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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 IV
How WALLACE came again to Scotland, and The Battle of Elchock Park.

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Wallace in silent Watches of the Night
Did land his Men, long time e'er it was Light.
And by good Luck, before the break of Day,
The Ship shear'd off, and safely got away,
From Earn's Mouth to Elchok quickly then,
He march't with Eighteen stout, brave, valiant Men,
Who, when he had approached pretty near,
To Crawford's House his own Relation dear,
In the back-side, a Window there did find,
Thro' which he called for his Cousin kind.
Who when he knew that it was Wallace wight
Did not delay, but came to him on Sight.

Embrac'd and kiss'd, you may be very sure,
It was a blythsome, glad and joyfull Hour.
How to dispose of Wallace and his Men,
Was the next Point to be considered then;
How to secure them, till they got some Rest,
And were with Meat and Drink and Sleep refresh't.
In a great Mow of Corn he them did darn,
Most cunningly within a spacious Barn.
On the North-Side a private Hole was wrought,
Thro' which they had all due Provision brought.
For Bed and Board nothing they lack'd at all,
The Time they lodg'd within that threshing Hall.

In their Corn-Castle most securely dwelt,
For several Days, and no Disturbance felt,
Till Meat fell short unto the honest Core,
Then to St. Johnstoun, Crawford went for more.
Where subtile South'ron Foes most cunningly
Took notice what Provision he did buy.
And thought the Quantity a great deal more,
Then he was wont to buy in Times before.
For which immediately they him suspect,
And honest Crawford's gripped by the Neck.
Where Brevi manu, without any Shade
Of Law, or Justice, he's in Prison laid.
"What Guests has thou," said one, "and for who's Sake
Does thou so mighty great Provision make?"

Crawford reply'd, "Sir, I have ne'er a Guest,
All this is only for a kirking Feast."
But it was dreaded and alleg'd by some,
That Wallace he from France was lately come.
And that they might know whether it was true,
Most subtilly devise what's next to do.
Set's Crawford free, and in good Harness then,
Do quickly put Eight Hundred chosen Men,
And at a due convenient Distance from
Good honest Crawford, they do Dog him Home.

Whom when good Wallace saw, he did exclaim
Against his Conduct, said, he was to blame.
Who did expose himself so much unto,
The cunning Notice of the South'ron Foe.
"In sleep this Night, by Vision I was told,
That thou had me unto the South'ron sold."
"Sir, that shall be the last Thing I'll attempt,
My Neck has not such itching after Hemp.
Black be their Cast, great Rogues, to say no more,
Their Generation all I do abhore."
"Yea, for my Country, since I went away,
I did expect my dearest Blood should pay,
And that I should no doubt a Martyr been,
And never more the Scottish Hero seen.
The Prison strong and cruel, where I lay,
Will testify the Truth of what I say."
"Quickly get up, and take you to the Fields,
I greatly fear the Rogues are at my Heels.
I'll give you all Assistance that I can;
For I my self shall be the Twentieth Man."

The worthy Scots got up with merry speed,
Unto their Arms, and were not slack indeed.
Then suddenly, the South'ron all appear,
Eight Hundred Men in Armour bright and clear.
And on their Head was Butler that young Knight,
To Twenty Men a formidable Sight.
When Wallace saw, his Number was so few,
He from the Plains to Elchok Park withdrew.
Where he a certain sort of Pass espy'd,
Which nat'rally was so well fortify'd,
With great and closs grown Hollin on each Hand,
As might the South'ron's first Attack withstand.

Great, long, tall Trees across he there did lay,
Then to his Men courageously did say:
"The Wood is thick, tho' small in breadth and length,
Had we but Meat enough, we'd keep the Strength.
Mean Time let us go on with Heart and Hand,
And bravely fight so long as we can stand:
For our old native Country, valiantly,
Come let us to it either do or die.
Before they gain the Pass, I'm much inclin'd,
To lay some of their Bellies to the Wind."

Next page: Book XII, Chapter IV (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.