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MARMION1 AND DOUGLAS.
THE train 2 from out the castle drew,
Though something I might plain," 3 he said, "Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent thither by your king's behest,1
But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
1 Marmion: the name of an imaginary English hero who died fighting in the great battle of Flodden, in the war between Scotland and England, 1513. See note 1, p. 98. Douglas was the name of a noble Scotch family of great wealth and influence. Marmion goes as an ambassador from the king of England to the Scottish sovereign. He makes his journey before hostilities break out between the two countries; his object being to learn"Why through all Scotland, near and far, Their king is mustering troops for war.'
(Marmion, Canto I. xx.)
At the request of King James of Scotland, Lord Douglas receives Marmion as his guest at Tantallon Castle. The extract represents the English knight on the point of bidding adieu to his host.
2 The train: the troops of Marmion.
3 Plain complain.
4 Behest: command.
5 Tantallon's towers: Tantallon Castle, the principal stronghold of the Douglas family in the east of Scotland, was built on a rocky promontory overlooking the German Ocean, or North Sea. It was situated about two miles from North Berwick, just at the entrance of the Firth of Forth.
"My manors,1 halls and bowers 2 shall still
To each one whom he lists, howe'er
Unmeet 4 to be the owner's peer.5
My castles are my king's alone
"An 'twere not for thy hoary beard,
And, first, I tell thee, haughty Peer,5
And lay your hands upon your sword,10)
1 Man'ors: the estates of a lord or person of rank.
2 Bowers: chambers.
3 Lists: chooses.
4 Unmeet: unfit.
5 Peer: equal; but in second instance, lord.
6 Turret: a small tower, usually rising above a larger one as a look-out station; hence, the topmost tower.
7 Angus: Douglas was earl of Angus.
8 Pitch of pride: here, apparently, equivalent to lofty castle.
9 Hold: stronghold.
10 This speech in parenthesis is addressed to the vassals or dependents of Douglas.
I tell thee, thou'rt defied!
On the Earl's cheek the flush of rage
Fierce he broke forth, "And darest thou then
To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall?
And hopest thou hence unscathed1 to go?
Up drawbridge,3 grooms, 4-what, Warder, ho!
Lord Marmion turn'd, - well was his need!-
The steed along the drawbridge flies,
1 Unscathed: unharmed.
2 Saint Bride of Bothwell: Bothwell is on the Clyde a short distance above Glasgow; here there is an old church which may have been dedicated to St. Bride (or Bridget) of Ireland, as many churches were throughout the British Isles.
3 Drawbridge: a bridge over the moat or ditch in front of the main entrance of the castle. It was raised and lowered by chains.
4 Grooms: servants.
5 Portcullis a strong, heavy grating sliding in a vertical groove. When let down, it barred entrance to the castle.
6 Rowels: spurs.
7 Gate: the portcullis.
8 Razed here, grazed
Not lighter does the swallow skim
And, when Lord Marmion reach'd his band,
And shook his gauntlet1 at the towers.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
1 Gauntlet: a glove plated with steel, and coming up so as to protect the lower arm.
SCOTLAND'S MAIDEN MARTYR.1
A TROOP of soldiers waited at the door,
Then the door
Was open'd, and two women meekly stepp'd
1 In 1638 Charles I. endeavored to compel the Church of Scotland, which was strongly Presbyterian, to use the service-book of the Episcopal Church of England.
The people of all classes rose against those who were sent to enforce the king's will, and signed a covenant or solemn oath to maintain their own national church and furthermore to require others to accept it.
When Charles II. came to the throne he ordered the Covenant to be burned, and an act was passed ordering all persons to refuse and condemn it as an unlawful oath.
Those who persisted in maintaining the Covenant were now regarded by the government as rebels and were treated with frightful severity. All religious meetings of the Covenanters were denounced under pain of death. These extreme measures provoked insurrection and almost civil war.
John Graham, better known as Claverhouse, was especially cruel in his persecution of those who refused to renounce the Covenant.
In 1685 two women were tied to stakes and drowned in the rising tide at Solway Firth, in the southwest of Scotland, for persisting in holding to the Covenant. One was Margaret M'Lauchlan, who was advanced in years; and the other Margaret Wilson, a girl of eighteen.
Burton in his History of Scotland (Vol. VII.) coolly remarks that "these ferocities "" were limited to a small corner of the southwest of Scotland, and that "there was not much sympathy with the sufferers in other parts of the country."