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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 III, Chapter I
How WALLACE revenged the slaughter of his Father and of his Brother on LOUDON-HILL

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

Now July deck'd in all her trim Array,
On Hill and Dale did Fruits and Flow'rs display
Blyth was each Beast that breaks the tender Blade
Of Grass, or Nibbles in the Green-Wood shade;
And Store of Fish came in at ev'ry Firth,
Most dainty Cheer, and got with mickle Mirth,
But Scotland all this while, sad skaith of Wars,
Oppress'd with Want in doleful Case appears.
For many a Day throughout this hurry'd Land
No Plough was drawn, but Labour at a stand:
So that by August came with lack of Meat,
Our Folk with thin Chaft-Blades look'd unco' Bleat.

But English-Men, who wanted not for Gear,
Were well hain'd Callans, and had ay good Cheer.
For to them duly in good Waggons came
All Things to gust the Gab, and cram the Wame.
Well Fed were they; nor wanted to propine
Among their Friends; but tifted canty Wine.
So cruce they grew, might no Man them withstand,
But as they lik'd they rul'd o'er all this Land,
Till Tidings came, that Wallace stout and fair
Had broke their Prison in the Town of Ayr;
Which when they heard, they suddenly were cast
Into the Dumps, and stood right sore Agast.

Earl Piercy too, when he had heard this Tale,
E'en thol'd the Loss, as he had tint his Cale;
And thus he spoke, "I mickle dread that we,
My merry Men, this doleful Day shall dree.
For if so be that Wallace is not fast,
From Edward's Yoke he'll free this Land at last.
So Prophesies of Old-long-Time have said,
As they inform who Antique Legends read;
And tho' of Legends we and Spells might doubt,
Yet well the Loun, I ken, and ken him stout.
And think it better, since better may not be,
To fleech him off, with Gold and Land in Fee.
Might he stand stedfast for King Edward, then
Might all the Land be rul'd by English-Men.
By Force, his late escaping let's us see,
Not to be dung, or vanquished is he."

Thus they forsooth, to Wallace we return:
Sore thrawn was he, and did with Anger burn.
In Richartoun no longer would he bide,
For Friends Advice or ought that might betide.
So when they saw their Counsel all was tint,
They let him take his Will, and furth he went,
To venge him, if he might upon the Plain,
On South'ron Blood that had his Kindred slain.

Sir Richard had three Sons, as has been told,
Adam, Richard, and Simeon, brave and bold:
The eldest Adam, might no Man him flee,
So stout, tho' Aged but Eighteen was he,
Of Person large, right hardy wise and wight;
Thereafter good King Robert made him Knight.
For in the Bruce's Wars his trusty Arm,
On English-Men had oft wrought mickle Harm.
This valiant Squire with Wallace forth did ride.
Into the Field, and so did Robert Boyd,
A canty Carle, who scorn'd, he was so cruce,
The English Yoke, nor with their King made truce.
Cleland was there, who was of Wallace Blood,
And had with him full oft in Perils stood,
And Edward Little, his Sisters Son so dear;
A goodly Gang, all graith'd in Armour clear.

Accouter'd thus, from Richartoun they rode,
To Machlin-Mure, but short time there abode;
For Friends inform'd them, that in Bondage were,
How Fenwick straight was coming on to Ayr,
With Waggon Loads of Vittal, and rich spoil,
And good Purvey, they brought them from Carlile.
This Wallace heard, a blyth Man then was he,
And inly gran'd at bloody Game to be.
To Lowdon then they trysted straight to ride,
And in a Shaw a little there beside
They lodg'd them, and being it was Night,
Kept Watch from gloming till the Morning Light.
A good true Scot, who kept a Stabling there
By Lowdon-Hill a true Scot late and air,
Frae be't he saw them, came within a Blink,
And brought them wealth of Meat and tosie Drink,
Syn told them, how the Carriage-Men in Haste,
Had sent Fore-riders who to Ayr had past,
Leaving the Rest with Pow'r of great Avail,
Who were by then, he trow'd in Annandale.

Then Wallace said we must not sojourn here,
Nor change our Weeds, but wear our ilk-day Gear.
For ay since from his Prison he got free,
A Summer-Weed was all the Weed had he,
Harness except, which still he wore for Life,
To work his will in case of sudden Strief.
A good Habergion cover'd with his Gown,
Was in his Hand, a Steel-Cap on his Crown.
Two Gloves of Plate his Hands did guard full well;
Close was his Doublet, and the Collar Steel.
His Face when he came in among strange Folk,
He held it best to hide within his Cloak.
Else in the Battle it was ever bare:
On Foot no Champion might with him compare,
So strong he was, so Terrible and Sture;
His dreadful Dints were gruesome to endure.
More did they set if Wallace had been taen,
Than if a Hundred South'ron Lowns were slain.

These worthy Scots would now no longer stay;
To Lowdon-Hill they past by break of Day,
Devis'd the Place, and loose their Horses turn,
And thought to win, or never home return.
Two Scouts they sent to visit well the Plain,
But they right soon returned in again,
Reporting, how the Foes were coming fast;
Then quickly on the Ground they all them cast,
Praying with humble Heart the GOD of Might,
Them to protect, and Scotland's broken Right.
In Harness bright they graith'd them readily,
Nor flinch'd there One of all the Company.
Said Wallace then, "Here was my Father slain,
And Brother dear which doth me mickle Pain;
So shall my self, or veng'd be on that Head,
The Traitor here, that caus'd the fellon Deed."

No longer tarrying, now with hearty Will
Incontinent they hy'd them up the Hill.
Fenwick the Knight the Convoy did command;
And mickle Dole had he wrought in the Land.
The Sun was up, and dight in bright Array,
When English-Men saw them upon the Brae.
Them as he saw, said Fenwick to his Men,
"Yon Wallace is, for well the Lown I ken.
Tho' he so lately did our Prison break,
Soon gripp'd again, he's no have leave to crack.
His Head, I ken, would better please our King
Than Gold, or Land, or any earthly Thing."
With Carriage he his Servants bade bide still,
Then with the lave he thought to work his Will.

Ninescore he led in Harness burnish'd bright;
And Fifty were with Wallace in the Right.
Unrebated the South'ron were in Weir,
And fast they came, full awful in Effeir.
A Dyke of Stones they had quite round them made,
And proudly there with great Rampaging rade.
The Scots on Foot the Pass took them before;
The South'ron saw, their Courage was the more.
In prideful Ire they thought oe'r them to ride;
But not as they did wish it chanc'd that Tide.
For Scots on Foot, great room about them made
With prancing Spears, and sore upon them laid.
The South'ron, who were arm'd in Plates of Steel,
That Day did reckon to avenge them well,
And rudely on their Horse about them rade,
That scarce with Ease upon their Feet they bade.

Wallace the foremost met so fell and keen,
The wayward Spear went through his Body clean.
Then Swords were drawn both heavy, sharp and lang,
On either Side full cruelly they dang.
A sore Assailzie then then there might be seen
Of Horse and Men, as e'er was on the Green.
The English-Men, who were expert in Weir,
Thought by main Force the Scots quite down to bear
And with their Horse environ'd them about,
That of the Day they made no longer doubt.
But our Men stoutly to their Orders stood,
And dy'd the Field that Day with South'ron Blood.

Fenwick, their Captain dight in glittering Gear,
Did on a prancing Steed that Day appear;
Forth to the thickest Fight he hies him fast,
And syne his Spear with dreadful Fury cast.
A cruel Chiel he was and unco' keen;
Of Wallace Father he the Death had been,
And Brother also, whom he held so dear,
Who when he saw the Traitor Knight was near,
Outrageous as a hungry Lyon grew,
And at full speed to claw his Noddle flew;
Syn at the Lown a fearfull Fleg let flee,
That from his Rumple shear'd away his Thigh.
Ere he was dead, a throng came in so fast,
Poor Robert Boyd was almost smor'd at last.
Wallace was near and turn'd in again
To rescue him, then chas'd them through the Plain.
The Remnant follow'd after them full fast,
And drave the South'ron, till they were aghast.

There Adam Wallace, Heir of Richartown
Ane Beaumont strake a Squire of much Renoun,
Right Belly-flaught, so that withoutten mair
The burnish'd Weapon him in sunder share.
Some English yet, altho' their Chief was slain,
Them still abode as Men of mickle Main;
Where Wallace was their Deed was little ken'd,
Tho' they did all themselves for to defend.
For he behav'd himself so worthily,
With Robert Boyd, and all their Chivalry,
That not a Southeron ere Even-tide,
Might any longer in that Stour abide,
But thought their Part was plainly for to flee,
Which e'en as many did as could win free.

An Hundred at this Bruilliement were kill'd;
Three Yeo-men Wallace left upon the Field,
Two were of Kyle, and One of Cunningham,
Who left to follow Wallace their own Hame.
Of English-Men Fourscore escap'd that Day,
Leaving their Convoy to the Scots a Prey,
Who there got wealth of Gold, and other Gear,
Harness and Horse, and Things of Use in Weir.
The English Knaves they made the Carriage lead
To Clyde's Green-Wood, till they were out of dread;
Syn fair and fast with Widdies they them band
To Boughs of Trees, and hang'd them out of hand.
None did they spare that able was for Weir;
But Priests and Women they did ay forbear.
When this was done, full blyth they went to dine;
For they no scant of Vittal had, or Wine.
Tenscore of harnest Horse they got that Day,
Beside good Provender, and other Prey.

The South'ron now, who from the Field did fly,
With Sorrow to the Town of Ayr them hie.
There to Lord Piercy dolefully relate
Their sad Disaster, and unsonsy Fate,
What skaith he got and who were slain in Fight,
And how his Men were hang'd by Wallace wight.
Said Piercy then, "If Wallace long we bear,
Out of this Land he shall exile us clear.
Certes when lately he our Prisoner was
O'er slothfully our Keeper let him pass.
Not safe ev'n in this Fortress shall we be,
Since now our Vittal we must bring by Sea.
Besides it grieves me for our Men so true,
Our Kin the Day that we came here may rue."

Next page: Book III, 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.