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Had bored the earth with many a pit,
That form'd a ghastly snare.
That panted for the shock!
As far as Stirling rock.
Wild floundering on the field !
The knightly helm and shield,
* It is generally alleged by historians, that the English men-atarms fell into the hidden snare which Bruce had prepared for them. Barbour does not mention the circumstance. According to his account, Randolph, seeing the slaughter made by the cavalry on the right wing among the archers, advanced courageously against the main body of the English, and entered into close combat with them. Douglas and Stuart, who commanded the Scottish centre, led their division also to the charge, and the battle becoming general along the whole line, was obstinately maintained on both sides for a long space of time; the Scottish archers doing great execution among the English men-at-arms, after the bowmen of England were dispersed.
? I have been told that this line requires an explanatory note;
They came like mountain-torrent red,
That thunders o'er its rocky bed';
Her noblest all are here;
And Oxford's famed De Vere.
and, indeed, those who witness the silent patience with which horses submit to the most cruel usage, may be permitted to doubt, that, in moments of sudden or intolerable anguish, they utter a most melancholy cry. Lord Erskine, in a speech made in the House of Lords, upon a bill for enforcing humanity towards' animals, noticed this remarkable fact, in language which I will not mutilate by attempting to repeat it. It was my fortune, upon one occasion, to hear a horse, in a moment of agony, utter a thrilling scream, which I still consider the most melancholy sound I ever heard. * [It is impossible not to recollect our author's own lines
“ As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep,
Receives her roaring linn,
Suck the wild whirlpool in;
Lady of the Lake, Canto vi. stanza 18.]
Bottetourt and Sanzavere, Ross, Montague, and Mauley, came, And Courtenay's pride, and Percy's fameNames known too well in Scotland's war, At Falkirk, Methven, and Dunbar, Blazed broader yet in after years, At Cressy red and fell Poitiers. Pembroke with these, and Argentine, Brought up the rearward battle-line. With caution o'er the ground they tread, Slippery with blood and piled with dead, Till hand to hand in battle set, The bills with spears and axes met, And, closing dark on every side, Raged the full contest far and wide. Then was the strength of Douglas tried, Then proved was Randolph's generous pr And well did Stewart's actions grace The sire of Scotland's royal race!
Firmly they kept their ground; As firmly England onward press’d, And down went many a noble crest, And rent was many a valiant breast, And Slaughter revell’d round.
The groans of those who fell
And in the battle-yell.
And O! amid that waste of life,
The noble and the slave,
To that dark inn, the Grave!!
XXVII. The tug of strife to flag begins, Though neither loses yet nor wins. High rides the sun, thick rolls the dust, And feebler speeds the blow and thrust. Douglas leans on his war-sword now, And Randolph wipes his bloody brow; Nor less had toild each Southern knight, From morn till mid-day in the fight. Strong Egremont for air must gasp, Beauchamp undoes his visor clasp, And Montague must quit his spear, And sinks thy falchion, bold De Vere! The blow of Berkley fall less fast, And gallant Pembroke's bugle-blast
Hath lost its lively tone;
"[“ All these, life's rambling journey done,
Sinks, Argentine, thy battle-word,
“ One effort more, and Scotland's free!
Is firm as Ailsa Rock;
Now, forward to the shock !”
The foe is fainting fast !
The battle cannot last!”
When the engagement between the main bodies had lasted some time, Bruce made a decisive movement, by bringing up the Scottish reserve. It is traditionally said, that at this crisis, he addressed the Lord of the Isles in a phrase used as a motto by some of his descendants, “ My trust is constant in thee." Barbour intimates, that the reserve “assembled on one field,” that is, on the same line with the Scottish forces already engaged ; which lea Lord Hailes to conjecture that the Scottish ranks must have been much thinned by slaughter, since, in that circumscribed ground, there was room for the reserve to fall into the line. But the advance of the Scottish cavalry must have contributed a good deal to form the vacancy occupied by the reserve.