Dum relego, scripsisse pudet; quia plurima cerno,
Me quoque, qui feci, judice, digna lini.
First published in 1805.
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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Charles Earl of Dalkeith,
this poem is inscribed by
The Poem, now offered to the Public, is intended to illustrate the customs and manners which anciently prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland. The inhabitants living in a state partly pastoral and partly warlike, and combining habits of constant depredation with the influence of a rude spirit of chivalry, were often engaged in scenes highly susceptible of poetical ornament. As the description of scenery and manners was more the object of the Author than a combined and regular narrative, the plan of the Ancient Metrical Romance was adopted, which allows greater latitude, in this respect, than would be consistent with the dignity of a regular Poem. The same model offered other facilities, as it permits an occasional alteration of measure, which, to some degree, authorizes the change of rhythm in the text. The machinery, also, adopted from popular belief, would have seemed puerile in a Poem which did not partake of the rudeness of the old Ballad, or Metrical Romance.
For these reasons, the Poem was put into the mouth of an ancient Minstrel, the last of the race, who, as he is supposed to have survived the Revolution, might have caught somewhat of the refinement of modern poetry, without losing the simplicity of his original model. The date of the Tale itself is about the middle of the sixteenth century, when most of the personages actually flourished. The time occupied by the action is Three Nights and Three Days.
A POEM of nearly thirty years’ standing1 may be supposed hardly to need an Introduction, since, without one, it has been able to keep itself afloat through the best part of a generation. Nevertheless, as, in the edition of the Waverley Novels now in course of publication, I have imposed on myself the task of saying something concerning the purpose and history of each, in their turns, I am desirous that the Poems for which I first received some marks of the public favour, should also be accompanied with such scraps of their literary history as may be supposed to carry interest along with them. Even if I should be mistaken in thinking that the secret history of what was once so popular, may still attract public attention and curiosity, it seems to me not without its use to record the manner and circumstances under which the present, and other Poems on the same plan, attained for a season an extensive reputation.
I must resume the story of my literary labours at the period of which I broke off in the Essay on the Imitation of Popular Poetry, when I had enjoyed the first gleam of public favour, by the success of the first edition of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. The second edition of that work, published in 1803, proved, in the language of the trade, rather a heavy concern. The demand in Scotland had been supplied by the first edition, and the curiosity of the English was not much awakened by poems in the rude garb of antiquity, accompanied with notes referring to the obscure feuds of barbarous clans, of whose very names civilized history was ignorant. It was, on the whole, one of those books which are more praised than they are read.
At this time I stood personally in a different position from that which I occupied when I first dipt my desperate pen in ink for other purposes than those of my profession. In 1796, when I first published my translations from Bürger, I was an insulated individual, with only my own wants to provide for, and having, in a great measure, my own inclinations alone to consult. In 1803, when the second edition of the Minstrelsy appeared, I had arrived at a period of life when men, however thoughtless, encounter duties and circumstances which press consideration and plans of life upon the most careless minds. I had been for some time married — was the father of a rising family, and, though fully enabled to meet the consequent demands upon me, it was my duty and desire to place myself in a situation which would enable me to make honourable provision against the various contigencies of life.
It may be readily supposed that the attempts which I had made in literature had been unfavourable to my success at the bar. The goddess Themis is, at Edinburgh, and I suppose everywhere else, of a peculiarly jealous disposition. She will not readily consent to share her authority, and sternly demands from her votaries, not only that real duty be carefully attended to and discharged, but that a certain air of business shall be observed even in the midst of total idleness. It is prudent, if not absolutely necessary, in a young barrister, to appear completely engrossed by his profession; however destitute of employment he may in reality be, he ought to preserve, if possible, the appearance of full occupation. He should, therefore, seem perpetually engaged among his law-papers, dusting them, as it were; and, as Ovid advises the fair,
“Si nullus erit pulvis, tamen excute nullum.”
Perhaps such extremity of attention is more especially required, considering the great number of counsellors who are called to the bar, and how very small a proportion of them are finally disposed, or find encouragement, to follow the law as a profession. Hence the number of deserters is so great, that the least lingering look behind occasions a young novice to be set down as one of the intending fugitives. Certain it is, that the Scottish Themis was at this time peculiarly jealous of any flirtation with the Muses, on the part of those who had ranged themselves under her banners. This was probably owing to her consciousness of the superior attractions of her rivals. Of late, however, she has relaxed in some instances in this particular, an eminent example of which has been shown in the case of my friend, Mr. Jeffrey, who, after long conducting one of the most influential literary periodicals of the age, with unquestionable ability, has been, by the general consent of his bretheren, recently elected to be their Dean of Faculty, or President — being the highest acknowledgment of his professional talens which they had it in their power to offer. But this last is an incident much beyond the ideas of a period of thirty years’ distance, when a barrister who really possessed any turn for lighter literature, was at as much pains to conceal it, as if it had in reality been something to be ashamed of; and I could mention more than one instance in which literature and society have suffered much loss, that jurisprudence might be enriched.
Such, however, was not my case; for the reader will not wonder that my open interference with matters of light literature diminished my employment in the weightier matters of the law. Nor did the solicitors, upon whose choice the counsel takes rank in his profession, do me less than justice, by regarding others among my contemporaries as fitter to discharge the duty due to their clients, than a young man who was taken up with running after ballads, whether Teutonic or national. My profession and I, therefore, came to stand nearly upon the footing which honest Slender consoled himself on having established with Mistress Anne Page; “There was no great love between us at the beginning, and it pleased Heaven to decrease it on farther acquaintance.” I became sensible that the time was come when I must either buckle myself resolutely to the “toil by day, the lamp by night,” renouncing all the Delilahs of my imagination, or bid adieu to the profession of the law, and hold another course.
I confess my own inclination revolted from the more severe choice, which might have been deemed by many the wiser alternative. As my transgressions had been numerous, my repentance must have been signalized by unusual sacrifices. I ought to have mentioned, that since my fourteenth or fifteenth year, my health, originally delicate, had become extremely robust. From infancy I had laboured under the infirmity of a severe lameness, but, as I believe is usually the case with men of spirit who suffer under personal inconveniences of this nature, I had, since the improvement of my health in defiance of this incapacitating circumstance, distinguished myself by the endurance of toil on foot or horseback, having often walked thirty miles a-day, and rode upwards of a hundred, without resting. In this manner I made many pleasant journeys through parts of the country then not very accessible, gaining more amusement and instruction than I have been able to acquire since I travelled in a more commodious manner. I practised most sylvan sports also, with some success, and with great delight. But these pleasures must have been all resigned, or used with great moderation, had I determined to regain my station at the bar. It was even doubtful whether I could, with perfect character as a jurisconsult, retain a situation in a volunteer corps of cavalry, which I then held. The threats of invasion were at this time instant and menacing; the call by Britain on her children was universal, and was answered by some, who, like myself, consulted rather their desire than their ability to bear arms. My services, however, were found useful as assisting to maintain the discipline of the corps, being the point on which their constitution rendered them most amenable to military criticism. In other respects, the squadron was a fine one, consisting chiefly of handsome men, well mounted and armed at their own expense. My attention to the corps took up a good deal of time; and while it occupied many of the happiest hours of my life, it furnished an additional reason for my reluctance again to encounter the severe course of study indispensable to success in the juridical profession.
On the other hand, my father, whose feelings might have been hurt by my quitting the bar, had been for two or three years dead, so that I had no control to thwart my own inclination; any my income being equal to all the comforts, and some of the elegancies of life, I was not pressed to an irksome labour by necessity, that most powerful of motives: consequently, I was the more easily seduced to choose the employment which was most agreeable to me. This was yet the easier, that in 1800 I had obtained the preferment of Sheriff of Selkirkshire, about 300l. a-year in value, and which was the more agreeable to me, as in that county I had several friends and relations. But I did not abandon the profession to which I had been educated, without certain prudential resolutions, which, at the risk of some egotism, I will here mention; not without the hope that they may be useful to the young persons who may stand in circumstances similar to those in which I then stood.
In the first place, upon considering the lives and fortunes of persons who had given themselves up to literature, or the task of pleasing the public, it seemed to me, that the circumstances which chiefly affected their happiness and character, were those from which Horace has bestowed upon authors the epithet of the Irritable Race. It requires no depth of philosophic reflection to perceive, that the petty warfare of Pope with the Dunces of his period could not have been carried on without his suffering the most acute torture, such as a man must endure from musquitoes, by whose stings he suffers agony, although he can crush them in his grasp by myriads. Nor is it necessary to call to memory the many humiliating instances in which men of the greatest genius have, to avenge some pitiful quarrel, made themselves ridiculous during their lives, to become the still more degraded objects of pity to future times.
Upon the whole, as I had no pretension to the genius of the distinguished persons who had fallen into such errors, I concluded there could be no occasion for imitating them in their mistakes, or what I considered as such; and, in adopting literary pursuits as the principal occupation of my future life, I resolved, if possible, to avoid those weaknesses of temper which seemed to have most easily beset my more celebrated predecessors.
With this view, it was my first resolution to keep as far as was in my power abreast of society, continuing to maintain my place in general company, without yielding to the very natural temptation of narrowing myself to what is called literary society. By doing so, I imagined I should escape the besetting sin of listening to language, which, from one motive or other, is apt to ascribe a very undue degree of consequence to literary pursuits, as if they were, indeed, the business, rather than the amusement, of life. The opposite course can only be compared to the injudicious conduct of one who pampers himself with cordial and luscious draughts, until he is unable to endure wholesome bitters. Like Gil Blais, therefore, I resolved to stick by the society of my commis, instead of seeking that of a more literary cast, and to maintain my general interest in what was going on around me, reserving the man of letters for the desk and the library.
My second resolution was a corollary from the first. I determined that, without shutting my ears to the voice of true criticism, I would pay no regard to that which assumes the form of satire. I therefore resolved to arm myself with that triple brass of Horace, all the roving warfare of satire, parody, and sarcasm; to laugh if the jest was a good one, or, if otherwise, to let it hum and buzz itself to sleep.
It is to the observance of these rules, (according to my best belief,) that, after a life of thirty years engaged in literary labours of various kinds, I attribute my never having been entangled in any literary quarrel or controversy; and, which is a still more pleasing result, that I have been distinguished by the personal friendship of my most approved contemporaries of all parties.
I adopted, at the same time, another resolution, on which it may doubtless be remarked, that it was well for me that I had it in my power to do so, and that, therefore, it is a line of conduct which, depending upon accident, can be less generally applicable in other cases. Yet I fail not to record this part of my plan, convinced that, though it may not be in every one’s power to adopt exactly the same resolution, he may nevertheless, by his own exertions, in some shape or other, attain the object on which it was founded, namely, to secure the means of subsistence, without relying exclusively on literary talents. In this respect, I determined that literature should be my staff, but not my crutch, and that the profits of my literary labour, however convenient otherwise, should not, if I could help it, become necessary to my ordinary expenses. With this purpose I resolved, if the interests of my friends could so far favour me, to retire upon any of the respectable offices of the law, in which persons of that profession are glad to take refuge, when they feel themselves, or are judged by others, incompetent to aspire to its higher honours. Upon such a post an author might hope to retreat, without any perceptible alteration of circumstances, whenever the time should arrive that the public grew weary of his endeavours to please, or he himself should tire of the pen. At this period of my life, I possessed so many friends capable of assisting me in this object of ambition, that I could hardly over-rate my own prospects of obtaining the preferment to which I limited my wishes; and, in fact, I obtained in no long period the reversion of a situation which completely met them.
Thus far all was well, and the Author had been guilty, perhaps, of no great imprudence, when he relinquished his forensic practice with hope of making some figure in the field of literature. But an established character with the public, in my new capacity, still remained to be acquired. I have noticed, that the translations from Bürger had been unsuccessful, nor had the original poetry which appeared under the auspices of Mr. Lewis, in the “Tales of Wonder,” in any degree raised my reputation. It is true, I had private friends disposed to second me in my efforts to obtain popularity. But I was sportsman enough to know, that if the greyhound does not run well, the halloos of his patrons will not obtain the prize for him.
Neither was I ignorant that the practice of ballad-writing was for the present out of fashion, and that any attempt to revive it, or to found a poetical character upon it, would certainly fail of success. The ballad measure itself, which was once listened to as an enchanting melody, had become hackneyed and sickening, from its being the accompaniment of every grinding hand-organ; and besides, a long work in quatrains, whether those of the common ballad, or such as are termed elegaic, has an effect upon the mind like that of the bed of Procrustes upon the human body; for, as it must be both awkward and difficult to carry on a long sentence from one stanza to another, it follows, that the meaning of each period must be comprehended within four lines, and equally that it must be extended so as to fill that space. The alternate dilation and contraction thus rendered necessary is singularly unfavourable to narrative composition; and the “Gondibert” of Sir William D’Avenant, though containing many striking passages, has never become popular, owing chiefly to its being told in this species of elegaic verse.
In the dilemma occasioned by this objection, the idea occurred to the Author of using the measured short line, which forms the structure of so much minstrel poetry, that it may be properly termed the Romantic stanza, by way of distinction; and which appears so natural to our language, that the very best of our poets have not been able to protract it into the verse properly called Heroic, without the use of epithets which are, to say the least, unnecessary.2 But, on the other hand, the extreme facility of the short couplet, which seems congenial to our language, and was, doubtless for that reason, so popular with our old minstrels, is, for the same reason, apt to prove a snare to the composer who uses it in more modern days, by encouraging him in a habit of slovenly composition. The necessity of occasional pauses often forces the young poet to pay more attention to sense, as the boy’s kite rises highest when the train is loaded by a due counterpoise. The Author was therefore intimidated by what Byron calls the “fatal facility” of the octo-syllabic verse, which was otherwise better adapted to his purpose of imitating the more ancient poetry.
I was not less at a loss for a subject which might admit of being treated with the simplicity and wildness of the ancient ballad. But accident dictated both a theme and a measure, which decided the subject, as well as the structure of the poem.
The lovely young Countess of Dalkeith, afterwards Harriet, Duchess of Buccleugh, had come to the land of her husband with the desire of making herself acquainted with its traditions and customs, as well as its manners and history. All who remember this lady will agree, that the intellectual character of her extreme beauty, the amenity and courtesy of her manners, the soundness of her understanding, and her unbounded benevolence, gave more the idea of an angelic visitant, than of a being belonging to this nether world; and such a thought was but too consistent with the short space she was permitted to tarry among us. Of course, where all made it a pride and a pleasure to gratify her wishes, she soon heard enough of Border lore; among others, an aged gentleman of property,3 near Langholm, communicated to her ladyship the story of Gilpin Horner, a tradition in which the narrator, and many more of that country, were firm believers. The young Countess, much delighted with the legend, and the gravity and full confidence with which it was told, enjoined on me as a task to compose a ballad on the subject. Of course, to hear was to obey; and thus the goblin story, objected to by several critics as an execrescence upon the poem, was, in fact, the occasion of its being written.
A chance similar to that which dictated the subject, gave me also the hint of a new mode of treating it. We had at that time the lease of a pleasant cottage, near Lasswade, on the romantic banks of the Esk, to which we escaped when the vacations of the Court permitted me so much leisure. Here I had the pleasure to receive a visit from Mr. Stoddart, (now Sir John Stoddart, Judge-Advocate at Malta,) who was at that time collecting the particulars which he afterwards embodied in his Remarks on Local Scenery in Scotland.4 I was of some use to him in procuring the information which he desired, and guiding him to the scenes which he wished to see. In return, he made me better acquainted than I had hitherto been with the poetic effusions which have since made the Lakes of Westmoreland, and the authors by whom they have been sung, so famous wherever the English tongue is spoken.
I was already acquainted with the “Joan of Arc,” the Thalaba,” and the “Metrical Ballads” of Mr Southey, which had found their way to Scotland, and were generally admired. But Mr. Stoddart, who had the advantage of personal friendship with the authors, and who possessed a strong memory with an excellent taste, was able to repeat to me many long specimens of their peotry, which had not yet appeared in print. Amongst others, was the striking fragment called Christabel, by Mr. Coleridge, which, from the singularly irregular structure of the stanzas, and the liberty which it allowed the author to adapt the sound to the sense, seemed to be exactly suited to such an extravaganza as I meditated on the subject of Gilpin Horner. As applied to comic and humorous poetry, this mescolanza of measures had been already used by Anthony Hall, Anstey, Dr. Wolcott, and others; but it was in Christabel that I first found it used in serious poetry, and it is to Mr. Coleridge that I am bound to make the acknowledgment due from the pupil to the master. I observe that Lord Byron, in noticing my obligations to Mr. Coleridge, which I have been always most ready to acknowledge, expressed, or was understood to expres, that I did not write an unfriendly review on Mr. Coleridge’s productions.5 On this subject I have only to say, that I do not even know the review which is alluded to; and were I ever to take the unbecoming freedom of censuring a man of Mr. Coleridge’s extraordinary talents, it would be on account of the caprice and indolence with which he has thrown from him, as if in mere wantonness, those unfinished scraps of poetry, which, like the Torso of antiquity, defy the skill of his poetical brethren to complete them. The charming fragments which the author abandons to their fate, are surely too valuable to be treated like the proofs of careless engravers, the sweepings of whose studios often make the fortune of some painstaking collector.
I did not immediately proceed upon my projected labour, though I was now furnished with a subject, and with a structure of verse which might have the effect of novelty to the public ear, and afford the author an opportunity of varying his measure with the variations of a romantic theme. On the contrary, it was, to the best of my recollection, more than a year after Mr. Stoddart’s visit, that, by way of experiment, I composed the first two or three stanzas of “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.” I was shortly afterwards visited by two intimate friends, one of whom still survives. They were men whose talents might have raised them to the highest station in literature, had they not preferred exerting them in their own profession of the law, in which they attained equal preferment. I was in the habit of consulting them on my attempts at composition, having equal confidence in their sound taste and friendly sincerity.6 In this specimen I had, in the phrase of the Highland servant, packed all that was my own at least, for I had also included a line of invocation, a little softened, from Coleridge —
“Mary, mother, shield us well.”
As neither of my friends said much to me on the subject of the stanzas I showed them before their departure, I had no doubt that their disgust had been greater than their good-nature chose to express. Looking upon them, therefore, as a failure, I threw the manuscript into the fire, and thought as little more as I could of the matter. Some time afterwards I met one of my two counsellors, who inquired, with considerable appearance of interest, about the progress of the romance I had commenced, and was greatly surprised at learing its fate. He confessed that neigher he nor our mutual friend had been at first able to give a precise opinion on the poem so much out of the common road, but that as they walked home together to the city, they had talked much on the subejct, and the result was an earnest desire that I would proceed with the composition. He also added, that some sort of prologue might be necessary, to place the mind of the hearers in the situation to understand and enjoy the poem, and recommended the adoption of such quaint mottoes as Spencer has used to announce the contents of the chapters of the Faery Queen, such as:—
“Babe’s bloody hands may not be cleansed.
The face of golden Mean:
Her sisters two, Extremities,
Her strive to banish clean.”
I entirely agreed with my friendly critic in the necessity of having some sort of pitch-pipe, which might make readers aware of the object, or rather the tone, of the publication. But I doubted whether, in assuming the oracular style of Spenser’s mottoes, the interpreter might not be censured as the harder to be understood of the two. I therefore introduced the Old Minstrel, as an appropriate prolocutor, by whom the lay might be sung, or spoken, and the introduction of whom betwixt the cantos, might remind the reader at intervals, of the time, place, and circumstances of the recitation. This species of cadre, or frame, afterwards afforded the poem its name of “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.”
The work was subsequently shown to other friends during its progress, and received the imprimatur of Mr. Francis Jeffrey, who had been already for some time distinguished by his critical talent.
The poem, being once licensed by the critics as fit for the market, was soon finished, proceeding at about the rate of a canto per week. There was, indeed, little occasion for pause or hesitation, when a troublesome rhyme might be accommodated by an alteration of stanza, or where an incorrect measure might be remedied by a variation in the rhyme. It was finally published in 1805, and may be regarded as the first work in which the writer who has been since so voluminous, laid his claim to be considered as an original author.
The book was published by Longman and Company, and Archibald Constable and Company. The principal of the latter firm was then commencing that course of bold and liberal industry which was of so much advantage to his country, and might have been so to himself, but for causes which it is needless to enter into here. The work, brought out on the usual terms of division of profits between the author and the publishers, was not long after purchased by them for 500l. to which Messrs. Longman and Company afterwards added 100l., in their own unsolicited kindness, in consequence of the uncommon success of the work. It was handsomely given to supply the lose of a fine horse, which broke down suddenly while the author was riding with one of the publishers.
It would be great affectation not to own frankly, that the author expected some success from “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.” The attempt to return to a more simple and natural style of poetry was likely to be welcomed, at a time when the publich had become tired of heroic hexameters, with all the buckram and binding which belong to them of latter days. But whatever might have been his expectations, whether moderate or unreasonable, the result left them far behind, for among those who smiled on the adventurous Minstrel, were numbered the great names of William Pitt and Charles Fox. Neither was the extent of the sale inferior to the character of the judges who received the poem with approbation. Upwards of thirty thousand copies of the Lay were disposed of by the trade; and the author had to perform a task difficult to human vanity, when called upon to make the necessary deductions from his own merits, in a calm attempt to account for his popularity.
A few additional remarks on the author’s literary attempts after this period will be found in the Introduction to the Poem of Marmion.
Abbotsford, April, 1830.
1 Published in 4to. (1l. 5s.) 1805.
2 Thus it has been often remarked, that, in the opening couplets of Pope’s translation of the Illiad, there are two syllables forming a superfluous word in each line, as may be observed by attending to such words as are printed in Italics.
“Achilles’ wrath to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumber’d, heavenly goddess, sing;
That wrath which sent to Pluto’s gloomy reign,
The souls of mighty chiefs in battle slain,
Whose bones, unburied on the desert shore,
Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore.”
3 This was Mr. Beattie of Mickledale, a man then considerably upwards of eighty, of a shrewd and sarcastic temper, which he did not at all times suppress, as the following anecdote will show: A worthy clergyman, now deceased, with better good-will than tact, was endeavouring to push the senior forward in his recollection of Border ballads and legends, by expresing reiterated surprise at his wonderful memory. “No, sir,” said old Mickledale; “my memory is good for little, for it cannot retain what ought to be preserved. I can remember all these stories about the auld riding days, which are of no earthly importance; but were you, reverend sir, to repeat your best sermon in this drawing-room, I could not tell you half an hour afterwards what you had been speaking about.”
4 Two volumes, royal octavo, 1801.
5 Medwin’s Conversations of Lord Byron, p. 309.
6 One of these, William Erskine, Esq. (Lord Kinnedder,) I have often had occasion to mention, and though I may hardly be thanked for disclosing the name of the other, yet I cannot but state that the second is George Cranstoun, Esq., now a Senator of the College of Justice by the title of Lord Corehouse. 1831.
THE way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His wither’d cheek, and tresses gray,
Seem’d to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the Bards was he,
Who sung of Border chivalry;
For, welladay! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;10
And he, neglected and oppress’d,
Wish’d to be with them, and at rest.
No more on prancing palfrey borne,
He caroll’d, light as lark at morn;
No longer courted and caress’d,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest
He pour’d to lord and lady gay
The unpremeditated lay:
Old times were changed, old manners gone;
A stranger fill’d the Stuarts’ throne;20
The bigots of the iron time
Had call’d his harmless art a crime.
A wandering Harper, scorn’d and poor,
He begg’d his bread from door to door,
And tuned, to please a peasant’s ear,
The harp a king had loved to hear.
He pass’d where Newark’s stately tower
Looks out from Yarrow’s birchen bower:
The Minstrel gazed with wishful eye;
No humbler resting-place was nigh;30
With hesitating step at last
The embattled portal arch he pass’d,
Whose ponderous grate and massy bar
Had oft roll’d back the tide of war,
But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.
The Duchess1 marked his weary pace,
His timid mien, and reverend face,
And bade her page the menials tell
That they should tend the old man well:40
For she had known adversity,
Though born in such a high degree;
In pride of power, in beauty’s bloom,
Had wept o’er Monmouth’s bloody tomb!
When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride:
And he began to talk anon,
Of good Earl Francis,2 dead and gone,
And of Earl Walter,3 rest him, God!50
A braver ne’er to battle rode;
And how full many a tale he knew,
Of the old warriors of Buccleuch:
And, would the noble Duchess deign
To listen to an old man’s strain,
Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought even yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,
He could make music to her ear.
The humble boon was soon obtain’d;60
The aged Minstrel audience gain’d.
But, when he reached the room of state,
Where she, with all her ladies, sate,
Perchance he wish’d his boon denied:
For, when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security to please;
And scenes long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o’er his aged brain —
He tried to tune his harp in vain!70
The pitying Duchess praised its chime,
And gave him heart, and gave him time,
Till every string’s according glee
Was blended into harmony.
And then, he said, he would full fain
He could recall an ancient strain,
He never thought to sing again.
It was not framed for village churls,
But for high dames and mighty earls;
He had play’d it to King Charles the Good,80
When he kept court in Holyrood;
And much he wish’d, yet fear’d, to try
The long-forgotten melody.
Amid the strings his fingers stray’d,
And an uncertain warbling made,
And oft he shook his hoary head.
But when he caught the measure wild,
The old mall raised his face, and smiled;
And lighten’d up his faded eye,
With all a poet’s ecstacy!90
In varying cadence, soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords along:
The present scene, the future lot,
His toils, his wants, were all forgot:
Cold diffidence, and age’s frost,
In the full tide of song were lost;
Each blank, in faithless memory void,
The poet’s glowing thought supplied;
And, while his harp responsive rung,
’Twas thus the LATEST MINSTREL sung.100
1 Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient Lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, Duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded in 1685.
2 Francis Scott, Earl of Buccleuch, father of the Duchess.
3 Walter, Earl of Buccleuch, grandfather of the Duchess, and a celebrated warrior.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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?
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!
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.
“Sleep’st thou, brother?”
—“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!”
“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
“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
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!”
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
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
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.
“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.
“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.”
“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
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IF thou would’st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey.
Where the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light’s uncertain shower
Streams on the ruin’d central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem fram’d of ebon and ivory;10
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;1
When distant Tweed is heard to rave
And the owlet to hoot o’er the dead man’s grave
Then go — but go alone the while —
Then view St. David’s ruin’d pile;2
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!
Short halt did Deloraine make there;
Little reck’d he of the scene so fair:20
With dagger’s hilt, on the wicket strong,
He struck full loud, and struck full long
The porter hurried to the gate —
“Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?”
“From Branksome I,” the warrior cried;
And straight the wicket open’d wide:
For Branksome’s Chiefs had in battle stood,
To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood,
Had gifted the shrine for their souls’ repose.330
Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, his feet unshod,
And noiseless step, the path he trod;
The arched cloister, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior’s clanking stride,
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He enter’d the cell of the ancient priest,
And lifted his barred aventayle,4
To hail the Monk of St. Mary’s aisle.40
“The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
Says, that the fated hour is come,
And that to-night I shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb.”
From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,
With toil his stiffen’d limbs he rear’d;
A hundred years had flung their snows
On his thin locks and floating beard.
And strangely on the Knight look’d he,
And his blue eyes gleam’d wild and wide;50
“And dar’st thou, Warrior! seek to see
What heaven and hell alike would hide?
My breast, in belt of iron pent,
With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn;
For threescore years, in penance spent,
My knees those flinty stones have worn;
Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should ne’er be known.
Would’st thou thy every future year
In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,60
Yet wait thy latter end with fear —
Then, daringWarrior, follow me!”
“Penance, father, will I none;
Prayer know I hardly one;
For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,
Save to patter an Ave Mary,
When I ride on a Border foray.5
Other prayer can I none;
So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.”
Again on the Knight look’d the Churchman old,70
And again he sighed heavily;
For he had himself been a warrior bold,
And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long since by
When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high:
Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
Where, cloister’d round, the garden lay;
The pillar’d arches were over their head
And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead.6
Spreading herbs, and flowerets bright,80
Glisten’d with the dew of night;
Nor herb, nor floweret, glisten’d there,
But was carv’d in the cloister-arches as fair.
The Monk gazed long on the lovely moon,
Then into the night he looked forth;
And red and bright the streamers light
Were dancing in the glowing north.
So had he seen, in fair Castile,
The youth in glittering squadrons start,7
Sudden the flying jennet wheel,90
And hurl the unexpected dart.
He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright,
That spirits were riding the northern light.
By a steel-clench’d postern door,
They enter’d now the chancel tall;
The darken’d roof rose high aloof
On pillars lofty and light and small:
The key-stone, that lock’d each ribbed aisle
Was a fleur-de-lys, or a quatre-feuille
The corbells8 were carv’d grotesque and grim;100
And the pillars, with cluster’d shafts so trim,
With base and with capital flourish’d around,
Seem’d bundles of lances which garlands had bound.
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,
Around the screened altar’s pale
And there the dying lamps did burn,
Before thy low and lonely urn
O gallant Chief of Otterburne!9
And thine, dark Knight of Liddesdale!10110
O fading honors of the dead!
O high ambition, lowly laid!
The moon on the east oriel shone
Through slender shafts of shapely stone
By foliaged tracery combin’d;
Thou would’st have thought some fairy’s hand
‘Twixt poplars straight the ozier wand
In many a freakish knot, had twin’d;
Then fram’d a spell, when the work was done
And chang’d the willow-wreaths to stone.120
The silver light, so pale and faint,
Shew’d many a prophet, and many a saint
Whose image on the glass was dyed
Full in the midst, his Cross of Red
Triumphant Michael brandished
And trampled the Apostate’s pride.
The moon-beam kiss’d the holy pane11
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain
They sate them down on a marble stone — 12
(A Scottish monarch slept below):130
Thus spoke the Monk, in solemn tone:
“I was not always a man of woe;
For Paynim countries I have trod
And fought beneath the Cross of God:
Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear,
And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear.
“In these far climes it was my lot
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott13
A wizard, of such dreaded fame,
That when, in Salamanca’s cave14140
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Notre Dame!15
Some of his skill he taught to me
And, Warrior, I could say to thee
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,
And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone:16
But to speak them were a deadly sin
And for having but thought them my heart within
A treble penance must be done.
‘“When Michael lay on his dying bed,150
His conscience was awakened:
He bethought him of his sinful deed,
And he gave me a sign to come with speed.
I was in Spain when the morning rose
But I stood by his bed ere evening close.
The words may not again be said,
That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid
They would rend this Abbaye’s massy nave,
And pile it in heaps above his grave.
“I swore to bury his Mighty Book,160
That never mortal might therein look;
And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his Chief of Branksome’s need:
And when that need was past and o’er
Again the volume to restore.
I buried him on St. Michael’s night,
When the bell toll’d one, and the moon was bright,
And I dug his chamber among the dead
When the floor of the chancel was stained red,
That his patron’s cross might over him wave,170
And scare the fiends fromthe Wizard’s grave.
“It was a night of woe and dread,
When Michael in the tomb I laid!
Strange sounds along the chancel pass’d,
The banners wav’d without a blast”—
— Still spoke the Monk, when the bell toll’d one! —
I tell you, that a braver man
Than William of Deloraine, good at need,
Against a foe ne’er spurr’d a steed
Yet somewhat was he chill’d with dread,180
And his hair did bristle upon his head.
“Lo, Warrior! now, the Cross of Red
Points to the grave of the mighty dead;
Within it burns a wondrous light,
To chase the spirits that love the night:
That lamp shall burn unquenchably
Until the eternal doom shall be."— 17
Slow mov’d the Monk to the broad flag-stone,
Which the bloody cross was trac’d upon:
He pointed to a secret nook;190
An iron bar the Warrior took;
And the Monk made a sign with his wither’d hand,
The grave’s huge portal to expand.
With beating heart to the task he went;
His sinewy frame o’er the grave-stone bent
With bar of iron heav’d amain,
Till the toil-drops fell from his brows, like rain.
It was by dint of passing strength,
That he moved the massy stone at length.
I would you had been there, to see200
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Stream’d upward to the chancel roof
And through the galleries far aloof!
No earthly flame blazed e’er so bright:
It shone like heaven’s own blessed light,
And, issuing from the tomb,
Show’d the Monk’s cowl, and visage pale,
Danc’d on the dark-brow’d Warrior’s mail,
And kiss’d his waving plume.
Before their eyes the Wizard lay,210
As if he had not been dead a day.
His hoary beard in silver roll d,
He seem’d some seventy winters old;
A palmer’s amice wrapp’d him round
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound
Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea:
His left hand held his Book of Might;
A silver cross was in his right;
The lamp was placed beside his knee:
High and majestic was his look,220
At which the fellest fiends had shook,
And all unruffled was his face:
They trusted his soul had gotten grace.
Often had William of Deloraine
Rode through the battle’s bloody plain,
And trampled down the warriors slain,
And neither known remorse nor awe;
Yet now remorse and awe he own’d;
His breath came thick, his head swam round,
When this strange scene of death he saw.230
Bewilder’d and unnerv’d he stood,
And the priest pray’d fervently and loud:
With eyes averted prayed he;
He might not endure the sight to see,
Of the man he had lov’d so brotherly.
And when the priest his death-prayer had pray’d,
Thus unto Deloraine he said:—
“Now, speed thee what thou hast to do,
Or, Warrior, we may dearly rue;
For those thou may’st not look upon240
Are gathering fast round the yawning stone!”
Then Deloraine, in terror, took
From the cold hand the Mighty Book,
With iron clasp’d, and with iron bound:
He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown’d:18
But the glare of the sepulchral light,
Perchance, had dazzled the warrior’s sight.
When the huge stone sunk o’er the tomb,
The night return’d in double gloom
For the moon had gone down, and the stars were few,250
And, as the Knight and Priest withdrew,
With wavering steps and dizzy brain,
They hardly might the postern gain.
’Tis said, as through the aisles they pass’d,
They heard strange noises on the blast;
And through the cloister-galleries small,
Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall
Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran,
And voices unlike the voice of man
As if the fiends kept holiday,260
Because these spells were brought today.
I cannot tell how the truth may be
I say the tale as ’twas said to me.
“Now, hie thee hence,” the Father said,
“And when we are on death-bed laid
O may our dear Ladye, and sweet St. John
Forgive our souls for the deed we have done!”
The Monk return’d hirn to his cell,
And many a prayer and penance sped;
When the convent met at the noontide bell —270
The Monk of St. Mary’s aisle was dead!
Before the cross was the body laid
With hands clasp’d fast, as if still he pray’d.
The Knight breath’d free in the morning wind,
And strove his hardihood to find:
He was glad when he pass’d the tombstones grey,
Which girdle round the fair Abbaye;
For the mystic Book, to his bosom prest,
Felt like a load upon his breast
And his joints, with nerves of iron twin’d,280
Shook, like the aspen leaves in wind.
Full fain was he when the dawn of day
Began to brighten Cheviot grey;
He joy’d to see the cheerful light,
And he said Ave Mary, as well as he might.
The sun had brighten’d Cheviot grey,
The sun had brighten’d the Carter’s 19
And soon beneath the rising day
Smil’d Branksome towers and Teviot’s tide.
Thewild birds told theirwarbling tale,290
And waken’d every flower that blows;
And peeped forth the violet pale,
And spread her breast the mountain rose.
And lovelier than the rose so red,
Yet paler than the violet pale,
She early left her sleepless bed,
The fairest maid of Teviotdale.
Why does fair Margaret so early awake,
And don her kirtle so hastilie
And the silken knots, which in hurry she would make,300
Why tremble her slender fingers to tie;
Why does she stop, and look often around,
As she glides down the secret stair;
And why does she pat the shaggy blood-hound,
As he rouses him up from his lair;
And, though she passes the postern alone
Why is not the watchman’s bugle blown?
The Ladye steps in doubt and dread,
Lest her watchful mother hear her tread;
The Ladye caresses the rough bloodhound310
Lest his voice should waken the castle round
The watchman’s bugle is not blown,
For he was her foster-father’s son;
And she glides through the greenwood at dawn of light
To meet Baron Henry, her own true knight.
The Knight and Ladye fair are met,
And under the hawthorn’s boughs are set.
A fairer pair were never seen
To meet beneath the hawthorn green.
He was stately, and young, and tall;320
Dreaded in battle, and lov’d in hall:
And she, when love, scarce told, scarce hid,
Lent to her cheek a livelier red;
When the half sigh her swelling brest
Against the silken ribbon prest;
When her blue eyes their secret told,
Though shaded by her locks of gold —
Where would you find the peerless fair,
With Margaret of Branksome might compare!
And now, fair dames, methinks I see330
You listen to my minstrelsy;
Your waving locks ye backward throw,
And sidelong bend your necks of snow:
Ye ween to hear a melting tale,
Of two true lovers in a dale;
And how the Knight, with tender fire
To paint his faithful passion strove;
Swore he might at her feet expire,
But never, never cease to love;
And how she blush’d, and how she sigh’d340
And, half consenting, half denied,
And said that she would die a maid —
Yet, might the bloody feud be stay’d,
Henry of Cranstoun, and only he,
Margaret of Branksome’s choice should be.
Alas! fair dames, your hopes are vain!
My harp has lost the enchanting strain;
Its lightness would my age reprove:
My hairs are grey, my limbs are old,
My heart is dead, my veins are cold:350
I may not, must not, sing of love.
Beneath an oak, moss’d o’er by eld,
The Baron’s Dwarf his courser held,20
And held his crested helm and spear:
That Dwarf was scarce an earthly man,
If the tales were true that of him ran
Through all the Border, far and near.
’Twas said, when the Baron a-hunting rode
Through Reedsdale’s glens, but rarely trod,
He heard a voice cry, “Lost! lost! lost!”360
And, like tennis-ball by racket toss’d,
A leap, of thirty feet and three,
Made from the gorse this elfin shape,
Distorted like some dwarfish ape,
And lighted at Lord Cranstoun’s knee.
Lord Cranstoun was some whit dismay’d;
’Tis said that five good miles he rade,
To rid him of his company;
But where he rode onemile,the Dwarf ran four,
And the Dwarf was first at the castle door.370
Use lessens marvel, it is said:
This elvish Dwarf with the Baron staid
Little he ate, and less he spoke,
Nor mingled with the menial flock:
And oft apart his arms he toss’d,
And often mutter’d “Lost! lost! lost!”
He was waspish, arch, and litherlie,
But well Lord Cranstoun served he:
And he of his service was full fain;
For once he had heen ta’en or slain,380
An it had not been for his ministry.
All between Home and Hermitage,
Talk’d of Lord Cranstoun’s Goblin-Page.
For the Baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elvish Page,
To Mary’s Chapel of the Lowes:
For there, beside our Ladye’s lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,
And he would pay his vows.
But the Ladye of Branksome gather’d a band390
Of the best that would ride at her command:21
The trysting place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestane,
And thither came William of Deloraine;
They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,22
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to St. Mary’s lake ere day;
But the chapel was void, and the Baron away.400
They burn’d the chapel for very rage,
And curs’d Lord Cranstoun’s Goblin-Page
And now, in Branksome’s good greenwood,
As under the aged oak he stood,
The Baron’s courser pricks his ears,
As if a distant noise he hears
The Dwarf waves his long lean arm on high,
And signs to the lovers to part and fly;
No time was then to vow or sigh
Fair Margaret through the hazel grove,410
Flew like the startled cushat-dove:23
The Dwarf the stirrup held and rein;
Vaultedthe Knight on his steed amain,
And, pondering deep that morning’s scene,
Rode eastward through the hawthorns green.
WHILE thus he pour’d the lengthen’d tale,
The Minstrel’s voice began to fail:
Full slyly smiled the observant page,
And gave the wither’d hand of age
A goblet, crown’d with mighty wine,420
The blood of Velez’ scorched vine.
He raised the silver cup on high,
And, while the big drop fill’d his eye,
Pray’d God to bless the Duchess long,
And all who cheer’d a son of song.
The attending maidens smiled to see
How long, how deep, how zealously,
The precious juice the Minstrel quaff’d;
And he, embolden’d by the draught,
Look’d gaily back to them, and laugh’d.430
The cordial nectar of the bowl
Swell’d his old veins, and cheer’d his soul;
A lighter, livelier prelude ran,
Ere thus his tale again began.
1 The buttresses, ranged along the sides of the ruins of Melrose Abbey, are, according to the Gothic style, richly carved and fretted, containing niches for the statues of saints, and labelled with scrolls, bearing appropriate texts of Scripture. Most of these statues have been demolished.
2 David I. of Scotland, purchased the reputation of sanctity, by founding, and liberally endowing, not only the monastery of Melrose, but those of Kelso, Jedburgh, and many others; which led to the well-known observation of his successor, that he was a sore saint for the crown.
3 The Buccleuch family were great benefactors to the Abbey of Melrose. As early as the reign of Robert II., Robert Scott, Baron of Murdieston and Rankleburn, (now Buccleuch,) gave to the monks the lands of Hinkery, in Ettrick Forest, pro salute animæ suæ. — Chartulary of Melrose, 28th May, 1415.
4 Aventayle, visor of the helmet.
5 The Borderers were, as may be supposed, very ignorant about religious matters. Colville, in his Paranesis, or Admonition, states, that the reformed divines were so far from undertaking distant journeys to convert the Heathen, “as I wold wis at God that ye wold only go bot to the Hielands and Borders of our own realm, to gain our awin countreymen, who, for lack of preching and ministration of the sacraments, must, with tyme, becum either infidells, or atheists.” But we learn, from Lesley, that, however deficient in real religion, they regularly told their beads, and never with more zeal than when going on a plundering expedition.
6 The cloisters were frequently used as places of spulture. An instance occurs in Dryburgh Abbey, where the cloister has an inscription, bearing, Hic jacet frater Archibaldus.
7 “By my faith,” said the Duke of Lancaster, (to a Portuguese squire,) “of all the feates of armes that the Castellyans, and they of your countrey doth use, the castynge of their dartes best pleaseth me, and gladly I wolde se it: for, as I hear say, if they strike one aryghte, without he be well armed, the dart will pierce him thrughe."—“By my fayth, sir,” sayd the squyer, “ye say trouth; for I have seen many a grete stroke given with them, which at one time cost us derely, and was to us great displeasure; for, at the said skyrmishe, Sir John Laurence of Coygne was striken with a dart in such a wise, that the head perced all the plates of his cote of mayle, and a sacke stopped with sylke, and passed thrughe his body, so that he fell down dead."— FROISSART, vol. ii. ch. 44. — This mode of fighting with darts was imitated in the military game called Juego de las canas, which the Spaniards borrowed from their Moorish invaders. A Saracen champion is thus described by Froissart: “Among the Sarazyns, there was a yonge knight called Agandinger Dolyferne; he was always wel mounted on a redy and a lyght horse; it seemed, when the horse ranne, that he did fly in the ayre. The knighte seemed to be a good man of armes by his dedes; he bar always of usage three fethered dartes, and rychte well he could handle them; and, according to their custome, he was clene armed, with a long white towell about his head. His apparell was blacke, and his own colour browne, and a good horseman. The Crysten men say, they thoughte he dyd such deeds of armes for the love of some yonge ladye of his countrey. And true it was, that he loved entirely the King of Thune’s daughter, named the Lady Azala: she was inherytour to the realme of Thune, after the decease of the kyng, her father. This Agadinger was sone to the Duke of Olyferne. I can nat telle if they were married together after or nat; but it was shewed me, that this knyght, for love of the sayd ladye, during the siege, did many feates of armes. The knyghtes of France wold fayne have taken hym; but they colde never attrape nor inclose him; his horse was so swyft, and so redy to his hand, that alwaies he escaped."— Vo. ii. ch. 71.
8 Corbells, the projections from which the arches spring, usually cut in a fantastic face, or mask.
9 The famous and desperate batle of Otterburne was fought 15th August 1388, betwixt Henry Percy, called Hotspur, and James, Earl of Douglas. Both these renowned champions were at the head of a chosen body of troops, and they were rivals in military fame; so that Froissart affirms, “Of all the battayles and enounteryings that I have made mencion of here before in all this hystoy, great or smalle, this battayle that I treat of nowe was one of the sorest and best foughten, without cowardes or faynte hertes: for there was neyther knyghte nor squyer but that dyde his devoyre, and foughte hande to hande. This batayle was lyke the batayle of Becherell, the which was valiauntly fought and endured.” The issue of the conflict is well known: Percy was made prisoner, and the Scots won the day, dearly purchased by the death of their gallant general, the Earl of Douglas, who was slain in the action. He was buried at Melrose, beneath the high altar. “His obsequye was done reverently, and on his bodye layde a tombe of stone, and his baner hangyng over hym."— FROISSART, vol. ii. p. 165.
10 William Douglas, called the Knight of Liddesdale, flourished during the reign of David II., and was so distinguished by his valour, that he was called the Flower of Chivalry. Nevertheless, he tarnished his renown by the cruel murder of Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie, originally his friend and brother in arms. The King had conferred upon Ramsay the sheriffdom of Teviot-dale, to which Douglas pretended some claim. In revenge of this preference, the Knight of Liddesdale came down upon Ramsay, while he was administering justice at Hawick, seized and carried him off to his remote and inaccessible castle of Hermitage, where he threw his unfortunate prisoner, horse and man, into a dungeon, and left him to perish of hunger. It is said, the miserable captive prolonged his existence for several days by the corn which fell from a granary above the vault in which he was confined.* So weak was the royal authority, that David, although highly incensed at this atricious murder, found himself obliged to appoint the Knight of Liddesdale successor to his victim, as Sheriff of Teviotdale. But he was soon after slain, while hunting in Ettrick Forest, by his own godson and chieftain, William, Earl of Douglas, in revenge, according to some authors, of Ramsay’s murder; although a popular tradition, preserved in a ballad quoted by Godscroft, and some parts of which are still preserved, ascribe the resentment of the Earl to jealousy. The place where the Knight of Liddesdale was killed, is called, from his name, William-Cross, upon the ridge of a hill called William-hope, betwixt Tweed and Yarrow. His body, according to Godscroft, was carried to Lindean church the first night after his death, and thence to Melrose, where he was interred with great pomp, and where his tomb is till shown.
* There is something affecting in the manner in which the old Prior of Lochleven turns from describing the gallant Ramsay to the general sorrow which it excited:—
“To tell you there of the manere,
It is bot sorrow for til here;
He wes the grettast menyd man
That ony cowth have thoweht of than,
Of his state, or mare be fare;
All menyt him, bath bettyr and war;
The ryche and pure him menyde bath,
For his ded was mekil skath.”
Some years ago, a person digging for stones, about the old castle of Heritage, broke into a vault, containing a quantity of chaff, some bones, and pieces of iron; amongst others, the curb of an ancient bridle, which the author has since given to the Earl of Dalhousie, under the impression that it possibly may be a relic of his brave master. The worth clergyman of the parish has mentioned this discovery in his Statistical Account of Castletown.
11 It is impossible to conceive a more beautiful speciment of the lightness and elegance of Gothic architecture, when in its purity, than the eastern window of Melrose Abbey. Sir James Hall of Dunglans, Bart. has, with gerat ingenuity and plausibility, traced the Gothic order through its various forms and seemingly eccentric ornaments, to an architectural imitation of wicker work; of which, as we learn from some of the legends, the earliest Christian churches were constructed. In such an edifice, the original of the clustered pillars is traced to a set of round posts, begirt with slender rods of willow, whose loose summits were brought to meet from all quarters, and bound together artificially, so as to produce the frame-work of the roof: and the tracery of our Gothic windows is displayed in the meeting and interlacing of rods and hoops, affording an inexhaustible variety of beautiful forms of open work. This ingenious system is alluded to in the romance. Sir James Hall’s Essay on Gothic Architecture is published in The Edinburgh Philosophical Transactions.
12 A large marble stone, in the chancel of Melrose, is pointed out as the monument of Alexander II., one of the greatest of our early kings; others say, it is the resting place of Waldeve, one of the early abbots, who died in the odour of sanctity.
13 Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie flourished during the 13th century, and was one of the ambassadors sent to bring the Maid of Norway to Scotland upon the death of Alexander III. By a poetical anachronism, he is here placed in a later era. He was a man of much learning, chiefly acquired in foreign countries. He wrote a commentary upon Aristotle, printed at Venice in 1496; and several treatises upon natural philosophy, from which he appears to have been addicted to the abstruse studies of judicial astrology, alchymy, phisiognomy, and chiromancy. Hence he passed among his contemporaries for a skilful magician. Dempster informs us, that he remembers to have heard in his youth, that the magic books of Michael Scott were still in existence, but could not be opened without danger, on account of the malignant fiends who were thereby invoked. Dempsteri Historia Ecclesiastica, 1627, lib. xii. p. 495. Lesly characterizes Michael Scott as “singularie philosophiæ, astronomiæ, ac medicinæ laude prestans; dicebatur penitissimos magiæ recessus indagasse.” Dante also mentions him as a renowned wizard:—
Quell’ altro che ne’ fianchi e cosi poco,
Michele Scotto fu, che veramente
Delle magiche frode seppe il giuoco.”
Inferno, Canto xxmo.
A personage, thus spoken of by biographers and historians, loses little of his mystical fame in vulgar tradition. Accordingly, the memory of Sir Michael Scott survives in many a legend; and in the south of Scotland, any work of great labour and antiquity, is ascribed, either to the agency of Auld Michael, of Sir William Wallace, or of the devil. Tradition varies concerning the place of his burial; some contend for the Home Coltrame, in Cumberland; others for Melrose Abbey. But all agree, that his books of magic were interred in his grave, or preserved in the convent where he died. Satchells, wishing to give some authority for his account of the origin of the name of Scott, pretends, that, in 1629, he chanced to be at Burgh under Bowness, in Cumberland, where a person, named Lancelot Scott, showed him an extract from Michael Scott’s works, containing that story:—
“He said the book which he gave me
Was of Sir Michael Scott’s historie;
Which history was never yet read through,
Nor never will, for no man dare it do.
Young scholars have pick’d out something
From the contents, that dare not read within.
He carried me along the castle then,
And shew’d his written book hanging on an iron pin.
His writing pen did seem to me to be
Of hardened metal, like steel, or accumie;
The volume of it did seem so large to me,
As the Book of Martyrs and Turks historie
Then in the church he let me see
A stone where Mr. Michael Scott did lie;
I asked at him how that could appear,
Mr. Michael had been dead above five hundred year?
He shew’d me none durst bury under that stone,
More than he had been dead a few years agone;
For Mr. Michael’s name does terrifie each one.”
History of the Right Honourable Name of Scott.
14 Spain, from the relics, doubtless, of Arabian learning and superstition, was accounted a favourite residence of magicians. Pope Sylvester, who actually imported from Spain the use of the Arabian numerals, was supposed to have learned there the magic, for which he was stigmatized by the ignorance of his age. — WILLIAM of Malmsbury, lib. ii. cap. 10. There were public schools, where magic, or rather the sciences supposed to involve its mysteries, were regularly taught, at Toledo, Seville, and Salamanca. In the latter city, they were held in a deep cavern; the mouth of which was walled up by Queen Isabella, wife of King Ferdinant. — D’AUTON on Learned Incredulity, p. 45. These Spanish Schools of magic are celebrated also by the Italian poets of romance:—
“Questo citta di Tolleto solea
Tenere studio di negromanzia,
Quivi di magica arte si leggea
Pubblicamente, e di peromanzia;
E molti geomanti sempre avea,
Esperimenti assai d’idromanzia
E d’altre false opinion’ di sciocchi
Come e fatture, o spresso batter gli occhi.”
Il Morgante Maggiore, Canto xxv. St. 259.
The celebrated magician Maugis, cousin to Rinaldo of Montalban, called, by Ariosto, Malagigi, studied the black art at Toledo, as we learn from L’Histoire de Maugis D’Aygremont. He even held a professor’s chair in the necromantic university; for so I interpret the passage, “qu’on tous les sept ars de enchantement, des charmes et conjurations, il n’y avoit meillieur maistre que lui; et en tel renom qu’on le laissoit enchaise, et l’appelloit on maistre Maugris.” This Salamancan Domdaniel is said to have been founded by Hercules. If the classic reader inquires where Hercules himself learned magic, he may consult “Les faicts et proesses du noble et vaillant hercules,” where he will learn, that the fable, of his aiding Atlas to suppor the heavens, arose from the said Atlas having taught Hercules, the noble knight-errant, the seven liberal sciences, and in particular, that of judicial astrology. Such, according to the idea of the middle ages, were the studies, “maximus quæ docuit Atlas.” — In a romantic history of Roderic, the last Gothic King of Spain, he is said to have entered on of those enchanted caverns. It was situated beneath an ancient tower near Toledo; and when the iron gates, which secured the entrance, were unfolded, there rushed forth so dreadful a whirlwind, that hitherto no one had dared to penetrate into its recesses. But Roderic, threatened with an invasion of the Moors, resolved to enter the cavern, where he expected to find some prophetic intimation of the event of the war. Accordingly, his train being furnished with torches, so artificially composed that the tempest could not extinguish them, the King, with great difficulty, penetrated into the square hall, inscribed all over with Arabian characters. In the midst stood a colossal statue of brass, representing a Saracen wielding a Moorish mace, with which it discharged furious blows on all sides, and seemed thus to excite the tempest which raged around. Being conjured by Roderic, it ceased from striking, until he read inscribed on the right hand, “Wretched Monarch, for thy evil hast thou come hither;” on the left hand, “Thou shalt be dispossessed by a strange people;” on one shoulder, “I inovke the sons of Hagar;” on the other, “I do mine office.” When the King had deciphered these ominous inscriptions, the statue returned to its exercise, the tempest commenced anew, and Roderic retired, to mourn over the predeicted evils which approached his throne. He caused the gates of the cavern to be locked and barricaded; but, in the course of the night, the tower fell with a tremendous noise, and under its ruins concealed for ever the entrance to the mystic cavern. The conquest of Spain by the Saracens, and the death of the unfortunate Don Roderic, fulfilled the prophecy of the brazen statue. Historia verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo por el sabio Alcayde Abulcacim, traduzeda de la lengua Arabiga por Miquel de Luna, 1654, cap. vi.
15 “Tantamne rem tam negligenter?” says Tyrwhitt, of his predecessor, Speight; who, in his commentary on Chaucer, had omitted, as trivial and fabulous, the story of Wade and his boat Guingelot, to the great prejudice of posterity, the memory of the hero and the boat being now entirely lost. That future antiquaries may lay no such omission to my charge, I have noted one or two of the most current traditions concerning Michael Scott. He was chosen, it is said, to go upon an embassy, to obtain from the King of France satisfaction for certain piracies committed by his subjects upon those of Scotland. Instead of preparing a new equipage and splendid retinue, the ambassador retreated to his study, opened his book, and evoked a fiend in the shape of a huge black horse, mounted upon his back, and forced him to fly through the air towards France. As they crossed the sea, the devil insidiously asked his rider, What it was that the old women of Scotland muttered at bed-time? A less experienced wizard might have answered that it was the Pater Noster, which would have licensed the devil to throw him from his back. But Michael sternly replied, “What is that to thee? — Mount, Diabolus, and fly!” When he arrived at Paris, he tied his horse to the gate of the palace, entered, and bodily delivered his message. An ambassador, with so little of the pomp and circumstance of diplomacy, was not received with much respect, and the King was about to return a contemptuous refusal to his demand, when Michael besought him to suspend his resolution till he had seen his horse stamp three times. The first stamp shook every steeple in Paris, and caused all the bells to ring; the secnod threw down three of the towers of the palace; and the infernal steed had lifted his hoof to give the third stamp, when the King rather chose to dismiss Michael, with the most ample concessions, than to stand to the probable consequences. Another time, it is said, that, when residing at the Tower of Oakwood, upon the Ettrick, about three miles above Selkirk, he heard of the fame of a sorceress, called the Witch of Falsehope, who lived on the opposite side of the river. Michael went one morning to put her skill to the test, but was disappointed, by her denying positively any knowledge of the necromantic art. In his discourse with her, he laid his wand inadvertently on the table, which the hag observing, suddenly snatched it up, and struck him with it. Feeling the force of the charm, he rushed out of the house; but as it had conferred upon him the external appearance of a hare, his servant, who waited without, haloo’d upon the discomfited wizard his own greyhounds, and pursued him so close, that in order to obtain a moment’s breating to reverse the charm, Michael, after a very fatiguing course, was fain to take refuge in his own jawhole(Anglice, common sewer.) In order to revenge himself of the witch of Falshope, Michael, one morning in the ensuing harvest, went to the hill above the house with his dogs, and sent down his servant to ask a bit of bread from the goodwife for his greyhounds, with instructions what to do if he met with a denial. Accordingly, when the witch had refused the boon with contumely, the servant, as his master had directed, laid above the door a paper which he had given him, containing amongst many cabalistical words, the well known rhyme —
“Maister Michael Scott’s man
Sought meat, and gat nane.”
Immediately the good old woman, instead of pursuing her domestic occupation, which was baking bread for the reapers, began to dance round the fire, repeating the rhyme, and continued this exercise till her husband sent the reapers to the house, one after another, to see what had delayed their provision; but the charm caught each as they entered, and, loosing all idea of returning, they joined in the dance and chorus. At length the old man himself went to the house; but as his wife’s frolic with Mr. Michael, whom he had seen on the hill, made him a little cautious, he contented himself with looking in at the window, and saw the reapers at their involuntary exercise, dragging his wife, now completely exhausted, sometimes round, and sometimes through, the fire, which was, as usual in the midst of the house. Instead of entering, he saddled a horse, and rode up the hill, to humble himself before Michael, and beg a cessation of the spell; which the good-natured warlock immediately granted, directing him to enter the house backwards, and with his left hand, take the spell from above the door; which accordingly ended the supernatural dance. — This tale was told less particularly in former editions, and I have been censured for inaccuracy in doing so. — A similar charm occurs in Huon de Bourdeaux, and in the ingenious Oriental tale, called the Caliph Vathek.
Notwithstanding his victory over the witch of Falsehope, Michael Scott, like his predecessor Merlin, fell at last a victim to female art. His wife, or concubine, elicited from him the secret that his art could ward off any danger except the poisonous qualities of broth, made of the flesh of a breme sow. Such a mess she accordingly administered to the wizard, who died in consequent of eating it; surviving, however, long enough to put to death his treacherous confidant.
16 Michael Scott was, once upon a time, much embarrassed by a spirit for whom he was under the necessity of finding constant employment. He commanded him to build a cauld, or dam-head, across the Tweed at Kelso; it was accomplished in one night, and still does honour to the infernal architect. Michael next ordered that Eildon hill, which was then a uniform cone, should be divided into three. Another night was sufficient to part its summit into the three picturesque peaks which it now bears. At length the enchanter conquered this indefatigable demon, by employing him in the hopeless and endless task of making ropes out of sea-sand.
17 Baptista Porta, and other authors who treat of natural magic, talk much of eternal lamps, pretended to have been found burning in ancient sepulchres. Fortunius Licetus investigates the subject in a treatise, Le Lucernis Antiquorum Reconditits, published at Venice in 1621. One of these perpetual lamps is said to have been discovered in the tomb of Tulliola, the daughter of Cicero. The wick was supposed to be composed of asbestos. Kircher enumerates three different recipes for constructing such lamps; and wisely concludes, that the thing is nevertheless impossible:— Mundus Subterranneus, p. 72. Delrio imputes the fabrication of such lights to magical skill. — Disquisitiones Magicæ, p. 58. In a very rare romance, which “treateth of the life of Virgilius, and of his deth, and many marvayles that he dyd in his lyfe-time, by wyche-crafte and nygramancye, throughe the helps of the devyls of hell,” mention is made of a very extraordinary process, in which one of these mystical lamps was employed. It seems that Virgil, as he advanced in years, became desirous of renovating his youth by magical art. For this purpose he constructed a solitary tower, having only one narrow portal, in which he placed twenty-four copper figures, armed with iron flails, twelve on each side of the porch. These enchanted statues struck with their flails incesantly, and rendered all entrance impossible, unles when Virgil touched the spring, which stopped their motion. To this tower he repaired privately, attended by one trusty servant, to whom he communicated the secret of the entrance, and hither they conveyed all the magician’s treasure. “Then sayde Virgilius, my dere beloved frende, and he that I above alle men truste and knowe mooste of my secret;” and then he led the man into a cellar, where he made a fayer lamp at all seasons burnynge. “And then sayd Virgilius to the man, ‘Therein must thou put me: fyrst ye must slee me, and hewe me smalle to pieces, and cut my hed in iiii pieces, and salte the heed under the bottom, and then the pieces there after, and my herte in the myddel, and then set the barrel under the lampe, that nyghte and day the fat therein may droppe and leake; and ye shall ix dayes long, ones in the day, fyll the lampe, and fayle nat. And when this is all done, then sall I be renued, and made yonge agen.’” At this extraordinary proposal, the confidant was sore abashed, and made some scruple of obeying his master’s commands. At length, however, he complied, and Virgil was slain, pickled, and barrelled up, in all respects according to his own direction. The servant then left the tower, taking care to put the copper thrashers in motion at his departure. He continued daily to visit the tower with the same precaution. Meanwhile, the emperor, with whom Virgil was a great favourite, missed him from the court, and demanded of his servant where he was. The domestic pretended ignorance, till the emperor threatened him with death, when at length he conveyed him to the enchanted tower. The same threat extorted a discovery of the mode of stopping the statues from wielding their flails. “And then the emperour entered into the castle with all his folke, and sought all aboute in every corner after Virgilius; and at the laste they soughte so longe, that they came to the sellor, where they sawe the lampe hang over the barrell, where Virgilius lay in deed. Then asked the emperour the man, who had made hym so herdy to put his mayster Virgilius so to dethe; and the man ansered no worde to the emperour. And then the emperour, with great anger, drewe out his sworde, and slewe he there Virgilius’ man. And when all this was done, then sawe the emperour, and all his folke, a naked child iii tymes rennynge about the barrell, saynge with these wordes, ‘Cursed be the tyme that ye ever came here.’ And with these words vanyshed the chylde awaye, and was never sene ageyn; and thus abyd Virgilius in the barrell deed."— Virgilius, bl. let., printed at Antwerpe by John Doesborcke. This curious volume is in the valuable library of Mr. Douce; and is supposed to be a translation from the French, printed in Flanders for the English market. See Goujet Biblioth. Franc. ix. 225. Catalogue de la Bibliotheque Nationale, tom. ii. p. 5. De Bure, No. 3847.
18 William of Deloraine might be strengthened in this belief by the well-known story of the Cid Ruy Diaz. When the body of that famous Christian champion was sitting in state by the high altar of the cathedral church of Toledo, where it remained for ten years, a certain malicious Jew attempted to pull him by the beard; but he had no sooner touched the formidable whiskers, than the corpse started up, and half unsheathed his sword. The Israelite fled; and so permanent was the effect of his terror, that he became Christian. HEYWOOD’S Hierarchie, p. 480, quoted from Sebastian Cobarruvias Crozee.
19 A mountain on the Border of England, above Jedburgh.
20 The idea of Lord Cranstoun’s Goblin Page is taken from a being called Gilpin Horner, who appeared, and made some stay, at a farm-house among the Border-mountains. A gentleman of that country has noted down the following particulars concerning his appearance:—
“The only certain, at least most probable account, that every I heard of Gilpin Horner, was from an old man, of the name of Anderson, who was born, and lived all his life, at Todshaw-hill, in Eskedale-muir, the place where Gilpin appeared and staid for some time. He said there were two men, late in the evening, when it was growing dark, employed in fastening the horses upon the uttermost part of their ground, (that is, tying their forefeet together, to hinder them from travelling far in the night,) when they heard a voice, at some distance, crying, ‘Tint! tint! tint!’* One of the men, named Moffat, called out, ‘What deil has tint you? Come here.’ Immediately a creature, of something like a human form, appeared. It was surprisingly little, distorted in features, and misshapen in limbs. As soon as the two men could see it plainly, they ran home in a great fright, imagining they had met with some goblin. By the way Moffat fell, and it ran over him, and was home at the house as soon as either of them, and staid there a long time; but I cannot say how long. It was real flesh and blood, and ate and drank, was fond of cream, and, when it could get at it, would destroy a great deal. It seemed a mischievous creature; and any of the children whom it could master, it would beat and scratch without mercy. It was once abusing a child belonging to the same Moffat, who had been so frightened by its first appearance; and he, in a passion, struck it so violent a blow upon the side of the head, that it stumbled upon the ground; but it was not stunned; for it set up its head directly, and exclaimed, ‘Ah hah, Will o’ Moffat, you strike sair!’ (viz. sore.) After it had staid there long, one evening, when the women were milking the cows in the loan, it was playing among the children near them, when suddenly they heard a loud shrill voice cry, three times, ‘Gilpin Horner!’ It started, and said, ‘That is me, I must away,’ and instantly disappeared, and was never heard of more. Old Anderson did not remember it, but said, he had often heard his father, and other old men in the place, who were there at the time, speak about it; and in my younger years I have often heard it mentioned, and never met with any who had the remotest doubt as to the truth of the story; although, I must own, I cannot help thinking there must be some misrepresentation in it."— To this account, I have to add the following particulars from the most respectable authority. Besides constantly repeating the word tint! tint! Gilpin Horner was often heard to call upon Peter Bertram, or Be-te-ram, as he pronounced the word; and when the shrill voice called Gilpin Horner, he immediately acknowledged it was the summons of the said Peter Bertram: who seems therefore to have been the devil who had tint, or lost, the little imp. As much has been objected to Gilpin Horner on account of his being supposed rather a device of the author than a popular superstition, I can only say, that no legend which I ever heard seemed to be more universally credited and that many persons of very good rank and considerable information are well known to repose absolute faith in the tradition.
* Tint signifies lost.
21 “Upon 25th June, 1557, Dame Janet Beatoune Lady Buccleuch, and a great number of the name of Scott, delaitit (accused) for coming to the kirk of St. Mary of the Lowes, to the number of two hundred persons bodin in feire of weire, (arrayed in armour,) and breaking open the door of the said kirk, in order to apprehend the Laird of Cranstoune for his destruction.” On the 20th July, a warrant from the Queen is presented, discharging the justice to proceed against the Lady Buccleuch while new calling. — Abridgement of Books of Adjournal in Advocates’ Library. — The following proceedings upon this case appear on the record of the Court of Judiciary: On the 25th of June, 1557, Robert Scott, in Bowhill parish, priest of the kirk of St. Mary’s, accused of the convocation of the Queen’s lieges, to the number of 200 persons, in warlike array, with jacks, helmets, and other weapons, and marching to the chapel of St. Mary of the Lowes, for the slaughter of Sir Peter Cranstoun, out of ancient feud, and malice prepense, and of breaking the doors of the said kirk, is repledged by the Archbishop of Glasgow. The bail given by Robert Scott of Allanhaugh, Adam Scott of Burnfute, Robert Scott of Howfurde, Walter Scott in Todshwhaugh, Walter Scott younger of Synton, Thomas Scott of Hayning, Robert Scott, William Scott, and James Scott, and brothers of the said Walter Scott, Walter Harden, and James Wemyss in Eckford, all accused of the same crime, is declared to be forfeited. On the same day, Walter Scott of Synton, and Walter Chisholme of Chisholme, and William Scott of Harden, became bound, jointly and severally, that Sir Peter Cranstoun, and his kindred and servants, should receive no injury from them in future. At the same time, Patick Murray of Fallohill, Alexander Stuart, uncle to the Laird of Trakwhare, John Murray of Newhall, John Fairlye, residing in Selkirk, George Tait, younger of Pirn, John Pennycuke of Pennycuke, James Ramsay of Cokpen, the Laird of Fassyde, and the Laird of henderstoune, were all severally fined for not attending as jurors; being probably either in alliance with the accused parties, or dreading their vengeance. Upon the 20th of July following, Scott of Synton, Chisholme of Chisholme, Scott of Harden, Scott of Howpaslie, Scott of Burnfute, with many others, are ordered to appear at next calling, under pains of treason. But no further procedure seems to have taken place. It is said, that, upon this rising, the kirk of St. Mary was burnt by the Scotts.
22 See notes on The Douglas Tragedy in the Minstrelsy.
AND said I that my limbs were old,
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fled,
And my poor wither’d heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love —
How could I to the dearest theme,
That ever warm’d a minstrel’s dream
So foul, so false a recreant prove!
How could I name love’s very name,
Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!10
In peace, Love tunes the shepherd’s reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior’s steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.
So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,
While, pondering deep the tender scene,
He rode through Branksome’s hawthorn green.20
But the Page shouted wild and shrill,
And scarce his helmet could he don,
When downward from the shady hill
A stately knight came pricking on.
That warrior’s steed, so dapple-gray,
Was dark with sveat, and splashed with clay;
His armor red with many a stain
He seem’d in such a weary plight,
As if he had ridden the live-long night;
For it was William of Deloraine.30
But no whit weary did he seem,
When, dancing in the sunny beam,
He mark’d the crane on the Baron’s crest;1
For his ready spear was in his rest.
Few were the words, and stern and high,
That mark’d the foemen’s feudal hate;
For question fierce, and proud reply,
Gave signal soon of dire debate.
Their very coursers seem’d to know
That each was other’s mortal foe,40
And snorted fire, when wheel’d around
To give each foe his vantage-ground.
In rapid round the Baron bent;
He sigh’d a sigh, and pray’d a prayer:
The prayer was to his patron saint,
The sigh was to his ladye fair.
Stout Deloraine nor sigh’d nor pray’d,
Nor saint, nor ladye, call’d to aid;
But he stoop’d his head, and couch’d his spear,
And spurred his steed to full career.50
The meeting of these champions proud
Seem’d like the bursting thunder-cloud.
Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!
The stately Baron backwards bent;
Bent backwards to his horse’s tail
And his plumes went scattering on the gale;
The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand flinders flew.
But Cranstoun’s lance, of more avail
Pierc’d through, like silk, the Borderer’s mail;60
Through shield, and jack, and acton, past,
Deep in his bosom broke at last. —
Still sate the warrior saddle-fast
Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,
Down went the steed, the girthing broke,
Hurl’d on a heap lay man and horse.
The Baron onward pass’d his course;
Nor knew — so giddy rolled his brain —
His foe lay stretch’d upon the plain.
But when he rein’d his courser round,70
And saw his foeman on the ground
Lie senseless as the bloody clay,
He badehis page to stanch the wound,
And there beside the warrior stay,
And tend him in his doubtful state,
And lead him to Brauksome castle gate:
His noble mind was inly moved
For the kinsman of the maid he loved.
“This shalt thou do without delay:
No longer here myself may stay;80
Unless the swifter I speed away
Short shrift will be at my dying day.”
Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode;
The Goblin-Page behind abode;
His lord’s command he ne’er withstood,
Though small his pleasure to do good.
As the corslet off he took,
The Dwarf espied the Mighty Book!
Much he marvell’d a knight of pride,
Like a book-bosom’d priest should ride:290
He thought not to search or stanch the wound
Until the secret he had found.
The iron band, the iron clasp,
Resisted long the elfin grasp:
For when the first he had undone
It closed as he the next begun.
Those iron chlsps, that iron band,
Would not yield to unchristen’d hand
Till he smear’d the cover o’er
With the Borderer’s curdled gore;100
A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read:
It had much of glamour3 might;
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nut-shell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling4 seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth:
All was delusion, nought was truth.5110
He had not read another spell,
When on his cheek a buffet fell,
So fierce, it stretch’d him on the plain
Beside the wounded Deloraine.
From the ground he rose dismay’d,
And shook his huge and matted head;
One word he mutter’d, and no more,
“Man of age, thou smitest sore!”
No more the Elfin Page durst try
Into the wondrous Book to pry;120
The clasps, though smear’d with Christian gore,
Shut faster than they were before.
He hid it underneath his cloak.
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive;
It was not given by man alive.6
Unwillingly himself he address’d,
To do his master’s high behest:
He lifted up the living corse,
And laid it on the weary horse;130
He led him into Branksome hall,
Before the beards of the warders all;
And each did after swear and say
There only pass’d a wain of hay.
He took him to Lord David’s tower,
Even to the Ladye’s secret bower;
And, but that stronger spells were spread,
And the door might not be opened,
He had laid him on her very bed.
Whate’er he did of gramarye,7140
Was always done maliciously;
He flung the warrior on the ground,
And the blood well’d freshly from the wound.
As he repass’d the outer court,
He spied the fair young child at sport:
He thought to train him to thewood;
For, at a word be it understood,
He was always for ill, and never for good.
Seem’d to the boy, some comrade gay
Led him forth to the woods to play;150
On the drawbridge the warders stout
Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.
He led the boy o’er bank and fell,
Until they came to a woodland brook
The running stream dissolv’d the spell,8
And his own elvish shape he took.
Could he have had his pleasure vilde
He had crippled the joints of the noble child;
Or, with his fingers long and lean,
Had strangled him in fiendish spleen:160
But his awful mother he had in dread,
And also his power was limited;
So he but scowl’d on the startled child,
And darted through the forest wild;
The woodland brook he bounding cross’d,
And laugh’d, and shouted, “Lost! lost! lost!”
Full sore amaz’d at the wondrous change,
And frighten’d, as a child might be,
At the wild yell and visage strange,
And the dark words of gramarye,170
The child, amidst the forest bower,
Stood rooted like a lily flower;
And when at length, with trembling pace,
He sought to find where Branksome lay,
He fear’d to see that grisly face
Glare from some thicket on his way.
Thus, starting oft, he journey’d on,
And deeper in the wood is gone —
For aye the more he sought his way,
The farther still he went astray — 180
Until he heard the mountains round
Ring to the baying of a hound.
And hark! and hark! the deep-mouth’d bark
Comes nigher still, and nigher:
Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound;
His tawny muzzle track’d the ground,
And his red eye shot fire.
Soon as the wilder’d child saw he,
He flew at him right furiouslie.
I ween you would have seen with joy190
The bearing of the gallant boy,
When, worthy of his noble sire,
His wet cheek glow’d ‘twixt fear and ire!
He faced the blood-hound manfully,
And held his little bat on high;
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
At cautious distance hoarsely bay’d
But still in act to spring;
When dash’d an archer through the glade,
And when he saw the hound was stay’d,200
He drew his tough bow-string;
But a rough voice cried, “Shoot not, hoy!
Ho! shoot not, Edward; ’tis a boy!”
The speaker issued from the wood,
And check’d his fellow’s surly mood,
And quell’d the ban-dog’s ire:
He was an English yeoman good,
And born in Lancashire.
Well could he hit a fallow-deer
Five hundred feet him fro;210
With hand more true, and eye more clear,
No archer bended bow.
His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,
Set off his sun-burn’d face:
Old England’s sign, St. George’s cross,
His barret-cap did grace;
His bugle-horn hung by his side,
All in a wolf-skin baldric tied;
And his short falchion, sharp and clear,
Had pierc’d the throat of many a deer.220
His kirtle, made of forest green,
Reach’d scantly to his knee;
And, at his belt, of arrows keen
A furbish’d sheaf bore he;
His buckler, scarce in breadth a span,
No larger fence had he;
He never counted him a man,
Would strike below the knee:9
His slacken’d bow was in his hand,
And the leash that was his blood-hound’s band.230
He would not do the fair child harm,
But held him with his powerful arm,
That he might neither fight nor flee;
For when the Red-Cross spied he,
The boy strove long and violently.
“Now, by St. George,” the archer cries,
“Edward, methinks we have a prize!
This boy’s fair face, and courage free,
Show he is come of high degree.”
“Yes! I am come of high degree,240
For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch
And, if thou dost not set me free,
False Southron, thou shalt dearly rue!
For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,
And William of Deloraine, good at need,
And every Scott, from Esk to Tweed;
And, if thou dost not let me go,
Despite thy arrows and thy bow
I’ll have thee hang’d to feed the crow!”
“Gramercy for thy good-will, fair boy!250
My mind was never set so high;
But if thou art chief of such a clan,
And art the son of such a man
And ever comest to thy command
Our wardens had need to keep good order;
My bow of yew to a hazel wand
Thou’lt make them work upon the Border.
Meantime, be pleased to come with me
For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see;
I think our work is well begun,260
When we have taken thy father’s son.”
Although the child was led away
In Branksome still he seem’d to stay,
For so the Dwarf his part did play;
And, in the shape of that young boy,
He wrought the castle much annoy.
The comrades of the young Buccleuch
He pinch’d, and beat, and overthrew;
Nay, some of them he wellnigh slew.
He tore Dame Maudlin’s silken tire270
And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire
He lighted the match of his bandelier,10
And wofully scorch d the hackbuteer.11
It may be hardly thought or said,
The mischief that the urchin made,
Till many of the castle guess’d,
That the young Baron was possess’d!
Well I ween the charm he held
The noble Ladye had soon dispell’d;
But she was deeply busied then280
To tend the wounded Deloraine.
Much she wonder’d to find him lie
On the stone threshold stretch’d along;
She thought some spirit of the sky
Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong;
Because, despite her precept dread
Perchance he in the Book had read;
But the broken lance in his bosom stood,
And it was earthly steel and wood.
She drew the splinter from the wound,290
And with a charm she stanch’d the blood;12
She bade the gash be cleans’d and bound:
No longer by his couch she stood;
But she has ta’en the broken lance,
And wash’d it from the clotted gore
And salved the splinter o’er and o’er.13
William of Deloraine, in trance
Whene’er she turn’d it round and round,
Twisted as if she gall’d his wound.
Then to her maidens she did say300
That he should be whole man and sound
Within the course of a night and day.
Full long she toil’d; for she did rue
Mishap to friend so stout and true.
So pass’d the day; the evening fell,
’Twas near the time of curfew bell;
The air was mild, the wind was calm,
The stream was smooth, the dew was balm;
E’en the rude watchman on the tower
Enjoy’d and bless’d the lovely hour.310
Far more fair Margaret lov’d andbless’d
The hour of silence and of rest.
On the high turret sitting lone,
She waked at times the lute’s soft tone;
Touch’d a wild note, and all between
Thought of the bower of hawthorns green.
Her golden hair stream’d free from band,
Her fair cheek rested on her hand
Her blue eyes sought the west afar
For lovers love the western star.320
Is yon the star, o’er Penchryst Pen,
That rises slowly to her ken,
And, spreading broad its wavering light,
Shakes its loose tresses on the night?
Is yon red glare the western star?
O, ’tis the beacon-blaze of war!
Scarce could she draw her tighten’d breath,
For well she knew the fire of death!
The Warder view’d it blazing strong,
And blew his war-note loud and long,330
Till, at the high and haughty sound,
Rock, wood, and river rung around.
The blast alarm’d the festal hall,
And startled forth the warriors all;
Far downward, in the castle-yard,
Full many a torch and cresset glared;
And helms and plumes, confusedly toss’d,
Were in the blaze half-seen, half-lost;
And spears in wild disorder shook,
Like reeds beside a frozen brook.340
The Seneschal, whose silver hair
Was redden’d by the torches’ glare,
Stood in the midst with gesture proud,
And issued forth his mandates loud:
“On Penchryst glows a bale14 of fire,
And three are kindling on Priest-haughswire;
Ride out, ride out,
The foe to scout!
Mount, mount for Branksome,15 every man!
Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan350
That ever are true and stout;
Ye need not send to Liddesdale,
For when they see the blazing bale,
Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.
Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life!
And warn the Warder of the strife.
Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze,
Our kin, and clan, and friends to raise.”16
Fair Margaret from the turret head
Heard, far below, the coursers’ tread,360
While loud the harness rung
As to their seats, with clamor dread,
The ready horsemen sprung:
And trampling hoofs, and iron coat,
And leaders’ voices mingled notes,
And out! and out!
In hasty route,
The horsemen gallop’d forth;
Dispersing to the south to scout,
And east, and west, and north,370
To view their coming enemies,
And warn their vassals and allies.
The ready page, with hurried hand,
Awaked the need-fire’s 17 slumbering brand,
And ruddy blush’d the heaven:
For a sheet of flame from the turret high
Wav’d like a blood-flag on the sky,
All flaring and uneven;
And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen;380
Each with warlike tidings fraught,
Each from each the signal caught;
Each after each they glanc’d to sight
As stars arise upon the night.
They gleam d on many a dusky tarn,18
Haunted by the lonely earn;19
On many a cairn’s 20 grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid
Till high Dunedin the blazes saw
From Soltra and Dumpender Law,390
And Lothian heard the Regent’s order
That all should bowne21 them for the Border.
The livelong night in Branksome rang
The ceaseles sound of steel;
The castle-bell, with backward clang
Sent forth the larum peal;
Was frequent heard the heavy jar,
Where massy stone and iron bar
Were piled on echoing keep and tower,
To whelm the foe with deadly shower400
Was frequent heard the changing guard,
And watch-word from the sleepless ward;
While, wearied by the endless din,
Blood-hound and ban-dog yell’d within.
The noble Dame, amid the broil
Shared the grey Seneschal’s high toil,
And spoke of danger with a smile;
Cheer’d the young knights, and council sage
Held with the chiefs of riper age.
No tidings of the foe were brought410
Nor of his numbers knew they aught,
Nor what in time of truce he sought.
Some said that there were thousands ten;
And others ween’d that it was nought
But Leven clans, or Tynedale men,
Who came to gather in black-mail;22
And Liddesdale, with small avail,
Might drive them lightly back agen.
So pass’d the anxious night away,
And welcome was the peep of day.420
CEASED the high sound. The listening throng
Applaud the Master of the Song;
And marvel much, in helpless age,
So hard should be his pilgrimage.
Had he no friend, no daughter dear,
His wandering toil to share and cheer;
No son to be his father’s stay,
And guide him on the rugged way?
“Ay, once he had — but he was dead!”
Upon the harp he stoop’d his head,430
And busied himself the strings withal
To hide the tear that fain would fall.
In solemn measure, soft and slow,
Arose a father’s notes of woe.
1 The crest of the Cranstouns, in allusion to their name, is a crane dormant, holding a stone in his foot, with an emphatic Border motto, Thou shalt want ere I want.
2 “At Unthank, two miles N. E. from the church (of Ewes) there are the reuins of a chapel for divine service, in time of Popery. There is a tradition, that friars were wont to come from Melrose, or Jedburgh, to baptize and marry in this parish; and from being in use to carry the mass-book in their bosoms; they were called, by the inhabitants, Book-a-bosomes. There is a man yet alive, who knew old men who had been baptized by these Book-a-bosomes, and who says, one of them, called Hair, used this parish for a very long time."— Account of Parish of Ewes, apud Macfarlane’s MSS.
3 Magical delusion.
4 A shepherd’s hut.
5 Glamour, in the legends of Scottish superstition, means the magic power of imposing on the eyesight of the spectators, so that the appearance of an object shall be totally different from the reality. The transformation of Michael Scott by the witch of Falsehope, already mentioned, was a genuine operation of glamour. To a similar charm the ballad of Johnny Fa’ imputes the fascination of the lovely Countess, who eloped with that gipsy leader:
“Sae soon as they saw her weel-far’d face,
They cast the glamour o’er her.”
It was formerly used even in war. In 1381, when the Duke of Anjou lay before a strong castle, upon the coast of Naples, a necromancer offered to “make the ayre so thycke, that they within shall thynke that there is a great bridge on the see (by which the castle was surrounded) for ten men to go a front; and what they shall yelde them to your mercy. The Duke demanded, ‘Fayre Master, on this bridge that ye speke of, may our people assuredly go thereon to the castell to assayle it?’—‘Syr,’ quod the enchantour, ‘I dare not assure you that; for if any that passeth on the bridge make the signe of the crosse on hym, all shall go to noughte, and they that be on the bridge shall fall into the see.’ Then the Duke began to laugh; and certain of the young knightes, that were there present, sayd, ‘Syr, for godsake, let the mayster assey his cunning: we shal leve making of any signe of the crosse on us for that tyme.’” The Earl of Savoy, shortly after, entered the tent, and recognised in the enchanter the same person who had put the castle into the power of Sir Charles de la Payx, who then held it, by persuading the garrison of the Queen of Naples, through magical deception, that the sea was coming over the walls. The sage avowed the feat, and added, that he was the man in the world most dreaded by Sir Charles de la Payx. “‘By my fayth,’ quod the Earl of Savoy, ‘ye say well; and I will that Sir Charles de la Payx shall know that he hath grete wronge to fear you. But I shall assure hym of you; fo ye shall never do enchantment to deceyve hym, nor yet none other. I wolde nat that in tyme to come we shulde be reproached that in so high an enterprise as we be in, wherein shulde be so many noble knyghtes and squyres assembled, that we shulde do any thyng be enchantment, nor that we shulde wyn our enemys be suche crafte.’ Then he called to him a servaunt, and said, ‘Go and get a hangman, and let him stryke of this mayster’s heed without delay;’ and as soone as the Erle had commanded it, incontynent it was done, for his heed was stryken before the Erle’s tent."— FROISSART, vol. i. ch. 391, 392.
The art of glamour, or other fascination, was anciently a principal part of the skill of the jongleur, or juggler, whose tricks formed much of the amusement of a Gothic castle. Some instances of this art may be found in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. In a strange allegorical poem, called the Houlat, written by a dependent of the house of Douglas, about 1452-3, the jay, in an assembly of bids, plays the part of the juggler. His feats of glamour are thus described:
“He gart them see, as it seemyt in samyn hour,
Hunting at herdis in holtis so hair;
Some sailand on the see schippis of toure,
Bernis battalland on burd brim as a bare;
He coulde carye the coupe of the kingis des,
Syne leve in the stede,
Bot a black bunwede;
He could of a henis hede
Make a man mes.
“He gart the Emproure trow, and trewlye behald,
That the corncraik, the pundare at hand,
Had poyndit all his pris hors in a poynd fald,
Because thai ete of the corn in the kirkland.
He could wirk windaris, quhat way that he wald,
Mak a gray gus a gold garland,
A lang spere of a bittile, for a berne bald,
Nobilis of nutschelles, and silver of sand.
Thus joukit with juxters the janglane ja,
Fair ladyes in ringis,
Knychtis in caralyngis,
Bayth dansis and singis,
It semyt as sa.”
6 Dr. Henry More, in a letter previxed to Glanville’s Saducismus Truimphatus, mentions a similar phenomenon.
“I remember an old gentleman in the country, of my acquaintance, an excellent justice of peace, and a piece of a mathematician; but what kind of philosopher he was, you many understand from a rhyme of his own making, which he commended to me at my taking horse in his yeard, which rhyme is this:—
‘Ens is nothing till sense finds out: Sense ends in nothing, so naught goes about.’
which rhyme of his was so rapturous to himself, that, on the reciting of the second verse, the old man turned himself about upon his toe as nimbly as one may observe a dry leaf whisked round the corner of an orchard-walk by some little whirlwind. With this philosopher I have had many discourses concerning the immortality of the soul and its distinction; when I have run him quite down by reason, he would but laugh at me, and say, this is logic, H. (calling me by my Christain name;) to which I replied, this is reason, father L. (for so I used and some others to call him;) but it seems you are for the new lights, and immediate inspiration, which I confess he was as little for as for the other; but I said so only in the way of drollery to him in those times, but truth is, nothing but palpable experience would move him; and being a bold man, and fearing nothing, he told me he had used all the magical ceremonies of conjuration he could, to raise the devil or a spirit, and had a most earnest desire to meet with one, but never could do it. But this he told me, when he did not so much as think of it, while his servant was pulling off his boots in the hall, some invisible hand gave him such a clap upon the back, that it made all ring again; ‘so,’ thought he now, ‘I am invited to the converse of my spirit,’ and therefore, so soon as his boots ere off, and his shoes on, out he goes into the yard and next field, to find out the spirit that had given him this familiar clap on the back, but found none neither in the yard nor field next to it.
“But though he did not feel this stroke, albeit he thought of it afterwards (finding nothing came of it) a mere delusion; yet not long before his death it had more force with him than all the philosophical arguments I could use to him, though I could wind him and nonplus him as I pleased; but all my arguments, how solid soever, made no impression upon him; wherefore, after several reasonings of this nature, whereby I would prove to him the soul’s distinction from the body, and its immortality, when nothing of such subtile consideration did any more execution on his mind than some lightning is said to do, though it melts the sword, on the fuzzy consistency of the scabbard — ‘Well,’ said I, ‘father L., though none of these things move you, I have something still behind, and what yourself has acknowledged to be true, that may do the business:— Do you remember the clap on your back when your servant was pulling off your boots in the hall? Asure yourself, says I, father L., that goblin will be the first to bid you welcome into the other world.’ Upon that his countenance changed most sensibly, and he was more confounded with this rubbing up his memory, than with all the rational or philosophical argumentations that I could produce.”
8 It is a firm article of popular faith, that no enchantment can subsist in a living stream. Nay, if you can interpose a brook betwixt you and witches, spectres, or even fiends, you are in perfect safety. Burns’s inimitable Tam o’ Shanter turns entirely upon such a circumstance. The belief seems to be of antiquity. Brompton informs us, that certain Irish wizards could, by spells, convert earthen clods, or stones, into fat pigs, which they sold in the market; but which always reassumed their proper form, when driven by the deceived purchaser across a running stream. But Brompton is sever on the Irish for a very good reason. “Gens ista spurcissima non solvunt decimas."— Chronicon Johannis Brompton apud decem Scriptores, p. 1076.
9 Imitated from Drayton’s account of Robin Hood and his followers:—
“A hundred valiant men had this brave Robin Hood,
Still ready at his call, that bowmen were right good:
All clad in Lincoln green, with caps of red and blue,
His fellow’s winded horn not one of them but knew.
When setting to their lips their bugles shrill,
The warbling echoes waked from every dale and hill;
Their bauldrics set with studs athwart their shoulders cast,
To which under their arms their sheafs were buckled fast,
A short sword at their belt, a buckler scarce a span,
Who struck below the knee not counted then a man.
All made of Spanish yew, their bows were wondrous strong,
They not an arrow drw but was a clothyard long.
Of archery ehty had the very perfect craft,
With broad arrow, or but, or prick, or roving shaft.”
Poly-Albion, Song 26.
To wound an antagonist in the thigh, or leg, was reckoned contrary to the law of arms. In a tilt betwixt Gawain Michael, an English squire, and Joachim Cathore, a Frenchman, “they met at the speare poyntes rudely: the Fench squyer justed right pleasantly; the Englishman ran too lowe, for he strak the Frenchman depe into the thigh. Wherewith the Erle of Buckingham was right sore displeased, and so were all the other lords, and sayde how it was shamefully done.” FROISSART, vol. i. chap. 366. — Upon a similar occasion, “the two knyghts came a fote eche against other rudely, with their speares low couched, to stryke eche other within the foure quarters. Johan of Castell-Morant strake the English squyer on the brest in such wyse, that Syr Wyllyam Fermetone stombled and bowed, for his fote a lyttel fayled him. He helde his speare lowe with both his handes, and coude nat amende it, and strake Syr Johan of the Castell-Morant in the thighe, so that the speare went clene throughe, that the heed was sene a handfull on the other syde. And Syr Johan and squyers were ryghte sore displeased, and sayde how it was a foul stroke. Syr Wyllyam Fermetone exused himselfe, and sayde how he was sorie of that adventure, and howe that yf he had knowen that it shulde have bene so, he olde never have begon it; sayenge how he could nat amende it, by cause of glaunsing of his fote by constraynt of the great stroke of that Syr Johan of the Castell-Morant had given him."— FROISSART, vol. i. chap. 373.
10 Bandelier, belt for carrying ammunition.
11 Hackbuteer, musketeer.
12 See several charms for this purpose in Reginald Scott’s Discovery of Witchcraft, p. 273.
“Tom Potts was but a serving man,
But yet he was a doctor good;
He bound his handkerchief on the wound,
And with some kinds of words he stanched the blood.”
Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry, Lond. 1791, p. 131.
13 Sir Kenelm Digby, in a discourse upon the cure by sympathy, pronounced at Montpelier before an assembly of nobles and learned men, translated into English by R. White, gentleman, and published in 1658, gives us the following curious surgical case:—
“Mr. James Howel (well known in France for his public works, and particularly for his Dendrologie, translated into French by Mons. Baudouin) coming by chance, as two of his best friends were fighting in a duel, he did his endeavour to part them; and, putting himselfe between them, seized, with his left hand, upon the hilt of the sword of one of the combatants, while, with his right hand, he laid hold of the blade of the other. They, being transported with fury against the other, struggled to rid themselves of the hinderance their friend made, that they should not kill one another; and one of them roughly drawing the blade of his sword, cuts to the very bone the nerves and muscles of Mr. Howel’s hand; and then the other disengaged his hilts, and gave a crosse blow on his adversarie’s hand, which glanced towards his friend, who heaving up his sore hand to save the blow, he was wounded on the back of his hand as he had been before within. It seems some strange constellation reigned then against him, that he should lose so much bloud by parting two such dear friends, who, had they been by themselves, would have hazarded both their lives to have preserved his; but this involuntary effusion of bloud by them, prevented that which they sholde have drawn one from the other. For they, seeing Mr. Howel’s face besmeared with bloud, by heaving up his wounded hand, they both ran to embrace him; and, having searched his hurts, they bound up his hand with one of his garters, to close the veins which were cut, and bled abundantly. They brought him home, and sent for a surgeon. But this being heard at Court, the King sent one of his own surgeons; for his Majesty much affected the said Mr. Howel.
“It was my chance to be lodged hard by him; and four or five days after, as I was making myself ready, he came to my house, and prayed me to view his wounds; ‘for I understand,’ said he, ‘that you have extraordinary remedies on such occasions, and my surgeons apprehend some fear that it may grow to a gangrene, and so the hand must be cut off.’ In effect, his countenance discovered that he was in much pain, which he said was insupportable, in regard of the extreme inflammation. I told him I would willingly serve him; but if haply he knew the manner how I would cure him, without touching or seeing him, it may be he would not expose himself to my manner of curing, because he would think it, peradventure, either ineffectual or superstitious. He replied, ‘the wonderful things which many have related unto me of your way of medicament, makes me nothing doubt at all of its efficacy; and all that I have to say unto you is comprehended in the Spanish proverb, Hagase et milagro y hagalo Mahoma — Let the miracle be done, though Mahomet do it.’
“I asked him then for any thing that had the blood upon it: so he presently sent for his garter, wherewith his hand was first bound; and as I called for a basin of water, as if I would wash my hands, I took a handful of powder of vitriol, which I had in my study, and presently dissolved it. As soon as the bloudy garter was brought me, I put it within the basin, observing, in the interim, what Mr. Howel did, who stood talking with a gentleman in the corner of my chamber, not regarding at all what I was doing; but he started suddenly, as if he had found some strange alteration in himself. I asked him what he ailed? ‘I know not what ails me; but I finde that I feel no more pain. Methinks that a pleasing kind of freshnesse, as it were a wet cold napkin, did spread over my hand, which, hath taken away the inflammation that tormented me before.’— I replied, ‘Since then that you feel already so good effect of my medicament, I advise you to cast away all your playsters; only keep the wound clean, and in a moderate temper betwixt heat and cold.’ This was presently reported to the Duke of Buckingham, and a little after to the King, who were both very curious to know the circumstance of the businesse, which was, that after dinner I took the garter out of the water, and put it to dry before a great fire. It was scarce dry, but Mr. Howel’s servant came running, that his master felt as much burning as ever he had done, if not more; for the heat was such as if his hand were ‘twixt coles of fire. I ansered, although that had happened at present, yet he should find ease in a short time; for I knew the reason of this new accident, and would provide accordingly; for his master should be free from no inflammation, it may be befroe he could possibly return to him; but in case he found no ease, I wished him to come presently back again; if not, he might forbear coming. Thereupon he went; and at the instant I did put again the garter into the water, thereupon he found his master without any pain at all. To be brief, there was no sense of pain afterward; but within five or six days the wounds were cicatrized, and entirely healed."— Page 6.
The King (James VI.) obtained from Sir Kenelm the discovery of his secret, which he pretended had been taught him by a Carmelite friary, who had learned it in Armeia, or Persia. Let not the age of animal magnetism and metallic tracors smile at the sympathetic powder of Sir Kenelm Digby. Reginald Scott mentions the same mode of cure in these terms:—“And that which is more strange. . . . . they can remedie anie stranger with that verie sword wherewith they are wounded. Yea, and that which is beyond all admiration, if they stroke the sword upward with their fingers, the partie shall feele no paine; whereas, if they drawe their fingers downwards, thereupon the partie wounded shall feele intolerable pain.” I presume that the success ascribed to the sympathetic mode of treatment might arise from the pains beestowed in washing the wound, and excluding the air, thus bringing on a cure by the first invention. It is introduced by Dryden in the Enchanted Island, a (very unnecessary) alteration of the Tempest:—
Ariel. Anoint the sword which pierced him with this
Weapon-salve, and wrap it close from air,
Till I have time to visit him again."— Act v. sc. 2.
Again, in scene 4th, Miranda enters with Hippolito’s sword wrapt up:—
“Hip. O my wound pains me!
Mir. I am come to see you.
[She unwraps the Sword.]
Hip. Alas, I feel the cold air come to me;
My wound shoots worse than ever.
Mir. Does it still grieve you?
[She wipes and anoints the Sword.]
Hip. Now, methinks, there’s something laid just upon it.
Mir. Do you find no ease?
Hip. Yes, yes; upon the sudden all this pain
Is leaving me. Sweet heaven, how I am eased!”
14 Bale, beacon fagot. The Border beacons, from their number and position, formed a sort of telegraphic communication with Edingubrh. — The act of Parliament 1455, c. 48, directs, that one bale or fagot shall be warning of the approach of the English in any manner: two bales that they are coming indeed; four bales, blazing beside each other, that the enemy are in great force. “The same taikenings to be watched and maid at Eggerhope (Eggerstand) Castell, fra they se the fire of Hume, that they fire right swa. And in like manner on Sowtra Edge, sall se the fire of Eggerhope Castell, and mak taikening in like manner: And then may all Louthiane be warned, and in special the Castell of Edinburgh; and fra Striveling east, and the east part of Louthiane, and to Dunbar, all may se them, and come to the defence of the realme.” These beacons (at least in latter times) were a “long and strong tree set up, with a long iron pole across the head of it, and an iron brander fixed on a stalk in the middle of it, for holding a tar-barrel."— STEVENSON’S History, vol. ii. p. 701.
15 Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scotts.
16 The speed with which the Borderers collected great bodies of horse, may be judged from teh following extract, when the subject of the rising was much less important than that supposed in the romance. It is taken from Carey’s Memoirs:—
“Upon the death of the old Lord Scroop, the Queen gave the west wardenry to his son, that had married my sister. He having received that office, came to me with great earnestness, and desired me to be his deputy, offering me that I should live with him in his house; that he would allow me half a donzen men, and as many horses, to be kept at his charge; and his fee being 1000 merks yearly, he would part it with me, and I should have the half. This his noble offer I accepted of, and went with him to Carlisle; where I was no sooner come, but I entered into my office. We had a stirring time of it; and few days past over my head but I was on horseback, either to prevent mischief, or take malefactors, and to bring the Border in better quiet than it had been in times past. One memorable thing of God’s mercy shewed unto me, was such as I have good cause still to remember it.
“I had private intelligence given me, that there were two Scottishmen that had killed a churchman in Scotland, and were by one of the Græmes relieved. This Græme dwelt within five miles of Carlisle. He had a pretty house, and close by it a strong tower, for his own defence in time of need. — About two o’clock in the morning, I took horse in Carlisle, and not above twenty-five in my company, thinking to surprise the house on a sudden. Before I could surround the house, the two Scots were gotten in the strong tower, and I could see a boy riding from the house as fast as his horse could carry him; I little suspecting what it meant. But Thomas Carleton came to me presently, and told me, that if I did not presently prevent it, both myself and all my company would be either slain or taken prisoners. It was strange to me to hear his language. He then said to me, ‘Do you see that bo that rideth away so fast? He will be in Scotland within this half hour; and he has gone to let them know that you are here, and to what end you are come, and the small number you have with you; and that if they will make haste, on a sudden they may surprise us, and do with us what they please.’ Hereupon we took advice what was best to be done. We sent notice presently to all parts to raise the country, and to come to us with all the speed they could; and withall we sent to Carlisle to raise the townsmen; for without foot we could do no good against the tower. There we staid some hours, expecting more company: and within short time after the country came in on all sides, to that we were quickly between three and four hundred horse; and, after some longer stay, the foot of Carlisle came to us, to the number of three or four hundred men; whom we presently set to work, to get to the top of the tower, and to uncover the roof; and then some twenty of them to fall down together, and by that means to win the tower. — The Scots, seeing their present danger, offered to parley, and yielded themselves to my mercy. They had no sooner opened the iron gate, and yielded themselves my prisoners, but we might see 400 horse within a quarter of a mile coming to their rescue, and to surprise me and my small company; but of a sudden they stayed, and stood at gaze. Then had I more to do than ever; for all our Borderers came crying, with full mouths, ‘Sir, give us leave to set upon them; for these are they that have killed our fathers, our brothers, and uncles, and our cousins; and they are coming, thinking to surprise you, upon weak grass nags, such as they could get on a sudden; and God hath put them into your hands, that we may take revenge of them for much blood that they have spilt of ours.’ I desired they would be patient a while, and bethought myself, if I should give them their will, there would be few or none of the Scots that would escape unkilled; (there was so many deadly feuds among them;) and therefore I resolved with myself to give them a fair answer, but not to give them their desire. So I told them, that if I were not there myself, they might then do what they pleased themselves; but being present, if I should give them leave, the blood that should be spilt that day would lie very hard upon my conscience. And therefore, I desired them, for my sake, to forbear; and, if the Scots did not presently make away with all the speed they could, upon my sending to them, they should then have their wills to do what they pleased. They were ill satisfied with my answer, but durst not disobey. I sent with speed to the Scots, and bade them pack away with all the speed they could; for if they stayed the messenger’s return, they should but few of them return to their own home. They made no stay; but they were returned homewards before the messenger had made an end of his message. Thus, by God’s mercy, I escaped a great danger; and, by my means, there were a great many men’s lives saved that day.”
17 Need-fire, beacon.
18 Tarn, a mountain lake.
19 Earn, a Scottish eagle.
20 The cairns, or piles of loose stones, which crown the summit of most of our Scottish hills, and are found in other remarkable situations, seem usually, though not universally, to have been sepulchral monuments. Six flat stones are commonly found in the centre, forming a cavity of greater or smaller dimensions, in which an urn is often placed. The author is possessed of one, discovered beneath an immense cairn at Roughlee, in Liddesdale. It is one of the most barbarous construction; the middle of the substance alone having been subjected to fire, over which, when hardened, the artist had laid an inner and outer cast of unbaked clay, etched with some very rude ornaments; his skill apparently being inadequate to baking the vase, when completely finished. The contents were bones and ashes, and a quantity of beads made of coal. This seems to have been a barbarous imitation of the Roman fashion of sepulture.
21 Bowne, make ready.
22 Protection money exacted by free-booters.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!”
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.
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.
“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.”
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:
“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.”
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:
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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,
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.”
ALL it not vain; they do not err,
Who say, that when the Poet dies,
Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,
And celebrates his obsequies:
Who say, tall cliff and cavern lone
For the departed Bard make moan;
That mountains weep in crystal rill;
That flowers in tears of balm distill;
Through his lov’d groves that breezes sigh,
And oaks, in deeper groan, reply;10
And rivers teach their rushing wave
To murmur dirges round his grave
Not that, in sooth, o’er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn;
But that the stream, the wood, the gale
Is vocal with the plaintive wail
Of those, who, else forgotten long,
Liv’d in the poet’s faithful song,
And with the poet’s parting breath,
Whose memory feels a second death.20
The Maid’s pale shade, who wails her lot,
That love, true love, should be forgot,
From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear
Upon the gentle Minstrel’s bier:
The phantom Knight, his glory fled,
Mourns o’er the field he heap’d with dead;
Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amaun,
And shrieks along the battle-plain.
The Chief, whose antique crownlet long
Still sparkled in the feudal song,30
Now, from the mountain’s misty throne,
Sees, in the thanedom once his own,
His ashes undistinguish’d lie,
His place, his power, his memory die:
His groans the lonely caverns fill,
His tears of rage impel the rill:
All mourn the Minstrel’s harp unstrung,
Their name unknown, their praise unsung.
Scarcely the hot assault was staid,
The terms of truce were scarcely made,40
When they could spy, from Branksome’s towers,
The advancing march of martial powers.
Thick clouds of dust afar appear’d,
And trampling steeds were faintly heard;
Bright spears, above the columns dun,
Glanced momentary to the sun;
And feudal banners fair display’d
The bands that moved to Branksome’s aid.
Vails not to tell each hardy clan,
From the fair Middle Marches came;50
The Bloody Heart blaz’d in the van,
Announcing Douglas, dreaded name!1
Vails not to tell what steeds did spurn,
Where the Seven Spears of Wedderburne2
Their men in battle-order set;
And Swinton laid the lance in rest,
That tamed of yore the sparkling crest
Of Clarence’s Plantagenet.3
Nor list I say what hundreds more,
From the rich Merse and Lammermore,60
And Tweed’s fair borders to the war,
Beneath the crest of Old Dunbar.
And Hepburn’s mingled banners come,
Down the steep mountain glittering far
And shouting still, “A Home! a Home!”4
Now squire and knight, from Branksome sent,
On many a courteous message went;
To every chief and lord they paid
Meet thanks for prompt and powerful aid:
And told them — how a truce was made.70
And how a day of fight was ta’en
‘Twixt Musgrave and stout Deloraine;
And how the Ladye pray’d them dear,
That all would stay the fight to see,
And deign, in love and courtesy,
To taste of Branksome cheer.
Nor, while they bade to feast each Scot,
Were England’s noble Lords forgot
Himself, the hoary Seneschal
Rode forth, in seemly terms to call80
Those gallant foes to Branksome Hall.
Accepted Howard, than whom knight
Was never dubb’d more bold in fight;
Nor, when from war and armor free,
More fam’d for stately courtesy:
But angry Dacre rather chose
In his pavilion to repose
Now, noble Dame, perchance you ask
How these two hostile armies met?
Deeming it were no easy task90
To keep the truce which here was set
Where martial spirits, all on fire,
Breathed only blood and mortal ire.
By mutual inroads, mutual blows,
By habit, and by nation, foes
They met on Teviot’s strand;
They met and sate them mingled down,
Without a threat, without a frown,
As brothers meet in foreign land:
The hands the spear that lately grasp’d,100
Still in the mailed gauntlet clasp’d,
Were interchang’d in greeting dear;
Visors were raised, and faces shown,
And many a friend, to friend made known,
Partook of social cheer.
Some drove the jolly bowl about;
With dice and draughts some chas’d the day;
And some, with many a merry shout,
In riot revelry, and rout,
Pursued the foot-ball play.5110
Yet, be it known, had bugles blown,
Or sign of war been seen,
Those bands so fair together rang’d,
Those hands, so frankly interchang’d,
Had dyed with gore the green:
The merry shout by Teviot-side
Had sunk in war-cries wild and wide,
And in the groan of death;
And whingers,6 now in friendship bare
The social meal to part and share,120
Had found a bloody sheath.
‘Twixt truce and war, such sudden change
Was not infrequent, nor held strange,
In the old Border-day:7
But yet on Branksome’s towers and town
In peaceful merriment, sunk down
The sun’s declining ray.
The blithsome signs of bassel gay
Decay’d not with the dying day:
Soon through the lattic’d windows tall130
Of lofty Branksome’s lordly hall,
Divided square by shafts of stone,
Huge flakes of ruddy lustre shone
Nor less the gilded rafters rang
With merry harp and beakers’ clang:
And frequent, on the darkening plain,
Loud hollo, whoop, or whistle ran,
As bands, their stragglers to regain
Give the shrill watchword of their clan;8
And revellers, o’er their bowls, proclaim140
Douglas or Dacre’s conquering name.
Less frequent heard, and fainter still
At length the various clamors died:
And you might hear, from Branksome hill
No sound but Teviot’s rushing tide;
Save when the changing sentinel
The challenge of his watch could tell;
And save where, through the dark profound,
The clanging axe and hammer’s sound
Rung from the nether lawn;150
For many a busy hand toil’d there,
Strong pales to shape, and beams to square,
The lists’ dread barriers to prepare
Against the morrow’s dawn.
Margaret from hall did soon retreat,
Despite the Dame’s reproving eye;
Nor mark’d she as she left her seat,
Full many a stifled sigh;
For many a noble warrior strove
To win the Flower of Teviot’s love,160
And many a bold ally.
With throbbing head and anxious heart,
All in her lonely bower apart,
In broken sleep she lay:
Betimes from silken couch she rose
While yet the banner’d hosts repose,
She view’d the dawning day:
Of all the hundreds sunk to rest
First woke the loveliest and the best.
She gaz’d upon the inner court,170
Which in the tower’s tall shadow lay;
Where coursers’ clang, and stamp, and snort
Had rung the livelong yesterday;
Now still as death; till stalking slow —
The jingling spurs announc’d his tread —
A stately warrior pass’d below;
But when he rais’d his plumed head —
Bless’d Mary! can it be?
Secure, as if in Ousenam bowers,
He walks through Branksome’s hostile towers180
With fearless step and free.
She dar’d not sign, she dar’d not speak —
Oh! if one page’s slumbers break,
His blood the price must pay!
Not all the pearls Queen Mary wears
Not Margaret’s yet more precious tears,
Shall buy his life a day.
Yet was his hazard small; for well
You may bethink you of the spell
Of that sly urchin page;190
This to his lord he did impart,
And made him seem, by glamour art,
A knight from Hermitage.
Unchalleng’d thus, the warder’s post,
The court, unchalleng’d, thus he cross’d,
For all the vassalage:
But O! what magic’s quaint disguise
Could blind fair Margaret s azure eyes!
She started from her seat;
While with surprise and fear she strove,200
And both could scarcely master love,
Lord Henry’s at her feet.
Oft have I mus’d what purpose bad
That foul malicious urchin had
To bring this meeting round;
For happy love’s a heavenly sight,
And by a vile malignant sprite
In such no joy is found;
And oft I’ve deem’d perchance he thought
Their erring passion might have wrought210
Sorrow, and sin, and shame;
And death to Cranstoun’s gallant Knight
And to the gentle ladye bright
Disgrace and loss of fame.
But earthly spirit could not tell
The heart of them that lov’d so well.
True love’s the gift which God has given
To man alone beneath the heaven:
It is not fantasy’s hot fire,
Whose wishes, soon as granted, fly;220
It liveth not in fierce desire,
With dead desire it doth not die;
It is the secret sympathy,
The silver link, the silken tie,
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind
In body and in soul can bind.
Now leave we Margaret and her Knight,
To tell you of the approaching fight.
Their warning blasts the bugles blew,
The pipe’s shrill port9 arous’d each clan;230
In haste, the deadly strife to view,
The trooping warriors eager ran:
Thick round the lists their lances stood
Like blasted pines in Ettric wood;
To Branksome many a look they threw,
The combatants’ approach to view,
And bandied many a word of boast
About the knight each favor’d most.
Meantime, full anxious was the Dame;
For now arose disputed claim240
Of who should fight for Deloraine,
‘Twixt Harden and ‘twixt Thirlestaine
They ‘gan to reckon kin and rent,
And frowning brow on brow was bent;
But yet not long the strife — for, lo!
Himself, the Knight of Deloraine,
Strong, as it seem’d, and free from pain
In armor sheath’d from top to toe,
Appear’d and crav’d the combat due.
The Dame her charm successful knew,10250
And the fierce chiefs their claims withdrew.
When for the lists they sought the plain,
The stately Ladye’s silken rein
Did noble Howard hold;
Unarmed by her side he walk’d,
And much, in courteous phrase, they talk’d
Of feats of arms of old.
Costly his garb; his Flemish ruff
Fell o’er his doublet, shap’d of buff,
With satin slash’d and lin’d;260
Tawny his boot, and gold his spur,
His cloak was all of Poland fur,
His hose with silver twin’d;
His Bilboa blade, by Marchmen felt,
Hung in a broad and studded belt;
Hence, in rude phrase, the Borderers still
Call’d noble Howard, Belted Will.
Behind Lord Howard and the Dame,
Fair Margaret on her palfrey came,
Whose foot-cloth swept the ground:270
White was her wimple, and her veil,
And her loose locks a chaplet pale
Of whitest roses bound;
The lordly Angus, by her side,
In courtesy to cheer her tried;
Without his aid, her hand in vain
Had strove to guide her broider’d rein.
He deem’d she shudder’d at the sight
Of warriors met for mortal fight;
But cause of terror, all unguess’d,280
Was fluttering in her gentle breast,
When, in their chairs of crimson plac’d,
The Dame and she the barriers grac’d.
Prize of the field, the young Buccleuch,
An English knight led forth to view;
Scarce rued the boy his present plight,
So much he long’d to see the fight.
Within the lists, in knightly pride,
High Home and haughty Dacre ride;
Their leading staffs of steel they wield290
As marshals of the mortal field;
While to each knight their care assign’d
Like vantage of the sun and wind.
Then heralds hoarse did loud proclaim,
In King and Queen and Warden’s name
That none, while lasts the strife,
Should dare, by look, or sign, or word,
Aid to a champion to afford,
On peril of his life;
And not a breath the silence broke,300
Till thus the alternate Heralds spoke:
“Here standeth Richard of Musgrave,
Good knight and true, and freely born,
Amends from Deloraine to crave,
For foul despiteous scathe and scorn.
He sayeth that William of Deloraine
Is traitor false by Border laws;
This with his sword he will maintain,
So help him God, and his good cause!”
“Here standeth William of Deloraine,310
Good knight and true, of noble strain,
Who sayeth that foul treason’s stain,
Since he bore arms, ne’er soil’d his coat;
And that, so help him God above!
He will on Musgrave’s body prove,
He lies most foully in his throat.”
“Forward, brave champions, to the fight!
“God defend the right!”
Then, Teviot! how thine echoes rang,320
When bugle-sound and trumpet-clang
Let loose the martial foes,
And in mid list, with shield pois’d high,
And measur’d step and wary eye,
The combatants did close.
Ill would it suit your gentle ear,
Ye lovely listeners, to hear
How to the axe the helms did sound,
And blood pour’d down from many a wound;
For desperate was the strife and long,330
And either warrior fierce and strong.
But, were each dame a listening knight,
I well could tell how warriors fight!
For I have seen war’s lightning flashing,
Seen the claymore with bayonet clashing,
Seen through red blood the war-horse dashing,
And scorn’d, amid the reeling strife,
To yield a step for death or life.
’Tis done, ’tis done! that fatal blow
Has stretch d him on the bloody plain;340
He strives to rise — brave Musgrave, no!
Thence never shalt thou rise again!
He chokes in blood! some friendly hand
Undo the visor’s barred band,
Unfix the gorget’s iron clasp,
And give him room for life to gasp!
O, bootless aid! haste, holy Friar,
Haste, ere the sinner shall expire!
Of all his guilt let him be shriven,
And smooth his path from earth to heaven!350
In haste the holy Friar sped
His naked foot was dyed with red
As through the lists he ran;
Unmindful of the shouts on high,
That hail’d the conqueror’s victory,
He rais’d the dying man;
Loose wav’d his silver beard and hair,
As o’er him he kneel’d down in prayer;
And still the crucifix on high
He holds before his darkening eye;360
And still he bends an anxious ear
His faltering penitence to hear;
Still props him from the bloody sod,
Still, even when soul and body part,
Pours ghostly comfort on his heart,
And bids him trust in God.
Unheard he prays; the death pang’s o’er!
Richard of Musgrave breathes no more.
As if exhausted in the fight,
Or musing o’er the piteous sight,370
The silent victor stands;
His beaver did he not unclasp,
Mark’d not the shouts, felt not the grasp
Of gratulating hands.
When lo! strange cries of wild surprise,
Mingled with seeming terror, rise
Among the Scottish bands;
And all amid the throng’d array,
In panic haste gave open way
To a half-naked ghastly man380
Who downward from the castle ran:
He cross’d the barriers at a bound,
And wild and haggard look d around,
As dizzy, and in pain;
And all, upon the armed ground
Knew William of Deloraine!
Each ladye sprung from seat with speed;
Vaulted each marshal from his steed;
“And who art thou,” they cried,
“Who hast this battle fought and won?”390
His plumed helm was soon undone —
“Cranstoun of Teviot-side!
For this fair prize I’ve fought and won.”
And to the Ladye led her son.
Full oft the rescued boy she kiss’d,
And often press’d him to her breast;
For, under all her dauntless show,
Her heart had throbb’d at every blow;
Yet not Lord Cranstoun deign’d she greet,
Though low he kneeled at her feet.400
Me lists not tell what words were made,
What Douglas, Home, and Howard said —
For Howard was a generous foe —
And how the clan united pray’d
The Ladye would the feud forego,
And deign to bless the nuptial hour
Of Cranstoun’s Lord and Teviot’s Flower.
She look’d to river, look’d to hill,
Thought on the Spirit’s prophecy,
Then broke her silence stern and still —410
“Not you, but Fate, has vanquish’d me;
Their influence kindly stars may shower
On Teviot’s tide and Branksome’s tower,
For pride is quell’d, and love is free.”
She took fair Margaret by the hand,
Who, breathless, trembling, scarce might stand;
That hand to Cranstoun’s lord gave she:
“As I am true to thee and thine,
Do thou be true to me and mine!
This clasp of love our bond shall be;420
For this is your betrothing day,
And all these noble lords shall stay
To grace it with their company.”
All as they left the listed plain
Much of the story she did gain
How Cranstoun fought with Deloraine
And of his page, and of the Book
Which from the wounded knight he took;
And how he sought her castle high,
That morn, by help of gramarye;430
How, in Sir William’s armor dight,
Stolen by his page, while slept the knight,
He took on him the single fight.
But half his tale he left unsaid
And linger’d till he join’d the maid.
Car’d not the Ladye to betray
Her mystic arts in view of day;
But well she thought, ere midnight came
Of that strange page the pride to tame
From his foul hands the Book to save,440
And send it back to Michael s grave.
Needs not to tell each tender word
‘Twixt Margaret and twixt Cranstoun s lord;
Nor how she told of former woes,
And how her bosom fell and rose,
While he and Musgrave bandied blows
Needs not these lovers’ joys to tell:
One day, fair maids, you’ll know them well.
William of Deloraine some chance
Had waken’d from his deathlike trance;450
And taught that, in the listed plain
Another, in his arms and shield
Against fierce Musgrave axe did wield
Under the name of Deloraine.
Hence to the field unarm’d he ran,
And hence his presence scar’d the clan,
Who held him for some fleeting wraith11
And not a man of blood and breath.
Not much this new ally he lov’d,
Yet, when he saw what hap had prov’d460
He greeted him right heartilie:
He would not waken old debate,
For he was void of rancorous hate,
Though rude, and scant of courtesy;
In raids he spilt but seldom blood,
Unless when men-at-arms withstood,
Or, as was meet, for deadly feud
He ne’er bore grudge for stalwart blow,
Ta’en in fair fight from gallant foe:
And so ’twas seen of him, e’en now,470
When on dead Musgrave he look d down;
Grief darken’d on his rugged brow,
Though half disguised with a frown;
And thus, while sorrow bent his head,
His foeman’s epitaph he made.
“Now, Richard Musgrave, liest thou here!
I ween, my deadly enemy
For, if I slew thy brother dear,
Thou slew’st a sister’s son to me;
And when I lay in dungeon dark480
Of Naworth Castle, long months three,
Till ransom’d for a thousand mark,
Dark Musgrave, it was ‘long of thee.
And, Musgrave, could our fight be tried,
And thou wert now alive as I,
No mortal man should us divide,
Till one, or both of us, did die:
Yet, rest thee God! for well I know
I ne’er shall find a nobler foe.
In all the northern counties here,490
Whose word is Snaffle, spur, and spear,12
Thou wert the best to follow gear!
’Twas pleasure, as we look’d behind,
To see how thou the chase could’st wind,
Cheer the dark blood-hound on his way
And with the bugle rouse the fray!13
I’d give the lands of Deloraine
Dark Musgrave were alive again.”
So mourn’d he, till Lord Dacre’s band
Were bowning back to Cumberland.500
They rais’d brave Musgrave from the field,
And laid him on his bloody shield;
On levell’d lances, four and four,
By turns, the noble burden bore.
Before, at times, upon the gale,
Was heard the Minstrel s plaintive wail;
Behind, four priests, in sable stole,
Sung requiem for the warrior’s soul:
Around, the horsemen slowly rode;
With trailing pikes the spearmen trode;510
And thus the gallant knight they bore
Through Liddesdale to Leven’s shore;
Thence to Holme Coltrame’s lofty nave,
And laid him in his father’s grave.
THE harp’s wild notes, though hush’d the song,
The mimic march of death prolong;
Now seems it far, and now a-near,
Now meets, and now eludes the ear;
Now seems some mountainside to sweep,
Now faintly dies in valley deep;520
Seems now as if the Minstrel’s wail,
Now the sad requiem, loads the gale;
Last, o’er the warrior’s closing grave,
Rung the full choir in choral stave.
After due pause, they bade him tell,
Why he, who touch’d the harp so well,
Should thus, with ill-rewarded toil,
Wander a poor and thankless soil,
When the more generous Southern land
Would well requite his skillful hand.530
The aged Harper howsoe’er
His only friend, his harp, was dear,
Lik’d not to hear it rank’d so high
Above his flowing poesy:
Less lik’d he still that scornful jeer
Mispris’d the land he lov’d so dear;
High was the sound, as thus again
The Bard resum’d his minstrel strain.
1 The chief of this potent race of heroes, about the date of the poem, was Archibald Douglas, seventh Earl of Angus, a man of great courage and activity. The Bloody Heart was the well-known cognizance of the house of Douglas, assumed from the time of good Lord James, to whose care Robert Bruce committed his heart, to be carried to the Holy Land.
2 Sir David Home of Wedderburn, who was slain in the fatal battle of Flodden, left seven sons by his wife, Isabel, daughter of Hoppringle of Galashiels (now Pringle of Whitebank.) They were called the Seven Spears of Wedderburne.
3 At the battle of Beaugé, in France, Thomas, Duke of Clarence, brother to Henry V., was unhorsed by Sir John Swinton of Swinton, who distinguished him by a coronet set with precious stones, which he wore around his helmet. The family of Swinton is one of the most ancient in Scotland, and produced many celebrated warriors.
4 The Earls of Home, as descendants of the Dunbars, ancient Earls of March, carried a lion rampant, argent; but, as a difference, changed the colour of the shield from gules to vert, in allusion to Greenlaw, their ancient possession. The slogan, or war-cry, of this powerful family, was, “A Home! A Home!” It was anciently placed in an escrol above the crest. The helmet is armed with a lion’s head erased gules, with a cap of state gules, turned up ermine.
The Hepburns, a powerful family in East Lothian, were usually in close alliance with the Homes. The chief of this clan was Hepburn, Lord of Hailes; a family which terminated in the too famous Earl of Bothwell.
5 The foot-ball was anciently a very favourite sport all through Scotland, but especially upon the Borders. Sir John Carmichael of Charmichael, Warden of the Middle Marches, was killed in 1600 by a band of the Armstrongs, returning from a foot-ball-match. Sir Robert Carey, inn his Memoirs, mentions a great meeting, appointed by the Scotch riders to be held at Kelso for the purpose of playing foot-ball, but which terminated in an incursion upon England. At present, the foot-ball is often played by the inhabitants of adjacent parishes, or of the opposite banks of a stream. The victory is contested with the utmost fury, and very serious accidents have sometimes taken place in the struggle.
6 A sort of knife, or poniard.
7 Notwithstanding the constant wars upon the Borders, and the occasional cruelties which marked the mutual inroads, the inhabitants on either side do not appear to have regarded each other with that violent and personal animosity, which might have been expected. On the contrary, like the outposts of hostile armies, they often carried on something resembling friendly intercourse, even in the middle of hostilities; and it is evident, from various ordinances against trade and intermarriages, between English and Scottish Borderers, that the governments of both countries were jealous of their cherishing too intimate a connexion. Froissart says of both nations, that “Englyshmen on the one party, and Scottes on the other party, are good men of ware; for when they meet, there is a harde fight without sparynge. There is no hoo [truce] between them, as long as spears, swords, axes, or daggers, will endure, but lay on eche upon uther: and whan they be well beaten, and that the one party hath obtained the vicotry, they tehn glorifye so in theyre dedes of armies, and are so joyfull, that such as be taken they shall be ransomed, or that they go out of the felde; so that shortly eche of them is so content with other, that, at their departynge, curtsyle they will say, God thank you."— BERNER’S Froissart, vol. ii. p. 153. The Border meetings of truce, which, although places of merchandise and merriment, often witnessed the most bloody scenes, may serve to illustrate the description in the text. They are vividly pourtrayed in the old ballad of the Redisquair. Both parties came armed to a meeting of the wardens, yet they intermixed fearlessly and peaceably with each other in mutual sports and familiar intercourse, until a casual fray arose:—
“Then was there nought but bow and spear,
And every mann pulled out a brand.”
In the 29th stanza of this canto, there is an attempt to express some of the mixed feelings, with which the Borderers on each side were led to regard their neighbours.
8 Patten remarks, with bitter censure, the disorderly conduct of the English Borderers, who attended the Protector Somerset on his expedition against Scotland. “As we wear then a setling, and the tents a setting up, among all things els commendable in our hole journey, and one thing seemed to me an intollerable disorder and abuse: that whereas always, both in all tounes of war, and in all campes of armies, quietness and stillness, without noise, is, principally in the night, after the watch is set, observed, (I nede not reason why,) our norther prikers, the Borderers, notwithstandyng, with great enormitie, (as thought me,) and not unlike (to be playn) unto a masterles hounde howlying in a hie way when he hath lost him he waited upon, sum hoopynge, sum whistlyng, and most with crying, A Berwyke! A Berwyke! A Fenwyke! A Fenwyke! A Bulmer! A Bulmer! or so ootherwise as theyr captains names wear, never lin’de these troublous and dangerous noyses all the nyghte longe. They said, they did it to find their captain and fellows; but if the souldiers of our oother countreys and sheres had used the same maner, in that case we should have oft tymes had the state of our campe more like the outrage of a dissolute huntyng, than the quiet of a well ordered armye. It is a feat of war, in mine opinion, that might right well be left. I could reherse causes (but yf I take it, they are better unspoken than uttred, unless the faut wear sure to be amended) that might shew thei move alweis more peral to our armie, but in their one nyght’s so doynge, than they shew good service (as some sey) in a hoole vyage."— Apud DALZELL’S Fragments, p. 75.
9 A martial piece of music, adapted to the bagpipes.
10 See Canto 3. Stanza xxiii.
11 The spectral apparition of a living person.
12 “The lands, that over Ouse to Berwick forth do bear,
Have for their blazon had, the snaffle, spur, and spear.”
Poly-Albion, Song 13.
13 The pursuit of Border marauders was followed by the injured Party and his friends with blood-hounds and bugle-horn, and was called the hot-trod. He was entitled, if his dog could trace the scent, to follow the invaders into the opposite kingdom; a privilege which often occasioned bloodshed. In addition to what has been said of the blood-hound, I may add, that the breed was kept up by the Buccleuch family on their Border estates till within the 18th century. A person was alive within the memory of man, who remembered a blood-hound being kept at Eldinhope, in Ettrick Forest, for whose maintenance the tenant had an allowance of meal. At that time the sheep were always watched at night. Upon one occasion, when the duty had fallen on the narrator, then a lad, he became exhausted with fatigue, and fell asleep upon a bank near sun-rising. Suddenly he was awakened by the tread of horses, and saw five men, well mounted and armed, ride briskly over the edge of the hill. They stopped and looked at the flock; but the day was too far broken to admit the chance of their carrying any of them off. One of them, in spite, leaped from his horse, and coming to the shepherd, seized him by the belt he wore round his waist; and, setting his foot upon his body, pulled it till it broke, and carried it away with him. They rode off at the gallop; and, the shepherd giving the alarm, the blood-hound was turned loose, and the people in the neighbourhood alarmed. The marauders, however, escaped, notwithstanding a sharp pursuit. This circumstance serves to show how very long the license of the Borderers continued in some degree to manifest itself.
BREATHES there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;10
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.
O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,20
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e’er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
Still as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems as, to me, of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;
And thus I love them better still,
Even in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow’s stream still let me stray,30
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither’d cheek:
Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The Bard may draw his parting groan.
Not scorn’d like me, to Branksome Hall
The Minstrels came at festive call;
Trooping they came, from near and far
The jovial priests of mirth and war;40
Alike for feast and fight prepar’d,
Battle and banquet both they shar’d.
Of late, before each martial clan,
They blew their death-note in the van,
But now, for every merry mate,
Rose the portcullis’ iron grate;
They sound the pipe, they strike the string,
They dance, they revel, and they sing,
Till the rude turrets shake and ring.
Me lists not at this tide declare50
The splendor of the spousal rite,
How muster’d in the chapel fair
Both maid and matron, squire and knight;
Me lists not tell of owches rare,
Of mantles green, and braided hair,
And kirtles furr’d with miniver;
What plumage wav’d the altar round,
How spurs and ringing chainlets sound;
And hard it were for bard to speak
The changeful hue of Margaret’s cheek —60
That lovely hue which comes and flies
As awe and shame alternate rise!
Some bards have sung the Ladye high
Chapel or altar came not nigh;
Nor durst the rites of spousal grace,
So much she fear’d each holy place.
False slanders these: I trust right well
She wrought not by forbidden spell;1
For mighty words and signs have power
O’er sprites in planetary hour:70
Yet scarce I praise their venturous part,
Who tamper with such dangerous art.
But this for faithful truth I say,
The Ladye by the altar stood;
Of sable velvet her array,
And on her head a crimson hood
With pearls embroider’d and entwin’d,
Guarded with gold, with ermine lin’d;
A merlin sat upon her wrist2
Held by a leash of silken twist.80
The spousal rites were ended soon:
’Twas now the merry hour of noon
And in the lofty arched hall
Was spread the gorgeous festival.
Steward and squire, with heedful haste,
Marshall’d the rank of every guest;
Pages, with ready blade, were there,
The mighty meal to carve and share:
O’er capon, heron-shew, and crane,
And princely peacock s gilded train390
And o’er the boar-head, garnish’d brave,4
And cygnet from St. Mary’s wave;5
O’er ptarmigan and venison
The priest had spoke his benison.
Then rose the riot and the din,
Above, beneath, without, within!
For, from the lofty balcony,
Rung trumpet, shalm, and psaltery:
Their clanging bowls old warriors quaff’d
Loudly they spoke, and loudly laugh’d;100
Whisper’d young knights, in tone more mild,
To ladies fair, and ladies smil’d.
The hooded hawks, high perch’d on beam
The clamor join’d with whistling scream
And flapp’d their wings, and shook their bells
In concert with the stag-hounds’ yells
Round go the flasks of ruddy wine,
From Bordeaux, Orleans, or the Rhine;
Their tasks the busy sewers ply,
And all is mirth and revelry.110
The Goblin Page, omitting still
No opportunity of ill,
Strove now, while blood ran hot and high,
To rouse debate and jealousy;
Till Conrad, Lord of Wolfenstein:
By nature fierce, and warm with wine,
And now in humor highly cross’d
About some steeds his band had lost,
High words to words succeeding still,
Smote with his gauntlet stout Hunthill — 6120
A hot and hardy Rutherford,
Whom men called Dickon Draw-the-sword.
He took it on the page’s say
Hunthill had driven these steeds away.
Then Howard, Home, and Douglas rose
The kindling discord to compose:
Stern Rutherford right little said,
But bit his glove,7 and shook his head.
A fortnight thence, in Inglewood,
Stout Conrad, cold, and drench’d in blood,130
His bosom gor’d with many a wound,
Was by a woodman’s lyme-dog found;
Unknown the manner of his death,
Gone was his brand, both sword and sheath;
But ever from that time, ’twas said,
That Dickon wore a Cologne blade.
The dwarf, who fear’d his master’s eye
Might his foul treachery espie,
Now sought the castle buttery,
Where many a yeoman, bold and free,140
Revell’d as merrily and well
As those that sat in lordly selle.
Watt Tinlinn, there, did frankly raise
The pledge to Arthur Fire-the-Braes8
And he, as by his breeding bound,
To Howard’s merry-men sent it round.
To quit them, on the English side,
Red Roland Forster loudly cried,
“A deep carouse to yon fair bride!”
At every pledge, from vat and pail,150
Foam’d forth in floods the nut-brown ale
While shout the riders every one;
Such day of mirth ne’er cheer’d their clan,
Since old Buccleuch the name did gain
When in the cleuch the buck was ta’en.9
The wily page, with vengeful thought
Remember d him of Tinlinn’s yew,
And swore it should be dearly bought
That ever he the arrow drew.
First, he the yeoman did molest160
With bitter gibe and taunting jest;
Told how he fled at Solway strife,
And how Hob Armstrong cheer’d his wife;
Then, shunning still his powerful arm,
At unawares he wrought him harm;
From trencher stole his choicest cheer,
Dash’d from his lips his can of beer;
Then, to his knee sly creeping on,
With bodkin pierced him to the bone:
The venom’d wound, and festering joint,170
Long after rued that bodkin’s point.
The startled yeoman swore and spurn’d,
And board and flagons overturn’d.
Riot and clamor wild began
Back to the hall the Urchin ran;
Took in a darkling nook his post,
And grinn’d, and mutter’d, “Lost! lost! lost!”
By this, the Dame, lest farther fray
Should mar the concord of the day.
Had bid the Minstrels tune their lay.180
And first stept forth old Albert Graeme,
The Minstrel of that ancient name:10
Was none who struck the harp so well
Within the Land Debateable;
Well friended, too his hardy kin,
Whoever lost, were sure to win;
They sought the beeves that made their broth,
In Scotland and in England both.
In homely guise, as nature bade
His simple song the Borderer said.190
It was an English ladye bright,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,11
And she would marry a Scottish knight,
For Love will still be lord of all.
Blithely they saw the rising sun
When he shone fair on Carlisle wall;
But they were sad ere day was done,
Though Love was still the lord of all.
Her sire gave brooch and jewel fine,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall200
Her brother gave but a flask of wine,
For ire that Love was lord of all.
For she had lands, both meadow and lea,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall;
And he swore her death ere he would see
A Scottish knight the lord of all!
That wine she had not tasted well,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,)
When dead in her true love’s arms she fell,
For Love was still the lord of all!210
He pierc’d her brother to the heart,
Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall:
So perish all would true love part
That Love may still be lord of all!
And then he took the cross divine
(Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,)
And died for her sake in Palestine
So Love was still the lord of all!
Now all ye lovers that faithful prove,
(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,)220
Pray for their souls who died for love,
For Love shall still be lord of all!
As ended Albert’s simple lay,
Arose a bard of loftier port;
For sonnet, rhyme, and roundelay,
Renown’d in haughty Henry’s court:
There rung thy harp, unrivall’d long,
Fitztraver of the silver song!
The gentle Surrey lov’ed his lyre —
Who has not heard of Surrey’s fame?12230
His was the hero’s soul of fire,
And his the bard’s immortal name,
And his was love, exalted high
By all the glow of chivalry.
They sought, together, climes afar,
And oft, within some olive grove,
When even came with twinkling star,
They sung of Surrey’s absent love
His step the Italian peasant stay’d,
And deem’d that spirits from on high,240
Round where some hermit saint was laid,
Were breathing heavenly melody;
So sweet did harp and voice combine
To praise the name of Geraldine.
Fitztraver! O what tongue may say
The pangs thy faithful bosom knew,
When Surrey, of the deathless lay
Ungrateful Tudor’s sentence slew?
Regardless of the tyrant’s frown,
His harp call’d wrath and vengeance down.250
He left, for Naworth’s iron towers,
Windsor’s green glades, and courtly bowers
And faithful to his patron’s name,
With Howard still Fitztraver came
Lord William’s foremost favorite he,
And chief of all his minstrelsy.
’Twas All-soul’s eve, and Surrey’s heart beat high;
He heard the midnight bell with anxious start,
Which told the mystic hour, approaching nigh,
When wise Cornelius promis’d, by his art,260
To show to him the ladye of his heart
Albeit betwixt them roar’d the ocean grim
Yet so the sage had hight to play his part
That he should see her form in life and limb
And mark, if still she lov’d,
And still she thought of him.
Dark was the vaulted room of gramarye,
To which the wizard led the gallant Knight,
Save that before a mirror, huge and high,
A hallow’d taper shed a glimmering light270
On mystic implements of magic might;
On cross, and character, and talisman,
And almagest, and altar, nothing bright:
For fitful was the lustre, pale and wan
As watchlight by the bed
Of some departing man.
But soon, within that mirror huge and high,
Was seen a self-emitted light to gleam;
And forms upon its breast the Earl ‘gan spy
Cloudy and indistinct, as feverish dream;280
Till, slow arranging, and defin’d, they seem
To form a lordly and a lofty room,
Part lighted by a lamp with silver beam,
Plac’d by a couch of Agra’s silken loom,
And part by moonshine pale,
And part was hid in gloom.
Fair all the pageant: but how passing fair
The slender form which lay on couch of Ind!
O’er her white bosom stray’d her hazel hair;
Pale her dear cheek, as if for love she pin’d;290
All in her night-robe loose she lay reclin’d,
And pensive read from tablet eburnine
Some strain that seem’d her inmost soul to find:
That favor’d strain was Surrey’s raptur’d line,
That fair and lovely form,
The Lady Geraldine.
Slow roll’d the clouds upon the lovely form,
And swept the.goodly vision all away —
So royal envy roll’d the murky storm
O’er my beloved Master’s glorious day.300
Thou jealous, ruthless tyrant! Heaven repay
On thee, and on thy children’s latest line,
The wild caprice of thy despotic sway,
The gory bridal bed, the plunder’d shrine,
The murder’d Surrey’s blood,
The tears of Geraldine!
Both Scots, and Southern chiefs, prolong
Applauses of Fitztraver’s song;
These hated Henry’s name as death,
And those still held the ancient faith.310
Then from his seat, with lofty air,
Rose Harold, bard of brave St. Clair;
St. Clair, who, feasting high at Home,
Had with that lord to battle come.
Harold was born where restless seas
Howl round the storm-swept Orcades;13
Where erst St. Clairs held princely sway
O’er isle and islet, strait and bay —
Still nods their palace to its fall,
Thy pride and sorrow, fair Kirkwall!14320
Thence oft he mark’d fierce Pentland rave,
As if grim Odin rode her wave:
And watch’d the while, with visage pale,
And throbbing heart, the struggling sail;
For all of wonderful and wild
Had rapture for the lonely child.
And much of wild and wonderful
In these rude isles might fancy cull;
For thither came. in times afar,
Stern Lochlin’s sons of roving war.330
The Norsemen, train’d to spoil and blood,
Skill’d to prepare the raven’s food;
Kings of the main their leaders brave,
Their barks the dragons of the wave.15
And there in many a stormy vale,
The Scald had told his wondrous tale;
And many a Runic column high
Had witness’d grim idolatry.
And thus had Harold in his youth
Learn’d many a Saga’s rhyme uncouth —340
Of that Sea-Snake, tremendous curl’d,
Whose monstrous circle girds the world;16
Of those dread Maids,17 whose hideous yell
Maddens the battle’s bloody swell;
Of Chief, who, guided through the gloom
By the pale death-lights of the tomb,
Ransack’d the graves of warriors old,
Their falchions wrench’d from corpses’ hold,18
Wak’d the deaf tomb with war’s alarms,
And bade the dead arise to arms!350
With war and wonder all on flame,
To Roslin’s bowers young Harold came,
Where, by sweet glen and greenwood tree,
He learn’d a milder minstrelsy;
Yet something of the Northern spell
Mix’d with the softer numbers well.
O listen, listen, ladies gay!
No haughty feat of arms I tell;
Soft is the note, and sad the lay,
That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.19360
—“Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!
And gentle ladye, deign to stay!
Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,20
Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.
“The blackening wave is edg’d with white:
To inch21 and rock the sea-mews fly;
The fishers have heard the Water-Sprite,
Whose screams forebode that wreck is nigh.
“Last night the gifted Seer did view
A wet shroud swathed round ladye gay;370
Then stay thee, Fair, in Ravensheuch:
Why cross the gloomy firth today?”
“ ’Tis not because Lord Lindesay’s heir
To-night at Roslin leads the ball,
But that my ladye-mother there
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.
“ ’Tis not because the ring they ride,
And Lindesay at the ring rides well,
But that my sire the wine will chide,
If ’tis not fill’d by Rosabelle.”380
O’er Roslin all that dreary night
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;
’Twas broader than the watch-fire’s light,
And redder than the bright moonbeam.
It glar’d on Roslin’s castled rock,
It ruddied all the copse wood glen;
’Twas seen from Dryden’s groves of oak
And seen from cavern’d Hawthorn-den.
Seem’d all on fire that chapel proud,
Where Roslin’s chiefs uncoffin’d lie,390
Each Baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheath’d in his iron panoply.
Seem’d all on fire within, around,
Deep sacristy and altar s pale;
Shone every plllar foliage bound,
And glimmer’d all the dead men’s mail.22
Blaz’d battlement and pinnet high,
Blaz’d every rose-carved buttress fair —
So still they blaze when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high St. Clair.400
There are twenty of Roslin’s barons bold
Lie buried within that proud chapelle;
Each one the holy vault doth hold —
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle!
And each St. Clair was buried there,
With candle, with book, and with knell;
But the sea-caves rung, and the wild winds sung
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.
So sweet was Harold’s piteous lay,
Scarce mark’d the guests the darken’d hall,410
Though, long before the sinking day,
Awondrous shade involv’d them all:
It was not eddying mist or fog,
Drain’d by the sun from fen or bog;
Of no eclipse had sages told;
And yet, as it came on apace,
Each one could scarce his neighbour’s face,
Could scarce his own stretch’d hand behold.
A secret horror check’d the feast,
And chill’d the soul of every guest;420
Even the high Dame stood half aghast —
She knew some evil on the blast;
The elvish page fell to the ground,
And, shuddering, mutter’d, “Found! found! found!”
Then sudden,through the darken’d air,
A flash of lightning came;
So broad, so bright, so red the glare,
The castle seem d on flame.
Glanc d every rafter of the hall,
Glanc’d every shield upon the wall;430
Each trophied beam, each sculptur’d stone,
Were instant seen, and instant gone;
Full through the guests’ bedazzled band
Resistless flash’d the levin-brand,
And fill’d the hall with smoldering smoke,
As on the elvish page it broke.
It broke, with thunder long and loud,
Dismay’d the brave, appall’d the proud —
From sea to sea the larum rung;
On Berwick wall, and at Carlisle withal,440
To arms the startled warders sprung.
When ended was the dreadful roar,
The elvish dwarf was seen no more!
Some heard a voice in Branksome Hall,
Some saw a sight, not seen by all
That dreadful voice was heard by some,
Cry, with loud summons, “GYLBIN, COME!”
And on the spot where burst the brand
Just where the page had flung him down,
Some saw an arm, and some a hand,450
And some the waving of a gown.
The guests in silence pray’d and shook,
And terror dimm’d each lofty look.
But none of all the astonish’d train
Was so dismay’d as Deloraine
His blood did freeze, his brain did burn,
’Twas fear’d his mind would ne’er return;
For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,
Like him of whom the story ran
Who spoke the spectre-hound in Man.23460
At length, by fits, he darkly told.
With broken hint, and shuddering cold,
That he had seen, right certainly.
A shape with amice wrapp’d around,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,
Like pilgrim from beyond thesea;
And knew — but how it matter’d not —
It was the wizard, Michael Scott.
The anxious crowd, with horror pale,
All trembling heard the wondrous tale;470
No sound was made, no word was spoke,
Till noble Angus silence broke;
And he a solemn sacred plight
Did to St. Bride of Douglas make,24
That he a pilgrimage would take
To Melrose Abbey, for the sake
Of Michael’s restless sprite.
Then each, to ease his troubled breast,
To some bless’d saint his prayers address’d:
Some to St. Modan made their vows,480
Some to St. Mary of the Lowes,
Some to the Holy Rood of Lisle,
Some to our Ladye of the Isle;
Each did his patron witness make,
That he such pilgrimage would take,
And monks should sing, and bells should toll,
All for the weal of Michael’s soul.
While vows were ta’en, and prayers were pray’d,
’Tis said the noble dame, dismay’d,
Renounc’d, for aye, dark magic’s aid.490
Nought of the bridal will I tell,
Which after in short space befell;
Nor how brave sons and daughters fair
Bless’d Teviot’s Flower, and Cranstoun’s heir:
After such dreadful scene, ’twere vain
To wake the note of mirth again.
More meet it were to mark the day
Of penitence, and prayer divine,
When pilgrim-chiefs, in sad array,
Sought Melrose’ holy shrine.500
With naked foot, and sackcloth vest,
And arms enfolded on his breast,
Did every pilgrim go;
The standers-by might hear uneath,
Footstep, or voice, or high-drawn breath,
Through all the lengthen’d row:
No lordly look, nor martial stride;
Gone was their glory, sunk their pride,
Forgotten their renown
Silent and slow, like ghosts they glide510
To the high altar’s hallow’d side,
And there they knelt them down:
Above the suppliant chieftains wave
The banners of departed brave;
Beneath the letter d stones were laid
The ashes of their fathers dead;
From many a garnish’d niche around,
Stern saints and tortur’d martyrs frown’d.
And slow up the dim aisle afar,
With sable cowl and scapular,520
And snow-white stoles, in order due,
The holy Fathers, two and two,
In long procession came;
Taper and host, and book they bare,
And holy banner, flourish’d fair
With the Redeemer’s name.
Above the prostrate pilgrim band
The mitred Abbot stretch’d his hand
And bless’d them as they kneel’d
With holy cross he sign’d them all,530
And pray’d they might be sage in hall,
And fortunate in field.
Then mass was sung, and prayers were said,
And solemn requiem for the dead;
And bells toll’d out their mighty peal,
For the departed spirit’s weal;
And ever in the office close
The hymn of intercession rose;
And far the echoing aisles prolong
The awful burthen of the song — 540
DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA,
SOLVET SAECLUM IN FAVILLA —
While the pealing organ rung.
Were it meet with sacred strain
To close my lay, so light and vain,
Thus the holy Fathers sung:
That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner’s stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?550
When, shrivelling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead:
Oh! on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be THOU the trembling sinner’s stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away!
HUSH’D is tho harp: the Minstrel gone.
And did he wander forth alone?560
Alone, in indigence and age,
To linger out his pilgrimage?
No; close beneath proud Newark’s tower,
Arose the Minstrel’s lowly bower;
A simple hut; but there was seen
The little garden hedged with green,
The cheerful hearth, and lattice clean.
There shelter’d wanderers, by the blaze,
Oft heard the tale of other days
For much he lov’d to ope his door,570
And give the aid he begg’d before.
So pass’d the winter’s day; but still,
When summer smil’d on sweet Bowhill,
And July’s eve, with balmy breath,
Wav’d the blue-bells on Newark heath;
When throstles sung in Harehead-shaw,
And corn was green on Carterhaugh,
And fiourish’d broad Blackandro’s oak,
The aged Harper’s soul awoke!
Then would he sing achievements high,580
And circumstance of chivalry,
Till the rapt traveller would stay,
Forgetful of the closing day;
And noble youths, the strain to hear,
Forsook the hunting of the deer;
And Yarrow, as he roll’d along,
Bore burden to the Minstrel’s song.
1 Popular belief, though contrary to the doctrines of the Church, made a favourable distinction betwixt magicians, and necromancers, or wizards; the former were supposed to command the evil spirits, and the latter to serve, or at least to be in league and compact with, those enemies of mankind. The arts of subjecting the demons were manifold; sometimes the fiends were actually swindled by the magicians, as in the case of the bargain betwixt one of their number and the poet Virgil. The classical reader will doubtless be curious to peruse this anecdote:—
“Virgilius was at scole at Tolenton, where he stodyed dylygently, for he was of great understandynge. Upon a tyme, the scolers had lycense to go to play and sporte them in the fyldes, after the usance of the old tyme. And there was also Virgilius therebye, also walkynge among the hylles alle about. It fortuned he spyed a great hole in the syde of a great hyll, wherein he went so depe, that he culd not see no more lyght; and than he went a lytell farther therein, and than he saw some lyght agayne, and than he went fourth streyghte, and within a lytell wyle after he herd a voyce that called, ‘Virgilius! Virgilius!’ and looked aboute, and he colde nat see no body. Than sayd he, (i.e. the voice,) ‘Virgilius, see ye not the lytyll borde lying bysyde you there marked with that word?’ Than answered Virgilius, ‘I see that borde well anough.’ The voyce said, ‘Doo awaye that borde, and lette me out there atte.’ Than answered Virgilius to the voice that was under the lytell borde, and said, ‘Who art thou that callest me so?’ Than answered the devyll, ‘I am a devyll conjured out of the bodye of a certeyne man, and banysshed here tyll the day of judgmend, without that I be delyvered by the handes of men. Thus, Virgilius, I pray the, delyver me out of this payn, and I shall shewe unto the many bokes of negromancye, and how thou shalt come by it lyghtly, and know the practice therein, that no man in the scyence of negromancye shall passe the. And moreove, I shall shewe and enforme the so, that thou shalt have alle thy desyre, whereby methinke it is a great gyfte for so lytyll a doyng. For ye may also thus all your power frendys helpe, and make ryche your enemyes.’ Thorough that great promyse, was Virgilius tempted; he badde the fynd show the bokes to hym, that he might have and occupy them at his wyll; and so the fynde shewed him. And than Virgilius pulled open a borde, and there was a lytell hole, and thereat wrang the devyll out like a yell, and cam and stode before Virgilius lyke a bygge man; whereof Virgilius was astonied and marveyled greatly thereof, that so great a man myght come out at so lytll a hole. Than sayd Virgilius, ‘Shulde ye well passe into the hole that ye cam out of?’—‘Yea, I shall well,’ said the devyl. —‘I holde the best plegge that I have, that ye shall not do it.’—‘Well,’ sayd the devyll, ‘thereto I consent.’ And than the devyll wrange himselfe into the lytell hole ageyne; and as he was therein, Virgilius kyvered the hole ageyne with the bode close, and so was the devyll begyled, and myght nat there come out agen, but abydeth shytte styll therein. Than called the devyll dredefully to Virgilius, and said, ‘What have ye done, Virgilius’— Virgilius answered, ‘Abyde there styll to your day appointed;’ and fro thens forth abydeth he there. And so Virgilius became very connynge in the practyse of the black scyence.”
This story may remind the reader of the Arabian tale of the Fisherman and the imprisoned Genie; and it is more than probable, that many of the marvels narrated in the life of Virgil, are of Oriental extraction. Among such I am disposed to reckon the following whimsical account of the foundation of Naples, containing a curious theory concerning the origin of the earthquakes with which it is afflicted. Virgil, who was a person of gallantry, had, it seems, carried off the daughter of a certain Soldan, and was anxious to secure his prize.
“Than he thought in his mynde how he myghte marye hyr, and though in his mynde to founde in the middes of the see a fayer towne, with great landes belongynge to it; and so he did by his cunnynge, and called it Napells. And the fandacyon of it was of egges, and in that town of Napells he made a tower with iiii corners, and in the toppe he set an apell upon an yron yarde, and no man culde pull away that apell without he brake it; and thoroughe that yren set he a bolte, and in that bolte set he a egge. And he henge the apell by the stauk upon a cheyne, and so hangeth it still. And when the egge styrreth, so shulde the towne of Napells quake; and whan the egge brake, than shulde the towne sinke. Whan he had made an ende, he lette call it Napells.” This seems to have been an article of current belief during the middle ages, as appears from the statutes of the order Du Saint Esprit au droit desir, instituted in 1352. A chapter of the knights is appointed to be held annually at the Castle of the Enchanted Egg, near the grotto of Virgil. — MONTFAUCON, vol. ii. p. 329.
2 A merlin, or sparrow-hawk, was actually carried by ladies of rank, as a falcon was, in time of peace, the constant attendant of a knight or baron. See LATHAM on Falconry. — Godscroft relates, that when Mary of Lorraine was regent, she pressed the Earl of Angus to admit a royal garrison into his Castle of Tantallon. To this he returned no direct answer; but, as if apostrophizing a goss-hawk, which sat on his wrist, and which he was feeding during the Queen’s speech, he exclaimed, “The devil’s in this greedy glede, she will never be full."— Hume’s History of the House of Douglas, 1743, vol. ii. p. 131. Barclay complains of the common and indecent practice of bringing hawks and hounds into churches.
3 The peacock, it is well known, was considered, during the times of chivalry, not merely as an exquisite delicacy, but as a dish of peculiar solemnity. After being roasted, it was again decorated with its plumage, and a sponge, dipped in lighted spirits of wine, was placed in its bill. When it was introduced on days of grand festival, it was the signal for the adventurous knights to take upon them vows to do some deed of chivalry, “before the peacock and the ladies.”
4 The boar’s head was also a usual dish of feudal splendour. In Scotland it was sometimes surrounded with little banners, displaying the colours and achievements of the baron at whose board it was served. — PINKERTON’S History, vol. i. p. 432.
5 There are often flights of wild swans upon St. Mary’s Lake, at the head of the river Yarrow.
6 The Rutherfords of Hunthill were an ancient race of Border Lairds, whose names occur in history, sometimes as defending the frontier against the English, sometimes as disturbing the peace of their own country. Dickon Draw-the-sword was son to the ancient warrior, called in tradition the Cock of Hunthill, remarkable for leading into battle nine sons, gallant warriors, all sons of the aged champion. Mr. Rutherford, late of New York, in a letter to the editor, soon after these songs were first published, quoted, when upwards of eighty years old, a ballad apparently the same with which the Raid of the Reidsquare, but which apparently is lost, except the following lines:—
“Bauld Rutherfurd he was fu’ stout,
With all his nine sons him about,
He brought the lads of Jedbrught out,
And bauldly fought that day.”
7 To bite the thumb, or the glove, seems not to have been considered, upon the Border, as a gesture of contempt, though so used by Shakspeare, but as a pledge of mortal revenge. It is yet remembered, that a young gentleman of Teviotdale, on the morning after a hard drinking-bout, observed that he had bitten his glove. He instantly demanded of his companion, with whom he had quarrelled? and learning that he had had words with one of the party, insisted on instant satisfaction, asserting, that though he remembered nothing of the dispute, yet he was sure he never would have bit his glove unless he had received some unpardonable insult. He fell in the duel, which was fought near Selkirk in 1721.
8 The person bearing this redoubtable nom de guerre was an Elliot, and resided at Thorleshope, in Liddesdale. He occurs in the list of Border riders, in 1597.
9 A tradition preserved by Scott of Satchells, who published, in 1688, A true Hisotry of the Right Honourable name of Scott, gives the following romantic origin of that name. Two brethren, natives of Galloway, having been banished from that country for a riot, or insurrection, came to Rankleburn, in Ettrick Forest, where the keeper, whose name was Brydone, received them joyfully, on account of their skill in winding the horn, and in the other mysteries of the chase. Kenneth MacAlpin, then King of Scotland, came soon after to hunt in the royal forest, and pursued a buck from Ettrick-heuch to the glen now called Buckcleugh, about two miles above the junction of Rankleburn with the river Ettrick. Here the stag stood at bay; and the King and his attendants, who followed on horseback, were thrown out by the steepness of the hill and the morass. John, one of the brethren from Galloway, had followed the chase on foot; and now coming in, seized the buck by the horns, and, being a man of great strength and activity, threw him on his back, and ran with his burden about a mile up the steep hill, to a place called the Craca-Cross, where Kenneth had halted, and laid the buck at the sovereign’s feet.*
“The deer being curee’d in that place,
At his Majesty’s demand,
Then John of Galloway ran apace,
And fetched water to his hand.
The King did wash into a dish,
And Galloway John he wot;
He said, ‘Thy name now after this
Shall ever be called John Scott.
“‘The forest and the dear therein,
We commit to thy hand;
For thou shalt sure the ranger be,
If thou obey command;
And for the buck thou stoutly brought
To us up that steep heuch,
Thy designation ever shall
Be John Scott in Buckscleuch.’
* * * * * * * *
“In Scotland no Buckleuch was then,
Before the buck in the cleuch was slain;
Night’s men* at first they did appear,
Because moon and stars to their arms they bear,
Their crest, supporters, and hunting-horn,
Show their beginning from hunting came;
Their name, and style, the book doth say,
John gained them both into one day.”
The Buccleuch arms have been altered, and now allude less pointedly to this hunting, reall or fabulous. The family now bear Or, upon a bend azure, a mullet betwixt two crescents of the field; in addition to which, they formerly bore in the field a hunting-horn. The supporters, now two ladies, were formerly a hound and a buck, or, according to the old terms, a hart of leash and a hart of greece. The family of Scott of Howpasley and Thirlestaine long retained the bugle-horn; they also carried a bent bow and arrow in the sinister cantle, perhaps as a difference. It is said the motto was — Best riding by moonlight, in allusion to the crescents on the shield, and perhaps to the habits of those who bore it. The motto now given is Amo, applying to the female supporters.
* Froissart relates, that a knight of the household of the Comte de Foix exhibited a similar feat of strength. The hall-fire had waxed low, and wood was wanted to mend it. The knight went down to the court=yard, where stood an ass laden with fagots, seized on the animal and burden, and, carrying him up to the hall on his shoulders, tumbled him into the chimney with his heels uppermost: a human pleasantry, much applauded by the Count and all the spectators.
* “Minions of the moon,” as Falstaff would have said. The vocation pursued by our ancient Borderers may be justified on the authority of the most polished of the ancient nations:—“For the Grecians in old time, and such barbarians as in the continent lived neere unto the sea, or else inhabited the islands, after once they began to crosse over one to another in ships, became theeves, and went abroad under the conduct of their more puissant men, both to enrich themselves, and to fetch in maintenance for the weak; and falling upon towns unfortified, or scatteringly inhabited, rifled them, and made this the best means of thear living; being a matter at that time where no in disgrace, but rather carrying with it something of glory. This is manifest by some that dwell upon the continent, amonst whom, so be it performed nobly, it is still esteemed as an ornamet. The same is also proved by some of the ancient poets, who introduced men questioning of such a sail by, on all coasts alike, whether they be theeves or not; as a thyng neyther scorned by such as were asked, nor upbraided by those that were desirous to know. They also robbed one another, within the main land; and much of Greece useth that old custome, as the Locrians, and Acarnanians, and those of the continent in that quarter, unto this day. Moreover, the fashion of wearing iron remaineth yet with the people of that continent, from their old trade of theeving."— Hobbes’ Thucydides, p. 4.
10 John Grahame, second son of Malice, Earl of Monteith, commonly sirnamed John with the Bright Sword, upon some displeasure risen against him at court, retired with many of his clan and kindred into the English Borders, in the reign of King Henry the Fourth, where they seated themselves; and many of their posterity have continued there ever since. Mr. Sanford, speaking of them, says, (which indeed was applicable to most of the Borderers on both sides,) ‘They were all stark moss-troopers, and arrant thieves: Both to England and Scotland outlawed; yet sometimes connived at, because they gave intelligence forth of Scotland, and would raise 400 horse at any time upon a raid of the English into Scotland. A saying is recorded of a monther to her son, (which is now become proverbial,) Ride, Rowley, hough’s i’ the pot: that is, the last piece of beef was in the pot, and therefore it was high time for him to go and fetch more.’"— Introduction to the History of Cumberland.
The residence of the Græmes being chiefly in the Debateable Land, so called because it was claimed by both kingdoms, their depredations extended both to England and Scotland, with impunity; for as both wardens accounted them the proper subjects of their own prince, neither inclined to demand reparation for their excesses from the opposite officers, which would have been an acknowledgment of his jurisdiction over them. — See a long correspondence on this subject betwixt Lord Dacre and the English Privy Council, in Introduction to History of Cumberland. The Debateable land was finally divided betwixt England and Scotland, by commissioners appointed by both nations.
11 This burden is adopted, with some alteration, from an old Scottish song, beginning thus:—
“She lean’d her back against a thorn,
The sun shines fair on Carlisle wa’:
And there she has her young babe born,
And the lyon shall be lord of a’.”
12 The gallant and unfortunate Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was unquestionably the most accomplished cavalier of his time; and his sonnets display beauties which would do honour to a more polished age. He was beheaded on Tower-hill in 1546; a victim to the mean jealousy of Henry VIII., who could not bear so brilliant a character near his throne.
The song of the supposed bard is founded on an incident said to have happened to the Earl in his travels. Cornelius Agrippi, the celebrated alchemist, showed him, in a looking-glass, the lovely Geraldine, to whose service he had devoted his pen and his sword. The vision represented her as indisposed, and reclining upon a couch, reading her lover’s verses by the light of a waxen taper.
13 The St. Clairs are of Norman extraction, being descended from William de St. Clair, second son of Walderne Compte de St. Clair, and Margaret, daughter to Richard Duke of Normandy. He was called, for his fair deportment, the Seemly St. Clair; and settling in Scotland during the reign of Malcom Caenmore, obtained large grants of land in Mid-Lothian. — These domains were increased by the liberality of succeeding monarchs to the descendants of the family, and comprehended the baronies of Rosline, Pentland, Cowsland, Cardaine, and several others. It is said a large addition was obtained from Robert Bruce, on the following occasion: The King, in following the chase upon Pentland-hills, had often started a “white faunch deer,” which had always escaped from his hounds; and he asked the nobles, who were assembled around him, whether any of them had dogs, which they thought might be more successful. No courtier would affirm that his hounds were fleeter than those of the king, until Sir William St. Clair of Rosline unceremoniously said, he would wager his head that his favourite dogs, Help and Hold, would kill the deer before she could cross the March-burn. The King instantly caught at his unwary offer, and betted the forest of Pentland-hill against the life of Sir William St. Clair. All the hounds were tied up, except a few ratches, or slow-hounds, to put up the deer; while Sir William St. Clair, posting himself in the best situation for slipping his dogs, prayed devoutly to Christ, the blessed Virgin, and St. Katherine. The deer was seen shortly after roused, and the hounds slipped; Sir Willliam following on a gallant steed, to cheer his dogs. The hind, however, reached the middle of the brook, upon which the hunter threw himself from his horse in despair. At this critical moment, however, Hold stopped her in the brook; and Help, coming up, turned her back, and killed her on Sir William’s side. The King descended from the hill, embraced Sir William, and bestowed on him the lands of Kirkton, Logan-house, Earncraig, &c. in free forestrie. Sir William, in acknowledgement of St. Katherine’s intercession, built the chapel of St. Katherine in the Hopes, the churchyard of which is still to be seen. The hill, from which Robert Bruce beheld this memorable chase, is still called the King’s Hill; and the place where Sir William hunted, is called the Knight’s Field.* — MS. History of the Family of St. Clair, by RICHARD AUGUSTIN HAY, Canon of St. Genevieve.
This adventurous huntsman married Elizabeth, daughter of Malice Spar, Earl of Orkney and Stratherne, in whose right their son Henry was, in 1379, created Earl of Orkney, by Haco, king of Norway. His title was recognised by the Kings of Scotland, and remained with his successors until it was annexed to the crown, in 1471, by act of Parliament. In exchange for this earldom, the castle and domains of Ravenscraig, or Ravensheuch, were conferred on William Saintclair, Earl of Caithness.
* The tomb of Sir William St. Clair, on which he appears sculputred in armour, with a greyhound at his feet, is still to be seen in Roslin chapel. The person who shows it always tells the story of his hunting-match, with some addition to Mr. Hay’s account; as that the Knight of Rosline’s fright made him poetical, and that in the last emergency, he shouted,
“Help, Haud, an ye may,
Or Roslin will lose his head this day.”
If this couplet does him no great honour as a poet, the conclusion of the story does him still less credit. He set his foot on the dog, says the narrator, and killed him on the spot, saying, he would never again put his neck in such a risk. As Mr. Hay does not mention this circumstance, I hope it is only founded on the couchant posture of the hound on the monument.
14 The Castle of Kirkwall was built by the St. Clairs, while Earls of Orkney. It was dismantled by the Earl of Caithness about 1615, having been garrisoned against the government by Robert Stewart, natural son to the Earl of Orkney.
“I had occasion to entertain myself at Kirkwall with the melancholie prospect of the ruins of an old castle, the seat of the old Earls of Orkney, my ancestors; and of a more melancholy reflection, of so great and noble an estate as the Orkney and Shetland Isles being taken from one of them by James the Third, for faultrie, after his brother, Alexander, Duke of Albany, had married a daughter of my family, and for protecting and defending the said Alexander against the King, who wished to kill him, as he had done his youngest brother, the Earl of Mar; and for which, after the forfaultrie, he grate fully divorced my forfaulted ancestor’s sister; though I cannot persuade myself that he had any misalliance to plead against a familie in whose veins the blood of Robert Bruce ran as fresh as his own; for their title to the crowne was by a daughter of David Bruce, son to Robert; and our alliance was by marrying a grandchild of the same Robert Bruce, and daughter to the sister of the same David, out of the familie of Douglass, which at that time did not much sullie the blood, more than my ancestor’s having not long before had the honour of marrying a daughter of the King of Denmark’s who was named Florentine, and has left in the town of Kirkwall a noble monument of the grandeur of the times, the finest church ever I saw entire in Scotland. I then had no small reason to think, in that unhappy state, on the many not inconsiderable services rendered since to the royal familie, for these many years bygone, on all occasions, when they stood most in need of friends, which they have thought themselves very often obliged to acknowledge by letters yet extant, and in a style more like friends than like souveraigns; our attachment to them, without any other thanks, having brought upon us considerable losses, and among others, that of our all in Cromwell’s time; and left in that condition without the least relief except what we found in our own virtue. My father was the only man of the Scots nation who had courage enough to protest in Parliament against King William’s title to the throne, which was lost, God knows how: and this at a time when the losses in the cause of the royall familie, and their usual gratitude, had scarce left him bread to maintain a numerous familie of eleven children, who had soon after sprung upon him, in spite of all which, he had honourable persisted in his principle.. I say, these things considered, and after being treated as I was, and in that unluckie state, when objects appear to men in their true light, as at the hour of death, could I be blamed for making some bitter reflections to myself, and laughing at the extravagance and unaccountable humour of men, and the singularitie of my own case, (an exile for the cause of the Stuart family,) when I ought to have known, that the greatest crime I, or my family, could have committed, was persevering, to my own destruction, in serving the royal family faithfully, though obstinately, after so great a share of depression, and after they had been pleased to doom me and my familie to starve."— MS Memoirs of John, Master of St. Clair.
15 The chiefs of the Vakingr, or Scandinavian pirates, assumed the title of Sækonungr, or Sea-kings. Ships, in the inflated language of the Scalds, are often termed the serpents of the ocean.
16 The jormungandr, or Snake of the Ocean, whose folds surround the earth, is one of the wildest fictions of the Edda. It was very nearly caught by the god Thor, who went to fish for it with a hook baited with a bull’s head. In the battle betwixt the evil demons and the divinities of Odin, which is to precede the Ragnarockr, or Twilight of the Gods, this Snake is to act a conspicuous part.
17 These were the Valcyriur, or Selectors of the Slain, despatched by Odin from Valhalla, to choose those who were to die, and to distribute the contest. They are well known to the English reader, as Gray’s Fatal Sisters.
18 The northern warriors were usually entombed with their arms, and their other treasures. Thus Angantyr, before commencing the duel in which he was slain, stipulated, that if he fell, his sword Tyrfing should be buried with him. His daughter, Hervor, afterwards took it from his tomb. The dialogue which passed betwixt her and Angantyr’s spirit on this occasion has been often translated. The whole history may be found in the Hervarar-Saga. Indeed, the ghosts of the northern warriors were not wont tamely to suffer their tombs to be plundered and hence the mortal heroes had an additional temptation to attempt such adventures; for they held nothing more worthy of their valour than to encounter supernatural beings. — BARTHOLINUS De causis contemptæ a Danis mortis, lib. i. cap. 2, 9, 10, 13.
19 This was a family name in the house of St. Clair. Henry St. Clair, the second of the line, married Rosabelle, fouth daughter of the Earl of Stratherne.
20 A large and strong castle, now ruinous, situated betwixt Kirkaldy and Dysart, on a steep crag, washed by the Frith of Forth. It was conferred on Sir William St. Clair, as a slight compensation for the earldom of Orkney, by a charter of King James IIIl., dated in 1471, and is now the property of Sir James St. Clair Erskine, (now Earl of Rosslyn,) representative of the family. It was long a principal residence of the Barons of Roslin.
21 Inch, Isle.
22 The beautiful chapel of Roslin is still in tolerable preservation. It was founded in 1446, by William St. Clair, Prince of Orkney, Ducke of Oldenburgh, Earl of Caithness and Stratherne, Lord St. Clair, Lord Niddesdale, Lord Admiral of the Scottish Seas, Lord Chief Justice of Scotland, Lord Warden of the three Marches, Baron of Roslin, Pentland, Pentland-moor, &c., Knight of the Cockle, and of the Garter, (as is affirmed,) High Chancellor, Chamberlain, and Lieutenant of Scotland. This lofty person, whose titles, says Godscroft, might weary a Spaniard, built the castle of Roslin, where he resided in princely splendour, and founded the chapel, which is in the most rich and florid style of Gothic architecture. Among the profuse carving on the pillars and buttress the rose is frequently introduced, in allusion to the name, with which, however, the flower has no connexion; the etymology being Rosslinhe, the promontory of the linn, or water-fall. The chapel is said to appear on fire previous to the deat of any of his descendants. This superstition, noticed by Slezer in his Theatrum Scottiæ, and alluded to in the text, is probably of Norwegian derivation, and may have been imported by the Earls of Orkney into their Lothian dominions. The tomb-fires of the north are mentioned in most of the Sagas.
The Barons of Roslin were buried in a vault beneath the chapel floor. The manner of their interment is thus described by Father Hay, in the MS. history already quoted.
“Sir William Sinclair, the father, was a leud man. He kept a miller’s daughter, with whom it was alleged, he went to Ireland; yet I think the cause of his retreat was rather occasioned by the Presbyterians, who vexed him sadly, because of his religion being Roman Catholic. His son, Sir William, died during the troubles, and was interred in the chapel of Roslin the very same day that the battle of Dunbar was fought. When my good-father was buried, his (i.e. Sir William’s ) corpse seemed to be entire at the opening of the cave; but when they came to touch his body, it fell into dust. He was laying in his armour, with a red velvet cap on his head, on a flat stone; nothing was spoiled except a piece of the white furring that went round the cap, and answered to the hinder part of the head. All his predecessors were buried after the same manner, in their armour: late Rosline, by good-father, was the first that was buried in a coffin, against the sentiments of King James the Seventh, who was then in Scotland, and several other persons well versed in antiquity, to whom my mother would not hearken, thinking it beggarly to be buried after that manner. The great expenses she was at in burying her husband, occasioned the suptuary acts which were made in the following parliament.”
23 The ancient castle of Peel-town in the Isle of Man, is surrounded by four churches, now ruinous. Throiugh one of these chapels there was formerly a passage from the guard-room of the garrison. This was closed, it is said, upon the following occasion:
“They say, that an apparition, called in the Mankish language, the Mauthe Doog, in the shape of a large black spaniel, with curled shaggy hair, was used to haunt Peel-castle; and has been frequently seen in every room, but particularly in the guard-chambers, where, as soon as candles were lighted, it came and lay down before the fire, in presence of all the soldiers, who at length, by being so much accustomed to the signt of it, lost great part of the terror they were seized with at its first appearance. They still, however, retained a certain awe, as believing it was an evil spirit, which only waited permission to do them hurt; and, for that reason, forbore swearing, and all profane discourse; while in its company. But though they endured the shock of such a guest when altogether in a body, none cared to be left alone with it. It being the custom, therefore, for one of the soldiers to lock the gates of the castle at a certain hour, and carry the keys to the captain, to whose apartment, as I said before, the way led through the church, they agreed among themselves, that whoever was to succeed the ensuing night his fellow in this errand, should accompany him that went first, and by this means no man would be exposed singly to the danger; for I forgot to mention, that the Maughe Doog was always seen to come out from that passage at the close of the day, and return to it again as soon as the morning dawned; which made them look on this place as its particular residence.
“One night a fellow being drunk, and by the strength of his liquor rendered more daring than ordinarily, laughed at the simplicity of his companions; and, though it was not his turn to go with the keys, would needs take that office upon him, to testify his courage. All the soldiers endeavoured to dissuade him; but hte more they said, the more resolute he seemed, and swore that he desired nothing more than that the Mauthe Doog would followw him, as it had done the others: for he would try if it were dog or devil. After having talked in a very reprobate manner for some time, he snatched up the keys, and went out of the guard-room. In some time after his departure, a great noise was heard, but nobody had the boldness to see what occasioned it, till the adventurer returning, they demanded the knowledge of him; but as loud and noisy as he had been at leaving them, he was now become sober and silent enough; for he was never heard to speak more; and though all the time he lived, which was three days, he could not do that, to make some signs, by which they might understand what had happened to him, yet nothing intelligible could be got from him, only that, by the distortion of his limbs and features it might be guessed that he died in agonies more than is common in a natural death.
“The Maughe Doog was, however, never after seen in the castle, nor would any one attempt to go through that passage: for which reason it was closed up, and another way made. This accident happened about three score years since; and I heard it attested by several, but especially by an old soldier, who assured me he had seen it oftener than he had then hairs upon his head."— WALDRON’S Description of the Isle of Man, p. 107.
24 This was the favourite saint of the house of Douglas, and of the Earl of Angus in particular; as we learn from the following passage: “The Queen-regent had proposed to raise a rival noble to the ducal dignity; and discoursing of her purpose with Angus, he answered, ‘Why not, madam? we are happy that have such a princess, that can know and will acknowledge men’s services, and is willing to recompense it: but, by the might of God,’ (this was his oath when he was serious and in anger; at other times, it was by St. Bryde of Douglas,) ‘if he be a Duke, I will be a Drake!’— So she desisted from prosecuting of that purpose."— GODSCROFT, vol. ii. p. 131.
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