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And raise the universal wail.
Of Flodden's fatal field,
And broken was her shield !
1 ["The powerful poetry of these passages can receive no illustration from any praises or observations of ours. It is superior, in our apprehension, to all that this author has hitherto produced; and, with a few faults of diction, equal to any thing that has ever been written upon similar subjects. From the moment the author gets in sight of Flodden field, indeed, to the end of the poem, there is no tame writing, and no intervention of ordinary passages. He does not once flag or grow tedious; and neither stops to describe dresses and ceremonies, nor to commemorate the harsh names of feudal barons from the Border. There is a flight of five or six hun dred lines, in short, in which he never stoops his wing, nor wavers in his course; but carries the reader forward with a more rapid, sustained, and lofty movement, than any epic bard that we can at present remember."-JEFFREY.] 2 [“ Day glimmers on the dying and the dead, The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head," &c.
Defaced and mangled though it be;
Nor cherish hope in vain,
May yet return again.
And fell on Flodden plain :
1 There can be no doubt that King James fell in the battle of Flodden. He was killed, says the curious French Gazette, within a lance's length of the Earl of Surrey; and the same account adds, that none of his division were made prisoners, though many were killed; a circumstance that testifies the desperation of their resistance. The Scottish historians record many of the idle reports which passed among the vulgar of their day. Home was accused, by the popular voice, not only of failing to support the King, but even of having carried him out of the field, and murdered him. And this tale was revived in my remembrance, by an unauthenticated story of a skeleton, wrapped in a bull's hide, and surrounded with an iron chain, said to have been found in the well of Home Castle; for which, on inquiry, I could never find any better authority, than the sexton of the parish having said, that, if the well were cleaned out, he would not be surprised at such a discovery. Home was the chamberlain of the King, and his prime favourite; he had much to lose (in fact did lose all) in consequence of James's death, and nothing earthly to gain by that event: but the retreat, or inactivity, of the left wing, which he commanded, after defeating Sir Edmund Howard,
But, o! how changed since yon blithe
night!— Gladly I turn me from the sight,
Unto my tale again.
and even the circumstance of his returning unhurt, and loaded with spoil, from so fatal a conflict, rendered the propagation of any calumny against him easy and acceptable. Other reports gave a still more romantic turn to the King's fate, and averred that James, weary of greatness after the carnage among his nobles, had gone on a pilgrimage, to merit absolution for the death of his father, and the breach of his oath of amity to Henry. In particular, it was objected to the English, that they could never show the token of the iron belt; which, however, he was likely enough to have laid aside on the day of battle, as encumbering his personal exertions. They produce a better evidence, the monarch's sword and dagger, which are still preserved in the Herald's College in London. Stowe has recorded a degrading story of the disgrace with which the remains of the unfortunate monarch was treated in his time. An unhewn column marks the spot where James fell, still called the King's Stone.
1 This storm of Lichfield cathedral, which had been gar
But, thanks to Heaven, and good Saint
His hands to Heaven upraised;
His arms and feats were blazed.
risoned on the part of the King, took place in the Great Civil
And thus, in the proud Baron's tomb,
But every mark is gone ;
And broke her font of stone:
Oft halts the stranger there,
And shepherd boys repair
And plait their garlands fair ;
1 [“ A corpse is afterwards conveyed, as that of Marmion, to the Cathedral of Lichfield, where a magnificent tomb is erected to his memory, and masses are instituted for the repose of his soul; but by an admirably imagined act of poetical justice, we are informed that a peasant's body was placed beneath that costly monument, while the haughty Baron himself was buried like a vulgar corpse, on the spot on which he died.-Monthly Review.]
2 [MS.-" They dug his bed e'en where he lay.”] 8 [MS.-—“But yet where swells the little hill.”]