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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 II, Chapter I
How WALLACE kill'd the Churle with his own Staff in Ayr.

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Young Wallace now cliver of Lith and Limb,
With gracefull Air appears, both Tight and Trim;
Which with his many other youthfull Charms,
Confounds the South'ron, highly them alarms.
His glorious Actions early did presage,
A humbling Stroak to cruel South'ron Rage:
Which did so many of his Friends destroy,
As scarce was known since Adam was a Boy.

Yet the late fishing, makes poor Wallace fond
At Ochter-House a little to abscond;
Then to the Laigland-Wood when it grew late,
To make a silent and a soft retreat.
Some little Time thereafter did repair,
Unto the pleasant ancient Town of Ayr;
Closs by the Wood did there dismount his Horse,
Then on his Foot walk'd gravely to the Cross.
Lord Piercy did command the Castle then,
And the whole Town did swarm with Englishmen.
Which sight no doubt did Wallace much confound,
Yet never dash'd, but briskly walk'd around;
Tho' some affirm, which I am apt to trow,
He in his Heart curs'd the Barbarian Crew.
And being prompted by his youthful Age,
Could scarce refrain his Passion and his Rage.
But passing over this, I now make haste,
To entertain you with a handsome Jest.

Into the Town liv'd a hudge English Fellow,
All overgrow'n with Gutts of T—–rd and Tallow
Who greatly brag'd of his prodigious Strength,
Which cost him dear as you shall hear at length.
A greater burden, said this Prince of Sotts,
He'd bear, than any Three good sturdy Scots,
And with a Staff like a Stage-dancers Pole,
For one poor Groat he would permit and thole:
The strongest Man to beat him on the Back;
So imprudently did the Carle crack.

Which Story when it came to Wallace Ear,
To smile and laugh he scarce could well forbear;
He told the Fellow that he would be willing,
For one Scots blow to give an English Shilling.
The greedy Wretch did freely condescend,
Which quickly brought him to his fatal End:
Then Wallace gave him such a dreadful Thump
Upon his back, closs by his great fat Rump,
That to the View of all were present there,
He clave his Rig-bone, and he ne'er spake mair.
Thus dy'd the Wretch for a poor Price and small,
And his great English Hurdies pay'd for all.

With Swords round Wallace then the English flock
He no Ways dash'd did his Steel Bonnet cock,
And struck a South'ron with that trusty Tree,
Out ov'r the Head till Brains and Bones did flee,
Then cliverly with such good Will and Luck,
On the Steel Baisnet hath another struck,
Till, tho', the noble Tree it frush'd and rave,
He kill'd the Fellow and turn'd to the lave;
Then with an awful grace he made a paw,
And out his Sword with Majesty did draw;
Which clear'd his way like a true Friend indeed,
And quickly help'd him to a sturdie Steed.

Two foutie Fellows there, that griev'd him most
He dous'd their Doublets rarely to their Cost:
His anger kindled, to such height it grew,
With one good stroak the foremost there he slew,
A Blow he got upon the other Knave;
Till his good Sword, down thro' his Body drave.
Five South'ron he, 'twixt Hope and great Despair,
Kill'd on the Spot; now was not that right fair.
Out thro' the Town, his Way did cleanly force,
Made his Escape and then did mount his Horse:
To Langlands fled, his Time he well did use,
And left the Blades all sleeping in their Shoes.
Him Foot and Horse pursue to overtake,
But the thick Trees his Refuge he did make.

Provisions come to him from Ochter House,
And ev'ry Thing that was fit for his use:
Such necessarys they to him afford,
As to suply him, both to Bed and Board.
Good Wallace then upon a Time at length,
Return'd to Ayr, as he recover'd strength,
But ah it prov'd a most unlucky Day,
I wish to Jove that he had stay'd away.
Sir Rannald's Servant for some Fish he sent,
That Errand O! that Wallace had miskent,
For as you'll quickly understand, and hear,
The Sauce was Sharp, and cost him very dear.

Next page: Book II, Chapter II

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.