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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 VIII, Chapter IV
The Siege of YORK

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Wallace his Army does in Four divide,
And then the Town invests, on ev'ry Side.
Himself, with Lauder, that good cliver Hand,
At the South Port, do take the chief Command.
The Earl Malcolm, Noble, Stout, and Great,
With valiant Boyd, commanded the West Gate.
Campbel the Knight, and Sir John Ramsay brave,
At the North Gate their Post, assign'd them have.
To the East Gate Wallace he does direct,
Sir John the Graham, Crawford, and Auchinleck.
One Thousand Archers of the Scottish Side,
At the Four Gates caus'd equally Divide.

Full Seventeen Thousand South'ron, then appear
Upon the Walls with all their Bow and Spear.
Who furiously do sally out, but got
A warm Reception from each worthy Scot.
In spite of all their Arrows and big Stones,
Were driven back, with sore and Bloody Bones.
Who, when they got within the Town at last,
Faggots of Fire out o'er the Walls do cast.
And great Prodigious red hot Gads of Iron,
Which from old Nick their Master they did Learn.
Hot burning Pitch, and scalding stinking Tar,
And other curs'd Contrivances of War.

Nevertheless, the Scots that were without,
So valiant were, so hardy, and so stout.
They fiercely burnt the Bulwark of the Town,
Their Barmkin wan, and cast great Turrets down.
The wearied Host with great Fatigue opprest,
And Night approaching, think of taking rest,
Most carefully, first, they wash ev'ry Wound,
Their Watches set, and then sleep safe and sound.

Next Day, their Cloaths were scarce well on their Back
When all cry'd out, for a new fresh attack.
Drew up again, as they had done before,
And then the Town assaulted wondrous sore.
The Scottish Archers all, so leally shot,
Numbers they kill'd, in Truth they miss'd them not.
Then burning Fire set to ev'ry Gate,
So mortally they did the South'ron hate,
Yet notwithstanding, the fierce English-Men,
Themselves and Town did gallantly defend.
When that whole Day was spent, and come the Night,
To his Pavilion went each weary Wight.
The English then with Vigilance and Care,
For a fresh Sally do themselves prepare.

Sir William Mortoun, and Sir William Lees,
Most cunningly they draw up by Degrees.
And make a fearful, furious Sally then,
On Earl Malcom, with Five Thousand Men.
Wallace himself, as he rode the Grand-round,
Seeing them coming, caus'd a Trumpet Sound.
The Harnis'd Scots that keeped Guard that Night,
Took the Alarm, then mounted all on Sight.
Then briskly charg'd the cruel South'ron Foe,
With Sword in Hand, and many a Bloody Blow.

Wallace, who knew the Earl was too hot,
That he would fight tho' dye upon the spot,
Up to him rides, as quickly as he may,
With a good Sword, that paved well his Way.
The first he struck, fell dead upon the Place,
The Second's Nose, he levell'd with his Face.
The hardy Earl, did no South'ron spare,
But hew'd them down, and left them crawling there.
By this the Host were all in good Array,
And South'ron thought 'twas Time to march away.
Wallace knew well, they could not stand it long,
Wherefore he thrust into the thickest throng,
And cliverly, so laboured their Buff,
Their Armour did not signify a Snuff.

Next page: Book VIII, Chapter IV (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.