The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott

Archie of Ca’field.

It may perhaps be thought, that, from the near resemblance which this ballad bears to Kinmont Willie, and Jock o’ the Side, the editor might have dispensed with inserting it in this collection. But, although the incidents in these three ballads are almost the same, yet there is considerable variety in the language; and each contains minute particulars, highly characteristic of border manners, which it is the object of this publication to illustrate. Ca’field, or Calfield, is a place in Wauchopdale, belonging of old to the Armstrongs. In the account betwixt the English and Scottish marches, Jock and Geordie of Ca’field, there called Calfhill, are repeatedly marked as delinquents. —History of Westmoreland and Cumberland, Vol. I. Introduction, p. 33. “Mettled John Hall, from the laigh Tiviotdale,” is perhaps John Hall of Newbigging, mentioned in the list of border clans, as one of the chief men of name residing on the middle marches in 1597. The editor has been enabled to add several stanzas to this ballad, since publication of the first edition. They were obtained from recitation; and, as they contrast the brutal indifference of the elder brother with the zeal and spirit of his associates, they add considerably to the dramatic effect of the whole.

Archie of Ca’field.

As I was a walking mine alane,

It was by the dawning of the day,

I heard twa brithers make their mane,

And I listened weel to what they did say.

The youngest to the eldest said,

“Blythe and merrie how can we be?

There were three brithren of us born,

And ane of us is condemned to die.”

“An’ ye wad be merrie, an’ ye wad be sad,

What the better wad billie Archie be?

Unless I had thirty men to mysell,

And a’ to ride in my cumpanie.

“Ten to hald the horses’ heads,

And other ten the watch to be,

And ten to break up the strong prison,

Where billy186 Archie he does lie.”

Then up and spak him mettled John Hall,

(The luve of Teviotdale aye was he)

“An’ I had eleven men to mysell,

Its aye the twalt man I wad be.”

Then up bespak him coarse Ca’field,

(I wot and little gude worth was he)

“Thirty men is few anew,

And a’ to ride in our cumpanie.”

There was horsing, horsing in haste,

And there was marching on the lee;

Until they cam to Murraywhate,

And they lighted there right speedilie.

“A smith! a smith!” Dickie he cries,

“A smith, a smith, right speedilie,

To turn back the caukers of our horses’ shoon!

For its unkensome187 we wad be.”

“There lives a smith on the water side,

Will shoe my little black mare for me;

And I’ve a crown in my pocket,

And every groat of it I wad gie.”

“The night is mirk, and its very mirk,

And by candle light I canna weel see;

The night is mirk, and its very pit mirk,

And there will never a nail ca’ right for me.”

“Shame fa’ you and your trade baith,

Canna beet188 a gude fellow by your myster189

But leez me on thee, my little black mare,

Thou’s worth thy weight in gold to me.”

There was horsing, horsing in haste,

And there was marching upon the lee;

Until they cam to Dumfries port,

And they lighted there right speedilie.

“There’s five of us will hold the horse,

And other five will watchmen be:

But wha’s the man, amang ye a’,

Will gae to the Tolbooth door wi’ me?”

O up then spak him mettled John Hall,

(Frae the laigh Tiviotdale was he)

“If it should cost my life this very night,

I’ll gae to the Tolbooth door wi’ thee.”

“Be of gude cheir, now, Archie, lad!

Be of gude cheir, now, dear billie!

Work thou within, and we without,

And the mom thou’se dine at Ca’field wi’ me.”

O Jockie Hall stepped to the door,

And he bended low back his knee;

And he made the bolts, the door hang on,

Loup frae the wa’ right wantonlie.

He took the prisoner on his back,

And down the Tolbooth stair cam he;

The black mare stood ready at the door,

I wot a foot ne’er stirred she.

They laid the links out ower her neck,

And that was her gold twist to be;190

And they cam down thro’ Dumfries toun,

And wow but they cam speedilie.

The live long night these twelve men rade,

And aye till they were right wearie,

Until they cam to the Murraywhate,

And they lighted there right speedilie.

“A smith! a smith!” then Dickie he cries;

“A smith, a smith, right speedilie,

To file the irons frae my dear brither!

For forward, forward we wad be,”

They had na filed a shackle of iron,

A shackle of iron but barely thrie,

When out and spak young Simon brave,

“O dinna ye see what I do see?

“Lo! yonder comes Lieutenant Gordon,

Wi’ a hundred men in his cumpanie;

This night will be our lyke-wake night,

The morn the day we a’ maun die,”

O there was mounting, mounting in haste,

And there was marching upon the lee;

Until they cam to Annan water,

And it was flowing like the sea.

“My mare is young and very skeigh,191

And in o’ the weil192 she will drown me;

But ye’ll take mine, and I’ll take thine,

And sune through the water we sall be.”

Then up and spak him, coarse Ca’field,

(I wot and little gude worth was he)

“We had better lose are than lose a’ the lave;

We’ll lose the prisoner, we’ll gae free.”

“Shame fa’ you and your lands baith!

Wad ye e’en193 your lands to your born billy?

But hey! bear up, my bonnie black mare,

And yet thro’ the water we sall be.”

Now they did swim that wan water,

And wow but they swam bonilie!

Until they cam to the other side,

And they wrang their cloathes right drunkily.

“Come thro’, come thro’, Lieutenant Gordon!

Come thro’ and drink some wine wi’ me!

For there is an ale-house here hard by,

And it shall not cost thee ae penny.”

“Throw me my irons,” quo’ Lieutenant Gordon;

“I wot they cost me dear aneugh.”

“The shame a ma,” quo’ mettled John Ha’,

“They’ll be gude shackles to my pleugh.”

“Come thro’, come thro’, Lieutenant Gordon!

Come thro’ and drink some wine wi’ me!

Yestreen I was your prisoner,

But now this morning am I free.”

186 Billy— Brother.]

187 Unkensome— Unknown.]

188 Beet— Abet, aid.]

189 Mystery— Trade. — See Shakespeare.]

190 The Gold Twist means the small gilded chains drawn across the chest of a war-horse, as a part of his caparaison.]

191 Skeigh— Shy.]

192 Weil— Eddy.]

193 E’en— Even, put into comparison.]

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