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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 IX, Chapter I
How the King of France wrote to WALLACE by his Herauld, and WALLACE's Answer

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

The King of France, hearing of Wallace Name,
His mighty valiant Acts, and glorious Fame;
In's royal Mind, did long most vehemently,
This much renown'd Scots Champion to see.
Wond'red how Wallace, with so small a Pow'r,
Made English-Men, before him fly and scour,
And force their Malice, spite of Hell to cease,
Then pitifully truckle for a Peace.

The King a Herauld calls, and without more,
To Wallace writes, as to a Conqueror.
"Beloved Sir, Worshipfull, Wise, and Wight,
Restorer of thy native Land's true Right,
In the Defence of righteous, Royal Blood,
For which thou always loyally upstood.
Old Prophecy which did thy Birth adorn
Said; happy Scotland, that Time thou was born.
I do beseech with all Humility,
Thou wilt accept my Letter graciously.
Give Credit, and believe in any Ways,
What e'er my Herauld from me, to thee says."

The Herauld bow'd, and to the Ship is gone,
And then in Scotland does arrive anon,
Went Straight unto Sir William Wallace, where,
He found him in the ancient Town of Ayr.
The Letters humbly in his Master's Name,
To Wallace does present, and he the same,
Most courteously upon his bended Knee,
Receiv'd from him, in all Humility.
The Herauld then made him to understand,
All that his Master gave him in Command.
"Your Valour, Sir, and Honour all do own,
And to the King my Master's so well known:
That he intends, your Worship to advance
As high, as any Subject born in France."

Wallace reply'd, "As GOD my Soul shall save,
A speedy Answer you shall quickly have."
The Herauld stay'd with Wallace Twenty Days,
And was Regal'd with Feasting, Sport, and Plays.
Then Courteously, Wallace wrote to the King,
A satisfying Answer to each Thing.
Unto the Herauld, Presents rich he gave,
Then to the Sea convey'd him and took leave.
Wallace his Voyage soon intends for France,
Prepares fit Equipage, and Purveyance.
Good Lord James Stuart, Scotland's Steward then,
Made Governour till he return'd again.

At Rochel now, the Herauld does Arrive,
A blyther Man, sure there was none alive.
To Paris went, then peerless for Renown,
The King thought well Wallace was come to Town.
Asked the Herauld with Concern, anent
Old Scotland's Welfare, and how Matters went.
"Saw'st thou brave Wallace, Chieftain of that Land?"
"Yes Sir," said he, "a Man of great Command.
In all my Travells, wheresoe'er I've gone,
A braver Knight sure saw I never one.
Great Worship there, and Honour's to him pay'd,
His piercing Eye almost made me afraid.
With rich Rewards and Presents as you see,
For your Grace Sake, he complemented me.
Here is his Answer," then the King was glad,
Most graciously receiv'd it, and it read:

"Most Royal Sir, and righteous crowned King,
Of great Renown, your Herauld here does bring
A Letter writ by my unworthy Hand,
In Answer to your Majestie's Command:
You well do know how Scotland's daily vex'd,
And by our neighb'ring Nation sore perplex'd.
No Bands will bind them, but with open Face
Do break their Faith, to Christian's great Disgrace,
On which Account, I pray Sir, understand,
I scarce dare leave this poor distressed Land.
Yet by GOD's Grace, if living that I be
Within a Year your Majesty I'll see."
O how this Answer greatly pleas'd the King,
Who was as blyth as Bird upon the Wing.

Next page: Book IX, 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.