Saturday, July 31, 2010

DeFoe Pilloried

Daniel DeFoe ended the month of July 1703 in a pillory, found guilty of seditious libel, largely in the pamphlet "The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters".  High Church Tories were this pamphlet's main targets.   Reportedly, the public barraged DeFoe with flowers, rather than something more disgusting during his confinement. 

Walter Scott had no say in Defoe's punishment, but he did make some critical comments regarding his work:  "Defoe seems to have written too rapidly to pay the least attention to his circumstances; the incidents are huddled together like paving-stones discharged from a cart, and as little connexion between the one and the other."

Friday, July 30, 2010

More of the Tour to Waterloo and Paris

'...In the evening we reached Newcastle, whence we proceeded next morning to York. The coach was quite full, and we had not of course much conversation. Scott was, I believe, chiefly engaged in reading " Scott's Visit to Paris" during the greater part of the way.

We attended service in the Cathedral on Sunday ; and on arriving at Hull in the afternoon, were informed, that in order to reach the ports of Holland it was necessary to continue our journey as far as Harwich...'
The tour began three days ago.  Walter Scott and his entourage attended services at York Cathedral on July 30, 1815.  The book Walter was reading along the way, "Scott's Visit to Paris" was written by travel-mate John Scott who authored the "Journal of a tour to Waterloo..." from which today's post derives.  The difficulty of writing an original travelogue on Paris was current even then, as (John) Scott notes:
"PARIS, which lately was the safest of all subjects for a writer to select, is now, or at least will be, by the time this work can make its appearance, one of the most dangerous. Where is the family that has not sent out its traveller, or travellers, to the capital of France? Minute oral accounts of its wonders have been rendered at every tea-table. Criticisms on its arts, and manners, have found their way, in soft whispers, across shop-counters, and sleep has been expelled from the insides of stage-coaches by anecdotes of its events and its inhabitants. How many letters have been despatched, from the very spot of observation, to " dear papas," and " dear mammas," and other dears, not likely to feel less interested in the communications of the writers ! Where is the news-paper, weekly or daily, that has net to boast of its special series of articles on Paris ? What review has not been crowded with criticisms, on the many pamphlets, and volumes, that have had this city for their theme ? A style of information, adapted to the particular taste of every class of inquirers, has surely, then, by this time, been furnished; and as to facts, perhaps it would be more serviceable to take from, than add to, the number that have already been recorded...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mary Queen of Scots Marries Lord Darnley

"This is the Castle of Crookstone," said the Lady Fleming, "in which the Queen held her first court after she was married to Darnley..."

Walter Scott refers to Lord Darnley, Henry Stuart, several times in "The Abbot", as above.  The story line of "The Abbot" however, begins with Mary's imprisonment at Lochleven Castle, long after Darnley's murder, and Mary's subsequent marriage to Bothwell.

Mary and Henry's wedding took place on July 29, 1565.  It was an ill-fated union, though it did produce an heir, James VI of Scotland/James I of England and Ireland.  The marriage ended less than two years after it began, with Darnley's murder on February 10, 1567.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Double Header

July 28, 1540 was a big day in the life of King Henry VIII.  Early on his list of to-do's that day was the beheading of his former minister Thomas Cromwell, guilty of treason for recommending Henry marry Anne of Cleves.  Henry could not bring himself to consumate his marriage with Anne.

Next on his list that day was his marriage to Catherine Howard.  This one he would consumate; it was Catherine who was repulsed.  Catherine lasted until February 13, 1542, when she was executed for failing to disclose a marriage contract that predated her marriage to Henry.  There were also many stories of Catherine's indiscretions that reached Henry's ear.

Walter Scott includes Henry VIII, or the circumstances of his times in more than one work.  In his poem Marmion, the title character is a favorite of Henry's.  Marmion had marital troubles of his own:


"Still was false Marmion's bridal staid;
To Whitby's convent fled the maid,
The hated match to shun.
'Ho! shifts she thus?' king Henry cried,
'Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,
If she were sworn a nun.'
One way remained—the King's command
Sent Marmion to the Scottish land:
I linger'd here, and rescue plann'd
For Clara and for me:
This caitiff Monk for gold did swear
He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
And by his drugs my rival fair
A saint in heaven should be.
is But ill the dastard kept his oath,
Whose cowardice has undone us both.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tour to Waterloo and Paris

Summer is a good time to think of light topics such as travel. With that in mind, Sir Walter Scott embarked on a trip to the continent on July 27, 1815.  The trip is described in his cousin and traveling companion John Scott's "Journal of a Tour to Waterloo and Paris, in company with Sir Walter Scott".

'Shortly after the surrender of Paris to the Allies in 1815, I was informed that Sir Walter Scott proposed, in company with Mr. Alexander Pringle the younger, of Whythank, and Mr. Robert Bruce, advocate, to visit Belgium and France during summer; and having had the good fortune to be admitted as a party in this interesting excursion, I set out with them to Newcastle on the 27th of July.

No communication had been established between Holland and the northern part of the British coast since the conclusion of hostilities ; we therefore determined to make for Kingstonon-Hull, as being the nearest seaport where we could hope to meet with a packet bound for the Continent.

Our first halt was at Lauder, where we breakfasted ; and I remember Sir Walter entering the inn with a quotation, which he was fond of repeating on such occasions,

" Their breakfast so warm to be sure they did eat,
A custom in travellers mighty discreet." ...'

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Legend of Don Roderick

King of Hispania Don Roderick achieved fame, despite ruling only for a year or two, primarily for being the last king of the Goths.  His demise, credited by Arabic sources (per Bernard Bachrach) as occurring on July 26, 711, came at the hands of the muslim Tariq ibn Zayad.  Zayad had been sent to Iberia initially to survey territory by Musa ibn Nasayr, who was based in Saudi Arabia.  Zayad ended up conquering much of the Iberian Peninsula, with an army of Arabs and Berbers.

Roderick's fate seems to have hinged on an indiscretion committed with a court-woman named Florinda, who was the daughter of Count Julian of Ceuta.  Julian was based in North Africa, and had successfully withstood the Umayyad conquest of North Africa at Tangiers.  But when he learned that his daughter had been impregnated by Roderick, so the story goes, he turned to Musa ibn Nasayr, offering his assistance in conquering Iberia.  Roderick's death occurred during, or as a result of, the Battle of Guadalete.

Don Roderick's brief reign, and the historical circumstances surrounding this reign, inspired several works of poetry and fiction.  Notable writers on the topic include Southey, Landor, Irving, and of course, Scott.  Scott wrote his poem "The Vision of Don Roderick" about the event.  A segment of the poem is below, with the full poem available at:


"And if Florinda's shrieks alarmed the air,
If she invoked her absent sire in vain,
And on her knees implored that I would spare,
Yet, reverend Priest, thy sentence rash refrain!
All is not as it seems--the female train
Know by their bearing to disguise their mood:"
But Conscience here, as if in high disdain,
Sent to the Monarch's cheek the burning blood -
He stayed his speech abrupt--and up the Prelate stood.


"O hardened offspring of an iron race!
What of thy crimes, Don Roderick, shall I say?
What alms, or prayers, or penance can efface
Murder's dark spot, wash treason's stain away!
For the foul ravisher how shall I pray,
Who, scarce repentant, makes his crime his boast?
How hope Almighty vengeance shall delay,
Unless, in mercy to yon Christian host,
He spare the shepherd, lest the guiltless sheep be lost?"


Then kindled the dark tyrant in his mood,
And to his brow returned its dauntless gloom;
"And welcome then," he cried, "be blood for blood,
For treason treachery, for dishonour doom!
Yet will I know whence come they, or by whom.
Show, for thou canst--give forth the fated key,
And guide me, Priest, to that mysterious room,
Where, if aught true in old tradition be,
His nation's future fates a Spanish King shall see."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

James I of Scotland

July 25, 1394 is the date ascribed to James I's birth by  James was born in Dunfermline to King Robert III and Anabella Drummond.  James was indirectly impacted by circumstances that Walter Scott employed in his "The Fair Maid of Perth".   James' older brother David was the Duke of Rothesay, who Scott has trying to abduct the maid Catherine Glover.  Rothesay himself later falls afoul of his uncle Robert Stewart, the Duke of Albany, who kills him in hiscastle.  In real life, Rothesay died in Albany's Falkland Castle.

In the novel and in real life, Albany was exonerated by parliament of involvement in Rothesay's death, but James' life was nonetheless considered endangered, and he was sent to France for his safety.  He made it as far as Bass Rock in the Forth where he spent several months in hiding, then tried to sail to France, only to be captured and turned over to King Henry VI of England.  James was detained in England for the next 18 years, before ransom was paid, and James freed.

From "The Fair Maid of Perth": 'Far different had been the fate of the misguided heir of Scotland from that which was publicly given out in the town of Falkland. His ambitious uncle had determined on his death, as the means of removing the first and most formidable barrier betwixt his own family and the throne. James, the younger son of the King, was a mere boy, who might at more leisure be easily set aside. Ramorny's views of aggrandisement, and the resentment which he had latterly entertained against his masters made him a willing agent in young Rothsay's destruction. Dwining's love of gold, and his native malignity of disposition, rendered him equally forward. It had been resolved, with the most calculating cruelty, that all means which might leave behind marks of violence were to be carefully avoided, and the extinction of life suffered to take place of itself by privation of every kind acting upon a frail and impaired constitution. The Prince of Scotland was not to be murdered, as Ramorny had expressed himself on another occasion, he was only to cease to exist. Rothsay's bedchamber in the Tower of Falkland was well adapted for the execution of such a horrible project. A small, narrow staircase, scarce known to exist, opened from thence by a trapdoor to the subterranean dungeons of the castle, through a passage by which the feudal lord was wont to visit, in private and in disguise, the inhabitants of those miserable regions. By this staircase the villains conveyed the insensible Prince to the lowest dungeon of the castle, so deep in the bowels of the earth, that no cries or groans, it was supposed, could possibly be heard, while the strength of its door and fastenings must for a long time have defied force, even if the entrance could have been discovered. Bonthron, who had been saved from the gallows for the purpose, was the willing agent of Ramorny's unparalleled cruelty to his misled and betrayed patron....'

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Battle of Harlaw


[The Battle of Harlaw was fought July 24, 1411, between the Lowlanders led by the Earl of Mar, and the Highlanders under Donald of the Isles. The latter army was considerably the larger, but victory rested with the Lowlanders.]

Now baud your tongue, baith wife and carle,
And listen great and sma',
And I will sing of Glenallan's Earl
That fought on the red Harlaw.

The cronach's cried on Bennachie,
And down the Don and a',
And hieland and lawland may mournfu' be
For the sair field of Harlaw.

They saddled a hundred milk-white steeds,
They hae bridled a hundred black,
With a chafron of steel on each horse's head,
And a good knight upon his back.

They hadna ridden a mile, a mile,
A mile but barely ten,
When Donald came branking [prancing] down the brae
Wi' twenty thousand men.

Their tartans they were waving wide,
Their glaives were glancing clear,
The pibrochs rung frae side to side,
Would deafen ye to hear.
The great Earl in his stirrups stood,
That Highland host to see :
"Now here .a knight that's stout and good
May prove a jeopardie :

"What wouldst thou do, my squire so gay,
That rides beside my reyne, —
Were ye Glenallan's Earl the day,
And I were Roland Cheyne ?

"To turn the rein were sin and shame,
To fight were wondrous peril, —
What would ye do now, Roland Cheyne,
Were ye Glenallan's Earl ?"

"Were I Glenallan's Earl this tide,
And ye were Roland Cheyne,
The spur should be in my horse's side,
And the bridle upon his mane.

"If they hae twenty thousand blades,
And we twice ten times ten,
Yet they hae but their tartan plaids,
And we are mail-clad men.

"My horse shall ride through ranks sae rude,
As through the moorland fern, —
Then ne'er let the gentle Norman blude
Grow cauld for Highland kerne [foot soldiers]."

From "the Antiquary."

Taken from "Tales and Verse of Sir Walter Scott", by Sir Walter Scott, Hanson Hart Webster, and Fanny E. Coe.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Elizabeth Hamilton

Walter Scott described Elizabeth Hamilton's novel "The Cottagers of Glenburnie" as "a picture of the rural habits of Scotland, of striking and impressive fidelity."  Ms. Hamilton was born in Belfast, but moved to live with an aunt in the Stirling area of Scotland after her father passed away.  She was only 4 at that time, so her upbringing was largely Scottish, as was her family background.

As pointed out on EU's Walter Scott site  (, Hamilton's Glenburnie novel, published in 1808,  helped pave the way for Scott's "Waverley", as it helped create a taste for literature about regional manners.  Elizabeth Hamilton died on July 23, 1816.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Battle of Falkirk

The Battle of Falkirk occurred on July 22, 1298.  William Wallace was serving as Guardian of Scotland at the time.  English forces under Edward I invaded Scotland, searching for Wallace.  The found him at Falkirk, and handed the Scots a terrible defeat.  Wallace escaped, but his friend and ally Sir John de Graham died during the battle.

Walter Scott wrote of the outcome of this battle in his "The History of Scotland". 'The slaughter and disgrace of the battle of Falkirk might have been repaired in other respects; but it cost the Scottish kingdom an irredeemable loss in the public services of Wallace. He resigned the guardianship of the kingdom, unable to discharge its duties, amidst the calumnies with which faction and envy aggravated his defeat. The bishop of Saint Andrew's, Bruce earl of Carrick, and sir John Comyn were chosen guardians of Scotland, which they administered in the name of Baliol. In the mean time that unfortunate prince was, in compassion or scorn, delivered up to the pope by Edward, and a receipt was gravely taken for his person from the nuncio then in France. This led to the entrance of a new competitor for the Scottish kingdom...'

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Death of Burns

Approximately 10 years after Walter Scott met Robert Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire passed; on July 21, 1796.  A full version of Scott's and Burns' meeting is recorded at:

The two writers met only once. The encounter occurred in 1786, in Adam Ferguson's house, in the Sciennes district of Edinburgh. Scott wrote down the circumstances in a letter to Lockhart dated 10th April 1827. Lockhart duly quoted it in his Life of Burns (1828):

'As for Burns, I may truly say, Virigilium vidi tantum. I was a lad of fifteen in 1786-7, when he came first to Edinburgh, but had sense and feeling enough to be much interested in his poetry, and would have given the world to know him; but I had very little acquaintance with any literary people, and still less with the gentry of the west country, the two sets that he most frequented. Mr Thomas Grierson was at that time a clerk of my father's. He knew Burns, and promised to ask him to his lodgings to dinner, but had no opportunity to keep his word, otherwise I might have seen more of this distinguished man. As it was, I saw him one day at the late venerable Professor Fergusson's, where there were several gentlemen of literary reputation, among whom I remember the celebrated Mr Dugald Stewart. Of course we youngsters sate silent, looked and listened. The only thing I remember which was remarkable in Burns' manner, was the effect produced upon him by a print of Bunbury's, representing a soldier lying dead in the snow, his dog sitting in misery on the one side, on the other his widow with a child in her arms. These lines were written beneath, -

"Cold on Canadian hills, or Mindens' plain,
Perhaps that parent wept her soldiers slain:
Bent o'er her babe, her eye dissolved in dew,
The big drops, mingling with the milk he drew,
Gave the sad presage of his future years,
The child of misery baptized in tears."

Burns seemed much affected by the print, or rather the ideas which it suggested to his mind. He actually shed tears. He asked whose the lines were, and it chanced that nobody but myself remembered that they occur in a half-forgotten poem of Langhorne's, called by the uncompromising title of 'The Justice Of The Piece'. I whispered my information to a friend present, who mentioned it to Burns, who rewarded me with a look and a word, which, though of mere civility, I then received and still recollect, with very great pleasure.

His person was strong and robust: his manners rustic, not clownish; a sort of dignified plainness and simplicity, which received part of its effect perhaps from one's knowledge of his extraordinary talents. His features are represented in Mr Nasmyth's picture, but to me it conveys the idea that they are diminished as if seen in perspective. I think his countenance was more massive than it looks in any of the portraits. I would have taken the poet, had I not known what he was, for a very sagacious country farmer of the old Scotch school — i.e. none of your modern agriculturists, who keep labourers for their drudgery, but the douce gudeman who held his own plough. There was a strong expression of sense and shrewdness in all his lineaments; the eye alone, I think, indicated, the poetical character and temperament. It was large, and of a dark cast, and glowed (I say literally glowed) when he spoke with feeling or interest. I never saw such another eye in a human head, though I have seen the most distinguished men in my time. His conversation expressed perfect self-confidence, without the slightest presumption. Among the men who were the most learned of their country, he expressed himself with perfect firmness, but without the least intrusive forwardness; and when he differed in opinion, he did not hesitate to express it firmly, yet at the same time with modesty. I do not remember any part of his conversation distinctly enough to be quoted, nor did I ever see him again, except in the street, where he did not recognise me, as I could not expect he should. He was much caressed in Edinburgh, but (considering what literary emoluments have been since his day) the efforts for his relief were extremely trifling.

I remember on this occasion I mention, I thought Burns' acquaintance with English poetry was rather limited, and also, that having twenty times the abilities of Allan Ramsay and Ferguson, he talked of them with too much humility as his models; there was doubtless national predilection in his estimate.'

Burns' epitaph:
'Consigned to earth, here rests the lifeless clay,
Which once a vital spark from Heaven inspired;
The lamp of genius shone full bright as day,
Then left the world to mourn its light retired.

While beams that splendid orb which lights the spheres
While mountain streams descend to swell the main--
While changeful seasons mark the rolling years—
Thy fame, 0 Burns, let Scotia still retain!'

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Riot Act


Of yore, in old England, it was not thought good
To carry two visages under one hood;
What should folk say to you ? who have faces such
plenty, That from under one hood, you last night show'd us
Stand forth, arch-deceiver, and tell us in truth,
Are you handsome or ugly, in age or in youth?
Man, woman, or child—a dog or a mouse'?
Or are you, at once, each live thing in the house ?
Each live thing, did I ask ?—each dead implement,
A workshop in your person,—saw, chisel, and screw!
Above all, are you one individual'! I know
You must be at least Alexandra and Co.
But I think you're a troop— an assemblage—a mob,
And that I, us the Sheriff should take up the job ;
and instead of rehearsing your wonders in verse,
Must read you the Riot-Act, and bid you disperse.

Abbotsford, 23d April.
From "The Complete Works of Walter Scott...".  The Riot Act was legislated by the Parliament of Great Britain on July 20, 1712.  Under this act, an assemblage of 12 or more people could be deemed unlawful by any local authority.  Disobedience to this law was punishable by death, and the law enabled sometimes extreme uses of force.  One notorious instance was the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.  At Manchester's St. Peter's Square, a large crowd (60k-80k) was attacked by cavalry.  The crowd had gathered to petition for representation at Parliament.  The Riot Act was rescinded in 1973.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Battle of Halidon Hill

In 1822, Walter Scott published "Halidon Hill: a dramatic sketch from Scottish History".  Scott included some history along with his verse.  The Battle of Halidon Hill took place on July 19, 1333, and was part of the Second War of Scottish Independence.  Scottish Sir Archibald Douglas and his forces were routed by forces of the Edward III of England as they tried to relieve Berwick-upon-Tweed from English siege.  Scott begins his version of the story as follows:

'It may be proper to observe, that the scene of action has, in the following pages, been transferred from Homildon to Halidon Hill. For this there was an obvious reason, for who would again venture to introduce upon the scene the celebrated Hotspur, who commanded the English at the former battle ? There are, however, several coincidences which may reconcile even the severer antiquary to the substitution of Halidon Hill for Homildon. A Scottish army was defeated by the English on both occasions, and under nearly the same circumstances of address on the part of the victors, and mismanagement on that of the vanquished, for the English long-bow decided the day in both cases. In both cases, also, a Gordon was left on the field of battle; and at Halidon, as at Homildon, the Scots were commanded by an illfated representative of the great house of Douglas. He of Homildon was surnamed Tine-man, i. e. Lose-man, from his repeated defeats and miscarriages, and, with all the personal valour of his race, seems to have enjoyed so small a portion of their sagacity, as to be unable to learn military experience from reiterated calamity. I am far, however, from intimating, that the traits of imbecility and envy, attributed to the Regent in the following sketch, are to be historically ascribed either to the elder Douglas of Halidon Hill, or to him called Tine-man ; who seems to have enjoyed the respect of his countrymen, notwithstanding that, like the celebrated Anne de Montmorency, he was either defeated, or wounded, or made prisoner in every battle which he fought. The Regent of the sketch is a character purely imaginary.

The tradition of the Swinton family, which still survives in a lineal descent, and to which the author has the honour to be related, avers, that the Swinton who fell at Homildon in the manner narrated in the preceding extract, had slain Gordon's father; which seems sufficient ground for adopting that circumstance into the following Dramatic Sketch, though it is rendered improbable by other authorities.

If any reader will take the trouble of looking at Froissart, Fordun, or other historians of the period, he will find, that the character of the Lord of Swinton for strength, courage, and conduct, is by no means exaggerated...'

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wallace Research

July 18 (1827).—Entered this morning on the history of Sir William Wallace. I wish I may be able to find my way between what the child can comprehend and what shall not yet be absolutely uninteresting to the grown readers. Uncommon facts I should think the best receipt....

The research begun by Scott this day in 1827 undoubtedly contributed to output in the form of his "The History of Scotland, which was published in 1830.  Below is a section about Wallace from that work.

'If the Scoto-Norman nobles had lightly transferred their allegiance to Edward, it was otherwise with the middle and lower proprietors, who, sprung of the native race of Scotland, mingling in the condition of the people, and participating in their feeling, burnt with zeal to avenge themselves on the English, who were in usurped possession of their national fortresses. As soon as Edward with his army had crossed the frontiers, they broke out into a number of petty insurrections, unconnected indeed, but sufficiently numerous to indicate a disposition for hostilities, which wanted but a leader to render it general. They found one in sir William Wallace.

This champion of his country was of Anglo-Norman descent, but not so distinguished by birth and fortune as to enjoy high rank, great wealth, or participate in that chilling indifference to the public honour and interest which these advantages were apt to create in their possessor. He was born in Renfrewshire, a district of the ancient kingdom of Strath-Clyde, and his nurse may have soothed him with tales and songs of the Welsh bards, as there is room to suppose that the British language was still lingering in remote corners of the country, where it had been once universal. At any rate, Wallace was bred up free from the egotistic and selfish principles which are but too natural to the air of a court, and peculiarly unfavourable to the character of a patriot. Popular Scottish tradition, which delights to dwell upon the beloved champion of the people, describes William Wallace as of dignified stature, unequalled strength and dexterity, and so brave, that only on one occasion, and then under the influence of a supernatural power, is he allowed by tradition to have experienced the sensation of fear...'

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sir Joshua Reynolds

As recorded in James Boswell's "Life of Johnson", on July 17, 1771, Samuel Johnson wrote to portraitist Joshua Reynolds:


'DEAR SIR,--When I came to Lichfield, I found that my portrait had been much visited, and much admired. Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place; and I was pleased with the dignity
conferred by such a testimony of your regard.
'Be pleased, therefore, to accept the thanks of, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant,

'Ashbourn in Derbyshire,


July 17, 1771.'

'Compliments to Miss Reynolds.'

Walter Scott covered Samuel Johnson and his crowd with biographical sketches.  In his "The Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott",  he includes this comment concerning Johnson's publication "The Idler":

'In 1752, Johnson was deprived of his wife, a loss which he appears to have felt most deeply. After her death, society, the best of which was now open to a man who brought such stores to increase its pleasures, seems to have been his principal enjoyment, and his great resource when assailed by that malady of mind which embittered his solitary moments.

The Idler, scarcely so popular as the Rambler, followed in 1758. In 1759, Rasselas was hastily composed, in order to pay the expenses of his mother's funeral, and some small debts which she had contracted. This beautiful tale was written in one week, and sent in portions to the printer. Johnson told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he never afterwards read it over! The publishers paid the author a hundred pounds, with twenty-four more, when the work came to a second edition.'

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tom Purdie

July 16.—I made out my task-work and betook myself to walk about twelve. I feel the pen turn heavy after breakfast; perhaps my solemn morning meal is too much for my intellectual powers, but I won't abridge a single crumb for all that. I eat very little at dinner, and can't abide to be confined in my hearty breakfast. The work goes on as task-work must, slow, sure, and I trust not drowsy, though the author is. I sent off to Dionysius Lardner (Goodness be with us, what a name!) as far as page thirty-eight inclusive, but I will wait to add to-morrow's quota. I had a long walk with Tom. I am walking with more pleasure and comfort to myself than I have done for many a day. May Heaven continue this great mercy, which I have so much reason to be thankful for!

The Tom referred to in Scott's July 16, 1829 Journal entry is Tom Purdie, whom he met famously in perhaps his first duty as sherriff after moving into his Ashiestiel house.  Purdie was caught poaching on Scott's new property.  As related in "Abbotsford and Sir Walter Scott", by George King Matthews, Tom gave the " Sherra" such a deplorable account of his circumstances, in so simple and straightforward a manner, that Sir Walter took pity on his poverty; especially when he related that he had a wife and several bairns dependent upon him; and in his own dry humorous way he went on to state that he found work very scarce and game very plentiful, so he just "girned a-hare or twa to prevent them frae doing any mischief." And so by his quaint, humorous manner, Tom escaped the penalty of the law, and was at first taken into the employment of Sir Walter as shepherd, and by his good conduct was shortly afterwards raised to a position of more importance, in the service of Abbotsford; nor did he ever give the worthy Baronet cause to regret the trust he had placed in him, for never had master one more faithful to his interest than Tom Purdie was to Sir Walter Scott.

Matthews further describes the drawing of Purdie's character in "Red Gauntlet": It would be presumption in me to attempt a description of Tom Purdie after the great minstrel has limned him with his own hand in the pages of " Red Gauntlet," and Sir Walter's biographer has also added a few finishing touches worthy of the master himself, and both of which I must avail myself of before proceeding further with my narrative. " He was, perhaps, sixty years old," says Sir Walter, " yet his brow was not much furrowed, and his yet black hair was only grizzled, not whitened by the advance of age. All his motions spoke strength unabated; and though rather undersized, he had very broad shoulders, was square made, thin flanked, and apparently combined in his frame muscular strength and activity; the last somewhat impaired, perhaps, by years, but the first remaining in full vigour, a hard and harsh countenance; eyes far sunk under projecting eyebrows, which were grizzled like his hair; a wide mouth, furnished from ear to ear with unimpaired teeth of uncommon whiteness and size, a breadth of which might have become the jaws of an ogre, complete this delightful portrait." "Equip this figure," says Lockhart, "in Scott's cast off green jacket, white hat, and drab trousers: and imagine that years of kind treatment, comfort, and the honest consequences of a confidential greeve, had softened away much of the harshness originally impressed on the visage by anxious penury, and the sinister habits of a black fisherman, and then Tom Purdie stands before us."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Napoloen's Surrender on the Bellerophon

On July 15, 1815, the Napoleonic Wars officially ended, when Napoleon Buonaparte surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland on board the HMS Bellerophon.  The Bellerophon was decommissioned two months later. 

Napoleon ended up on the Bellerophon as he was trying to escape to America following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815).  Maitland was stationed off the coast of Rochefort when he received word that Napoleon may attempt to flee.  Napoleon realized he was trapped, and opened negotiations with Maitland.

Walter Scott discusses this episode in history in his "The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte":

...Buonaparte was put to considerable inconvenience by the shrewdness and tenacity of the noble negotiator, and had not forgotten them when, in 1815, he found himself on board the Bellerophon, commanded by a relation of the noble earl [Maitland was related to Lord Lauderdale]. It is indeed probable, that, had Mr. Fox lived, the negotiation might have been renewed. That eminent statesman, then in his last illness, was desirous to accomplish two great objects—peace with France, and the abolition of the slave trade. But although Buonaparte's deference for Fox might have induced him to concede some of the points in dispute, and although the British statesman's desire of peace might have made him relinquish others on the part of England, still, while the two nations retained their relative power and positions, the deep jealousy and mutual animosity which subsisted between them would probably have rendered any peace which could have been made a mere suspension of arms—a hollow and insincere truce, which was almost certain to give way on the slightest occasion. Britain could never have seen with indifference Buonaparte making one stride after another towards universal dominion; and Buonaparte could not long have borne with patience the neighbourhood of our free institutions and our free press; the former of which must have perpetually reminded the French of the liberty they had lost, while the latter was sure to make the Emperor, his government, and his policy, the daily subject of the most severe and unsparing criticism. Even the war with Prussia and Russia, in which Napoleon was soon afterwards engaged, would, in all probability, have renewed the hostilities between France and England, supposing them to have been terminated for a season by a temporary peace. Yet Napoleon always spoke of the death of Fox as one of the fatalities on which his great designs were shipwrecked ;3 which makes it the more surprising that he did not resume intercourse with the administration formed under his auspices, and who might have been supposed to be animated by his principles even after his decease. That he did not do so may be fairly received in evidence to show, that peace, unless on terms which he could dictate, was not desired by him...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day

July 14, 1789.  Scott covers the events of that day in his "The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte":

...Meanwhile, the dark intrigues which had been long formed for accomplishing a general insurrection in Paris, were now ready to be brought into action. The populace had been encouraged by success in one or two skirmishes with the gens-d'armes and foreign soldiery. They had stood a skirmish with a regiment of German horse, and had been successful. The number of desperate characters who were to lead the van in these violences, was now greatly increased. Deep had called to deep, and the revolutionay clubs of Paris had summoned their confederates from among the most fiery and forward of every province. Besides troops of galley-slaves and deserters, vagabonds of every order flocked to Paris, like ravens to the spoil. To these were joined the lowest inhabitants of a populous city, always ready for riot and rapine; and they were led on and encouraged by men who were in many instances sincere enthusiasts in the cause of liberty, and thought it could only be victorious by the destruction of the present government. The Republican and Jacobin party were open in sentiment and in action, encouraging the insurrection by every means in their power. The Constitutionalists, more passive, were still rejoiced to see the storm arise, conceiving such a crisis was necessary to compel the King to place the helm of the state in their hands. It might have been expected, that the assembled force of the crown would be employed to preserve the peace at least, and prevent the general system of robbery and plunder which seemed about to ensue. They appeared not, and the citizens themselves took arms by thousands, and tens of thousands, forming the burgher militia, which was afterwards called the National Guard. The royal arsenals were plundered to obtain arms, and La Fayette was adopted the commander-in-chief of this new army, a sufficient sign that they were to embrace what was called the Constitutional party. Another large proportion of the population was hastily armed with pikes, a weapon which was thence termed Revolutionary. The Baron de Besenval, at the head of the Swiss guards, two foreign regiments, and eight hundred horse, after an idle demonstration which only served to encourage the insurgents, retired from Paris without firing a shot, having, he says in his Memoirs, no orders how to act, and being desirous to avoid precipitating a civil war. His retreat was the signal for a general insurrection, in which the French guard, the national guard, and the armed mob of Paris, took the Bastile, and massacred a part of the garrison, [July 14.]...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Second Battle of Alnwick

On July 13, 1174, King William I of Scotland was captured by English forces under Ranulf de Granville.  William was in the area to try and regain territory he'd lost to England's King Henry II in 1157, attacking Prudhoe Castle.  After capture, William was taken.  The treaty lasted 15 years until Richard the Lionheart sold the castle back to William to fund his crusade.

Walter Scott writes of William's travails at Alnwick in his "Tales of a Grandfather: History of Scotland":

...Now William, King of Scotland, having chosen for his armorial bearing a Red Lion, rampant (that is, standing on its hind legs, as if it were going to climb), he acquired the name of William the Lion. And this Rampant Lion still constitutes the arms of Scotland, and the President of the Heralds' Court in that country, who is always a person of high rank, is called Lord Lion King-at-Arms.

William, though a brave man, and though he had a lion for his emblem, was unfortunate in war. In the year 1174, he invaded England, for the purpose of demanding and compelling restoration of the portion of Northumberland which had been possessed by his ancestors. He himself, with a small body of men, lay in careless security near Alnwick, while his numerous, but barbarous and undisciplined army, were spread throughout the country, burning and destroying wherever they came. Some gallant Yorkshire barons marched to the aid of their neighbors of Northumberland. They assembled four hundred men-at-arms, and made a forced march of twenty-four miles from Newcastle towards Alnwick, without being discovered. On the morning a thick mist fell, — they became uncertain of their road, — and some proposed to turn back. " If you should all turn back," said one of their leaders, named Bernard de Baliol, " I will go forward alone." The others adopted the same resolution, and, concealed by the mist, they rode forward towards Alnwick. In their way they suddenly encountered the Scottish King, at the head of a small party of only sixty men. William so little expected a sudden attack of this nature, that at first he thought the body of cavalry which he saw advancing was a part of his own army. When he was undeceived, he had too much of the Hon about him to fear. " Now shall we see," he said, " which of us are good knights ;" and instantly charged the Yorkshire barons, with the handful of men who attended him. But sixty men-at-arms could make no impression on four hundred, and as the rest of William's army were too distant to give him assistance, he was, after defending himself with the utmost gallantry, unhorsed and made prisoner. The English immediately retreated with their royal captive, after this bold and successful adventure. They carried William to Newcastle, and from that town to Northampton, where he was conducted to the presence of Henry II., King of f England, with his legs tied under his horse's belly, as if he had been a common malefactor or felon.

This was a great abuse of the advantage which fortune had given to Henry, and was in fact more disgraceful to himself than to his prisoner. But the English King's subsequent conduct was equally harsh and ungenerous. He would not release his unfortunate captive until he had agreed to do homage to the King of England, not only for his English possessions, but also for Scotland, and all his other dominions. The Scottish Parliament were brought to acquiesce in this treaty ; and thus, in order to recover the liberty of their King, they sacrificed the independence of their country, which remained for a time subject to the English claim of paramount sovereignty. This dishonorable treaty was made on the 8th of December, 1174...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Huntly Burn

July 12 (1827).—Unpacking and arranging; the urchins are stealing the cherries in the outer garden. But I can spare a thousand larch-trees to put it in order with a good fence for next year. It is not right to leave fruit exposed; for if Adam in the days of innocence fell by an apple, how much may the little gossoon Jamie Moffatt be tempted by apples of gold in an age of iron! Anne and I walked to Huntly Burn—a delicious excursion. That place is really become beautiful; the Miss Fergusons have displayed a great deal of taste.

Scott's journal entry above leads us to a follow up diary entry written by Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, who was a Scottish politician after Scott passed on (Duff lived: 1829-1906).  The publication is titled "Notes from a Diary, 1892-1895".  Duff must have been a Walter Scott fan.  The Huntly Burn house was once owned by Scott.  It was known as Toftfield House, when Scott purchased it in 1817.  Duff visited Huntly Burn in 1893, commenting:

(August) 28. Drove over to Huntly Burn on the other side of Melrose, where a cricket match was going on. Mrs. Kerr, who lives there, took me up to see the house where Sir Adam Fergusson lived in the days of Sir Walter, who gave the place its present name. Much of the building, as it now stands, was added by Mr. Hope Scott. Thence we went on to Chiefswood, which has also been much added to, but which in its earlier day was inhabited by Lockhart and his wife.

My guide pointed out the window of the room in which The Pirate was written, and then took me to the opening of Rhymer's Glen, where Thomas of Ercildoun, a fragment of whose ruined and ivy-clad 1893 HUNTLY BURN tower is still to be seen in the village of Earlston, had his interview with the Queen of the Fairies.

I walked up as far as the second of the two small bridges which span the stream, accurately described by Scott, not as a brook but as a runnel; then gathered some Enchanter's Nightshade with several sprigs of yew, and returned, meeting on my way back a son of Mrs. Maxwell Scott's, whom Lady Reay had sent to rescue me from the spirits of the place, and who told me that his mother, who is still living near Dresden, had almost finished an account of Mary Stuart's last days at Fotheringay.

Photo Credit: Walter Baxter:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hamilton versus Burr

The famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr took place on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey.  As the story goes, Hamilton fired into the air while Burr took deadly aim, felling Hamilton.  Hamilton, after being transported back to New York, passed within a day. 

Thus ended the contributions of one of the most important of the United States' founding fathers.  Historian Richard B. Morris lists Hamilton as one of the seven most important of the founding fathers.

Hamilton was the son of Rachel Lavien, of Huguenot descent, and James Hamilton, who was the fourth son of Scottish Laird Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton's importance to the emerging United States was no where more important than in the financial sphere.  Hamilton founded the Bank of New York in 1784, and served as first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington in 1789.  For his contributions in the financial arena, Hamilton shares with Walter Scott the distinction of being depicted on his country's currency - the $10 bill for Hamilton and, initially the L5 Note for Scott (other denominations currently).

Hamilton can be seen today, not far from Scott, in statue form, in New York's Central Park (East Drive at 83rd St for Hamilton, Literary Walk for Scott).  Hamilton's all granite statue was created by sculptor Carl Conrads.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

James III of Scotland

One of the most unpopular of Scottish monarchs, James III was born on July 10, 1451 or 52.  His reign is marked by efforts to expand Scottish territory, by injustice, and by infighting amongst his family.  Perhaps his most significant contribution to Scotland was the acquisition, through his marriage to Margaret of Denmark of Orkney and the Shetlands

James quarreled often, including with his brothers, Alexander Stewart, the Duke of Albany, and John Stewart, the Earl of Mar.  Scott treats these episodes, which serve to illustrate James' sense of justice as well, in his "History of Scotland".  It ended poorly for Mar:

...The king, on his part, resorted to diviners and soothsayers to know his own future fate; and the answer (probably dictated by the favourite Cochrane) was, that he should fall by the means of his nearest of kin. The unhappy monarch, with a self-contradiction, one of the many implied in superstition, imagined that his brothers were the relations indicated by the oracle; and also imagined that his knowledge of their intentions might enable him to alter the supposed doom of fate.

Albany and Mar were suddenly arrested, as the king's suspicions grew darker and more dangerous; and while the duke was confined in the castle of Edinburgh, Mar was committed to that of Craigmillar. Conscious, probably, that the king possessed matter which might afford a pretext to take his life, Albany resolved on his escape. He communicated his scheme to a faithful attendant, by whose assistance he intoxicated, or, as some accounts say, murdered the captain of the guard, and then attempted to descend from the battlements of the castle by a rope. His attendant made the essay first; but the rope being too short, he fell, and broke his thigh-bone. The duke, warned by this accident, lengthened the rope with the sheets from his bed, and made the perilous descent in safety. He transported his faithful attendant on his back to a place of security, then was received on board a vessel which lay in the roads of Leith, and set sail for France, where he met a hospitable reception, and was maintained by the bounty of Louis XI.

Enraged at the escape of the elder of his captives, it would seem that James was determined to make secure of Mar, who remained. There occur no records to show that the unfortunate prince was subjected to any public trial; nor can it be known, save by conjecture, how far James III. was accessary to the perpetration of his murder, which was said to be executed by bleeding the prisoner to death in a bath. Several persons were at the same time condemned and executed for acts of witchcraft, charged as having been practised, at Mar's instance, against the life of the king...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Robert Shortreed

Derived of the Shortreeds of Jedburgh, Robert Shortreed was sheriff-substitute for Roxburghshire.  Shortreed and Scott became acquainted by 1792, when the two began ballad hunting together with a summer trip to Liddesdale.  These summer 'raids' continued for seven additional years, as Scott was collecting material for his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border".
From Scott's Journal of July 9, 1829:

I began an immense arrangement of my papers, but was obliged to desist by the approach of four o'clock. Having been enabled to shirk the Court, I had the whole day to do what I wished, and as I made some progress I hope I will be strengthened to resume the task when at Abbotsford.

Heard of the death of poor Bob Shortreed, the companion of many a long ride among the hills in quest of old ballads. He was a merry companion, a good singer and mimic, and full of Scottish drollery. In his company, and under his guidance, I was able to see much of rural society in the mountains which I could not otherwise have attained, and which I have made my use of. He was, in addition, a man of worth and character. I always burdened his hospitality while at Jedburgh on the Circuit, and have been useful to some of his family. Poor fellow! He died at a most interesting period for his family, when his eldest daughter was about to make an advantageous marriage. So glide our friends from us—Haec poena diu viventibus. Many recollections die with him and with poor Terry.[355] I dined with the Skenes in a family way.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sir Henry Raeburn

Three weeks after joining Walter Scott and others at an outing of the Blairadam Antiquarian Club, portraitist Henry Raeburn passed away; July 8, 1823.  Raeburn was covered in an earlier post that included his 1823 portrait of Scott.  Raeburn painted Scott four times in total, the last two being for a) Charles Montagu-Scott, the Duke of Buccleuch and b) his own collection.

Scott was not terribly pleased with the first two Raeburn efforts (in 1808 and 1809), responding to the Duke of Buccleuch's request that he sit for Raeburn:"I hesitate a little about Raeburn unless your Grace is quite determined. He has very much to do works just now chiefly for cash poor fellow as he can have but a few years to make money and has twice made a very chowderheaded  person of me. I should like much (always with your approbation) to try [Sir William] Allan who is a man of real genius and has made one or two glorious portraits though his predilection is to the historical branch of the art. (15 April 1819, Letters, V, 349).

Scott was very pleased, however, when he saw the 1823 version: [the portrait is] 'a better picture (the subject considered) than any one but Lawrence could at present produce' (letter to Lady Louisa Stuart, 4 April 1824, Letters, VIII, 245).


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Walter Scott's first novel, Waverley, was published on July 7, 1814.  Waverley is set during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, and features the clash of cultures that Scott enjoyed exploring.  Hero Edward Waverley is the product of a father who was pro-Hanoverian, and an uncle with Jacobite sympathies.  This novel, which was published anonymously by the poet Scott, established the historical novel as a genre, and launched the major portion of Scott's writing career.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simond's Switzerland

July 6 (1828).—A day of hard work. The second volume is now well advanced—wellnigh one half. Dined alone, and pursued my course after dinner. Seven pages were finished. Solitude's a fine thing for work, but then you must lie by like a spider, till you collect materials to continue your web. Began Simond's Switzerland—clever and intelligent, but rather conceited, as the manner of an American Frenchman. I hope to knock something out of him though.

Scott was working on "Anne of Geierstein" in 1828, as reflected in the entry above from Scott's Journal.  Louis Simond's 1822 publication "Switzerland, or, A Journal of a Tour and Residence in that Country, in the Years 1817,1818, and 1819" was one of his sources for material about the novel's setting.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Johnnie Armstrang

On July 5, 1530, Johnny Armstrong the Border reiver and a number of his followers were hanged at Carlenrig, after having been tricked by King James V of Scotland into believing he wished to hunt with them.  In reality, seventeen year old  James wanted to establish his primacy over the Borders.  'Black Jok' Armstrang was know for extorting black rent as protection money from those who lived nearby.  The memory of Armstrong's hanging lives on in a ballad Walter Scott included in his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border".  From that collection, some history, and the ballad:

Johnie Armstrong, of Gilnockie, the hero of the following ballad, is a noted personage, both in history and tradition. He was, it would seem from the ballad, a brother of the laird of Mangertoun, chief of the name. His place of residence (now a roofless tower) was at the Hollows, a few miles from Langholm, where its ruins still serve to adorn a scene, which, in natural beauty, has few equals in Scotland. At the head of a desperate band of freebooters, this Armstrong is said to have spread the terror of his name almost as far as Newcastle, and to have levied _black mail_, or _protection and forbearance money, for many miles around. James V., of whom it was long remembered by his grateful people, that he made the "rush-bush keep the cow," about 1529, undertook an expedition through the border counties, to suppress the turbulent spirit of the marchmen. But, before setting out upon his journey, he took the precaution of imprisoning the different border chieftains, who were the chief protectors of the marauders. The Earl of Bothwell was forfeited, and confined in Edinburgh castle. The lords of Home and Maxwell, the lairds of Buccleuch, Fairniherst, and Johnston, with many others, were also committed to ward. Cockburn of Henderland, and Adam Scott of Tushielaw, called the King of the Border, were publicly executed.--_Lesley_, p. 430. The king then marched rapidly forward, at the head of a flying army of ten thousand men, through Ettrick Forest, and Ewsdale. The evil genius of our
Johnie Armstrong, or, as others say, the private advice of some courtiers, prompted him to present himself before James, at the head of thirty-six horse, arrayed in all the pomp of border chivalry, Pitscottie uses nearly the words of the ballad, in describing the splendour of his equipment, and his high expectations of favour from the king. "But James, looking upon him sternly, said to his attendants, 'What wants that knave that a king should have?' and ordered him and his followers to instant execution."--"But JohnArmstrong," continues this minute historian, "made great offers to the king. That he should sustain himself, with forty gentlemen, ever ready at his service, on their own cost, without wronging any Scottishman: Secondly, that there was not a subject in England, duke, earl, or baron, but, within a certain day, he should bring him to his majesty, either quick or dead.  At length he, seeing no hope of favour, said very proudly, 'It is folly to seek grace at a graceless face; but,' said he, 'had I known this, I should have lived upon the borders in despite of King Harry and you both; for I know King Harry would down-weigh my best horse with gold, to know that I were condemned to die this day.'--_Pitscottie's History_, p. 145. Johnie, with all his retinue, was accordingly hanged upon growing trees, at a place called Carlenrig chapel, about ten miles above Hawick, on the high road to Langholm. The country people believe, that, to manifest the injustice of the execution, the trees withered away. Armstrong and his followers were buried in a deserted church-yard, where their graves are still shewn.


* * * * *

Sum speikis of lords, sum speikis of lairds,
And sick lyke men of hie degrie;
Of a gentleman I sing a sang,
Sum tyme called laird of Gilnockie.

The king he wrytes a luving letter,
With his ain hand sae tenderly,
And he hath sent it to Johnie Armstrang,
To cum and speik with him speedily.

The Eliots and Armstrangs did convene;
They were a gallant cumpanie--
"We'll ride and meit our lawful king,
And bring him safe to Gilnockie."

"Make kinnen and capon ready then,
And venison in great plentie;
We'll wellcum here our royal king;
I hope he'll dine at Gilnockie!"

They ran their horse on the Langhome howm,
And brak their speirs wi' mickle main;
The ladies lukit frae their loft windows--
"God bring our men weel back agen!"

When Johnie cam before the king,
Wi' a' his men sae brave to see,
The king he movit his bonnet to him;
He ween'd he was a king as well as he.

"May I find grace, my sovereign liege,
Grace for my loyal men and me?
For my name it is Johnie Armstrang,
And subject of your's, my liege," said he.

"Away, away, thou traitor strang!
Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be!
I grantit nevir a traitor's life,
And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king!
"And a bonny gift I'll gie to thee--
"Full four and twenty milk-white steids,
"Were a' foaled in ae yeir to me.

"I'll gie thee a' these milk-white steids,
"That prance and nicker at a speir;
"And as mickle gude Inglish gilt,
"As four of their braid backs dow bear."

"Away, away, thou traitor strang!
"Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be!
"I grantit never a traitor's life,
"And now I'll not begin wi' thee!"

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king!
"And a bonny gift I'll gie to thee--
"Gude four and twenty ganging mills,
"That gang thro' a' the yeir to me.

"These four and twenty mills complete,
"Sall gang for thee thro' a' the yeir;
"And as mickle of gude reid wheit,
"As a' their happers dow to bear."

"Away, away, thou traitor strang!
"Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be!
"I grantit nevir a traitor's life,
"And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king!
"And a great gift I'll gie to thee--
"Bauld four and twenty sister's sons,
"Sall for thee fecht, tho' a' should flee!"

"Away, away, thou traitor strang!
"Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be!
"I grantit nevir a traitor's life,
"And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king!
"And a brave gift I'll gie to thee--
"All between heir and Newcastle town
"Sall pay their yeirly rent to thee."

"Away, away, thou traitor strang!
"Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be!
"I grantit nevir a traitor's life,
"And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Ye lied, ye lied, now king," he says.
"Altho' a king and prince ye be!
For I've luved naething in my life,
"I weel dare say it, but honesty--

"Save a fat horse," and a fair woman,
"Twa bonny dogs to kill a deir;
"But England suld have found me meal and mault,
"Gif I had lived this hundred yeir!
"Sche suld have found me meal and mault,
"And beif and mutton in a' plentie;
"But nevir a Scots wyfe could have said,
"That e'er I skaithed her a pure flee.

"To seik het water beneith cauld ice,
"Surely it is a greit folie--
"I have asked grace at a graceless face,
"But there is mine for my men and me!
"But, had I kenn'd ere I cam frae hame,
"How thou unkind wadst been to me!
"I wad have keepit the border side,
"In spite of al thy force and thee.
"Wist England's king that I was ta'en,
"O gin a blythe man he wad be!
"For anes I slew his sister's son,
"And on his breist bane brake a trie."

John wore a girdle about his middle,
Imbroidered ower wi' burning gold,
Bespangled wi' the same metal;
Maist beautiful was to behold.

There hang nine targats at Johnie's hat,
And ilk are worth three hundred pound--
"What wants that knave that a king suld have,
But the sword of honour and the crown!

"O whair got thou these targats, Johnie,
"That blink sae brawly abune thy brie?"
"I gat them in the field fechting,
"Where, cruel king, thou durst not be.

"Had I my horse, and harness gude,
"And riding as I wont to be,
"It suld have been tald this hundred yeir,
"The meeting of my king and me!

"God be with thee, Kirsty, my brother!
"Lang live thou laird of Mangertoun!
"Lang may'st thou live on the border syde,
"Ere thou see thy brother ride up and down!

"And God be with thee, Kirsty, my son,
"Where thou sits on thy nurse's knee!
"But and thou live this hundred yeir,
"Thy father's better thou'lt nevir be.

"Farewell! my bonny Gilnock hall,
"Where on Esk side thou stand est stout!
"Gif I had lived but seven yeirs mair,
"I wad hae gilt thee round about."
John murdered was at Carlinrigg,
And all his gallant cumpanie;
But Scotland's heart was ne'er sae wae,
To see sae mony brave men die--

Because they saved their countrey deir,
Frae Englishmen! Nane were sae bauld,
Whyle Johnie lived on the border syde,
Nane of them durst cum neir his hauld.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

July 4, 1776 is, of course, the birth date of the United States.  Fifty years later, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 to be followed by James Monroe on July 4, 1831.  Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, living in Graff House in Philadelphia while writing it.  Graff House was once the home of Rebecca Gratz who some believe was the model for Scott's Rebecca in "Ivanhoe".  The connection runs through Scott's friend and fellow author Washington Irving.  Gratz herself appreciated Scott's Rebecca saying "I felt a little extra pleasure from Rebecca's being a Hebrew maiden. It is worthy of Scott in a period when persecution has re-commenced in Europe to hold up a picture of the superstition and cruelty in which it originated."


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Castle of Giant Despair

July 3 (1828).—Corrected proofs in the morning, and wrote a little. I was forced to crop vol. i. as thirty pages too long; there is the less to write behind. We were kept late at the Court, and when I came out I bethought me, like Christian in the Castle of Giant Despair, "Wherefore should I walk along the broiling and stifling streets when I have a little key in my bosom which can open any lock in Princes Street Walks, and be thus on the Castle banks, rocks, and trees in a few minutes?" I made use of my key accordingly, and walked from the Castle Hill down to Wallace's Tower, and thence to the west end of Princes Street, through a scene of grandeur and beauty perhaps unequalled, whether the foreground or distant view is considered—all down hill, too. Foolish never to think of this before. I chatted with the girls a good while after dinner, but wrote a trifle when we had tea.

Scott alludes to John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" several times in his journal, and in his published works.  He also reviewed Robert Southey's "Life of Bunyan", which review was published in the Quarterly Review (vol 43).  Scott evidently believed that Bunyan derived from gypsy stock: "...we surmise the probability that Bunyan's own family, though reclaimed and settled, might have sprung from this caste of vagabonds..."

From Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress":

...So Mr Great-Heart, old Honest, and the four young men, went to go up to Doubting Castle, to look for Giant Despair. When they came at the castle gate, they knocked for entrance with an unusual noise. At that the old giant comes to the gate, and Diffidence his wife follows. Then said he, Who and what is he that is so hardy, as after this manner to molest the Giant Despair? Mr Great-Heart replied, It is I, Great-Heart, one of the King of the celestial country's conductors of pilgrims to their place; and I demand of thee that thou open thy gates for my entrance: prepare thyself also to fight, for I am come to take away thy head, and to demolish Doubting Castle...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Battle of Marston Moor

The Battle of Marston Moor pitted Scottish Covenanters and English Parliamentarians against the Royalist forces of Charles I of England.  Marston Moor is close (7 miles) to the town of York, which was more central to military efforts.  York had been besieged by Scots forces under David Leslie as part of the First English Civil War.  Royalist forces under Prince Rupert of the Rhine marched toward York to relieve the city.  As various outfits on both sides of the conflagration gathered, they jockeyed for position.  The Scots/Parliamentarians ended up outflanked by Rupert's forces, but the Royalists delayed attacking to regain strength, gathering on the Moor. 

The battle took place on July 2, 1644, lasting two hours.  Initially disadvantaged, the Parliamentarian forces under Oliver Cromwell carried the day.  As a result of this defeat, Charles I effectively abandoned the north of England.

Walter Scott makes the Battle of Marston Moor the subject of his poem "Rokeby".  From Canto One:


"Wouldst hear the tale?-On Marston heath
Met, front to front, the ranks of death;
Flourish'd the trumpets fierce, and now
Fired was each eye, and flush'd each brow;
On either side loud clamours ring,
God and the Cause!'-' God and the King!'
Right English all, they rush'd to blows,
With nought to win, and all to lose.
I could have laugh'd-but lack'd the time
To see, in phrenesy sublime,
How the fierce zealots fought and bled,
For king or state, as humour led;
Some for a dream of public good,
Some for church-tippet, gown and hood,
Draining their veins, in death to claim
A patriot's or a martyr's name.
Led Bertram Risingham the hearts,
That counter'd there on adverse parts,
No superstitious fool had I
Sought El Dorados in the sky!
Chili had heard me through her states,
And Lima oped her silver gates,
Rich Mexico I had march'd through,
And sack'd the splendours of Peru,
Till sunk Pizarro's daring name,
And, Cortez, thine, in Bertram's fame."
"Still from the purpose wilt thou stray!
Good gentle friend, how went the day? "

He starts-a step at this lone hour!
A voice!-his father seeks the tower,
With haggard look and troubled sense,
Fresh from his dreadful conference.
"Wilfrid!-what, not to sleep address'd?
Thou hast no cares to chase thy rest.
Mortham has fall'n on Marston-moor;
Bertram brings warrant to secure
His treasures, bought by spoil and blood,
For the state's use and public good.
The menials will thy voice obey;
Let his commission have its way,
In every point, in every word."
Then, in a whisper,- "Take thy sword!
Bertram is-what I must not tell.
I hear his hasty step-farewell!"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Water Poet Visit's St. Winifred's Well

The Book of Days reports that on July 1, 1652, Thames waterman John Taylor visited St. Winifred's Well at Holywell in Flintshire. According to Coleen Seguin in her article "Cures and Controversy in Early Modern Wales", Taylor reported afterward that "the fair chapel" over the well "is now much defaced by the injury of these late is frequented daily by many people of rich and poor, of all diseases."

At this well, according to legend, St. Beuno restored his niece Winifred's head to her body, and give her back her life.  The head had been severed by one Cardoc, whose advances Winifred rejected.  Winifred went on to lead a devout life, becoming an abbess.

Taylor is referenced in the Introduction to Canto Second in Scott's "Marmion":

…' The second day of June the king passed out of Edinburgh to the hunting, with many of the nobles and gentlemen of Scotland with him, to the number of twelve thousand men; and then passed to Meegitland, and hounded and hawked all the country and bounds; that is to say, Crammat, Pappert-law, St. Mary-laws, Carlavirick, Chapel, Ewindoores. and Longhope. I heard say, he slew, in these bounds, eighteen score of harts."

These huntings had, of course, a military character, and attendance upon them was a part of the duty of a vassal. The act for abolishing ward, or military tenures, in Scotland, enumerates the services of hunting, hosting, watching, and warding, as those which were in future to be illegal.

Taylor, the water-poet, has given an account of the mode in which these huntings were conducted in the highlands of Scotland, in the seventeenth century, having been present at Bremar upon such an occasion :

" There did I find the truly noble and right honourable lords, John Erskine, Earl of Mar; James Stewart, Earl of Murray; George Gordon, Earl of Engye, son and heir to the Marquis of Huntly, James Erskine, Earl of Buchan; and John, Lord Erskine, son and heir to the Earl of Mar, and their countesses, with my much honoured, and my last secured and approved friend, Sir William Murray, knight of Abercarney, and hundreds of others, knights, esquires, and their followers; all and every man, in general, in one habit, as if Lycurgus had been there, and made laws of equality: for once in the year, which is the whole month of August, and sometimes part of September, many of the nobility and gentry of the kingdom (for their pleasure) do come into these highland countries to hunt: where they do conform themselves to the habit of the highland-men, who, for the most part, speak nothing but Irish: and, in former time, were those people which were called the Red-shanks. Their habit is—shoes, with but one sole a-piece; stockings, (which they call short nose,) Made of a warm stuff of diverse colour, which they call tartan …