The Douglas Archives

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The Earl of Angus Conferring Knighthood on De Wilton

The Earl of Angus Conferring Knighthood on De Wilton. Sir Walter Scott's Marmion.—Painted in London, 1810.

“A Bishop by the Altar stood,
A noble lord of Douglas' blood;
With mitre sheen, and rocquet white,
Yet showed his meek and thoughtful eye, But little pride of prelacy,” &c.

“Beside him, ancient Angus stood,
Dos"d his furr'd gown and sable hood :
O'er his huge form and visage pale,
He wore a cap and shirt of mail;
And leaned his large and wrinkled hand Upon his huge and sweeping brand,” &c.

The poem concerns the designs of Lord Marmion, a favourite of Henry VIII, upon a wealthy heiress, Clara de Clare. In order to remove her fiancé, Sir Ralph De Wilton, he forges a letter implicating him in a treasonable plot. In this, he is assisted by his mistress, Constance De Beverley, a perjured nun, who thus hopes to reconquer his affection. De Wilton claims the right to defend his honour in combat but is defeated by Marmion and forced to flee abroad. In order to escape Marmion, Clara takes refuge in a convent. Marmion abandons Constance who is condemned to death for breaking her vows and walled up alive in the convent of St. Hilda on the Holy Island at Lindisfarne. Before her death, she consigns to the Abbess documents proving De Wilton's innocence. De Wilton, meanwhile, has re-entered the country disguised as a pilgrim. He follows Marmion to Scotland where he has gone to make overtures for peace at the Scottish court (and to assess the Scots' battle-readiness). The Abbess finds De Wilton in Edinburgh and hands over the documents. De Wilton shows these to Marmion's host, the Earl of Angus, who equips him with armour and readmits him to the order of knighthood. The battle of Flodden Field is fought before De Wilton can proceed further against Marmion. Marmion is killed in the battle. De Wilton fights with distinction, regains his honour and estates, and marries Clara.

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