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Knights, squires, and steeds, shall enter on the stage.
Essay on Criticism.





archers at the commencement, totally to disperse them, and stop the deadly effusion. But Douglas now used no such precaution; and the consequence was, that his people, drawn up on the face of the hill, presented one general mark to the enemy,

THOUGH the public seldom takes much interest in such communications, (nor is there any reason why they should,) the author takes the liberty of stating, that these scenes were commenced with the purpose of contributing to a miscellany pro-none of whose arrows descended in vain. The jected by a much esteemed friend. But instead of Scots fell without fight, and unrevenged, till a being confined to a scene or two as intended, the spirited knight, Swinton, exclaimed aloud, 'O work gradually swelled to the size of an independ- my brave countrymen! what fascination has seized ent publication. It is designed to illustrate mili- you to-day, that you stand like deer to be shot, tary antiquities, and the manners of chivalry. The instead of indulging your ancient courage, and drama (if it can be termed one) is in no particular meeting your enemies hand to hand? Let those either designed or calculated for the stage; so that who will, descend with me, that we may gain in case any attempt shall be made to produce it in victory, or life, or fall like men.' This being heard action (as has happened in similar cases,) the au- by Adam Gordon, between whom and Swinton thor takes the present opportunity to intimate, there existed an ancient deadly feud, attended that it shall be solely at the peril of those who with the mutual slaughter of many followers, he make such an experiment. instantly fell on his knees before Swinton, begged his pardon, and desired to be dubbed a knight by him whom he must now regard as the wisest and the boldest of that order in Britain. The ceremony performed, Swinton and Gordon descended the hill, accompanied only by one hundred men; and a desperate valour led the whole body to death. Had a similar spirit been shown by the Scottish army, it is probable that the event of the day would have been different. Douglas, who was certainly deficient in the most important qualities of a general, seeing his army begin to disperse, at length attempted to descend the hill; but the English archers, retiring a little, sent a flight of arrows so

The subject is to be found in Scottish history; but not to overload so slight a publication with antiquarian research, or quotations from obscure chronicles, may be sufficiently illustrated by the following passage from Pinkerton's History of Scotland, vol. i, p. 71.

"The governor (anno 1402) dispatched a considerable force under Murdac, his eldest son; the earls of Angus and Moray also joined Douglas, who entered England with an army of ten thousand men, carrying terror and devastation to the walls of Newcastle.

"Henry IV was now engaged in the Welch war against Owen Glendour; but the earl of Northum-sharp and strong, that no armour could withstand; berland, and his son, the Hotspur Percy, with the and the Scottish leader himself, whose panoply earl of March, collected a numerous array, and was of remarkable temper, fell under five wounds, awaited the return of the Scots, impeded with though not mortal. The English men-of-arms, spoil, near Milfield, in the north part of North- knights, or squires, did not strike one blow, but umberland. Douglas had reached Wooler on his remained spectators of the rout, which was now return; and, perceiving the enemy, seized a strong complete. Great numbers of Scots were slain, and post between the two armies, called Homildon- near five hundred perished in the river Tweed hill. In this method he rivalled his predecessor upon their flight. Among the illustrious wounded at the battle of Otterburn, but not with like suc- were Douglas, whose chief wound deprived him cess. The English advanced to the assault, and of an eye; Murdac, son of Albany; the earls of Henry Percy was about to lead them up the hill, Moray and Angus; and about four gentlemen of when March caught his bridle, and advised him eminent rank and power. The chief slain, were, to advance no farther, but to pour the dreadful Swinton, Gordon, Livingston of Calender, Ramsay shower of English arrows into the enemy. This of Dalhousie, Walter Sinclair, Roger Gordon, advice was followed with the usual fortune; for in Walter Scott, and others. Such was the issue of all ages the bow was the English weapon of vic- the unfortunate battle of Homildon." tory, and though the Scots, and perhaps the French, were superior in the use of the spear, yet this weapon was useless after the distant bow had decided from Homildon to Halidon Hill. For this there the combat. Robert the Great, sensible of this at was an obvious reason, for who would again venthe battle of Bannockburn, ordered a prepared ture to introduce upon the scene the celebrated detachment of cavalry to rush among the English | Hotspur, who commanded the English at the for

It may be proper to observe, that the scene of action has, in the following pages, been transferred



have already brought your peaceful step Too near the verge of battle.

Pri. Fain would I see you join some baron's banner,

Amid the ignoble crowd.

mer battle? There are, however, several coinci-
dences which may reconcile even the severer an-
tiquary to the substitution of Halidon Hill for
Homildon. A Scottish army was defeated by the
English on both occasions, and under nearly the
same circumstances of address on the part of the
victors, and mismanagement on that of the van-
quished, for the English long-bow decided the
day in both cases. In both cases, also, a Gordon
was lef on the field of battle; and at Halidon, as
at Homildon, the Scots were commanded by an Before I say farewell. The honour'd sword
ill-fated representative of the great house of Dou-That fought so well in Syria should not wave
glas. He of Homildon was surnamed Tine-man,
I. e. Loseman, from his repeated defeats and mis-
carriages, and with all the personal valour of his
race, seems to have enjoyed so small a portion of
their sagacity, as to be unable to learn military
experience from reiterated calamity. I am far,
however, from intimating, that the traits of im-
becility and envy, attributed to the regent in the
following sketch, are to be historically ascribed
either to the elder Douglas of Halidon Hill, or to
him called Tine-man, who seems to have enjoyed
the respect of his countrymen, notwithstanding The royal Bruce, with Randolph, Douglas, Gra-
that, like the celebrated Anne de Montmorency,
he was either defeated, or wounded, or made pri-
soner in every battle which he fought. The regent
of the sketch is a character purely imaginary.

So that a man has room to fight and fall on't:
Vip. Each spot is noble in a pitched field,
But I shall find out friends. 'Tis scarce twelve

The tradition of the Swinton family, which still survives in a lineal descent, and to which the author has the honour to be related, avers, that the Swinton who fell at Homildon, in the manner narrated in the preceding extract, had slain Gordon's father; which seems sufficient ground for adopting that circumstance into the following Dramatic Sketch, though it is rendered improbable by other authorities.

If any reader will take the trouble of looking at Froissart, Fordun, or other historians of the period, he will find, that the character of the lord of Swinton, for strength, courage, and conduct, is by no means exaggerated.










occupied by the rear guard of the Scottish army. Bodies of armed men appear as advancing from different points to join the main body. Enter DE VIPONT and the PRIOR of MAISON-DIEU, Vip. No farther, father-here I need no guid

ADAM DE VIPONT, a Knight Templar.
REYNALD, Swinton's Squire.
HOB HATTELY, a Border Moss-Trooper.



Since I left Scotland for the wars of Palestine,
And then the flower of all the Scottish nobles
Were known to me; and I, in my degree,
Not all unknown to them.

Pri. Alas! there have been changes since that


Then shook in field the banners which now moul


Over their graves i' the chancel.
That while I look'd on many a well-known erest
And thence comes it,
And blazon'd shield, as hitherward we came,
The faces of the barons who display'd them
Were all unknown to me. Brave youths they
Yet, surely fitter to adorn the tilt-yard,
Than to be leaders of a war. Their followers,
Young like themselves, seem like themselves un-
Look at their battle rank.

So thick the rays dart back from shield and helmet,
Pri. I cannot gaze on't with undazzled eye,
And sword and battle-axe, and spear and pennon.
Sure 'tis a gallant show! the Bruce himself
Hath often conquered at the head of fewer
And worse appointed followers.

Vip. Ay, but 'twas Bruce that led them. Reverend father,

"Tis not the falchion's weight decides a combat; It is the strong and skilful hand that wields it.

Scottish chiefs and nobles. Ill fate, that we should lack the noble king,

And all his champions now! Time call'd them not,
For when I parted henee for Palestine,

The brows of most were free from grizzled hair.
Pri. Too true, alas! But well you know, in

Few hairs are silver'd underneath the helmet;
'Tis cowls like mine which hide them. 'Mongst
the laity,

War's the rash reaper, who thrusts in his sickle
Before the grain is white. In threescore years
And ten, which I have seen, I have outlived
two of our nobles.


PERCY, } English and Norman Nobles. The race which holds yon summit is the third.


Vip. Thou may'st outlive them also.


Heaven forefend!
My prayer shall be, that heaven will close my eyes,
Before they look upon the wrath to come.



Vip. Retire, retire, good father!-Pray for Scot land


The northern side of the eminence of Halidon. The
back scene represents the summit of the uscent,

Think not on me. Here comes an ancient friend,
Brother in arms, with whom to-day I'll join me.
Back to your choir, assemble all your brotherhood,

And weary heaven with prayers for victory. Pri. Heaven's blessing rest with thee, Champion of heaven, and of thy suffering country! [Exit PRIOR. VIPONT draws a little aside, and lets down the beaver of his helmet. Enter SWINTON, followed by REYNALD and others, to whom he speaks as he enters.

Sin. Halt here, and plant my pennon, till the regent Assign our band its station in the host.

Rey. That must be by the standard. We have had That right since good saint David's reign at least. Fain would I see the Marcher would dispute it. Swin. Peace, Reynald! Where the general plants the soldier,

There is his place of honour, and there only
His valour can win worship. Thou'rt of those,
Who would have war's deep art bear the wild

Of some disorder'd hunting, where, pell-mell,
Each trusting to the swiftness of his horse,
Gallants press on to see the quarry fall.
Yon steel-clad Southrons, Reynald, are no deer;
And England's Edward is no stag at bay.

Vip. (advancing.) There needed not, to blazen forth the Swinton,

His ancient burgonet, the sable boar
Chain'd to the gnarled oak,—nor his proud step,
Nor giant stature, nor the ponderous mace,
Which only he of Scotland's realm can wield:
His discipline and wisdom mark the leader,
As doth his frame the champion. Hail, brave

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The bloody heart of Douglas, Ross's lymphads, Sutherland's wild-cats, nor the royal lion, Rampant in golden tressure, wins me from them. We'll back the boar-heads bravely. I see round them

A chosen band of lances-some well known to me. Where's the main body of thy followers?

Swin. Symon de Vipont, thou dost see them all That Swinton's bugle-horn can call to battle, However loud it rings. There's not a boy Left in my halls, whose arm has strength enough To bear a sword-there's not a man behind, However old, who moves without a staff, Striplings and graybeards, every one is here, And here all should be-Scotland needs them all: And more and better men, were each a Hercules, And yonder handful centuplied.

Vip. A thousand followers-such, with friends!
and kinsmen,

Allies and vassals, thou wert wont to lead-
A thousand followers shrunk to sixty lances

In twelve years' space!--And thy brave sons, sir
Alas! I fear to ask.

Swin. All slain, de Vipont. In my empty home
A puny babe lisps to a widow'd mother,
"Where is my grandsire? wherefore do you weep?"
But for that prattler, Lyulph's house is heirless.
I'm an old oak, from which the foresters
Have hew'd four goodly boughs, and left beside me
Only a sapling, which the fawn may crush
As he springs over it.


All slain-alas!

Swin. Ay, all, De Vipont. And their attributes, John with the Long Spear--Archibald with the Axe

Richard the Ready--and my youngest darling,
My Fair-haired William-do but now survive
In measures which the gray-hair'd minstrels sing,
When they make maidens weep.

Vip. These wars with England, they have rooted


The flowers of christendom. Knights, who might win

The sepulchre of Christ from the rude heathen, Fall in unholy warfare!

Swin. Unholy warfare? ay, well hast thou named it;

But not with England—would her cloth-yard shafts
Had bored their cuirasses! Their lives had been
Lost like their grandsires', in the bold defence
Of their dear country-but in private feud
With the proud Gordon, fell my Long-spear'd John,
He with the Axe, and he men call'd the Ready,
Ay, and my Fair-hair'd Will—the Gordon's wrath
Devour'd my gallant issue.

Vip. Since thou dost weep, their death is unavenged?

Swin. Templar, what think'st thou me? See yonder rock,

From which the fountain gushes-is it less
Compact of adamant, though waters flow from it?
Firm hearts have moister eyes. They are avenged;
I wept not till they were-till the proud Gordon
Had with his life-blood dyed my father's sword,
In guerdon that he thinn'd my father's lineage,
And then I wept my sons; and, as the Gordon
Lay at my feet, there was a tear for him,
Which mingled with the rest.-We had been

Had shared the banquet and the chase together,
Fought side by side,-and our first cause of strife,
Wo to the pride of both, was but a light one.
Vip. You are at feud, then, with the mighty

Swin. At deadly feud. Here in this border-land Where the sire's quarrels descend upon the son, As due a part of his inheritance,

As the strong castle, and the ancient blazon,
Where private vengeance holds the scales of justice,
Weighing each drop of blood as scrupulously
As Jews or Lombards balance silver pence,
Not in this land, 'twixt Solway and saint Abb's,
Rages a bitterer feud than mine and their's,
The Swinton and the Gordon.

Vip. You, with some threescore lances-and the
Leading a thousand followers.

Swin. You rate him far too low. Since you sought Palestine,

He hath had grants of baronies and lordships
In the far-distant north. A thousand horse

His southern friends and vassals always number'd.

Add Badenoch kerne, and horse from Dee and A cross, which binds me to be christian priest,
He'll count a thousand more.-And now, De

As well as christian champion. God may grant,
Vi-That I, at once his father's friend and yours,
May make some peace betwixt you.
Swin. When that your priestly zeal, and knight-
ly valour,

Shall force the grave to render up the dead.
[Exeunt severally.

If the boar-heads seem in your eyes less worthy, For lack of followers--seek yonder standardThe bounding stag, with a brave host around it: There the young Gordon makes his earliest field, And pants to win his spurs. His father's friend, As well as mine, thou wert-go, join his pennon, And grace him with thy presence.

Vip. When you were friends, I was the friend of both,

And now I can be enemy to neither;
But my poor person, though but slight the aid,
Joins on this field the banner of the two
Which hath the smallest following.

Swin. Spoke like the generous knight, who gave up all,

Leading and lordship, in a heathen land
To fight a christian soldier-yet, in earnest,
I pray, De Vipont, you would join the Gordon
In this high battle. 'Tis a noble youth,
So fame doth vouch him,-amorous, quick, and

Takes knighthood, too, this day, and well may use
His spurs too rashly in the wish to win them.
A friend like thee beside him in the fight,
Were worth a hundred spears, to rein his valour
And temper it with prudence;-'tis the aged eagle
Teaches his brood to gaze upon the sun,
With eye undazzled.

Vip. Alas, brave Swinton, wouldst thou train the hunter

That soon must bring thee to the bay? your cus

tom, Your most unchristian, savage, fiend-like custom, Binds Gordon to avenge his father's death.

Swin. Why, be it so! I look for nothing else:
My part was acted when I slew his father,
Avenging my four sons-Young Gordon's sword,
If it should find my heart, can ne'er inflict there
A pang so poignant as his father's did.
But I would perish by a noble hand,
And such will his be if he bear him nobly,
Nobly and wisely on this field of Halidon.
Pursuivant. Sir knights, to council!-'tis the
regent's order,

That knights and men of leading meet him instantly
Before the royal standard. Edward's army
Is seen from the hill summit.

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The summit of Halidon Hill, before the regent's tent. The royal standard of Scotland is seen in the back ground, with the pennons and banners of the principal nobles around it. Council of Scottish nobles and chiefs. SUTHERLAND, ROSS, LENNOX, MAXWELL, and other nobles of the highest rank, are close to the REGENT'S person, and in the act of keen debate. VIPONT, with Gordon and others, remain grouped at some distance on the right hand of the stage. On the left, standing also apart, is SWINTON, alone and bare-headed. The nobles are dressed in highland or lowland habits, as historical costume requires. Trumpets, Heralds, &c. are in attendance. Len. Nay, lordings, put no shame upon my counsels;

I did but say, if we retired a little,
We should have fairer field and better vantage.
I've seen king Robert,-ay, the Bruce himself-
Retreat six leagues in length, and think no shame


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And name when Morarchat was coward or traitor!
Thine island race, as chronicles can tell,
Were oft affianced to the southern cause;
Loving the weight and temper of their gold,
More than the weight and temper of their steel.
Reg. Peace, my lords, ho!

Ross, (Throwing down his glove.) Mac-Donnell will not peace! There lies my pledge, Proud Morarchat, to witness thee a liar.

Max. Brought 1 all Nithsdale from the western border;

Left 1 my towers exposed to foraying England, And thieving Annandale, to see such misrule? John. Who speaks of Annandale? Dare Maxwell slander

The gentle house of Lochwood?

Reg. Peace, lordings, or se again. We represent

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Ross. Morarchat! thou the leading of the van! Not whilst Mac-Donnell lives.

But never saw with waking eyes till now.
I will accost him.

Vip. Pray you, do not so;

Anon I'll give you reason why you should not.
There's other work in hand-

Gor. I will but ask his name. There's in his

Something that works upon me like a spell,
Or like the feeling made my childish ear
Doat upon tales of superstitious dread,
Attracting while they chill'd my heart with fear.
Now, born the Gordon, I do feel right well
I'm bound to fear nought earthly--and I fear nought.
I'll know who this man is-

[Accosts SWINTON.
Sir knight, I pray you, of your gentle courtesy,
To tell your honour'd name. I am ashamed,
Being unknown in arms, to say that mine
Is Adam Gordon.

Swin. (shows emotion, but instantly subdues it.)
It is a name that soundeth in my ear
Like to a death-knell-ay, and like the call
Of the shrill trumpet to the mortal lists;
Yet 'tis a name which ne'er hath been dishonour'd,
And never will, 1 trust-most surely never
By such a youth as thou.

Gor. There's a mysterious courtesy in this,
And yet it yields no answer to my question.
I trust, you hold the Gordon not unworthy
To know the name he asks?

Swin. Worthy of all that openness and honour
May show to friend or foe-but, for my name,
Vipont will show it you; and, if it sound
Harsh in your ear, remember that it knells there
But at your own request. This day, at least,
Though seldom wont to keep it in concealment,
As there's no cause I should, you had not heard it.
Gor. This strange―

Vip. The mystery is needful. Follow me.
• [They retire behind the side scene.
Swin. (looking after them.) 'Tis a brave youth.
How blush'd his noble cheek,
While youthful modesty, and the embarrassment
Of curiosity, combined with wonder,
All mingled in the flush; but soon 'twill deepen
And half suspicion of some slight intended,
Into revenge's glow. How slow is Vipont!
I wait the issue, as I've seen spectators
Suspend the motion even of the eye-lids,
When the slow gunner, with his lighted match,
Approach'd the charged cannon, in the act
To waken its dread slumbers.--Now 'tis out;

He draws his sword, and rushes towards me,
Who will nor seek nor shun him.


Swin. (apart.) Nay, then stone would speak.
[Addresses the REGENT.] May't please your grace,
And yours, great lords, to hear an old man's coun-
That hath seen fights enow. These open bic'ings
Dishearten all our host. If that your grace,
With these great earls and lords, must needs debate,
Let the closed tent conceal your disagreement;
Else 'twill be said, ill fares it with the flock,
If shepherds wrangle when the wolf is nigh.
Reg. The old knight counsels well. Let every

Or chief, who leads five hundred men or more,
Follow to council-others are excluded-
We'll have no vulgar censurers of our conduct.
[Looking at SWINTON.
Young Gordon, your high rank and numerous fol-

Of your dear country, hold!-Has Swinton slain
your father,

Give you a seat with us, though yet unknighted.
Gor. I pray you pardon me. My youth's unfit
To sit in council, when that knight's gray hairs
And wisdom wait without.

Reg. Do as you will; we deign not bid you twice. [The REGENT, Ross, SUTHERLAND, LENNOX, MAXWELL, &c. enter the tent. The rest remain grouped about the stage. Gor. [observing SWINTON.] That helmetless old knight, his giant stature, His awful accents of rebuke and wisdom, Have caught my fancy strangely. He doth seem Like to some vision'd form which I have dream'd of, Thou canst not be my father's ancient friend,

And must you, therefore, be yourself a parricide
And stand recorded as the selfish traitor,
Who, in her hour of need, his country's cause
Deserts, that he may wreak a private wrong?
Look to yon banner-that is Scotland's standard;
Look to the regent-he is Scotland's general;
Look to the English-they are Scotland's foemen!
Bethink thee, then, thou art a son of Scotland,
And think on nought beside.

Gor. He hath come here to brave me! Off!
Unhand me!

Enter GORDON, withheld by VIPONT.
Vip. Hold, for the sake of heaven!--O, for the


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