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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 VI (Continued)
How WALLACE was betray'd by Sir John Monteith, carry'd to England and martyr'd there.

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

The following Story savouring of the superstitious Credulity of the People and deceitfull Cousenage of the Monks of these Times, we have notwithstanding insert, lest we should seem at our own Hands rashly to omit any Thing that we found in our Copy; to the End we may be admonished to study Thankfulness to GOD, who hath now open'd our Eyes to see thro' the Mist wherewith these former Ages were blinded.

A Monk there was in Burie Abbay then,
The most Religious of that Sect of Men.
Another there of the same Order stood,
That knew his Life, Chast, Innocent and good.
The younger Monk, to know hid secrets fond,
Of the old Father did obtain a Bond,
That after Death he would return and tell,
What Things he knew concerning Heaven and Hell.
Whose Sp'rit removing from the World vain,
Did at the Time appointed come again
To the young curious Monk in Figure bright,
Fully resembling that of Lantern light.
A Fire Brand he in his Fore-Head bore,
Which did surprize the Monk, and fright him sore.

Then said a Voice, "GOD hath me granted Grace,
To keep the Promise I made in this Place."
"Where art thou now, I thee Conjure to tell,"
Said the young Monk, "whether in Heaven, or Hell."
"In Purgatory," said the Spirit, "where
I must remain for half a Year and mair.
And after that shall have a Passage even,
That will Conduct and lead me safe to Heaven.
Yet unto thee I freely must declare,
Two yet alive shall be before me there."

"The first of these, if you would know him then,
Hath in his Life kill'd a great deal of Men.
Yet shall a Martyr dy on Wednesday next,
Which for that Purpose is the Day prefix't."
"I fear he shall not have so good a Fate,"
Said the young Monk, "for GOD doth Slaughter hate."
"It's Wallace," said the Sp'rit, "pray, understand,
That took a Just, and Righteous War in Hand,
For his own Country, 'gainst a cruel Foe.
Therefore to Heav'n he certainly must go."

"Next a poor Priest, to be commended much,
Whose Gratitude and Thankfullness was such,
That tho' his Livings were but small and mean,
Was satisfi'd and never did complain.
He certainly before me must also,
Unto the holy Heavenly Mansions go.
I am the Third by the Almighty's Grace,
Brother," he said, "shall go unto that Place."

"At which Relation," said the curious Monk,
"Tell I this Story, Folks will call me drunk.
And tell me that I either Dream or Rave."
"Then," said the Sp'rit, "this Witness thou shall have:
The Bells shall ring in spite of earthly Pow'r,
That Day he's kill'd, the space of half an Hour."
Which came to pass, a Thing both strange and odd,
Was publish'd and believ'd, thro' Britain broad.

The Sp'rit departed and the Monk went Home,
But I proceed to Wallace Martyrdom.
Who by the armed Soldiers from his Bed,
Upon the fatal Wednesday forth was led,
To be a Victim to the South'ron's Rage,
Since nothing less their Fury could asswage.
Where meekly he casting his Eyes about,
Did for a Priest Religiously call out.
Which Edward did refuse, and with next Breath
Discharg'd his Clergy, all on pain of Death.
The Bishop then of Canterbury, broke
Out in a holy Passion and thus spoke.

"Here I protest against such Wickedness;
In spite of thee, O King, I'll him Confess.
And if thro' Force thou stop me from this Thing,
I vow to GOD, my righteous Heav'nly King,
O'er England all I shall thee Interdict,
And make it known thou art a Heritick.
The holy Sacrament I shall him give,
Then take thy choice to starve or let me live.
It were more Honour for thy Crown, I say,
To Save his Life then thus to take't away.
Thou all thy Life hast rung in sinfull Deed,
As shall be seen on thee or on thy Seed."

At which the King enrag'd commands to seize
The holy Bishop, nothing else would please.
His Lords intreated he might not do so,
But for the Churches sake would let him go.
Each good Man thought the Bishop in the Right,
Who gravely walk'd to Wallace upon Sight,
Heard his Confession all unto the End,
And humbly did his Sp'rit to GOD commend.
Then took his leave, no longer did abide,
But to Westminster straight away did ride.

Wallace about him, from his Child-hood kept,
Where e'er he went, whither he walk'd or slept,
A Psalter Book, which he beseech'd the Knight,
Lord Clifford, might be brought into his Sight.
Which done, he caus'd a Priest upon the Place
To hold it open straight before his Face,
On which he look'd, sometimes his Eyes up cast,
Religiously unto his very last.
Then quickly came the Executioner who,
Gave him the fatal, and the Mortal blow.

Thus in Defence, that Hero ends his Days,
Of Scotland's Right, to his immortal Praise.
Whose valiant Acts, were all recorded fair,
Written in Latin by the famous Blair,
Who at that Time the Champion did attend,
Was an Eye-Witness and his Chaplain then.
And after that as History does tell
Confirm'd by Sinclair, Bishop of Dunkel.


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.