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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 (Continued)
The Battle of Falkirk

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Great Comfort this did to the English yield
And almost forc'd the Scots to leave the Field.
At which the Stuart greiving much he swore,
Cummine should rue his base Advice full sore.
For that he now did very plainly see,
His Plot was only Self and Treachery.

The Earl Hartford 'gainst the Stuart then,
Advanc'd with Thirty Thousand Englishmen,
Whom the brave Stuart charg'd so fierce and hot,
That Hartford's Men in Heaps lay on the Spot.
When Spears were broke, boldly their Swords they drew
And Twenty Thousand of the South'ron slew.
The Rest they fled unto their King with Grief,
Who sent Ten Thousand for a fresh Relief.
Which when the noble Champion Wallace saw,
And the brave Scots up in Battalie draw,
Held up his Hands, and fervently did say,
"O GOD, Assist yon Lord, I humbly Pray;
And tho' he be with fresh Force overset,
Grant he the Victory o'er his Foes may get."

By this the Bruce and Bishop Beik do then,
Fiercely advance with Forty Thousand Men.
When Wallace did the Bruce's-Banner know,
"Good GOD," said he, "how do this World go.
To see a Man so forward and so rude,
As fight against his Native Flesh and Blood.
Were I but free of my rash Oath and Vow,
I'd either dy or Stuart brave rescue."
Kindness said, "Pray, rescue him from the Foe,"
But Will said, "Nay, why Fool wilt thou do so?"
Kindness reply'd, "They are good Scottish Men."
On that said Will, "I cannot much depend.
Had they been good, as one we all had been,
The contrair whereof now is plainly seen."
"Tho' one be false," said Kindness, "that ne'er shall,
Make us neglect the Rest and lose them all,
Who have behaved so well and South'ron slain,
Rescue them now and thereby Honour gain.
Then on the Rogue, occasion'd all the Strife,
Avenge thy self if he be found on Life."
Will said, "This Day they shall not helped be,
What I have said, shall still be said for me."

With that the Tears unto their great Surprize,
Burst out and trickled down from both his Eyes.
Sir John the Graham and many others more,
For the brave Stuart weeped wondrous sore.
To see him with such Numbers overpowr'd,
While Cowardly the Cummine fled and scour'd.
The Men of Bute, before their Lord they stood,
Defending him in streams of their own Blood.
Till at the last, so faint and weary grown,
They by the Bruce are all quite overthrown:
And brave Lord Stuart scorning for to yield.
With his good Men lay dead upon the Field.

Then Wallace turn'd about to his Men true,
"My Lords," said he, "what's proper now to do?
If we turn East for Strength in Louthian Land,
They'll us pursue, with all their Numerous Band.
Take we the Moor King Edward is before,
We have but one Thing for't without words more:
To the Tor-Wood in Order all Compleat,
Thro' Bruce's Host we'll fight a brave Retreat."
To which they all did chearfully consent,
And as one Man were all alike content.
Good Wallace then mounting his Horse on Sight
March'd at their Head in shining Armour bright.
With harnish'd Horse when to the Host he drew,
The Cry arose and Spears in pieces flew.

So fiercely fought the Scots, that by and by
Eight Thousand South'ron on the Field did ly.
E'er Bruce and Beik, their Men got in array,
Wallace pass'd thro' and cleanly cut his Way.
Then gave Command to march his Host on Sight,
To the Tor-Wood with all the speed they might.
He and Sir John the Graham and Lauder then,
Stay'd with Three Hundred Stout West-Country Men.
Expert in War, would hazard any Thing,
Who do attack some of the En'mies Wing.
No Spears they had, but Swords of Temper'd Steel,
As to their Smart the Englishmen did feel:
For e'er the Bruce thereof could Knowledge have,
Wallace had sent Three Hundred to their Grave.

With Thirty Thousand Men Bruce did pursue
His Native Scots, the South'ron to rescue.
And order'd Beik for a Relief to be,
Which when good Wallace did observe and see,
"Alas," he said "how Bruce with all his Might
Does ruin and destroy his own true Right.

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.