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Sir William Wallace, near Falkirk, containing some constructive and many verbal alterations, and in a different metre from that of our text. The source of the tale is in Henry the Minstrel's Wallace, close of book five (edition, 1869, op). Burns's version and that of the Chap-book curiously enough are almost the only existing specimens of numerous popular songs on Wallace once current in Scotland. Wynton, born about fifty years after Wallace was executed, records that the exploits of Wallace were celebrated in popular- song which in his day were traditionary. He says (modernized)
' Of his good deeds and manhood Great gestes I heard say are made; But so many I trow nought As he into his days wrought.'
Bower, the historian, about the middle of the fifteenth century, says that after the battle of Roslyn, Wallace went to France, and distinguished himself in suppressing piracy and the English on the continent, as ballads both in France and Scotland testify. The mythical and other astounding deeds of Wallace were orally evident in the time of Henry the Minstrel, circa 1470, and the inevitable fate of popularity is furnished in a parody of two fragments in Constable's MS. t>f the middle of the seventeenth century :—
' Now will ye hear a jollie gest, How Robin Hood was pope of Rome And Wallace king of France.
Wallace parted his men in three And sindrie gaits are gane.'
Bishop Nicolson, 1696, says that Wallace had his exploits recorded by several hands. (Burton's Scotland, chap, xx.) An English ballad, written in the autumn of 1306, contains some interesting particulars about Wallace and his friend Simon Fraser, and is curious, as repeating the nickname of Edward:—
' Tprot Scot, for thi strif Hang up thyn hatchet and thi knyf Whil him lasteth the lyf
With the longe s/tonkes.' (Ritson's Anc. Bal. 1790.)
The active public career of Wallace in Scotland may be counted by months in the years 1297-8. He has been designated by the Scots an heroic patriot, and by his enemies as a pestilent ruffian. Edward decapitated Wallace on August 23, 1305, and fixed his head on London Bridge. To quench his wounded vanity or pride, Edward paid unpardonable honour to the memory of his Implacable enemy by ferociously cutting his dead body in pieces for public exhibition in different parts of the two countries.
The verses in the text are virtually those of all the recent ballads preserved, e.g. Finlay's Ballads, 1807, i. 07; Maidment's Scotish Ballads, 1859, 8j, and others; and the reader may be referred to Child's Ballads, 1889, No. 1J7, for further information. The incidents partake of the marvellous- and mythical. Wallace, meeting a ' gay ladye' washing at the well, is told that there are fifteen men in ' yon wee ostler house' who are seeking Wallace, who, disguising himself as an ' auld crookit carl' leaning on a stick, presents himself to the officer disguised in liquor, who, after insulting Wallace, announces that he will give fifteen shillings to any ' crookit carl' who will tell him where Wallace is. The hero replies by breaking the officer's jaw and sticking the rest at the table where they sat. Another fifteen appeared at the gate, and with the help of the host he killed these also.
The tune is only interesting as an archaic example of a melody gathered from the ruins of time. Two melodies, Wallace's March and Wallace's Lament, are