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being found to vary slightly from his former deposition, he was sentenced to die, and was accordingly executed. Toasch was put to the torture; but confessed nothing at the time : he, however, afterwards revealed to Huntly what he knew concerning the fire, for which the Marquis is said to have paid him handsomely; although it does not appear that his evidence was ever after made use of.
The ballad may be farther illustrated by two poems of Arthur Johnston, written in Latin, and, it would appear, about the ara of the event. The one is in elegiac verse, and entitled, “ Querela Sophiæ Hay; dominæ de Melgeine, de morte Mariti.” The other is in heroic measure, and bears, “ De Johanne Gordonio, Vicecomite de Melgeine, et Johanne Gordonio de Rothemay in arce Frendriaca combustis *.” They are full of the
* Delicia Poetarum Scotorum, Anist. 1637, Vol. I. p. 587.
exotic and classical allusions which disgrace the poetry of the learned men of that period, and to which the contemporary ballads and songs
form such a contrast. The lines that follow are circumstantial, and contain an artful insinuation:
Saxea turris erat, murorum saxea moles,
Sub pede juncta rudi frigida saxa manu,
Dicitur ilignum sustinuisse thorum,
Antraque nescio quo pervia facta dolo.
A little after, there is a curious circum stance mentioned, which has escaped Spal ding, minute as he is :
Flamma ubi sopita est ustos excepit equile,
Thracis inbumani quale fuisse ferunt. In the other poem, he descants likewise on this subject :
Vilibus illati stabulis, jacuere jugales
Johnston resided at Aberdeen, and was consequently not far from Frendraught Castle. From his warmth, he appears to have been well acquainted with the victims, and to have seen the bodies after the conflagration
The reader may not, perhaps, be displeased with the following specimen of Johnston's manner; as he is scarcely known but by his translation of the Psalms, and as the collection from which the extract is taken is now remarkably scarce :
Illustres juvenes, procerum genus alter, avito
Alter Hyperboreos attingens sanguine reges,
Gordoniæ quem gentis honos, Huntleius hæres Imperio nunc Celta tuo, circumsonat armis Vndique Grampiacis, et sanguine miscet herili. Debuerat fratri comitem se jungere frater, Cognatusque latus cognati cingere, pugnas Inter, et arma ducum, majoraque fulmina belli. Sed decus hoc nostris invidit Tartarus oris, Tartarea vel gente satus; nam criminis hujus Horruit aspectu tellus, et pontus, et æther. Æmula majorum soboles, quæ nescia vinci, Nescia terreri franieas spernebat, et enses, Fraude perit, tectisque dolis, nec cernitur hostis. O sæclum, ô mores! fuit olim gloria gentis Grampigenæ nescire dolos, sed viribus uti, Et conferre manus, campisque patentibus armis Cernere fulmincis, et sternere cominus hostem. Sic domiti Pictique truces, Cimbrique feroces, Sic Tibris et doininæ repressa potentia Romæ est, Nec secus armorum princeps et gloria Vallas, Quique Caledonias rexit fæliciter oras Brussius, Hayorum comitatus principe, vastos De sibi vicina pepererunt gente triumphos. Heu, nunc orba viris, et plusquam degener ætas, Rem gerit insidiis, Martis pro cuspide sica est, Toxica pro telis, et clandestinus ubique Pro jaculis, Bellona, tuis, heu, spargitur ignis; Authorem nec scire datur; secretior ille est, Quàm pelagi fontes aut incunabula Nili.-P.589.
When Frennet castle's ivied wain
Thro' yallow leaves were seen ;
And bees the faded green;
Then Lady Frennet, vengeful dame,
Did wander frae the ha',
Among the leaves that fa’.
*“ Dewie gloom." This should perhaps be dowie, i. e. melancholy.