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And hagard Lindsay's iron eye,
That saw fair Mary weep in vain.-P. 179. v. 3. Lord Lindsay, of the Byres, was the most ferocious and brutal of the regent's faction; and, as such, was employed to extort Mary's signature to the deed of resignation, presented to her in Lochlevin castle. He discharged his commission with the most savage rigour; and it is even said, that when the weeping captive, in the act of signing, averted her eyes from the fatal deed, he pinched her arm with the grasp of his iron glove.
Scarce could his trampling charger move,
So close the minions crowded nigh.-P. 179. v. 4. Richard Bannatyne mentions in his journal, that John Knox repeatedly warned Murray to avoid Linlithgow.
Not only had the regent notice of the intended attempt upon his life, but even of the very house from which it was threatened. With that infatuation, at which men wonder after such events have happened, he deemed it would be a sufficient precaution to ride briskly past the dangerous spot. But even this was prevented by the crowd: so that Bothwellhaugh had time to take a deliberate aim.-Spottiswood, p. 233. Buchanan.
THE HE imperfect state of this ballad, which was written several years ago, is not a circumstance affected for the purpose of giving it that peculiar interest, which is often found to arise from ungratified curiosity. On the contrary, it was the author's intention to have completed the tale, if he had found himself able to succeed to his own satisfaction. Yielding to the opinion of persons, whose judgment, if not biassed by the partiality of friendship, is entitled to deference, the author has preferred inserting these verses, as a fragment, to his intention of entirely suppressing them.
The tradition, upon which the tale is founded, regards a house, upon the barony of Gilmerton, near Lasswade, in Mid Lothian. This building, now called GilmertonGrange, was originally named Burndale, from the follow
ing tragic adventure. The Barony of Gilmerton belonged of yore to a gentleman, named Heron, who had one beautiful daughter. This young lady was seduced by the abbot of Newbattle, a richly endowed abbey, upon the banks of the South Esk, now a seat of the Marquis of Lothian. Heron came to the knowledge of this circumstance, and learned, also, that the lovers carried on their guilty intercourse by the connivance of the lady's nurse, who lived at this house, of Gilmerton-Grange or Burndale. He formed a resolution of bloody vengeance, undeterred by the supposed sanctity of the clerical character, or by the stronger claims of natural affection. Chusing, therefore, a dark and windy night, when the objects of his vengeance were engaged in a stolen interview, he set fire to a stack of dried thorns, and other combustibles, which he had caused to be piled against the house, and reduced to a pile of glowing ashes the dwelling, with all its inmates.*
* This tradition was communicated to me by John Clerk, Esq. of Eldin, author of an Essay upon Naval Tactics; who will be remembered by posterity, as having taught the Genius of Britain to concentrate her thunders, and to launch them against her foes with an unerring aim.
The scene, with which the ballad opens, was suggested by the following curious passage, extracted from the Life of Alexander Peden, one of the wandering and persecuted teachers of the sect of Cameronians, during the reign of Charles II. and his successor, James. This person was supposed by his followers, and perhaps really believed himself, to be possessed of supernatural gifts; for the wild scenes, which they frequented, and the constant dangers, which were incurred through their proscription, deepened upon their minds the gloom of superstition, so general in that age.
"About the same time he (Peden) came to Andrew "Normand's house, in the parish of Alloway, in the shire " of Ayr, being to preach at night in his barn. After " he came in, he halted a little, leaning upon a chair"back, with his face covered; when he lifted up his "head, he said, There are in this house that I have "not one word of salvation unto;' he halted a little 66 again saying, 'This is strange, that the devil will not
go out, that we may begin our work!' Then there 66 was a woman went out, ill-looked upon almost all "her life, and to her dying hour, for a witch, with many presumptions of the same. It escaped me, in "the former passages, that John Muirhead (whom I
"have often mentioned) told me, that when he came "from Ireland to Galloway, he was at family-worship, "and giving some notes upon the Scripture, when a 66 very ill-looking man came, and sate down within the "door, at the back of the hallan (partition of the cot"tage): immediately he halted, and said, 'There is "some unhappy body just now come into this house. I 66 charge him to go out, and not stop my mouth!' The 66 person went out, and he insisted (went on), yet he saw him neither come in nor go out."-The Life and Prophecies of Mr Alexander Peden, late Minister of the Gospel at New Glenluce, in Galloway, part ii. § 26.