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Not only had the regent notice of the intended his barn. After he came in, he halted a little, attempt upon his life, but even of the very house leaning upon a chair-back, with his face covered; when he lifted up his head, he said, 'There are from which it was threatened. With that infatuation, at which men wonder af-in this house that I have not one word of salvation ter such events have happened, he deemed it would unto;' he halted a little again, saying, 'This is be a sufficient precaution to ride briskly past the strange, that the devil will not go out, that we dangerous spot. But even this was prevented by may begin our work!' Then there was a woman the crowd: so that Bothwellhaugh had time to went out, ill looked upon almost all her life, and take a deliberate aim.-Spottiswoode, p. 233. Bu- to her dying hour, for a witch, with many presumptions of the same. It escaped me, in the former passages, that John Muirhead (whom I have often mentioned) told me, that when he came from Ireland to Galloway, he was at family worship, and giving some notes upon the Scripture, when a very ill looking man came, and sat down within the door, at the back of the hallan: (partition of the cottage:) immediately he halted, and said, There is some unhappy body just now come
THE GRAY BROTHER.
THE imperfect state of this ballad, which was written several years ago, is not a circumstance affected for the purpose of giving it that peculiar interest, which is often found to arise from ungratified curiosity. On the contrary, it was the au- into this house. I charge him to go out, and not thor's intention to have completed the tale, if he stop my mouth.' The person went out, and he had found himself able to succeed to his own satis- insisted, (went on,) yet he saw him neither come faction. Yielding to the opinion of persons, whose in nor go out."-The Life and Prophecies of Mr. judgment, if not biassed by the partiality of friend- Alexander Peden, late Minister of the Gospel at ship, is entitled to deference, the author has pre- New Glenluce, in Galloway, part ii, section 26. ferred inserting these verses, as a fragment, to his intention of entirely suppressing them.
The tradition, upon which the tale is founded, regards a house, upon the barony of Gilmerton, near Lasswade, in Mid-Lothian. This building, now called Gilmerton-Grange, was originally named Burndale, from the following tragic adventure. The barony of Gilmerton belonged, of yore, to a gentleman, named Heron, who had one beautiful daughter. This young lady was seduced by the abbot of Newbottle, a richly endowed abbey, upon the banks of the South Esk, now a seat of the marquis of Lothian. Heron came to the knowledge of this circumstance, and learned, also, that the lovers carried on their guilty intercourse by the connivance of the lady's nurse, who lived at this house, of Gilmerton-Grange, or Burndale. He formed a resolution of bloody vengeance, undeterred by the supposed sanctity of the clerical character, or by the stronger claims of natural affection. Choosing, therefore, a dark and windy night, when the objects of his vengeance were engaged in a stolen interview, he set fire to a stack of dried thorns, and other combustibles, which he had caused to be piled against the house, and reduced to a pile of glowing ashes the dwelling, with all
THE pope he was saying the high, high mass,
With the power to him given, by the saints in
To wash men's sins away.
The pope he was saying the blessed mass,
And the people kneeled around;
And all, among the crowded throng,
The scene, with which the ballad opens, was suggested by the following curious passage, extracted from the life of Alexander Peden, one of the wandering and persecuted teachers of the sect of Cameronians, during the reign of Charles II, and his successor, James. This person was supposed by his followers, and, perhaps, really believed himself, to be possessed of supernatural gifts; for the wild scenes, which they frequented, and the constant dangers, which were incurred through their proscription, deepened upon their minds the gloom of superstition, so general in that age.
At the holiest word he quivered for fear,
And, when he would the chalice rear,
"A being, whom no blessed word
wretch, at whose approach abhorred,
"About the same time he (Peden) came to Andrew Normand's house, in the parish of Alloway, in the shire of Ayr, being to preach at night in
Up, up, unhappy! haste, arise!
This tradition was communicated to me by John Clerk, esq. of Eldin, author of an Essay upon Naval Tactics; who will be remembered by posterity, as having taught the genius of Britain to concentrate her thunders, and to lanch them against her foes with an unerring aim.
For forty days and nights so drear,
Seemed none more bent to pray;
His weary course he drew,
"I come not from the shrine of saint James the divine,
Nor bring relics from over the sea;
I bring but a curse from our father, the pope,
"O come ye from east, or come ye from west,
"Now, woful pilgrim, say not so! But kneel thee down by me,
And shrive thee so clean of thy deadly sin, That absolved thou may'st be."
"And who art thou, thou gray brother, That I should shrive to thee,
When he, to whom are given the keys of earth and heaven,
Has no power to pardon me?"
"OI am sent from a distant clime,
The pilgrim kneeled him on the sand,
Did that Gray Brother laye.
1. From that fair dome, where suit is paid By blast of bugle free.-P. 411.
The barony of Pennycuik, the property of sir George Clerk, bart., is held by a singular tenure; the proprietor being bound to sit upon a large rocky fragment, called the Buckstane, and wind three blasts of a horn, when the king shall come to hunt on the Borough Muir, near Edinburgh. Hence, the family have adopted, as their crest, a demi-forester proper, winding a horn, with the motto, Free for a Blast. The beautiful mansionhouse of Pennycuik is much admired, both on account of the architecture and surrounding scenery.
mond. A house of more modern date is enclosed, The pure stream runs muddy; the gay hope is gone; as it were, by the ruins of the ancient castle, and Count Albert is prisoner on mount Lebanon." overhangs a tremendous precipice, upon the banks O she's ta'en a horse, should be fleet at her speed; of the Eske, perforated by winding caves, which, And she's ta'en a sword, should be sharp at her in former times, formed a refuge to the oppressed patriots of Scotland. Here Drummond received And she has ta'en shipping for Palestine's land, Ben Jonson, who journeyed from London, on foot, To ransom count Albert from Soldanrie's hand. in order to visit him. The beauty of this striking scene has been much injured, of late years, by the indiscriminate use of the axe. The traveller now looks in vain for the leafy bower,
"Where Jonson sate in Drummond's social shade," Upon the whole, tracing the Eske from its source, till it joins the sea, at Musselburgh, no stream in Scotland can boast such a varied succession of the most interesting objects, as well as of the most romantic and beautiful scenery.
THE FIRE KING.
"The blessings of the evil genii, which are curses, were upon him."
THIS ballad was written at the request of Mr. Lewis, to be inserted in his Tales of Wonder. It is the third in a series of four ballads, on the subject of Elementary Spirits. The story is, however, partly historical; for it is recorded, that, during the struggles of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, a knight templar, called saint Alban, deserted to the Saracens, and defeated the christians in many combats, till he was finally routed and slain, in a conflict with king Baldwin, under the walls of Jeusalem.
Bold knights and fair dames, to my harp give an ear,
O see you that castle, so strong and so high?
Small thought had count Albert on fair Rosalie,
Three things must thou do ere I hearken to thee;
To drive the Frank robber from Palestine's land;
Renouncing his knighthood, denying his Lord;
Save the flame burning bright on its altar of stone.
They searched all his garments, and, under his
They found, and took from him, his rosary beads.
Far off was their murmur, it came not more nigh, The flame burned unmoved, and nought else did he spy.
Loud murmured the priests, and amazed was the king,
While many dark spells of their witchcraft they
They searched Albert's body, and, lo! on his breast
But his heart it was hardened, his purpose was
When he thought of the maiden of fair Lebanon. Scarce passed he the archway, the threshold scarce trod,
When the winds from the four points of heaven were abroad;
They made each steel portal to rattle and ring, And, borne on the blast, came the dread Fire-King. Full sore rock'd the cavern whene'er he drew nigh, The fire on the altar blazed bickering and high; In volcanic explosions the mountains proclaim The dreadful approach of the monarch of flame. Unmeasured in height, undistinguished in form, His breath it was lightning, his voice it was storm; 1 ween the stout heart of count Albert was tame, When he saw in his terrors the monarch of flame. In his hand a broad falchion blue glimmered thro' smoke,
And Mount Lebanon shook as the monarch he spoke:
"With this brand shalt thou conquer, thus long,
and no more,
Till thou bend to the cross, and the virgin adore." The cloud-shrouded arm gives the weapon; and, The recreant receives the charmed gift on his knee:
The thunders grow distant, and faint gleam the fires,
As, borne on his whirlwind, the phantom retires.
From the day he commanded on Mount Lebanon.
With Salem's king Baldwin, against him came on.
Against the charmed blade which count Albert did wield, The fence had been vain of the king's red-cross shield;
But a page thrust him forward the monarch before,
And cleft the proud turban the renegade wore. So fell was the dint, that count Albert stooped low Before the crossed shield, to his steel saddle-bow; And scarce had he bent to the red-cross his head, "Bonne grace, notre dame," he unwittingly said. Sore sighed the charmed sword, for its virtue was o'er,
It sprung from his grasp, and was never seen more:
As back from the stripling the broken casque rolled,
You might see the blue eyes, and the ringlets of
Short time had count Albert in horror to stare On those death-swimming eye-balls, and bloodclotted hair;
For down came the templars, like Cedron in flood,
And who is yon page lying cold at his knee?
At the tale of count Albert and fair Rosalie.
FREDERICK AND ALICE.
THIS tale is imitated, rather than translated, from a fragment introduced in Goethe's Claudina von Villa Bella, where it is sung by a member of a gang of banditti, to engage the attention of the family, while his companions break into the castle. It owes any little merit it may possess to my friend Mr. Lewis, to whom it was sent in an extremely rude state; and who, after some material improvements, published it in his Tales of Wonder.
FREDERICK leaves the land of France,
Keen to prove his untried blade,
Över mountain, moor, and glade. Helpless, ruined, left forlorn, Lovely Alice wept alone; Mourned o'er love's fond contract torn, Hope, and peace, and honour flown. Mark her breast's convulsive throbs! See, the tear of anguish flows! Mingling soon with bursting sobs,
Loud the laugh of frenzy rose.
Wild she cursed, and wild she prayed; Seven long days and nights are o'er; Death in pity brought his aid,
As the village bell struck four.
Far from her, and far from France,
Faithless Frederick onward rides; Marking, blith, the morning's glance Mantling o'er the mountain's sides. Heard ye not the boding sound,
As the tongue of yonder tower, Slowly, to the hills around,
Told the fourth, the fated hour? Starts the steed, and snuffs the air,
Yet no cause of dread appears; Bristles high the rider's hair,
Struck with strange mysterious fears. Desperate, as his terrors rise,
In the steed the spur he hides!
From himself in vain he flies;
Urge his footsteps many a mile.
All the terrors of its roar. Weary, wet, and spent with toil,
Where his head shall Frederick hide? Where, but in yon ruined aisle,
By the lightning's flash descried. To the portal, dank and low,
Fast his steed the wanderer bound; Down a ruined staircase slow,
Next his darkling way he wound. Long drear vaults before him lie! Glimmering lights are seen to glide! "Blessed Mary, hear my cry!
Deign a sinner's steps to guide!" Often lost their quivering beam,
Still the lights move slow before, Till they rest their ghastly gleam Right against an iron door. Thundering voices from within,
Mixed with peals of laughter, rose; As they fell, a solemn strain
Lent its wild and wond'rous close! Midst the din, he seemed to hear Voice of friends, by death removed; Well he knew that solemn air,
'Twas the lay that Alice loved. Hark! for now a solemn knell
Four times on the still night broke; Four times, at its deadened swell,
Echoes from the ruins spoke. As the lengthened clangours die, Slowly opes the iron door! Straight a banquet met his eye,
But a funeral's form it wore! Coffins for the seats extend;
All with black the board was spread; Girt by parent, brother, friend,
Long since numbered with the dead!
Alice, in her grave-clothes bound,
Ghastly smiling, points a seat; All arose, with thundering sound;
All the expected stranger greet. High their meagre arms they wave,
Wild their notes of welcome swell; "Welcome, traitor, to the grave! Perjured, bid the light farewell!"
THE WILD HUNTSMEN. THIS is a translation, or rather an imitation, of the Wilde Jager of the German poet Bürger. The tradition upon which it is founded bears, that formerly a wildgrave, or keeper of a royal forest, named Falkenburg, was so much addicted to the pleasures of the chase, and otherwise so extremely profligate and cruel, that he not only followed this unhallowed amusement on the Sabbath, and other days consecrated to religious duty, but accompanied it with the most unheard-of oppression upon the poor peasants who were under his vassalage.
When this second Nimrod died, the people adopted a superstition, founded probably on the many various uncouth sounds heard in the depth of a German forest, during the silence of the night. They conceived they still heard the cry of the wildgrave's hounds; and the well-known cheer of the deceased hunter, the sound of his horse's feet, and the rustling of the branches before the game, the pack, and the sportsmen, are also distinctly discriminated; but the phantoms are rarely, if ever, visible. Once, as a benighted chasseur heard this infernal chase pass by him, at the sound of the halloo, with which the spectre Huntsman cheered his hounds, he could not refrain from crying, "Gluck zu, Falkenburg!" (Good sport to ye, Falkenburg!) "Dost thou wish me good sport?" answered a hoarse voice; "thou shalt share the game;" and there was thrown at him what seemed to be a huge piece of foul carrion. The daring chasseur lost two of his best horses soon after, and never perfectly recovered the personal effects of this ghostly greeting. This tale, though told with some variation, is universally believed all over Germany.
The French had a similar tradition concerning an aerial hunter, who infested the forest of Fontainebleau. He was sometimes visible; when he appeared as a huntsman, surrounded with dogs, a tall grisly figure. Some account of him may be found in "Sully's Memoirs," who says he was called, Le Grand Veneur. At one time he chose to hunt so near the palace, that the attendants, and, if I mistake not, Sully himself, came out into the court, supposing it was the sound of the king returning from the chase. This phantom is elsewhere called saint Hubert.
The superstition seems to have been very general, as appears from the following fine poetical description of this phantom chase, as it was heard in the wilds of Ross-shire.
"Ere since, of old, the haughty thanes of Ross,— So to the simple swain tradition tells,Were wont with clans, and ready vassals throng'd, To wake the bounding stag, or guilty wolf, There oft is heard, at midnight, or at noon, Beginning faint, but rising still more loud, And nearer, voice of hunters, and of hounds, And horns hoarse-winded, blowing far and keen:Forthwith the hubbub multiplies; the gale Labours with wilder shrieks and rifer din Of hot pursuit; the broken ery of deer Mangled by throttling dogs; the shouts of men, And hoofs thick beating on the hollow hill. Sudden the grazing heifer in the vale Starts at the noise, and both the herdsman's ears Tingle with inward dread. Aghast, he eyes The mountain's height, and all the ridges round, Yet not one trace of living wight discerns; Nor knows, o'erawed, and trembling as he stands, To what, or whom, he owes his idle fear, To ghost, to witch, to fairy, or to fiend; But wonders, and no end of wondering finds." Scottish Descriptive Poems, pp. 167, 168. A posthumous miracle of father Lesly, a Scottish capuchin, related to his being buried on a hill haunted by these unearthly cries of hounds and huntsmen. After his sainted relics had been deposited there, the noise was never heard more The reader will find this, and other miracles, recorded in the life of father Bonaventura, which is written in the choicest Italian.
THE wildgrave winds his bugle horn,
To horse, to horse! halloo, halloo! His fiery courser snuffs the morn,
And thronging serfs their lord pursue.