The Earl acquiesced in her
opinion; and saying he would consult with Wallace, about the securest mode
of travel for his daughter; again turned to Lord Andrew, to learn further
of their late proceedings. But the Countess still uneasy, once more
"Alas! my Lord, what
would you do? His generous zeal will offer to go in person for your
daughter. We know not what dangers he might then incur; and surely the
champion of Scotland, is not to be thrown into peril for any domestic
concern! If you really feel the weight of the evils into which you have
plunged Sir William Wallace, do not increase it, by even hinting to him
the present subject of your anxiety."
"My aunt is an oracle
!" resumed Murray. "Allow me to be the happy knight, that is to
bear the surrender of Dumbarton to my sweet cousin. Prevail on Wallace to
remain in this garrison till I return; and then full tilt for the walls of
old Stirling, and the downfall of Hughie Cressingham I"
Both the Countess and the
Earl were pleased with this arrangement. The
latter, by the persuasions of his nephew, retired into an inner chamber to
repose; and the former desired Lord Andrew to inform Wallace, that she
should expect to be honoured with his presence at noon, to partake of such
fare as the garrison afforded.
On Murray’s coming from
the citadel, he learnt that Wallace was gone towards the great tower. He
followed him thither; and on issuing from the postern which led to that
part of the rock, saw the chief standing with his helmet off, in the midst
of the slain.
"This is a sorry
sight!" said he to Murray, as he approached; "but it shall not
long lie thus exposed. I have just ordered that these sad wrecks of human
strife, may be lowered into the Clyde; its rushing stream will soon carry
them to a quiet grave, beneath yon peaceful sea." His own dead,
amounting to no more than fifteen, were to be buried at the foot of the
rock: a prisoner in the castle having described steps in the cliff, by
which the solemnity should easily be performed.
"But why, my dear
commander:" cried Lord Andre, "why do you take any thought about
our enemies? Leave them where they are, and the eagles of our mountains
will soon find them graves."
"For shame, Murray
!" was the reply of Wallace; "they are dead, and our enemies no
more. They are men like ourselves; and shall we deny them a place in that
earth, whence we all sprung? We war not with human nature: are we not
rather the assertors of her rights ?"
"I know," replied
Lord Andrew, blushing! "that I am often the assertor of my own folly;
and I do not know how you will forgive my inconsiderate
"Because it was
inconsiderate!" replied Wallace. "Inhumanity is too stern a
guest, to live in such a breast as yours."
"If I ever give her
quarters:" replied Murray, "I should most woefully disgrace the
companion she would meet there. Next to the honour of fair Scotland, my
cousin Helen is the goddess of my idolatry; and she would forswear my love
and kindred, could she believe me capable of feeling otherwise than in
unison with Sir William Wallace.
Wallace looked towards him
with a benign pleasure in his countenance:—" Your fair cousin does
"Ah, my noble
friend:" cried Murray, lowering his gay tone, to one of softer
expression; "if you knew all the goodness; all the nobleness, that
dwells in her gentle heart, you would indeed esteem her—you would love
her as I do."
The blood fled from the
cheek of Wallace. "Not as you do, Murray: I can no more love woman as
you love her. Such scenes as these," cried he, turning to the mangled
bodies, which the men were now carrying away to the precipice of the
Clyde, "have divorced woman’s love from my heart. I am all my
country’s, or I am nothing."
reiterated Murray, laying his hand upon that of Wallace, as it rested upon
the hilt of the sword on which he leaned: "is the friend of mankind,
the champion of Scotland, the beloved of a thousand valuable hearts,
nothing? Nay, art thou not the agent of Heaven, to be the scourge of a
tyrant? Art thou not the deliverer of thy country?"
Wallace turned his bright
eye upon Murray, with an expression of mingled feelings :—"May I be
all this, my friend, and Wallace must yet be happy ! But speak not to me
of love, and woman: tell me not of those endearing qualities, I have
prized too tenderly; and which are now buried to me for ever, beneath the
ashes of Ellerslie."
"Not under the ashes
of Ellerslie," cried Murray, "sleep the remains of your lovely
wife." Wallace’s penetrating eye turned quick upon him; Murray
continued: "My cousin’s pitying soul stretched itself towards them;
by her directions they were brought from your oratory in the rock, and
deposited, with all holy rites, in the cemetery at Bothwell."
The glow that now animated
the before chilled heart of Wallace, overspread his face. His eyes spoke
volumes of gratitude, his lips moved, but his feelings were too big for
utterance, and, fervently pressing the hand of Murray,— to conceal
emotions ready to shake his manhood, he turned away, and walked towards
When all the slain were
lowered to their last beds, a young priest, who came in the company of
Scrymgeour, gave the funeral benediction, both to the departed, in the
waves, and those whom the shore had received. The rites over, Murray again
drew near to Wallace, and delivered his aunt’s message. "I shall
obey her commands," returned he: "but first we must visit our
wounded prisoners in the tower."
Above three hundred of them
had been discovered amongst the dead.
gladly obeyed the impulse of his leader’s arm; and, followed by the
chieftains returned from the late solemn duty, they entered the tower.
Ireland welcomed Wallace with the intelligence, that he hoped he had
succoured friends instead of foes; for that most of the prisoners were
poor Welsh peasants, whom Edward had torn from their mountains, to serve
in his legions; and a few Irish, who in heat of blood, and eagerness for
adventure, had enlisted in his ranks. "I have shown to them,"
continued Ireland; "what fools they are, to injure themselves, in us.
I told the Welsh, they were clinching their own chains, by assisting to
extend the dominion of their conqueror: and I have convinced the Irish,
they were forging fetters for themselves, by lending their help to enslave
their brother nation, the free born Scots. They only require your
presence, my Lord, to forswear their former leaders, and to enlist under
"Thou art an able
orator, my good Stephen," returned Wallace; "and whatever
promises thou hast made to honest men, in the name of Scotland, we are
ready to ratify them. Is it not so?" added he, turning to Kirkpatrick
"All, as you
will," replied they in one voice. "Yes;" added
Kirkpatrick;."you were the first to rise for Scotland; and who but
you has a right to command for her!"
Ireland threw open the door
which led into the hall; and there, on the ground, on pallets of straw,
lay most of the wounded Southrons. Some of their dimmed eyes, had
discerned their preserver, when he discovered them expiring on the rock;
and on sight of him now, they uttered such a piercing cry of gratitude,
that, surprised, he stood for a moment. In that moment, five or six of the
poor wounded wretches crawled to his feet :—" Our enemy !— Our
preserver!" burst from their lips, as they kissed the edge of his
"Not to me, not to
me;" exclaimed Wallace; "I am a soldier like yourselves! I have
only acted a soldiers part :—but I am a soldier of freedom; you, of a
tyrant, who seeks to enslave the world! This makes the difference between
us; this lays you at my feet; when I would more willingly receive you to
my arms as brothers in one generous cause."
"We are yours,"
was the answering exclamation of those who knelt, and of those who raised
their feebler voices from their beds of straw. A few only, remained
silent. With many kind expressions of acceptance, Wallace disengaged
himself from those who clung around him; and then moved towards the sick,
who seemed too ill to speak. While repeating the same consolatory language
to them, he particularly observed an old man, who was lying between two
young ones, and still kept a profound silence. His rough features were
marked with many a sear; but there was a meek resignation in his face,
that powerfully struck Wallace. When the chief. drew near, the veteran
raised himself on his arm, and bowed his head with a respectful air.
Wallace stopped. "You are an Englishman?"
"I am, sir, and I have
no services to offer you. These two young men on each side of me, are my
sons. Their brother I lost last night in the conflict. To-day, by your
mercy, not only my life is preserved, but my two remaining children also!
Yet I am an Englishman; and I cannot be grateful, at the expense of my
"Nor would I require
it of you;" returned Wallace; "these brave Welsh, and Irish,
were brought hither by the invader who subjugates their countries; they
owe him no duty. But you are a free subject of England; he that is a
tyrant over others, can only be a king to you: he must be the guardian of
your laws, the defender of your liberties, or his sceptre falls. Having
sworn to follow a sovereign so plighted, I am not severe enough to condemn
you, because, misled by that phantom which he calls glory, you have
suffered him to betray you into unjust conquests."
"Once I have been so
misled," returned the old man; "but I never will again. Fifty
years I have fought under the British standard, in Normandy and in
Palestine; and now in my old age, with four sons, I followed the armies of
my sovereign into Scotland. My eldest, I lost in the plains of Dunbar. My
second, fell last night; and my two youngest are now by my side. You have
saved them and me. What can I do? Not, as your noble self, says, forswear
my country: but this I swear; and in the oath to you, my sons, join (as he
spoke, they laid their crossed hands upon his, in token of assent); never
to raise our swords against England; and, with like faith, never to lift
an arm against Sir William Wallace, or the cause of injured
"To this we also
subjoin!" cried several other men, who comprised the whole of the
"Noble people !"
cried Wallace, "why have you not a king worthy of you!"
observed Kirkpatrick, in a surly tone, "Heselrigge was one of these
people !" Wallace turned upon him with a look of so tremendous a
meaning, that, awed by an expression too mighty for him to comprehend, he
fell back a few paces, muttering curses; but on whom could not be heard.
"That man would arouse
the tiger, in our lion-hearted chief!" whispered Scrymgeour to
Lord Andrew; "but the royal spirit, keeps the beast in awe :—see
how coweringly that bold brow now bows before it!"
Wallace marked the
impression his glance had made, but where he had struck, being unwilling
to pierce also, he dispelled the thunder from his countenance, and once
more looking on Sir Roger with a frank serenity; " Come," said
he, "my good knight; you must not be more tenacious for William
Wallace than he is for himself! While he possenses such a zealous friend
as Kirkpatrick of Torthorlud, he need not now fear the arms of a thousand
"No, nor of Edwards
either," cried Kirkpatrick, once more looking boldly up, and shaking
his broad claymore:—"My thistle has a point, to sting all to the
death, who would pass between this arm and my leader’s breast."
"May Heaven long
preserve the valiant Wallace!" was the prayer of every feeble voice,
as he left the hall, to visit his own wounded, in an upper chamber. The
interview was short and satisfactory. "Ah! sir:" cried one of
them, "I cannot tell how it is, but when I see you, I feel as if I
beheld the very soul of my country, or its guardian angel, standing before
me ;—a something I cannot describe, but it fills me with courage and
"You see an honest Scot
standing before you, my good Duncan:" replied Wallace; "and that
is no mean persons age; for it is one who knows no use of his life, but as
it fulfils his duty to his country !" [Now that he is no more in this
world; and as truth cannot now be misapprehended
as the language of adulation, even from friend to friend, the writer will
not forbear here owning, that this sentiment she learnt from the lips of
the late Sir Sidney Smith, whose life proved its practice.-(1809)]
"Oh, that the sound of
that voice could penetrate to every ear in Scotland !" rejoined the
soldier; "it would be more than the call of the trumpet, to bring
them to the field!"
"And from the summit
of this rock, many have already heard it; and more shall be so aroused
I" cried Murray, returning from the door, to which one of his men had
beckoned him: "here is a man, come to announce that Malcolm Earl of
Lennox, passing by the foot of this rock, saw the Scottish standard flying
from its citadel; and, as overjoyed as amazed at the sight, he sends to
request the confidence of being admitted."
"Let me bring him hither!"
interrupted Kirkpatrick; "he is brave as the day, and will be a noble
"Every true Scot must be welcome to these
walls," returned Wallace.
Kirkpatrick hastened from the tower to the
northern side of the rock; at the foot of which stood the Earl and his
train. With all the pride of a freeman and a victor, Sir Roger descended
the height. Lennox advanced to meet him. "What is it I see? Sir Roger
Kirkpatrick master of this citadel, and our king’s colours flying from
its towers! Where is Earl de Valence? Where the English garrison?
"The English garrison" replied
Kirkpatrick, "are now twelve hundred men, beneath the waters of the
Clyde. De Valence is fled; and this fortress, manned with a few hardy
Scots, shall sink into yon waves, ere it again bear the English dragon on
"And you, noble knight:" cried
Lennox, "have achieved all this! You are the dawn to a blessed day
"No," replied Kirkpatrick;
"I am but a follower of the man who has struck the blow. Sir William
Wallace of Ellerslie, is our chief; and with the power of his virtues, he
subdues not only friends, but enemies, to his command."
He then exultingly narrated the happy
events of the last four-and-twenty hours. The Earl listened with wonder
and joy. " What!" cried he, "so noble a plan for Scotland,
and I ignorant of it ?—I, that have not waked day nor night, for many a
month, without thinking, or dreaming of some enterprise to free my country
:—and behold it is achieved in a moment! I see the stroke, as a bolt
from Heaven; and, I pray Heaven, it may light the sacrifice throughout the
"Lead me, worthy knight, lead me to your chief;
for he shall be mine too: he shall command Malcolm Lennox and
all his clan."
Kirkpatrick gladly turned
to obey him; and they mounted the ascent together. Within the barbican
gate stood Wallace, with Scrymgeour and Murray. The Earl knew Scrymgeour
well, having often seen him in the field as hereditary standard-bearer of
the kingdom; of the persons of the others he was ignorant.
"There is Wallace
!" exclaimed Kirkpatrick.
"Not one of those very
young men ?" interrogated the Earl.
"Even so," was
the answer of the knight; "but his is the youth of the brave son of
Amuton; grey beards are glad to bow before his golden locks; for beneath
them is wisdom."
As he spoke they entered
the barbican; and Wallace (whom the penetrating eye of Lennox had already
singled out for the chief) advanced to meet his guest.
"Earl," said he,
"you are welcome to Dumbarton castle."
"Bravest of my
countrymen!" returned Lennox, clasping him in his arms ;
"receive a soldier’s embrace; receive the gratitude of a loyal
heart! accept my services, my arms, my men: my all, I devote to Scotland
and the great cause."
Wallace for a moment did
not answer; but warmly straining the Earl to his breast, said, as he
released him, "Such support will give sinews to our power. A few
months, and with the blessing of that arm which has already mowed down the
ranks which opposed us, we shall see Scotland at liberty."
"And may Heaven, brave
Wallace!" exclaimed Lennox, "grant us thine arm to wield its
scythe! But how have you accomplished this? How has your few, overthrovvn
this English host?"
"He strikes home, when right
points his sword," replied Wallace; "the injuries of Scotland
were my guide, and justice my companion. We feared nothing, for God was
with us; we feared nothing, and in His might we conquered."
"And shall yet
conquer!" cried Lennox, kindling with the enthusiasm that blazed from
the eyes of Wallace; "I feel the strength of our cause; and from this
hour, I devote myself to assert it, or to die."
"Not to die! my noble
lord," said Murray; "we have yet many an eve, to dance over the
buried fetters of Scotland. And as a beginning of our jollities, I must
remind our leader, that my aunt’s board awaits him."
Lord Lennox understood from
this address, it was the brave Murray who spoke to him; for he had heard
sufficient from Sir Roger Kirkpatrick, to explain how the Countess of Mar,
and her patriot husband, came within those walls.
The Countess, having
arrayed herself with all her powers, to receive her deliverer, awaited the
hour of his arrival with an emotion at her heart, which made it bound
against her bosom, when she saw the object of her splendid toil, advancing
along the court-yard. All others were lost to her impatient eyes; and
hastily rising from the window as the chiefs entered the porch, she
crossed the room to meet them at the door.
The Earl of Lennox stood
amazed, at sight of so much beauty and splendour, in such a scene. Lady
Mar had hardly attained her thirty-fifth year; but from the graces of her
person, and the address with which she set forth all her charms, the
enchanted gazer found it impossible to suppose her more than three or four
and twenty. Thus happily formed by nature, and habited in a suit of
velvet, overlaid with Cyprus-work of gold; blazing with jewels about her
head; and her feet clad in silver-fretted sandals; Lennox thought she
looked more like some triumphant queen, than a wife who had so lately
shared captivity. With an outlawed husband [This
was the style for state dress, worn by noble ladies in the thirteenth
century; the crusades having introduced much gorgeous apparel.-(1809)]
Murray started, at such unexpected magnificence in his aunt. But Wallace
scarcely observed it was anything unusual; and bowing to her presented the
Earl of Lennox. She smiled; and saying few words of welcome to the Earl,
gave her hand to Wallace, to lead her back into the chamber.
Lord Mar had risen from his
seat; and leaning on his sword (for his warlike arm refused any other
staff), stood up on their entrance. At sight of Lord Lennox, he uttered an
exclamation of glad surprise. Lennox embraced him:—"I too, am come
to enlist under the banners of this young Leonidas."
"God armeth the
patriot;" was all the reply that Mar made, while the big tears rolled
over his cheek, and he shook him by the hand.
"I have four hundred
stout Lennox-men," continued the Earl, "who by to-morrow’s
eve, shall be ready to follow our leader to the very borders."
"Not so soon,"
interrupted the Countess; "our deliverer needs repose."
"I thank your
benevolence, Lady Mar," returned Wallace; "but the issue of last
night, and the sight of Lord Lennox this day, with the promise of so great
a support, are such aliments that—we must go forward."
"Ay, to be sure,"
joined Kirkpatrick; "Dumbarton was not taken during our sleep: and if
we stay loitering here, the devil that holds Stirling castle, may follow
the scent of De Valence; and so I lose my prey!"
"What?" cried the
Countess, "and is my lord to be left again to his enemies?
Sir William Wallace, I should have thought—"
rejoined he, "that is demonstrative
of my devotion to your venerable lord! But with a brave garrison, I hope
you will consider him safe here, until a wider range of security be won,
to enable you to retire to Braemar." [A
castle of the Earl of Mar’s.]
As the apostrophe to Wallace, in the
latter part of the Countess’s speech, had been addressed to himself in
rather a low voice, his reply was made in a similar tone; so that Lord Mar
did not hear any part of the answer, except the concluding words. But then
he exclaimed, "Nay, my ever-fearful Joanna, art thou making
objections to keeping garrison here ?"
replied Wallace, "that an armed citadel is not the most pleasant
abode for a lady; but at present, excepting perhaps the church, it is the
safest; and I would not advise your lady to remove hence, until the plain
be made as free as this mountain."
The sewer now announced the
board in the hall; and the Countess leading the way, reluctantly gave her
hand to the Earl of Lennox. Lord Mar leaned on the arm of Wallace; who was
followed by Edwin, and the other chieftains.