John Skelton - NOTES TO AGAINST THE SCOTS.

NOTES TO AGAINST THE SCOTS.

1. The battle of Flodden, one of the most disastrous events in Scottish history, has been rendered so familiar to readers of our own day by the poem of Marmion, that a particular account of it here is unnecessary. It took place on September 9th, 1513. The English army was commanded by the Earl of Surrey (created Duke of Norfolk the February following); the Scottish by their rash and gallant monarch James the Fourth, who perished in the field amid heaps of his slaughtered nobles and gentlemen.

2. Lo, these fond sots, &c.]—fond, i.e. foolish. This passage resembles a rhyme made in reproach of the Scots in the reign of Edward the First:

"These scaterand Scots
Hold we for sots," &c.
Fabyan's Chron. vol. ii. fol. 140. ed. 1559.

3. closed in lead] The body of James, disfigured with wounds, was found the day after the battle; it was carried to Berwick, and ultimately interred in the priory of Shene: see Weever's Anc. Fun. Mon., p. 394. ed. 1631. After the dissolution of that house, according to Stow's account, the body, enclosed in lead, was thrown into one of the lumber rooms; and the head, which some workmen hewed off "for their foolish pleasure," was brought to London and buried in St. Michael's Church, Wood Street: Survey, B. iii. 81. ed. 1720.

4. To face, to brace] So Borde in his Book of Knowledge introduces a Scotchman saying,

"I will boost my self, I will crake and face."
Sig. G 2. reprint.

Compare our author's Magnificence;

"Cl. Col.: By God, I tell you, I will not be out-faced.
By the mass, I warrant thee, I will not be braced."
v. 2247.

and his Garland of Laurel;

"Some facers, some bracers, some make great cracks."
v. 189.

In Hormanni Vulgaria we find, "He faceth the matter, and maketh great crakes. Tragice loquitur, et ampullosa verba proiicit." Sig. P. iiii. ed. 1530. "He is not afeared to face or brace with any man of worship. Nullius viri magnitudinem allatrare dubitat." Sig. O ii. And in Palsgrave, p. 542, "I face, as one doth that brawleth or falleth out with another to make him afraid, Je contrefays des mines . . . I dare not pass by his door, he faceth and braceth me so: . . il contrefayt tellement des mines." 'I Brace or face, Je braggue. He braced and made a bracing here afore the door as though he would have killed . . . Il braggoyt," &c. p. 462.

5. Our king of England for to cite] While Henry viii. was encamped before Terouenne, James iv. sent his chief herald to him, with a letter (which may be found in Hall's Chron. (Hen. viii.), fol. xxix. ed. 1548), reckoning up the various injuries and insults he had received from Henry, and containing what amounted to a declaration of war, unless the English monarch should desist from hostilities against the French king.

6. king Kopping] Compare the Coliphizacio, where Caiaphas exclaims–

"Therefore I shall thee name that ever shall rue thee,
King Copyn in our game," &c.
Towneley Mysteries, p. 194,

the Glossary informing us that "A coppin is a certain quantity of worsted yarn wound on a spindle, and the spindle then extracted,"—which may be true, though it does not explain the passage. Some game must be alluded to.

7. Hob Lobbyn of Lowdean] So again our author in Speak, Parrot;

"Hob Lobyn of Lowdean would have a bit of bread."
v. 74.

Perhaps there is an allusion to some song or ballad: Lowdean is, I apprehend, Lothian.

8. what good ye can] i.e. what manners you know.]

9. Locrian] i.e Loch Ryan a large bay in Wigtonshire, which, by approximating to the bay of Luce, forms the peninsula called the Rinns of Galloway. It is mentioned by Barbour;

"And at Lochrian in Galloway
He shipped, with all his men."
The Bruce, B. xi. v. 36. ed. Jam.

In the poem The Doughty Duke of Albany Skelton speaks of the Scots

"Of Locryan,
And the ragged ray
Of Galloway."
v. 21.

and in his verses against Dundas, he calls him "Dundas of Galloway." v. 29. See too v. 109 of the present poem. Our author uses Scottish names at random.

10. Saint John's town] i.e. Perth. Compare Langtoft's Chronicle, p. 333, ed. Hearne; Minot's Poems, p. 6. ed. Ritson; and Barbour's Bruce, B. v. 53. ed. Jam. It is said that the Picts, after their conversion to Christianity, or the Scots, after their king had succeeded to the Pictish throne, consecrated the church and bridge of Perth to St. John the Baptist; and that hence in process of time many persons gave to the town the name of St. Johnston: see Jamieson's note on the passage last referred to.

11. the ix] Eds. "xi".

12. Irish caterans] Irish, i.e. Highlanders and Islesmen:

"Than girt he all the Irishry
That were in till his company,
Of Argyll, and the Isles also," &c.
Barbour's Bruce, B. xiii. v. 233. ed. Jam.

Caterans (see Jamieson's Et. Dict. of Scot. Lang. in v. Cateranes) i.e. marauders who carried off cattle, corn, &c.

13. Jocky my jo] Perhaps a fragment of some song or ballad. In Scotch, Jocky is the diminutive of Jock, the abbreviation of John: jo is sweetheart, dear, (joy).

14. pie] i.e. magpie

15. Sir Skyrgaliard] So again our author in his Speak, Parrot;

"With Skyrgaliard, proud palliard, vauntparler, ye prate."
v. 427.

and in his poem The Doughty Duke of Albany;

"Such a skyrgaliard."
v. 168.

"William Johnstone of Wamphray, called the Gaillard, was a noted freebooter . . . His nom de guerre seems to have been derived from the dance called The Galliard. The word is still used in Scotland to express an active, gay, dissipated character." Scott's Minst. of the Scott. Bord. i. 305. ed. 1810. To skir (under which Richardson in his Dict. cites Skelton's term "a skyrgaliard") is to scour, to move rapidly.

16. brother] James married Margaret sister of Henry the Eighth.

17. Though ye untruly your father have slain] James iii. was slain by a ruffian whose name is not certainly known, under circumstances of great atrocity, in 1488, in a miller's cottage, immediately after his flight from the battle of Sauchieburn, where his son (then in his 17th year) had appeared in arms against him. The mind of James iv. was haunted by remorse for his father's death; and he wore in penance an iron girdle, the weight of which he every year increased.

18. Dundee, Dunbar] Scottish names used at random: so again in our author's Verses Against Dundas, "Dundee, Dunbar," v. 60. and in his poem The Doughty Duke of Albany "Dunbar, Dundee," v. 24.

19. the castle of Norham] In taking the Castle of Norham, James wasted some days, previous to the battle of Flodden, while he ought to have employed his forces in more important enterprises.

20. Against you gave so sharp a shower] Shower is often applied by our old writers to the storm, assault, encounter of battle:

"The sharp showers and the cruel rage
Abide fully of this mortal war."
Lydgate's Wars of Troy, B. iv. sig. Y iiii. ed. 1555.

"He was slawe in sharp shower."
Kyng Robert of Sicily,—MS. Harl. 1701. fol. 94.

and see our author's poem The Doughty Duke of Albany v. 240.

21. The White Lyon, there rampant of mood,
He raged and rent out your heart blood;
He the White, and ye the Red
] The White Lion was the badge of the Earl of Surrey, derived from his ancestors the Mowbrays. His arms were Gules, on a bend between six cross croslets, fitchy, argent: after the battle of Flodden, the king granted to him "an honourable augmentation of his arms, to bear on the bend thereof: in an escutcheon Or, a demi Lion rampant, pierced through the mouth with an arrow, within a double tressure flory and counter fory Gules; which tressure is the same as surrounds the royal arms of Scotland." Collins's Peerage, i. 77. ed. Brydges.

"If Scotland's Coat no mark of Fame can lend,
That Lion plac'd in our bright silver-bend,
Which as a Trophy beautifies our shield,
Since Scottish blood discoloured Floden-Field;
When the proud Cheviot our brave Ensign bare,
As a rich Jewel in a Lady's hair,
And did fair Bramston's neighbouring values choke
With clouds of Canons fire-disgorged smoke."
Epistle from H. Howard Earl of Surrey to Geraldine,—Drayton's Poems, p. 86 [88],ed. 8vo. n. d.

"George Buchanan reporteth that the Earl of Surrey gave for his badge a Silver Lion, which from Antiquity belonged to that name, tearing in pieces a Lion prostrate Gules; and withal, that this which he terms insolence, was punished in Him and his Posterity," &c. Drayton's note on the preceding passage.

the Red - The royal arms of Scotland.

22. sweet Saint George, our Lady's knight] "Our Lady's knight" is the common designation of St. George: so in a song written about the same time the present poem, Cott. MS. Domit. A. xviii. fol. 248; in Sir Bevis of Hamtoun, p. 102. Maitl. ed. &c. &c.

23. His grace being out of the way] i.e. Henry the Eighth being in France: see note 5 above

24. ye lost your sword] The sword and dagger, worn by James at the battle of Flodden, are preserved in the college of Heralds. An engraving of them is prefixed to Weber's ed. of the poem, Flodden Field.

25. Huntley Banks] So again in our author's Verses against Dundas;

"That prates and pranks
On Huntley banks."
v. 57.

and in his Why come ye not to Court;

"They [the Scots] play their old pranks
After Huntley Banks."
v. 263.

and in his poem The Doughty Duke of Albany;

"Of the Scots rank
Of Huntley Bank."
v. 18.

Here again Skelton uses a Scottish name at random. The Huntleybank, where, according to the charming old poem, Thomas the Rhymer met the Queen of Faery, is situated on one of the Eldoun hills.

26. Of the king of Naverne ye might take heed,
Ungraciously how he doth speed:
In double dealing so he did dream
That he is king without a ream;
And, for example ye would none take
.]—Naverne i.e Navarre; ream, i.e. realm. In a letter despatched from the camp before Terouenne, in answer to the epistle of the Scottish king, (see
note 5 above), Henry says; "And if the example of the king of Navarre being excluded from his realm for assistance given to the French king cannot restrain you from this unnatural dealing, we suppose ye shall have like assistence of the said French king as the king of Navarre hath now: Who is a king without a realm, &c." Hall's Chron. (Henry viii.) fol. xxxi. ed. 1548. James, however, never received this letter: he was slain before the herald who bore it could procure a passage from Flanders.

27. Your beard so brim] James wore "his Beard something long." Leland; Collect. iv. 285. ed. 1770.

28. Your Seven Sisters, that gun so gay] Lindsay of Pitscottie informs us that when James was making preparations for his fatal expedition against England, "he had seven great cannons out of the castle of Edinburgh, quhilkis was called the Seven Sisters, cast by Robert Borthik; and three master gunners, furnished with powder and lead to them at their pleasure."' Cron. of Scotl. i. 266. ed. 1814. These cannons were named Sisters because they were all of the same great size and fine fabric. Concerning Borthwick, master of the artillery to James, the following mention is made by Lesley: "Rex amplo stipendio Robertum Borthuik, insignem tormenti fabricandi artificem donavit, ut tormenta bellica maiora in arce Edinburgensi aliquamdiu conflaret: quorum per multa hodie in Scotia reperiuntur, hoc versa incisa:
"Machina sum. Scoto Borthuik fabricata Roberto."
("Robert Borthwick, well paid by the king, who gave him a commission to make cannon, so that with this great cannon he should demolish the castle of Edinburgh: which can be seen by many in Scotland today with this inscription: 'I am a machine made by Robert Borthwick the Scot'") De or. mor. et reb. gest. Scot. p. 353. ed. 1578.

29. The Pope's curse done you that clap]—clap, i.e. stroke. James died under a recent sentence of excommunication for infringing the pacification with England.

30. Of the out isles the rough footed Scots] i.e. the rough-footed Scots of the Hebrides: the epithet rough footed was given to them, because they wore, during the frost, a rude sort of shoe, made of undressed deer-skin, with the hairy side outwards; see MS. quoted in Pinkerton's Hist. of Scotland, ii. 397.

31. drunken dranes]—dranes, i.e. drones. The Editor of Skelton's Works, 1736, printed "dronken Danes;" and Weber (Flodden Field, p. 276) proposes the same alteration; but though the Danes (as the readers of our early dramatists know) were notorious for deep potations, the text is right. Our author has again, in his poem The Doughty Duke of Albany;

"We set not a prane (prawn)
By such a drunken drane."
v. 163.

"Drane. Fucus." Prompt. Parv. ed. 1499. And compare Pierce Plowman's Creed;

"And right as dranes doth nought but drinketh up the honey."
Sig. D i. ed. 1561.

32. fitting] Other eds. "sitting", which, perhaps, Skelton wrote, as he elsewhere uses the word.

33. Scotia, reducta in formam provinciae,
Regis parebit nutibus Angliae;
] "Scotland reduced to a province, its king will be seen to be at the nod of the English"

34. Alioquin, per desertum Sin, super cherubim,
Cherubim, seraphim, seraphimque, ergo, &c
] "Otherwise, through the desert of Sin, above the Cherubim, Cherubim, and Seraphim, seraphim";.
per desertum Sin is a reference to Exodus. xvi. 1 "Profectique sunt de Elim, et venit omnis multitudo filiorum Israel in desertum Sin, quod est inter Elim et Sinai," ("And they set forward from Elim, and all the multitude of the children of Israel came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai")

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