The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott

Appendix, No. iii.

Maitland’s complaynt aganis the thievis of Liddisdail, from Pinkerton’s edition, collated with a ms. of Maitland’s poems, in the library of Edinburgh College.

Of Liddisdail the commoun theifis

Sa peartlie steillis now and reifis,

That nane may keip

Horse, nolt, nor scheip,

Nor yett dar sleip

For their mischeifis.

Thay plainly throw the country rydis,

I trow the mekil devil thame gydis!

Quhair they onsett,

Ay in thair gaitt,

Thair is na yet

Nor dor, thame bydis.

Thay leif rich nocht, quhair ever thay ga;

Thair can na thing be hid thame fra;

For gif men wald

Thair housis hald,

Than waxe thay bald,

To burne and slay.

Thay thiefs have neirhand herreit hail,

Ettricke forest and Lawderdaill;

Now are they gane,

In Lawthiane;

And spairis nane

That thay will waill.

Thay landis ar with stouth sa socht,

To extreame povertye ar broucht,

Thay wicked schrowis

Has laid the plowis,

That nane or few is

That are left oucht.

Bot commoun taking of blak mail,

Thay that had flesche, and breid and aill,

Now are sa wrakit,

Made bair and nakit,

Fane to be slaikit

With watter caill.

Thay theifs that steillis and tursis hame,

Ilk ane of them has ane to-name69;

Will of the Lawis,

Hab of the Schawis:

To mak bair wawis

Thay thinke na schame.

Thay spuilye puir men of their pakis,

Thay leif them nocht on bed nor bakis;

Baith hen and cok,

With reil and rok,

The Lairdis Jok,

All with him takis.

Thay leif not spindell, spoone, nor speit;

Bed, boster, blanket, sark, nor scheit;

Johne of the Parke

Ryps kist and ark;

For all sic wark

He is richt meit.

He is weil kend, John of the Syde;

A greater theif did never ryde.

He never tyris

For to brek byris:

Ouir muir and myris

Ouir gude ane gyde.

Thair is ane, callet Clement’s Hob,

Fra ilk puir wyfe reifis the wob,

And all the lave,

Quhatever they haife,

The devil recave

Thairfoir his gob.

To sic grit stouth quha eir wald trow it,

Bot gif some great man it allowit

Rycht sair I trow

Thocht it be rew:

Thair is sa few

That dar avow it.

Of sum great men they have sic gait,

That redy are thame to debait,

And will up weir

Thair stolen geir;

That nane dare steir

Thame air nor late.

Quhat causis theifis us ourgang,

Bot want of justice us amang?

Nane takis cair,

Thocht all for fear;

Na man will spair

Now to do wrang.

Of stouth thocht now thay come gude speid,

That nother of men nor God has dreid;

Yet, or I die,

Sum sail thame sie,

Hing on a trie

Quhill thay be deid —

Quo’ Sir R.M. of Lethington, knicht.

69 Owing to the marchmen being divided into large clans, bearing the same sirname, individuals were usually distinguished by some epithet, derived from their place of residence, personal qualities, or descent. Thus, every distinguished moss-trooper had, what is here called, a to-name, or nom de guerre, in addition to his family name.]

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