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"Penance, father, will I none;
When I ride on a Border foray.'
Other prayer can I none;
So speed me my errand, and let me be gone."
Again on the Knight look'd the Churchman
For he had himself been a warrior bold,
And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long since by, When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high :
Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
The pillar'd arches were over their head,
1 The Borderers were, as may be supposed, very ignorant about religious matters. Colville, in his Paranesis, or Admonition, states, that the reformed divines were so far from undertaking distant journeys to convert the Heathen, "as I wold wis at God that ye wold only go bot to the Hielands and Borders of our own realm, to gain our awin countreymen, who, for lack of preching and ministration of the sacraments, must, with tyme, becum either infidells, or atheists." But we learn, from Lesley, that, however deficient in real religion, they regularly told their beads, and never with more zeal than when going on plundering expedition.
2 The cloisters were frequently used as places of sepulture. An instance occurs in Dryburgh Abbey, where the cloister has an inscription, bearing, Hic jacet frater Archibaldus.
Spreading herbs, and flowerets bright,
The youth in glittering squadrons start;' Sudden the flying jennet wheel,
And hurl the unexpected dart.
He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright,
By a steel-clenched postern door,
On pillars lofty and light and small: The key-stone, that lock'd each ribbed aisle, Was a fleur-de-lys, or a quartre-feuille ; The corbells were carved grotesque and grim ; And the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim, With base and with capital flourish'd around, Seem'd bundles of lances which garlands had bound.
1 See Appendix, Note M.
2 Corbells, the projections from which the arches spring, usually cut in a fantastic face, or mask.
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
And thine, dark Knight of Liddesdale !2
The moon on the east oriel shone3
1 The famous and desperate battle of Otterburne was fought 15th August, 1388, betwixt Henry Percy, called Hotspur, and James, Earl of Douglas. Both these renowned champions were at the head of a chosen body of troops, and they were rivals in military fame; so that Froissart affirms, "Of all the battayles and encounteryngs that I have made mencion of here before in all this hystory, great or smalle, this battayle that I treat of nowe was one of the sorest and best foughten, without cowards or faynte hertes: for there was neyther knyghte nor squyer but that dyde his devoyre, and foughte hande to hande. This batayle was lyke the batayle of Becherell, the which was valiauntly fought and endured." The issue of the conflict is well known:-Percy was made prisoner, and the Scots won the day, dearly purchased by the death of their gallant general, the Earl of Douglas, who was slain in the action. He was buried at Melrose, beneath the high altar. "His obsequye was done reverently, and on his bodye layde a tombe of stone, and his baner hangyng over hym." FROISSART, vol. ii. p. 165.
2 See Appendix, Note N.
It is impossible to conceive a more beautiful specimen of the lightness and elegance of Gothic architecture, when in its purity,
By foliaged tracery combined;
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand
In many a freakish knot, had twined;
And trampled the Apostate's pride.
They sate them down on a marble stone,'(A Scottish monarch slept below ;)
than the eastern window of Melrose Abbey. Sir James Hall of Dunglas, Bart. has, with great ingenuity and plausibility, traced the Gothic order through its various forms and seemingly eccentric ornaments, to an architectural imitation of wicker-work; of which, as we learn from some of the legends, the earliest Christian churches were constructed. In such an edifice, the original of the clustered pillars is traced to a set of round posts, begirt with slender rods of willow, whose loose summits were brought to meet from all quarters, and bound together artificially, so as to produce the frame-work of the roof: and the tracery of our Gothic windows is displayed in the meeting and interlacing of rods and hoops, affording an inexhaustible variety of beautiful forms of open work. This ingenious system is alluded to in the romance. Sir James Hall's Essay on Gothic Architecture is published in The Edinburgh Philosophical Transactions.
1 A large marble stone, in the chancel of Melrose, is pointed out as the monument of Alexander II., one of the greatest of our early kings; others say, it is the resting-place of Waldeve, one of the early abbots, who died in the odour of sanctity.
Thus spoke the Monk, in solemn tone:
"In these far climes it was my lot
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,*
And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone:
1 See Appendix, Note O.
Ibid. Note Q.
2 Ibid. Note P.
⚫ Michael Scott was, once upon a time, much embarrassed by a spirit, for whom he was under the necessity of finding constant employment. He commanded him to build a cauld, or dam-head, across the Tweed at Kelso; it was accomplished in one night, and still does honour to the infernal architect. Michael next ordered, that Eildon hill, which was then a uniform cone, should be divided into three. Another night was sufficient to part its summit into the three picturesque peaks which it now bears. At length the enchanter conquered this indefatigable demon, by employing him in the hopeless and endless task of making ropes out of sea-sand.