The Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Walter Scott

Canto First

i.

The feast was over in Branksome tower,1

And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower;

Her bower that was guarded by word and by spell,

Deadly to hear, and deadly to tell —

Jesu Maria, shield us well!

No living wight, save the Ladye alone,

Had dared to cross the threshold stone.

ii.

The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;

Knight, and page, and household squire,

Loiter’d through the lofty hall,10

Or crowded round the ample fire:

The stag-hounds, weary with the chase,

Lay stretch’d upon the rushy floor,

And urged in dreams, the forest race,

From Teviot-stone to Eskdale moor.

iii.

Nine-and-twenty knights of fame

Hung their shields in Branksome-hall;2

Nine-and-twenty squires of name

Brought them their steeds to bower from stall;

Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall20

Waited, duteous, on them all;

They were all knights of mettle true,

Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.

iv.

Ten of them were sheathed in steel,

With belted sword, and spur on heel:

They quitted not their harness bright,

Neither by day, nor yet by night:

They lay down to rest,

With corslet laced,

Pillow’d on buckler cold and hard;30

They carved at the meal

With gloves of steel,

And they drank the red wine through the helmet barr’d.

v.

Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,

Waited the beck of the warders ten:

Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,

Stood saddled in stable day and night,

Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow,

And with Jedwood-axe at saddlebow;3

A hundred more fed free in stall:—40

Such was the custom of Branksome-Hall.

vi.

Why do these steeds stand ready dight?

Why watch these warriors, arm’d by night? —

They watch, to hear the blood-hound baying;

They watch, to hear the war-horn braying;

To see St.George’s red cross streaming,

To see the midnight beacon gleaming:

They watch gainst Southern force and guile,

Lest Scroop, or Howard, or Percy’s powers,

Threaten Branksome’s lordly towers,50

From Warkworth, or Naworth, or merry Carlisle.4

vii.

Such is the custom of Branksome Hall. —

Many a valiant knight is here;

But he, the chieftain of them all,

His sword hangs rusting on the wall,

Beside his broken spear.

Bards long shall tell,

How Lord Walter fell!5

When startled burghers fled, afar,

The furies of the Border war;60

When the streets of high Dunedin6

Saw lances gleam, and falchions redden,

And heard the slogan’s 7 deadly yell —

Then the Chief of Branksome fell.

viii.

Can piety the discord heal,

Or stanch the death-feud’s enmity?

Can Christian lore, can patriot zeal,

Can love of blessed charity?

No! vainly to each holy shrine,

In mutual pilgrimage, they drew;70

Implored, in vain, the grace divine

For chiefs, their own red falchions slew:

While Cessford owns the rule of Carr,

While Ettrick boasts the line of Scott,

The slaughter’d chiefs, the mortal jar,

The havoc of the feudal war,

Shall never, never be forgot!8

ix.

In sorrow o’er Lord Walter’s bier

The warlike foresters had bent;

And many a flower, and many a tear80

Old Teviot’s maids and matrons lent:

But o’er her warrior’s bloody bier

The Ladye dropp’d nor flower nor tear!

Vengeance, deep-brooding o’er the slain,

Had lock’d the source of softer wo;

And burning pride, and high disdain,

Forbade the rising tear to flow;

Until, amid his sorrowing clan,

Her son lisp’d from the nurse’s knee —

“And if I live to be a man,90

My father’s death revenged shall be!"—

Then fast the mother’s tears did seek

To dew the infant’s kindling cheek.

x.

All loose her negligent attire,

All loose her golden hair,

Hung Margaret o’er her slaughter’d sire,

And wept in wild despair.

But not alone the bitter tear

Had filial grief supplied;

For hopeless love and anxious fear100

Had lent their mingled tide:

Nor in her mother’s alter’d eye

Dar’d she to look for sympathy.

Her lover, ‘gainst her father’s clan,

With Carr in arms had stood,9

When Mathouse-burn to Melrose ran

All purple with their blood;

And well she knew, her mother dread,

Before Lord Cranstoun she should wed,10

Would see her on her dying bed.110

xi.

Of noble race the Ladye came;

Her father was a clerk of fame,

Of Bethune’s line of Picardie:11

He learn’d the art that none may name,

In Padua, far beyond the sea.12

Men said he changed his mortal frame

By feat of magic mystery;

For when, in studious mood, he pac’d

St. Andrew’s cloister’d hall13

His form no darkening shadow trac’d120

Upon the sunny wall!

xii.

And of his skill, as bards avow,

He taught that Ladye fair,

Till to her bidding she could bow

The viewless forms of air14

And now she sits in secret bower,

In old Lord David’s western tower,

And listens to a heavy sound

That moans the mossy urrets round.

Is it the roar of Teviot’s tide,130

That chafes against the scaur’s 15 red side?

Is it the wind that swings the oaks?

Is it the echo from the rocks?

What may it be, the heavy sound,

That moans old Branksome’s turrets round?

xiii.

At the sullen, moaning sound

The ban-dogs bay and howl;

And, from the turrets round

Loud whoops the startled owl.

In the hall, both squire and knight140

Swore that a storm was near,

And looked forth to view the night;

But the night was still and clear!

xiv.

From the sound of Teviot’s tide,

Chafing with the mountain’s side,

From the groan of thewind-swung oak,

From the sullen echo of the rock,

From the voice of the coming storm,

The Ladye knew it well!

It was the Spirit of the Flood that spoke,150

And he call’d on the Spirit of the Fell.

xv.
River Spirit.

“Sleep’st thou, brother?”

Mountain Spirit.

—“Brother, nay —

On my hills the moon-beams play.

From Craik-cross to Skelfhill-pen,

By every rill, in every glen,

Merry elves their morris pacing,

To aerial minstrelsy,

Emerald rings on brown heath tracing,

Trip it deft and merrily.160

Up, and mark their nimble feet!

Up, and list their music sweet!”

xvi.
River Spirit.

“Tears of an imprison’d maiden

Mix with my polluted stream;

Margaret of Branksome, sorrow-laden,

Mourns beneath the moon’s pale beam.

Tell me, thou, who view’st the stars,

When shall cease these feudal jars?

What shall be the maiden’s fate?

Who shall be the maiden’s mate?”170

xvii.
Mountain Spirit.

“Arthur’s slow wain his course doth roll

In utter darkness round the pole;

The Northern Bear lowers black and grim;

Orion’s studded belt is dim;

Twinkling faint, and distant far,

Shimmers through mist each planet star;

Ill may I read their high decree!

But no kind influence deign they shower

On Teviot’s tide and Branksome’s tower

Till pride be quell’d and love be free.”180

xviii.

The unearthly voices ceast,

And the heavy sound was still

It died on the river’s breast,

It died on the side of the hill.

But round Lord David s tower

The sound still floated near

For it rung in the Ladye’s bower

And it rung in the Ladye’s ear.

She raised her stately head,

And her heart throbb’d high with pride:—190

“Your mountains shall bend,

And your stream ascend,

Ere Margaret be our foeman’s bride!”

xix.

The Ladye sought the lofty hall,

Where many a bold retainer lay,

And, with jocund din, among them all,

Her son pursued his infant play.

A fancied moss-trooper,16 the boy

The truncheon of a spear bestrode,

And round the hall, right merrily,200

In mimic foray17 rode,

Even bearded knights, in arms grown old,

Share in his frolic gambols bore,

Albeit their hearts of rugged mould

Were stubborn as the steel they wore.

For the gray warriors prophesied,

How the brave boy, in future war,

Should tame the Unicorn’s pride,

Exalt the Crescent and the Star.18

xx.

The Ladye forgot her purpose high,210

One moment, and no more;

One moment gaz’d with a mother’s eye

As she paus’d at the arched door:

Then from amid the armed train,

She call’d to her William of Deloraine.19

xxi.

A stark moss-trooping Scott was he,

As e’er couch’d Border lance by knee:

Through Solway sands, through Tarras moss,

Blindfold, he knew the paths to cross;

By wily turns, by desperate bounds,220

Had baffled Percy’s best blood-hounds;20

In Eske, or Liddel, fords were none,

But he would ride them, one by one;

Alike to him was time or tide,

December’s snow, or July’s pride;

Alike to him was tide or time,

Moonless midnight, or matin prime:

Steady of heart, and stout of hand,

As ever drove prey from Cumberland;

Five times outlawed had he been,230

By England’s King, and Scotland’s Queen.

xxii.

“Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,

Mount thee on the wightest steed;

Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,

Until thou come to fair Tweedside;

And in Melrose’s holy pile

Seek thou the Monk of St. Mary’s aisle.

Greet the Father well from me;

Say that the fated hour is come,

And to-night he shall watch with thee,240

To win the treasure of the tomb:

For this will be St. Michael’s night,

And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;

And the Cross, of bloody red,

Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.

xxiii.

“What he gives thee, see thou keep;

Stay not thou for food or sleep:

Be it scroll, or be it book,

Into it, Knight, thou must not look;

If thou readest, thou art lorn!250

Better had’st thou ne’er been born.”

xxiv.

“O swiftly can speed my dapple-grey steed

Which drinks of the Teviot clear;

Ere break of day,” the Warrior ‘gan say,

“Again will I be here:

And safer by none may thy errand be done,

Than, noble dame, by me;

Letter nor line know I never a one,

Were’t my neck-verse at Hairibee.”21

xxv.

Soon in his saddle sate he fast,260

And soon the steep descent he past,

Soon cross’d the sounding barbican,22

And soon the Teviot side he won.

Eastward the wooded path he rode —

Green hazels o’er his basnet nod;

He pass’d the Peel23 of Goldiland,

And cross’d old Borthwick’s roaring strand;

Dimly he view’d the Moat-hill’s mound,

Where Druid shades still flitted round;24

In Hawick twinkled many a light;270

Behind him soon they set in night,

And soon he spurr’d his courser keen

Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.25

xxvi.

The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark:

“Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark.”

“For Branksome, ho!” the knight rejoin’d,

And left the friendly tower behind.

He turn’d him now from Teviotside,

And, guided by the tinkling rill,

Northward the dark ascent did ride,280

And gained the moor at Horslie-hill;

Broad on the left before him lay,

For many a mile, the Roman way.26

xxvii.

A moment now he slack’d his speed,

A moment breathed his panting steed;

Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band,

And loosen’d in the sheath his brand.

On Minto-crags the moonbeams glint,27

Where Barnhill hew’d his bed of flint;

Who flung his outlaw’d limbs to rest,290

Where falcons hang their giddy nest,

Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye

For many a league his prey could spy;

Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne,

The terrors of the robber’s horn;

Cliffs, which, for many a later year,

The warbling Doric reed shall hear,

When some sad swain shall teach the grove,

Ambition is no cure for love!

xxviii.

Unchalleng’d, thence pass’d Deloraine,300

To ancient Riddel’s fair domain,28

Where Aill, from mountains freed,

Down from the lakes did raving come;

Each wave was crested with tawny foam,

Like the mane of a chestnut steed.

In vain! no torrent, deep or broad,

Might bar the bold moss-trooper’s road.

xxix.

At the first plunge the horse sunk low,

And the water broke o’er the saddle-bow;

Above the foaming tide, I ween,310

Scarce half the charger’s neck was seen;

For he was barded29 from counter to tail,

And the rider was arm’d complete in mail:

Never heavier man and horse

Stemm’d a midnight torrent’s force.

The warrior’s very plume, I say,

Was daggled by the dashing spray;

Yet, through good heart, and Our Ladye’s grace,

At length he gain’d the landing-place.

xxx.

Now Bowden Moor the march-man won,320

And sternly shook his plumed head,

As glanc’d his eye o’er Halidon:30

For on his soul the slaughter red

Of that unhallow’d morn arose

When first the Scott and Carr were foes;

When royal James beheld the fray.

Prize to the victor of the day;

When Home and Douglas, in the van,

Bore down Buccleuch’s retiring clan,

Till gailant Cessford’s heart-blood dear330

Reek’d on dark Elliot’s Border spear.

xxxi.

In bitter mood he spurred fast,

And soon the hated heath was past;

And far beneath, in lustre wan,

Old Melros’ rose, and fair Tweed ran:

Like some tall rock with lichens grey,

Seem’d dimly huge the dark Abbaye.

When Hawick he pass’d, had curfew rung,

Now midnight lauds31 were in Melrose sung.

The sound, upon the fitful gale,340

In solemn wise did rise and fail,

Like that wild harp whose magic tone

Is waken’d by the winds alone.

But when Melrose he reach’d, ’twas silence all:

He meetly stabled his steed in stall,

And sought the convent’s lonely wall.32

HERE paus’d the harp; and with its swell

The Master’s fire and courage fell;

Dejectedly and low he bow’d,

And, gazing timid on the crowd,350

He seem’d to seek in every eye

If they approv’d his minstrelsy;

And, diffident of present praise,

Somewhat he spoke of former days,

And how old age and wand’ring long

Had done his hand and harp-some wrong.

The Duchess and her daughters fair,

And every gentle lady there,

Each after each in due degree,

Gave praises to his melody;360

His hand was true, his voice was clear,

And much they long’d the rest to hear

Encourag’d thus, the aged man,

After meet rest, again began.

1 In the reign of James I., Sir William Scott of Buccleuch, chief of the clan bearing that name, exchanged, with Sir Thomas Inglis of Manor, the estate of Murdiestone, in Lanarkshire, for one half of the Barony of Branksome, or Brankholm,* lying upon the Teviot, about three miles above Hawick. He was probably induced to this transaction from the vicinity of Branksome to the extensive domain which he possessed in Ettrick Forest and in Teviotdale. In the former district he held by ocupancy the estate of Buccleuch, and much of the forest land on the river Ettrick. In Teviotdale, he enjoyed the barony of Eckford, by a grant from Robert II. to his ancestor, Walter Scott of Kirkurd, for the apprehending of Gilbert Ridderford, confirmed by Robert III., 3d May, 1424. Tradition imputes the exchange betwixt Scott and Inglis to a conversation, in which the latter, a man, it would appear, of a mild and forbearing nature, complained much of the injuries he was exposed to from the English Borderers, who frequently plundered his lands of Branksome. Sir William Scott instantly offered him the estate of Murdiestone, in exchange for that which was subject to such egregious inconvenience. When the bargain was completed, he dryly remarked, that the cattle in Cumberland were as good as those of Teviotdale; and proceeded to commence a system of reprisals upon the English, which was regularly pursued by his successors. In the next reign, James II. granted to Sir Walter Scott of Branksome, and to Sir David, his son, the remaining half of the barony of Branksom, to be held in blanche for the payment of a red rose. The cause assigned for the grant is, their brave and faithful exertions in favour of the King against the house of Douglas, with whom James had been recently tugging for the throne of Scotland. This charter is dated the 2d February, 1443; and, in the same month, part of the barony of Langholm, and many lands in Lanarkshire, were conferred upon Sir Walter and his son by the same monarch.

After the period of the exchange with Sir Thomas Inglis, Branksome became the principal seat of the Buccleuch family. The castle was enlarged and strengthened by Sir David Scott, the grandson of Sir William, its first possessor. But in 1570-1, the vengeance of Elizabeth, provoked by the inroads of Buccleuch, and his attachment to the cause of Queen Mary, destroyed the castle, and laid waste the lands of Branksome. In the same year the castle was repaired and enlarged by Sir Walter Scott, its brave possessor; but the work was not completed until after his death, in 1574, when the widow finished the building. This appears from the following inscriptions. Around a stone, bearing the arms of Scott of Buccleuch, appears the following legend:

“Sir W. Scott of Brancheim Knyt oe of Sir William Scott of Kirkurd Knyt began ye work upon ye 24 of Marche 1571 zier quaha departit at God’s pleisour ye 17 April 1574.”

On a similar coapartment are sculptured the arms of Douglas, with this inscription, “DAME MARGARET DOUGLAS HIS SPOUS COMPELTIT THE FORESAID WORK IN OCTOBER 1576.” Over an arched door is inscribed the following moral verse:—

En. varld. is. nocht. nature. hes. vrought. yat. sal. lest. ay.
Tharefore. nerve. God. keip. veil. ye. rod. thy. fame. sal. nocht. dekay.
Sir Walter Scot of Brancholm Knight. Margaret Douglas.
1571.

Branksome Castle continued to be the principal seat of the Buccleuch family, while security was any object in their choice of a mansion. It has since been the residence of the Commissioners, or Chamberlains, of the family. From the various alterations which the building has undergone, it is not only greatly restricted in its dimensions, but retains little of the castellated form, if we except one square tower of massy thickness, the only part of the original building which now remains. The whole forms a handsome modern residence, lately inhabited by my deceased friend, Adam Ogilvy, Esq. of Hartwoodmyres, Commissioner of his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch.

The extend of the ancient edifice can still be traced by some vestiges of its foundation, and its strength is obvious from the situation, on a deep bank surrounded by the Teviot, and flanked by a deep ravine, formed by a precipitous brook. It was anciently surrounded by wood, as appears from a survey of Roxburghshire, made for Pont’s Atlas, and preserved in the Advocate’s Library. This wood was cut about fifty years ago, but is now replaced by the thriving plantations, which have been formed by the noble proprietor, for miles around the ancient mansion of his forefathers.

* Braxholm is the proper name of the barony; but Branksome has been adopted, as suitable for the pronunciation, and more proper for poetry.

† There are no vestiges of any building at Buccleuch, except the side of a chapel, where, according to a tradition current in the time of Scott of Satchells, many of the ancient barons of Buccleuch lie buried. There is also said to have been a mill near this solitary spot; an extraordinary circumstance, as little or no corn grows within several miles of Bucleuch. Satchells says it was used to grind corn for the hounds of the chieftain.

2 The ancient Barons of Buccleuch, both from feudal splendour and from their frontier situation, retained in their household, at Branksome, a number of gentlemen of their own name, who held lands from their chief, for the miliatry service of watching and warding his castle. Satchells tells us, in his dogggrel poetry,

“No baron was better served in Britain;

The barons of Buckleugh they kept their call,

Four and twenty gentlemen in their hall,

All being of his name and kin;

Each two had a servant to wait upon them;

Before supper and dinner, most renowned,

The bells rung and the trumpets sowned;

And more than that, I do confess,

They kept four and twenty pensioners.

Think not I lie, nor do me blame,

For the pensioners I can all name:

There’s men alive, elder than I,

They know if I speak truth, or lie.

Every pensioner a room* did gain,

For service done and to be done;

This let the reader understand,

The name both of the men and land,

Which they possessed, it is of truth,

Both from the Lairds and Lords of Buckleugh.”

Accordingly, dismounting from his Pegasus, Satchells gives us, in prose, the names of twenty-four pensioners to the house of Buccleuch, and describes the lands which each possessed for his Border service. In time of war with England, the garrison was doubtless augmented. Satchells adds, “These twenty-three pensioners, all of his own name of Scott, and Walter Gladstanes of Whitelaw, a near cousin of my lord’s, as aforesaid, were ready on all occasions, when his honour pleased cause to advertise them. It is known to many of the country better than it is to me, that the rent of these lands, which the Lairds and Lords of Buccleuch did freely bestow upon their friends, will amount to above twelve or fourteen thousand merks a-year."— History of the Name of Scott, p. 45. An immense sum in those times.

* Room, portion of land.

3 “Of a truth,” says Froissart, “the Scottish cannot boast of great skill with the bow, but rather bear axes, with which, in time of need, they give heavy strokes.” The Jedwood-axe was a sort of partisan, used by horsemen, as appears from the arms of Jedburgh, which bear a cavalier mounted, and armed with his weapon. It is also called a Jedwood or Jeddart staff.

4 Branksome Castle was continually exposed to the attacks of the English, both from its situation and the restless military disposition of its inhabitants, who were seldom on good terms with their neighbours. The following letter from the Earl of Northumberland to Hnery VIII., in 1533, gives an account of a successful inroad of the English, in which the country was plundered up to the gates of the castle, although the invaders failed in their principal object, which was to kill, or make prisoner, the Laird of Buccleuch. It occurs in the Cotton MS. Calig. B. VIII. f. 222.

“Pleaseth yt your most gracious highness to be aduertised, that my comptroller, with Raynald Carnaby, desyred licence of me to invade the realme of Scotland, for the annoysaunce of your highnes enemys, where they thought best exploit by theyme might be done, and to haue to concur withe theyme the inhabitants of Northumberland, suche as was towards me according to theyre assembly, and as by theyre discretions vpone the same they shulde thinke most convenient; and soo they dyde meet vppon Monday, before night, being the iii day of this instant monethe, at Wawhope, upon Northe Tyne water, above Tyndaill, where they were to the number of xvc men, and soo invadet Scotland at the hour of viii of the clok at nyght, at a place called Whele Causay; and before xi of the clok dyd send forth a forrey of Tyndaill and Ryddisdaill, and laide all the resydewe in bushment, and actyvely did set vpon a towne called Branxholm, where the Lord of Buclough dwellythe, and purpesed theymselves with a trayne for hym lyke to his accustomed manner, in rysynge to all frayes; albeit, that knyght he was not at home, and so they brynt the said Branxholm, and other townes, as to say Whichestre, Whichestre-helme, and Whelley, and haid ordered theymeself, soo that sundry of the said Lord Buclough’s servants, who dyd issue fourthe of his gates, was takyn prisoners. Theye dyd not leve one house, one stak of corne, nor one shyef, without the gate of the said Buclough vnbyrnt and thus scrymaged and frayed supposed the Lord of Buclough to be within iii or iiii myles to have trayned him to the bushment; and soo in breyking of the day dyd the forrey and the bushment mete, and reculed homeward, making theyr way westward from theyr invasion to be over Lyddersdaill, as intending yf the fray frome theyre first entry by the Scotts waiches, or otherwyse by warnying, shulde haue bene gyven to Gedworth and the countrey of Scotland theyreabouts of theyre invasion; which Gedworth is from the Wheles Causay vi myles, and thereby the Scotts shulde have comen furthur vnto theyme, and more out of ordre; and soo upon sundry good considerations, before they entered Lyddersdaill, as well accompting the inhabitants of the same to be dtowards your highness, and to enforce theyme the more thereby, as alsoo to put an occasion of suspect to the Kinge of Scotts, and his counsaill, to be taken anenst theyme, amonges theymselves, made proclamacions, commanding, vpon payne of dethe, assurance to be for the said inhabitants of Lyddersdaill, without any prejudice or hurt to be done by any Inglysman vnto theyme, and soo in good ordre abowte the howre of ten of the clok before none, vppon Tewisday, dyd pass through the said Lyddersdaill, when dyd come diverse of the said inhabitants, there to my servauntes, under the said assurance, offering theymselfs, with any service they couthe make; and thus, thanks be to Godde, your highnes’ subjects, abowt the howre of xii of the clok at none the same daye, came into this your highnes’ realme, bringing wt theyme above xl Scottsmen prisoners, one of theyme named Scot, on of the surname and kyn of the said Lord of Buclough, and of his howse-hold; they brought also ccc nowte, and above lx horse and mares, keeping in savetie frome losse or hurte all your said highnes subjects. There was alsoo a towne, called Newbyggins, by diverse fotmen of Tyndaill and Ryddesdaill, takyn vp of the night, and spoyled, when was slayne ii Scottsmen of the said towne, and many Scotts there hurte; your highnes subjects was xiii myles within the grounde of Scotlande, and is from my house at Werkworthe, above lx miles of the most evil passage, where great snawes doth lye; heretofore the same townes now brynt haith not at any tyme in the mynd of man in any warrs been enterprised unto nowe; your subjects were thereto encouraged for the better advancement of your highnes service, the said Lord of Buclough beyng always a mortall enemy to this your Graces realme, and he dyd say, within xiii days before, he woulde see who durst lye near hym; wt many other cruell words, the knowledge whereof was certainly haid to my said servaunts, before theyre enterprice maid vpon him; most humbly beseeching your majesty, that youre highnes thanks may concur vnto theyme, whose names be here inclosed, and to have in your most gracious memory, the paynfull and diligent service of my pore servaunte Wharton, and thus, as I am most bounden, shall dispose wt them that be under me f. . . . annoysaunce of your highest enemys.” In resentment of this foray, Buccleuch, with other Border chiefs, assembled an army of 300 riders, with which they penetrated into Northumberland, and laid waste the country as far as the banks of Bramish. They baffled, or defeated, the English forces opposed to them, and returned loaded with prey. — PINKERTON’S History, vol. ii. p. 318.

5 Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch succeeded to his grandfather, Sir David, in 1492. He was a brave and powerful baron, and Warden of the West Marches of Scotland. His death was the consequence of a feud betwixt the Scotts and Kerrs, the history of which is necessary, to explain rempeated allusions in the romance.

In the year 1526, in the words of Pitscottie, “the Earl of Angus, and the rest of the Douglasses, ruled all which they liked, and no man durst say the contrary; wherefore the King (James V. then a minor) was heavily displeased, and would fain have been out of their hands, if he might by any way: And, to that effect, wrote a quiet and secret letter with his own hand, and sent it to the Laird of Buccleuch, beseeching him that he would come with his kin and friends, and all the force that he might be, and meet him at Melross, at his home-passing, and there to take him out of the Douglasses hands, and to put him to liberty, to use himself among the lave (rest) of his lords, as he thinks expedient.

“This letter was quietly directed, and sent by one of the King’s own secret servants, which was received very thankfully by the Laird of Buccleuch, who was very glad thereof, to be put to such charges and familiarity with his prince, and did great diligence to perform the King’s writing, and to bring the matter to pass as the King desired: And, to that effect, convened all his kin and friends, and all that would do for him, to ride with him to Melross, when he knew of the King’s homecoming. And so he brought with him six hundred spears, of Liddesdale, and Annandale, and countrymen, and clans thereabout, and held themselves quiet while that the King returned out of Jedburgh, and came to Melross, to remain there all that night.

“But when the Lord Hume, Cessfoord, and Fernyherst, (the chiefs of the clan of Kerr,) took their leave of the King, and returned home, then appeared the Lord of Buccleuch in sight, and his company with him, in an arrayed battle, intending to have fulfilled the King’s petition, and therefore came stoutly forward on the back side of Haliden hill. By that the Earl of Angus, with George Douglas, his brother, and sundry other of his friends, seeing this army coming, they marvelled what the matter meant; while at the last they knew the Laird of Buccleuch, with a certain company of the thieves of Annandale. With him they were less affeared, and made them manfully to the field contrary them, and siad to the King in this manner, ‘Sir, yon is Buccleuch, and thieves of Annandale with him, to unbeset your Grace from the gate,’ (i.e. interrupt your passage.) ‘I vow to God they shall either fight or fleee; and ye shall tarry here on this know, and my brother George with you, with any other company you please; and I shall pass, and put yon theives off the ground, and rid the gate unto your Grace, or else die for it.’ The King tarried still, as was devised; and George Douglas with im, and sundry other lords, such as the Earl of Lennox, and the Lord Erskine, and some of the King’s own servants; but all the lave (rest) passed with the Earl of Angus to the field against the Lord of Buccleuch, who joyned and countered cruelly both the said parties in the field of Darnelinver,* either against other, with uncertain victory. But at the last, the Lord Hume, hearing word of that matter how it stood, returned again to the King in all possible haste, with him the Lairds of Cessfoord and Fernyhirst, to the number of fourscore spears, and set freshly on the lap and wing of the Laird of Buccleuch’s field, and shortly bare them backward to the ground; which caused the Laird of Buccleuch, and the rest of his friends, to go back and flee, whom they followed and chased; and espcially the Lairds of Cessfoord and Fernyhirst followed furiouslie, till at the foot of a path the Laird of Cessfoord was slain by the stroke of a spear by an Elliot, who was then servant to the Laird of Buccleuch. But when the Laird of Cessford was slain, the chase ceased. The Earl of Angus returned again with great merriness and victory, and thanked God that he saved him from that chance, and passed with the King to Melross, where they remained all that night. On the morn they passed to Edinburgh with the King, who was very sad and dolorous of the slaughter of the Laird of Cessfoord, and many other gentlemen and yeomen slain by the Laird of Buccleuch, containing the number of forescore and fifteen, which died in defence of the King, and at the command of his writing.”

* Darnwick, near Melrose. The place of conflict is still called Skinner’s Field, from a corruption of Skirmish Field.

I am not the first who has attempted to celebrate in verse the renown of this ancient baron, and his hazardous attempt to procure his sovereign’s freedom. In a Scottish Latin poet we find the following verses:—

VALTERIUS SCOTUS BALCLUCHIUS,

Egregio suscepto facinore, liberate Regis, ac aliis rebus gestis clarus, sub

Jacobo V. A°. Christi, 1526.

“Intentata aliis, nullique audita priorum

Audet, nec pavidum morsve, metusve quatit,

Libertatem aliis soliti transcribere Regis:

Subreptam hanc Regi restituisse paras;

Si vincis, quanta o succedunt præmia dextræ!

Sin victus, falsas spes jace, pone animam.

Hostica vis nocuit: stant altæ robora mentis

Atque decus. Vincet, Rege probante, fides.

Insita queis animis virtus, quosque acrior ardor

Obsidet, obscuris nox premat an tenebris?”

Heroes ex omni Historia Scotisca lectissimi, Auctore Johan. Jonstonio Abredonense Scoto, 1603.

In consequence of the battle of Melrose, there ensued a deadly feud betwixt the names of Scott and Kerr, which, in spite of all means used to bring about an agreement, raged for many years upon the Borders. Buccleuch was imprisoned, and his estates forfeited, in the year 1535, for levying war against the Kerrs, and restored by act of Parliament, dated 15th March, 1542, during the regency of Mary of Lorraine. But the most signal act of violence, to which this quarrel gave rise, was the murder of Sir Walter himself, who was slain by the Kerrs in the streets of Edinburgh in 1552. This is the event alluded to in stanza vii.; and the poem is supposed to open shortly after it had taken place.

The feud between these two families was not reconciled in 1596, when both chieftains paraded the streets of Edinburgh with followers, and it was expected their first meeting would decide their quarrel. But, on July 14th of the same year, Colvil, in a letter to Mr. Bacon, informs him, “that there was great trouble upon the Borders, which would continue till order should be taken by the Queen of England and the King, by reason of the two young Scots chieftains, Cesford and Baclugh, and of the present necessity and scarcity of corn amongst the Scots Borderers and riders. That there had been a private quarrel betwixt those two lairds on the Borders, which was like to have turned to blood; but the fear of the general trouble had reconciled them, and the injuries which they thought to have committed against each other, were now transferred upon England: not unlike that emulation in France between the Baron de Biron and Mons. Jeverie, who, being both ambitious of honour, undertook more hazardous enterprises against the enemy, than they would have done if they had been at concord together."— BIRCH’S Memorials, vol. ii. p. 67.

6 Edinburgh.

7 The war-cry, or gathering word, of a Border clan.

8 Among all other expedients resorted to for stanching the feud betwixt the Scotts and the Kerrs, there was a bond executed in 1529, between the heads of each clan, binding themselves to perform reciprocally the four principal pilgrimages of Scotland, for the benefit of the souls of those of the opposite name who had falled in the quarrel. This indenture is printed in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. But either it never took effect, or else the feud was renewed shortly afterwards.

Such pactions were not uncommon in feudal times; and, as might be expected, they were often, as in the present case, void of the effect desired. When Sir Walter Mauny, the renowned follower of Edward III., had taken the town of Ryol in Gascony, he remembered to have heard that his father lay there buried, and offered a hundred crowns to any one who could show him his grave. A very old man appeared before Sir Walter, and informed him of the manner of his father’s death, and the place of his sepulture. It seems the Lord of Mauny had, at a great tournament, unhorsed, and wounded to the death, a Gascon knight, of the house of Mirepoix, whose kinsman was the Bishop of Cambray. For this deed he was held at feud by the relations of the knight, until he agreed to undertake a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostella, for the benefit of the soul of the deceased. But as he returned through the town of Ryol, after accomplishment of his vow, he was beset and treacherously slain, by the kindred of the knight whom he had killed. Sir Walter, guided by the old man, visited the lowly tomb of his father; and, having read the inscription, which was in Latin, he caused the body to be raised, and transported to his native city of Valenciennes, where masses were, in the days of Froissart, duly said for the soul of the unfortunate pilgrim. — Chronycle of FROISSART, vol. i. p. 123.

9 The family of Ker, Kerr, or Carr,* was very powerful on the Border. Fynes Morrison remarks, in his Travels, that their influence extended from the village of Preson-Grange in Lothian, to the limits of England. Cessford Castle, the ancient baronial residence of the family, is situated near the village of Morebattle, within two or three miles of the Cheviot Hills. It has been a place of great strength and consequence, but is now ruinous. Tradition affirms, that it was founded by Halbert, or Habby Kerr, a gigantic warrior, concerning whom many stories are current in Roxburghshire. The Duke of Roxburghe represents Kerr of Cessofrd. A distinct and powerful branch of the same name own the Marquis of Lothian as their chief. Hence the distinction betwixt Kerrs of Cessford and Fairnihirst.

* The name is spelt differently by the various families who bear it. Carr is selected, not as the most correct, but as the most poetical reading.

10 The Cranstouns, Lord Cranstoun, are an ancient Border family, whose chief seat was at Crailing, in Teviotdale. They were at this time at feud with the clan of Scott; for it appears that the Lady of Buccleuch, in 1557, beset the Laird of Cranstoun, seeking his life. Nevertheless, the same Cranstoun, or perhaps his son, was married to a daughter of the same lady.

11 The Bethunes were of French origin, and derived their name from a small town in Artois. There were several distinguished families of the Bethunes in the neighbouring province of Picardy; they numbered among their descendants the celebrated Duc de Sully; and the name was accounted among the most noble in France, while aught noble remained in that country.* The family of Bethune, or Beatoun, in Fife, produced three learned and dignified prelates; namely, Cardinal Beaton, and two successive Archbishops of Glasgow, all of whom flourished about hte date of the romance. Of this family was descended Dame Janet Beaton, Lady Buccleuch, widow of Sir Walter Scott of Branksome. She was a woman of masculine spirit, as appeared from her riding at the head of her son’s clan, after her husband’s murder. She also possessed the hereditary abilities of her family in such a degree, that the superstition of the vulgar imputed them to supernatural knowledge. With this was mingled, by faction, the foul accusation, of her having influenced Queen Mary to the murder of her husband. One of the placards, preserved in Buchanan’s Detection, accuses of Darnley’s murder “the Erle of Bothwell, Mr. James Balfour, the persoun of Fliske, Mr. David Chalmers, black Mr. John Spens, who was principal deviser of the murder; and the Queene, assenting thairto, throw the persuasion of the Erle Bothwell, and the witchcraft of Lady Buckleuch.

* This expression and sentiment were dictated by the situation of France, in the year 1803, when the poem was originally written. 1821.

12 Padua was long supposed, by the Scottish peasants, to be the principal school of necromancy. The Earl of Gowrie, slain at Perth, in 1600, pretended, during his studies in Italy, to have acquired some knowledge of the cabala, by which, he said, he could charm snakes, and work other miracles; and, in particular, could produce children without the intercourse of the sexes. — See the Examination of Wemyss of Bogie befroe the Privy Council, concerning Gowrie’s Conspiracy.

13 The shadow of a necromancer is independent of the sun. Glycas informs us, that Simon Magus caused his shadow to go before him, making people believe it was an attendant spirit. — HEYWOOD’S Hierarchie, p. 475. The vulgar conceive, that when a class of students have made a certain progress in their mystic studies, they are obliged to run through a subterraneous hall, where the devil literally catches the hindmost in the race, unless he crosses the hall so speedily, that the arch-enemy can only apprehend his shadow. In the latter case, the person of the sage never after throws any shade; and those, who have thus lost their shadow, always prove the best magicians.

14 The Scottish vulgar, without having any very defined notion of their attributes, believe in the existence of an intermediate class of spirits, residing in the air, or in the waters; to whose agency they ascribe floods, storms, and all such phenomena as their own philosophy cannot readily explain. They are supposed to interfere in the affairs of mortals, sometimes with a malevolent purpose, and sometimes with milder views. It is said, for example, that a gallant baron, having returned from the Holy Land to his castle of Drummelziar, found his fair lady nursing a healthy child, whose birth did not by any means correspond to the date of his departure. Such an occurrence, to the credit of the dames of the Crusades be it spoken, was so rare, that it required a miraculous solution. The lady, therefore, was believed, when she averred confidently, that the Spirit of the Tweed had issued from the river while she was walking upon its bank, and compelled her to submit to his embraces: and the name of Tweedie was bestowed upon the child, who afterwards became the Baron of Drumelziar, and chief of a powerful clan. To those spirits were also ascribed, in Scotland, the

—“Airy tongues, that syllable men’s names,

On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.”

When the workmen were engaged in erecting the ancient church of Old Deer, in Aberdeenshire, upon a small hill called Bissau, they were surprised to find that the work was impeded by supernatural obstacles. At length, the Spirit of the River was heard to say,

“It is not here, it is not here,

That ye shall build the church of Deer;

But on Taptillery,

Where many a corpse shall lie.”

The site of the edifice was accordingly transferred to Taptillery, an eminence at some distance from the place where the building had been commenced. — MACFARLANE’S MSS. I mention these popular fables, because the introduction of the River and Mountain Spirits may not, at first sight, seem to accord with the general tone of the romance, and the superstitions of the country where the scene is laid.

15 Scaur, a precipitous bank of earth.

16 This was the usual appellation of the marauders upon the Borders; a profession diligently pursued by the inhabitants on both sides, and by none more actively and successfully than by Buccleuch’s clan. Long after the union of the crowns, the moss-troopers, although sunk in reputation, and no longer enjoying the pretext of national hostility, continued to pursue their calling.

Fuller includes, among the wonders of Cumberland, “The moss-troopers: so strange in the condition of their living, if considered in their Original, Increase, Height, Decay, and Ruine.

“1. Original. I conceive them the same called Borderers in Mr. Camden; and characterized by him to be a wild and warlike people. They are called moss-troopers, because dwelling in the mosses, and riding in troops together. They dwell in the bounds, or meeting, of the two kingdoms, but obey the laws of neither. They come to church as seldom as the 29th of February comes into the kalendar.

“2. Increase. When England and Scotland were united in Great Britain, they that formerly lived by hostile incursions, betook themselves to the robbing of their neighbours. Their sons are free of the trade by their fathers’ copy. They are like to Job, not in piety and patience, but in sudden plenty and poverty; sometimes having flocks and herds in the morning, none at night, and perchance many again the next day. They may give for their motto, vivitur ex rapto, stealing from their honest neighbours what they sometimes require. They are a nest of hornets; strike one, and stir all of them about your ears. Indeed, if they promise safely to conduct a traveller, they will perform it with the fidelity of a Turkish janizary; otherwise, wo be to him that falleth into their quarters!

“3. Height. Amounting, forty years since, to some thousands. These compelled the vicinage to purchase their security, by paing a constant rent to them. When in their greatest heighte, they had two great enemies — the Laws of the Land, and the Lord William Howard of Naworth. He sent many of them to Carlisle, to that place where the officer doth always his work by daylight. Yet these moss-troopers, if possibly they could procure the pardon for a condemned person of their company, would advance great sums out of their common stock, who, in such a case, cast in their lots amongst themselves, and all have one purse.

“4. Decay. Cuased by the wisdom, valour, and diligence of the Right Honourable Charles Lord Howard, Earl of Carlisle, who routed these English Tories with his regiment. His severity unto them will not only be excused, but commended, by the judicious, who consider how our great lawyer doth describe such persons, who are solemnly outlawed. BRACTON. lib. viii. trac. 2. cap. 11. — ‘Ex tunc gerunt caput lupinum, ita quod sine judiciali inquisitione rite pereant, et secum suum judicium portent; et merito sine lege pereunt, qui secundum legem vivere recusarunt.’ —‘Thenceforward (after that they are outlawed) they were a wolf’s head, so that they lawfully may be destroyed, without any judicial inquisition, as who carry out their own condemnation about them, and deservedly die without law, because they refused to live according to law.’

“5. Ruine. Such was the success of this worthy lord’s severity, that he made a thorough reformation among them; and the ring-leaders being destroyed, the rest are reduced to legal obedience, and so, I trust, will continue."— FULLER’S Worthies of England, p. 216.

The last public mention of moss-troopers occurs during the civil wars of the 17th century, when many ordinances of Parliament were directed against them.

17 Foray, a predetory inroad.

18 The arms of the Kerrs of Cessford were, Vert on a cheveron, betwixt three unicorns’ heads erased argent, three mullets sable; crest, a unicorn’s head erased proper. The Scotts of Buccleuch bore, Or, on a bend azure; a star of six points betwixt two crescents of the first.

19 The lands of Deloraine are joined to those of Buccleuch in Ettrick Forest. They were immemorially possessed by the Buccleuch family, under the strong title of occupancy, although no charter was obtained from the crown until 1545. Like other possessions, the lands of Deloraine were occasionlly granted by them to vassals, or kinsmen, for Border service. Satchells mentions, among the twenty-four gentlemen-pensioners of the family, “William Scott, commonly called Cut-at-the-Black, who had the lands of Nether Deloraine, for his service.” And again, “This William of Deloraine, commonly called Cut-at-the-Black, was a brother of the ancient house of Haining, which house of Haining is descended from the ancient house of Hassendean.” The lands of Deloraine now give an earl’s title to the descendant of Henry, the second surviving son of the Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth. I have endeavoured to give William of Deloraine the attributes which characterized the Borderers of his day; for which I can only plead Froissart’s apology, that, “it beoveth, in a lynage, some to be folyshe and outrageous, to maynteyne and sustayne the peasable.” As a contrast to my Marchman, I bet leave to transcribe, from the same author, the speech of Amergot Marcell, a captain of the Adventurous Companions, a robber, and a pillager of the country of Auvergne, who had been bribed to sell his strongholds, and to assume a more honourable military life under the banners of the Earl of Armagnac. But “when he remembered alle this, he was sorrowful; his tresour he thought he wolde not mynysshe; he was wonte dayly to serche for newe pyllages, wherbye encresed his profyte, and then he sawe that alle was closed fro’ hym. Then he sayde and imagyned, that to pyll and to robbe (all thynge considered) was a good lyfe, and so repented hym of his doing. On a tyme, he said to his old companyons, ‘Sirs, there is no sporte nor glory in this worlde amonge men of warre, but to use suche lyfe as we have done in tyme past. What a joy was it to us when we rode forth at adventure, and somtyme found by the way a riche priour or merchaunt, or a route of mulettes of Mountpellyer, of Narbonne, of Lymens, of Fongans, of Beysers, of Tholous, or of Carcasonne, laden with cloth of Brussels, or peltre ware comynge fro the fayres, or laden with spycery fro Bruges, fro Damas, or fro Alysaundre; whatsoever we met, all was ours, or els ransoumed at our pleasures; dayly we gate new money, and the vyllaynes of Auvergne and of Lymosyn dayly provyded and brought to our castell whete mele, good wynes, beffes, and fatte mottons, pullayne, and wylde foule: We were ever furnyshed as tho we had been kings. When we rode forthe, all the countrey trymbled for feare: all was ours goyng and comynge. How tok we Carlast, I and the Bourge of Companye, and I and Perot of Bernoys took Caluset; how dyd we scale, and lytell ayde, the strong castell of Marquell, pertayning to the Erl Dolphyn: I kept it nat past fyve days, but I receyved for it, on a feyre table, fyve thousande frankes, and forgave one thousande for the love of the Erl Dolphyn’s children. By my fayth, this was a fyre and a good lyfe! wherefore I repute myselfe sore deceyved, in that I have rendered up the fortress of Aloys; for it wolde have kept fro alle the worlde, and the daye that I gave it up, it was fournyshed with vytaylles, to have been kept seven yere without any re-vytayllinge. This Erl of Armynake hath deceyved me: Olyve Barbe, and Perot le Bernoys, shewed to me how I shulde repent myselfe: certayne I sore repente myselfe of what I have done."— FROISSART, vol. ii. p. 195.

20 The kings and heroes of Scotland, as well as the Border-riders, were sometimes obliged to study how to evade the pursuit of bloodhounds. Barbour informs us, that Robert Bruce was repeatedly tracked by sleuth-dogs. On one occasion, he escaped by wading a bow-shot down a brook, and ascending into a tree by a branch which overhung the water; thus leaving no trace on land of his footsteps, he baffled the scent. The pursuers came up:

“Rycht to the burn thai passyt ware,

Bot the sleuth-hund made stinting thar,

And waueryt lang tyme ta and fra,

That he na certain gate couth ga;

Till at last that John of Lorne

Perseuvit the hund the sleuth had lorne.”

The Bruce, Book vii.

A sure way of stopping the dog was to spill blood upon the track, which destroyed the discriminating fineness of his scent. A captive was sometimes sacrificed on such occasions. Henry the Minstrel tells a romantic story of Wallace, founded on this circumstance:— The hero’s little band had been joined by an Irishman, named Fawdoun, or Fadzean, a dark, savage, and suspicious character. After a sharp skirmish at Black-Erne Side, Wallace was forced to retreat with only sixteen followers. The English pursued with a Border sleuth-bratch, or blood-hound.

“In Gelderland there was that bratchet bred,

Siker of scent, to follow them that fled;

So was he used in Eske and Liddesdail,

While (i.e. till) she gat blood no fleeing might avail.”

In the retreat, Fawdoun, tired, or effecting to be so, would go no farther. Wallace, having in vain argued with him, in hasty anger struck off his head, and continued the retreat. When the English came up, their hound stayed upon the dead body:—

“The sleuth stopped at Fawdon, still she stood,

Nor father would fra time she fund the blood.”

The story concludes with a fine Gothic scene of terror. Wallace took refuge in the solitary tower of Gask. Here he was disturbed at midnight by the blast of a horn. He sent out his attendants by two and two, but no one returned with tidings. At length, when he was left alone, the sound was heard still louder. The champion descended, sword in hand; and, at the gate of the tower, was encountered by the headless spectre of Fawdoun, whom he had slain so rashly. Wallace, in great terror, fled up into the tower, tore open the boards of a window, leapt down fifteen feet in height, and continued his flight up the river. Looking back to Gask, he discovered the tower on fire, and the form of Fawdoun upon the battlements, dilated to an immense size, and holding in his hand a blazing rafter. The Minstrel concludes,

“Trust ryght wele, that all this be sooth indeed,

Supposing it be no point of the creed.”

The Wallace, Book v.

Mr. Ellis has extracted this tale as a sample of Henry’s poetry. — Specimens of English Poetry, vol. i. p. 351.

21 Hairibee, the place of executing the Border Marauders at Carlisle. The neck-verse is the beginning of the 51st Psalm, Miserere mei, &c., anciently read by criminals claiming the benefit of clergy.

22 Barbican, the defence of the outer gate of a feudal castle.

23 Peel, a Border tower.

24 This is a round artificial mount near Hawick, which, from its name (Mot. Ang. Sax. Concilium Conventus,) was probably anciently used as a place for assembling a national council of the adjacent tribes. There are many such mounds in Scotland, and they are sometimes, but rarely, of a square form.

25 The estate of Hazeldean, corruptly Hassendean, belonged formerly to a family of Scotts, thus commemorated by Satchells:—

“Hasssendean came without a call,

The ancientest house among them all.”

26 An ancient Roman road, crossing through part of Roxburghshire.

27 A romantic assemblage of cliffs, which rise suddenly above the vale of Teviot, in the immediate vicinity of the family-seat, from which Lord Minto takes his title. A small platform, on a projecting crag, commanding a most beautiful prospect, is termed Barnhill’s Bed. This Barnhill is said to have been a robber, or outlaw. There are remains of a strong tower beneath the rocks, where he is supposed to have dwelt, and from which he derived his name. On the summit of the crags are the fragments of another ancient tower, in a picturesque situation. Among the houses cast down by the Earl of Hartforde, in 1545, occur the towers of Easter Barnhills, and of Minto-crag, with Minto town and place. Sir Gilbert Elliot, father to the present Lord Minto,* was the author of a beautiful pastoral song, of which the following is a more correct copy than is usually published. The poetical mantle of Sir Gilbert Elliot has descended to his family.

“My sheep I neglected, I broke my sheep-hook,

And all the gay haunts of my youth I forsook:

No more for Amynta fresh garlands I wove;

Ambition, I said, would soon cure me of love.

But what had my youth with ambition to do!

Why left I Amynta! why broke I my vow!

“Through regions remote in vain do I rove,

And bid the wide world secure me from love.

Ah, fool, to imagine, that aught could subdue

A love so well founded, a passion so true!

Ah, give me my sheep, and my sheep-hook restore

And I’ll wander from love and Amynta no more!

“Alas! ’tis too late at thy fate to repine!

Poor shepherd, Amynta no more can be thine!

Thy tears are all fruitless, thy wishes are vain,

The moments neglected return not again.

Ah! what had my youth with ambition to do!

Why left I Amynta! why broke I my vow!”

* Grandfather to the present Earl. 1819.

28 The family of Riddell have been very long in possession of the barony called Riddell, or Ryedale, a part of which still bears the latter name. Tradition carries their antiquity to a point extremely remote; and is, in some degree, sanctioned by the discovery of two stone coffins, one containing an earthen pot filled with ashes and arms, bearing a legible date, A.D. 727; the other dated 936, and filled with the bones of a man of gigantic size. These coffins were discovered in the foundations of what was, but has long ceased to be, the chapel of Riddell; and as it was argued, with plausibility, that they contained the remains of some ancestors of the family, they were deposited in the modern place of sepulture, comparatively so termed, though built in 1110. But the following curious and authentic documents warrant most conclusively the epithet of “ancient Riddell:” 1st, A charter by David I. to Walter Rydale, Sheriff of Roxburgh, confirming all the estates of Liliesclive, &c., of which his father, Gervasius de Rydale, died possessed. — 2dly, A bull of Pope Adrian IV., confirming the will of Walter de Rydale, knight, in favour of his brother Anschittil de Ryedale, dated 8th April 1155, 3dly, A bull of Pope Alexander III., confirming the said will of Walter de Ridale, bequeathing to his brother Anschittil the lands of Liliesclive, Whettunes, &c., and ratifying the bargain betwixt Anschittil and Huctredus, concerning the church of Liliesclive, in consequence of the mediation of Malcolm II., and confirmed by a charter from that monarch. This bull is dated 17th June, 1160. 4thly, A bull in favour of his son Walter, conveying the said lands of Liliesclive and others, dated 10th March, 1120. It is remarkable, that Liliesclive, otherwise Rydale, or Riddel, and the Whittunes, have descended, through a long train of ancestors, without ever passing into a collateral line, to the person of Sir John Buchanan Riddell, Bart. of Riddell, the lineal descendant and representative of Sir Anschittil. — These circumstances appeared worthy of notice in a border work.

29 Barded, or barbed — applied to a horse accoutred with defensive armour.

30 Halidon was an ancient seat of the Kerrs of Cessford, now demolished. About a quarter of a mile to the northward lay the field of battle betwixt Buccleuch and Angus, which is called to this day the Skirmish Field.

31 Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholic church.

32 The ancient and beautiful monastery of Melrose was founded by King David I. Its ruins afford the finest specimen of Gothic architecture and Gothic sculpture which Scotland can boast. The stone of which it is built, though it has resisted the weather for so many ages, retains a perfect sharpness, so that even the most minute ornaments seem as entire as when newly wrought. In some of the cloisters, as is hinted in the next Canto, there are representations of flowers, vegetables, &c. carved in stone, with accuracy and precision so delicate, that we almost distrust our senses, when we consider the difficulty of subjecting so hard a substance to such intricate and exquisite modulation. This superb convent was dedicated to St. Mary, and the monks were of the Cistertian order. At the time of the Reformation, they shared in the general reproach of sensuality and irregularity, thrown upon the Roman churchmen. The old words of Galashiels, a favourite Scottish air, ran thus:—

O the monks of Melrose made gude kale*

On Fridays when they fasted:

They wanted neither beef nor ale,

As long as their neighbours’ lasted.

* Kale, Broth.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29