one of the
banished Douglases, under circumstances similar to those in the
text, is imitated from a real story told by Hume of Godscroft. I
would have availed myself more fully of the simple and affecting
circumstances of the old history, had they not been already woven
into a pathetic ballad by my friend Mr. Finlay. [FN#11]
'His [the King's] implacability [towards the family of Douglas]
did also appear in his carriage towards Archibald of Kilspinke,
whom he, when he was a child, loved singularly well for his
ability of body, and was wont to call him his Gray-Steill.
[FN#12] Archibald, being banished into England, could not well
comport with the humor of that nation, which he thought to be too
proud, and that they had too high a conceit of themselves, joined
with a contempt and despising of all others. Wherefore, being
wearied of that life, and remembering the King's favor of old
towards him, he determined to try the King's mercifulness and
clemency. So he comes into Scotland, and taking occasion of the
King's hunting in the park at Stirling he casts himself to be in
his way, as he was coming home to the Castle. So soon as the King
saw him afar off, ere he came near, he guessed it was he, and
said to one of his courtiers, "Yonder is my Gray-Steill,
Archibald of Kilspindie, if he be alive." The other answered
that it could not be he, and that he durst not come into the
King's presence. The King approaching, he fell upon his knees
and craved pardon, and promised from thenceforward to abstain
from meddling in public affairs, and to lead a quiet and private
life. The King went by without giving him any answer, and trotted
a good round pace up the hill. Kilspindie followed, and though
he wore on him a secret, or shirt of mail, for his particular
enemies, was as soon at the Castle gate as the King. There he
sat him down upon a stone without, and entreated some of the
King's servants for a cup of drink, being weary and thirsty; but
they, fearing the King's displeasure, durst gave him none. When
the King was set at his dinner, he asked what he had done, what
he had said, and whither he had gone? It was told him that he
had desired a cup of drink, and had gotten none. The King
reproved them very sharply for their discourtesy, and told them
that if he had not taken an oath that no Douglas should ever
serve him, he would have received him into his service, for he
had seen him sometime a man of great ability. Then he sent him
word to go to Leith, and expect his further pleasure. Then some
kinsman of David Falconer, the cannonier, that was slain at
Tantallon, began to quarrel with Archibald about the matter,
wherewith the King showed himself not well pleased when he heard
of it. Then he commanded him to go to France for a certain
space, till he heard further from him. And so he did, and died
shortly after. This gave occasion to the King of England (Henry
VIII.) to blame his nephew, alleging the old saying, That a
king's face should give grace. For this Archibald (whatsoever
were Angus's or Sir George's fault) had not been principal actor
of anything, nor no counsellor nor stirrer up, but only a
follower of his friends, and that noways cruelly disposed' (Hume
of Godscroft, ii. 107)."
637. Larbert is a town about ten miles to the south of Stirling,
and Alloa another seven miles to the east on the north side of
641. To Douglas gave a golden ring. Scott says: "The usual
prize of a wrestling was a ram and a ring, but the animal would
have embarrassed my story. Thus, in the Cokes Tale of Gamelyn,
ascribed to Chaucer:
'There happed to be there beside
Tryed a wrestling;
And therefore there was y-setten
A ram and als a ring."
Again, the Litil Geste of Robin Hood:
'By a bridge was a wrestling,
And there taryed was he
And there was all the best yemen
Of all the west countrey.
A full fayre game there was set up,
A white bull up y-pight,
A great courser with saddle and brydle,
With gold burnished full bryght;
A payre of gloves, a red golde ringe,
A pipe of wine, good day;
What man bereth him best, I wis,
The prise shall bear away.'"
648. To hurl the massive bar. Cf. iv. 559 above.
658. Scottish strength. The MS. has "mortal strength."
660. The Ladies' Rock. A point in the "valley" between the
Castle and the Greyfriars Church. It was formerly the chief
place for viewing the games, which were held in this "valley," or
depression in the hill on which the Castle stands. It must not
be confounded with the Ladies' Lookout, a favorite point of view
on the Castle walls.
662. Well filled. The MS. has "weighed down;" and in 664,
"Scattered the gold among the crowd."
674. Ere Douglas, etc. The MS. has "Ere James of Douglas'
stalwart hand;" and in 677, "worn" for wrecked.
681. Murmurs. Some eds. have "murmur."
685. The banished man. The MS. has "his stately form."
724. Needs but a buffet. Only a single blow is needed.
728. Then clamored, etc. The MS. and 1st ed. have "Clamored his
comrades of the train;" and in 730 the MS. has "warrior's" for
735. Atone. See on iv. 421 above.
744. But shall a Monarch's presence, etc. The MS. reads:
"But in my court injurious blow, And bearded thus, and
thus out-dared? What, ho!" etc.
747. Ward. Guarding, confinement under guard. Cf. Gen. xl. 3.
752. Misarray. Disorder, confusion. Neither Wb. nor Worc.
gives the word.
754. Pricked. Spurred, rode. See on 486 above.
755. Repelled, etc. The MS. has "Their threats repelled by
768. Hyndford. A village on the Clyde, a few miles above
790. Widow's mate expires. An instance of prolepsis, or
"anticipation" in the use of a word. He must expire before she
can be a widow. Cf. Macbeth, iii. 4. 76:
"Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time,
Ere human statute purg'd the gentle weal;"
that is, purged it and made it gentle.
794. Ward. Ward off, avert.
796. The crowd's wild fury, etc. The MS. reads:
"The crowd's wild fury ebbed amain
In tears, as tempests sink in rain."
The 1st ed. reads as in the text, but that of 1821 has "sunk
The figure here is a favorite one with Shakespeare. Cf. R. of L.
"This windy tempest, till it blow up rain,
Held back his sorrow's tide, to make it more;
At last it rains, and busy winds give o'er;"
3 Hen. VI. i. 4. 146:
"For raging wind blows up incessant showers,
And, when the rage allays, the rain begins;"
Id. ii. 5. 85:
"see, see, what showers arise,
Blown with the windy tempest of my heart;"
T. and C. iv. 4. 55: "Where are my tears? rain, to lay this wind,
or my heart will be blown up by the root;" and Macbeth, i. 7. 25:
"That tears shall down the wind."
808. The rough soldier. Sir John of Hyndford (768 above).
811. He led. The 1st ed. has "they led," and "their" for his in
812. Verge. Note the rhyme with charge, and see on iv. 83
819. This common fool. Cf. Shakespeare's "fool multitude" (M.
of V. ii. 9. 26). Just below Lockhart quotes Coriolanus, i. 1.
"Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favors swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland."
821. Douglas. The reading of the 1st ed., as in 825 below; not
"Douglas'," as in some recent eds.
830. Vain as the leaf, etc. The MS. has "Vain as the sick man's
838. Cognizance. "The sable pale of Mar." See on iv. 153
853. With scanty train, etc. The MS. has "On distant chase you
will not ride."
856. Lost it. Forgot it.
858. For spoiling of. For fear of ruining. Cf. Shakespeare,
Sonn. 52. 4:
"The which he will not every hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure;
T. G. of V. i. 2. 136: "Yet here they shall not lie for catching
cold;" Beaumont and Fletcher, Captain, iii. 5: "We'll have a bib
for spoiling of thy doublet," etc.
887. Earl William. The Douglas who was stabbed by James II. See
on 551 above.
"Lord Jeffrey has objected to the guard-room scene and its
accompanying song as the greatest blemish in the whole poem. The
scene contrasts forcibly with the grace which characterizes the
rest; but in a poem which rests its interest upon incident, such
a criticism seems overstrained. It gives us a vigorous picture
of a class of men who played a very important part in the history
of the time, especially across the Border; men who, many of them
outlaws, and fighting, not for country or for king, but for him
who paid them best, were humored with every license when they
were not on strict military duty. The requirements of the
narrative might have been satisfied without these details, it is
true; but the use which Sir Walter has made of them--to show the
power of beauty and innocence, and the chords of tenderness and
goodness which lie ready to vibrate in the wildest natures--may
surely reconcile us to such a piece of realism.
"The scene of Roderick's death harmonizes well with his
character. The minstrel's account of the battle the poet himself
felt to be somewhat long, and yet it is difficult to see how it
could be curtailed without spoiling it. It is full of life and
vigor, and our only cause of surprise is that the lay should only
come to a sudden stand when it is really completed" (Taylor).
6. Scaring, etc. The 1st ed. reads: "And scaring prowling
robbers to their den."
7. Battled. Battlemented; as in ii. 702 above.
9. The kind nurse of men. Cf. 2 Hen. IV. iii. 1. 5:
"O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse," etc.
23. Through narrow loop, etc. The MS. has "Through blackened
arch," etc.; and below:
"The lights in strange alliance shone
Beneath the arch of blackened stone."
25. Struggling with. Some recent eds. misprint "struggling
47. Adventurers they, etc. Scott says: "The Scottish armies
consisted chiefly of the nobility and barons, with their vassals,
who held lands under them for military service by themselves and
their tenants. The patriarchal influence exercised by the heads
of clans in the Highlands and Borders was of a different nature,
and sometimes at variance with feudal principles. It flowed from
the Patria Potestas, exercised by the chieftain as representing
the original father of the whole name, and was often obeyed in
contradiction to the feudal superior. James V. seems first to
have introduced, in addition to the militia furnished from these
sources, the service of a small number of mercenaries, who formed
a body-guard, called the Foot-Band. The satirical poet, Sir
David Lindsay (or the person who wrote the prologue to his play
of the Three Estaites), has introduced Finlay of the Foot-Band,
who after much swaggering upon the stage is at length put to
flight by the Fool, who terrifies him by means of a sheep's skull
upon a pole. I have rather chosen to give them the harsh features
of the mercenary soldiers of the period, than of this Scottish
Thraso. These partook of the character of the Adventurous
Companions of Froissart, or the Condottieri of Italy."
53. The Fleming, etc. The soil of Flanders is very fertile and
productive, in marked contrast to the greater part of Scotland.