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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 VIII, Chapter IV (Continued)
The Siege of YORK

Read a synopsis of this chapter in modern American English.

The Scotsmen there behav'd extrem'ly well,
As the poor South'ron sensibly did feel.
Then all the English left the Field and fled,
And Sir John Mortoun he was killed Dead.
Twelve Hundred more upon the Field are slain,
The rest fled back unto the Town again.
And then good Wallace with his valiant Host
Return'd, each Man unto his proper Post,
And took them Rest, wherewith so fresh they grew,
They on the Morn assault the the Town of new.
Against the City all their Force do bend,
And fight, as if they had been more then Men.

But now their Victualls to be scarce begin,
Tho' little knew the English-Men within.
Who that same Day, a Parley caus'd be beat,
At which good Wallace did appear in State.
Attended by some of his chiefest Friends,
And boldly asketh, what the Parley means.
To whom, the Major in Name of all did say,
"We'll pay a Ransom, if you'll march away.
We would give Battle, or do any Thing,
Would purchase Peace; but dare not for our King."

Then with a Countenance austere and bold,
Wallace reply'd, "We value not your Gold.
Your King he promis'd, we should Battle have,
Which Faithfully under his Seal he gave."
The Major did then reply most Courteously,
"He is the King, and we but Subjects be.
Therefore we pray, as you would us oblige,
To take our Gold and do remove the Siege."

Then with his Council he consulted long,
Who thought the Town, for Siege was too too strong,
And Victuals scarce, therefore it safer found,
To take some Gold, then march for Scottish Ground.
Wallace reply'd, "I'm not all content,
Unless the Town give us their whole Consent:
To let our Banner blow upon their Wall,
And there to flourish, in the sight of all."
This Answer soon was sent unto the Major,
Who did consent, with all the rest were there.
The Banner set, to Scotland's great Renown,
Upon the Walls from Eight to Twelve at Noon.
Then was Five Thousand Pound of English Gold,
Pay'd down in Specie, to that Army bold.
Good Bread, and Wine, they gladly to them gave,
And all Provisions that they pleas'd to have.

Twenty long Days at York remained they,
Then gloriously in Triumph march'd away.
Unto the Country back again they're gone,
Burn'd and broke down fine Buildings, spared none.
All Myldlame they burn'd up into a Fire,
Broke down the Parks, destroyed all the Shire.
Wild Deer they slew, for other Beasts were none,
And fed like Princes on good Vennison.
Toward the South, they turned at the last,
Made Buildings bare, as far as e're they past.

The Commons now, for London all design,
Where they most freely tell the King their Mind.
Unless from Wars, he would cause Wallace cease,
They'd take Protection and accept his Peace.
No Herauld then durst unto Wallace go,
The King, to him his Faith had broken so.
And Edward, that was once so bold and pert,
His Army now, does cowardly desert.

So long in England, there was never one
Since Brutu's Death except Wallace alone
That march'd from England, without stroak of Sword;
Fy on the King, that broke his royal Word.
Great Julius for all his Strength and Force,
Was chas'd from England twice, and got the worse,
With Arthur als, first when the Wars he priv'd,
Twice did they fight, altho' they were mischiev'd.
But awful Edward durst not Wallace bide,
In a plain Battle, for all England wide.
In London lay, at his own Ease and Rest,
And brake his Vows: which of them think you best?

Wallace's Host for Scotland, long to go,
So scarce the Victuals, every Day did grow.
Immediatly good Wallace calls for Jop;
In him, was all his Confidence and Hope,
Next unto GOD, because he knew the Land,
And still was ready to obey Command.
Who said, "If you'll advised be by me,
The Plentiest part of England you shall see.
Good Wine and Wheat you'll get in Richmond Shire,
And each Thing else unto your Heart's Desire."
Thither they went, their Time did not purloyn;
Nine Thousand Scots did there with Wallace joyn.
All swinging, able, lusty, well look'd Men,
He and his Host had great rejoicing then.
Into that Shire, Plenty had of Food,
Both tame and wild, and ev'ry Thing was good.
Throughout that Land they march'd in good array,
A handsome Place then found upon the Way;
Ramswatch to Name, then Jop to Wallace told
Fechew was Lord and Captain of that Hold.

Five Hundred there, quickly assembled then,
To save their Lives and Goods from Wallace Men.
A noble House stood by the Forrest Side,
With stately Turrets, in great Pomp and Pride.
Well built about for Strength, ingeniously,
With Five great Towers that mounted very high.
Numbers of Men, upon the Walls are seen,
Bravading in their Armour, clear and clean.
The Host march'd by, not one Word said at all,
But they within, aloud on Wallace call.
Their Trumpets blew, with many a warlike Sound,
Then Wallace said, had we yon Gallants down
On a plain Ground; they should get Sport their fill,
Such as his Brother got on Tinto Hill.

Sir John the Graham would at the Bicker be,
But Wallace soon the Danger did forsee.
Commanded him to let alone his Haste,
"We have no Men so foolishly to waste.
But yet to gratifie your fond Desire,
Our first Attack shall be with burning Fire.
I see their Bulwark of old with'red Oak,
Were that one Fire it would not bide a Stroak.
Houses and Woods in plenty here there be,
Who hews best of this Forrest let me see.
Pull Houses down, let each Man take his turn –
Old Timber, will make green Wood bravely burn."

Next page: Book VIII, 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.

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