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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/174

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [9* s. XL FEB. 28, wcs.

with the entry, 29 September, 1304, "ex- penses for the carriage of the body of William Wallace." It is clear Wallace could not have been decapitated in two different years or on two different days. If his death took place on either of these dates it seems unnecessary that Edward excepted Wallace from the pardon promulgated on 15 October. If Wallace was captured on 5 August, and, as we are informed, began his journey south the next day, halting for a night at Carlisle Castle, where he was detained in what was long known as Wallace's Tower, then the foot- note to the * French Chronicle ' must be in- correct.

What can be said about the document re- cording the expense for carnage of that body 1 This seems to open some curious questions ; for it apparently places Wallace's death a year earlier than several of our historical authorities have done; it raises a doubt as to whether or not Wallace was actually killed when captured ; and if the first question is waived, then the hideousness of the whole affair is intensified, for if Wallace was dis- membered on 23 August, the portions of his body only reached Scotland more than a month afterwards.

The Rev. J. Blair, who was a personal friend of Wallace, kept, it appears, a diary, which Blind Harry turned into verse towards the end of the fifteenth century, from which it would seem that doubt existed as to Wal- lace's being sent to England alive. The minstrel writes as follows :

Some writers please to say, but that's not found, Inat Wallace martyr'd was in Berwick town : That could not be, I 'm very sure, for then It was posseat by brave Scottish men.

Unless, therefore, we assume this is an inter- polation of Blind Harry's, we are forced to the conclusion that Blair introduced a current idea, if not an accepted fact, that Wallace was actually killed at Berwick or elsewhere before he was taken to England.

If it is granted that Blair never refers to the subject, Blind Harry must have heard the rumour himself, and his MS. was com- pleted as early as 1488, certainly not a long period for a tradition to have lasted. Bower who was born in 1385, writes, " Wallace was betrayed in the city of Glasgow." Maior repeats the same, as does Leland. The con- flicting statements as to the place of Wallace's capture, the date and place of his death, viewed with what was presumably a con- temporaneous doubt as to his being sent to England alive, together with the entry for carriage of his body appearing a year pre- vious to the date of his supposed cruel death

leave room for further investigation, if not a rewriting of all circumstances connected with the whole question.


[The 'D.N.B.' records the various measures adopted to capture Wallace from March, 1303, and states that " on 28 Feb., 1305, the step seems to have been taken which led to his capture," but does not give the actual date when he was made prisoner. It goes on to say that Wallace was brought to London on 22 Aug., 1305, and tried and sentenced in the great hall of Westminster on Monday, the 23rd.]

" NOTHING." In past years on more than one occasion ' N. & Q.' gave to " airy nothing a local habitation ana a name," and peradven- ture a like courtesy may be again extended. Three-fourths of a century ago lived a lady who, although justly renowned for her beauty, talents, and position in society, was yet a terror to her acquaintances. Her album, to which they were pestered "to contribute something," was the omnivorous bete noire ever lying in wait round the corner.

It chanced that my father fell a victim. In vain did he plead that he had nothing to write about. " That is the very subject for you; write about it," was the rejoinder ; and concussed beyond further remonstrance, he, taking pen in hand, there and then wrote


To please the fair a luckless wight Vainly attempts on Nil to write. Brainless ! can he her wish fulfil ? The proverb 's true, Ex nihilo nil.

G. H -W.

" SLANG." The most illuminating account of this difficult word is that in Prof. Skeat's 'Etymological Dictionary.' Among other theories of its origin, Prof. Skeat discusses the following from Canon Taylor's 'Words and Places ' :

" A slang is a narrow slip of waste land by the roadside, such as those which are chosen by the gipsies for their encampments. To be 'out on the

slang' means to travel about the country as a

hawker, encamping by night on the roadside slangs. A travelling show was also called a slang. It is easy to see how the term slang was transferred to the language spoken by hawkers and itinerant show- men."

Prof. Skeat comes to the conclusion that, both in this sense (of a camp, or a place where a travelling show is exhibited) and in its better-known application to low language, slang is merely a formation from the verb to sling. Yet he opposes the view, advanced by Taylor, that the latter sense developed out of the former, preferring to look upon each sense as independent. He remarks, "No one would dream of calling thieves' language a travelling show or a camping-