Minstrelsy of the Scottish border (3rd ed) (1 of 3)
by Walter Scott
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I cannot dismiss the subject of the Battle of Otterbourne, without stating (with all the deference due to the father of this species of literature) a doubt, which occurs to me, as to the account given of "Sir John of Agurstone," one of the Scottish warriors, in the learned and excellent notes subjoined to the ballad, in the Reliques of Ancient Poetry. This personage is there supposed to have been one of the Haggerstons of Haggerston, a Northumbrian family, who, according to the fate of war, were sometimes subjects of Scotland. I cannot, however, think, that at this period, while the English were in possession both of Berwick and Roxburgh, with the intermediate fortresses of Wark, Cornwall, and Norham, the Scots possessed any part of Northumberland, much less a manor which lay within that strong chain of castles. I should presume the person alluded to rather to have been one of the Rutherfords, barons of Edgerstane, or Adgerston, a warlike family, which has long flourished on the Scottish borders, and who were, at this very period, retainers of the house of Douglas. The same notes contain an account of the other Scottish warriors of distinction, who were present at the battle. These were, the earls of Monteith, Buchan, and Huntley; the barons of Maxwell and Johnston; Swinton of that ilk, an ancient family which, about that period, produced several distinguished warriors; Sir David (or rather, as the learned editor well remarks, Sir Walter) Scott of Buccleuch, Stewart of Garlies, and Murray of Cockpool.

Regibus et legibus Scotici constantes, Vos clypeis et gladiis pro patria pugnantes, Vestra est victoria, vestra est et gloria, In cantu et historia, perpes est memoria!


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It fell about the Lammas tide, When the muir-men win their hay, The doughty earl of Douglas rode Into England, to catch a prey.

He chose the Gordons and the Graemes, With them the Lindesays, light and gay; But the Jardines wald not with him ride, And they rue it to this day.

And he has burn'd the dales of Tyne, And part of Bambrough shire; And three good towers on Roxburgh fells, He left them all on fire.

And he march'd up to Newcastle, And rode it round about; "O wha's the lord of this castle, "Or wha's the lady o't?"

But up spake proud Lord Percy, then, And O but he spake hie! "I am the lord of this castle, "My wife's the lady gay."

"If thou'rt the lord of this castle, "Sae weel it pleases me! "For, ere I cross the border fells, "The tane of us shall die."

He took a lang spear in his hand. Shod with the metal free, And for to meet the Douglas there, He rode right furiouslie.

But O how pale his lady look'd, Frae aff the castle wa', When down, before the Scottish spear, She saw proud Percy fa',

"Had we twa been upon the green, "And never an eye to see, I wad hae had you, flesh and fell[103]; "But your sword sall gae wi' me."

"But gae ye up to Otterbourne, "And wait there dayis three; And, if I come not ere three dayis end, "A fause knight ca' ye me."

"The Otterbourne's a bonnie burn; "'Tis pleasant there to be; "But there is nought at Otterbourne, "To feed my men and me.

"The deer rins wild on hill and dale, "The birds fly wild from tree to tree; "But there is neither bread nor kale, "To fend[104] my men and me.

"Yet I will stay at Otterbourne, "Where you shall welcome be; "And, if ye come not at three dayis end, "A fause lord I'll ca' thee."

"Thither will I come," proud Percy said, "By the might of Our Ladye!"— "There will I bide thee," said the Douglas, "My trowth I plight to thee."

They lighted high on Otterbourne, Upon the bent sae brown; They lighted high on Otterbourne, And threw their pallions down.

And he that had a bonnie boy, Sent out his horse to grass; And he that had not a bonnie boy, His ain servant he was.

But up then spake a little page, Before the peep of dawn— "O waken ye, waken ye, my good lord, "For Percy's hard at hand."

"Ye lie, ye lie, ye liar loud! "Sae loud I hear ye lie: For Percy had not men yestreen, "To dight my men and me."

"But I hae dream'd a dreary dream, "Beyond the Isle of Sky; "I saw a dead man win a fight, "And I think that man was I."

He belted on his good braid sword, And to the field he ran; But he forgot the helmet good, That should have kept his brain.

When Percy wi' the Douglas met, I wat he was fu' fain! They swakked their swords, till sair they swat, And the blood ran down like rain.

But Percy, with his good broad sword, That could so sharply wound, Has wounded Douglas on the brow, Till he fell to the ground.

Then he call'd on his little foot-page. And said—"Run speedilie, "And fetch my ain dear sister's son, "Sir Hugh Montgomery."

"My nephew good," the Douglas said, "What recks the death of ane! "Last night I dream'd a dreary dream, "And I ken the day's thy ain,

"My wound is deep; I fain would sleep; "Take thou the vanguard of the three, "And hide me by the braken bush, "That grows on yonder lilye lee,

"O bury me by the braken bush, "Beneath the blooming briar; "Let never living mortal ken, "That ere a kindly Scot lies here."

He lifted up that noble lord, Wi' the saut tear in his e'e; He hid him in the braken bush, That his merrie men might not see.

The moon was clear, the day drew near, The spears in flinders flew, But mony a gallant Englishman, Ere day the Scotsmen slew.

The Gordons good, in English blood, They steep'd their hose and shoon; The Lindsays flew like fire about, Till all the fray was done.

The Percy and Montgomery met, That either of other were fain; They swapped swords, and they twa swat, And aye the blude ran down between.

"Yield thee, O yield thee, Percy!" he said, "Or else I vow I'll lay thee low!" "Whom to shall I yield," said Earl Percy, "Now that I see it must be so?"

"Thou shalt not yield to lord nor loun, "Nor yet shalt thou yield to me; "But yield thee to the braken bush,[105] "That grows upon yon lilye lee!"

"I will not yield to a braken bush, "Nor yet will I yield to a briar; But I would yield to Earl Douglas, "Or Sir Hugh the Montgomery, if he were here."

As soon as he knew it was Montgomery, He stuck his sword's point in the gronde; And the Montgomery was a courteous knight, And quickly took him by the honde.

This deed was done at Otterbourne, About the breaking of the day; Earl Douglas was buried at the braken bush, And the Percy led captive away.

[Footnote 103: Fell.—Hide. Douglas insinuates, that Percy was rescued by his soldiers.]

[Footnote 104: Fend.—Support.]

[Footnote 105: Braken.—Fern.]

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He chose the Gordons and the Graemes.—P. 64. v. 2.

The illustrious family of Gordon was originally settled upon the lands of Gordon and Huntly, in the shire of Berwick, and are, therefore, of border extraction. The steps, by which they removed from thence to the shires of Aberdeen and Inverness, are worthy notice. In 1300, Adam de Gordon was warden of the marches.—Rymer, Vol. II. p. 870. He obtained, from Robert the Bruce, a grant of the forfeited estate of David de Strathbolgie, Earl of Athol; but no possession followed, the earl having returned to his allegiance.—John de Gordon, his great-grandson, obtained, from Robert II., a new charter of the lands of Strathbolgie, which had been once more and finally forfeited, by David, Earl of Athol, slaine in the battle of Kilblene. This grant is dated 13th July, 1376. John de Gordon who was destined to transfer, from the borders of England to those of the Highlands, a powerful and martial race, was himself a redoubted warrior, and many of his exploits occur in the annals of that turbulent period. In 1371-2, the English borderers invaded and plundered the lands of Gordon, on the Scottish east march. Sir John of Gordon retaliated, by an incursion on Northumberland, where he collected much spoil. But, as he returned with his booty, he was attacked, at unawares, by Sir John Lillburne, a Northumbrian, who, with a superior force, lay near Carham in ambush, to intercept him. Gordon harangued and cheered his followers, charged the English gallantly, and, after having himself been five times in great peril, gained a complete victory; slaying many southerns, and taking their leader and his brother captive. According to the prior of Lochlevin, he was desperately wounded; but

"Thare rays a welle gret renowne, "And gretly prysyd wes gud Gordown."

Shortly after this exploit, Sir John of Gordon encountered and routed Sir Thomas Musgrave, a renowned English marc-hman whom he made prisoner. The lord of Johnstone had, about the same time, gained a great advantage on the west border; and hence, says Wynton,

He and the Lord of Gordowne Had a soverane gud renown, Of ony that war of thare degre, For full thai war of gret bounte.

Upon another occasion, John of Gordon is said to have partially succeeded in the surprisal of the town of Berwick, although the superiority of the garrison obliged him to relinquish his enterprise.

The ballad is accurate, in introducing this warrior, with his clan, into the host of Douglas at Otterbourne. Perhaps, as he was in possession of his extensive northern domains, he brought to the field the northern broad-swords, as well as the lances of his eastern borderers. With his gallant leader, he lost his life in the deadly conflict. The English ballad commemorates his valour and prudence;

"The Erle of Huntley, cawte and kene."

But the title is a premature designation. The earldom of Huntly was first conferred on Alexander Seaton, who married the grand-daughter of the hero of Otterbourne, and assumed his title from Huntly, in the north. Besides his eldest son Adam, who carried on the line of the family, Sir John de Gordon left two sons, known, in tradition, by the familiar names of Jock and Tam. The former was the ancestor of the Gordons of Pitlurg; the latter of those of Lesmoir, and of Craig-Gordon. This last family is now represented by James Gordon, Esq. of Craig, being the eleventh, in direct descent, from Sir John de Gordon.

The Graemes.

The clan of Graeme, always numerous and powerful upon the border, were of Scottish origin, and deduce the descent of their chieftain, Graeme of Netherby, from John with the bright sword, a son of Malice Graeme, Earl of Menteith, who flourished in the fourteenth century. Latterly, they became Englishmen, as the phrase went, and settled upon the Debateable Land, whence they were transported to Ireland, by James VI., with the exception of a very few respectable families; "because," said his majesty in a proclamation, "they do all (but especially the Graemes) confess themselves to be no meet persons to live in these countries; and also, to the intent their lands may be inhabited by others, of good and honest conversation." But, in the reign of Henry IV., the Graemes of the border still adhered to the Scottish allegiance, as appears from the tower of Graeme in Annandale, Graemes Walls in Tweeddale, and other castles within Scotland, to which they have given their name. The reader is, however, at liberty to suppose, that the Graemes of the Lennox and Menteith, always ready to shed their blood in the cause of their country, on this occasion joined Douglas.

With them the Lindsays light and gay.—p. 64. v. 2.

The chief of this ancient family, at the date of the battle of Otterbourne, was David Liudissay, lord of Glenesk, afterwards created Earl of Crawford. He was, after the manner of the times, a most accomplished knight. He survived the battle of Otterbourne, and the succeeding carnage of Homildon. In May, 1390, he went to England, to seek adventures of chivalry; and justed, upon London Bridge, against the lord of Wells, an English knight, with so much skill and success, as to excite, among the spectators, a suspicion that he was tied to his saddle; which he removed, by riding up to the royal chair, vaulting out of his saddle, and resuming his seat without assistance, although loaded with complete armour. In 1392, Lindsay was nearly slain in a strange manner. A band of Catterans, or wild Highlanders, had broken down from the Grampian Hills, and were engaged in plundering the county of Angus. Walter Ogilvy, the sheriff, with Sir Patrick Gray, marched against them, and were joined by Sir David Lindsay. Their whole retinue did not exceed sixty men, and the Highlanders were above three hundred. Nevertheless, trusting to the superiority of arms and discipline, the knights rushed on the invaders, at Gasclune, in the Stormont. The issue was unfortunate. Ogilvy, his brother, and many of his kindred, were overpowered and slain. Lindsay, armed at all points, made great slaughter among the naked Catterans; but, as he pinned one of them to the earth with his lance, the dying mountaineer writhed upwards and, collecting his force, fetched a blow with his broad-sword which cut through the knight's stirrup-leather and steel-boot and nearly severed his leg. The Highlander expired, and Lindsay was with difficulty borne out of the field by his followers—Wyntown. Lindsay is also noted for a retort, made to the famous Hotspur. At a march-meeting, at Haldane-Stank, he happened to observe, that Percy was sheathed in complete armour. "It is for fear of the English horsemen," said Percy, in explanation; for he was already meditating the insurrection, immortalised by Shakespeare. "Ah! Sir Harry," answered Lindsay, "I have seen you more sorely bestad by Scottish footmen than by English horse."—Wyntown. Such was the leader of the "Lindsays light and guy."

According to Froissard, there were three Lindsays in the battle of Otterbourne, whom he calls Sir William, Sir James, and Sir Alexander. To Sir James Lindsay there fell "a strange chance of war," which I give in the words of the old historian. "I shall shewe you of Sir Mathewe Reedman (an English warrior, and governor of Berwick), who was on horsebacke, to save himselfe, for he alone coude nat remedy the mater. At his departynge, Sir James Limsay was nere him, and sawe Sir Mathewe departed. And this Sir James, to wyn honour, followed in chase Sir Mathewe Reedman, and came so nere him, that he myght have stryken hym with hys speare, if he had lyst. Than he said, 'Ah! Sir knyght, tourne! it is a shame thus to fly! I am James of Lindsay. If ye will nat tourne, I shall strike you on the back with my speare.' Sir Mathewe spoke no worde, but struke his hors with his spurres sorer than he did before. In this maner he chased hym more than three myles. And at last Sir Mathewe Reedman's hors foundered, and fell under hym. Than he stept forthe on the erthe, and drewe oute his swerde, and toke corage to defend himselfe. And the Scotte thoughte to have stryken hym on the brest, but Sir Mathewe Reedman swerved fro the stroke, and the speare point entred into the erthe. Than Sir Mathewe strake asonder the speare wyth his swerde. And whan Sir James Limsay sawe howe he had lost his speare, he cast away the tronchon, and lyghted a-fote, and toke a lytell battell-axe, that he carryed at his backe, and handled it with his one hand, quickly and delyverly, in the whyche feate Scottes be well experte. And than he set at Sir Mathewe, and he defended himselfe properly. Thus they journeyed toguyder, one with an axe, and the other with a swerde, a longe season, and no man to lette them. Fynally, Sir James Limsay gave the knyght such strokes, and helde him so shorte, that he was putte out of brethe in such wyse, that he yelded himselfe, and sayde,—'Sir James Limsay, I yeld me to you.'—'Well,' quod he; 'and I receyve you, rescue or no rescue.'—'I am content,' quod Reedman, 'so ye dele wyth me like a good companyon.'—'I shall not fayle that,' quod Limsay, and so put up his swerde. 'Well,' said Reedman, 'what will ye nowe that I shall do? I am your prisoner; ye have conquered me; I wolde gladly go agayn to Newcastell, and, within fiftene dayes, I shall come to you into Scotlande, where as ye shall assigne me.'—'I am content,' quod Limsay; 'ye shall promyse, by your faythe, to present yourselfe, within these foure wekes, at Edinborowe; and wheresoever ye go, to repute yourselfe my prisoner.' All this Sir Mathewe sware, and promised to fulfil."

The warriors parted upon these liberal terms, and Reedman returned to Newcastle. But Lindsay had scarcely ridden a mile, when he met the bishop of Durham, with 500 horse, whom he rode towards, believing them to be Scottish, until he was too near them to escape. The bysshoppe stepte to him, and sayde, 'Limsay, ye are taken; yelde ye to me.'—'Who be you?' quod Limsay. 'I am,' quod he, 'the bysshoppe of Durham.'—'And fro whens come you, sir?' quod Limsay. 'I come fro the battell,' quod the bysshoppe, 'but I strucke never a stroke there. I go backe to Newcastell for this night, and ye shal go with me.'—'I may not chuse,' quod Limsay, 'sith ye will have it so. I have taken, and I am taken; suche is the adventures of armes.' Lindsay was accordingly conveyed to the bishop's lodgings in Newcastle, and here he was met by his prisoner, Sir Matthew Reedman; who founde hym in a studye, lying in a windowe, and sayde, 'What! Sir James Lindsay, what make you here?' Than Sir James came forth of the study to him, and saydc, 'By my fayth, Sir Mathewe, fortune hath brought me hyder; for, as soon as I was departed fro you, I mete by chaunce the bisshoppe of Durham, to whom I am prisoner, as ye be to me. I beleve ye shall not nede to come to Edenborowe to me to mak your fynaunce. I thynk, rather, we shall make an exchange one for another, if the bysshoppe be also contente.'—'Well, sir,' quod Reedman, 'we shall accord ryghte well toguyder; ye shall dine this day with me: the bysshoppe and our men be gone forth to fyght with your men. I can nat tell what we shall know at their retourne.'—'I am content to dyne with you,' quod Limsay."—Froissart's Chronicle, translated by Bourchier, Lord Berners, Vol. I, chap. 146.

O gran bonta de' cavalieri antiqui! Eran rivali, eran di fe diversi; E si sentian, de gli aspri colpi iniqui, Per tutta la persona anco dolersi; E pur per selve oscure, e calle inqui Insieme van senza sospetto aversi. L'Orlando.

But the Jardines wald not with him ride.—P. 64. v. 2.

The Jardines were a clan of hardy west-border men. Their chief was Jardine of Applegirth. Their refusal to ride with Douglas was, probably, the result of one of those perpetual feuds, which usually rent to pieces a Scottish army.

And he that had a bonny boy, Sent out his horse to grass.—P. 67. v, 4.

Froissard describes a Scottish host, of the same period, as consisting of "IIII. M. men of armes, knightis, and squires, mounted on good horses; and other X.M. men of warre armed, after their gyse, right hardy and firse, mounted on lytle hackneys, the whiche were never tyed, nor kept at hard meat, but lette go to pasture in the fieldis and bushes."—Cronykle of Froissart, translated by Lord Berners, Chap. xvii.

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This ballad appears to have been composed about the reign of James V. It commemorates a transaction, supposed to have taken place betwixt a Scottish monarch, and an ancestor of the ancient family of Murray of Philiphaugh in Selkirkshire. The editor is unable to ascertain the historical foundation of the tale; nor is it probable that any light can be thrown upon the subject, without an accurate examination of the family charter chest. It is certain, that, during the civil wars betwixt Bruce and Baliol, the family of Philiphaugh existed, and was powerful; for their ancestor, Archibald de Moravia, subscribes the oath of fealty to Edward I.A.D. 1296. It is, therefore, not unlikely, that, residing in a wild and frontier country, they may have, at one period or other, during these commotions, refused allegiance to the feeble monarch of the day, and thus extorted from him some grant of territory or jurisdiction. It is also certain, that, by a charter from James IV., dated November 30, 1509, John Murray of Philiphaugh is vested with the dignity of heritable sheriff of Ettrick Forest, an office held by his descendants till the final abolition of such jurisdictions by 28th George II. cap. 23. But it seems difficult to believe that the circumstances, mentioned in the ballad, could occur under the reign of so vigorous a monarch as James IV. It is true, that the Dramatis Personae introduced seem to refer to the end of the fifteenth, or beginning of the sixteenth, century; but from this it can only be argued, that the author himself lived soon after that period. It may, therefore, be supposed (unless farther evidence can be produced, tending to invalidate the conclusion), that the bard, willing to pay his court to the family, has connected the grant of the sheriffship by James IV. with some further dispute betwixt the Murrays of Philiphaugh and their sovereign, occurring, either while they were engaged upon the side of Baliol, or in the subsequent reigns of David II. and Robert II. and III., when the English possessed great part of the Scottish frontier, and the rest was in so lawless a state as hardly to acknowledge any superior. At the same time, this reasoning is not absolutely conclusive. James IV. had particular reasons for desiring that Ettrick Forest, which actually formed part of the jointure lands of Margaret, his queen, should be kept in a state of tranquillity.—Rymer, Vol. XIII. p. 66. In order to accomplish this object, it was natural for him, according to the policy of his predecessors to invest one great family with the power of keeping order among the rest. It is even probable, that the Philiphaugh family may have had claims upon part of the lordship of Ettrick Forest, which lay intermingled with their own extensive possessions; and, in the course of arranging, not indeed the feudal superiority, but the property, of these lands, a dispute may have arisen, of sufficient importance to be the ground-work of a ballad.—It is farther probable, that the Murrays, like other border clans, were in a very lawless state, and held their lands merely by occupancy, without any feudal right. Indeed, the lands of the various proprietors in Ettrick Forest (being a royal demesne) were held by the possessors, not in property, but as the kindly tenants, or rentallers, of the crown; and it is only about 150 years since they obtained charters, striking the feu-duty of each proprietor, at the rate of the quit-rent, which he formerly paid. This state of possession naturally led to a confusion of rights and claims. The kings of Scotland were often reduced to the humiliating necessity of compromising such matters with their rebellious subjects, and James himself even entered into a sort of league with Johnie Faa, the king of the gypsies.—Perhaps, therefore, the tradition, handed down in this song, may have had more foundation than it would at present be proper positively to assert.

The merit of this beautiful old tale, it is thought, will be fully acknowledged. It has been, for ages, a popular song in Selkirkshire. The scene is, by the common people, supposed to have been the castle of Newark, upon Yarrow. This is highly improbable, because Newark was always a royal fortress. Indeed, the late excellent antiquarian Mr. Plummer, sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire, has assured the editor, that he remembered the insignia of the unicorns, &c. so often mentioned in the ballad, in existence upon the old tower at Hangingshaw, the seat of the Philiphaugh family; although, upon first perusing a copy of the ballad, he was inclined to subscribe to the popular opinion. The tower of Hangingshaw has been demolished for many years. It stood in a romantic and solitary situation, on the classical banks of the Yarrow. When the mountains around Hangingshaw were covered with the wild copse which constituted a Scottish forest, a more secure strong-hold for an outlawed baron can hardly be imagined.

The tradition of Ettrick Forest bears, that the Outlaw was a man of prodigious strength, possessing a batton or club, with which he laid lee (i.e. waste) the country for many miles round; and that he was at length slain by Buccleuch, or some of his clan, at a little mount, covered with fir-trees, adjoining to Newark castle, and said to have been a part of the garden. A varying tradition bears the place of his death to have been near to the house of the Duke of Buccleuch's game-keeper, beneath the castle; and, that the fatal arrow was shot by Scot of Haining, from the ruins of a cottage on the opposite side of the Yarrow. There was extant, within these twenty years, some verses of a song on his death. The feud betwixt the Outlaw and the Scotts may serve to explain the asperity, with which the chieftain of that clan is handled in the ballad.

In publishing the following ballad, the copy principally resorted to is one, apparently of considerable antiquity, which was found among the papers of the late Mrs. Cockburn, of Edinburgh, a lady whose memory will be long honoured by all who knew her. Another copy, much more imperfect, is to be found in Glenriddel's MSS. The names are in this last miserably mangled, as is always the case when ballads are taken down from the recitation of persons living at a distance from the scenes in which they are laid. Mr. Plummer also gave the editor a few additional verses, not contained in either copy, which are thrown into what seemed their proper place. There is yet another copy, in Mr. Herd's MSS., which has been occasionally made use of. Two verses are restored in the present edition, from the recitation of Mr. Mungo Park, whose toils, during his patient and intrepid travels in Africa, have not eradicated from his recollection the legendary lore of his native country.

The arms of the Philiphaugh family are said by tradition to allude to their outlawed state. They are indeed those of a huntsman, and are blazoned thus; Argent, a hunting horn sable, stringed and garnished gules, on a chief azure, three stars of the first. Crest, a Demi Forester, winding his horn, proper. Motto, Hinc usque superna venabor.

* * * * *


Ettricke Foreste is a feir foreste, In it grows manie a semelie trie; There's hart and hynd, and dae and rae, And of a' wilde beastes grete plentie.

There's a feir castelle, bigged wi' lyme and stane; O! gin it stands not pleasauntlie! In the forefront o' that castelle feir, Twa unicorns are bra' to see; There's the picture of a knight, and a ladye bright, And the grene hollin abune their brie.[106]

There an Outlaw keeps five hundred men; He keepis a royalle cumpanie!

His merryemen are a' in ae liverye clad, O' the Liukome grene saye gaye to see; He and his ladye in purple clad, O! gin they lived not royallie!

Word is gane to our nobil king, In Edinburgh, where that he lay, That there was an Outlaw in Ettricke Foreste, Counted him nought, nor a' his courtrie gay.

"I make a vowe," then the gude king said, Unto the man that deir bought me, "I'se either be king of Ettricke Foreste, Or king of Scotlonde that Outlaw sail be!"

Then spak the lord, hight Hamilton, And to the nobil king said he, "My sovereign prince, sum counsell take, First at your nobilis, syne at me.

"I redd ye, send yon braw Outlaw till, And see gif your man cum will he: Desyre him cum and be your man, And hald of you yon Foreste frie.

"Gif he refuses to do that, We'll conquess baith his landis and he! Or else, we'll throw his castell down, And make a widowe o' his gay ladye."

The king then call'd a gentleman, James Boyd, (the Earl of Arran his brother was he) When James he cam befor the king, He knelit befor him on his kne.

"Wellcum, James Boyd!" said our nobil king; "A message ye maun gang for me; Ye maun hye to Ettricke Foreste, To yon Outlaw, where bydeth he:

"Ask him of whom he haldis his landis, Or man, wha may his master be, And desyre him cum, and be my man, And hald of me yon Foreste frie.

"To Edinburgh to cum and gang, His safe warrant I sall gie; And gif he refuses to do that, We'll conquess baith his landis and he.

"Thou may'st vow I'll cast his castell down, And mak a widowe o' his gay ladye; I'll hang his merryemen, payr by payr, In ony frith where I may them see."

James Boyd tuik his leave o' the nobil king, To Ettricke Foreste feir cam he; Down Birkendale Brae when that he cam, He saw the feir Foreste wi' his e'e.

Baithe dae and rae, and hart and hinde, And of a' wilde beastis great plentie; He heard the bows that bauldly ring, And arrows whidderan' hym near bi.

Of that feir castell he got a sight; The like he neir saw wi' his e'e! On the fore front o' that castell feir, Twa unicorns were gaye to see; The picture of a knight, and a ladye bright, And the grene hollin abune their brie.

Thereat he spyed five hundred men, Shuting with bows on Newark Lee;

They were a' in ae livery clad, O' the Lincome grene sae gaye to see.

His men were a' clad in the grene, The knight was armed capapie, With a bended bow, on a milk-white steed; And I wot they ranked right bonilie.

Thereby Boyd kend he was master man, And serv'd him in his ain degre. "God mot thee save, brave Outlaw Murray! Thy ladye, and all thy chyvalrie!" "Marry, thou's wellcum, gentelman, Some king's messenger thou seemis to be."

"The king of Scotlonde sent me here, And, gude Outlaw, I am sent to thee; I wad wot of whom ye hald your landis, Or man, wha may thy master be?"

"Thir landis are MINE!" the Outlaw said; "I ken nae king in Christentie; Frae Soudron[107] I this Foreste wan, When the king nor his knightis were not to see."

"He desyres you'l cum to Edinburgh, And hauld of him this Foreste frie; And, gif ye refuse to do this, He'll conquess baith thy landis and thee. He hath vow'd to cast thy castell down, And mak a widowe o' thy gaye ladye;

"He'll hang thy merryemen, payr by payr, In ony frith where he may them finde." "Aye, by my troth!" the Outlaw said, "Than wald I think me far behinde.

"E'er the king my feir countrie get, This land that's nativest to me! Mony o' his nobilis sall be cauld, Their ladyes sall be right wearie."

Then spak his ladye, feir of face, She seyd, "Without consent of me, That an Outlaw suld cum befor a King; I am right rad[108] of treasonrie. Bid him be gude to his lordis at hame, For Edinburgh my lord sall nevir see."

James Boyd tuik his leave o' the Outlaw kene, To Edinburgh boun is he; When James he cam befor the king, He knelit lowlie on his kne.

"Wellcum, James Boyd!" seyd our nobil king; "What Foreste is Ettricke Foreste frie?" "Ettricke Foreste is the feirest foreste That evir man saw wi' his e'e.

"There's the dae, the rae, the hart, the hynde, And of a' wild beastis grete plentie; There's a pretty castell of lyme and stane; O gif it stands not pleasauntlie!

"There's in the forefront o' that castell, Twa unicorns, sae bra' to see; There's the picture of a knight, and a ladye bright, Wi' the grene hollin abune their brie.

"There the Outlaw keepis five hundred men; He keepis a royalle cumpanie! His merrymen in ae livery clad, O' the Linkome grene sae gaye to see:

"He and his ladye in purple clad; O! gin they live not royallie!

"He says, yon Foreste is his awin; He wan it frae the Southronie; Sae as he wan it, sae will he keep it, Contrair all kingis in Christentie."

"Gar warn me Perthshire, and Angus baith; Fife up and down, and the Louthians three, And graith my horse!" said the nobil king, "For to Ettricke Foreste hie will I me."

Then word is gane the Outlaw till, In Ettricke Foreste, where dwelleth he, That the king was cuming to his cuntrie, To conquess baith his landis and he.

"I mak a vow," the Outlaw said, "I mak a vow, and that trulie, Were there but three men to tak my pairt; Yon king's cuming full deir suld be!"

Then messengers he called forth, And bade them hie them speedilye— "Ane of ye gae to Halliday, The laird of the Corhead is he.

"He certain is my sister's son; Bid him cum quick and succour me! The king cums on for Ettricke Foreste, And landless men we a' will be."

"What news? What news?" said Halliday, "Man, frae thy master unto me?" "Not as ye wad; seeking your aide; The king's his mortal enemie."

"Aye, by my troth!" said Halliday, "Even for that it repenteth me; For gif he lose feir Ettricke Foreste, He'll tak feir Moffatdale frae me.

"I'll meet him wi' five hundred men, And surely mair, if mae may be; And before he gets the Foreste feir, We a' will die on Newark Lee!"

The Outlaw call'd a messenger, And bid him hie him speedilye, To Andrew Murray of Cockpool— "That man's a deir cousin to me; Desyre him cum, and mak me ayd, With a' the power that he may be."

"It stands me hard," Andrew Murray said, Judge gif it stands na hard wi' me; To enter against a king wi' crown, And set my landis in jeopardie! Yet, if I cum not on the day, Surely at night he sall me see."

To Sir James Murray of Traquair, A message cam right speedilye— "What news? What news?" James Murray said, "Man, frae thy master unto me?"

"What neids I tell? for weell ye ken, The king's his mortal enemie; And now he is cuming to Ettricke Foreste, And landless men ye a' will be."

"And, by my trothe," James Murray said, "Wi' that Outlaw will I live and die; The king has gifted my landis lang syne— It cannot be nae warse wi' me."

The king was cuming thro' Caddon Ford[109], And full five thousand men was he; They saw the derke Foreste them before, They thought it awsome for to see.

Then spak the lord, hight Hamilton, And to the nobil king said he, "My sovereign liege, sum council tak, First at your nobilis, syne at me.

"Desyre him mete thee at Permanscore, And bring four in his cumpanie; Five erles sall gang yoursell befor, Gude cause that you suld honour'd be.

"And, gif he refuses to do that, We'll conquess baith his landis and he; "There sall nevir a Murray, after him, Hald land in Ettricke Foreste frie."

Then spak the kene laird of Buckscleuth, A stalworthye man, and sterne was he— "For a king to gang an Outlaw till, Is beneath his state and his dignitie.

"The man that wons yon Foreste intill, He lives by reif and felonie! Wherefore, brayd on, my sovereign liege! Wi' fire and sword we'll follow thee; Or, gif your courtrie lords fa' back, Our borderers sall the onset gie."

Then out and spak the nobil king, And round him cast a wilie e'e— "Now haud thy tongue, Sir Walter Scott, Nor speik of reif nor felonie: For, had everye honeste man his awin kye, A right puir clan thy name wad be!"

The king then call'd a gentleman, Royal banner bearer there was he;

James Hop Pringle of Torsonse, by name; He cam and knelit upon his kne.

"Wellcum, James Pringle of Torsonse! A message ye maun gang for me; Ye maun gae to yon Outlaw Murray, Surely where bauldly bideth he.

"Bid him mete me at Permanscore, And bring four in his cumpanie; Five erles sall cum wi' mysell Gude reason I suld honour'd be.

"And, gif he refuses to do that, Bid him luke for nae good o' me! Ther sall nevir a Murray, after him, Have land in Ettricke Foreste frie."

James cam befor the Outlaw kene, And serv'd him in his ain degre— "Wellcum, James Pringle of Torsonse! What message frae the king to me?"

"He bidds ye mete him at Permanscore, And bring four in your cumpanie; Five erles sall gang himsell befor, Nae mair in number will he be.

"And, gif you refuse to do that, (I freely here upgive wi' thee) He'll cast yon bonny castle down, And mak a widowe o' that gaye ladye.

"He'll loose yon bluidhound borderers, Wi' fire and sword to follow thee; There will nevir a Murray, after thysell, Have land in Ettricke Foreste frie."

"It stands me hard," the Outlaw said; "Judge gif it stands na hard wi' me! Wha reck not losing of mysell, But a' my offspring after me.

"My merryemen's lives, my widowe's teirs— There lies the pang that pinches me! When I am straught in bluidie eard, Yon castell will be right dreirie.

"Auld Halliday, young Halliday, Ye sall be twa to gang wi' me; Andrew Murray, and Sir James Murray, We'll be nae mae in cumpanie."

When that they cam befor the king, They fell befor him on their kne— "Grant mercie, mercie, nobil king! E'en for his sake that dyed on trie."

"Sicken like mercie sall ye have; On gallows ye sall hangit be!" "Over God's forbode," quoth the Outlaw then, "I hope your grace will bettir be! Else, ere ye come to Edinburgh port, I trow thin guarded sall ye be:

"Thir landis of Ettricke Foreste feir, I wan them from the enemie; Like as I wan them, sae will I keep them, Contrair a' kingis in Christentie."

All the nobilis the king about, Said pitie it were to see him die— "Yet graunt me mercie, sovereign prince! Extend your favour unto me!

"I'll give thee the keys of my castell, Wi' the blessing o' my gaye ladye, Gin thoul't mak me sheriffe of this Foreste, And a' my offspring after me."

"Wilt thou give me the keys of thy castell, Wi' the blessing of thy gaye ladye? I'se mak thee sheriffe of Ettricke Foreste, Surely while upwards grows the trie; If you be not traitour to the king, Forfaulted sall thou nevir be."

"But, prince, what sall cum o' my men? When I gae back, traitour they'll ca' me. I had rather lose my life and land, E'er my merryemen rebuked me."

"Will your merryemen amend their lives? And a' their pardons I graunt thee— Now, name thy landis where'er they lie, And here I RENDER them to thee."

"Fair Philiphaugh is mine by right, And Lewinshope still mine shall be; Newark, Foulshiells, and Tinnies baith, My bow and arrow purchased me.

"And I have native steads to me, The Newark Lee and Hangingshaw; I have mony steads in the Foreste shaw, But them by name I dinna knaw."

The keys o' the castell he gave the king, Wi' the blessing o' his feir ladye; He was made sheriffe of Ettricke Foreste, Surely while upwards grows the trie; And if he was na traitour to the king, Forfaulted he suld nevir be.

Wha ever heard, in ony times, Sicken an Outlaw in his degre, Sick favour get befor a king, As did the OUTLAW MURRAY of the Foreste frie?

[Footnote 106: Brow.]

[Footnote 107: Southern, or English.]

[Footnote 108: Afraid.]

[Footnote 109: A ford on the Tweed, at the mouth of the Caddon Burn, near Yair.]


* * * * *

Then spak the Lord, hight Hamilton.—P. 86. v. 4.

This is, in most copies, the earl hight Hamilton, which must be a mistake of the reciters, as the family did not enjoy that title till 1503.

James Boyd (the Earl of Arran his brother), &c.—P. 87. v. 2.

Thomas Boyd, Earl of Arran, was forfeited, with his father and uncle, in 1469, for an attempt on the person of James III. He had a son, James, who was restored, and in favour with James IV. about 1482. If this be the person here meant, we should read "The Earl of Arran his son was he." Glenriddel's copy reads, "A highland laird I'm sure was he." Reciters sometimes call the messenger, the laird of Skene.

Down Birkendale Brae when that he cam.—P. 88, v. 2.

Birkendale Brae, now commonly called Birkendailly, is a steep descent on the south side of Minch-Moor, which separates Tweeddale from Ettrick Forest; and from the top of which you have the first view of the woods of Hangingshaw, the castle of Newark, and the romantic dale of Yarrow.

The laird of the Corehead, &c.—P. 93. v. 1.

This is a place at the head of Moffat-water, possessed of old by the family of Halliday.

To Andrew Murray of Cockpool.—P. 94. v. 1.

This family were ancestors of the Murrays, earls of Annandale; but the name of the representative, in the time of James IV. was William, not Andrew. Glenriddel's MS. reads, "the country-keeper."

To Sir James Murray of Traquair.—P. 94. v. 3.

Before the barony of Traquair became the property of the Stewarts, it belonged to a family of Murrays, afterwards Murrays of Black-barony, and ancestors of Lord Elibank. The old castle was situated on the Tweed. The lands of Traquair were forfeited by Willielmus de Moravia, previous to 1464; for, in that year, a charter, proceeding upon his forfeiture, was granted by the crown "Willielmo Douglas de Cluny." Sir James was, perhaps, the heir of William Murray. It would farther seem, that the grant in 1464 was not made effectual by Douglas; for, another charter from the crown, dated the 3d February, 1478, conveys the estate of Traquair to James Stewart, Earl of Buchan, son to the black knight of Lorne, and maternal uncle to James III., from whom is descended the present Earl of Traquair. The first royal grant not being followed by possession, it is very possible that the Murrays may have continued to occupy Traquair long after the date of that charter. Hence, Sir James might have reason to say, as in the ballad, "The king has gifted my lands lang syne."

James Hop Pringle of Torsonse.—P. 97. v. 1.

The honourable name of Pringle, or Hoppringle, is of great antiquity in Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire. The old tower of Torsonse is situated upon the banks of the Gala. I believe the Pringles of Torsonse are now represented by Sir James Pringle of Stitchell. There are three other ancient and distinguished families of this name; those of Whitebank, Clifton, and Torwoodlee.

He bids ye mete him at Permanscore.—P. 98. v. 1.

Permanscore is a hollow on the top of a high ridge of hills, dividing the vales of Tweed and Yarrow, a little to the east-ward of Minch-Moor. It is the outermost point of the lands of Broadmeadows. The Glenriddel MS., which, in this instance, is extremely inaccurate as to names, calls the place of rendezvous "The Poor Man's house," and hints, that the Outlaw was surprised by the treachery of the king:—

"Then he was aware of the king's coming, With hundreds three in company, I wot the muckle deel * * * * * He learned kings to lie! For to fetch me here frae amang my men, Here like a dog for to die."

I believe the reader will think, with me, that the catastrophe is better, as now printed from Mrs. Cockburn's copy. The deceit supposed to be practised on the Outlaw, is unworthy of the military monarch, as he is painted in the ballad; especially if we admit him to be King James IV.

Fair Philiphaugh is mine by right.—P. 101. v. 1.

In this and the following verse, the ceremony of feudal investiture is supposed to be gone through, by the Outlaw resigning his possessions into the hands of the king, and receiving them back, to be held of him as superior. The lands of Philiphaugh are still possessed by the Outlaw's representative. Hangingshaw and Lewinshope were sold of late years. Newark, Foulshiels and Tinnies, have long belonged to the family of Buccleuch.


* * * * *

There will be such frequent occasion, in the course of this volume, to mention the clan, or sept, of the Armstrongs, that the editor finds it necessary to prefix, to this ballad, some general account of that tribe.

The Armstrongs appear to have been, at an early period, in possession of great part of Liddesdale, and of the Debateable Land. Their immediate neighbourhood to England, rendered them the most lawless of the Border depredators; and, as much of the country possessed by them was claimed by both kingdoms, the inhabitants, protected from justice by the one nation, in opposition to the other, securely preyed upon both.[110] The chief was Armstrong of Mangertoun; but, at a later period, they are declared a broken clan, i.e. one which had no lawful head, to become surety for their good behaviour. The rapacity of this clan, and of their allies, the Elliots, occasioned the popular saying, "Elliots and Armstrongs ride thieves all."—But to what Border-family of note, in former days, would not such an adage have been equally applicable? All along the river Liddel may still be discovered the ruins of towers, possessed by this numerous clan. They did not, however, entirely trust to these fastnesses; but, when attacked by a superior force, abandoned entirely their dwellings, and retired into morasses, accessible by paths known to themselves alone. One of their most noted places of refuge was the Tarras Moss, a desolate and horrible marsh, through which a small river takes its course. Upon its banks are found some dry spots, which were occupied by these outlaws, and their families, in cases of emergency. The stream runs furiously among huge rocks, which has occasioned a popular saying—

Was ne'er are drown'd in Tarras, nor yet in doubt, For e'er the head can win down, the harns (brains) are out.

The morass itself is so deep, that, according to an old historian, two spears tied together would not reach the bottom. In this retreat, the Armstrongs, anno 1588, baffled the Earl of Angus, when lieutenant on the Border, although he reckoned himself so skilful in winding a thief, that he declared, "he had the same pleasure in it, as others in a hunting a hare." On this occasion he was totally unsuccessful, and nearly lost his relation, Douglas of Ively, whom the freebooters made prisoner.—Godscroft Vol. II. p. 411.

[Footnote 110: In illustration of this position, the reader is referred to a long correspondence betwixt Lord Dacre and the Privy Council of England, in 1550, concerning one Sandye Armstrang, a partizan of England, and an inhabitant of the Debateable Land, who had threatened to become a Scottishman, if he was not protected by the English warden against the Lord Maxwell.—See Introduction to Nicholson and Burn's History of Cumberland and Westmoreland.]

Upon another occasion the Armstrongs were less fortunate. They had, in one of their incursions, plundered the town of Haltwhistle, on the borders of Cumberland. Sir Robert Carey, warden of the west marches, demanded satisfaction from the king of Scotland, and received for answer, that the offenders were no subjects of his, and that he might take his own revenge. The English warden, accordingly entered Llddesdale, and ravaged the lands of the outlaws; on which occasion, Sim of the Cat-hill (an Armstrong) was killed by one of the Ridleys of Haltwhistle. This incident procured Haltwhistle another visit from the Armstrongs, in which they burnt great part of the town, but not without losing one of their leaders, by a shot from a window.

"The death of this young man (says Sir Robert Carey) wrote (wrought) so deep an impression upon them (the outlaws), as many vowes were made, that, before the end of next winter, they would lay the whole Border waste. This (the murder) was done about the end of May (1598). The chiefe of all these outlaws was old Sim of Whittram.[111] He had five or six sonnes, as able men as the Borders had. This old man and his sonnes had not so few as two hundred at their commands, that were ever ready to ride with them to all actions, at their beck.

[Footnote 111: Whittram is a place in Liddesdale. It is mistaken by the noble editor for Whithern, in Galloway, as is Hartwesel (Haltwhistle, on the borders of Cumberland) for Twisel, a village on the English side of the Tweed, near Wark.]

The high parts of the marsh (march) towards Scotland were put in a mighty fear, and the chiefe of them, for themselves and the rest, petitioned to mee, and did assure mee, that, unless I did take some course with them, by the end of that summer, there was none of the inhabitants durst, or would, stay in their dwellings the next winter, but they would fley the countrey, and leave their houses and lands to the fury of the outlawes. Upon this complaint, I called the gentlemen of the countrey together, and acquainted them with the misery that the highest parts of the marsh towards Scotland were likely to endure, if there were not timely prevention to avoid it, and desired them to give mee their best advice what course were fitt to be taken. They all showed themselves willing to give mee their best counsailles, and most of them were of opinion, that I was not well advised to refuse the hundred horse that my Lord Euers had; and that now my best way was speedily to acquaint the quene and counsaile with the necessity of having more soldiers, and that there could not be less than a hundred horse sent downe for the defence of the countrey, besides the forty I had already in pay, and that there was nothing but force of soldiers could keep them in awe: and to let the counsaile plainly understand, that the marsh, of themselves, were not able to subsist, whenever the winter and long nights came in, unlesse present cure and remedy were provided for them. I desired them to advise better of it, and to see if they could find out any other meanes to prevent their mischievous intentions, without putting the quene and countrey to any further charge. They all resolved that there was no second meanes. Then I told them my intention what I meant to do, which was, that myselfe, with my two deputies, and the forty horse that I was allowed, would, with what speede wee could, make ourselves ready to go up to the Wastes, and there wee would entrench ourselves, and lye as near as wee could to the outlawes; and, if there were any brave spirits among them, that would go with us, they should be very wellcome, and fare and lye as well as myselfe: and I did not doubte before the summer ended, to do something that should abate the pride of these outlawes. Those, that were unwilling to hazard themselves, liked not this motion. They said, that, in so doing, I might keep the countrey quiet the time I lay there; but, when the winter approached, I could stay there no longer, and that was the theeves' time to do all their mischiefe. But there were divers young gentlemen, that offered to go with mee, some with three, some with four horses, and to stay with mee as long as I would there continue. I took a list of those that offered to go with mee, and found, that, with myself, my officers, the gentlemen, and our servants, wee should be about two hundred good men and horse; a competent number, as I thought, for such a service.

The day and place was appointed for our meeting in the Wastes, and, by the help of the foot of Liddisdale[112] and Risdale, wee had soone built a pretty fort, and within it wee had all cabines made to lye in, and every one brought beds or matresses to lye on. There wee stayed, from the middest of June, till almost the end of August. We were betweene fifty and sixty gentlemen, besides their servants and my horsemen; so that wee were not so few as two hundred horse. Wee wanted no provisions for ourselves nor our horses, for the countrey people were well payed for any thing they brought us; so that wee had a good market every day, before our fort, to buy what we lacked. The chiefe outlawes, at our coming, fled their houses where they dwelt, and betooke themselves to a large and great forest (with all their goodes), which was called the Tarras. It was of that strength, and so surrounded with bogges and marish grounds, and thicke bushes and shrubbes, as they feared not the force nor power of England nor Scotland, so long as they were there. They sent me word, that I was like the first puffe of a haggasse,[113] hottest at the first, and bade me stay there as long as the weather would give me leave. They would stay in the Tarras Wood till I was weary of lying in the Waste; and when I had had my time, and they no whit the worse, they would play their parts, which should keep mee waking the next winter. Those gentlemen of the countrey that came not with mee, were of the same minde; for they knew (or thought at least), that my force was not sufficient to withstand the furey of the outlawes. The time I stayed at the fort I was not idle, but cast, by all meanes I could, how to take them in the great strength they were in. I found a meanes to send a hundred and fifty horsemen into Scotland (conveighed by a muffled man,[114] not known to any of the company), thirty miles within Scotland, and the businesse was carried so, that none in the countrey tooke any alarm at this passage. They were quietly brought to the back-side of the Tarras, to Scotland-ward. There they divided themselves into three parts, and tooke up three passages which the outlawes made themselves secure of, if from England side they should at any time be put at.

[Footnote 112: The foot of Liddisdale were the garrison of King James, in the castle of Hermitage, who assisted Carey on this occasion, as the Armstrongs were outlaws to both nations.]

[Footnote 113: A haggis, (according to Burns, "the chieftain of the pudding-race,") is an olio, composed of the liver, heart, &c. of a sheep, minced down with oatmeal, onions, and spices, and boiled in the stomach of the animal, by way of bag. When the bag is cut, the contents, (if this savoury dish be well made) should spout out with the heated air. This will explain the allusion.]

[Footnote 114: A Muffled Man means a person in disguise; a very necessary precaution for the guide's safety; for, could the outlaws have learned who played them this trick, beyond all doubt it must have cost him dear.]

They had their scoutes on the tops of hills, on the English side, to give them warning if at any time any power of men should come to surprise them. The three ambushes were safely laid, without being discovered, and, about four o'clock in the morning, there were three hundred horse, and a thousand foote,[115] that came directly to the place where the scoutes lay. They gave the alarm; our men brake down as fast as they could into the wood. The outlawes thought themselves safe, assuring themselves at any time to escape; but they were so strongly set upon, on the English side, as they were forced to leave their goodes, and betake themselves to their passages towards Scotland. There was presently five taken of the principall of them. The rest, seeing themselves, as they thought, betrayed, retired into the thicke woodes and bogges,[116] that our men durst not follow them for fear of loosing themselves. The principall of the five, that were taken, were two of the eldest sonnes of Sim of Whitram. These five they brought to mee to the fort, and a number of goodes, both of sheep and kine, which satisfied most part of the countrey, that they had stolen them from.

[Footnote 115: From this it would appear, that Carey, although his constant attendants in his fort consisted only of 200 horse, had, upon this occasion by the assistance, probably, of the English and Scottish royal garrisons, collected a much greater force.]

[Footnote 116: There are now no trees in Liddesdale, except on the banks of the rivers, where they are protected from the sheep. But the stumps and fallen timber, which are every where found in the morasses, attest how well the country must have been wooded in former days.]

"The five, that were taken, were of great worth and value amongst them; insomuch, that, for their liberty, I should have what conditions I should demand or desire. First, all English prisoners were set at liberty. Then had I themselves, and most part of the gentlemen of the Scottish side, so strictly bound in bondes to enter to mee, in fifteen dayes warning, any offendour, that they durst not, for their lives, break any covenant that I made with them; and so, upon these conditions, I set them at liberty, and was never after troubled with these kind of people. Thus God blessed me in bringing this great trouble to so quiet an end; wee brake up our fort, and every man retired to his owne house."—Carey's Memoirs, p. 151.

The people of Liddesdale have retained, by tradition, the remembrance of Carey's Raid, as they call it. They tell, that, while he was besieging the outlaws in the Tarras they contrived, by ways known only to themselves, to send a party into England, who plundered the warden's lands. On their return, they sent Carey one of his own cows, telling him, that, fearing he might fall short of provision during his visit to Scotland, they had taken the precaution of sending him some English beef. The anecdote is too characteristic to be suppressed.

From this narrative, the power and strength of the Armstrongs, at this late period, appear to have been very considerable. Even upon the death of Queen Elizabeth, this clan, associated with other banditti of the west marches to the number of two or three hundred horse, entered England in a hostile manner, and extended their ravages as far as Penrith. James VI., then at Berwick, upon his journey to his new capital, detached a large force, under Sir William Selby, captain of Berwick, to bring these depredators to order. Their raid, remarkable for being the last of any note occurring in history, was avenged in an exemplary manner. Most of the strong-holds upon the Liddel were razed to the foundation, and several of the principal leaders executed at Carlisle; after which we find little mention of the Armstrongs in history. The precautions, adopted by the Earl of Dunbar, to preserve peace on the borders, bore peculiarly hard upon a body of men, long accustomed to the most ungoverned licence. They appear, in a great measure, to have fallen victims to the strictness of the new enactments.—Ridpath, p. 703.—Stow, 819.—Laing, Vol. I. The lands, possessed by them in former days, have chiefly come into the hands of the Buccleuch family, and of the Elliots; so that, with one or two exceptions, we may say, that, in the country which this warlike clan once occupied, there is hardly left a land-holder of the name. One of the last border reivers was, however, of this family, and lived within the beginning of the last century. After having made himself dreaded over the whole country, he at last came to the following end: One—, a man of large property, having lost twelve cows in one night, raised the country of Tiviotdale, and traced the robbers into Liddesdale, as far as the house of this Armstrong, commonly called Willie of Westburnflat, from the place of his residence, on the banks of the Hermitage water. Fortunately for the pursuers he was then asleep; so that he was secured, along with nine of his friends, without much resistance. He was brought to trial at Selkirk; and, although no precise evidence was adduced to convict him of the special fact (the cattle never having been recovered), yet the jury brought him in guilty on his general character, or, as it is called in our law, on habite and repute. When sentence was pronounced, Willie arose; and, seizing the oaken chair in which he was placed, broke it into pieces by main strength, and offered to his companions, who were involved in the same doom, that, if they would stand behind him, he would fight his way out of Selkirk with these weapons. But they held his hands, and besought him to let them die like Christians. They were accordingly executed in form of law. This was the last trial at Selkirk. The people of Liddesdale, who (perhaps not erroneously) still consider the sentence as iniquitous, remarked, that—, the prosecutor, never throve afterwards, but came to beggary and ruin, with his whole family.

Johnie Armstrong, of Gilnockie, the hero of the following ballad, is a noted personage, both in history and tradition. He was, it would seem from the ballad, a brother of the laird of Mangertoun, chief of the name. His place of residence (now a roofless tower) was at the Hollows, a few miles from Langholm, where its ruins still serve to adorn a scene, which, in natural beauty, has few equals in Scotland. At the head of a desperate band of freebooters, this Armstrong is said to have spread the terror of his name almost as far as Newcastle, and to have levied black mail, or protection and forbearance money, for many miles around. James V., of whom it was long remembered by his grateful people, that he made the "rush-bush keep the cow," about 1529, undertook an expedition through the border counties, to suppress the turbulent spirit of the marchmen. But, before setting out upon his journey, he took the precaution of imprisoning the different border chieftains, who were the chief protectors of the marauders. The Earl of Bothwell was forfeited, and confined in Edinburgh castle. The lords of Home and Maxwell, the lairds of Buccleuch, Fairniherst, and Johnston, with many others, were also committed to ward. Cockburn of Henderland, and Adam Scott of Tushielaw, called the King of the Border, were publicly executed.—Lesley, p. 430. The king then marched rapidly forward, at the head of a flying army of ten thousand men, through Ettrick Forest, and Ewsdale. The evil genius of our Johnie Armstrong, or, as others say, the private advice of some courtiers, prompted him to present himself before James, at the head of thirty-six horse, arrayed in all the pomp of border chivalry, Pitscottie uses nearly the words of the ballad, in describing the splendour of his equipment, and his high expectations of favour from the king. "But James, looking upon him sternly, said to his attendants, 'What wants that knave that a king should have?' and ordered him and his followers to instant execution."—"But John Armstrong," continues this minute historian, "made great offers to the king. That he should sustain himself, with forty gentlemen, ever ready at his service, on their own cost, without wronging any Scottishman: Secondly, that there was not a subject in England, duke, earl, or baron, but, within a certain day, he should bring him to his majesty, either quick or dead.[117] At length he, seeing no hope of favour, said very proudly, 'It is folly to seek grace at a graceless face; but,' said he, 'had I known this, I should have lived upon the borders in despite of King Harry and you both; for I know King Harry would down-weigh my best horse with gold, to know that I were condemned to die this day.'—Pitscottie's History, p. 145. Johnie, with all his retinue, was accordingly hanged upon growing trees, at a place called Carlenrig chapel, about ten miles above Hawick, on the high road to Langholm. The country people believe, that, to manifest the injustice of the execution, the trees withered away. Armstrong and his followers were buried in a deserted church-yard, where their graves are still shewn.

[Footnote 117: The borderers, from their habits of life, were capable of most extraordinary exploits of this nature. In the year 1511, Sir Robert Ker of Cessford, warden of the middle marches of Scotland, was murdered at a border-meeting, by the bastard Heron, Starhead, and Lilburn. The English monarch delivered up Lilburn to justice in Scotland, but Heron and Starhead escaped. The latter chose his residence in the very centre of England, to baffle the vengeance of Ker's clan and followers. Two dependants of the deceased, called Tait, were deputed by Andrew Ker of Cessford to revenge his father's murder. They travelled through England in various disguises till they discovered the place of Starhead's retreat, murdered him in his bed, and brought his head in triumph to Edinburgh, where Ker caused it to be exposed at the cross. The bastard Heron would have shared the same fate, had he not spread abroad a report of his having died of the plague, and caused his funeral obsequies to be performed.—Ridpath's History, p. 481.—See also Metrical Account of the Battle of Flodden, published by the Rev. Mr. Lambe.]

As this border hero was a person of great note in his way, he is frequently alluded to by the writers of the time. Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, in the curious play published by Mr. Pinkerton, from the Bannatyne MS., introduces a pardoner, or knavish dealer in reliques, who produces, among his holy rarities—

—The cordis, baith grit and lang, Quhilt hangit Johnnie Armistrang, Of gude hempt, soft and sound, Gude haly pepill, I stand ford, Wha'evir beis hangit in this cord, Neidis nevir to be drowned!

Pinkerton's Scottish Poems, Vol. II. p. 69.

In The Complaynt of Scotland, John Armistrangis's dance, mentioned as a popular tune, has probably some reference to our hero.

The common people of the high parts of Tiviotdale, Liddesdale, and the country adjacent, hold the memory of Johnie Armstrong in very high respect. They affirm also, that one of his attendants broke through the king's guard, and carried to Gilnockie Tower the news of the bloody catastrophe.

This song was first published by Allan Ramsay, in his Evergreen, who says, he copied it from the mouth of a gentleman, called Armstrong, who was in the sixth generation from this John. The reciter assured him, that this was the genuine old ballad; the common one false. By the common one, Ramsay means an English ballad upon the same subject, but differing in various particulars, which is published in Mr. Ritson's English Songs, Vol. II. It is fortunate for the admirers of the old ballad, that it did not fall into Ramsay's hands, when he was equipping with new sets of words the old Scottish tunes in his Tea-Table Miscellany. Since his time it has been often reprinted.


* * * * *

Sum speikis of lords, sum speikis of lairds, And sick lyke men of hie degrie; Of a gentleman I sing a sang, Sum tyme called laird of Gilnockie.

The king he wrytes a luving letter, With his ain hand sae tenderly, And he hath sent it to Johnie Armstrang, To cum and speik with him speedily.

The Eliots and Armstrangs did convene; They were a gallant cumpanie— "We'll ride and meit our lawful king, And bring him safe to Gilnockie."

"Make kinnen[118] and capon ready then, And venison in great plentie; We'll wellcum here our royal king; I hope he'll dine at Gilnockie!"

They ran their horse on the Langhome howm, And brak their speirs wi' mickle main; The ladies lukit frae their loft windows— "God bring our men weel back agen!"

When Johnie cam before the king, Wi' a' his men sae brave to see, The king he movit his bonnet to him; He ween'd he was a king as well as he.

"May I find grace, my sovereign liege, Grace for my loyal men and me? For my name it is Johnie Armstrang, And subject of your's, my liege," said he.

"Away, away, thou traitor strang! Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be! I grantit nevir a traitor's life, And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king! "And a bonny gift I'll gie to thee— "Full four and twenty milk-white steids, "Were a' foaled in ae yeir to me.

"I'll gie thee a' these milk-white steids, "That prance and nicker[119] at a speir; "And as mickle gude Inglish gilt[120], "As four of their braid backs dow[121] bear."

"Away, away, thou traitor strang! "Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be! "I grantit never a traitor's life, "And now I'll not begin wi' thee!"

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king! "And a bonny gift I'll gie to thee— "Gude four and twenty ganging[122] mills, "That gang thro' a' the yeir to me.

"These four and twenty mills complete, "Sall gang for thee thro' a' the yeir; "And as mickle of gude reid wheit, "As a' their happers dow to bear."

"Away, away, thou traitor strang! "Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be! "I grantit nevir a traitor's life, "And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king! "And a great gift I'll gie to thee— "Bauld four and twenty sister's sons, "Sall for thee fecht, tho' a' should flee!"

"Away, away, thou traitor strang! "Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be! "I grantit nevir a traitor's life, "And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Grant me my life, my liege, my king! "And a brave gift I'll gie to thee— "All between heir and Newcastle town "Sall pay their yeirly rent to thee."

"Away, away, thou traitor strang! "Out o' my sight soon may'st thou be! "I grantit nevir a traitor's life, "And now I'll not begin wi' thee."

"Ye lied[123], ye lied, now king," he says. "Altho' a king and prince ye be! For I've luved naething in my life, "I weel dare say it, but honesty—

"Save a fat horse," and a fair woman, "Twa bonny dogs to kill a deir; "But England suld have found me meal and mault, "Gif I had lived this hundred yeir!

"Sche suld have found me meal and mault, "And beif and mutton in a' plentie; "But nevir a Scots wyfe could have said, "That e'er I skaithed her a pure flee.

"To seik het water beneith cauld ice, "Surely it is a greit folie— "I have asked grace at a graceless face, "But there is mine for my men and me!

"But, had I kenn'd ere I cam frae hame, "How thou unkind wadst been to me! "I wad have keepit the border side, "In spite of al thy force and thee.

"Wist England's king that I was ta'en, "O gin a blythe man he wad be! "For anes I slew his sister's son, "And on his breist bane brake a trie."

John wore a girdle about his middle, Imbroidered ower wi' burning gold, Bespangled wi' the same metal; Maist beautiful was to behold.

There hang nine targats[124] at Johnie's hat, And ilk are worth three hundred pound— "What wants that knave that a king suld have, But the sword of honour and the crown!

"O whair got thou these targats, Johnie, "That blink[125] sae brawly abune thy brie?" "I gat them in the field fechting, "Where, cruel king, thou durst not be.

"Had I my horse, and harness gude, "And riding as I wont to be, "It suld have been tald this hundred yeir, "The meeting of my king and me!

"God be with thee, Kirsty,[126] my brother! "Lang live thou laird of Mangertoun! "Lang may'st thou live on the border syde, "Ere thou see thy brother ride up and down!

"And God be with thee, Kirsty, my son, "Where thou sits on thy nurse's knee! "But and thou live this hundred yeir, "Thy father's better thou'lt nevir be.

"Farewell! my bonny Gilnock hall, "Where on Esk side thou stand est stout! "Gif I had lived but seven yeirs mair, "I wad hae gilt thee round about."

John murdered was at Carlinrigg, And all his gallant cumpanie; But Scotland's heart was ne'er sae wae, To see sae mony brave men die—

Because they saved their countrey deir, Frae Englishmen! Nane were sae bauld, Whyle Johnie lived on the border syde, Nane of them durst cum neir his hauld.

[Footnote 118: Kinnen—Rabbits.]

[Footnote 119: Nicker—Neigh.]

[Footnote 120: Gilt—Gold.]

[Footnote 121: Dow—Able to.]

[Footnote 122: Ganging—Going.]

[Footnote 123: Lied—Lye.]

[Footnote 124: Targats—Tassels.]

[Footnote 125: Blink sae brawly—Glance so bravely.]

[Footnote 126: Christopher.]


* * * * *

The editor believes, his readers will not be displeased to see a Bond of Manrent, granted by this border freebooter to the Scottish warden of the west marches, in return for the gift of a feudal casualty of certain lauds particularized. It is extracted from Syme's Collection of Old Writings, MS. penes Dr. Robert Anderson, of Edinburgh.


Be it kend till all men, be thir present letters, me, Johne Armistrang, for to be bound and oblist, and be the tenor of thir present letters, and faith and trewth in my body, lelie and trewlie, bindis and oblissis me and myn airis, to are nobil and michtie lord, Robert Lord Maxwell, wardane of the west marches of Scotland, that, forasmikle as my said lord has given and grantit to me, and mine airis perpetuallie, the nonentries of all and hail the landis underwritten, that is to say, the landis of Dalbetht, Shield, Dalblane, Stapil-Gortown, Langholme, and—with their pertindis, lyand in the lordship of Eskdale, as his gift, maid to me, therupon beris in the self: and that for all the tyme of the nonentres of the samyn. Theirfor, I, the said Johne Armistrang, bindis and oblissis me and myne airis, in manrent and service to the said Robert Lord Maxwell, and his airis, for evermair, first and befor all uthirs, myne allegiance to our soverane lord, the king, allanerly except; and to be trewe, gude, and lele servant to my said lord, and be ready to do him service, baith in pece and weir, with all my kyn, friends, and servants, that I may and dowe to raise, and be and to my said lord's airis for evermair. And sall tak his true and plane part in all maner of actions at myn outer power, and sall nouther wit, hear, nor se my said lordis skaith, lak, nor dishonestie, but we sall stop and lett the samyn, and geif we dowe not lett the samyn, we sall warn him thereof in all possible haist; and geif it happenis me, the said Johne Armistrang, or myne airis, to fail in our said service and manrent, any maner of way, to our said lord (as God forbid we do), than, and in that caiss, the gift and nonentres maid be him to us, of the said landis of Dalbetht, Schield, Dalblane, Stapil-Gortown, Langholme, and—with the pertinentis to be of no avale, force, nor effect; but the said lord and his airis to have free regress and ingress to the nonentres of the samyn, but ony pley or impediment. To the keeping and fulfilling of all and sundry the premisses, in form above writtin, I bind and obliss me and my airis foresaids, to the said lord and his airis for evermare, be the faithis treuthis in our bodies, but fraud or gile. In witness of the whilk thing, to thir letters of manrent subscrievit, with my hand at the pen, my sele is hangin, at Drumfries, the secund day of November, the yeir of God, Jaiv and XXV. yeiris.

JOHNE ARMISTRANG, with my hand at the pen.

The lands, here mentioned, were the possessions of Armstrong himself, the investitures of which not having been regularly renewed, the feudal casualty of non-entry had been incurred by the vassal. The brother of Johnie Armstrang is said to have founded, or rather repaired, Langholm castle, before which, as mentioned in the ballad, verse 5th, they "ran their horse," and "brake their spears," in the exercise of border chivalry.—Account of the Parish of Langholm, apud Macfarlane's MSS. The lands of Langholm and Staplegorton continued in Armstrong's family; for there is, in the same MS. collection, a similar bond of manrent, granted by "Christofer Armistrang, calit Johne's Pope," on 24th January, 1557, to Lord Johne Lord Maxwell, and to Sir Johne Maxwell of Terreglis, knight, his tutor and governor, in return for the gift of "the males of all and haill the landis whilk are conteint in ane bond made by umquhile Johne Armistrang, my father, to umquhile Robert, Lord Maxwell, gudshore to the said Johne, now Lord Maxwell." It would therefore appear, that the bond of manrent, granted by John Armstrong, had been the price of his release from the feudal penalty arising from his having neglected to procure a regular investiture from his superior. As Johnie only touched the pen, it appears that he could not write.

Christopher Armstrong, above-mentioned, is the person alluded to in the conclusion of the ballad—"God be with thee, Kirsty, my son." He was the father, or grandfather, of William Armstrong, called Christie's Will, a renowned freebooter, some of whose exploits the reader will find recorded in the third volume of this work.



* * * * *

The castle of Lochmaben was formerly a noble building, situated upon a peninsula, projecting into one of the four lakes which are in the neighbourhood of the royal burgh, and is said to have been the residence of Robert Bruce, while lord of Annandale. Accordingly, it was always held to be a royal fortress, the keeping of which, according to the custom of the times, was granted to some powerful lord, with an allotment of lands and fishings, for the defence and maintenance of the place. There is extant a grant, dated 16th March, 1511, to Robert Lauder of the Bass, of the office of captain and keeper of Lochmaben castle, for seven years, with many perquisites. Among others, the "land, stolen frae the king," is bestowed upon the captain, as his proper lands.—What shall we say of a country, where the very ground was the subject of theft?

* * * * *

O heard ye na o' the silly blind Harper, How lang he lived in Lochmaben town? And how he wad gang to fair England, To steal the Lord Warden's Wanton Brown!

But first he gaed to his gude wyfe, Wi' a' the haste that he could thole— "This wark," quo' he, "will ne'er gae weel, Without a mare that has a foal."

Quo' she—"Thou hast a gude gray mare, That can baith lance o'er laigh and hie; Sae set thee on the gray mare's back, And leave the foal at hame wi' me."

So he is up to England gane, And even as fast as he may drie; And when he cam to Carlisle gate, O whae was there but the Warden, he?

"Come into my hall, thou silly blind Harper, And of thy harping let me hear!" "O by my sooth," quo' the silly blind Harper, I wad rather hae stabling for my mare."

The Warden look'd ower his left shoulder, And said unto his stable groom— "Gae take the silly blind Harper's mare, And tie her beside my Wanton Brown."

Then aye he harped, and aye he carped[127], Till a' the lordlings footed the floor; But an' the music was sae sweet, The groom had nae mind of the stable door.

And aye he harped, and aye he carped, Till a' the nobles were fast asleep; Then quickly he took aff his shoon, And saftly down the stair did creep.

Syne to the stable door he hied, Wi' tread as light as light could be; And when he opened and gaed in, There he fand thirty steeds and three.

He took a cowt halter[128] frae his hose, And o' his purpose he did na fail; He slipt it ower the Wanton's nose, And tied it to his gray mare's tail.

He turned them loose at the castle gate, Ower muir and moss and ilka dale; And she ne'er let the Wanton bait, But kept him a-galloping hame to her foal.

The mare she was right swift o' foot, She did na fail to find the way; For she was at Lochmaben gate, A lang three hours before the day.

When she cam to the Harper's door, There she gave mony a nicker and sneer—[129] "Rise up," quo' the wife, "thou lazy lass; Let in thy master and his mare."

Then up she rose, put on her clothes, And keekit through at the lock-hole— "O! by my sooth," then cried the lass, Our mare has gotten a braw brown foal!"

"Come, haud thy tongue, thou silly wench! The morn's but glancing in your e'e."— I'll[130] wad my hail fee against a groat, He's bigger than e'er our foal will be."

Now all this while, in merry Carlisle, The Harper harped to hie and law; And the[131] fiend thing dought they do but listen him to, Until that the day began to daw.

But on the morn, at fair day light, When they had ended a' their cheer, Behold the Wanton Brown was gane, And eke the poor blind Harper's mare!

"Allace! allace!" quo' the cunning auld Harper, "And ever allace that I cam here! In Scotland I lost a braw cowt foal, In England they've stown my gude gray mare!"

"Come! cease thy allacing, thou silly blind Harper, And again of thy harping let us hear; And weel payd sall thy cowt-foal be, And thou sall have a far better mare."

Then aye he harped, and aye he carped; Sae sweet were the harpings he let them hear! He was paid for the foal he had never lost, And three times ower for the gude GRAY MARE.

[Footnote 127: Carped—Sung.]

[Footnote 128: Cowt halter—Colt's halter.]

[Footnote 129: Nicker and sneer—Neigh and snort.]

[Footnote 130: Wad my hail fee—Bet my whole wages.]

[Footnote 131: Fiend thing dought—Nothing could they do.]


* * * * *

The only remark which offers itself on the foregoing ballad seems to be, that it is the most modern in which the harp, as a border instrument of music, is found to occur.

I cannot dismiss the subject of Lochmaben, without noticing an extraordinary and anomalous class of landed proprietors, who dwell in the neighbourhood of that burgh. These are the inhabitants of four small villages, near the ancient castle, called the Four Towns of Lochmaben. They themselves are termed the King's Rentallers, or kindly tenants; under which denomination each of them has a right, of an allodial nature, to a small piece of ground. It is said, that these people are the descendants of Robert Bruce's menials, to whom he assigned, in reward of their faithful service, these portions of land, burdened only with the payment of certain quit-rents, and grassums or fines, upon the entry of a new tenant. The right of the rentallers is, in essence, a right of property, but, in form, only a right of lease; of which they appeal for the foundation on the rent-rolls of the lord of the castle and manor. This possession, by rental, or by simple entry upon the rent-roll, was anciently a common, and peculiarly sacred, species of property, granted by a chief to his faithful followers; the connection of landlord and tenant being esteemed of a nature too formal to be necessary, where there was honour upon one side, and gratitude upon the other. But, in the case of subjects granting a right of this kind, it was held to expire with the life of the granter, unless his heir chose to renew it; and also upon the death of the rentaller himself, unless especially granted to his heirs, by which term only his first heir was understood. Hence, in modern days, the kindly tenants have entirely disappeared from the land. Fortunately for the inhabitants of the Four Towns of Lochmaben, the maxim, that the king can never die, prevents their right of property from reverting to the crown. The viscount of Stormonth, as royal keeper of the castle, did, indeed, about the beginning of last century, make an attempt to remove the rentallers from their possessions, or at least to procure judgment, finding them obliged to take out feudal investitures, and subject themselves to the casualties thereto annexed. But the rentallers united in their common defence; and, having stated their immemorial possession, together with some favourable clauses in certain old acts of parliament, enacting, that the king's poor kindly tenants of Lochmaben should not be hurt, they finally prevailed in an action before the Court of Session. From the peculiar state of their right of property, it follows, that there is no occasion for feudal investitures, or the formal entry of an heir; and, of course, when they chuse to convey their lands, it is done by a simple deed of conveyance, without charter or sasine.

The kindly tenants of Lochmaben live (or at least lived till lately) much sequestered from their neighbours, marry among themselves, and are distinguished from each other by soubriquets, according to the ancient border custom, repeatedly noticed You meet, among their writings, with such names as John Out-bye, Will In-bye, White-fish, Red-fish, &c. They are tenaciously obstinate in defence of their privileges of commonty, &c. which are numerous. Their lands are, in general, neatly inclosed, and well cultivated, and they form a contented and industrious little community.

Many of these particulars are extracted from the MSS. of Mr. Syme, writer to the signet. Those, who are desirous of more information, may consult Craig de Feudis, Lib. II. dig. 9. sec. 24. It is hoped the reader will excuse this digression, though somewhat professional; especially as there can be little doubt, that this diminutive republic must soon share the fate of mightier states; for, in consequence of the increase of commerce, lands possessed under this singular tenure, being now often brought to sale, and purchased by the neighbouring proprietors, will, in process of time, be included in their investitures, and the right of rentallage be entirely forgotten.


* * * * *

There is another ballad, under the same title as the following, in which nearly the same incidents are narrated, with little difference, except that the honour of rescuing the cattle is attributed to the Liddesdale Elliots, headed by a chief, there called Martin Elliot of the Preakin Tower, whose son, Simon, is said to have fallen in the action. It is very possible, that both the Tiviotdale Scotts, and the Elliots were engaged in the affair, and that each claimed the honour of the victory.

The editor presumes, that the Willie Scott, here mentioned must have been a natural son of the laird of Buccleuch.

* * * * *

It fell about the Martinmas tyde, When our border steeds get corn and hay, The captain, of Bewcastle hath bound him to ryde, And he's ower to Tividale to drive a prey.

The first ae guide that they met wi', It was high up in Hardhaughswire; The second guide that they met wi', It was laigh down in Borthwick water.

"What tidings, what tidings, my trusty guide?" "Nae tidings, nae tidings, I hae to thee; But, gin ye'll gae to the fair Dodhead, Mony a cow's cauf I'll let thee see."

And whan they cam to the fair Dodhead, Right hastily they clam the peel; They loosed the kye out, are and a', And ranshackled[132] the house right weel.

Now Jamie Telfer's heart was sair, The tear aye rowing in his e'e; He pled wi' the captain to hae his gear, Or else revenged he wad be.

The captain turned him round, and leugh; Said—"Man, there's naething in thy house, But ae auld sword without a sheath, That hardly now wad fell a mouse!"

The sun was na up, but the moon was down, It was the gryming[133] of a new fa'n snaw, Jamie Telfer has run ten myles a-foot, Between the Dodhead and the Stobs's Ha'.

And whan he cam to the fair tower yate, He shouted loud, and cried weel hie, Till out bespak auld Gibby Elliot— "Whae's this that brings the fraye to me?"

"Its I, Jamie Telfer o' the fair Dodhead, And a harried man I think I be! There's naething left at the fair Dodhead, But a waefu' wife and bairnies three."

"Gar seek your succour at Branksome Ha', For succour ye'se get nane frae me! Gae seek your succour where ye paid black mail, For, man! ye ne'er paid money to me."

Jamie has turned him round about, I wat the tear blinded his e'e— "I'll ne'er pay mail to Elliot again, And the fair Dodhead I'll never see!

"My hounds may a' rin masterless, My hawks may fly frae tree to tree, My lord may grip my vassal lands, For there again maun I never be!"

He has turned him to the Tiviot side, E'en as fast as he could drie, Till he cam to the Coultart Cleugh, And there he shouted baith loud and hie.

Then up bespak him auld Jock Grieve— "Whae's this that bring's the fray to me?" "It's I, Jamie Telfer o' the fair Dodhead, A harried man I trew I be.

"There's naething left in the fair Dodhead, But a greeting wife and bairnies three, And sax poor ca's[134] stand in the sta', A' routing loud for their minnie."[135]

"Alack a wae!" quo' auld Jock Grieve, "Alack! my heart is sair for thee! For I was married on the elder sister, And you on the youngest of a' the three,"

Then he has ta'en out a bonny black, Was right weel fed wi' corn and hay, And he's set Jamie Telfer on his back, To the Catslockhill to tak the fraye.

And whan he cam to the Catslockhill, He shouted loud, and cried weel hie, Till out and spak him William's Wat— "O whae's this brings the fraye to me?"

"Its I, Jamie Telfer of the fair Dodhead, A harried man I think I be! The captain of Bewcastle has driven my gear; For God's sake rise, and succour me!"

"Alas for wae!" quo' William's Wat, Alack, for thee my heart is sair! I never cam bye the fair Dodhead, That ever I fand thy basket bare."

He's set his twa sons on coal-black steeds, Himsel' upon a freckled gray, And they are on wi' Jamie Telfer, To Branksome Ha' to tak the fraye.

And whan they cam to Branksome Ha', They shouted a' baith loud and hie, Till up and spak him auld Buccleuch, Said—"Whae's this brings the fraye to me?"

"It's I, Jamie Telfer o' the fair Dodhead, And a harried man I think I be! There's nought left in the fair Dodhead, But a greeting wife, and bairnies three."

"Alack for wae!" quoth the gude auld lord, "And ever my heart is wae for thee! But fye gar cry on Willie, my son, And see that he come to me speedilie!

"Gar warn the water, braid and wide, Gar warn it sune and hastilie! They that winna ride for Telfer's kye, Let them never look in the face o' me!

"Warn Wat o' Harden, and his sons, Wi' them will Borthwick water ride; Warn Gaudilands, and Allanhaugh, And Gilmanscleugh, and Commonside.

"Ride by the gate at Priesthaughswire, And warn the Currors o' the Lee; As ye cum down the Hermitage Slack, Warn doughty Willie o' Gorrinberry."

The Scots they rade, the Scots they ran, Sae starkly and sae steadilie! And aye the ower-word o' the thrang Was—"Rise for Branksome readilie!"

The gear was driven the Frostylee up, Frae the Frostylee unto the plain, Whan Willie has looked his men before, And saw the kye right fast driving.

"Whae drives thir kye?" can Willie say, To mak an outspeckle[136] o' me?" "Its I, the captain o' Bewcastle, Willie; I winna layne my name for thee."

"O will ye let Telfer's kye gae back? Or will ye do aught for regard o' me? Or, by the faith of my body," quo' Willie Scott, "I'se ware my dame's cauf's skin on thee!"

"I winna let the kye gae back, Neither for thy love, nor yet thy fear; But I will drive Jamie Telfer's kye, In spite of every Scot that's here."

"Set on them, lads!" quo' Willie than; Fye, lads, set on them cruellie! For ere they win to the Ritterford, Mony a toom[137] saddle there sall be!"

Then till't they gaed, wi' heart and hand; The blows fell thick as bickering hail; And mony a horse ran masterless, And mony a comely cheek was pale!

But Willie was stricken ower the head, And thro' the knapscap[138] the sword has gane; And Harden grat for very rage, Whan Willie on the grund lay slane.

But he's tane aff his gude steel cap, And thrice he's wav'd it in the air— The Dinlay[139] snaw was ne'er mair white, Nor the lyart locks of Harden's hair.

"Revenge! revenge!" auld Wat can cry; "Fye, lads, lay on them cruellie! We'll ne'er see Tiviotside again, Or Willie's death revenged sall be."

O mony a horse ran masterless, The splintered lances flew on hie; But or they wan to the Kershope ford, The Scots had gotten the victory.

John o' Brigham there was slane, And John o' Barlow, as I hear say; And thirty mae o' the captain's men, Lay bleeding on the grund that day.

The captain was run thro' the thick of the thigh, And broken was his right leg bane; If he had lived this hundred years, He had never been loved by woman again.

"Hae back thy kye!" the captain said; "Dear kye, I trow, to some they be! For gin I suld live a hundred years, There will ne'er fair lady smile on me."

Then word is gane to the captain's bride, Even in the bower where that she lay, That her lord was prisoner in enemy's land, Since into Tividale he had led the way.

"I wad lourd[140] have had a winding-sheet, And helped to put it ower his head, Ere he had been disgraced by the border Scot, Whan he ower Liddel his men did lead!"

There was a wild gallant amang us a', His name was Watty wi' the Wudspurs,[141] Cried—"On for his house in Stanegirthside, If ony man will ride with us!"

When they cam to the Stanegirthside, They dang wi' trees, and burst the door; They loosed out a' the captain's kye, And set them forth our lads before.

There was an auld wyfe ayont the fire, A wee bit o' the captain's kin— "Whae dar loose out the captain's kye, Or answer to him and his men?"

"Its I, Watty Wudspurs, loose the kye! I winna layne my name frae thee! And I will loose out the captain's kye, In scorn of a' his men and he."

When they cam to the fair Dodhead, They were a wellcum sight to see! For instead of his ain ten milk kye, Jamie Telfer has gotten thirty and three.

And he has paid the rescue shot, Baith wi' goud, and white monie; And at the burial o' Willie Scott, I wat was mony a weeping e'e.

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