|An older writer mentions a curious
tradition which may be worth quoting. ‘By east the Isle
of May’, says he, ‘twelve miles from all land in the
German seas, lyes a great hidden rock, called Inchcape,
very dangerous for navigators, because it is overflowed
everie tide. It is reported in old times, upon the saide
rock there was a bell, fixed upon a tree or timber,
which rang continually, being moved by the sea, giving
notice to the saylers of the danger. This bell or clocke
was put there and maintained by the Abbott of
Aberbrothok, and being taken down by a sea pirate, a
yeare thereafter he perished upon the same rocke, with
ship and goodes, in the righteous judgement of God.’ –
STODDART’S Remarks on Scotland.
|No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
|The ship was still as she could be,
|Her sails from heaven received no
|Her keel was steady in the ocean.
|Without either sign or sound of their
|The waves flow’d over the Inchcape
|So little they rose, so little they
|They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
|The Abbot of Aberbrothok
|Had placed that bell on the Inchcape
|On a buoy in the storm it floated and
|And over the waves its warning rung.
|When the Rock was hid by the surge’s
|The mariners heard the warning bell;
|And then they knew the perilous Rock,
|And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok.
|The Sun in heaven was shining gay,
|All things were joyful on that day;
|The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d
|And there was joyaunce in their sound.
|The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen
|A darker speck on the ocean green;
|Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
|And he fix’d his eye on the darker
|He felt the cheering power of spring,
|It made his whistle, it made him sing;
|His heart was mirthful to excess,
|But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.
|His eye was on the Inchcape float;
|Quoth he, ‘My men, put out the boat,
|And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
|And I’ll plague the Abbot of
|The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
|And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
|Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
|And he cut the Bell from the Inchcape
|Down sunk the Bell with a gurgling
|The bubbles rose and burst around;
|Quoth Sir Ralph, ‘The next who comes to
|Won't bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.'
|Sir Ralph the Rover sail’d away,
|He scour’d the seas for many a day;
|And now grown rich with plunder’d
|He steers his course for Scotland’s
|So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky
|They cannot see the Sun on high;
|The wind hath blown a gale all day,
|At evening it hath died away.
|On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
|So dark it is they see no land.
|Quoth Sir Ralph, ‘It will be lighter
|For there is the dawn of the rising
|‘Canst hear,’ said one, ‘the breakers
|For methinks we should be near the
|‘Now where we are I cannot tell,
|But I wish I could hear the Inchcape
|They hear no sound, the swell is
|Though the wind hath fallen they drift
|Till the vessel strikes with a
|‘Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!’
|Sit Ralph the Rover tore his hair;
|He curst himself in his despair;
|The waves rush in on every side,
|The ship is sinking beneath the tide.
|But even in his dying fear
|One dreadful sound could the Rover
|A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
|The Devil below was ringing his knell.
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