Ay, sir--our ancient crown, in these wild times,
Oft stood upon a cast--the gamester's ducat,
So often staked, and lost, and then regain'd,
Scarce knew so many hazards.
THE SPANISH FATHER.
It is not our object to enter into the historical part of the reign of
the ill-fated Mary, or to recount how, during the week which succeeded
her flight from Lochleven, her partisans mustered around her with
their followers, forming a gallant army, amounting to six thousand
men. So much light has been lately thrown on the most minute details
of the period, by Mr. Chalmers, in his valuable history of Queen Mary,
that the reader may be safely referred to it for the fullest
information which ancient records afford concerning that interesting
time. It is sufficient for our purpose to say, that while Mary's
head-quarters were at Hamilton, the Regent and his adherents had, in
the King's name, assembled a host at Glasgow, inferior indeed to that
of the Queen in numbers, but formidable from the military talents of
Murray, Morton, the Laird of Grange, and others, who had been trained
from their youth in foreign and domestic wars.
In these circumstances, it was the obvious policy of Queen Mary to
avoid a conflict, secure that were her person once in safety, the
number of her adherents must daily increase; whereas, the forces of
those opposed to her must, as had frequently happened in the previous
history of her reign, have diminished, and their spirits become
broken. And so evident was this to her counsellors, that they resolved
their first step should be to place the Queen in the strong castle of
Dunbarton, there to await the course of events, the arrival of
succours from France, and the levies which were made by her adherents
in every province of Scotland. Accordingly, orders were given, that
all men should be on horseback or on foot, apparelled in their armour,
and ready to follow the Queen's standard in array of battle, the
avowed determination being to escort her to the Castle of Dunbarton in
defiance of her enemies.
The muster was made upon Hamilton-Moor, and the march commenced in all
the pomp of feudal times. Military music sounded, banners and pennons
waved, armour glittered far and wide, and spears glanced and twinkled
like stars in a frosty sky. The gallant spectacle of warlike parade
was on this occasion dignified by the presence of the Queen herself,
who, with a fair retinue of ladies and household attendants, and a
special guard of gentlemen, amongst whom young Seyton and Roland were
distinguished, gave grace at once and confidence to the army, which
spread its ample files before, around, and behind her. Many churchmen
also joined the cavalcade, most of whom did not scruple to assume
arms, and declare their intention of wielding them in defence of Mary
and the Catholic faith. Not so the Abbot of Saint Mary's. Roland had
not seen this prelate since the night of their escape from Lochleven,
and he now beheld him, robed in the dress of his order, assume his
station near the Queen's person. Roland hastened to pull off his
basnet, and beseech the Abbot's blessing.
"Thou hast it, my son!" said the priest; "I see thee now under thy
true name, and in thy rightful garb. The helmet with the holly branch
befits your brows well--I have long waited for the hour thou shouldst
"Then you knew of my descent, my good father?" said Roland.
"I did so, but it was under seal of confession from thy grandmother;
nor was I at liberty to tell the secret, till she herself should make
"Her reason for such secrecy, my father?" said Roland Avenel.
"Fear, perchance of my brother--a mistaken fear, for Halbert would
not, to ensure himself a kingdom, have offered wrong to an orphan;
besides that, your title, in quiet times, even had your father done
your mother that justice which I well hope he did, could not have
competed with that of my brother's wife, the child of Julian's elder
"They need fear no competition from me," said Avenel. "Scotland is
wide enough, and there are many manors to win, without plundering my
benefactor. But prove to me, my reverend father, that my father was
just to my mother--show me that I may call myself a legitimate Avenel,
and make me your bounden slave for ever."
"Ay," replied the Abbot, "I hear the Seytons hold thee cheap for that
stain on thy shield. Something, however, I have learnt from the late
Abbot Boniface, which, if it prove sooth, may redeem that reproach."
"Tell me that blessed news," said Roland, "and the future service of
"Rash boy!" said the Abbot, "I should but madden thine impatient
temper, by exciting hopes that may never be fulfilled--and is this a
time for them? Think on what perilous march we are bound, and if thou
hast a sin unconfessed, neglect not the only leisure which Heaven may
perchance afford thee for confession and absolution."
"There will be time enough for both, I trust, when we reach
Dunbarton," answered the page.
"Ay," said the Abbot, "thou crowest as loudly as the rest--but we are
not yet at Dunbarton, and there is a lion in the path."
"Mean you Murray, Morton, and the other rebels at Glasgow, my reverend
father? Tush! they dare not look on the royal banner."
"Even so," replied the Abbot, "speak many of those who are older, and
should be wiser, than thou.--I have returned from the southern shires,
where I left many a chief of name arming in the Queen's interest--I
left the lords here wise and considerate men--I find them madmen on my
return--they are willing, for mere pride and vain-glory, to brave the
enemy, and to carry the Queen, as it were in triumph, past the walls
of Glasgow, and under the beards of the adverse army.--Seldom does
Heaven smile on such mistimed confidence. We shall be encountered, and
that to the purpose."
"And so much the better," replied Roland; "the field of battle was my
"Beware it be not thy dying bed," said the Abbot. "But what avails it
whispering to young wolves the dangers of the chase? You will know,
perchance, ere this day is out, what yonder men are, whom you hold in
"Why, what are they?" said Henry Seyton, who now joined them: "have
they sinews of wire, and flesh of iron?--Will lead pierce and steel
cut them?--If so, reverend father, we have little to fear."
"They are evil men," said the Abbot, "but the trade of war demands no
saints.--Murray and Morton are known to be the best generals in
Scotland. No one ever saw Lindesay's or Ruthven's back--Kirkaldy of
Grange was named by the Constable Montmorency the first soldier in
Europe--My brother, too good a name for such a cause, has been far and
wide known for a soldier."
"The better, the better!" said Seyton, triumphantly; "we shall have
all these traitors of rank and name in a fair field before us. Our
cause is the best, our numbers are the strongest, our hearts and limbs
match theirs--Saint Bennet, and set on!"
The Abbot made no reply, but seemed lost in reflection; and his
anxiety in some measure communicated itself to Roland Avenel, who
ever, as their line of march led over a ridge or an eminence, cast an
anxious look towards the towers of Glasgow, as if he expected to see
symptoms of the enemy issuing forth. It was not that he feared the
fight, but the issue was of such deep import to his country, and to
himself, that the natural fire of his spirit burned with a less
lively, though with a more intense glow. Love, honour, fame, fortune,
all seemed to depend on the issue of one field, rashly hazarded
perhaps, but now likely to become unavoidable and decisive.
When, at length, their march came to be nearly parallel with the city
of Glasgow, Roland became sensible that the high grounds before them
were already in part occupied by a force, showing, like their own, the
royal banner of Scotland, and on the point of being supported by
columns of infantry and squadrons of horse, which the city gates had
poured forth, and which hastily advanced to sustain those troops who
already possessed the ground in front of the Queen's forces. Horseman
after horseman galloped in from the advanced guard, with tidings that
Murray had taken the field with his whole army; that his object was to
intercept the Queen's march, and his purpose unquestionable to hazard
a battle. It was now that the tempers of men were subjected to a
sudden and a severe trial; and that those who had too presumptuously
concluded that they would pass without combat, were something
disconcerted, when, at once, and with little time to deliberate, they
found themselves placed in front of a resolute enemy.--Their chiefs
immediately assembled around the Queen, and held a hasty council of
war. Mary's quivering lip confessed the fear which she endeavoured to
conceal under a bold and dignified demeanour. But her efforts were
overcome by painful recollections of the disastrous issue of her last
appearance in arms at Carberry-hill; and when she meant to have asked
them their advice for ordering the battle, she involuntarily inquired
whether there were no means of escaping without an engagement?
"Escaping?" answered the Lord Seyton; "when I stand as one to ten of
your Highness's enemies, I may think of escape--but never while I
stand with three to two!"
"Battle! battle!" exclaimed the assembled lords; "we will drive the
rebels from their vantage ground, as the hound turns the hare on the
"Methinks, my noble lords," said the Abbot, "it were as well to
prevent his gaining that advantage.--Our road lies through yonder
hamlet on the brow, and whichever party hath the luck to possess it,
with its little gardens and enclosures, will attain a post of great
"The reverend father is right," said the Queen. "Oh, haste thee,
Seyton, haste, and get thither before them--they are marching like the
Seyton bowed low, and turned his horse's head.--"Your Highness honours
me," he said; "I will instantly press forward, and seize the pass."
"Not before me, my lord, whose charge is the command of the vanguard,"
said the Lord of Arbroath.
"Before you, or any Hamilton in Scotland," said the Seyton, "having
the Queen's command--Follow me, gentlemen, my vassals and kinsmen--
Saint Bennet, and set on!"
"And follow me," said Arbroath, "my noble kinsmen, and brave
men-tenants, we will see which will first reach the post of danger.
For God and Queen Mary!"
"Ill-omened haste, and most unhappy strife," said the Abbot, who saw
them and their followers rush hastily and emulously to ascend the
height without waiting till their men were placed in order.--"And you,
gentlemen," he continued, addressing Roland and Seyton, who were each
about to follow those who hastened thus disorderly to the conflict,
"will you leave the Queen's person unguarded?"
"Oh, leave me not, gentlemen!" said the Queen--"Roland and Seyton, do
not leave me--there are enough of arms to strike in this fell combat--
withdraw not those to whom I trust for my safety."
"We may not leave her Grace," said Roland, looking at Seyton, and
turning his horse.
"I ever looked when thou wouldst find out that," rejoined the fiery
Roland made no answer, but bit his lip till the blood came, and
spurring his horse up to the side of Catherine Seyton's palfrey, he
whispered in a low voice, "I never thought to have done aught to
deserve you; but this day I have heard myself upbraided with
cowardice, and my sword remained still sheathed, and all for the love
"There is madness among us all," said the damsel; "my father, my
brother, and you, are all alike bereft of reason. Ye should think only
of this poor Queen, and you are all inspired by your own absurd
jealousies--The monk is the only soldier and man of sense amongst you
all.--My lord Abbot," she cried aloud, "were it not better we should
draw to the westward, and wait the event that God shall send us,
instead of remaining here in the highway, endangering the Queen's
person, and cumbering the troops in their advance?"
"You say well, my daughter," replied the Abbot; "had we but one to
guide us where the Queen's person may be in safety--Our nobles hurry
to the conflict, without casting a thought on the very cause of the
"Follow me," said a knight, or man-at-arms, well mounted, and attired
completely in black armour, but having the visor of his helmet closed,
and bearing no crest on his helmet, or device upon his shield.
"We will follow no stranger," said the Abbot, "without some warrant
of his truth."
"I am a stranger and in your hands," said the horseman; "if you wish
to know more of me, the Queen herself will be your warrant."
The Queen had remained fixed to the spot, as if disabled by fear, yet
mechanically smiling, bowing, and waving her hand, as banners were
lowered and spears depressed before her, while, emulating the strife
betwixt Seyton and Arbroath, band on band pressed forward their march
towards the enemy. Scarce, however, had the black rider whispered
something in her ear, than she assented to what he said; and when he
spoke aloud, and with an air of command, "Gentlemen, it is the Queen's
pleasure that you should follow me," Mary uttered, with something like
eagerness, the word "Yes."
All were in motion in an instant; for the black horseman, throwing off
a sort of apathy of manner, which his first appearance indicated,
spurred his horse to and fro, making him take such active bounds and
short turns, as showed the rider master of the animal; and getting the
Queen's little retinue in some order for marching, he led them to the
left, directing his course towards a castle, which, crowning a gentle
yet commanding eminence, presented an extensive view over the country
beneath, and in particular, commanded a view of those heights which
both armies hastened to occupy, and which it was now apparent must
almost instantly be the scene of struggle and dispute.
"Yonder towers," said the Abbot, questioning the sable horseman, "to
whom do they belong?--and are they in the hands of friends?"
"They are untenanted," replied the stranger, "or, at least, they have
no hostile inmates.--But urge these youths. Sir Abbot, to make more
haste--this is but an evil time to satisfy their idle curiosity, by
peering out upon the battle in which they are to take no share."
"The worse luck mine," said Henry Seyton, who overheard him--"I would
rather be under my father's banner at this moment than be made
Chamberlain of Holyrood, for this my present duty of peaceful ward
well and patiently discharged."
"Your place under your father's banner will shortly be right
dangerous," said Roland Avenel, who, pressing his horse towards the
westward, had still his look reverted to the armies; "for I see yonder
body of cavalry, which presses from the eastward, will reach the
village ere Lord Seyton can gain it."
"They are but cavalry," said Seyton, looking attentively; "they cannot
hold the village without shot of harquebuss."
"Look more closely," said Roland; "you will see that each of these
horseman who advance so rapidly from Glasgow, carries a footman behind
"Now, by Heaven, he speaks well!" said the black cavalier; "one of you
two must go carry the news to Lord Seyton and Lord Arbroath, that they
hasten not their horsemen on before the foot, but advance more
"Be that my errand," said Roland, "for I first marked the stratagem of
"But, by your leave," said Seyton, "yonder is my father's banner
engaged, and it best becomes me to go to the rescue."
"I will stand by the Queen's decision," said Roland Avenel.
"What new appeal?--what new quarrel?" said Queen Mary--"Are
there not in yonder dark host enemies enough to Mary Stewart, but must
her very friends turn enemies to each other?"
"Nay, madam," said Roland, "the young master of Seyton and I did but
dispute who should leave your person to do a most needful message to
the host. He thought his rank entitled him, and I deemed that the
person of least consequence, being myself, were better perilled--"
"Not so," said the Queen; "if one must leave me, be it Seyton."
Henry Seyton bowed till the white plumes on his helmet mixed with the
flowing mane of his gallant war-horse, then placed himself firm in the
saddle, shook his lance aloft with an air of triumph and
determination, and striking his horse with the spurs, made towards his
father's banner, which was still advancing up the hill, and dashed his
steed over every obstacle that occurred in his headlong path.
"My brother! my father!" exclaimed Catherine, with an expression of
agonized apprehension--"they are in the midst of peril, and I in
"Would to God," said Roland, "that I were with them, and could
ransom every drop of their blood by two of mine!"
"Do I not know thou dost wish it?" said Catherine--"Can a woman say to
a man what I have well-nigh said to thee, and yet think that he could
harbour fear or faintness of heart?--There is that in yon distant
sound of approaching battle that pleases me even while it affrights
me. I would I were a man, that I might feel that stern delight,
without the mixture of terror!"
"Ride up, ride up, Lady Catherine Seyton," cried the Abbot, as they
still swept on at a rapid pace, and were now close beneath the walls
of the castle--"ride up, and aid Lady Fleming to support the
Queen--she gives way more and more."
They halted and lifted Mary from the saddle, and were about to support
her towards the castle, when she said faintly, "Not there--not
there--these walls will I never enter more!"
"Be a Queen, madam," said the Abbot, "and forget that you are a
"Oh, I must forget much, much more," answered the unfortunate Mary, in
an under tone, "ere I can look with steady eyes on these well-known
scenes!--I must forget the days which I spent here as the bride of the
"This is the Castle of Crookstone," said the Lady Fleming, "in which
the Queen held her first court after she was married to Darnley."
"Heaven," said the Abbot, "thy hand is upon us!--Bear yet up, madam
--your foes are the foes of Holy Church, and God will this day decide
whether Scotland shall be Catholic or heretic."
A heavy and continued fire of cannon and musketry, bore a tremendous
burden to his words, and seemed far more than they to recall the
spirits of the Queen.
"To yonder tree," she said, pointing to a yew-tree which grew on a
small mount close to the castle; "I know it well--from thence you may
see a prospect wide as from the peaks of Schehallion."
And freeing herself from her assistants, she walked with a determined,
yet somewhat wild step, up to the stem of the noble yew. The Abbot,
Catherine, and Roland Avenel followed her, while Lady Fleming kept
back the inferior persons of her train. The black horseman also
followed the Queen, waiting on her as closely as the shadow upon the
light, but ever remaining at the distance of two or three yards---he
folded his arms on his bosom, turned his back to the battle, and
seemed solely occupied by gazing on Mary, through the bars of his
closed visor. The Queen regarded him not, but fixed her eyes upon the
"Ay, fair and stately tree," she said, as if at the sight of it she
had been rapt away from the present scene, and had overcome the horror
which had oppressed her at the first approach to Crookstone, "there
thou standest, gay and goodly as ever, though thou hearest the sounds
of war, instead of the vows of love. All is gone since I last greeted
thee--love and lover--vows and vower--king and kingdom.--How goes the
field, my Lord Abbot?--with us, I trust--yet what but evil can Mary's
eyes witness from this spot?"
Her attendants eagerly bent their eyes on the field of battle, but
could discover nothing more than that it was obstinately contested.
The small enclosures and cottage gardens in the village, of which they
had a full and commanding view, and which shortly before lay, with
their lines of sycamore and ash-trees, so still and quiet in the mild
light of a May sun, were now each converted into a line of fire,
canopied by smoke; and the sustained and constant report of the
musketry and cannon, mingled with the shouts of meeting combatants,
showed that as yet neither party had given ground.
"Many a soul finds its final departure to heaven or hell, in these
awful thunders," said the Abbot; "let those that believe in the Holy
Church, join me in orisons for victory in this dreadful combat."
"Not here--not here," said the unfortunate Queen; "pray not here,
father, or pray in silence--my mind is too much torn between the past
and the present, to dare to approach the heavenly throne--Or, if we
will pray, be it for one whose fondest affections have been her
greatest crimes, and who has ceased to be a queen, only because she
was a deceived and a tender-hearted woman."
"Were it not well," said Roland, "that I rode somewhat nearer the
hosts, and saw the fate of the day?"
"Do so, in the name of God," said the Abbot; "for if our friends are
scattered, our flight must be hasty--but beware thou approach not too
nigh the conflict; there is more than thine own life depends on thy
"Oh, go not too nigh," said Catherine; "but fail not to see how the
Seytons fight, and how they bear themselves."
"Fear nothing, I will be on my guard," said Roland Avenel; and without
waiting farther answer, rode towards the scene of conflict, keeping,
as he rode, the higher and unenclosed ground, and ever looking
cautiously around him, for fear of involving himself in some hostile
party. As he approached, the shots rung sharp and more sharply on his
ear, the shouts came wilder and wilder, and he felt that thick beating
of the heart, that mixture of natural apprehension, intense curiosity,
and anxiety for the dubious event, which even the bravest experience
when they approach alone to a scene of interest and of danger.
At length he drew so close, that from a bank, screened by bushes and
underwood, he could distinctly see where the struggle was most keenly
maintained. This was in a hollow way, leading to the village, up which
the Queen's vanguard had marched, with more hasty courage than
well-advised conduct, for the purpose of possessing themselves of that
post of advantage. They found their scheme anticipated, and the hedges
and enclosures already occupied by the enemy, led by the celebrated
Kirkaldy of Grange and the Earl of Morton; and not small was the loss
which they sustained while struggling forward to come to close with
the men-at-arms on the other side. But, as the Queen's followers were
chiefly noblemen and barons, with their kinsmen and followers, they
had pressed onward, contemning obstacles and danger, and had, when
Roland arrived on the ground, met hand to hand at the gorge of the
pass with the Regent's vanguard, and endeavoured to bear them out of
the village at the spear-point; while their foes, equally determined
to keep the advantage which they had attained, struggled with the like
obstinacy to drive back the assailants. Both parties were on foot,
and armed in proof; so that, when the long lances of the front ranks
were fixed in each other's shields, corslets, and breastplates, the
struggle resembled that of two bulls, who fixing their frontlets hard
against each other, remain in that posture for hours, until the
superior strength or obstinacy of the one compels the other to take to
flight, or bears him down to the earth. Thus locked together in the
deadly struggle, which swayed slowly to and fro, as one or other party
gained the advantage, those who fell were trampled on alike by friends
and foes; those whose weapons were broken, retired from the front
rank, and had their place supplied by others; while the rearward
ranks, unable otherwise to share in the combat, fired their pistols,
and hurled their daggers, and the points and truncheons of the broken
weapons, like javelins against the enemy.
"God and the Queen!" resounded from the one party; "God and the King!"
thundered from the other; while, in the name of their sovereign,
fellow-subjects on both sides shed each other's blood, and, in the
name of their Creator, defaced his image. Amid the tumult was often
heard the voices of the captains, shouting their commands; of leaders
and chiefs, crying their gathering words; of groans and shrieks from
the falling and the dying.
The strife had lasted nearly an hour. The strength of both parties
seemed exhausted; but their rage was unabated, and their obstinacy
unsubdued, when Roland, who turned eye and ear to all around him, saw
a column of infantry, headed by a few horsemen, wheel round the base
of the bank where he had stationed himself, and, levelling their long
lances, attack the Queen's vanguard, closely engaged as they were in
conflict on their front. The very first glance showed him that the
leader who directed this movement was the Knight of Avenel, his
ancient master; and the next convinced him, that its effects would be
decisive. The result of the attack of fresh and unbroken forces upon
the flank of those already wearied with a long and obstinate struggle,
was, indeed, instantaneous.
The column of the assailants, which had hitherto shown one dark,
dense, and united line of helmets, surmounted with plumage, was at
once broken and hurled in confusion down the hill, which they had so
long endeavoured to gain. In vain were the leaders heard calling upon
their followers to stand to the combat, and seen personally resisting
when all resistance was evidently vain. They were slain, or felled to
the earth, or hurried backwards by the mingled tide of flight and
pursuit. What were Roland's feelings on beholding the rout, and
feeling that all that remained for him was to turn bridle, and
endeavour to ensure the safety of the Queen's person! Yet, keen as
his grief and shame might be, they were both forgotten, when, almost
close beneath the bank which he occupied, he saw Henry Seyton forced
away from his own party in the tumult, covered with dust and blood,
and defending himself desperately against several of the enemy who had
gathered around him, attracted by his gay armour. Roland paused not a
moment, but pushing his steed down the bank, leaped him amongst the
hostile party, dealt three or four blows amongst them, which struck
down two, and made the rest stand aloof; then reaching Seyton his
hand, he exhorted him to seize fast on his horse's mane.
"We live or die together this day," said he; "keep but fast hold till
we are out of the press, and then my horse is yours."
Seyton heard and exerted his remaining strength, and, by their joint
efforts, Roland brought him out of danger, and behind the spot from
whence he had witnessed the disastrous conclusion of the fight. But no
sooner were they under shelter of the trees, than Seyton let go his
hold, and, in spite of Roland's efforts to support him, fell at length
on the turf. "Trouble yourself no more with me," he said; "this is my
first and my last battle--and I have already seen too much to wish to
see the close. Hasten to save the Queen--and commend me to
Catherine--she will never more be mistaken for me nor I for her--the
last sword-stroke has made an eternal distinction."
"Let me aid you to mount my horse," said Roland, eagerly, "and you
may yet be saved--I can find my own way on foot--turn but my horse's
head westward, and he will carry you fleet and easy as the wind."
"I will never mount steed more," said the youth; "farewell--I love
thee better dying, than ever I thought to have done while in life--I
would that old man's blood were not on my hand!--_Sancte Benedicte,
ora pro me_--Stand not to look on a dying man, but haste to save
These words were spoken with the last effort of his voice, and scarce
were they uttered ere the speaker was no more. They recalled Roland to
a sense of the duty which he had well-nigh forgotten, but they did not
reach his ears only.
"The Queen--where is the Queen?" said Halbert Glendinning, who,
followed by two or three horsemen, appeared at this instant. Roland
made no answer, but, turning his horse, and confiding in his speed,
gave him at once rein and spur, and rode over height and hollow
towards the Castle of Crookstone. More heavily armed, and mounted upon
a horse of less speed, Sir Halbert Glendinning followed with couched
lance, calling out as he rode, "Sir, with the holly-branch, halt, and
show your right to bear that badge--fly not thus cowardly, nor
dishonour the cognizance thou deservest not to wear!--Halt, sir
coward, or by Heaven, I will strike thee with my lance on the back,
and slay thee like a dastard--I am the Knight of Avenel--I am Halbert
But Roland, who had no purpose of encountering his old master, and
who, besides, knew the Queen's safety depended on his making the best
speed he could, answered not a word to the defiances and reproaches
which Sir Halbert continued to throw out against him; but making the
best use of his spurs, rode yet harder than before, and had gained
about a hundred yards upon his pursuer, when, coming near to the
yew-tree where he had left the Queen, he saw them already getting to
horse, and cried out as loud as he could, "Foes! foes!--Ride for it,
fair ladies--Brave gentlemen, do your devoir to protect them!"
So saying, he wheeled his horse, and avoiding the shock of Sir Halbert
Glendinning, charged one of that Knight's followers, who was nearly on
a line with him, so rudely with his lance, that he overthrew horse and
man. He then drew his sword and attacked the second, while the black
man-at-arms, throwing himself in the way of Glendinning, they rushed
on each other so fiercely, that both horses were overthrown, and the
riders lay rolling on the plain. Neither was able to arise, for the
black horseman was pierced through with Glendinning's lance, and the
Knight of Avenel, oppressed with the weight of his own horse and
sorely bruised besides, seemed in little better plight than he whom he
had mortally wounded.
"Yield thee, Sir Knight of Avenel, rescue or no rescue," said Roland,
who had put a second antagonist out of condition to combat, and
hastened to prevent Glendinning from renewing the conflict.
"I may not choose but yield," said Sir Halbert, "since I can no longer
fight; but it shames me to speak such a word to a coward like thee!"
"Call me not coward," said Roland, lifting his visor, and helping his
prisoner to rise, "since but for old kindness at thy hands, and yet
more at thy lady's, I had met thee as a brave man should."
"The favourite page of my wife!" said Sir Halbert, astonished; "Ah!
wretched boy, I have heard of thy treason at Lochleven."
"Reproach him not, my brother," said the Abbot, "he was but an agent
in the hands of Heaven."
"To horse, to horse!" said Catherine Seyton; "mount and begone, or we
are all lost. I see our gallant army flying for many a league--To
horse, my Lord Abbot--To horse, Roland--my gracious Liege, to horse!
Ere this, we should have ridden many a mile."
"Look on these features," said Mary, pointing to the dying knight, who
had been unhelmed by some compassionate hand; "look there, and tell me
if she who ruins all who love her, ought to fly a foot farther to save
her wretched life!"
The reader must have long anticipated the discovery which the Queen's
feelings had made before her eyes confirmed it. It was the features of
the unhappy George Douglas, on which death was stamping his mark.
"Look--look at him well," said the Queen, "thus has it been with all
who loved Mary Stewart!--The royalty of Francis, the wit of Chastelar,
the power and gallantry of the gay Gordon, the melody of Rizzio, the
portly form and youthful grace of Darnley, the bold address and
courtly manners of Bothwell--and now the deep-devoted passion of the
noble Douglas--nought could save them!--they looked on the wretched
Mary, and to have loved her was crime enough to deserve early death!
No sooner had the victim formed a kind thought of me, than the
poisoned cup, the axe and block, the dagger, the mine, were ready to
punish them for casting away affection on such a wretch as I
am!--Importune me not--I will fly no farther--I can die but once, and
I will die here."
While she spoke, her tears fell fast on the face of the dying man, who
continued to fix his eyes on her with an eagerness of passion, which
death itself could hardly subdue.--"Mourn not for me," he said
faintly, "but care for your own safety--I die in mine armour as a
Douglas should, and I die pitied by Mary Stewart!"
He expired with these words, and without withdrawing his eyes from her
face; and the Queen, whose heart was of that soft and gentle mould,
which in domestic life, and with a more suitable partner than Darnley,
might have made her happy, remained weeping by the dead man, until
recalled to herself by the Abbot, who found it necessary to use a
style of unusual remonstrance. "We also, madam," he said, "we, your
Grace's devoted followers, have friends and relatives to weep for. I
leave a brother in imminent jeopardy--the husband of the Lady
Fleming--the father and brothers of the Lady Catherine, are all in
yonder bloody field, slain, it is to be feared, or prisoners. We
forget the fate of our nearest and dearest, to wait on our Queen, and
she is too much occupied with her own sorrows to give one thought to
"I deserve not your reproach, father," said the Queen, checking her
tears; "but I am docile to it--where must we go--what must we do?"
"We must fly, and that instantly," said the Abbot; "whither is not so
easily answered, but we may dispute it upon the road--Lift her to her
saddle, and set forward."
[Footnote: I am informed in the most polite manner, by D. MacVean,
Esq. of Glasgow, that I have been incorrect in my locality, in giving
an account of the battle of Langside. Crookstone Castle, he observes,
lies four miles west from the field of battle, and rather in the rear
of Murray's army. The real place from which Mary saw the rout of her
last army, was Cathcart Castle, which, being a mile and a half east
from Langside, was, situated in the rear of the Queen's own army. I
was led astray in the present case, by the authority of my deceased
friend, James Grahame the excellent and amiable author of the Sabbath,
in his drama on the subject of Queen Mary; and by a traditionary
report of Mary having seen the battle from the Castle of Crookstone,
which seemed so much to increase the interest of the scene, that I
have been unwilling to make, in this particular instance, the fiction
give way to the fact, which last is undoubtedly in favour of Mr.
It is singular how tradition, which is sometimes a sure guide to
truth, is, in other cases, prone to mislead us. In the celebrated
field of battle at Killiecrankie, the traveller is struck with one of
those rugged pillars of rough stone, which indicate the scenes of
ancient conflict. A friend of the author, well acquainted with the
circumstances of the battle, was standing near this large stone, and
looking on the scene around, when a highland shepherd hurried down
from the hill to offer his services as cicerone, and proceeded to
inform him, that Dundee was slain at that stone, which was raised to
his memory. "Fie, Donald." answered my friend, "how can you tell such
a story to a stranger? I am sure you know well enough that Dundee was
killed at a considerable distance from this place, near the house of
Fascally, and that this stone was here long before the battle, in
1688."--"Oich! oich!" said Donald, no way abashed, "and your honour's
in the right, and I see you ken a' about it. And he wasna killed on
the spot neither, but lived till the next morning; but a' the Saxon
gentlemen like best to hear he was killed at the great stane." It is
on the same principle of pleasing my readers, that I retain Crookstone
Castle instead of Cathcart.
If, however, the author has taken a liberty in removing the actual
field of battle somewhat to the eastward, he has been tolerably strict
in adhering to the incidents of the engagement, as will appear from it
comparison of events in the novel, with the following account from an
"The Regent was out on foot and all his company, except the Laird of
Grange, Alexander Hume of Manderston, and some borderers to the number
of two hundred. The Laird of Grange had already viewed the ground, and
with all imaginable diligence caused every horseman to take behind him
a footman of the Regent's, to guard behind them, and rode with speed
to the head of Langside-hill, and set down the footmen with their
culverings at the head of a straight lane, where there were some
cottage houses and yards of great advantage. Which soldiers with their
continual shot killed divers of the vaunt guard, led by the Hamiltons,
who, courageously and fiercely ascending up the hill, were already out
of breath, when the Regent's vaunt guard joined with them. Where the
worthy Lord Hume fought on foot with his pike in his hand very
manfully, assisted by the Laird of Cessford, his brother-in-law, who
helped him up again when he was strucken to the ground by many strokes
upon his face, through the throwing pistols at him after they had been
discharged. He was also wounded with staves, and had many strokes of
spears through his legs; for he and Grange, at the joining, cried to
let their adversaries first lay down their spears, to bear up theirs;
which spears were so thick fixed in the others' jacks, that some of
the pistols and great staves that were thrown by them which were
behind, might be seen lying upon the spears.
"Upon the Queen's side the Earl of Argyle commanded the battle, and
the Lord of Arbroth the vaunt guard. But the Regent committed to the
Laird of Grange the special care, as being an experimented captain, to
oversee every danger, and to ride to every wing, to encourage and make
help where greatest need was. He perceived, at the first joining, the
right wing of the Regent's vaunt guard put back and like to fly,
whereof the greatest part were commons of the barony of Renfrew;
whereupon he rode to them, and told them that their enemy was already
turning their backs, requesting them to stay and debate till he should
bring them fresh men forth of the battle. Whither at full speed he did
ride alone, and told the Regent that the enemy were shaken and flying
away behind the little village, and desired a few number of fresh men
to go with him. Where he found enough willing, as the Lord Lindesay,
the Laird of Lochleven, Sir James Balfour, and all the Regent's
servants, who followed him with diligence, and reinforced that wing
which was beginning to fly; which fresh men with their loose weapons
struck the enemies in their flank and faces, which forced them
incontinent to give place and turn back after long fighting and
pushing others to and fro with their spears. There were not many
horsemen to pursue after them, and the Regent cried to save and not to
kill, and Grange was never cruel, so that there were few slain and
taken. And the only slaughter was at the first rencounter by the shot
of the soldiers, which Grange had planted at the lane head behind some
It is remarkable that, while passing through the small town of
Renfrew, some partisans, adherents of the House of Lennox, attempting
to arrest Queen Mary and her attendants, were obliged to make way for
her not without slaughter.]
They set off accordingly--Roland lingered a moment to command the
attendants of the Knight of Avenel to convey their master to the
Castle of Crookstone, and to say that he demanded from him no other
condition of liberty, than his word, that he and his followers would
keep secret the direction in which the Queen fled. As he turned his
rein to depart, the honest countenance of Adam Woodcock stared upon
him with an expression of surprise, which, at another time, would have
excited his hearty mirth. He had been one of the followers who had
experienced the weight of Roland's arm, and they now knew each other,
Roland having put up his visor, and the good yeoman having thrown away
his barret-cap, with the iron bars in front, that he might the more
readily assist his master. Into this barret-cap, as it lay on the
ground, Roland forgot not to drop a few gold pieces, (fruits of the
Queen's liberality,) and with a signal of kind recollection and
enduring friendship, he departed at full gallop to overtake the Queen,
the dust raised by her train being already far down the hill.
"It is not fairy-money," said honest Adam, weighing and handling the
gold--"And it was Master Roland himself, that is a certain thing--the
same open hand, and, by our Lady!" (shrugging his shoulders)--"the same
ready fist!--My Lady will hear of this gladly, for she mourns for him
as if he were her son. And to see how gay he is! But these light lads
are as sure to be uppermost as the froth to be on the top of the
quart-pot--Your man of solid parts remains ever a falconer." So
saying, he went to aid his comrades, who had now come up in greater
numbers, to carry his master into the Castle of Crookstone.
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