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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 II (Continued)
The battle of Black-Iron-Side, and how WALLACE took in Lochleven and Airth

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Vallange at this Time sorely did assail
Crawford, and the brave Knight good Longoviel,
Who boldly stood and did defend their Ground,
And at the Entry hew'd the South'ron down.
Thus were the Scots attack'd on ev'ry Hand,
Fifteen to one, too Numerous a Band.
Nothing they had now for't, but do or dye,
Psewart surpris'd was with such Bravery.
Who pressing on, with a good Sword of Steel,
Kill'd a stout Scot who had behaved weel.
Wallace enrag'd, did quickly vow Revenge,
And a sound Blow with Psewart to exchange.
But Troops of South'ron interveening soon,
He miss'd his Mark, tho' others he cut down.
Great slaps the Scots made 'mong the South'ron Ranks,
From Front to Rear, and out thro' both their Flanks.
Eighty that Time were slain without Remead,
And at the Barrier, Fifty killed dead.

After this brisk Repulse and fair Defeat,
Psewart he quickly caused sound Retreat,
And then consults what's proper next to do,
Curses hard Fate, 'cause beat by such a few.
The worthy Scots go in to the Barrier,
Wash all their Wounds, refresh, and make good Cheer.
"At many Bouts," said Wallace, "I have been,
But such a fierce Attack have scarcely seen."
Then from a Strand of Water running by,
He all his Men supply'd abundantly.
Drank first himself, then said in sober Mood
"The Wine in France I ne'er thought half so good."

Sir John concludes in Council to be brief,
To fight no more till he get fresh Relief,
And then to starve with Hunger in the Field,
The Scots, if they stood out and did not yield.
Mean Time he charg'd John Vallange to abide,
And keep them in, to Couper till he'd ride.
Who said, such Charge he would not undertake,
To fight all Day, and then all Night to wake.
Psewart cry'd, "Stay, or under-ly the Blame,
I thee Command in good King Edward's Name,
Or here to God I Vow without all scorn,
If they break out, to hang thee up the Morn."

Wallace was blyth when that he heard such Strife.
Nothing e'er pleas'd him better all his Life.
And then drew near at a fit Time withall,
To the Wood side, and did on Vallange call.
"Yon Knight, I think, would make a Coward start;
Come in to us, his Brag's not worth a F– -t.
And thou shalt have a Lordship in thy Hand
Thy Brother left behind him in this Land."
Vallange choos'd rather with the Scots to bide,
Than venture's Life upon the English Side.
So in a Moment, all with one Consent,
He and his Men straight into Wallace went.
Then Psewart said, "I ne'er expected such
Base Treatment," but John Vallange mock'd him much.

By this brave Ramsay, and good Ruthven then,
To Black-Iron-Side came with Three Hundred Men.
Psewart the Knight, well hath their coming seen,
Who choos'd a Plain, and drew up on the Green.
Twelve Hundred Men he had wanting a Score,
The Scots Five Hundred Sixty, and no more.
Now to the Wood good Wallace bids Adieu,
Who all this Time nothing of Ramsay knew.
But when he heard him Shout, and Ruthven Cry,
How did his Heart rejoice exceedingly.
On either Side quickly assembled they,
And set the Battle all in good Array.
The English who, were more in Nmmber far,
By Psewart now in Two divided are.

The worthy Scots, so soon as they were drest,
Most furiously among them quickly prest.
And as they in the Wood behaved well,
So on the Plain, they fought as stout as Steel.
Had small Respite from rising of the Sun,
Yet charg'd as fresh, as if but new begun.
Ramsay and Ruthven came with fresh Relief,
Unto the South'ron's Sorrow and great Grief.
And of their Carcases took a sound Mends,
Dissever'd them in Twentys and in Tens
When Spears were gone with Swords of Mettal clear.
They pav'd their Way, in hast from Front to Rear.

Next page: Book X, Chapter II (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.