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day, making merry with some friends True Thomas, he pull'd aff his
сар, in the tower of Erceldoune, a person
And louted low down to his knee, came and told them that a hart and “All hail, thou mighty queen of heaven! hind, from the neighbouring forest, were For thy peer on earth I never did see." – slowly parading the street of the village.
“O no, O no, Thomas," she said ; Thomas at once left the house and fol
“That name does not belang to me; lowed the animals back to the forest, I am but the queen of fair Elfland, whence he was never seen to return. That am hither come to visit thee. It was also believed that, after he dreed
"Harp and carp, Thomas," she said; his weird (fulfilled his destiny), he would
“Harp and carp along wi' me; again revisit the earth.
And if ye dare to kiss my lips, In none of the prophecies attributed
Sure of your bodie I will be."to him is it assumed that he is himself the narrator, and from the manner of
" Betide me weal, betide me woe, his introduction, as “ the busteous
That weird' shall never daunton me." beirne on the bent" (the huge man on
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon tree. the wild), it might be supposed that his appearance was supernatural, and "Now, ye maun go wi' me," she said; long after his disappearance as a natural "True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me ; inhabitant of the earth. There are at And ye maun serve me seven years, least three MSS. of about the 15th cen- Thro' weal or woe as may chance to be." tury giving an account of his abstraction She mounted on her milk-white steed; by the Queen of Fairyland ; but their
She's ta'en true Thomas up behind ; language being somewhat obscure, the | And aye, whene'er her bridle rung, more modern ballad (Part I.), given in The steed flew swifter than the wind. the Minstrelsy of the Border, is more suitable as a popular account of it.
O they rade on, and farther on;
The steed gaed swifter than the wind; Part II., which follows, is a ballad of
Until they reach'd a desert wide, his principal prophecies.
And living land was left behind.
“Light down, light down, now, true THOMAS THE RHYMER.
And lean your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
A ferlie he spied wi' his ee;
"O see ye not yon narrow road, Come riding down by the Eildon tree.
So thick beset with thorns and briers ?
That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few enquires.
* That weird, &c. -That destiny shall never Hung fifty siller bells and nine.
(Constructed from the Ancient Prophecies.] When seven years were come and gane,
The sun blinked fair on pool and stream; And Thomas lay on Huntlie bank,
Like one awaken'd from a dream.
He heard the trampling of a steed,
He saw the flash of armour flee, And he beheld a gallant knight
Come riding down by the Eildon-tree.
O they rade on, and farther on,
But they heard the roaring of the sea. It was mirk mirk night, and there was
nae stern light, And they waded through red blude to
the knee ; For a' the blude that's shed on earth
Rins through the springso' that countrie. Syne they came to a garden green,
And she pu'd an apple frae a tree "Take this for thy wages, true Thomas ; It will give thee the tongue that can
never lie."“My tongue is mine ain," true Thomas
“A gudely gift ye wad gie to me! I neither dought to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.
Light down, light down, Corspatrick
brave ! And I will show thee curses three, Shall gar fair Scotland greet and grane, And change the green to the black
1 The traditional commentary upon this ballad informs us, that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of Knowledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The repugnance of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood, when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect.
“A storm shall roar this very hour,
From Ross's hills to Solway sea." "Ye lied, ye lied, ye warlock hoar! For the sun shines sweet on fauld and
He put his hand on the earlie's head ; “The first of blessings I shall thee show,
He showed him a rock beside the sea, Is by a burn, that's called of bread ;' Where a king lay stiff beneath his steed, Where Saxon men shall tine the bow,
And steel-dight nobles wiped their ee. And find their arrows lack the head.
“The neist curse lights on Branxton
hills : By Flodden's high and heathery side, Shall wave a banner red as blude,
And chieftains throng wi' meikle pride.
“ Beside that brigg, out ower that burn,
And knights shall die in battle keen.
“A Scottish king shall come full keen,
Beside a headless cross of stone, The ruddy lion beareth he ;
The libbards there shall lose the gree; A feather'd arrow sharp, I ween,
The raven shall come, the erne shall go, Shall make him wink and warre to see. And drink the Saxon bluid sae free.
The cross of stone they shall not know, “When he is bloody, and all to bledde, So thick the corpses there shall be.".
Thus to his men he still shall say, 'For God's sake, turne ye back again, “But tell me now," said brave Dunbar,
And give yon southern folk a fray ! “ True Thomas, tell now unto me, Why should I lose the right is mine? What man shall rule the isle Britain, My doom is not to die this day.'?
Even from the north to the southern
sea ?" Yet turn ye to the eastern hand, And woe and wonder ye shall see ;
"A French queen shall bear the son, How forty thousand spearmen stand,
Shall rule all Britain to the sea; Where yon rank river meets the sea.
He of the Bruce's blood shall come,
As near as in the ninth degree. “There shall the lion lose the gyle, And the libbards bear it clean away ;
"The waters worship shall his race ;
Likewise the waves of the farthest sea; At Pinkyn Cleuch there shall be spilt Much gentil bluid that day."
For they shall ride o'er ocean wide,
With hempen bridles, and horse of tree." Enough, enough, of curse and ban ; Some blessings show thou now to me,
But it is as the author of Sir Tristrem Or, by the faith o' my bodie," Corspatrick that he has excited that modern curiosity said,
which has given rise to a not inconsider"Ye shall rue the day ye e'er saw able literature of itself, and revived an me."—
1 One of Thomas's rhymes, preserved by
tradition, runs thus : * King Alexander, killed by falling over a
“ The burn of breid cliff, near Kinghorn, in Fife.
Shall run fow reid." 2 The uncertainty which long prevailed in Bannock-burn is the brook here meant. The Scotland concerning the fate of James IV. is Scots give the name of bannock to a thick well known.
round cake of unleavened bread.
interest in our early romances, which English monk, a native of Malton, in has led to their reinvestigation and study Yorkshire, who translated into English with greater critical exactness and thor- rhyme the French Chronicle of England, oughness than had previously been ap- by Peter de Langtoft, a canon of Bridplied to them. To do more than briefly lington, while resident in the Priory of indicate the chief points of the contro- Brunne, and hence called Robert de versy to which the authorship and the Brunne, there was nothing to connect nationality of Sir Tristrem has given Thomas of Erceldoune with the authorrise, would here be out of place. ship of Sir Tristrem before the dis
This now famous romance was dis- covery of the Auchinleck MS. De covered in the Advocates' Library, Edin- | Brunne began his Chronicle in 1303, burgh, by Ritson, the well-known anti- about seven years after the death of quarian, and forms part of a vellum Thomas, and may therefore be conmanuscript volume presented to the sidered a contemporary, and, from the Library in 1744 by a judge of the Court ecclesiastical intimacy between the of Session, Alexander Boswell of Auch- churches of the north of England and the inleck, father of James Boswell, John- south of Scotland, may be supposed to son's biographer, and thence called the be well acquainted with Scottish affairs. Auchinleck MS. It contains upwards His reference is as follows :of forty poems, and fragments of poems,
“ I see in song, in sedgeyng tale an account of which is given by Scott
Of Erceldoun and of Kendale, as an appendix to the introduction to
Non tham says as thai tham wroght, Sir Tristrem. The volume has been And in ther sayng it semes noght. much mutilated from the cutting out of That may thou here in Sir Tristrem ; the illuminated initials; and the con
Ouer gestes it hes the 'steem,
Quer all that is or was, cluding stanzas of Sir Tristrem are lost,
If men it sayd as made Thomas ; but have been supplied, in the published Bot I here it no man so say, copy, by Scott, after a French romance That of som copple som is away. of the same name, with which it cor
So thare fayre saying here beforne
Is thare trauayle nere forlorne. responds.
Thai sayd it for pride and noblye, The subject, it is admitted, was a That non were suylk as thei, favourite one with the romance writers, And alle that thai wild ouerwhere, and appears to have occupied the pens
All that ilk wille now forfare.
Thai sayd in so quainte Inglis of the early poets of France, Germany,
That manyone wate not what it is." Denmark, and Iceland, before the time of Thomas ; and in 1821 a German There is considerable obscurity about professor, in a work on the literature of some parts of this, and, consequently, the Middle Ages, has produced a Greek some diversity of opinion as to its exact poem on the Knights of the Round meaning; but it may be taken as estabTable, of which Sir Tristrem is a con- lishing the fact, that the author was acspicuous member. But for the unsup- quainted with a romance of Sir Trisported evidence of Robert Mannyng, an trem that was held in higher esteem
than any other known to him ; that its And of batells that done sall bee ; author's name was Thomas; and that
In what place, and how and whare ;
And wha shall have the heghere gree; the minstrels, the reciters of it, were in
And whethir partye sall hafe the werre. the habit of repeating it imperfectly, and with omissions, on account of its
Wha sall take the flyghte and flee ;
And wha sall dye and byleue there ; quaint English. That he heard no man
But Ihesu Christ, that dyed on tre, say it as Thomas made it, implies that Saue Inglysche men whare so they fare." he must have seen it as made, in writ. ing, or have heard Thomas himself re- Ritson also failed to find any trace of cite it—by no means an impossibility, Kendale ; but Sir Frederick Madden, as he became a monk in 1288, eight who ranges himself on the side of those years before the death of Thomas. who consider the claims of Thomas of
But the principal difficulty lies in the Erceldoune to Sir Tristrem as apocrymanner in which the names, Ercel. phal, says, in his notes to Sir Gawayne, doune and Kendale, are coupled. War- &c., Bannatyne Club, 1839, that a paston, in referring to the matter, remarks, sage in the unedited portion of De that they are written as if they were Brunne shows Kendale's Christian name names of romances, and adds, “ that of was also Thomas, and that he wrote a the latter he finds no traces in our an- tale about Flayn, the brother of the cient literature.” The former, he sup- giant Skardyng, the lord of Scarborough poses, may refer to Thomas of Ercel Castle ; "a piece of information,” he doune, or Ashelington, who wrote adds, “ which I believe to be new to prophecies like Merlin, and refers to all writers on the subject.” It would the MS. romance in the library of Lin- have been more satisfactory had he coln Cathedral, entitled Thomas of Er- given the passage ; but since he has celdown, the introduction of which is as withheld it, we may conclude that it follows :
does not help his side of the contro" Lystnys, lordyngs, bothe grete and small, versy. Instead of stating his belief that
And takis gude tente what I will say : Sir Tristrem is not the work of a native I sall yow telle als trewe a tale,
of Scotland, it would have been more Als euer was herde by nyghte or daye.
ingenuous to have given the grounds on And the maste meruelle fforowttyn naye, which he came to this conclusion. Be
That euer was herde byfore or syen, And therefore pristly I yow praye,
sides, his great authority is here much That ye will of youre talkyng blyn.
weakened by the way in which, in his It es an harde thynge for to saye,
notes and glossary, he exhibits his aniOf doghety dedis that hase been done ; mus against Dr Jamieson. Mr Price, Of felle feghtyngs and battels sere ;
the editor of Warton's History of EngAnd how that knyghtis hasse wonne thair
lish Poetry, has shown that Scott was schone,
in error in claiming, unwittingly, for his But Jhesu Christ, that sittis in trone,
Thomas a fame on the continent which Safe Inglysche bothe ferre and nere; And I sall telle yow tyte and sone,
belongs to Thomas of Brittany ; but Of batells done sythen many a yere ;
that does not affect the authorship of the