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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 XII, Chapter I
How WALLACE conquer'd the Land of Guyen and was made Lord thereof.

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

In Guyen Wallace carried on the War,
And had the better of the English far.
In Five set Battles did them so defeat,
To Burdeous they all made their Retreat.
Wallace pursues, and did invest the Town
Full Twenty Days; broke Forts and Bulwarks down.
But Victuals falling short, it did oblige
Him and his Army to give o'er the Siege.
Then to the King in Pomp he went at last,
And gave Account of all the Action past.
Who did rejoice that Guyen Land was won,
And thanked Wallace for his Service done.

By this Time came from Scotland an Express,
With a most Humble, but a neat Address,
Unto the King, beseeching him to send
Good Wallace Home, his Country to defend
From Rage and Fury, of the South'ron Foe
Which did the Kingdom then all overflow;
And that he would advise him soon withal;
To take the Crown and ease them of their Thrall,
Which they did suffer from a King unjust,
Or else in short the Nation perish must.
This was the very Substance of the Thing,
Which the Address contain'd unto the King.
But yet the King concealed all was writ,
Lov'd not to part so soon with Wallace yet,
Who liv'd as great at Scemen, as a Prince,
And none more happy liv'd there ever since.

About this Time, a certain proud French Knight
Did boldly claim an heritable Right
Unto some Office, and to sundry Lands
Of Guyen, which was then in Wallace Hands.
Whither the Answer which the Monsieur got
Pleas'd or displeas'd his Worship, I know not.
He an Appointment does with Wallace make,
Pretending Service under him to take.
But that was not what the great Rogue design'd,
For something else was in his Bloody Mind.
With Fifteen each, at the appointed Place
Meet, and salute with a becoming Grace.
But the false Knight his Treachrie soon display'd,
Had Fourty armed Men in Ambush laid;
Who all so soon as he with Wallace met,
Had Orders to enclose him in their Net.

In Angry Mood then spoke the Gallick Knight,
"Thou does possess my Lands by no good Right."
In modest Terms replyed Wallace brave,
"I have no Lands but what the King me gave,
And which I won in perill of my Life
From South'ron Foes in a most Bloody Strife."
Then said the Knight, "Thou shalt them here Resign,
Or lose thy Life, by all that is Divine."
Then draws his Sword, whereby he soon Alarms
The Ambush, which appear in glitt'ring Arms.
By which surprising, unexpected fight,
Wallace perceiv'd the Treach'ry of the Knight.
"Are these the Thanks," said he, "I from your Hand
Get for restoring of your Native Land?
Altho' I Armour want, as do my Men,
Tho' but Sixteen, 'gainst Fifty-Six, what then?
Here is a Sword made of the truest Steel,
Which thy deserving Neck shall shortly feel."
Then with one single Stroak cut down the Knave
And bade him purchase for himself a Grave.

At which the Fifty-Five fierce Gallicks then,
Environ'd Wallace and his Fifteen Men,
Who like brave Scots, with noble Hearts and true,
Fought, and a great deal of the Frenchmen slew.
'Mongst whom was the Knight's Brother stout and strong,
Who fought it like a Fury very long.
And dealt his Blows about him very fast,
But was cut all in Peices down at last.

Next page: Book XII, 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.