SLEEP, the gentle sister of
that awful power, which shrouds man in its cold bosom, and bears him in
still repose to the blissful wakefulness of eternal life :she, sweet
restorer wraps him in her balmy embraces: and extracting from his wearied
limbs the effects of every toil, safely relinquishes the refreshed
slumberer at morn, to the new-born vigour that is her gift; to the
gladsome breezes, which call us forth to labour and enjoyment.
Such was the rest of the youthful Murray,
till the shrill notes of a hundred bugles piercing his ear, made him
start. He listened; they sounded again. The morning had fully broke. He
sprung from his couch, hurried on his armour and snatching up his lance
and target, issued from the tower. Several women were flying past the
gate. On seeing him they exclaimed ;"The Lord Wallace is
arrived.His bugles have soundedour husbands are returned !"
Murray followed their eager
footsteps, and reached the edge of the rock just as the brave group were
ascending. A stranger was also there, who from his extreme youth and
elegance, he judged must be the young protector of his clansmen; but he
forbore to address him, until they should be presented to each other by
lt was indeed the same. On
hearing the first blast of the horn, the youthful chieftain had hastened
from his bed of heath, and buckling on his brigandine, rushed to the rock;
but at sight of the noble figure which first gained the summit, the young
hero fell back: an indescribable awe checked his steps; and he stood at a
distance, while Kirkpatrick welcomed the chief, and introduced Lord Andrew
Murray. Wallace received the latter with a glad smile; and taking him
warmly by the hand, "Gallant Murray," said he, "with such
assistance, I hope to reinstate your brave uncle in Bothwell castle; and
soon to cut a passage, to even a mightier rescue! We must carry off
Scotland from the tyrants arms; or"added he in a graver tone,
"we shall only rivet her chains the closer."
"I am but a poor
auxiliary," returned Murray; "my troop is a scanty one, for it
is of my own gathering. It is not my fathers nor my uncles strength,
that I bring along with me. But there is one here," continued he,
"who has preserved a party of men, sent by
my cousin Lady Helen Mar, almost double my numbers."
At this reference to the
youthful warrior, Sir Roger Kirkpatrick discerned him at a distance; and
hastened towards him, while Murray briefly related to Wallace the
extraordinary conduct of this unknown. On being told that the chief waited
to receive him, the youth hastened forward with a trepidation he never had
felt before; but it was a trepidation that did not subtract from his own
worth: it was the timidity of a noble
heart, which believed it approached one of the most perfect among mortals;
and while its anxious pulse beat to emulate such merit, a generous
consciousness of measureless inferiority, embarrassed him with a confusion
so amiable, that Wallace, who perceived his extreme youth and emotion,
opened his arms and embraced him. "Brave youth," cried he,
"I trust that the power which blesses our cause, will enable me to
return you with many a well-earned glory, to the bosom of your family
Edwin was encouraged by the frank
address of a hero, whom he expected to have found reserved, and wrapped in
the deep glooms of the fate which had roused him to he a thunderbolt of
Heaven; but when he saw a benign, though pale countenance, hail him with
smiles, he made a strong effort to shake off the awe with which the name,
and the dignity of figure and mien of Wallace had oppressed him; and with
a mantling blush he replied :-"My family are worthy of your
esteem; my father is brave: but my mother, fearing for me her favourite
son, prevailed on him to put me into a monastery. Dreading the power of
the English, even there she allowed none but the abbot to know who I was.
And as he chose to hide my name; and I have burst front my concealment
without her knowledge; till I do something worthy of that name, and
deserving her pardon, permit me, noble Wallace, to follow
your footsteps by the simple appellation of Edwin."
"Noble boy;" returned the
chief, "your wish shall be respected. We urge you no further to
reveal, what such innate bravery must shortly proclaim in the most
The whole of the troop having
ascended; while their wives, children, and friends, were rejoicing in
their embraces; Wallace asked some questions relative to Bothwell, and
Murray briefly related the disasters which had happened there.
"My father," added he,
"is still with the Lord of Lochawe; and thither I sent to request him
to despatch to the Cartlane craigs all the followers he took with him into
Argyleshire. But as things are, would it not be well to send a second
messenger, to say that you have sought refuge in Glenfinlass?"
"Before he could arrive,"
returned Wallace, "I hope we shall be where Lord Bothwells
reinforcements may reach us by water. Our present object must be the Earl
of Mar. He is the first Scottish earl who has hazarded his estates and
life for Scotland; and as her best friend, his liberation must be our
first enterprise. In my circuit through two or three eastern counties, a
promising increase has been made to our little army. The Frasers of Oliver
castle, have given me two hundred men; and the brave Sir Alexander
Scrymgeour, whom I met in West Lothian, has not only brought fifty stout
Scots to my command; but, as hereditary standard-bearer [This
Sir Alexander Scrymgeour was the descendant of the two re nowned knights
of that name, who signalised themselves by similar acts of bravery in the
reigns of Malcolm IlI. and Alexander I. Their name was originally Carron;
and the reason of its change is thus recorded:-
During a rebellion of
Malcolm IlI.s northern subjects, that monarch was dangerously beset on
the banks of the Spey. It was necessary he should cross the river, then
very perilous in its current, and a strong body of the enemy lined the
opposite shore to prevent his landing. The standard-bearer of the royal
army, at sight of these dangers, made a
halt. The king, in displeasure, snatched the standard from his hand, and
gave it to Sir Alexander Canon, who immediately plunged into the river,
and swimming to the other side performed prodigies of valour amongst the
rebels. For this service Malcolm gave to him and his posterity the name of
Scrymgeour (sharp fight), and proclaimed him his royal standard-bearer in
the Scottish army. This post was made hereditary in the family, by
Alexander I., to reward the son of the first of the name of Scrymgeeur,
for an action of similar loyalty. Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, the descendant
of these heroes, and the friend of Sir William Wallace, proved himself in
every way worthy of his ancestors.] of
the kingdom, has come himself,
to carry the royal banner of Scotland to glory or oblivion."
"To glory !" cried Murray,
waving his sword; "O! not while a Scot survives, shall that blood-red
lion [A lion gules, in a field or, is
the arias of Scotland.(1809.)] again lick the
Kirkpatrick, his eyes flashing fire; "rather may every Scot, and
every Southron, fall in the struggle, and fill one grave! Let me,"
cried he, sternly grasping the hilt of his sword, and looking upwards;
"let me, oh, Saviour of mankind, live but to see the Forth and the
Clyde, so often reddened with our blood, dye the eastern and the western
oceans, with the vital flood of these our foes; and when none is spared,
then let me die in peace."
"The eyes of Wallace
glanced on the young Edwin, who stood gazing on Kirkpatrick; and turning
on the knight, with a powerful look of reprehension"Check that
prayer," cried he; "remember, my brave companion, what the
Saviour of mankind was; and then think, whether he who offered life to all
the world, will listen to so damning an invocation. If we would be blessed
in the contest, we must be merciful."
"To whom ?" exclaimed
Kirkpatrick; "to the robbers, who tear from us our lands; to the
ruffians, who wrest from us our honours? But you are patient; you never
received a blow !"
Wallace, turning paler; "a heavy one, on my heart."
Kirkpatrick; "your wife fell under the steel of a Southron governor;
and you slew him for it! You were revenged; your feelings were
"Not the death of
fifty thousand governors," replied Wallace, "could appease my
feelings. Revenge were insufficient to satisfy the yearnings of my
soul." For a moment he covered his agitated features with his hand,
and then proceeded; "I slew Heselrigge, because he was a monster,
under whom the earth groaned. My sorrow, deep, deep as it waswas but
one of many, which his rapacity, and his nephews licentiousness, had
produced. Both fell beneath my arm; but I do not denounce the whole
nation, without reserve !When the sword of war is drawn, all who
resist, must conquer or fall: but there are some noble English, who abhor
the tyranny they are obliged to exercise over us; and when they declare
such remorse, shall they not find mercy at our hands? Surely, if not for
humanity, for policys sake, we ought to give quarter: for the
exterminating sword, if not always victorious, incurs the ruin it
threatens. I even hope, that by our righteous cause, and our clemency, we
shall not only gather our own people to our legions, but turn the hearts
of the poor Welsh, and the misled Irish, whom the usurper has forced into
his armies; and so confront him with troops of his own levying. Many of
the English were too just to share in the subjugation of the country they
had sworn to befriend. And their less honourable countrymen, when they see
Scotsmen no longer consenting to their own degradation, may take shame to
themselves, for assisting to betray a confiding people."
"That may be;"
returned Kirkpatrick; "but surely you would not rank Aymer de
Valence, who lords it over Dumbarton; and Cressingham, who acts the tyrant
in Stirling; you would
not rank them amongst these conscientious English?"
"No:" replied Wallace;
"the haughty oppression of the one, and the wanton cruelty of the
other, have given Scotland too many wounds, for me to hold a shield before
them; meet them, and I leave them to your sword."
"And by heavens!"
cried Kirkpatrick, gnashing his teeth with the fury of a tiger, "they
shall know its point!"
Wallace then informed his friends,
he purposed marching next morning by day-break, towards Dumbarton castle
:"When we make the attack," said he, "it must be in the
night; for I propose seizing it by storm?"
Murray and Kirkpatrick
joyfully acquiesced. Edwin smiled an enraptured assent: and Wallace, with
many a gracious look and speech, disengaged himself from the clinging
embrace of the weaker part of the garrison; who, seeing in him the spring
of their husbands might, and the guard of their own safety,- clung to
him as to a presiding deity.
"You, my dear
countrywomen," said he, "shall find a home for your aged
parents, your children, and yourselves, with the venerable Sir John Scott
of Loch Dome. You are to be conducted thither this evening; and there
await in comfort, the happy return of your husbands; whom Providence now
leads forth to be the champions of your country."
Filled with enthusiasm, the women
uttered a shout of triumph; and embracing their husbands, declared they
were ready to resign them wholly to Heaven, and Sir William Wallace.
Wallace left them with
these tender relatives, from whom they were so soon to part; and retired
with his chieftains to arrange the plan of his proposed attack. Delighted
with the glory which seemed to wave him from the pinnacles
of Dumbarton rock, Edwin listened in profound silence to all that was
said; and then hastened to his quarters, to prepare his armour for the
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