Scotland's Story - H. E. Marshall
Doo! and wae for the order sent our lads to the border!
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day:
The Flowers of the Forest, that foucht aye the foremost,
The prime of our land, are cauld in the clay.
"We'll hear nae mair lilting at the ewe milking;
Women and balms are heartless and wae:
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning—
The Flowers of the Forest are a wede away."
King James had loved Sir Andrew, and when he heard of his death he was sad, and angry too. He sent to King Henry, demanding that he should pay for all the damage and loss, and return the Lion.
'The death of a pirate can never be the cause of quarrel between princes,' replied Henry haughtily; so the quarrel was made worse instead of better. There were many other causes for anger between the two Kings. One was that Henry would not give up the jewels and money which his father had left to Queen Margaret when he died.
Then the French and the English began to quarrel.
The Scots had always been friends with the French. Now the Queen of France wrote a pretty letter to James, calling him her knight, telling him that she was a lady in distress, and begging him to fight in her cause, and to advance, if but three steps, into England, for her sake.
James, as gallant a knight as ever lived, could not say 'no' to such a letter, so in an evil hour he sent his fleet to France, and determined himself to march over the Border into England. What became of the fleet is not known, and little more was heard of Scotland's splendid ships.
The King's wise men and counsellors tried hard to persuade him not to go to war with England. But James would not listen. He was very angry with Henry, and the Queen of France had roused all his knightly feelings. He was determined to fight. So all over Scotland a proclamation was made that every man between sixteen and sixty should be ready, within twenty days, to pass with the King into England. And for love of their King a great army gathered to him. Yet still they tried to prevent him going to war.
One evening James knelt in the church at Linlithgow, praying, when a man suddenly appeared before him. This man was dressed in a long blue robe, with a linen belt about his waist, and sandals upon his feet. His hair was long and fair, his face grave and commanding. Standing before the King, this man bent over him and spoke; 'Sir King,' he said, 'my mother hath sent me to you, desiring you not to pass at this time where you purpose to go. For if you do, you will not fare well in your journey, neither you nor any that are with you.'
When the man had ceased speaking, the King paused a moment in wonder. But even as he did so the figure vanished away, as if he had been a blink of the sun, or a puff of wind. Search how they might, no man could find him or any trace of him. It was thought by some, that King James had really seen a vision of St. John, who had been sent to warn him. But many people think that it was merely some one who had dressed himself in this strange fashion in order to make the King believe that he had seen a vision, and so turn from his purpose.
But nothing any one could do or say was of the least use, and James with his great army passed into England. Queen Margaret from her high turret chamber in Linlithgow castle, sadly watched him go to fight against her brother.
King Henry was away fighting in France, so the English army was led by the Earl of Surrey. Upon the field of Flodden in Northumberland the armies met, and a great battle was fought on September 9, 1513 A.D.
Even at the last minute, the lords tried to persuade the King to go away to a safe place, and let them fight the English. But at this James was furiously angry. 'My lords,' he cried, 'I shall fight this day against England although you have sworn the contrary. Though you should all flee from me and shame yourselves, you shall not shame me.'
So the battle began and raged, and when night fell, King James lay dead upon the field with all his best knights around him. Bishops and abbots, earls, lords and knights, lay there, having given, in vain, their lives to save their King.
"I'll not at length it put in memory,
I never read in tragedy nor story
At one tourney, so many nobles slain
For the defence and love of their sovereign."
In Scotland, the women and the children and the old men waited for news of their King and army. The Queen sat lonely in Linlithgow, and wept and watched through the long weary days. But at last one bright September morning news came—news of disaster and death. Scotland was turned into a land of tears. From castle to cottage, there was scarce a home but where there was wailing for the loss of some dear one.
" 'O the blackest day for Scotland—
That she ever saw before!
O our King—the good, the noble,
Shall we see him never more?
Woe to us and woe to Scotland!
O our sons, our sons and men!
Surely some have 'scaped the Southron,
Surely some will come again!'
* * * * *
And the bells are tolling fiercely,
And the cry comes louder in;
Mothers wailing for their children,
Sisters for their slaughtered kin."