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conveys to the convent of the Trinity of Soltre, the tenement which he possessed by inheritance (hereditarie) in Ercildoun, with all claim which he, or his predecessors, could pretend thereto. From this we may infer, that the Rhymer was now dead; since we find his son disposing of the family property. Still, however, the are gument of the learned historian will remain unimpeached, as to the time of the poet's birth. For if, as we learn from Barbour, his prophecies were held in reputation as early as 1306, when Bruce slew the Red Cummin, the sanctity, and (let me add to Mr Pinkerton's words) the uncertainty of antiquity, must have already involved his character and writings. * In a charter of Pea ter de Haga de Bemersyde, which unfortunately wants a date, the Rhymer, a near neighbour, and, if we may trust tradition, a friend of the family, appears as a witness.-Cartulary of Melrose.

It cannot be doubted, that Thomas of Ercildoun was a remarkable and important person in his own time,

* The lines alluded to are these :

I hope that Tomas's prophesie,
Of Erceldoun shall truly be.
In him, &c.

since, very shortly after his death, we find him celebrated as a prophet, and as a poet. Whether he himself made any pretensions to the first of those characters, or whether it was gratuitously conferred upon him by the credulity of posterity, it seems difficult to decide. If we may believe Mackenzie, Learmont only versified the prophecies delivered by Eliza, an inspired nun, of a convent at Haddington. But of this there seems not to be the most distant proof. On the contrary, all ancient authors, who quote the Rhymer's prophecies, uniformly suppose them to have been emitted by himself. Thus, in Winton's Chronicle,

Of this fycht quilum spak Thomas
Of Ersyldoune, that sayd in derne,
Thare suld meit stalwarthly, starke, and sterne.
He sayd it in his prophecy ;
But how he wist it was ferly.

Book VIII. chap. 32.

There could have been no ferly (marvel), in Winton's eyes, at least, how Thomas came by his knowledge of future events, had he ever heard of the inspired nun of Haddington; which, it cannot be doubted, would have

been a solution of the mystery, much to the taste of the Prior of Lochlevin.*

Whatever doubts, however, the learned might have, as to the source of the Rhymer's prophetic skill, the vulgar had no hesitation to ascribe the whole to the intercourse between the bard and the Queen of Faëry. The popular tale bears, that Thomas was carried off, at an early age, to Fairy Land, where he acquired all the knowledge which made him afterwards so famous. After seven years residence he was permitted to return to the earth, to enlighten and astonish his countrymen by

* Henry, the minstrel, who introduces Thomas into the history of Wallace, expresses the same doubt as to the source of his prophetic knowledge.

Thomas Rhymer into the faile was than
With the minister, which was a worthy man.
He used oft to that religious place ;
The people deem'd of wit he meikle can,
And so he told, though that they bless or ban,
Which happen'd sooth in many divers case ;
I cannot say by wrong or righteousness.
In rule or war whether they tint or wan :
It may be deem’d by division of grace, &c.

History of Wallace, Book II.

his prophetic powers; still, however, remaining bound to return to his royal mistress, when she should intimate her pleasure. * Accordingly, while Thomas was making merry with his friends in the tower of Ercildoun, a person came running in, and told, with marks of fear and astonishment, that a hart and hind had left the neighbouring forest, and were composedly and slowly parading the street of the village. The prophet instantly arose, left his habitation, and followed the wonderful animals to the forest, whence he was never seen to return. According to the popular belief, he still “ drees his weird” in Fairy Land, and is expected one day to revisit earth. In the mean while, his memory is held in the most profound respect. The Eildon Tree, from beneath the shade of which he delivered his prophecies, now no longer exists; but the spot is marked by a large stone, called Eildon Tree Stone. A neighbouring rivulet takes the name of the Bogle Burn,

See a Dissertation on Fairies, prefixed to the ballad of TAMLANE, Minstrelsy of the Border, vol. ii. p. 237.

+ There is a singular resemblance betwixt this tradition, and an incident occurring in the life of Merlin Caledonius, which the reader will find a few pages onward.

(Goblin Brook) from the Rhymer's supernatural visitants. The veneration paid to his dwelling-place even attached itself in some degree to a person, who, within the memory of man, chose to set up his residence in the ruins of Learmont's tower. The name of this man was Murray, a kind of herbalist; who, by dint of some knowledge in simples, the possession of a musical clock, an electrical machine, and a stuffed alligator, added to a supposed communication with Thomas the Rhymer, lived for mai

years in very good credit as a wizard. It seemed co the author unpardonable to dismiss a person, so important in Border tradition as the Rhymer, without some farther notice than a simple commentary upon the following ballad. It is given from a copy, obtained from a lady, residing not far from Ercildoun, corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs Brown's MSS. The former copy, however, as might be expected, is far more minute as to local description.* To this old tale the author has ventured to add a Second Part, consisting

* The author has been since informed, by a most eminent antiquary, that there is in existence a MS. copy of this ballad, of very considerable antiquity, of which he hopes to avail himself on some future occasion.

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