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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 III
How WALLACE killed the Lyon.

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

The King of France by no Means does neglect,
To put on Wallace Marks of great Respect.
For many Battles had he fought and won,
And for the King, great Fates and Service done.
Had Guyen Land from South'ron Foes redeem'd,
And was a mighty Conqueror esteem'd.
Which gall'd the Courtiers, almost put them mad,
That he was in such Estimation had.
And 'cause he had the Two French Champions kill'd,
Were with Envy, great Spite, and Malice fill'd.
For plainly they discover'd now and saw,
It was the King protect'd him from the Law.

For which Two Squires hellishly do plot,
How to destroy the brave Heroick Scot.
Who near Relations were, as you must know,
Unto the late deceased Champions Two.
And in this Manner do they undertake,
The Wallace brave, a Sacrifice to make.
The King, a cruel Lyon had, which scarce
Could be govern'd, 'twas so exceeding fierce,
Which the Two Squires, knowing by and by,
Came to the King and forg'd a cursed Lie.

"This Scot," said they, "his Bragg and Boast doth make,
And plainly says that he will undertake
To fight your Lyon, if you'll freely give
Him your Allowance, Liberty, and Leave.
This he desired us of you to ask,
We're sure he'll have a most difficult Task."
To which with great Concern reply'd the King,
"I'm sorry he desires such a Thing,
Yet I will not deny what e'er may chance,
The Favour that he'll ask me while in France."
Gladly away they went to Wallace, where,
Like Rogues they counterfit the Story there.
"Wallace," said they, "the King Commands that you
Will fight his Lyon without more ado."

Wallace replys, "What ever is his will,
Unto my Pow'r most gladly I'll fulfill."
Then to the King did instantly repair.
A Lord at Court when he saw Wallace there,
Most foolishly, ask'd him if he durst fight
With the fierce Lyon, who reply'd on Sight.
"Yes, truely, if the King would have it so,
Or with your self, I fear none of the Two.
Let Cowards from Kings Courts be all debar'd,
I may be worsted, but shall ne'er be dar'd.
So long's my Nostrils any Breath remains,
Or Scottish Blood does circle in my Veins.
Like a true Scot I'll fight and scorn to fly,
For why, I know that Man is born to dye."

Then by the King, in short it granted was,
That Wallace might unto the Lyon pass.
Yet all this Time knew nothing of the Plot,
So deeply laid against the Noble Scot.
Nor in the Matter further did enquire,
Thinking it was good Wallace own Desire.
Mean Time of him, so Tender was the King,
He order'd Harness quickly there to bring.
"No," Wallace said, "I leave that to the Field,
Almighty God shall only be my Shield,
Since this is but a Beast and not a Man,
With what I have, I'll fight him as I can.
And will encounter single as I goe,
This strong, rapacious, cruel, savage Foe."

About one Hand he did his Mantle wrap,
And in the other did his broad Sword clap.
Then briskly without any further stay,
Came to the Place where the fierce Lyon lay.
Who ramping rose against him where he stood,
Dreadfully roar'd, expecting present Blood.
Then Wallace drew a Stroak from Neck to Heel,
With his good Sword made of the burnish'd Steel,
And gave the Lyon such a dreadful Blow,
As cut his Body cliverly in two.

Then to the King, he call'd aloud in Ire,
"Pray, Sir," said he, "is this your whole Desire?
Thus to expose me to the Rage and Will,
Of your fierce Lyon, have you more to kill?
Cause bring them forth, such Beasts since I must quell,
I will obey, so long's I with you dwell.
But now of France for ever I take leave,
Some greater Action I may soon achieve.
At Scemen, Sir, I thought the other Year,
You would have other Bus'ness for me here,
Than fight a cruel savage Beast, wherefore,
To Ancient Scotland I'll return once more."

Next page: Book XII, Chapter III (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.