Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ished. On disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he was wounded, and that one of his steel boots was full of blood.' Gervase adds, that, “as long as he lived, the scar of his wound opened afresh on the anniversary of the eve on which he encountered the spirit.' Less fortunate was the gallant Bohemian knight, who, travelling by night with a single companion, came in sight of a fairy host, arrayed under displayed banners. Despising the remonstrances of his friend, the knight pricked forward to break a lance with a champion, who advanced from the ranks apparently in defiance. His companion beheld the Bohemian overthrown, horse and man, by his aërial adversary; and returning to the spot next morning, he found the mangled corpses of the knight and steed.' (Hierarchy of Blessed Angels, p. 554.)

Besides these instances of Elfin chivalry above quoted, many others might be alleged in support of employing fairy machinery in this manner. The forest of Glenmore, in the North Highlands, is believed to be haunted by a spirit called Lham-dearg, in the array of an ancient warrior, having a bloody hand, from which he takes his name. He insists upon those with whom he meets doing battle with him; and the clergyman, who makes up an account of the district, extant in the Macfarlane MS., in the Advocates' Library, gravely assures us, that, in his time, Lhamdearg fought with three brothers whom he met in his walk, none of whom long survived the ghostly conflict. Barclay, in his Euphormion, gives a singular account of an officer who had ventured, with his servant, rather to intrude upon a haunted house, in a town in Flanders, than to put up with worse quarters elsewhere. After taking the usual precautions of providing fires, lights, and arms, they watched till midnight, when behold! the severed arm of a man dropped from the ceiling; this was followed by the legs, the other arm, the trunk, and the head of the body, all separately. The members rolled together, united themselves in the presence of the astonished soldiers, and formed a gigantic warrior, who defied them both to combat. Their blows, although they penetrated the body, and amputated the limbs, of their strange antagonist, had, as the reader may easily believe, little effect on an enemy who possessed such powers of self-union; nor did his efforts make more effectual impression upon them. How the combat terminated I do not exactly remember, and have not the book by me; but I think the spirit made to the intruders on his mansion the usual proposal, that they should renounce their redemption; which being declined, he was obliged to retreat.

The most singular tale of the kind is contained in an extract communicated to me by my friend Mr. Surtees of Mainsforth, in the bishopric, who copied it from a MS. note in a copy of Burthogge On the Nature of Spirits, 8vo, 1694, which had been the property of the late Mr. Gill, attorney-general to Egerton, Bishop of Durham. 'It was not,' says my obliging correspondent, 'in Mr. Gill's own hand, but probably an hundred years older, and was said to be E libro Convent. Dunelm. per T. C. extract., whom I believe to have been Thomas Cradocke, Esq., barrister, who held several offices under the See of Durham a hundred years ago. Mr. Gill was possessed of most of his manuscripts.' The extract, which, in fact, suggested the introduction of the tale into the present poem, runs thus:

Rem miram hujusmodi quæ nostris temporibus evenit, teste viro nobili ac fide dignissimo, enarrare haud pigebit. Radulphus Bulmer, cum e castris, quæ tunc temporis prope Norham posita erant, oblectationis causa, exiisset, ac in ulteriore Tueda ripâ prædam cum canibus leporariis insequeretur, forte cum Scoto quodam nobili, sibi antehac, ut videbatur, familiariter cognito, congressus est ; ac, ut fas erat inter inimicos, flagrante bello, brevissimâ interrogationis morâ interpositâ, alterutros invicem incitato cursu infestis animis petiere. Noster, primo occursu, equo præacerrimo hostis impetu labante, in terram eversus pectore et capite laso, sanguinem, mortuo similis, evomebat. Quem ut se ægre habentem comiter allocutus est alter, pollicitusque, modo auxilium non abnegaret, monitisque obtemperans ab omni rerum sacrarum cogitatione abstineret, nec Deo, Deiparæ Virgini, Sanctove ullo, preces aut vota efferret vel inter sese conciperet, se brevi eum sanum validumque restituturum esse. Pra angore oblata conditio accepta est ; ac veterator ille nescio quid obscani murmuris insusurrans, prehensa manu, dicto citius in pedes sanum ut antea sublevavit. Noster autem, maxima præ rei inauditâ novitate formidine perculsus, MI JESU! exclamat, vel quid simile ; ac subilo respiciens nec hostem nec ullum alium conspicit, equum solum gravissimo nuper casu afflictum, per summam pacem in rivo fluvii pascentem. Ad castra itaque mirabundus revertens, fidei dubius, rem primo occultavit, dein, confecto bello, Confessori suo totam asseruit. Delusoria procul dubio res tota, ac mala veteratoris illius aperitur fraus, qua hominem Christianum ad vetitum tale auxilium pelliceret. Nomen utcunque illius (nobilis alias ac clari) reticendum duco, cum haud dubium sit quin Diabolus, Deo permittente, formam quam libuerit, immo angeli lucis, sacro oculo Dei teste, posse assumere.' The MS. chronicle, from which Mr. Cradocke took this curious extract, cannot now be found in the Chapter Library of Durham, or, at least, has hitherto escaped the researches of my friendly correspondent.

Lindesay is made to allude to this adventure of Ralph Bulmer, as a well-known story, in the 4th canto, stanza XXII, p. 152.

The northern champions of old were accustomed peculiarly to search for, and delight in, encounters with such military spectres. (See a whole chapter on the subject, in Bartholinus, De Causis contemple Mortis a Danis, p. 253.)

NOTE 49, p. 127 I cannot help here mentioning, that, on the night in which these lines were written, suggested, as they were, by a sudden fall of snow, beginning after sunset, an unfortunate man perished exactly in the manner here described, and his body was next morning found close to his own house. The accident happened within five miles of the farm of Ashestiel.

NOTE 50, p. 129 Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Baronet; unequalled, perhaps, in the degree of individual affection entertained for him by his friends, as well as in the general respect and esteem of Scotland at large. His Life of Beattie, whom he befriended and patronised in life, as well as celebrated after his decease, was not long published, before the benevolent and affectionate biographer was called to follow the subject of his narrative. This melancholy event very shortly succeeded the marriage of the friend, to whom this introduction is addressed, with one of Sir William's daughters.

NOTE 51, p. 134 Alias, 'Willo' the Wisp.' This personage is a strolling demon, or esprit follet, who, once upon a time, got admittance into a monastery as a scullion, and played the monks many pranks. He was also a sort of Robin Goodfellow, and Jack o' Lanthern. It is in allusion to this mischievous demon that Milton's clown speaks:

She was pinched, and pulled, she said,

And he by Friar's lanthern led. The History of Friar Rush is of extreme rarity, and, for some time, even the existence of such a book was doubted, although it is expressly alluded to by Reginald Scott, in his Discovery of Witchcraft. I have perused a copy in the valuable library of my friend Mr. Heber; and I observe, from Mr. Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, that there is one in the excellent collection of the Marquis of Stafford.

NOTE 52, p. 139 The late elaborate edition of Sir David Lindesay's Works, by Mr. George Chalmers, has probably introduced him to many of my readers. It is perhaps to be regretted, that the learned editor had not bestowed more pains in elucidating his author, even although he should have omitted, or at least reserved, his disquisitions on the origin of the language used by the poet: But

1 I beg leave to quote a single instance from a very interesting passage. Sir David, recounting his attention to King James V in his infancy, is made, by the learned editor's punctuation, to say, —

The first sillabis, that thou did mute,
Was pa, da, lyn, upon the lute;
Then played I twenty springis perqueir,
Quhilk was great piesour for to hear,

Vol. I, p. 7, 257.
Mr. Chalmers does not inform us, by note or glossary, what is meant by the

with all its faults, his work is an acceptable present to Scottish antiquaries. Sir David Lindesay was well known for his early efforts in favour of the resormed doctrines; and, indeed, his play, coarse as it now seems, must have had a powerful effect upon the people of his age. I am uncertain if I abuse poetical license, by introducing Sir David Lindesay in the character of LionHerald, sixteen years before he obtained that office. At any rate, I am not the first who has been guilty of the anachronism; for the author of Flodden Field despatches Dallamount, which can mean nobody but Sir David de la Mont, to France, on the message of defance from James IV to Henry VIII. It was often an office imposed on the Lion King-at-arms, to receive foreign ambassadors; and Lindesay himself did this honour to Sir Ralph Sadler, in 1539-40. Indeed, the oath of the Lion, in its first article, bears reference to his frequent employment upon royal messages and embassies.

The office of heralds, in feudal times, being held of the utmost importance, the inauguration of the Kings-at-arms, who presided over their colleges, was proportionally solemn. In fact, it was the mimicry of a royal coronation, except that the unction was made with wine instead of oil. In Scotland, a namesake and kinsman of Sir David Lindesay, inaugurated in 1592, 'was crowned by King James with the ancient crown of Scotland, which was used before the Scottish Kings assumed a close crown'; and, on occasion of the same solemnity, dined at the King's table, wearing the crown. It is probable that the coronation of his predecessor was not less solemn. So sacred was the herald's office, that,

King 'muting pa, da, lyn, upon the lule'; but any old woman in Scotland will bear witness, that pa, da, lyn, are the first efforts of a child to say, 'Whare's Dcoid Lindesay?'* and that the subsequent words begin another sentence

Upon the lute

Then played I twenty springis perqueir, etc. In another place. `justing lumis,'i.e., looms, or implements of tilting, is facetiously interpreted playful limbs.' Many such minute errors could be pointed out; but these are only mentioned incidentally, and not as diminishing the real merit of the edition.

* (It is suggested by an ingenious correspondent, that pa, da, lyn, ought rather to be interpreted, play, Davy Lyndesay.)

« AnteriorContinuar »