The Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Walter Scott

Canto Fourth

i.

SWEET Teviot! on thy silver tide

The glaring bale-fires blaze no more;

No longer steel-clad warrior ride

Along thy wild and willow’d shore

Where’er thou wind’st, by dale or hill

All, all is peaceful, all is still,

As if thy waves, since Time was born

Since first they roll’d upon the Tweed,

Had only heard the shepherd’s reed,

Nor started at the bugle-horn.10

ii.

Unlike the tide of human time —

Which, though it change in ceaseless flow

Retains each grief, retains each crime

Its earliest course was doom’d to know;

And, darker as it downward bears,

Is stain’d with past and present tears

Low as that tide has ebb’d with me,

It still reflects to Memory’s eye

The hour my brave, my only boy

Fell by the side of great Dundee.120

Why, when the volleying musket play’d

Against the bloody Highland blade,

Why was not I beside him laid!

Enough, he died the death of fame;

Enough, he died with conquering Graeme.

iii.

Now over Border dale and fell

Full wide and far was terror spread;

For pathless marsh, and mountain cell,

The peasant left his lowly shed.2

The frighten’d flocks and herds were pent30

Beneath the peel’s rude battlement;

And maids and matrons dropp’d the tear,

While ready warriors seiz’d the spear.

From Branksome’s towers, the watchman’s eye

Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy,

Which, curling in the rising sun,

Show’d southern ravage was begun.3

iv.

Now loud the heedful gate-ward cried —

“Prepare ye all for blows and blood!

Watt Tinlinn,4 from the Liddel-side40

Comes wading through the flood.

Full oft the Tynedale snatchers knock

At his lone gate, and prove the lock;

It was but last St. Barnabright

They sieg’d him a whole summer night,

But fled at morning; well they knew

In vain he never twang’d the yew.

Right sharp has been the evening shower

That drove him from his Liddel tower;

And, by my faith,” the gate-ward said,50

“I think ’twill prove a Warden-Raid.”5

v.

While thus he spoke, the bold yeoman

Enter’d the echoing barbican.

He led a small and shaggy nag,

That through a bog, from hag to hag,6

Could bound like any Billhope stag.7

It bore his wife and children twain;

A half-clothed serf8 was all their train;

His wife, stout, ruddy, and dark-brow’d,

Of silver brooch and bracelet proud,960

Laugh’d to her friends among the crowd.

He was of stature passing tall,

But sparely form’d, and lean withal

A batter’d morion on his brow;

A leather jack, as fence enow

On his broad shoulders loosely hung;

A border axe behind was slung;

His spear, six Scottish ells in length,

Seem’d newly dyed with gore

His shafts and bow, of wondrous strength,70

His hardy partner bore.

vi.

Thus to the Ladye did Tinlinn show

The tidings of the English foe:

“Belted Will Howard10 is marching here,

And hot Lord Dacre,11 with many a spear,

And all the German hackbut men,12

Who have long lain at Askerten:

They cross’d the Liddel at curfew hour,

And burn’d my little lonely tower:

The fiend receive their souls therefore!80

It had not been burnt this year and more.

Barn-yard and dwelling, blazing bright,

Serv’d to guide me on my flight;

But I was chas’d the livelong night.

Black John of Akeshaw and Fergus Graeme

Fast upon my traces came,

Until I turn’d at Priesthaugh Scrogg,

And shot their horses in the bog,

Slew Fergus with my lance outright

I had him long at high despite —90

He drove my cows last Fastern’s night.”

vii.

Now weary scouts from Liddesdale,

Fast hurrying in, confirm’d the tale;

As far as they could judge by ken,

Three hours would bring to Teviot’s strand

Three thousand armed Englishmen;

Meanwhile, full many a warlike band,

From Teviot, Aill, and Ettrick shade,

Came in, their Chief’s defence to aid.

There was saddling and mounting in haste,100

There was pricking o’er moor and lea;

He that was last at the trysting-place

Was but lightly held of his gay ladye.

viii.

From fair St. Mary’s silver wave,

From dreary Gamescleugh’s dusky height,

His ready lances Thirlestane brave

Array’d beneath a banner bright.

The treasured fleur-de-luce he claims

To wreathe his shield, since royal James,

Encamp’d by Fala’s mossy wave,110

The proud distinction grateful gave,

For faith ‘mid feudal jars;

What time, save Thirlestane alone,

Of Scotland’s stubborn barons none

Would march to southern wars;

And hence, in fair remembrance worn,

Yon sheaf of spears his crest has borne

Hence his high motto shines reveal’d —

“ Ready, aye ready” for the field.13

ix.

An aged Knight, to danger steel’d,120

With manya moss-trooper came on;

And azure in a golden field,

The stars and crescent graced his shield,

Without the bend of Murdieston.14

Wide lay his lands round Oakwood tower

And wide round haunted Castle-Ower;

High over Borthwick’s mountain flood

His wood-embosom’d mansion stood;

In the dark glen, so deep below,

The herds of plunder’d England low —130

His bold retainers’ daily food,

And bought with danger, blows, and blood.

Marauding chief! his sole delight

The moonlight raid, the morning fight;

Not even the Flower of Yarrow’s charms,

In youth, might tame his rage for arms

And still, in age, he spurn’d at rest,

And still his brows the helmet press’d,

Albeit the blanched locks below

Were white as Dinlay’s spotless snow;140

Five stately warriors drew the sword

Before their father’s band;

A braver knight than Harden’s lord

Ne’er belted on a brand.

x.

Scotts of Eskdale, a stalwart band,

Came trooping down the Todshaw-hill;

By the sword they won their land,

And by the sword they hold it still.

Hearken, Ladye, to the tale,

How thy sires won fair Eskdale.150

Earl Morton was lord of that valley fair;

The Beattisons were his vassals there.

The Earl was gentle, and mild of mood;

The vassals vere warlike, and fierce, and rude;

High of heart, and haughty of word,

Little they reck’d of a tame liege lord.

The Earl into fair Eskdale came,15

Homage and seignory to claim:

Of Gilbert the Galliard a heriot16 he sought,

Saying, “Give thy best steed, as a vassal ought.”160

“Dear to me is my bonny white steed,

Oft has he help’d me at pinch of need;

Lord and Earl though thou be, I trow

I can rein Bucksfoot better than thou.”

Word on word gave fuel to fire,

Till so highly blazed the Beattison’s ire,

But that the Earl the flight had ta’en,

The vassals there their lord had slain.

Sore he plied both whip and spur,

As he urged his steed through Eskdale muir;170

And it fell down a weary weight,

Just on the threshold of Branksome gate.

xi.

The Earl was a wrathful man to see,

Full fain avenged would he be.

In haste to Branksome’s Lord he spoke,

Saying —“Take these traitors to thy yoke;

For a cast of hawks, and a purse of gold,

All Eskdale I’ll sell thee, to have and hold:

Beshrew thy heart, of the Beattisons’ clan

If thou leavest on Eske a landed man;180

But spare Woodkerrick’s lands alone,

For he lent me his horse to escape upon.”

A glad man then was Branksome bold,

Down he flung him the purse of gold;

To Eskdale soon he spurr’d amain,

And with him five hundred riders has ta’en

He left his merrymen in the mist of the hill

And bade them hold them close and still;

And alone he wended to the plain,

To meet with the Galliard and all his train.190

To Gilbert the Galliard thus he said

“Know thou me for thy liege-lord and head;

Deal not with me as with Morton tame,

For Scotts play best at the roughest game.

Give me in peace my heriot due,

Thy bonny white steed, or thou shalt rue.

If my horn I three times wind,

Eskdale shall long have the sound in mind.”

xii.

Loudly the Beattison laugh’d in scorn;

“Little care we for thy winded horn.200

Ne’er shall it be the Galliard’s lot

To yield his steed to a haughty Scott.

Wend thou to Branksome back on foot

With rusty spur and miry boot.”

He blew his bugle so loud and hoarse

That the dun deer started at fair Craikcross;

He blew again so loud and clear,

Through the grey mountain-mist there did lances appear;

And the third blast rang with such a din

That the echoes answer’d from Pentoun-linn210

And all his riders came lightly in.

Then had you seen a gallant shock

When saddles were emptied and lances broke!

For each scornful word the Galliard had said

A Beattison on the field was laid.

His own good sword the chieftain drew,

And he bore the Galliard through and through;

Where the Beattisons’ blood mix’d with the rill,

The Galliard’s -Haugh men call it still,

The Scotts have scatter’d the Beattison clan220

In Eskdale they left but one landed man

The valley of Eske, from the mouth to the source

Was lost and won for that bonny white horse.

xiii.

Whitslade the Hawk, and Headshaw came

And warriors more than I may name;

From Yarrow-cleugh to Hindhaugh-swair,

From Woodhouselie to Chesterglen,

Troop’d man and horse, and bow and spear;

Their gathering word was Bellenden.17

And better hearts o’er Border sod230

To siege or rescue never rode.

The Ladye mark’d the aids come in,

And high her heart of pride arose:

She bade her youthful son attend,

That he might know his father’s friend,

And learn to face his foes.

“The boy is ripe to look on war;

I saw him draw a cross-bow stiff,

And his true arrow struck afar

The raven s nest upon the cliff;240

The red cross on a southern breast

Is broader than the raven s nest:

Thou, Whitslade, shalt teach him his weapon to wield,

And o’er him hold his father’s shield.”

xiv.

Well may you think the wily page

Car’d not to face the Ladye sage.

He counterfeited childish fear

And shriekd, and shed full many tear,

And moan’d and plain’d in manner wild.

The attendants to the Ladye told250

Some fairy, sure, had chang’d the child,

That wont to be so free and bold.

Then wrathful was the noble dame;

She blush’d blood-red for very shame:

“Hence! ere the clan his faintness view;

Hence with the weakling to Buccleuch!

Watt Tinlinn, thou shalt be his guide

To Rangleburn s lonely side.

Sure some fell fiend has cursed our line

That coward should e’er be son of mine!”260

xv.

A heavy task Watt Tinlinn had,

To guide the counterfeited lad.

Soon as the palfrey felt the wight

Of that ill-omen’d elfish freight,

He bolted, sprung, and rear d amain,

Nor heeded bit nor curb, nor rein.

It cost Watt Tinlinn mickle toil

To drive him but a Scottish mile;

But as a shallow brook they cross’d,

The elf, amid the running stream,270

His figure chang’d, like form in dream,

And fled, and shouted, “Lost! lost! lost!”

Full fast the urchin ran and laugh’d,

But faster still a cloth-yard shaft

Whistled from startled Tinlinn’s yew

And pierc’d his shoulder through and through.

Although the imp might not be slain,

And though the wound soon heal’d again

Yet, as he ran, he yell’d for pain;

And Wat of Tinlinn, much aghast,280

Rode back to Branksome fiery fast.

xvi.

Soon on the hill’s steep verge he stood,

That looks o’er Branksome’s towers and wood;

And martial murmurs, from below,

Proclaim’d the approaching southern foe.

Through the dark wood, in mingled tone,

Were Border pipes and bugles blown;

The coursers’ neighing he could ken,

A measured tread of marching men;

While broke at times the solemn hum290

The Almayn’s sullen kettle-drum;

And banners tall of crimson sheen

Above the copse appear;

And, glistening through the hawthorns green,

Shine helm, and shield, and spear.

xvii.

Light forayers, first, to view the ground,

Spurr’d their fleet coursers loosely round;

Behind, in close array, and fast,

The Kendal archers, all in green,

Obedient to the bugle blast,300

Advancing from the wood were seen.

To back and guard the archer band,

Lord Dacre’s bill-men were at hand:

A hardy race on Irthing bred,

With kirtles vhite, and crosses red,

Array’d beneath the banner tall,

That stream’d o’er Acre’s conquer’d wall;

And minstrels, ss they march’d in order,

Play’d “Noble Lord Dacre, he dwells on the Border.”

xviii.

Behind the English bill and bow,310

The mercenaries, firm and slow,

Moved on to fight, in dark array,

By Conrad led of Wolfenstein,

Who brought the band from distant Rhine,

And sold their blood for foreign pay.

The camp their home, their law the sword,

They knew no country, own’d no lord:18

They were not arm’d like England’s sons,

But bore the levin-darting guns;

Buff coats, all frounc’d and ‘broider’d o’er,320

And morsing-horns19 and scarfs they wore;

Each better knee was bared, to aid

The warriors in the escalade;

All as they march’d, in rugged tongue,

Songs of Teutonic feuds they sung.

xix.

But louder still the clamour grew,

And louder still the minstrels blew,

When fom beneath the greenwood tree,

Rode forth Lord Howard’s chivalry;

His men-at-arms, with glaive and spear,330

Brought up the battle’s glittenng rear.

There many a youthful knight, full keen

To gain his spurs, in arms was seen;

With favor in his crest, or glove,

Memorial of his ladye-love.

So rode they forth in fair array,

Till full their lengthen’d lines display;

Then call’d a halt, and made a stand,

And cried “St. George for merry England!”

xx.

Now every English eye intent340

On Branksome’s armed towers was bent;

So near they were, that they might know

The straining harsh of each cross-bow;

On battlement and bartizan

Gleam’d axe, and spear, and partisan;

Falcon and culver,20 on each tower,

Stood prompt their deadly hail to shower;

And flashing armor frequent broke

From eddying whirls of sable smoke,

Where upon tower and turret-head,350

The seething pitch and molten lead

Reek’d, like a witch’s caldron red.

While yet they gaze, the bridges fall,

The wicket opes, and from the wall

Rides forth the hoary Seneschal.

xxi.

Armed he rode, all save the head,

His white beard o’er his breast-plate spread;

Unbroke by age, erect his seat,

He rul’d his eager courser’s gait;

Forc’d him, with chasten’d fire to prance,360

And, high curvetting, slow advance;

In sign of truce, his better hand

Display’d a peeled willow wand;

His squire, attending in the rear,

Bore high a gauntlet on a spear.21

When they espied him riding out,

Lord Howard and Lord Dacre stout

Sped to the front of their array,

To hear what this old knight should say.

xxii.

“Ye English warden lords, of you370

Demands the Ladye of Buccleuch

Why, ‘gainst the truce of Border tide,

In hostile guise ye dare to ride,

With Kendal bow, and Gilsland brand,

And all yon mercenary band,

Upon the bounds of iair Scotland?

My Ladye reads you swith return;

And, if but one poor straw you burn

Or do our towers so much molest

As scare one swallow from her nest,380

St. Mary! but we’ll light a brand

Shall warm your hearths in Cumberland.”

xxiii.

A wrathful man was Dacre’s lord,

But calmer oward took the word:

“May ‘t please thy Dame, Sir Seneschal,

To seek the castle’s outward wall,

Our pursuivant-at-arms shall show

Buth why we came, and when we go.”

The message sped, the noble Dame

To the wall’s outward circle came;390

Each chief around lean’d on his spear

To see the pursuivant appear.

All in Lord Howard’s livery dress’d,

The lion argent deck-d his breast;

He led a boy of blooming hue —

O sight to meet a mother’s view!

It was the heir of great Buccleuch

Obeisance meet the herald made,

And thus his master’s will he said:

xxiv.

“It irks, high Dame, my noble Lords,400

‘Gainst ladye fair to draw their swords;

But yet they may not tamely see,

All through the Western Wardenry,

Your law-contemning kinsmen ride,

And burn and spoil the Border-side;

And ill beseems yom rank and birth

To make your towers a flemens-firth22

We claim from thee William of Deloraine

That he may suffer march-treason23 pain.

It was but last St. Cuthbert’s even410

He prick’d to Stapleton on Leven,

Harried24 the lands of Richard Musgrave,

And slew his brother by dint of glaive.

Then, since a lone and widow’d Dame

These restless riders may not tame,

Either receive within thy towers

Two hundred of my master’s powers,

Or straight they sound their warrison,25

And storm and spoil thy garrison:

And this fair boy, to London led,420

Shall good King Edward’s page be bred.”

xxv.

He ceased — and loud the boy did cry,

And stretch’d his little arms on high;

Implor’d for aid each well-known face,

And strove to seek the Dame’s embrace.

A moment chang’d that Ladye’s cheer,

Gush’d to her eye the unbidden tear;

She gaz’d upon the leaders round,

And dark and sad each warrior frown’d;

Then, deep within her sobbing breast430

She lock’d the struggling sigh to rest;

Unalter’d and collected stood,

And thus replied in dauntless mood:

xxvi.

“Say to your Lords of high emprize,

Who war on women and on boys,

That either William of Deloraine

Will cleanse him by oath of march-treason stain,26

Or else he will the combat take

‘Gainst Musgrave, for his honor’s sake.

No knight in Cumberland so good,440

But William may count with him kin and blood.

Knighthood he took of Douglas’ sword,27

When English blood swell’d Ancram’s ford;28

And but Lord Dacre’s steed was wight,

And bare him ably in the flight,

Himself had seen him dubb’d a knight

For the young heir of Branksome’s line,

God be his aid, and God be mine;

Through me no friend shall meet his doom;

Here, while I live, no foe finds room.450

Then, if thy Lords their purpose urge

Take our defiance loud and high;

Our slogan is their lyke-wake29 dirge,

Our moat the grave where they shall lie.”

xxvii.

Proud she look’d round, applause to claim —

Then lighten’d Thirlestane’s eye of flame

His bugle Wat of Harden blew;

Pensils and pennons wide were flung,

To heaven the Border slogan rung,

“St. Mary for the young Buccleuch!”460

The English war-cry answer’d wide,

And forward bent each southern spear;

Each Kendal archer made a stride,

And drew the bowstring to his ear;

Each minstrel’s war-note loud was blown;

But, ere a grey-goose shaft had flown

A horseman gallop’d from the rear.

xxviii.

“Ah! noble Lords!” he breathless said,

“What treason has your march betray’d?

What make you here, from aid so far,470

Before you walls, around you war?

Your foemen triumph in the thought

That in the toils the lion’s caught.

Already on dark Ruberslaw

The Douglas holds his weapon-schaw;30

The lances, waving in his train,

Clothe the dun heath like autumn grain;

And on the Liddel’s northern strand,

To bar retreat to Cumberland,

Lord Maxwell ranks his merry-men good,480

Beneath the eagle and the rood;

And Jedwood, Eske, and Teviotdale,

Have to proud Angus come;

And all the Merse and Lauderdale

Have risen with haughty Home.

An exile from Northumberland,

In Liddesdale I’ve wander’d long;

But still my heart was with merry England,

And cannot brook my country’s wrong;

And hard I’ve spurr’d all night, to show490

The mustering of the coming foe.”

xxix.

“And let them come!” fierce Dacre cried;

“For soon yon crest, my father’s pride,

That swept the shores of Judah’s sea,

And wav’d in gales of Galilee,

From Branksome’s highest towers display’d,

Shall mock the rescue’s lingering aid! —

Level each harquebuss on row;

Draw, merry archers, draw the bow;

Up, bill-men, to the walls, and cry,500

Dacre for England, win or die!”

xxx.

“Yet hear,” quoth Howard, “calmly hear

Nor deem my words the words of fear:

For who, in field or foray slack,

Saw the blanche lion e’er fall back?31

But thus to risk our Border flower

In strife against a kingdom’s power,

Ten thousand Scots ‘gainst thousands three,

Certes, were desperate policy.

Nay, take the terms the Ladye made,510

Ere conscious of the advancing aid:

Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine32

In single fight, and, if he gain,

He gains for us; but if he’s cross’d,

’Tis but a single warrior lost:

The rest retreating as they came,

Avoid defeat, and death, and shame.”

xxxi.

Ill could the haughty Dacre brook

His brother Warden’s sage rebuke;

And yet his forward step he stay’d,520

And slow and sullenly obey’d.

But ne’er again the Border side

Did these two lords in friendship ride;

And this slight discontent, men say,

Cost blood upon another day.

xxxii.

The pursuivant-at-arms again

Before the castle took his stand;

His trumpet call’d, with parleying strain

The leaders of the Scottish band;

And he defied in Musgrave’s right,530

Stout Deloraine to single fight;

A gauntlet at their feet he laid,

And thus the terms of fight he said:

“If in the lists good Musgrave’s sword

Vanquish the Knight of Deloraine,

Your youthful chieftain, Branksome’s Lord

Shall hostage for his clan remain:

If Deloraine foil good Musgrave,

The boy his liberty shall have.

Howe’er it falls the English band,540

Unharming Scots, by Scots unharm’d,

In peaceful march, like men unarm’d,

Shall straight retreat to Cumberland.”

xxxiii.

Unconscious of the near relief

The proffer pleased each Scottish chief,

Though much the Ladye sage gainsay’d;

For though their hearts were brave and true,

From Jedwood’s recent sack they knew

How tardy was the Regent’s aid:

And you may guess the noble Dame550

Durst not the secret prescience own,

Sprung from the art she might not name,

By which the coming help was known.

Clos’d was the compact, and agreed

That lists should be enclos’d with speed,

Beneath the castle, on a lawn:

They fix’d the morrow for the strife,

On foot, with Scottish axe and knife,

At the fourth hour from peep of dawn;

When Deloraine, from sickness freed,560

Or else a champion in his stead,

Should for himself and chieftain stand

Against stout Musgrave, hand to hand.

xxxiv.

I know right well, that, in their lay,

Full many minstrels sing and say,

Such combat should be made on horse,

On foaming steed, in full career,

With brand to aid, when as the spear

Should shiver in the course:

But he, the jovial Harper,33 taught570

Me, yet a youth, how it was fought,

In guise which now I say;

He knew each ordinance and clause

Of Black Lord Archibald’s battle-laws,34

In the old Douglas’ day.

He brook’d not, he, that scoffing tongue

Should tax his minstrelsy with wrong,

Or call his song untrue:

For this, when they the goblet plied,

And such rude taunt had chaf’d his pride,580

The Bard of Reull he slew.

On Teviot’s side, in fight they stood,

And tuneful hands were stain’d with blood;

Where still the thorn’s white branches wave,

Memorial o’er his rival’s grave.

xxxv.

Why should I tell the rigid doom

That dragg’d my master to his tomb;

How Ousenam’s maidens tore their hair

Wept till their eyes were dead and dim

And wrung their hands for love of him590

Who died at Jedwood Air?

He died! — his scholars, one by one,

To the cold silent grave are gone;

And I, alas! survive alone,

To muse o’er rivalries of yore,

And grieve that I shall hear no more

The strains, with envy heard before;

For, with my minstrel brethren fled,

My jealousy of song is dead.

HE paused: the listening dames again600

Applaud the hoary Minstrel’s strain.

With many a word of kindly cheer,

In pity half, and half sincere,

Marvell’d the Duchess how so well

His legendary song could tell

Of ancient deeds, so long forgot;

Of feuds, whose memory was not;

Of forests, now laid waste and bare;

Of towers, which harbor now the hare;

Of manners, long since chang’d and gone;610

Of chiefs, who under their grey stone

So long had slept, that fickle Fame

Had blotted from her rolls their name,

And twin’d round some new minion’s head

The fading wreath for which they bled;

In sooth,’twas strange, this old man’s verse

Could call them from their marble hearse.

The Harper smil’d, well-pleas’d; for ne’er

Was flattery lost on poet’s ear:

A simple race! they waste their toil620

For the vain tribute of a smile;

E’en when in age their flame expires,

Her dulcet breath can fan its fires:

Their drooping fancy wakes at praise,

And strives to trim the short-liv’d blaze.

Smil’d then, well pleas’d, the aged man

And thus his tale continued ran.

1 The Viscount of Dundee, slain in the battle of Killicrankie.

2 The morasses were the usual refuge of the Border herdsmen, on the approach of an English army. — Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, ante. p. 59. Caves, hewed in the most dangerous and inaccessible places, also afforded an occasional retreat. Such caverns may be seen in the precipitous banks of the Teviot at Sunlaws, upon the Ale at Ancram, upon the Jed at Hundalee, and in many other places along the border. The banks of the Eske, at Gorton and Hawthornden, ar hollowed into similar recesses. But even these dreary dens were not always secure places of concealment. “In the way as we came, not far from this place, (Long Niddry,) George Ferres, a gentleman of my Lord Protector’s. . . . .. happened upon a cave in the grounde, the mouth whereof was so worne with the freshe printe of steps, that he seemed certayne thear wear some folke within; and gone doune to thrie, he was redily receyved with a hakebut or two. He left them not yet, till he had known wheyther thei wold be content to yield and come out; which they fondly refusing, he went to my lorde’s grace, and upon utterance of the thynge, gat licence to deal with them as he coulde; and so returned to them, with a skore or two of pioners. Three vents had their cave, that we wear ware of, whereof he first stopt up on; anoother he fill’d full of strawe, and set it a fyer, whereat they within cast water apace; but it was so wel maynteyned without, that the fyer prevayled, and thei within fayn to get them belyke into anoother parler. Then devysed we (for I hapt to be with him) to stop the same up, whereby we should eyther smoother them, or fynd out their ventes, if thei hadde any moe; as this was done at another issue, about xii score of, we moughte see the fume of their smoke to come out: the which continued with so great a force, and so long a while, that we could not but thinke they must needs get them out, or smoother within; and for asmuch as we found not that they dyd the tone, we thought it for certain thei wear sure of the toother."— PATTEN’S Account of Somerset’s Expedition into Scotland, apud DALYELL’S Fragments.

3 From the following fragment of a letter from the Earl of Northumberland to King Henry VIII., preserved among the Cotton MSS. Calig. B. vii. 179, the reader may estimate the nature of the dreadful war which was occasionally waged upon the Borders, sharpened by mutual cruelties, and the personal hatred of the wardens, or leaders.

Some Scottish Barons, says the Earl, had threatened to come within “three miles of my pore house of Werkworth, where I lye, and gif me light to put on my clothes at mydnight; and alsoo the said Marke Carr said there opynly, that, seying they had a governor on the Marches of Scotland, as well as they had in Ingland, he shulde kepe your highness instructons, gyffyn unto your garyson, for making of any day-forrey; for he and his friends wolde burne enough on the nyght, lettyng your counsaill herre defyne a notable acte at theyre pleasures. Upon whiche, in your highnes name, I commaundet dewe watche to be kepte on your Marchies, for comyng in of any Scotts. — Neuertheless, upon Thursday at night last, came thyrty light horsemen into a litil village of myne, called Whitell, having not past sex houses, lying toards Ryddisdaill, upon Shilbotell More, and there wold have fyred the said howses, but ther was no fyre to get there, and they forgate to brynge any withe theyme; and took a wyf being great withe chyide, in the said towne, and said to hyr, Wher we can not gyve the lard lyght, yet we shall doo this in spyte of hym; and gyve her iii mortall wounds upon the heid, and another in the right side, with a dagger: whereupon the said wyf is deede, and the childe in her belly is loste. Beseeching your most gracious highness to reduce unto your gracious memory this wylful and shamefull murder, done within this your highnes realme, notwithstanding all the inhabitants thereabout rose unto the said fray, and gave warnynge by becons into the countrey afore theyme, and yet the Scottsmen dyde escape. And uppon certeyne knowledge to my brother Clyfforthe and me, had by credible persons of Scotland, this abomynable act not only to be done by dyverse of the Mershe, but also afore named persons of Tyvidaill, and consented to, as by appearance, by the Erle of Murrey, upon Friday at night last, let slyp C of the best horsemen of Glendaill, with a parte of your highness subjects of Berwyke, together with George Dowglas, whoo came into Ingland agayne, in the dawning of the day; but afore theyre retorne, they dyd mar the Earl of Murreis provisions at Coldingham; for they did not only burne the said town of Coldingham, with all the corne thereunto belonging, which is esteemed wurthe cii marke sterling; but alsoo burned twa townes nye adjoining thereunto, called Branerdergest and the Black Hill, and toke xxiii persons, lx horse, with cc head of cataill, which, nowe as I am informed, hathe not only been a staye of the Erle of Murreis not coming to the Bordure as yet, but alsoo, that none inlande man wil adventure theyr self uppon the Marches. And as for the tax that shulde have been grauntyd for finding of the said iii hundred men, is utterly denyed. Upon which the King of Scotland departed from Edynburgh to Stirling, and as yet there doth remayn. And also I, by the advice of my brother Clyfforth, have devysed, that within this iii nyghts, Godde willing, Kelsey, in like case, shall be brent, with all the corn in the said town; and then they shall have noo place to lye any garyson in nygh unto the Borders. And as I shall atteigne further knowledge, I shall not fail to satisfye your highnes, according to my most bounden dutie. And for this burnyng of Kelsey is devysed to be done secretly, by Tyndaill and Ryddisdale. And thus the holy Trynite and * * * your most royal estate, with long lyf, and as much increase of honour as your most notable heart can desire. At Werkworth the xxiid day of October.” (1522)

4 This person was, in my younger days, the theme of many a fireside tale. He was a retainer of the Buccleuch family, and held for his Border service a small tower on the frontiers of Liddesdale. Watt was, by profession, a sutor, but by inclination and practice, an archer and warrior. Upon one occasion, the captain of Bewcastle, military governor of that wild district of Cumberland, is said to have made an incursion into Scotland, in which he was defeated, and forced to fly. Watt Tinlinn pursued him closely through a dangerous morass; the captain, however, gained the firm ground; and seeing Tinlinn dismounted, and floundering in the bog, used these words of insult:—“Sutor Watt, ye cannot sew your boots; the heels risp, and the seams rive.* —“If I cannot sew, retorted Tinlinn, discharging a shaft which nailed the captain’s thigh to his saddle — “If I cannot sew I can yerk.*

* Risp, creak. — Rive, tear.

* Yerk, to twich, as shoemakers do, in securing the stitches of their work.

5 An inroad commanded by the Warden in person.

6 The broken ground in a bog.

7 There is an old rhyme, which thus celebrates the places in Liddesdale remarkable for game:

“Billhope braes for bucks and raes,

And Carit haugh for swine,

And Tarras for the good bull-trout,

If he be ta’en in time.”

The bucks and roes, as well as the old swine, are now extinct; but the good bull-trout is still famous.

8 Bondsmen.

9 As the Borderers were indifferent about the furniture of their habitations, so much exposed to be burned and plundered, they were proportionally anxious to display splendour in decorating and ornamenting their females. — See LESLEY de Moribus Limitaneorum.

10 Lord William Howard, third son of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, succeeded to Naworth Castle, and a large domain annexed to it, in right of his wife Elizabeth, sister of George Lord Dacre, who died without heirs male, in the 11th of Queen Elizabeth. By a poetical anachronism, he is introduced into the romance a few years earlier than he actually flourished. He was warden of the Western Marches; and, from the rigour with which he repressed the Border excesses, the name of Belted Will Howard is still famous in our traditions. In the castle of Naworth, his apartments, containing a bedroom, oratory, and library, are still shown. They impress us with an unpleasing idea of the life of a lord warden of the Marches. Three or four strong doors, sparating these rooms from the rest of the castle, indicate the apprehensions of treachery from his garrison; and the secret winding passages, through which he could privately descend into the guardroom, or even into the dungeons, imply the necessity of no small degree of secret superintendence on the part of the governor. As the ancient books and furniture have remained undisturbed, the venerable appearance of those apartments, and the armour scattered around the chamber, almost lead us to expect the arrival of the warden in person. Naworth Castle is situated near Brampton, in Cumberland. Lord William Howard is ancestor of the Earls of Carlisle.

11 The well-known name of Dacre is derived from the exploits of one of their ancestors at the siege of Acre, or Ptolemais, under Richard Coeur de Lion. There were two powerful branches of that name. The first family, called Lord Dacres of the South, held the castle of the same name, and are ancestors to the present Lord Dacre. The other family, descended from the same stock, were called Lord Dacres of the North, and were barons of Gilsland and Graystock. A chieftain of the latter branch was warden of the West Marches during the reign of Edward VI. He was a man of a hot and obstinate character, as appears from some particulars of Lord Surrey’s letter to Henry VIII., giving an account of his behaviour at the siege and storm of Jedburgh. It is printed in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Appendix to the Introduction.

12 Musketeers. — In the wars with Scotland, Henry VII. and his successors employed numerous bands of mercenary troops. At the battle of Pinky, there were in the English army six hundred hack-butters on foot, and two hundred on horseback, composed chiefly of foreigners. On the 27th of September, 1549, the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector, writes to the Lord Dacre, warden of the West Marches: “The Almains, in number two thousand, very valiant soldiers, shall be sent to you shortly from Newcastle, together with Sir Thomas Helcroft, and with the force of your wardenry, (which we would were advanced to the most strength of horsemen that it might be,) shall make the attempt at Loughmaben, being of no such strength but that it may be skailed with ladders, whereof, beforehand, we would you caused secretly some number to be provided; or else undermyned with the pyke-axe, and so taken: either to be kept for the King’s Majesty, or otherwise to be defaced, and taken from the profits of the enemy. And in like manner the house of Carlaverock to be used.” Repeated mention occurs of the Almains, in the subsequent correspondence; and the enterprise seems finally to have been abandoned, from the difficulty of providing these strangers with the necessary “victuals and carriages in so poor a country as Dumfries-shire."— History of Cumberland, vol. i. Introd. p. lxi. From the battle pieces of the ancient Flemish painters, we learn, that the Low Country and German soldiers marched to an assault with their right knees bared. And we may also observe, in such pictures, the extravagance to which they carried the fashion of ornamenting their dress with knots of riband. This custom of the Germans is alluded to in the Mirrour for Magistrates, p. 121.

“Their pleited garments therewith well accord,

All jagde and trounst, with divers colours deckt.”

13 Sir John Scott of Thirlestane flourished in the reign of James V., and possessed the estates of Thirlestane, Gamescleuch, &c., lying upon the river of Ettrick, and extending to St. Mary’s Loch, at the head of Yarrow. It appears, that when James had assembled his nobility, and their feudal followers, at Fala, with the purpose of invading England, and was, as is well known, disappointed by the obstinate refusal of his peers, this baron alone declared himself ready to follow the king wherever he should lead. In memory of his fidelity, James granted to his family a charter of arms, entitling them to bear a border of fleurs-de-luce, similar to the tressure in the royal arms, with a bundle of spears for the crest; motto, Ready, aye ready. The charter itself is printed by Nisbit; but his work being scarce, I insert the following accurate transcript from the original, in the possession of the Right Honourable Lord Napier, the representative of John of Thirlestane.

“JAMES REX.

We James, by the grace of God, King of Scottis, considerand the ffaith and guid servis of of of* right traist friend John Scott of Thirlestane, quha cummand to our hoste at Soutra-edge, with three score and ten launcieres on horseback of his friends and followers, and beand willing to gang with ws into England, when all our nobles and others refused, he was ready to stake at all our bidding; ffor the quhilk cause, it is our will, and we doe straitlie command and charg our lion herauld and his deputies for the time beand, to give and to graunt to the said John Scott, ane Border of ffleure de lises about his coatte of armes, sik as is on our royal banner, and alsua ane bundell of launces above his helmet, with tir words, Readdy, ay Readdy, that he and all his aftercummers may bruik the samine as a pledge and taiken of our guid will and kyndnes for his true worthines; and thir our letters seen, ye nae wayes failzie to do. Given at Ffalla Muire, under our hand and privy cashet, the xxvii day of July, m c and xxxii zeires. By the King’s graces speciall ordinance.

“JO. ARSKINE.”

On the back of the charter is written,

“Edin. 14 January, 1713. Registered, conform to the act of parliament made anent probative writs, per McKaile, pror. and produced by Alexander Borthwick, servant to Sir William Scott of Thirlestane. M. L. J.”

* Sic. in orig.

14 The family of Harden are descended from a younger son of the Laird of Buccleuch, who flourished before the estate of Murdieston was acquired by the marriage of one of those chieftains with the heiress, in 1296. Hence they bear the cognizance of the Scotts upon the field; whereas those of the Buccleuch are disposed upon a bend dexter; assumed in consequence of that marriage. — See GLADSTANE of Whitelawe’s MSS., and SCOTT of Stokee’s Pedigree, Newcastle, 1783.

Walter Scott of Harden, who flourished during the reign of Queen Mary, was a renowned Border Freebooter, concerning whom tradition has preserved a variety of anecdotes, some of which have been published in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; others in LEYDEN’S Scenes of Infancy; and others, more lately, in The Mountain Bard, a collection of Border ballads by Mr. James Hogg. The bugle-horn, said to have been used by this formidable leader, is preserved by his descendant, the present Mr. Scott of Harden. His castle was situated upon the very brink of a dark and precipitous dell, through which a scanty rivulet steals to meet the Borthwick. In the recess of this glen he is said to have kept his spoil, which served for the daily maintenance of his retainers, until the production of a pair of clean spurs, in a covered dish, announced to the hungry band, that they must ride for a supply of provisions. He was married to Mary Scott, daughter of Philip Scott of Gryhope, and called in the song the Flower of Yarrow. He possessed a very extensive estate, which was divided among his five sons. There are numerous descendants of this old marauding Baron. The following beautiful passage of LEYDEN’S Scenes of Infancy, is founded on a tradition respecting an infant captive, whom Walter of Harden carried off in a predatory incursion, and who is said to have become the author of some of our most beautiful pastoral songs:—

“Where Bortha hoarse, that loads the meads with sand

Rolls her red tide to Teviot’s western strand,

Through slaty hills, whose sides are shagg’d with thorn,

Where springs, in scattered tufts, the dark-green corn,

Towers wood-girt Harden, far above the vale,

And clouds of ravens o’er the turrets sail.

A hardy race, who never shrunk from war,

The Scott, to rival realms a mighty bar,

Here fixed his mountain-home — a wide domain,

And rich the soil, had purple heath been grain;

But what the niggard ground of wealth denied,

From fields more bless’d his fearless arm supplied.

“The waning harvest-moon shone cold and bright;

The warder’s horn was heard at dead of night;

And as the massy portals wide were flung,

With stamping hoofs the rocky pavement rung.

What fair, half-veil’d, leans from her latticed had,

Where red the wavering gleams of torchlight fall?

’Tis Yarrow’s finest Flower, who, through the gloom

Looks, wistful, for her lover’s dancing plume.

Amid the piles of spoil, that strew’d the ground,

Her ear, all anxious, caught a wailing sound;

With trembling haste the youghful matron flew,

And from the hurried heaps an infant drew.

“Scared at the light, his little hands he flung

Around her neck, and to her bosom clung;

While beauteous Mary soothed, in accents mild,

His fluttering soul, and clasp’d her foster child.

Of milder mood the gentle captive grew,

Nor loved the scenes that scared his infat view;

In vales remote, from camps and castles far,

He shunn’d the fearful shuddering joy of war:

Content the loves of simple swains to sing,

Or wake to fame the harp’s heroic string.

“His are the strains, whose wandering echoes thrill

The shepherd, lingering on the twilight hill,

When evening brings the merry folding hours,

And sun-eyed daisies close their winking flowers.

He lived o’er Yarrow’s Flower to shed the tear,

To strew the holly leaves o’er Harden’s bier:

But none was found above the minstrel’s tomb,

Emblem of peace, to bid the daisy bloom:

He, nameless as the race from which he sprung,

Saved other names, and left his own unsung.”

15 In this, and the following stanzas, some account is given of the mode in which the property in the valley of Esk was transferred from the Beattisons, its ancient possessors, to the name of Scott. It is needless to repeat the circumstances, which are given in the poem, literally as they have been preserved by tradition. Lord Maxwell, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, took upon himself the title of Earl of Morton. The descendants of Beattison of Woodkerrick, who aided the Earl to escape from his disobedient vassals, continued to hold these lands within the memory of man, and were the only Beattisons who had property in the dale. The old people give locality to the story, by showing the Galliard’s Haugh, the place where Buccleuch’s men were concealed, &c.

16 The feudal superior, in certain cases, was entitled to the best horse of the vassal, in name of Heriot, or Herezeld.

17 Bellenden is situated near the head of Borthwick water, and being in the centre of the possessions of the Scotts, was frequently used as their place of rendezvous and gathering word. — Survey of Selkirkshire, in Macfarlane’s MSS., Advocates’ Library. Hence Satchells calls one part of his genealogical account of the families of that clan, his Bellenden.

18 The mercenary adventurers, whom, in 1380, the Earl of Cambridge carried to the assistance of the King of Portugal against the Spaniards, mutinied for want of regular pay. At an assembly of their leaders, Sir John Soltier, a natural son of Edward the Black Prince, thus addressed them: “‘I counsayle, let us be alle of one alliance, and of one accorde, and let us among ourselves reyse up the baner of St. George, and let us be frendes to God, and enemyes to alle the worlde; for without we make ourselfe to be feared, we gette nothynge.’

“‘By my fayth,’ quod Sir William Helmon, ‘ye saye right well, and so let us do.’ They all agreed with one oyce, and so regarded among them who shulde be their capitayne. Then they advysed in the case how they coude nat have a better capitayne than Sir John Soltier. For they sulde than have good leyser to do yvel, and they thought he was more metelyer thereto than any other. Then they raised up the penon of St. George, and cried, ‘A Soltier! a Soltier! the valyaunt bastarde! frendes to God, and enemies to all the world!’"— FROISSART, vol. i. ch. 393.

19 Powder-flasks.

20 Ancient pieces of artillery.

21 A glove upon a lance was the emblem of faith among the ancient Borderers, who were wont, when any one broke his word, to expose this emblem, and proclaim him a faithless villain at the first Border meeting. This ceremony was much dreaded. See LESLEY.

22 An asylum for outlaws.

23 Several species of offences, peculiar to the Border, constituted what was called march-treason. Among others, was the crime of riding, or causing to ride, against the opposite country during the time of truce. Thus, in an indenture made at the water of Eske, beside Salom, on the 25th day of March, 1334, betwixt noble lords and mighty, Sirs Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway, a truce is agreed upon until the 1st day of July; and it is expressly accorded, “Gif ony stellis authir on the ta part, or on the tothyr, that he shall be hanget or heofdit; and gif ony company stellis any gudes within the trieux beforesayd, ane of that company sall be hanget or heofdit, and the remanant sall restore the gudys stolen in the dubble."— History of Westmoreland and Cumberland, Introd. p. xxxix.

24 Plundered.

25 Note of assault.

26 In dubious cases, the innocence of Border criminals was occasionally referred to their own oath. The form of excusing bills, or indictments, by Border-oath, ran thus: “You shall swear by heaven above you, hell beneath you, by your part of Paradise, by all that God made in six days and seven nights, and by God himself, you are whart out sackless of art, part, way, witting, ridd, kenning, having, or recetting of any of the goods and cattels named in this bill. So help you god."— History of Cumberland, Introd. p. xxv.

27 The dignity of knighthood, according to the original institution, had this peculiarity, that it did not flow from the monarch, but could be confered by one who himself possessed it, upon any squire who, after due probation, was found to merit the honour of chivalry. Latterly, this power was confined to generals, who were wont to create knights bannerets after or before an engagement. Even so late as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Essex highly offended his jealous sovereign by the indiscriminate exertion of this privilege. Amongothers, he knighted the witty Sir John Harrington, whose favour at court was by no means enhanced by his new honours. — See the Nugæ Antiquæ, edited by Mr. Park. But probably the latest instance of knighthood, conferred by a subject, was in the case of Thomas Ker, knighted by the Earl of Belrinnes. The fact is attested, both by a poetical and prose account of the engagement, contained in an ancient MS. in the Advocates’ Library, and edited by Mr. Dalyell, in Godly Sangs and Ballets, Edin. 1802.

28 The battle of Ancram Moor, or Penielheuch, was fought A.D. 1545. The English, commanded by Sir Ralph Evers, and Sir Brian latoun, were totally routed, and both their leaders slain in the action. The Scottish army was commanded by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, assisted by the Laird of Buccleuch and Norman Lesley.

29 Lyke-wake, the watching of a corpse previous to interment.

30 Weapon-schaw, the military array of a country.

31 This was the cognizance of the noble house of Howard in all its branches. The crest, or bearing, of a warrior, was often used as a nomme de guerre. Thus Richard III. acquired his well-known epithet, The Boar of York. In the violent satire on Cardinal Wolsey, written by Roy, commonly, but erroneously, imputed to Dr. Bull, the Duke of Buckingham is called the Beautiful Swan, and the Duke of Norfolk, or Earl of Surrey, the White Lion. As the book is extremely rare, and the whole passage relates to the emblematical interpretation of heraldry, it shall be here given at length.

“The Description of the Armes.

“Of the proud Cardinal is this the shelde,

Borne up betweene two angels of Sathan;

The six bloody axes in a bare felde,

Sheweth the cruelte of the red man,

Which hath devoured the Beautiful Swan,

Mortal enemy unto the Whyte Lion,

Carter of Yorke, the vyle butcher’s sonne.

The six bulles heddes in a felde blacke,

Brokeneth his stordy furiousness,

Wherefore, the godly lyght to put abacke,

He bryngeth in his dyvlish darcness;

The bandog in the middes doth expresse

The mastiff curre bred in Ypswich towne,

Gnawynge with his teth in a kinges crowne,

The cloubbe signifieth playne his tiranny,

Covered over with a Cardinal’s hatt,

Wherein shall be fulfilled the prophecy,

Aryse up, Jacke, and put on thy salatt,

For the tyme is come of bagge and walatt.

The temporall chevalry thus thrown doune,

Wherefor, prest, take hede, and beware thy crowne.”

There were two copies of this very scarce satire in the library of the late John, Duke of Roxburghe. See an account of it also in Sir Egerton Brydges’ curious miscellany, the Censura Literaria.

32 It may easily be supposed, that trial by single combat, so peculiar to the feudal system, was common on the Borders. In 1558, the well-known Kirkaldy of Grange fought a duel with Ralph Evre, brother to the then Lord Evre, in consequence of a dispute about a prisoner said to have been ill treated by the Lord Evre. Pitscottie gives the following account of the affair:—“The Lord of Ivers his brother provoked William Kircaldy of Grange to fight with him, in singular combat, on horseback, with spears; who, keeping the appointment, accompanied with Monsieur d’Ossel, lieutenant to the French King, and the garrison of Haymouth, and Mr. Ivers, accompanied with the governor and garrison of Berwick, it was discharged, under the pain of treason, that any man should come near the champions within a flight-shot, except one man for either of them, to bear their spears, two trumpets, and two lords to be judges. When they were in readiness, the trumpets sounded, the heraulds cried, and the judges let them go. They then encountered very fiercely; but Grange struck his spear through his adversary’s shoulder, and bare him off horse, being sore wounded. But whether he died, or not, is uncertain."— P.202.

The following indenture will show at how late a period the trial by combat was resorted to on the Border, as a proof of guilt or innocence:—

“It is agreed between Thomas Musgrave and Lancelot Carleton, for the true trial of such controversies as are betwixt them, to have it openly tried by way of combat, before God and the face of the world, to try it in Canonbyholme, before England and Scotland, upon Thursday in Easter-week, being the eigth day of April next ensuing, A.D. 1602, betwixt nine of the clock, and one of the same day, to fight on foot, to be armed with jack, steel cap, plaite sleeves, plaite breeches, plaite sockes, two basleard swords, the blades to be one yard and half a quarter in length, two Scotch daggers, or dorks, at their girdles, and either of them to provide armour and weapons for themselves, according to this indenture. Two gentlemen to be appointed, on the field, to view both the parties, to see that they both be equal in arms and weapons, according to this indenture; and being so viewed by the gentlemen, the gentlemen to ride to the rest of the company, and to leave them but two boys, viewed by the gentlemen, to be under sixteen years of age, to hold their horses. In testimony of this our agreement, we have both set our hands to this indenture, of intent all matters shall be made so plain, as there shall be no question to stick upon that day. Which indenture, as a witness, shall be delivered to two gentlemen. And for that it is convenient the world should be privy to every particular of the grounds of the quarrel, we have agreed to set it down in this indenture betwixt us, that, knowing the quarrel, their eyes may be witness of the trial.

The Grounds of the Quarrel.

“1. Lancelot Carleton did charge Thomas Musgrave before the Lords of her Majesty’s Privy Council, that Lancelot Carleton was told by a gentleman, one of her Majesty’s sworn servants, that Thomas Musgrave had offered to deliver her Majesty’s Castle of Bewcastle to the King of Scots; and to witness the same, Lancelot Carleton had a letter under the gentleman’s own hand for his discharge.

“2. He chargeth him, that, whereas her Majesty doth yearly bestow a great fee upon him, as captain of Bewcastle, to aid and defend her Majesty’s subjects therein: Thomas Musgrave hath neglected his duty, for that her Majesty’s Castle of Bewcastle was by him made a den of thieves, and an harbour and receipt for murderers, felons, and all sorts of misdemeanors. The precedent was Quintin Whitehead and Runion Blackburne.

“3. He chargeth him, that his office of Bewcastle is open for the Scotch to ride in and through, and small resistance made by him to the contrary.

“Thomas Musgrave doth deny all this charge; and saith, that he will prove that Lancelot Carleton doth falsely bely him, and will prove the same by way of combat, according to this indenture. Lancelot Carleton hath entertained the challenge; and so, by God’s permission, will prove it true as before, and hath set his hand to the same.

(Signed) “Thomas Musgrave,

“Lancelot Carleton.”

33 The person here alluded to, is one of our ancient Border minstrels, called Rattling Roaring Willie. The soubriquet was probably derived from his bullying disposition; being, it would seem, such a roaring boy, as is frequently mentioned in old plays. While drinking at Newmill, upon Teviot, about five miles above Hawick, Willie chanced to quarrel with one of his own profession, who was usually distinguished with the name of Sweet Milk, from a place on Rule Water so called. They retired to a meadow on the opposite side of the Teviot, to decide the contest with their swords, and Sweet Milk was killed on the spot. A thorn-tree marks the scene of the murder, which is still called Sweet Milk Thorn. Willie was taken and executed at Jedburgh, bequeathing his name to the beautiful Scotch air, called “Rattling Roaring Willie.” Ramsay, who set no value on traditionary lore, published a few verses of this song in the Tea-table Miscellany, carefully suppressing all which had any connexion with the history of the author and origin of the piece. In this case, however, honest Allan is in some degree justified, by the extreme worthlessness of the poetry. A verse or two may be taken, as illustrative of the history of Roaring Willie, alluded to in the text:—

“Now Willie’s gane to Jeddart,

And he’s for the rood-day;*

But Stobs and young Falsnash*

They follow’d him a’ the way;

They follow’d him a’ the way,

They sought him up and down,

In the links of Ousenam water

They found him sleeping sound.

“Stobs light aff his horse,

And never a word he spak,

Till he tied Willie’s hands

Fu’ fast behind his back,

Fu’ fast behind his back,

And down beneath his knee,

And drink will be dear to Willie,

When sweet milk* gars him die.

“Ah wae light on ye, Stobs!

An ill death mot ye die;

Ye’re the first and foremost man

That e’er laid hands on me;

That e’er laid hands on me,

And took my mare me frae:

Wae to you, Sir Gilbert Elliot!

Ye are my mortal fae!

“The lasses of Ouseman water

Are rugging and riving their hair,

And a’ for the sake of Willie,

His beauty was so fair:

His beauty was so fair,

And comely for to see,

And drink will be dear to Willie,

When sweet milk gars him die.”

* The day of the Rood-fair at Jedburgh.

* Sir Gilbert Elliot of Stobs, and Scott of Falnash.

* A wretched pun on his antagonist’s name.

34 The title to the most ancient collection of Border regulations runs thus:—“Be it remembered, that, on the 18th day of December, 1468, Earl William Douglas assembled the whole lords, free-holders, and eldest Borderers, that best knowledge had, at the college of Linclouden; and there he caused these lords and Borderers bodily to be sworn, the Holy Gospel touched, that they, justly and truly, after their cunning, should decrete, decern, deliver, and put in order and writing, the statutes, ordinances, and uses of marche, that were ordained in Black Archibald of Douglas’s days, and Archibald his son’s days, in time of warfare; and they came again to him advisedly with these statutes and ordinances, which were in time of warfare before. The said Earl William, seeing the statutes in writing decreed and delivered by the said lords and Borderers, thought them right speedful and profitable to the Borderers; the which statutes, ordinances, and points of warfare, he too, and the whole lords and Borderers he caused bodily to be sworn, that they should maintain and supply him at their goodly power, to do the law upon those that should break the statutes underwritten. Also, the said Earl William, and lords, and eldest Borderers, made certain points to be treason in time of warfare to be used, which were no treason before his time, but to be treason in his time, and in all time coming.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/lay_of_the_last_minstrel/canto4.html

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