William Ross Wallace 1819-1891

Though his works are largely forgotten today, William Ross Wallace’s poetry and verse were popular and well-respected in the middle of the nineteenth century. He was a close friend of Edgar Allan Poe, and Poe praised Wallace’s poetry. The well-known poet William Cullen Bryant also thought highly of Wallace’s work.

Wallace was born in Paris, Kentucky, in 1819. Between 1833 and 1835, he attended Hanover College (Indiana), and after graduation returned to his native Kentucky, settling in Lexington. While at law school and until 1839, he was the editor of ‘The Louisville Literary Register’. In 1841, he passed the bar, and established his practice in New York City, where he seems to have been more occupied with literature than with legal affairs. His poems were intensely patriotic, and he had an almost mythical reverence for the American Revolution and for George Washington. Numerous catalogs of American literature describe Wallace as a very popular poet, which suggests that his thoughts on the Revolution were in tune with the beliefs of many contemporary Americans.

In Wallace’s poetry of the 1850’s, he treated the Revolution in symbolic and grandiose terms. In ‘The Liberty Bell’ he
describes the ringing of the Liberty Bell, which had been rung on 04 July 1776, as a reverberation of a unanimous belief
among Americans that their time for freedom had arrived. He even goes so far as to say that the revolution was an ‘era sublime’. He clearly idealizes the Revolution in his work; he almost never mentions the bloody, distasteful aspects of war. In fact, he barely sees the Revolution as a war at all; he seems to think of it as a pure, blessed period in America’s history. In the ‘Last Words of Washington’, Wallace explicitly calls Washington a ‘savior’ of his country. Even though the scene Wallace
describes in this poem is Washington’s death, Wallace does not seem to describe him as an ordinary man bowing to death. Washington appears in this poem as a transcendent being that is being welcomed into an elite legion of timeless, scarcely mortal ‘heroes’. Wallace’s poems portray the American Revolution as an unblemished age when true greatness graced American soil.

After the outbreak of the Civil War, Wallace continued to write patriotic poetry in support of the Union. Some of these works were well-known and well-liked by
Union soldiers. As the war intensified, his melodious verses enjoyed an extraordinary popularity. They were sung by many regiments that marched out from
New York, for they were not only rhythmical and adaptable to musical setting, but were filled with a sentiment of patriotism, especially in those uncertain times, had a tremendous popular appeal in the North. Among these songs was the well known “Keep Step to the Music of the Union.” His “God of the Free” was intended to be a national anthem, but was not met with popular acceptance. Wallace also attempted fiction, but his one story “Albin, the Pirate” did not sell well, and has long been out of print. He was a popular lecturer and possessed extraordinary oratorical gifts. For nearly twenty years he was a regular contributor to the “New York Ledger,” “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” “Harpers’ Magazine” and “Harpers’ Weekly,” the “Celtic Monthly,” and other publications.

According to Edgar Allen Poe biographer Kenneth Silverman, in June 1842 Poe visited New York City and while there drank himself into an alcoholic amnesia. Poe explained that others had induced or forced him to drink. He said that William Ross Wallace would ‘insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying’. In the autumn of 1844 Poe completed his poem ‘The Raven’ and recited it to William at Stryker’s Bay Tavern, located on the Hudson River near where 96th Street now ends. William’s expressions of appreciation, it appears, were not thought by the poet to be adequate to the occasion. Poe, on his part, assured his listener that he had just heard the greatest poem in the language.

Though largely forgotten today, William Ross Wallace was a literary giant of his time. After all, it was William Ross Wallace who wrote:

‘But a mightier power and stronger, Man from his throne has hurled, For the hand that rocks the cradle, Is the hand that rules the world

 

Originally published in the Guardian, Vol 37 No. 1

“Braveheart” vs. William Wallace

Every member of the CWS should be able to speak on each of the following sixteen points. This is a nice little refresher on where film “Braveheart” and facts disagree:

1. Wallace was the son of a Knight; not a poor cottar (farmer) as depicted.
2. Wallace was not a highlander; he did not wear a kilt.
3. His father, Sir Malcolm, was executed when Wallace was an adult.
4. There is no record of Edward re instituting “First Night”.
5. Wallace’s wife “Murren” (Marion Broadfoot) was executed because she helped Wallace evade capture.
6. Scots did not paint themselves blue in the thirteenth century AD. The blue emulsion is called “woad” and was reportedly used by ancient Celts in Roman times.
7. The wooden “castle” of Lanark was pure fantasy.
8. The battle at Stirlinq took place at a bridge, not in open ground; the bridge was the key to success.
9. Wallace never met Princess Isabella; he was dead before she came to England from France.
10. Edward II (who really did prefer the company of men) married Isabella after his father’s death. (1308).
11. Robert the Bruce did not ‘rescue’ Wallace after Falkirk.
12. Robert the Bruce’s father did not have leprosy.
13. Wallace was betrayed by Sir John Menteith of Dumbarton; Robert the Bruce was not present.
14. Wallace was dragged behind a horse to his execution. (1305)
15. Wallace was executed in the city of London; it is highly unlikely that any of his friends or followers could have been present.
16. Bruce never intended to ‘parlay’ at Bannockburn; he knew from the start that this battle was the keystone to Scotland’s

Originally published in “The Guardian” Vol 36 No 1

9th Annual Scotland County Highland Games

 

The Scotland County Highland Games (NC) was held on October 7, 2017. These games are held at John Blue House in Laurinburg, North Carolina.  Rain, Rain go away come again another day greeted the twenty clan tents participating and Clan Wallace was among them.  Other participants included the SAMS (Scottish American Military Society), Council of Scottish Clans and Associations, Scottish Heritage USA, and St. Andrews Society of North Carolina.

The parade of tartans was held at eleven thirty after open ceremonies .Clan Wallace waited patiently in the light misty rain

The entertainment included Colin Grant Adams, and Belles on Strings.  Thirty nine pipe bands competed.  The Games included heavy athletics,  Border Collies, and Children events.

Special thanks to Frank Randall and all of the rest of the folks that came by the Wallace tent to make the day so special. You are the reason we are here in the rain.

 

Courtesy of Marcia Harper

17th Annual St. Louis Scottish Games

The St. Louis Scottish Games (MO) was held on September 29, 30 2017.  Sunny skies and 70 degree weather, greeted the twenty three clan tents participating and Clan Wallace was among them.   Russ and Marcia Harper hosted the Clan Wallace tent.

These games are held at the Spirit of St. Louis Airpark in Chesterfield, Missouri.  Russ did the calling of the Clans and stirred up the Scots with his call for FREEDOM!!!!!!

Our annual board of Directors meeting was held on Friday. The Wallace tent was a blaze of Tartan from all of the clansmen that were in attendance; Darrell Wallace from Washington State, Jim Wallace and Bill Wallace from Maryland, Elmer Inman from Utah, Todd and CJ Wallace from Ohio, Larry Slight from Florida and Randy Dedrickson from South Carolina. Many thanks for all of the help and support manning the tent. Dick and Jean Wallace were also at the meeting, but were unable to attend the Games.

The parade of tartans was held at eleven thirty before opening ceremonies.

The entertainment included Cleghorn, Plaid to the bone, John Taylor, Jill Chambless, Scooter Muse, The Wee Heavies, Duddy Breeks, and Peat Fire Flame along with five pipe bands that are in the Piping Competition and Drum Major competition.  The Games included heavy athletics, World Bird Sanctuary, Black Knights swordplay demonstrations, Scottish Country Highland Dancing and Irish Dancing, Border Collies competition, and Children events.

Russ and I would like to thank all the folks that came out and enjoyed the day with us.

 

Courtesy of Marcia Harper