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Blind Harry's Wallace

The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace,
General and Governour of Scotland
by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield

Book IV, Chapter I
How WALLACE won the Peel of Gargunnock

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

'Twas now September, crown'd with Fruits, and Corn.
For Sustenance of ev'ry Creature born
When many English Peers of high Renown
In Council did conveen in GLASGOW Town.

Behov'd Sir Rannald Crawford then be there;
For he of Right was Sheriff born of Ayr.
With him his Nephew William Wallace went,
And only Servants Three, that their Intent
Might not misconstru'd by proud South'rons stand,
And thereby bring new Mischiefs on the Land.
But long they on their Journey had not been,
Ere Piercy's Baggage passing by was seen.
Five Men, that were its Convoy, march'd beside
Of these, Two walk'd on Foot, and Three did ride.
With tedious Journey now their Horse were tir'd,
So they Sir Rannald's from his Men requir'd;
Which mildly when refus'd, with Might and Main
They rob'd these honest Scots upon the Plain.

This Wallace saw, and sorely griev'd was he
Such Mischief wrought upon his Men to see.
But mindful how his Uncle did engage
His Word, he now restrain'd his deadly Rage;
Yet from his Party presently withdrew
Burning with Anger and Revenge in View,
To lie in wait for the rapacious Breed,
Who thus had perpetrate this foul Misdeed.
Near to Cathcart did he them overtake,
And rudely straightway in among them brake.

A burnish'd Blade that Tide did he unsheath,
Which none provok'd, that e'er evited Death,
Their Foreman first with such good will he gave,
That Hat and Head together off he drave.
Syn on the Ground Two of his Comerades laid;
The others fled discomfit and afraid.
While Wallace seizing on their Gold and Gear,
And passing Clyde, got into Lennox clear.

Leaving his Friends his Absence to lament,
With Wallace to pass on is our Intent.
To Malcom then of Lennox mighty Earl
His Way took this great Chief, the Scottish Pearl.
The Earl receiv'd him in a courteous Way,
And much intreated still with him to stay,
Off'ring, that he his Men should all command;
But Wallace, grieving for his Native Land,
Resolv'd what store of Men he might to raise,
To combat in the Field for Scotland's Praise.

Steven of Ireland, exil'd from his Home,
Did there into a League with Wallace come.
So did Fawdoun, a Man of dreadful size,
Of threatning Aspect, and iniquitous Eyes;
Seldom he smil'd, was gruesome to the Sight;
And Blood and Batt'ry was his sole Delight.
With these, and sixty more went Wallace forth,
Their valiant March directing to the North.

Full in their Way upon Gargunnock Hill
The South'ron Bands had fortify'd a Peil,
With Chambers meet, and Hall commodious built.
And Strength of Men, and store of Victual fill'd
Wallace this Piece determin'd to take in,
Could it be slily done withoutten Din.
Spies having sent, and finding all was right,
Resolv'd on th'Enterprize that very Night.

His hardy Men at Arms were sent before,
To break a Bar that held the outmost Door.
But they in vain to break it did Essay,
Till Wallace fretting at the long Delay,
Came on himself, and with a furious shock
The Bar and Steeple all in Flinders Broke,
Then open drave the Gate, and there withal
Came tumbling down three Ell-Breadth of the Wall.
Much marvel did his Men, who saw this Storm,
And him do more than Twenty could perform.

The Passage clear'd, into the House they rush'd,
And all that did oppose before them push'd.
A Watch-Man had a fellon Staff of Steel,
Wherewith he Wallace thought at once to kill;
But he recoiling, with a little Pains,
Soon reft it from him, then dang out his Brains,
The Captain syne he in the Throng did meet,
And with the Staff soon laid him at his Feet.
His Men pursuing, slaughter'd all the Lave;
No Men at Arms they order'd were to save.
Women and Bairns he would not doom to die,
But let them safely pass, unhurt and free.
The Gold and Wealth the Soldiers Prey became;
But Wallace sought for Scotland, and for Fame.

Sojourning here Four Days the val'rous Crew,
Upon the Fifth, Northward their March pursue.
The Teith they cross'd, and the clear-running Ern,
The Motions of their South'ron Foes to learn;
In Methwin Forrest chuse their next Retreat
And for the Hunting there had Store of Meat.
Wallace was pleas'd, he now a Place had found,
Where for his Men Provisions did abound;
Where now at Rest refresh themselves they might,
Nor more be forc'd at once to fast, and fight.
Yet for himself no dainty Fare he sought,
So did his Country's Cares possess his Thought;
But wet, or dry was still with him the same,
And Cold and Hunger welcome, if they came.
So did he grieve for Scotland's woful Case;
And such his Hatred to the South'ron Race.

Next page: Book IV, Chapter II

The ballad, The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace, General and Governour of Scotland, by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, 1722, is in the public domain.