Abbildungen der Seite

hattan surviwan, who is intinite fuis place fomen then off the

put to the arbitrament of a combat between thirty on each side, to be fought before the king, in the North Inch of Perth, a beautiful meadow by the side of the Tay. When they mustered their forces, one of the clan Chattan was found missing ; but so reckless were men then of life, that a citizen of Perth undertook to supply his place for half a mark of silver. The combat was fought with infinite fury, until the clan Quhele were cut off all but one man, who escaped by swimming the Tay. Several of the clan Chattan survived, but all severely wounded.'--pp. 230, 231.

As a very marked contrast to this, we shall now give the previous version of this from Sir Walter's own pen :-“In 1392, a large body of Highlanders broke down from the Grampian mountains.

The chiefs were called Clan Donnachy, or Sons of Duncan, answering to the clan now called Robertson. A party of the Ogilvies and Lindsays, under Sir Walter Ogelvy, Sheriff of Angus, marched hastily against them, with their lances. But notwithstanding the advantage of their being mounted, and completely sheathed in armour, the Highlanders defended themselves with such ferocity, as to slay the sheriff and sixty of his followers, and repulse the Lowland gentlemen. To give some idea of their ferocity, it is told that Sir David Lindsay, having, in the first encounter, run his lance through the body of one of the Highlanders, bore him down and pinned him to the earth. In this condition, and in his dying agonies, the Highlander writhed himself upwards on the spear, and exerted his last strength, in fetching a sweeping blow at the armed knight, with his two-handed sword. The stroke, made with the last energies of a dying man, cut through Lindsay's stirrup and steel boot, and though it did not sever his leg from his body, yet wounded him so severely as to oblige him to quit the field. It happened, fortunately perhaps for the Lowlands, that the wild Highlanders were as much addicted to quarrel with each other, as with their neighbours. Two clans, or rather two leagues, or confederacies, composed each of several separate clans, fell into such deadly feud with each other, as filled the whole neighbourhood with slaughter and discord. When this feud or quarrel could be no otherwise ended, it was resolved the difference should be decided by a combat of thirty men of the Clan Chattan, against the same number of the Clan Kay; that the battle should take place on the North Inch of Perth, a beautiful and level meadow, in part surrounded by the river Tay; and that it should be fought in presence of the king and his nobles. Now there was a cruel policy in this arrangement, for it was to be supposed that all the best and leading men of each clan would desire to be among the thirty which were to fight for their honour; and it was no less to be expected that the battle would be very bloody and desperate. Thus the probable event would be, that both clans having lost very many of their best and bravest men, would be more easily managed in future. Such was probably the view of the king and his counsellors, in permitting this desperate conflict, which, however, was much in the spirit of

on ea

chieftain as no time eart had to the Clan ust as the

the times. The parties on each side were drawn out, armed with sword and target, axe and dagger, and stood looking on each other with fierce and savage aspects, when, just as the signal for fight was expected, the commander of the Clan Chattan perceived that one of his men whose beart had failed him had deserted his standard. There was no time to seek another man from the clan-so the chieftain, as his only resource, was obliged to offer a reward to any one who would fight in the room of the fugitive. Perhaps you think it might be difficult to get a man, who, for a small hire, would undergo the perils of a battle which was likely to be so obstinate and deadly. But in that fighting age, men valued their lives lightly. One Henry Wynd, a citizen of Perth, and a saddler by trade, a little bandy-legged man, but of great strength and activity, and well accustomed to the use of the broad sword, offered himself for half a French crown, to serve on the part of the Clan Chattan, in the battle of that day. The signal was then given by the sound of the royal trumpets, and of the great war bag-pipes of the Highlanders, and the two parties fell on each other with the utmost fury, their natural ferocity of temper being excited by feudal hatred against the hostile clan—zeal for the honour of their own, and a consciousness that they were fighting in the presence of the king and the nobles of Scotland. As they fought with the twohanded sword and axe, the wounds they inflicted on each other were of a ghastly size and character. Heads were cloven asunder, Timbs were lopped from the trunk. The meadow was soon flooded with blood, and covered with dead and wounded men. In the midst of the deadly conflict, the chieftain of the Clan Chattan observed that Henry Wynd, after he had slain one of the Clan Kay, drew aside, and did not seem willing to fight more. How is this?' said he; 'art thou afraid ? Not I,' answered Henry;

but I have done enough of work for half a crown.' Forward and fight,' said the Highland Chief, ' he that doth not grudge his day's work, I will not stint him of his wages.' Thus encouraged, Henry Wynd again plunged into the conflict; and by his excellence as a swordsman, contributed a great deal to the victory, which at length fell to the Clan Chattan. Ten of the victors, with Henry Wynd, whom the Highlanders call the Gow Chrom, (that is, the crooked or bandy-legged smith, though he was a saddler, for war saddles were then made of steel), were left alive, but they were all wounded. Only one of the Clan Kay survived, and he was unhurt. But this single individual durst not oppose himself to eleven men, though all more or less hurt ; but, throwing himself into the Tay, swam to the other side, and went off to carry to the Highlands the news of his clan's defeat. It is said, he was so ill received by his kinsmen, that he put himself to death. Some part of the above story is matter of tradition, but the general fact is certain. Henry Wynd was rewarded to the Highland Chieftain's best abilities; but it was remarked, that when the battle was over, he was not able to tell the name of the clan he fought for, replying, when asked on which side he had been, that he was fighting for his own hand. Hence the proverb, 'every man for his own hand, as Henry Wynd fought.'”Tales of a Grandfather, 1st Series.

One other comparison, we think, will suffice to prove that we have by no means dealt too hardly with our distinguished author. We shall, for this purpose, select the death and character of King Robert Bruce, a subject which, of all others, ought to have been amply treated in a work wearing the title of the History of Scotland, though Robertson did not think it so suitable a topic for him to manufacture sing-song paragraphs about, as the reign of the persecuted Mary Queen of Scots. Bruce was accordingly passed by as nobody, by this most feeble and blundering historian. Sir Walter has not treated the illustrious king quite so cavalierly. We quote from the work before us Sir Walter's account of the death and character of Bruce.

On the 7th of June, 1329, died Robert Bruce, at the almost premature age of fifty-five. He was buried at Dumfermline, where his tomb was opened in our time, and his reliques again interred, amid all the feelings of awe and admiration which such a sight tended naturally to inspire.

Remarkable in many things, there was this almost peculiar to Robert Bruce, that his life was divided into three distinct parts, which could scarcely be considered as belonging to the same individual. His youth was thoughtless, hasty, and fickle, and from the moment he began to appear in public life until the slaughter of the Red Comyn, and his final assumption of the crown, he appeared to have entertained no certain pur. pose beyond that of shifting with the shifting tide, like the other barons around him, ready, like them, to enter into hasty plans for the liberation of Scotland from the English yoke ; but equally prompt to submit to the overwhelming power of Edward. Again, in a short but very active period of his life, he displayed the utmost steadiness, firmness, and constancy, sustaining, with unabated patience and determination, the loss of battles, the death of friends, the disappointment of hopes, and an uninterrupted series of disasters, on which scarce a ray of hope appeared to brighten. This term of suffering extended from the field of Methven-wood till his return to Scotland from the island of Rachrin, after which time his career, whenever he was himself personally engaged, was almost uniformly successful, even till he obtained the object of his wishes the secure possession of an independent throne.

• When these things are considered, we shall fiad reason to conclude that the misfortune of the second, or suffering period of Bruce's life had taught him lessons of constancy, of prudence, and of moderation, which were unknown to his early years, and tamed the hot and impetuous fire which his temper, like that of his brother Edward, naturally possessed. He never permitted the injuries of Edward I. (although three brothers had been cruelly executed by that monarch's orders) to provoke him to measures of retaliation; and his generous conduct to the prisoners at Bannockburn, as well as elsewhere, reflected equal honour on his sagacity and bumanity. His maply spirit of chivalry was best evinced by a circumstance which happened in Ireland, where, when pursued by a superior force of

English, he halted, and offered battle at disadvantage, rather than abandon a poor washerwoman, who had been taken with the pains of labour, to the cruelty of the native Irish. Robert Bruce's personal accomplishments in war stood so high, that he was universally esteemed one of the three best knights of Europe during that martial age, and gave many proofs of personal prowess.. His achievements seem amply to vin, dicate this high estimation, since the three Highlanders slain in the retreat from Dalry, and Sir Henry de Bohun, killed by his hand in front of the English army, evince the valorous knight, as the plan of his campaigns exhibit the prudent and sagacious leader. The Bruce's skill in the military art was of the highest order; and in his testament, as it is called, he bequeathed a legacy to his countrymen, which, had they known how to avail themselves of it, would have saved them the loss of many a bloody day.* .If, however, his precepts could not save the Scottish nation from military losses, his example taught them to support the consequences with unshaken constancy. It is, indeed, to the example of this prince, and to the events of a reign so dear to Scotland, that we can distinctly trace that animated love of country which has been ever since so strong a characteristic of North Britons, that it has been sometimes supposed to limit their affections and services so exclusively within the limits of their countrymen, as to render that partiality a reproach which, liberally exercised, is subject for praise.'—pp. 164–166.

In Sir Walter's “ Tales of a Grandfather,” we find the following more detailed and interesting account of the exhumation of Bruce's remains at Dumfermline: the men digging, after finding the fragments of a marble tomb, at length “ came to the skeleton of a tall man, and they knew it must be that of King Robert, both because he was known to have been buried in a winding sheet of cloth of gold, of which many fragments were found about this skeleton, and also because the breast bone appeared to have been sawed

** These verses are thus given by Mr. Tytler. I have, for the sake of rendering them intelligible, adopted the plan of modern spelling, retaining the ancient language. The original verses are in Latin leonines.

On foot should be all Scottish weiret,
By hill and moss themselves to bear:
Let wood for walls be—bow and spear
And battle-axe their fighting gear:
That enemies do them no drears,
In strait place cause keep all store,
And burn the plain land them before ;
Then shall they pass away in haste,
When that they nothing find but waste ;
With wilds and wakening of the night,
And mickle noises made on ļieight;
Then shall they turn with great affray,
As they were chased with swords away.
This is the council and intent

Of good King Robert's testament.'
++ War.'


through, in order to take out the heart. So orders were sent from the King's Court of Exchequer to guard the bones carefully, until a new tomb should be prepared, into which they were laid with great respect. A great many gentlemen and ladies attended, and almost all the common people in the neighbourhood. And as the church would not hold the numbers, they were allowed to pass through it, one after another, that each one, the poorest as well as the richest, might see all that remained of the great King Robert Bruce, who restored the Scottish monarchy. Many people shed tears, for there was the wasted skull, which once was the head that thought so wisely and boldly for his country's deliverance; and there was the dry bone, which had once been the sturdy arm that killed Sir Henry de Bohun, between the two armies, at a single blow, on the evening before the battle of Bannockburn. It is more than five hundred years since the body of Bruce was first laid in the tomb.” • We think that the following sketch of the character of Bruce, as drawn by Mr. Tytler, in his recent work already referred to above, is much superior to that which we have just quoted from Sir Walter :

“ Bruce undoubtedly belongs to that race of heroic men, regarding whom we are anxious to learn even the commonest particulars. But living at so remote a period, the lighter shades and touches which confer individuality, are lost in the distance. We only see through the mists which time has cast around it, a figure of colossal proportion, walking amid his shadowy peers; and it is deeply to be regretted that the ancient chroniclers, whose pencil might have brought him before us as fresh and true as when he lived, have disdained to notice many minute circumstances, with which we now seek in vain to become acquainted ; yet some faint idea of his person may be gathered from the few scattered touches preserved by these authors, and the greater outlines of his character are too strongly marked to escape us..

“In his figure, the King was tall and well shaped. Before broken down by illness, and in the prime of life, he was nearly six feet high; his hair curled closely and shortly round his neck, which possessed that breadth and thickness that belong to men of great strength; he was broad-shouldered and open-chested, and the proportion of his limbs combined power with lightness and activity. These qualities were increased not only by his constant occupation in war, but by his fondness for the chace, and all manly amusements. It is not known whether he was dark or fair complexioned, but his forehead was low, his cheekbones strong and prominent, and the general expression of his countenance open and cheerful, although he was maimed by a wound which had injured his lower jaw. His manners were dignified and engaging; after battle, nothing could be pleasanter or more courteous; and it is infinitely to his honour, that in a savage age, and smarting under injuries

« ZurückWeiter »