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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 X, Chapter I
How WALLACE won St. Johnstoun

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Unto St. Johnstoun Wallace quickly prest,
Which by the English then was repossest.
Under Kinnoul e'er it was Day, lay down,
Then spy'd Six South'ron Servants from the Town,
Driving Three empty Carts upon the Way,
In order to bring Home their Masters Hay.
Which, when they were a-loading, suddenly
Guthrie and's Men, made all the Six to dy.
Wallace in haste caus'd take their upmost Weed,
And Men to fit them ordered with speed.

Wallace himself, and Ruthven brave also,
Guthrie, and Bisset, and good Yeomen Two:
Each took a Suit and then with Subtile Art,
Five Men with Hay they cov'red in each Cart.
Then to the Town those Carters took their Way,
And carefully drove on their Carts of Hay.
Good Sir John Ramsay lay in Ambush till,
He warning got, then marched with good will.

Over the Bridge the Carters quickly past,
Enter'd the Gate, and then their Cloaks do cast.
Wallace with Three good Stroaks, which there he got,
The Porter kill'd and Two more on the Spot.
Guthrie and Bisset, Ruthven of Renown,
Most manfully did cut the South'ron down.
The armed Men that snug lay in the Carts,
Came fiercely out and bravely play'd their parts.

When Ramsay's Spy saw all that there was done,
The Ambush broke, both Bridge and Port have won.
E'er Ramsay came with his Men good and true,
The Twenty one there Fourty South'ron slew.
And so soon as the Ambush enter'd in,
They spared none that were of South'ron Kin.
There Longoveil, that brave and warlike Knight,
Nobly behav'd and did their Doublets dight.
The South'ron when they saw the Town was tint,
Fled then as fast, as Fire does from the Flint.
And Sir John Psewart at the next Gate past,
To Methven-Wood, he scour'd off wonder fast.

One hundred Men fled to the Church in vain,
But Wallace spared none, for all were slain.
Four Hundred South'ron kill'd were in the Strife,
And Seven Score only 'scaped with their Life.
Wallace got Riches, good things not a few,
And with true Scots, plenish'd the Town of new.
First to the Gask did Sir John Psewart pass,
Then unto Fife, where Vallange Sherriff was.
Gath'red of Men a Num'rous Company,
To Auchterarder, then drew privily,
And to be ready ordered them all,
For to attack St. Johnstoun at a Call.

Wallace made Ramsay his great Captain there,
And Ruthven Sheriff – a deserving Pair.
He charged them that on first warning they,
Should come to him, without further Delay.
On some Exploit he quickly marched then,
With him One Hundred of good fighting Men.

Next page: Book X, 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.