« 上一页继续 »
Scotland, especially, this feeling was prevalent down to a very modern period, nor is it yet quite extinct in that country. Many are the stories told of the Feuds of the Scottish Clans, and truly fearful are many of the circumstances recorded. Sometimes the powerful chieftains of the period bearded royalty itself.
Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, a man remarkable for strength of body and mind, acquired the name of “Bell the Cat," upon the following remarkable occasion :
James III., who delighted more in music and the fine arts than in the manly sports of hunting, hawking, and other physical exercises, was so ill-advised, as to make favourites of musicians, architects, sculptors, and such-like, whom the historian of that day calls, “masons and fiddlers.” His nobility, who did not sympathise in the King's respect for the fine arts, were extremely incensed at the honours conferred upon those persons, particularly on Cochrane, an architect, who had been created Earl of Mar; and seizing the opportunity when, in 1482, the King had convoked the whole army of the country to march against the English, they held a midnight council in the church of Lauder, for the purpose of forcibly removing these minions from the King's person. When all had agreed on the propriety of the measure, Lord Grey told the assembly the tale of the mice, “who had formed a resolution that it would be highly advantageous to the community to tie a bell round the cat's neck, that they might hear her approach at a distance, but which public measure untortunately miscarried, from no mouse being willing to undertake the task of fastening the bell.” “I understand the moral,” said Angus; "and that what we propose may not lack execution, I will bell the cat.'” This strange scene is thus told by Pitscottie :
“ By this was advised and spoken by the lords foresaid, Cochrane, the Earl of Mar, came from the King to the council, which council was holden in the kirk of Lauder, for the time, who was well accompanied with a band of men of war to the number of three hundred light axes, all clad in white livery and black bends thereon, that they might be known for Cochrane's (the Earl of Mar's) men.
Himself was clad in a riding pie of black velvet, with a great chain of gold about his neck, to the value of 500 crowns, and four blowing horns, with the ends of gold and silk. This Cochrane had his heumont borne before him overgilt with gold, and so where all the rest of his horns, and all his pallions where of fine canvass and silk, and the cords thereof of fine twined silk, and the chains of his pallions were double overgilt with gold..
“ This Cochrane was so proud in his conceit, that he counted no lords to be marrows to him, therefore he rushed rudely at the kirk-door. The council inquired who it was that perturbed them at that time ? Sir Robert Douglas, laird of Loch Levin, was keeper of the kirk-door at that time, who inquired who it was that knocked so rudely; and Cochrane answered, “This is I, the Earl of Mar,' the which news pleased well the lords, because they were ready boun to take him.
Then the Earl of Angus past hastily to the door with him, and with him Sir Robert Douglas, of Lochlevin, there to receive in the Earl of Mar, and so many of his complices who were there as they thought good. And the Earl of Angus met with the Earl of Mar as he came in the door, and pulled the golden chain from his craig, and said to him, a tow said,
(rope) would suit him better. Sir Robert Douglas syne pulled the blowing horn from him in like manner, and said he had been the hunter of mischief ower long. This Cockrane asked my lords, 'Is it mow (jest) or earnest ?' They answered and
'It is good earnest, and so thou shalt find, for thou and thy complices have abused thy prince this long time, of whom thou shalt have no more credence, but shalt have thy reward according to thy good services as thou hast deserved in times by past, right so the rest of thy followers.'
“Notwithstanding, the lords held him quiet till they caused certain armed men to pass into the King's pallion, and two or three wise men with them, and give the King faire pleasant words till they laid hands on all the King's servants, and took them and hanged them before his eyes over the bridge of Lauder. Incontinent, they brought forth Cochrane, his hands bound with a tow, who desired them to take one of his own pallion tows and bind his hands, for he thought it shame to have his hands bound with a tow of hemp like a thief. The Lords answered he was a traitor and deserved no better, and, for despight, they took a hair tether, and hanged him over the bridge of Lauder over the rest of his complices."
Archibald, third Earl of Douglas, was so unfortunate in all his enterprises, that he acquired the epithet of TiNEMAN, because he tined, or lost his followers in every battle he fought. He was vanquished, as all my young readers must remember, in the bloody battle of Homildon Hill, near Wooler, where he himself lost an eye, and was made prisoner by Hotspur. He was no less unfortunate when allied with Percy, being wounded and taken at the battle of Shrewsbury.
He was so unsuccessful in an attempt to seize Roxburgh Castle, that it was called the foul raid, or disgraceful expedition. His ill-fortune, indeed, left him at the battle of Beauge, in France, but it was only to return with double emphasis at the subsequent action of Vernoil, the last and most unlucky encounter, in which he fell with the flower of the Scottish chivalry, then serving as auxiliaries in France, and about two thousand common soldiers, A.D. 1424.
There is scarcely a more disorderly period in Scottish history than that which succeeded the battle of Flodden, and occupied the minority of James V. Feuds of ancient standing broke out like old wounds; and every quarrel among the independent nobility, which occurred daily and almost hourly, gave rise to fresh bloodshed. The Master of Forbes, in the North, slew the Laird of Meldram under tryste, in an agreed meeting ; likewise, the Laird of Drammelzian slew the Lord Fleming at the hawking; and, likewise, there was slaughter among many other great Lords. Nor was the matter much mended under the government of the Earl of Angus; for, though he caused the king to ride through all Scotland under pretence and colour of justice, to punish thief and traitor, none were found greater than were in their own company. And none, at that time, dare strive with a Douglas, nor yet with a Douglas man, for, if they did, they got the worst.
Sometimes single combats took place between rival chieftains; and among the most desperate is that of the celebrated Sir Ewan of Lochiel, chief of the clan Cameron, called, from his sable complexion, Ewan Dhu. He was the last man in Scotland who maintained the royal cause during the great civil war; and his constant incursions rendered him a very unpleasant neighbour to the republican governor at Inverlochy, now Fort William. The governor of the fort despatched a party of three hundred men, to lay waste Lochiel's possessions and cut down his trees, but, in a sudden and desperate attack made upon them by the chieftain, with very inferior numbers, they were almost all cut to pieces.
In this engagement, it is related that Lochiel himself had several wonderful escapes. In the retreat of the English, one of the strongest and bravest of the officers retired behind a bush, when he observed Lochiel pursuing, and seeing him unaccompanied by any one, he leaped out an.. thought him his prey. They met one another with equa fury. The combat was long and doubtful. The English gentleman had by far the advantage in strength and size, but Lochiel exceeded him in nimbleness and agility, and, in the end, tript the sword out of his hand. They closed and wrestled, till both fell to the ground in each other's arms. The English officer got above Lochiel, and pressed him hard, Lochiel, who by this time had his hands at liberty, with his left hand seized him by the collar, and jumping at his extended throat, he bit it with his teeth quite through, and kept such a hold of his croop, that he brought away á mouthful. This, he said, was the sweetest bite he ever had in his life-time.
The Highlanders were not, however, always so fierce; but with the inconstancy of most nations in the same state, were alternately capable of great exertions of generosity, which the following story illustrates :
“Early in the last century, John Gunn, a noted catheran, or Highland robber, infested Invernessshire, and levied