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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 XI, Chapter I
The Battle of Falkirk

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Young Woodstock now, all in his Airs is got,
He'll Wallace fight, rescue Dundee, what not?
But was surpriz'd, when looking round about,
He Wallace saw, with him Eight Thousand stout
Old hardy Boys, which made him change his Hue,
And on a sudden look both Pale and Blue.
But finding them in Number less than he,
Resolves to fight, and not a Foot to flee.

On Sherriff-Moor Wallace drew up his Men,
Who had Eight Thousand 'gainst Lord Wood-Stock's Ten.
There furiously, the Armies do engage
Each other, in a Desp'rate Bloody Rage.
The hardy Scots together stuck so true,
In Rank and File Seven Thousand South'ron slew.
Three Thousand more who fought and would not yield,
Were quickly all cut down upon the Field.
Lord Woodstock dead among them also lay,
Not one escap'd the Sword that fatal Day.
Silver and Gold, Horses and other Spoil,
Scotsmen got to remunerat their Toil.

Without a Halt to Stirling Bridge they ride,
And all pass over to the other Side.
Then Carpenters and Crafts-men quickly call,
Who presently undo the Passage all.
To the Dripfoord Wallace he sent them syne
Who ordered all according to his Mind.
Then made he Lauder very quickly pass,
Along the Coast where any Vessel was,
And Men with him who searched every Nook,
And from each Boat a Board or Two they took.

In Stirling then lay with his Foot and Horse,
Watching what Way the English bent their Force.
The Earl Malcolm came to Wallace then,
With the brave Lennox Lads, true hearted Men.
Sir John the Graham came also speedily,
Attended with a Glorious Company,
Who Tydings brought King Edward was at Hand,
Ev'n at Torp'chen with his South'ron Band.
Stuart of Bute with a great Number next
To Wallace came, for Battle bravely fixt.
Who on the Morrow with the Cummine arch,
Each with Ten Thousand to Falkirk did march.
Ten Thousand also of brave valiant Men,
Wallace drew quickly up in Order then.

There Earl Malcolm was, of mighty Fame,
And that renowned Knight Sir John the Graham;
Seaton, and Lauder, Boyd the stout and tight,
And Adam Wallace, a most noble Sight.
Then by Express came Information sure,
The South'ron all were in Slamannan-Moor,
Pitching their Tents, setting Pavilions down,
Be-South Falkirk, litle above the Town.
Jop view'd their Number as they march'd along,
Which was compute one Hundred Thousand Strong.
Nevertheless, the Scots do Courage take
At Sight of Wallace, and all Fear forsake.

The Cummine here, fy on him for a Scot,
'Gainst Wallace does contrive a hellish Plot.
Told the Lord Stuart, Wallace had no Right
To lead the Van before him in the Fight.
Which bred great Heat betwixt the Gallant Two,
So subtily Cummine the Coal did blow.
The Stuart then does toward Wallace make,
"Pray Sir, what Course is proper now to take,
For Edward comes with a prodigious Power."
"To fight," said Wallace, "there's no other Cure.
With far more Troops I've seen yon King appear,
And soundly beat, with fewer Men than here.
Let's to it then, for we have Men anew,
Likely and good, providing they be true."

Then Stuart said the Van-Guard he would have;
Wallace reply'd, "As God my Soul shall save,
That shall ye not, I'll grant you no such Thing,
Nor no Man else, except my righteous King.
Twice have I rescu'd this my Native Land,
And shall I now resign my old Command?
I let you know, its neither Brag nor Boast,
Will bully me out of my righteous Post.
So much a Fool I am not, Sir, by half,
At such a Time to quit my Marshalls Staff."
To which the Stuart answered again,
"The Owl did of his Feathers once complain,
At which Dame Nature took a Feather fair,
From every Bird, and him deliver'd there.
Which Gift the Owl no sooner did receive,
Than he thro' Pride rebuted all the lave.
Why then so high, Sir? does it not appear,
That you condemn all but you self are here?
Then of your Men be not so Vain, but mind,
Had each his own, you should have few behind."

Wallace enrag'd, flew in a flame of Fire,
And too too rashly call'd the Stuart Liar,
"No Owl I am, for I have often been
At the Noon Day where thou durst not be seen:
Fighting thy Foes, for Glory not for Pelf,
This Parable thou speak'st against thy self.
It is the Cummine has thee thus advis'd,
I know his Speech, tho' masked and disguis'd.
From Danger great I did relieve that Slave,
And this is all the Thanks I now receive.
No Succour then expect from me this Day,"
Then wheel'd and with Ten Thousand rode away.

Next page: Book XI, 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.