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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 VII, Chapter I (Continued)
How WALLACE burn't the Barns of Ayr, put Bishop Beik out of Glasgow, and killed Lord Peircy

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

So soon's the Woman saw them lying so,
Some Men she warned, and made to Laglane go.
Foremost she went her Faithfulness was such
At which good Wallace was comforted much.
He thanked God when as he saw them there,
"What News good Woman hast thou brought from Ayr?"
"Yon bloody Hounds," said she, "are all so drunk
With Wine, they're now all in a deep sleep sunk.
When I them left could not so much as see,
One single Scots-Man in their Company."
"If that be true, it's Time to steer my Stumps,
And set a Fire to their English Rumps."
To him resort Three hundred chosen Men,
Willing and ready their best Blood to spend.
Out of the Town there came good Ale and Bread,
And each Thing else whereof they stood in need:
They ate and drank, and welcome were for nought,
The Gentrie then Jop unto Wallace brought.

"Alace," said Wallace, "my dear Friends you see;
Our Kin are slain and murd'red barb'rously.
Therefore I pray for our poor Countrie's Sake,
Let's now advise what Course is best to take.
Your Warden tho' I chosen was to be,
Yet in the Place since I so many see,
Of as good Blood, and ancient Scots Descent,
And ev'ry way on Honour as much bent,
Forward and brave, in all good likelyhood,
As ever I; then let us here conclude,
To choose us Five of this good Company,
And then cast Lots who shall our Captain be.

Wallace, and Boyd, and Crawford of Renown,
And Adam then the Lord of Richartoun,
And Auchinleck, in War a skilful Man,
To cast the Lots about these five began.
On Wallace still unto their great Surprise,
The Lot did fall, tho' it was casten thrice.
Then Wallace rose, and out his Sword he drew,
And solemnly did to his Saviour vow,
And to the Virgin Mary that e'er long,
He should aveng'd be on the South'ron.

"I do protest," he said, "to all that's here,
For my brave Uncle's Death they shall pay dear.
And many more of our good worthy Kin,
Who's Blood they shed and did not mind the Sin.
For which I'll play them such an after Game,
Shall make them all pass thro' the fiery Flame;
Before I either Eat, or Drink, or Sleep,
This solemn Vow most sacredly I'll keep."
Then all most humbly, and with one Accord,
Receiv'd him as their Chieftain and their Lord.

Fine Chalk the Woman quickly does procure,
Wherewith she chalked ev'ry English Door:
And all the Gates which led unto the Streets,
Where South'ron sleep'd securely in their Sheets.
Then twenty Men he caused Widdies thraw,
No sooner spoke, than's Word it was a Law,
With which the Doors they instantly make fast,
To Hasp and Staple with a sicker Cast.
Boyd to the Castle past, the safest Way,
With fifty Men, and there in Ambush lay,
That in Revenge of his poor slaughter'd Kin,
None might escape of all that were within.
The rest with Wallace, all the Barns surround,
And noble Service from the Woman found.
Who Flax, and Fire, brought unto their Mind
And all Combustibles that she could find.

Wallace commanded all his Men about,
On pain of Death no South'ron should break out.
Nor rescu'd be, tho' he were of their Kin,
From the red Fire, or they should burn therein.
The Conflagration shin'd so clear and bright,
"Is not," said Wallace "this a pleasant Sight,
Our former Wrongs this will in part redress,
When these are gone, their Pow'r will be the less."
Then Wallace call'd with Majesty and Aw,
"Brave Justice, Sir, come execute your Law.
'Gainst us that Live, and are escap'd your Aire,
Deal not our Lands, for Faith that were not fair.
Thy cruel Bloodshed now confess and mourn,
And take thy Choise whither thou'll Hang or Burn."
With that the fiery Flames ascend aloft,
To sleeping Folk such wakening was not soft.
The Sight without was terrible to see
Then guess what cruel Pain within might be.
Which to the Bloody Monsters there befell,
Next to the Torments I may say of Hell.

The Buildings great were all burnt down that Night
None there escaped, Squire, Lord or Knight.
When great huge Roof Trees fell down them among
O such a sad and Melancholy Song;
Some naked burnt to Ashes all away
Some never rose, but smoth'red where they lay.
Others attempting to get to the Air:
With Fire and Smoke were burnt and choaked there
Their nauseous Smell none present could abide,
A just Reward; for Murder will not hide.
With Sorrow thus and many a grievous Groan,
They languish'd till their sinfull Days were gone.
Some sought the Door endeav'ring out to get,
But Scotsmen them so wisely did beset,
Out of the burning Flames whoever got,
Immediatly was cut down on the Spot.
Or driven back, with Fury in the Fire,
Such Wages got these Hangmen for their Hire.

A Friar Drumlaw, who Prior was of Air,
Sevenscore that Night upon him lodged were
Of South'ron Louns, for he an Inn did keep,
But watch'd them well till they fell all asleep.
The Smoak and Flame no sooner there arose,
Then he contriv'd Revenge upon his Foes.
Unto his Brethren Seven the Secret told
All stately Fellows sturdy brisk and bold
Who soon the English Armour do command:
And a choice Sword each one takes in his Hand.
In Harness thus, they doe themselves infold
And then the Friar leads on the Brothers bold.
These Eight brave Friars, to sundry Places goe
With Sword in Hand to ev'ry House went Two
Wherein the bloody drunken South'ron were,
And them dispatch'd, as they lay sleeping there.

Some did awake into that doleful Case,
Who naked fled, and got out of the Place.
Some Water sought, confus'dly thro' their Sleep,
Then drown'd in the Friar's Well both large and deep.
Thus slain and drown'd were all that lodged there,
Men call it since the Friar's Blessing of Ayr.
Few in the Castle that were Men of Note,
Remain'd alive but burnt were on the Spot.
Some, when the furious fiery Flames were out,
In haste came forth, not having the least Doubt,
Of Harm from Scots, either by Lass or Lad,
But far less from good Boyd his Ambuscade,
Who like a Soger prudent, wise, and douss,
Let them alone, then straight march'd to the House;
And won the Port, enter'd with all his Men,
Where only left were Keepers Nine or Ten.
The foremost soon he seized in his Hand,
Made quit of him, then slew the rest he fand.
Arnulph, who did refuse his Lodging there,
Was burnt to Ashes in the Barns of Ayr.

Provisions in the Castle there was none,
Not long before, from it was Piercy gone.
Boyd, there made Twenty of his Men to stand,
Then went and waited Wallace's Command.
Who kept the Town, till nothing left was there,
But raging Fire, and brave Buildings bare.
Of Englishmen in Spite of all their Might,
By Sword and Fire, Five Thousand dy'd that Night.

Next page: Book VII, Chapter I (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.

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