The Muses Threnodie First Muse

Of Mr George Ruthven the tears and mournings,
Amidst the giddie course of fortune's turnings,
Upon his dear friend's death, Mr John Gall,
Where his rare ornaments bear a part, and wretched Gabions all.


Now must I mourn for Gall, since he is gone,
And ye, my Gabions, help me him to mone;
And in your courses sorrow for his sake,
Whose matchless Muse immortal did you make.
Who now shall pen your praise and make you knowne?
By whom now shall your virtues be forth showne?
Who shall declare your worth?—is any able?—
Who dare to meddle with Apelles table?
Ah me! there's none!—And is there none indeed?
Then must ye mourn of force,—there's no remeed:
And I for my part, with you in my turne
Shall keep a dolefull comfort whilst ye mourne:
And thus with echoing voice, shall howl and cry—
Gall, sweetest Gall, what ailed thee to die?

Now first my Bowes begin this dolefull song:
No more with clangors let your shafts be flung
In fields abroad, but in my cabine stay,
And help me for to mourn till dying day;
With dust and cobwebs cover all your heads,
And take you to your matins and your beads:
A requiem sing unto that sweetest soul,
Which shines now sainted above other pole.
And ye my clubs, you must no more prepare
To make your balls flee whistling in the air,
But hing your heads, and bow your crooked crags,
And dress you all in sackcloath and in rags,
No more to see the sun, nor fertile fields,
But closely keep your mourning in your bields;
And for your part the trible to you take,
And when you cry, make all your crags to crake,
And shiver when you sing, alas! for Gall!
Ah, if our mourning might thee now recall!
And ye, my loadstones, of Lednochian lakes,
Collected from the loughs, where watrie snakes
Do much abound, take unto you a part,
And mourn for Gall, who lov'd you with his heart;
In this sad dump and melancholick mood,
The burdown ye must bear, not on the flood,
Or frozen watrie plaines, but let your tuning,
Come help me for to weep by mournfull cruning;
And ye the rest my Gabions less and more,
Of noble kind, come help me for to roare!
And of my woefull weeping take a part—
Help to declare the dolour of mine heart:
How can I choose but mourn, when I think on
Our games Olympick-like in times agone?
Chiefly wherein our cunning we did try,
And matchless skill in noble archerie,
In these our days when archers did abound
In Perth, then famous for such pastimes found:
Among the first for archers we were known,
And for that art our skill was loudly blown:
What time Perth's credit did stand with the best
And bravest archers this land hath possesst;
We spar'd no gaines nor paines for to report
To Perth the worship, by such noble sport:
Witness the Links of Leith, where Cowper, Grahame,
And Stewart won the prize, and brought it home;
And in these games did offer ten to three,
There to contend: Quorum pars magna fui.

I mourn, good Gall, when I think on that stead,
Where yee did hail your shaft unto the head,
And with a strong and steadfast eye and hand,
So valiantly your bow yee did command:
A sliddrie shaft forth of its forks did fling,
Clank gave the bow, the whistling air did ring;
The bowlt did cleave the clouds, and threat the skyes,
And thence down falling to the mark it flies:
Incontinent the aimer gave a token,
The mark was kill'd, the shaft in flinders broken:
Then softly smiling, good Gall, thus quod I,
Now find I time my archerie to try;
And here by solemn vow I undertake,
In token of my love, even for thy sake,
Either to hit the mark, else shall I never
More with these arms of mine use bow and quiver;
Therewith my ligaments I did extend,
And then a noble shaft I did commend
Unto my bow, then firmly fix't mine eye,
And closely levell'd at Orion's knee—
A star of greatest magnitude, who ken'd it
So well as I, prays you be not offended;
(For I did use no magick incantation
For to conduct my shaft, I will find cation
Then cleverly my flen soone can I feather;
Upon my left arm was a brace of leather;
And with three fingers haling up the string,
The bow in semicircle did I bring;
With soft and tender lowse out went the shaft,
Amids the clouds the arrow flew aloft:
And as directed by a skilfull hand,
With speedie hand, the steadfast mark it fand;
The aimer gave his signe, furthwith was known,
The shot was mine, the boult in flinders flown;
Above his shaft, in such difficile stead,
Closely I hit the mark upon the head;
Then on the plain we caprel'd wonder fast,
Whereat the people gazing were agast:
With kind embracments did we thurst and thrimble,
(For in these days I was exceeding nimble,)
We leap't, we danc't, we loudly laugh't, we cry'd,
For in the earth such skill was never try'd
In archcrie, as we prov'd in these days,
Whereby we did obtain immortal praise:
Then, gossip Gall, quod I, I dare approve,
Thou hast a trusty token of my love.

What shall be said of other martial games?
None was inlaking from whence bravest stemmes;
Victorious trophees, palmes, and noble pynes,
Olives, and lawrels, such as auncient times
Decor'd the Grecian victors in their playes,
And worthie Romanes in their brave assayes,
For tryal of their strength each match'd with other,
Whose beauty was, sweat mix'd with dust together:
Such exercises did content us more
Than if we had possess'd King Cræsus' store.
But, O ye fields! my native Perth neerby,
Prays you to speak, and truly testifie,
What matchless skill we prov'd in all these places,
Within the compass of three thousand paces
On either side, while as we went a shooting,
And strongly strove who should bring home the booting;
Alongst the flowrie banks of Tay to Almond;
Ay when I hit the mark, I cast a gamound;
And there we view the place, where sometime stood,
The ancient Bertha now o'erflowed with flood
Of mighty waters, and that princely hold,
Where dwelt King William, by the stream down rol'd,
Was utterly defac'd, and overthrown,
That now the place thereof can scarce be known:
Then through these haughs of fair and fertile ground,
Which, with fruit trees, with corns and flocks abound,
Meandring rivers, sweet flowres, heavenly honey,
More for our pastime than to conquesh money:
We went a shooting both through plain and park,
And never stay'd till we came to Lows wark;
Built by our mighty Kings for to preserve us,
That thencefurth waters should not drown, but serve us;
Yet condescending it admits one rill,
Which all these plains with christal brooks doth fill;
And by a conduit, large three miles in length,
Serves to make Perth impregnable for strength,
At all occasions when her clowses fall,
Making the water mount up to her wall,
When we had view'd this mighty work at random,
We thought it best these fields for to abandon:
And turning home, we spar'd nor dye nor fowsie,
Untill we came unto the Boot of Bowsie,
Along this aqueduct, and there our station,
We made and viewed Balhousie's situation.
O'erlooking all that spacious pleasant valley,
With flowers damasked, levell as an alley,
Betwixt and Perth, thither did we repair,
(For why the season was exceeding fair
Then all alongst this valley did we hye,
And there the place we clearly did espye,
The precinct, situation, and the stead,
Where ended was that cruel bloody fead,
Between these cursed clans Chattan and Kay,
Before King Robert John upon the day
Appointed, then and there, who did convene,
Thirty 'gainst thirty match'd upon that greene,
Of martial fellows, all in raging mood,
Like furious Ajax, or Orestes wood,
Alonely arm'd with long two-handed swords,
Their sparkling eyes cast fire instead of words;
Their horride beards, thrown browes, brustled mustages
Of deadly blows t'inshew, were true presages.

Thus standing, fortune's event for to try,
And thousands them beholding, one did cry,
With loud and mighty voice, stay, hold your hands!
A little space, we pray, the case thus stands;
One of our number is not here to day—
This sudden speech did make some little stay
Of this most bloody bargain, th'one party fight
Would not, unless the number were made right
Unto the adverse faction, nor was any
That would take it in hand, among so many
Beholders of all ranks, into that place
On th'other side none would sustaine disgrace,
To be debarred from his other fellowes,
He rather hung seven years upon the gallowes.

Thus, as the question stood, was found at length,
One Henry Wind, for tryal of his strength
The charge would take, a sadler of his craft,
I wot not well, whether the man was daft,
But for an half French crown he took in hand,
Stoutly to fight so long as he might stand,
And if to be victorious should betide him,
They should some yearly pension provide him,
The bargaine holds; and then with all their maine,
Their brakens buckled to the fight again;
Incontinent the trumpets loudlie sounded,
And mightilie the great bagpipes were winded:
Then fell they to't as fierce as any thunder,
From shoulders arms, and heads from necks they sunder,
All raging there in blood, they hew'd and hash'd,
Their skincoats with the new cut were outslash'd;
And scorning death so bravely did outfight it,
That the beholders greatly were affrighted;
But chiefly this by all men was observed,
None fought so fiercely, nor so well deserved
As this their hired souldier, Henrie Winde,
For by his valour, victory inclinde
Unto that side; and ever since those dayes
This proverb current goes, when any sayes,
How come you here? this answer doth he finde,
I'm for mine owne hand, as fought Henrie Winde,
So finely fought he, ten with him escap't,
And of the other but one, in flood who leap't
And sav'd himself by swimming over Tay,
But to speak more of this we might not stay,
Thence did we take us to the other hand,
From this divided by a christal strand
From whence the King beheld with open sight,
The long time doubtfull event of this fight:
From off his pleasant gardens flowery wall,
Which we the gilted arbor yet do call.
And here some monuments we did descry,
And ruin'd heaps of great antiquity;
There stood a temple, and religious place,
And here a palace, but ah, woeful case!
Where murthered was one of the bravest Kings,
For wisdome, learning, valour, and such things
As should a Prince adorn; who trades and arts,
By men of matchless skill brought to thir parts,
From Italy, Low Germany, and France,
Religion, learning, policy to advance,
King James the first of everlasting name,
Kill'd by that mischant traitor Robert Grahame.
Intending of his crown for to have rob'd him,
With twenty eight wounds in the breast he stob'd him.
Unnatural paricide, most bloody traitor!
Accursed be thou above any creature!
And curst be all, for so it is appointed,
That dare presume to touch the Lord's anointed!
This Phœnix Prince our nation much decor'd,
Good letters and civility restored,
By long and bloudie wars which were defaced,
His royal care made them be re-embraced,
And he this city mightilie intended
To have enhanc'd, if fates had condescended,
For which, if power answer'd, good-will we would
With Gorgias Leontinus, raise of gold
A statue to him, of most curious frame,
In honour of his dear and worthy name.
He likewise built most sumptuously fair,
That much renown'd religious place and rare,
The Charterhouse of Perth a mighty frame,
Vallis Virtutis by a mystic name.
Looking along that painted spacious field,
Which doth with pleasure profit sweetly yield,
The fair South Inch of Perth and banks of Tay,
This Abbay's steeples, and its turrets stay;
While as they stood (but ah! where sins abound
The loftiest pride lies level'd with the ground!)
Were cunningly contriv'd with curious art,
And quintessence of skill in everie part?

My Grandsire many times to me hath told it;
He knew their names, this mighty frame who moldit:
Italian some, and some were Frenchmen borne,
Whose matchless skill this great work did adorne,
And living were in Perth, some of their race,
When that, alas! demolish'd was this place;
For greatness, beauty, stateliness so fair
In Britane's isle, was said, none might compare:
Even as Apelles for to prove his skill,
In limning Venus with a perfect quill,
Did not on some one beauty take inspection,
But of all beauties borrowed the perfection:
Even so this Prince, to policie inclinde,
Did not on some one fabrick set his minde,
To make the prototype of his designe,
But from all works, did all perfections bring,
And rarest patterns brought from every part,
Where any brave Vitruvius kyth'd his art,
So that this great and princely enterprise,
Perfections of all models did comprise;
And in this place, where he doth buried lye,
Was kept the relict wherein he did dye—
His doublet, as a monument reserv'd,
And when this place was raz'd, it was preserv'd,
Which afterwards I did see for my part,
With hols through which he stab'd was to the heart.

Then, good Gall, thus quod I, what shew of reason,
Mov'd this unnatural traitor work such treason?
Reason! good Mr Gall did thus reply,
Reason! so much in shew I do deny;—
Reason! no reason did he have at all;
But wormwood, bitter malice, Stygian gall
Within this traitor's heart did closely lurk,
Which moved him this tragedie to work;
And I would truly tell this woefull storie,
But that my tongue doth faile, mine heart's so sorrie;
Yet whiles that we unto the town do go,
Monsier, the true occasion will I show.

This worthie Prince, according to the taillie
Made by King Robert, when heirs male should faillie,
Of his son David then Earle of Stratherne,
So soon, I say, the King as he did learne
That heirs male of this David were surceast,
Into these lands he did himself invest:
For David leaving after him no son,
His lands by right come back unto the crown;
Yet after him one daughter did survive,
In marriage which to Patrick Grahame they give,
To whom she bore a son, one Melisse Grahame,
Whose parents dying young, Robert did claime,
As uncle, and as tutor, of these lands
To have the charge devolved in his hands,
Which when the King most justly did deny
To give, and gravelie shew the reason why,
This bloody traitor from his gorge did spew
Words treacherous, nor to be spoke, nor true;
For which he justlie Traitor was declar'd;
But he the King's authoritie nought car'd,
But more and more pursuing his intent,
To Walter, Earl of Athole, streight he went,
Whom well he knew to have the like designe
Above all things for to cut off the King,
And all the race sprung of Eliza Mure;
With witches did consult, and sp'rits conjure,
This to effect, and all th'infernal furies,
With draughts and spells, and such unlawful curies;
At length, he finding that incarnate fiend,
Believ'd his response should have steadfast end,
Which was, that he should once before he dye
Be crowned King, with great solemnitie:
Which came to pass indeed, but not with gold,
For his familiar sp'rit kept that untold:
Thus these two traitors cruelly did hatch
The treason which this good King did dispatch.

Both of these traitors at the crown did aime:
Th'one thought his nephew might it some time claime,
And he without all question would succeed;
For well he knew to cut the fatal threed;
Likewise that other hell-taught traitor, Walter,
Believ'd by no meanes his response could alter;
Thus both of them, fed with ambitious hopes,
Kept secret by themselves their partial scops,
But mutually this one thing they intend—
The King must die, and here their thoughts they spend.

But this Earle Walter, subtile more than th'other,
His quaint designe 'gan cunningly to smother;
Observing well the Grahame's proud haughty braine,
Greatly aggreag'd the wrongs he did sustaine,
Affirming that there was none had a heart,
But would avenged be; and for his part
He would assist, and when the turne were ended,
Against all deadly; Grahame should be defended;
Thus by ambition witch't, and rage demented,
This traitor execut what was intented,
Who from the famous Trojan had his name,
And from the woods when he did hear the fame
Of this infamous act, at Edinburgh then
Residing, to make peace between these men
Who of the Greek and Trojans are descended!
O how he was inrag'd! O how offended!
To see so brave a Prince so traiterouslie
Cut off, he roar'd and rail'd outragiouslie
'Gainst all the nation, but when he justice done,
Had seen upon the traitours, then his tune
He quickly chang'd, now have I seen, said he,
A cruel crime revenged cruellie.
This tragick task, Monsier, in hand to take,
Mine eyes do melt in tears, mine heart-strings crake,
What! shall I speak of Priam King of Troy,
By Pyrrhus kill'd? that cannot much annoy:
Or shall I of brave Julius Cæsar tell,
Whom these two traitors did in senate kill?
These may affect us with some small compassion,
But for to speak of this, is a tentation.
Cæsar for valour, learning, and meek mind;
And ah! too much like Cæsar in his end.
Excusa Moi, Monsier, mine heart's so sorie,
That I can tell you no more of this storie.
When I think with what gravitie and grace
This tragedie was told, tears weet my face;
And I do wish good Gall thou were on live,
That with Mæonian style thou mightst deserve
Such memorable acts, or else thy spirit
In some new body plac'd, it to inherit:
Ah me! this cannot be, which makes me cry,—
Gall, sweetest Gall, what ailed thee to die?

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