« السابقةمتابعة »
JAMES IV. AND LADY HERON.
far as that by the following passage in Hall's Chronicle (forming part of the instruction given by Surrey to Rouge Cross as to his message to the King of Scots):
*First, where there hath been suit made to the King of Scots by Elizabeth Heron, wife to William Heron of Ford, now prisoner in Scotland, for casting down of the house or castle of Ford : and as the said Elizabeth reportet upon communication had, that the said king hath promised and condescended to the said Elizabeth, that if she any time before noon the fifth day of September would bring and deliver unto him the Lord Johnstown and Alexander Home, then prisoners in England, he then is contented and agreed that the said house or castle shall stand without casting down, burning, or spoiling the same : whereunto the said earl is content with that upon this condition, that if the said king will promise the assurance of the said castle in manner and form aforesaid under his seal to deliver the said Lord of Johnstown and Alexander Home immediately upon the same assurance. And in case the said king can and will be content to deliver the said Heron out of Scotland, then the said earl shall cause to be delivered to the said king the two gentlemen and two others, Sir George Hume and William Carre.'
This passage in Hall's Chronicle obliges us to admit that the king and Lady Heron had met, probably during the week that followed the capture of Norham. The lady makes suit to the monarch for the restoration of her husband from unjust captivity and for the preservation of her castle, which he has begun to dismantle. The king grants at any rate part of her request on certain conditions, to which she has to obtain Surrey's consent. She therefore goes southwards to the English army (which she meets assuredly not at York but at Alnwick or Barmoor), and she probably conveys to its commander some valuable information as to the position and number of the enemythough she certainly does not tell him that they are dwindled to 10,000 men.
Out of all this the Scottish nobles, who knew too well the amorous character of their monarch, made up a tale of scandal, which grew and magnified as the years went on and as men felt more and more the necessity of some scapegoat for the great national disaster and humiliation of Flodden.68 I am not concerned to defend the moral character of James IV., which was undoubtedly far from pure, nor do I deny the possibility that there may have been some intrigue between him and the lady of Ford; but I do say, that considering the gross and obvious incorrectness of Pitscottie's story, and remembering the general character of that charming but credulous writer, historians have too lightly accepted a tale which may have affixed an unjust blemish on the character of a pure and innocent woman, and that in any case the alleged intrigue had no practical bearing on the issue of the campaign, and ought not to be any longer specified as one of the causes of the Scottish defeat.
NOTE II.-ON THE IDENTIFICATION OF SOME FLODDEN SITES.
A few words may be needed to enable the visitor to fix in their true position the various scenes of the battle, whether historical or fictitious.
Above all, he must entirely dismiss from his mind one apparently well-established identification. In the wood just below Flodden heights is a little spring, gushing out of the hill into a stone trough with the well-known inscription (slightly modified) :
' Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and pray
For the kind soul of Sybil Grey,' etc. But this inscription, which was placed there some twenty or thirty years ago by the genial enthusiasm of the late Marchioness of Waterford, transfers the well-known death-scene in Marmion to an utterly impossible locality. This so-called well of Sybil Grey is almost in the heart of the Scottish camp, far to the left of the extreme left of the English line, whereas Marmion fought and fell on the extreme right of that line.
The real well of Sybil Grey'—that is to say, the well which Scott probably had in his mind when he wrote his description—is a much more prosaic looking affair; in fact, not much better than a
6a I would also suggest the possibility-I will not call it the probabilitythat some of the followers of James who knew the great share taken by the bastard Heron in causing the failure of the expedition may have returned to their homes full of rage against him and his race, and that some words of theirs misunderstood and incorrectly repeated may have been the germ out of which grew the scandal against lady Heron.
A 13TH CENTURY CROSS, LOW MIDDLETON HALL.
common drinking trough for cattle on the road a little below Branxton church. Surveying this part of the battle-field (some two miles away from the sham Sybil's well) we find that all comes together beautifully, just as Sir Walter imagined it. Here, about two hundred yards from the drinking trough,' is the little hill on which Lady Clare was stationed to view the battle, and from which, had the Scots been victorious, she would have had a clear line of escape to Berwick. Through the little valley below this hill Marmion's reinless steed came rushing from the fight at Piper's Hill. In that valley runs the stream which was so stained with the blood of battle that Clare could not offer it to Marmion ; and so we come back to the little well by the roadside, from which she drew the cooling draught for her dying enemy.
II.-MIDDLETON ST. GEORGE: CROSS IN THE GARDEN
AT THE LOW HALL.
[Read on the 25th May, 1892.] In the garden at the Low Hall, Middleton St. George, is the principal portion of a fine sculptured cross of close-grained red sandstone, set up with the lower end of the shaft in the earth. Its present height above the ground is three feet ten inches, and it is just three feet across the transverse part. The design is that of a large quatrefoil with four short and spreading arms, set upon a shaft oblong in section, with deeply cut roll and hollow mouldings on the sides. T upper arm is broken off. In the quatrefoil, on what is now the north side, is a representation of Christ on the cross, with SS. Mary and John, the former on his right hand and the latter on his left. The central figure has the cruciferous nimbus, and the head bowed to the right. There is apparently an indication of the wound in the right side. The waist-cloth is bound round the loins, and extends down to the knees. The feet have been represented as nailed on separately, but are broken off. Above the arms are traces of something, probably the moon on the right and the sun on the left, and in the vacant spaces outside SS. Mary and John are indications, possibly of stars. St. Mary is represented with a long flowing hood over her hair, and her hands are clasped on her breast. St. John's right hand is elevated. In the lowest arm is a kneeling figure, apparently that of a man in monastic habit with hands raised, much resembling figures often seen in seals. The other arms are occupied by simple but effective thirteenth century foliage, and the same is continued on either side of the kneeling figure.
On the other, now the south side of the cross, is a representation of our Lord seated in majesty, with cruciferous nimbus, and his right hand raised in blessing, with the two first fingers extended and the thumb and the other fingers bent over. The left hand has perished. No indications of wounds can now be seen. The robe is flowing, and girded round the waist ; the feet are exposed. In the vacant spaces within the quatrefoil are two of the evangelistic symbols—the winged ox for St. Luke, with a label not now showing any letters, on the left; and on the right the winged man for St. Matthew, holding something very unusual in the case of the symbolical figure. With his right hand he holds before him a large object in the form of a bottle with a round foot, but probably meant for a money-bag. The bent part of the left wing projects in front of his face, most of which has perished. The winged lion of St. Mark occupies the lowest arm, outside the quatrefoil ; and the eagle of St. John has, of course, been in the upper arm. The four arms are decorated with foliage similar to that on the other side. The outside of the quatrefoil and the ends of the arms are quite plain. The character of the figures, foliage, and mouldings, as well as the general design, appear to indicate a date of some time in the earlier half of the thirteenth century. The stone has begun to split from the action of the weather, and will be all to pieces in a few more years unless it be put under cover.