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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 VII, Chapter I (Continued)
How WALLACE burn't the Barns of Ayr, put Bishop Beik out of Glasgow, and killed Lord Peircy

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Wallace he ask'd Sir Rannald at Kincase,
Where was the English Charter of the Peace,
"At Crosbie," said Sir Rannald, "in the Chest,
Go seek it there thou'll find it if thou list.
None but thy self where it does lye doth know,"
Then by good Luck he back again did go.
Sir Rannald he rode on and rested not,
Then came to Air knew nothing of the Plot.

Into the Town he did not tarry long,
Went to the bloody Barns dreading no Wrong.
A Baulk was knit with cruel Ropes and keen,
O! such a slaughter House was never seen.
Strong Men to keep the Entry they prepare,
And none but One at once, must enter there.
Sir Rannald first, that ancient Knight comes in,
And then the bloody Murther does begin.
A running Cord they slipped o'er his Head,
Then to the Baulk they haled him up dead.
Sir Bryce the Blair after Sir Rannald past,
The cruel Dogs to Death him hast'ned fast.
No sooner enters, but he's in the Snare,
And on the bloody Baulk was hanged there.
A gallant Knight Sir Neil Montgomrie,
Was hanged next which Pity was to see.

Great Numbers more of landed Men about
Went in, but none alive at all came out.
The Wallaces, and Crawfords stout like Steel,
Great Cruelty from barb'rous Suth'ron feel.
The Kennedie's of Carrick slew they alse,
And the kind Campbels that were never False,
Nor did rebel against the righteous Crown,
For which the Suth'ron hang'd and hew'd them down.
The Barclays, Boyds, and Stuarts of good Kin,
No Scot escap'd that Time that enter'd in.
Unto the Baulk they hang'd up many a Pair,
Then in some ugly By-nook cast them there.

Since the first Time that Men did War invent,
To so unjust a Death none ever went.
Thus to the Gods of their most cruel Wrath,
They sacrific'd the Scots and broke their Faith.
Such Wickedness each Christian Soul must own,
Was ne'er before in all the World known.
Thus eighteen Score to Death they put outright
Of Barrons bold; with many a gallant Knight.
Then last of all with great Contempt and Scorn,
Cast out the Corps naked as they were born.

Good Robert Boyd with Twenty valiant Men,
Of Wallace House went to the Tavern then.
Brave Stout and Bold the Choice of all the Land,
He them in Wallace Absence did Command.
Kierly who did the Suth'ron often Mall,
Cleland and Boyd were all upon a Call:
And Ste'en of Ireland, who upon the Street,
With a good Woman and a true did meet.
He ask'd at her what News there was in Ayr,
"Nothing," said she, "but Sorrow, Dole and Care."
All frighted like, she look'd him in the Face,
Then ask'd for Wallace in a little Space:
Who told, his Uncle the good ancient Knight
Had sent him Home, but would be back on sight.
"Pray charge his Men," said she, "to leave the Place,
I'll Wallace watch as he comes from Kincase
And him acquaint with ev'ry Thing that's past,
The sad Barbarities from First to Last.
Now quietly together call your Force,
Get all to Arms, and quickly mount your Horse."

He with the Woman did no longer stay,
But to his Comrades posted fast away:
Told the sad News; who without speaking more,
March all to Laglane Wood, with Hearts full sore.
Now with the Charter Wallace hasts to Ayr,
But little knew the Massacre was there.
Then loudly on him the good Woman calls,
"Nothing but Breach of Faith within those Walls.
Our Barrons bold thro' horrid Treacherie
Are kill'd and hang'd, like Beasts up to a Tree,
Most basely murdered as they went in,"
Then Wallace wept, for Loss of his good Kin.
Unto the Woman up he Gallops fast,
To understand the Truth of all was past.
"Is my dear Uncle Dead, or how befel
The Case; good Woman pray make hast and tell."

"Out of yon Barns, with great Contempt and Scorn,
I saw him cast; naked as he was Born.
His cold pale Lips with grieved Heart and sore
I kiss'd; then spread a Cloath his Body o'er.
His Sister's Son thou worthy art and Wight.
Revenge his Death I pray with all thy Might.
I shall Assist as I'm a Woman True,"
Then he enquired at her, if she knew,
Good Robert Boyd, and if she saw him there;
Or William Crawford, if he living were:
Or Adam Wallace, a good Friend indeed,
Both true, and trusty, in the Time of Need.
"Call them to me, with little Noise and Dinn,
Then cunningly spy out the Justice Inn.
See what Discov'ries thou of them can make,
And then I'll see the next best Course to take."

This in great Haste, he spake and said no more,
Then wheel'd about, with grieved Heart and sore.
To Laglane Woods, then pleasant, sweet and green,
Which oft his Refuge had, and Safety been;
There for his Friends did mourn, with Grief and Woe,
Till his proud Breast was like to burst in two.

Lord Arnulph quickly after him does send,
Fifteen Hand-waild, well mounted English-men.
A Macer als, to bring him back to Law,
Who furiously towards good Wallace draw.
With Sword in Hand among them soon he went,
And pay'd them soundly to their Heart's Content.
One thro' the middle there he cut in two,
Unto the Second gave a deadly Blow:
The Third he struck, down thro' the Body clave,
The Fourth unto the Ground he quickly drave.
The Fifth he smote in such great Wrath and Ire,
He on the Spot did presently Expire.
Three Men he had that killed other Five,
With much ado the rest escap'd alive:
Fled to their Lord, told all the Passage o'er
How Ten of Fifteen Men, were kill'd by Four.
And had it not been for their Horse, that they
The other Five had gone the self same Way.
"A right Scots Stroke none of us sooner got,
Than without Mercy we lay on the Spot.
So fierce they fought it, and so furiously,
At every Stroke they made a Man to dye."

Then thought they all, it must be Wallace wight,
To whom reply'd an ancient English Knight,
And said, "If Wallace hath escap'd this Aire,
All that is done, is adding Grief to Care."
Then spoke the Justice, when this Rumour rose,
"What would ye do, if there were many Foes?
That for one Man so frighted seem to be,
And are not sure as yet if it be he.
And tho' it were, I count the Matter light,
Each Gentleman who stays here shall be Knight.
And so soon as the Morrow comes, I'll then,
Deal the Scots Lands to true born English-Men."
Thus spoke that Cruel, indesiderate Beast,
But was mistaken, Faith for all his Haste:
Which minds me of a Saying, Sage, and wise.
Who compt's before the Rost he compteth twice.

The South'ron to their Quarters now repair,
Four thousand Strong that Night did lodge in Ayr.
And in the bloody Barns, without the Town,
Where the proud Justice caus'd proclaim around
The Walls and Garrison, on every Side,
That no Scots Man within them should abide.
By Providence that Night it hap'ned so,
The Justice to the Castle would not go:
Lodg'd in the Barns, knew not of Wallace Plot,
Who long ere Morn gave him a Wak'ning hot.
At Supper they eat a prodigious Deal,
Then plenty drank of Wine and English Ale.
No Watch they set, having no Fear or Doubt,
Of Harm from Scots, who lodged all without.
The great Fatigue and Toil, that Bloody Day
The Rogues had got, and too much Wine which they
Drank off in Bumpers, lull'd them so asleep,
They quite forgot that Night a Guard to keep.
Thus all secure, they snorting lay like Swine,
Their Chieftain was great Bacchus God of Wine.

Next page: Book VII, Chapter I (Continued)

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.