The Project Gutenberg EBook of Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. II (of 3), by Walter Scott This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. II (of 3) Consisting Of Historical And Romantic Ballads, Collected In The Southern Counties Of Scotland; With A Few Of Modern Date, Founded Upon Local Tradition Author: Walter Scott Release Date: July 11, 2004 [EBook #12882] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MINSTRELSY, VOL. II *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Shawn Cruze and PG Distributed Proofreaders
MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER
by Walter Scott
Consisting of historical and romantic ballads, collected in the Southern Counties of Scotland; with a few of modern date, founded upon local tradition.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
The songs, to savage virtue dear. That won of yore the public ear, Ere Polity, sedate and sage, Had quench'd the fires of feudal rage.—WARTON.
CONTENTS TO THE SECOND VOLUME.
The Battle of Philiphaugh
The Gallant Grahams
The Battle of Pentland Hills
The Battle of Loudon-hill
The Battle of Bothwell-bridge
Scottish Music, an Ode
Introduction to the Tale of Tamlane
The Young Tamlane
The Twa Corbies
The Douglas Tragedy
Proud Lady Margaret
The Original Ballad of the Broom of Cowdenknows
Sir Hugh Le Blond
Graeme and Bewick
The Duel of Wharton and Stuart, Part I.
The Lament of the Border Widow
Fair Helen of Kirkonnel, Part I.
Hughie the Graeme
Johnie of Breadislee
The Laird o’ Logie
A Lyke-wake Dirge
The Dowie Dens of Yarrow
The Gay Goss Hawk
The Lass of Lochroyan
Rose the Red and White Lilly
MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER.
“But, O my country! how shall memory trace
“Thy glories, lost in either Charles’s days,
“When through thy fields destructive rapine spread,
“Nor sparing infants’ tears, nor hoary head!
“In those dread days, the unprotected swain
“Mourn’d, in the mountains, o’er his wasted plain;
“Nor longer vocal, with the shepherd’s lay,
“Were Yarrow’s banks, or groves of Endermay.”
LANGHORN—Genius and Valour.
Such are the verses, in which a modern bard has painted the desolate state of Scotland, during a period highly unfavourable to poetical composition. Yet the civil and religious wars of the seventeenth century have afforded some subjects for traditionary poetry, and the reader is here presented with the ballads of that disastrous aera. Some prefatory history may not be unacceptable.
That the Reformation was a good and a glorious work, few will be such slavish bigots as to deny. But the enemy came, by night, and sowed tares among the wheat; or rather; the foul and rank soil, upon which the seed was thrown, pushed forth, together with the rising crop, a plentiful proportion of pestilential weeds. The morals of the reformed clergy were severe; their learning was usually respectable, sometimes profound; and their eloquence, though often coarse, was vehement, animated, and popular. But they never could forget, that their rise had been achieved by the degradation, if not the fall, of the crown; and hence, a body of men, who, in most countries, have been attached to monarchy, were in Scotland, for nearly two centuries, sometimes the avowed enemies, always the ambitious rivals, of their prince. The disciples of Calvin could scarcely avoid a tendency to democracy, and the republican form of church government was sometimes hinted at, as no unfit model for the state; at least, the kirkmen laboured to impress, upon their followers and hearers, the fundamental principle, that the church should be solely governed by those, unto whom God had given the spiritual sceptre. The elder Melvine, in a conference with James VI., seized the monarch by the sleeve, and, addressing him as God’s sillie vassal, told him, “There are two kings, and two kingdomes. There is Christ, and his kingdome, the kirke; whose subject King James the sixth is, and of whose kingdome he is not a king, nor a head, nor a lord, but a member; and they, whom Christ hath called and commanded to watch ower his kirke, and govern his spiritual kingdome, have sufficient authorise and power from him so to do; which no christian king, no prince, should controul or discharge, but fortifie and assist: otherwise they are not faithful subjects to Christ.”—Calderwood, p. 329. The delegated theocracy, thus sternly claimed, was exercised with equal rigour. The offences in the king’s household fell under their unceremonious jurisdiction, and he was formally reminded of his occasional neglect to say grace before and after meat—his repairing to hear the word more rarely than was fitting—his profane banning and swearing, and keeping of evil company—and finally, of his queen’s carding, dancing, night-walking, and such like profane pastimes.—Calderwood, p. 313. A curse, direct or implied, was formally denounced against every man, horse, and spear, who should assist the king in his quarrel with the Earl of Gowrie; and from the pulpit, the favourites of the listening sovereign were likened to Haman, his wife to Herodias, and he himself to Ahab, to Herod, and to Jeroboam. These effusions of zeal could not be very agreeable to the temper of James: and accordingly, by a course of slow, and often crooked and cunning policy, he laboured to arrange the church-government upon a less turbulent and menacing footing. His eyes were naturally turned towards the English hierarchy, which had been modelled, by the despotic Henry VIII., into such a form, as to connect indissolubly the interest of the church with that of the regal power.[A]The Reformation, in England, had originated in the arbitrary will of the prince; in Scotland, and in all other countries of Europe, it had commenced among insurgents of the lower ranks. Hence, the deep and essential difference which separated the Huguenots, the Lutherans, the Scottish presbyterians, and, in fine, all the other reformed churches, from that of England. But James, with a timidity which sometimes supplies the place of prudence, contented himself with gradually imposing upon the Scottish nation a limited and moderate system of episcopacy, which, while it gave to a proportion of the churchmen a seat in the council of the nation, induced them to look up to the sovereign, as the power to whose influence they owed their elevation. But, in other respects, James spared the prejudices of his subjects; no ceremonial ritual was imposed upon their consciences; the pastors were reconciled by the prospect of preferment,[B] the dress and train of the bishops were plain and decent; the system of tythes was placed upon a moderate and unoppressive footing;[C] and, perhaps, on the whole, the Scottish hierarchy contained as few objectionable points as any system of church-government in Europe. Had it subsisted to the present day, although its doctrines could not have been more pure, nor its morals more exemplary, than those of the present kirk of Scotland, yet its degrees of promotion might have afforded greater encouragement to learning, and objects of laudable ambition to those, who might dedicate themselves to its service. But the precipitate bigotry of the unfortunate Charles I. was a blow to episcopacy in Scotland, from which it never perfectly recovered.
Of this the Covenanters were so sensible, as to trace (what they called) the Antichristian hierarchy, with its idolatry, superstition, and human inventions, “to the prelacy of England, the fountain whence all these Babylonish streams issue unto us.”—See their manifesto on entering England, in 1640.
Many of the preachers, who had been loudest in the cause of presbytery, were induced to accept of bishoprics. Such was, for example, William Cooper, who was created bishop of Galloway. This recreant Mass John was a hypochondriac, and conceived his lower extremities to be composed of glass; hence, on his court advancement, the following epigram was composed:
“Aureus heu! frugilem confregit malleus urnam.”
This part of the system was perfected in the reign of Charles I.
It has frequently happened, that the virtues of the individual, at least their excess (if, indeed, there can be an excess in virtue), have been fatal to the prince. Never was this more fully exemplified than in the history of Charles I. His zeal for religion, his family affection, the spirit with which he defended his supposed rights, while they do honour to the man, were the fatal shelves upon which the monarchy was wrecked. Impatient to accomplish the total revolution, which his father’s cautious timidity had left incomplete, Charles endeavoured at once to introduce into Scotland the church-government, and to renew, in England, the temporal domination, of his predecessor, Henry VIII. The furious temper of the Scottish nation first took fire; and the brandished footstool of a prostitute[A] gave the signal for civil dissension, which ceased not till the church was buried under the ruins of the constitution; till the nation had stooped to a military despotism; and the monarch to the block of the executioner.
“Out, false loon! wilt thou say the mass at my lug (ear),” was the well known exclamation of Margaret Geddes, as she discharged her missile tripod against the bishop of Edinburgh, who, in obedience to the orders of the privy-council, was endeavouring to rehearse the common prayer. Upon a seat more elevated, the said Margaret had shortly before done penance, before the congregation, for the sin of fornication: such, at least, is the tory tradition.
The consequence of Charles’ hasty and arbitrary measures were soon evident. The united nobility, gentry, and clergy of Scotland, entered into the SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT, by which memorable deed, they subscribed and swore a national renunciation of the hierarchy. The walls of the prelatic Jericho (to use the language of the times) were thus levelled with the ground, and the curse of Hiel, the Bethelite, denounced against those who should rebuild them. While the clergy thundered, from the pulpits, against the prelatists and malignants (by which names were distinguished the scattered and heartless adherents of Charles), the nobility and gentry, in arms, hurried to oppose the march of the English army, which now advanced towards their borders. At the head of their defensive forces they placed Alexander Lesley, who, with many of his best officers, had been trained to war under the great Gustavus Adolphus. They soon assembled an army of 26,000 men, whose camp, upon Dunse-law, is thus described by an eye-witness.
“Mr Baillie acknowledges, that it was an agreeable feast to his eyes, to survey the place: it is a round hill, about a Scots mile in circle, rising, with very little declivity, to the height of a bow-shot, and the head somewhat plain, and near a quarter of a mile in length and breadth; on the top it was garnished with near forty field pieces, pointed towards the east and south. The colonels, who were mostly noblemen, as Rothes, Cassilis, Eglinton, Dalhousie, Lindsay, Lowdon, Boyd, Sinclair, Balcarras, Flemyng, Kirkcudbright, Erskine, Montgomery, Yester, &c. lay in large tents at the head of their respective regiments; their captains, who generally were barons, or chief gentlemen, lay around them: next to these were the lieutenants, who were generally old veterans, and had served in that, or a higher station, over sea; and the common soldiers lay outmost, all in huts of timber, covered with divot, or straw. Every company, which, according to the first plan, did consist of two hundred men, had their colours flying at the captain’s tent door, with the Scots arms upon them, and this motto, in golden letters, “FOR CHRIST’S CROWN AND COVENANT.” Against this army, so well arrayed and disciplined, and whose natural hardihood was edged and exalted by a high opinion of their sacred cause, Charles marched at the head of a large force, but divided, by the emulation of the commanders, and enervated, by disuse of arms. A faintness of spirit pervaded the royal army, and the king stooped to a treaty with his Scottish subjects. The treaty was soon broken; and, in the following year, Dunse-law again presented the same edifying spectacle of a presbyterian army. But the Scots were not contented with remaining there. They passed the Tweed; and the English troops, in a skirmish at Newburn, shewed either more disaffection, or cowardice, than had at any former period disgraced their national character. This war was concluded by the treaty of Rippon; in consequence of which, and of Charles’s concessions, made during his subsequent visit to his native country, the Scottish parliament congratulated him on departing “a contented king, from a contented people.” If such content ever existed, it was of short duration.
The storm, which had been soothed to temporary rest in Scotland, burst forth in England with treble violence. The popular clamour accused Charles, or his ministers, of fetching into Britain the religion of Rome, and the policy of Constantinople. The Scots felt most keenly the first, and the English the second, of these aggressions. Accordingly, when the civil war of England broke forth, the Scots nation, for a time, regarded it in neutrality, though not with indifference. But, when the successes of a prelatic monarch, against a presbyterian parliament, were paving the way for rebuilding the system of hierarchy, they could no longer remain inactive. Bribed by the delusive promise of Sir Henry Vane, and Marshall, the parliamentary commissioners, that the church of England should be reformed, according to the word of God, which, they fondly believed, amounted to an adoption of presbytery, they agreed to send succours to their brethren of England. Alexander Lesly, who ought to have ranked among the contented subjects, having been raised by the king to the honours of Earl of Leven, was, nevertheless, readily induced to accept the command of this second army. Doubtless, where insurrection is not only pardoned, but rewarded, a monarch has little right to expect gratitude for benefits, which all the world, as well as the receiver, must attribute to fear. Yet something is due to decency; and the best apology for Lesly, is his zeal for propagating presbyterianism in England, the bait which had caught the whole parliament of Scotland. But, although the Earl of Leven was commander in chief, David Lesly, a yet more renowned and active soldier than himself, was major-general of the cavalry, and, in truth, bore away the laurels of the expedition.
The words of the following march, which was played in the van of this presbyterian crusade, were first published by Allan Ramsay, in his Evergreen; and they breathe the very spirit we might expect. Mr Ritson, in his collection of Scottish songs, has favoured the public with the music, which seems to have been adapted to the bagpipes.
The hatred of the old presbyterians to the organ was, apparently, invincible. It is here vilified with the name of a “chest-full of whistles,” as the episcopal chapel at Glasgow was, by the vulgar, opprobriously termed the Whistling Kirk. Yet, such is the revolution of sentiment upon this, as upon more important points, that reports have lately been current, of a plan to introduce this noble instrument into presbyterian congregations.
The share, which Lesly’s army bore in the action of Marston Moor, has been exalted, or depressed, as writers were attached to the English or Scottish nations, to the presbyterian or independent factions. Mr Laing concludes, with laudable impartiality, that the victory was equally due to “Cromwell’s iron brigade of disciplined independents, and to three regiments of Lesly’s horse.”—Vol I. p. 244.
Why the devil do ye na march?
Stand to your arms, my lads,
Fight in good order;
Front about, ye musketeers all,
Till ye come to the English border:
Stand til’t, and fight like men,
True gospel to maintain.
The parliament’s blythe to see us a’ coming.
When to the kirk we come,
We’ll purge it ilka room,
Frae popish reliques, and a’ sic innovation,
That a’ the warld may see,
There’s nane in the right but we,
Of the auld Scottish nation.
Jenny shall wear the hood,
Jocky the sark of God;
And the kist-fou of whistles,
That mak sic a cleiro,
Our piper’s braw
Shall hae them a’,
Whate’er come on it:
Busk up your plaids, my lads!
Cock up your bonnets!
THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH.
This ballad is so immediately connected with the former, that the editor is enabled to continue his sketch of historical transactions, from the march of Lesly.
In the insurrection of 1680, all Scotland, south from the Grampians, was actively and zealously engaged. But, after the treaty of Rippon, the first fury of the revolutionary torrent may be said to have foamed off its force, and many of the nobility began to look round, with horror, upon the rocks and shelves amongst which it had hurried them. Numbers regarded the defence of Scotland as a just and necessary warfare, who did not see the same reason for interfering in the affairs of England. The visit of King Charles to the metropolis of his fathers, in all probability, produced its effect on his nobles. Some were allied to the house of Stuart by blood; all regarded it as the source of their honours, and venerated the ancient in obtaining the private objects of ambition, or selfish policy which had induced them to rise up against the crown. Amongst these late penitents, the well known marquis of Montrose was distinguished, as the first who endeavoured to recede from the paths of rude rebellion. Moved by the enthusiasm of patriotism, or perhaps of religion, but yet more by ambition, the sin of noble minds, Montrose had engaged, eagerly and deeply, upon the side of the covenanters He had been active in pressing the town of Aberdeen to take the covenant, and his success against the Gordons, at the bridge of Dee, left that royal burgh no other means of safety from pillage. At the head of his own battalion, he waded through the Tweed, in 1640, and totally routed the vanguard of the king’s cavalry. But, in 1643, moved with resentment against the covenanters who preferred, to his prompt and ardent character, the caution of the wily and politic earl of Argyle, or seeing, perhaps, that the final views of that party were inconsistent with the interests of monarchy, and of the constitution, Montrose espoused the falling cause of royalty and raised the Highland clans, whom he united to a small body of Irish, commanded by Alexander Macdonald, still renowned in the north, under the title of Colkitto. With these tumultuary and uncertain forces, he rushed forth, like a torrent from the mountains, and commenced a rapid and brilliant career of victory. At Tippermoor, where he first met the covenanters, their defeat was so effectual, as to appal the presbyterian courage, even after the lapse of eighty years.[A] A second army was defeated under the walls of Aberdeen; and the pillage of the ill-fated town was doomed to expiate the principles, which Montrose himself had formerly imposed upon them. Argyleshire next experienced his arms; the domains of his rival were treated with more than military severity; and Argyle himself, advancing to Inverlochy for the defence of his country, was totally and disgracefully routed by Montrose. Pressed betwixt two armies, well appointed, and commanded by the most experienced generals of the Covenant, Mozitrose displayed more military skill in the astonishingly rapid marches, by which he avoided fighting to disadvantage, than even in the field of victory. By one of those hurried marches, from the banks of Loch Katrine to the heart of Inverness-shire, he was enabled to attack, and totally to defeat, the Covenanters, at Aulderne though he brought into the field hardly one half of their forces. Baillie, a veteran officer, was next routed by him, at the village of Alford, in Strathbogie. Encouraged by these repeated and splendid successes, Montrose now descended into the heart of Scotland, and fought a bloody and decisive battle, near Kilsyth, where four thousand covenanters fell under the Highland claymore.
Upon the breaking out of the insurrection, in the year 1715, the earl of Rothes, sheriff and lord-lieutenant of the county of Fife, issued out an order for “all the fencible men of the countie to meet him, at a place called Cashmoor. The gentlemen took no notice of his orders, nor did the commons, except those whom the ministers forced to goe to the place of rendezvouse, to the number of fifteen hundred men, being all that their utmost diligence could perform. But those of that countie, having been taught by their experience, that it is not good meddling with edge tools, especiallie in the hands of Highlandmen, were very averse from taking armes. No sooner they reflected on the name of the place of rendezvouse, Cashmoor, than Tippermoor was called to mind; a place not far from thence, where Montrose had routed them, when under the command of my great-grand-uncle the earl of Wemyss, then generall of God’s armie. In a word, the unlucky choice of a place, called Moo, appeared ominous; and that, with the flying report of the Highlandmen having made themselves masters of Perth, made them throw down their armes, and run, notwithstanding the trouble that Rothes and the ministers gave themselves to stop them.”—M.S. Memoirs of Lord St Clair.
This victory opened the whole of Scotland to Montrose He occupied the capital, and marched forward to the border; not merely to complete the subjection of the southern provinces, but with the flattering hope of pouring his victorious army into England, and bringing to the support of Charles the sword of his paternal tribes.
Half a century before Montrose’s career, the state of the borders was such as might have enabled him easily to have accomplished his daring plan. The marquis of Douglas, the earls of Hume, Roxburgh, Traquair, and Annandale, were all descended of mighty border chiefs, whose ancestors could, each of them, have led into the field a body of their own vassals, equal in numbers, and superior in discipline, to the army of Montrose. But the military spirit of the borderers, and their attachment to their chiefs, had been much broken since the union of the crowns. The disarming acts of James had been carried rigorously into execution, and the smaller proprietors, no longer feeling the necessity of protection from their chiefs in war, had aspired to independence, and embraced the tenets of the covenant. Without imputing, with Wishart, absolute treachery to the border nobles, it may be allowed, that they looked with envy upon Montrose, and with dread and aversion upon his rapacious and disorderly forces. Hence, had it been in their power, it might not have altogether suited their inclinations, to have brought the strength of the border lances to the support of the northern clans. The once formidable name of Douglas still sufficed to raise some bands, by whom Montrose was joined, in his march down the Gala. With these reinforcements, and with the remnant of his Highlanders (for a great number had returned home with Colkitto, to deposit their plunder, and provide for their families), Montrose after traversing the border, finally encamped upon the field of Philiphaugh.
The river Ettrick, immediately after its junction with the Yarrow, and previous to its falling into the Tweed, makes a large sweep to the southward, and winds almost beneath the lofty bank, on which the town of Selkirk stands; leaving, upon the northern side, a large and level plain, extending in an easterly direction, from a hill, covered with natural copse-wood, called the Harehead-wood, to the high ground which forms the banks of the Tweed, near Sunderland-hall. This plain is called Philliphaugh:[A] it is about a mile and a half in length, and a quarter of a mile broad; and, being defended, to the northward, by the high hills which separate Tweed from Yarrow, by the river in front, and by the high grounds, already mentioned on each flank, it forms, at once, a convenient and a secure field of encampment. On each flank Montrose threw up some trenches, which are still visible; and here he posted his infantry, amounting to about twelve or fifteen hundred men. He himself took up his quarters in the burgh of Selkirk, and, with him, the cavalry, in number hardly one thousand, but respectable, as being chiefly composed of gentlemen, and their immediate retainers. In this manner, by a fatal and unaccountable error, the river Ettrick was thrown betwixt the cavalry and infantry, which were to depend upon each other for intelligence and mutual support. But this might be overlooked by Montrose, in the conviction, that there was no armed enemy of Charles in the realm of Scotland; for he is said to have employed the night in writing and dispatching this agreeable intelligence to the king. Such an enemy was already within four miles of his camp.
The Scottish language is rich in words, expressive of local situation The single word haugh, conveys, to a Scotsman, almost all that I have endeavoured to explain in the text, by circumlocutory description.
Recalled by the danger of the cause of the Covenant, General David Lesly came down from England, at the head of those iron squadrons, whose force had been proved in the fatal battle of Long Marston Moor. His array consisted of from five to six thousand men, chiefly cavalry. Lesly’s first plan seems to have been, to occupy the mid-land counties, so as to intercept the return of Montrose’s Highlanders, and to force him to an unequal combat Accordingly, he marched along the eastern coast, from Berwick to Tranent; but there he suddenly altered his direction, and, crossing through Mid-Lothian, turned again to the southward, and, following the course of Gala water, arrived at Melrose, the evening before the engagement How it is possible that Montrose should have received no notice whatever of the march of so considerable an army, seems almost inconceivable, and proves, that the country was strongly disaffected to his cause, or person. Still more extraordinary does it appear, that, even with the advantage of a thick mist, Lesly should have, the next morning, advanced towards Montrose’s encampment without being descried by a single scout. Such, however, was the case, and it was attended with all the consequences of the most complete surprisal. The first intimation that Montrose received of the march of Lesly, was the noise of the conflict, or, rather, that which attended the unresisted slaughter of his infantry, who never formed a line of battle: the right wing alone, supported by the thickets of Harehead-wood, and by the entrenchments which are there still visible, stood firm for some time. But Lesly had detached two thousand men, who, crossing the Ettrick still higher up than his main body, assaulted the rear of Montrose’s right wing. At this moment, the marquis himself arrived, and beheld his army dispersed, for the first time, in irretrievable route. He had thrown himself upon a horse the instant he heard the firing, and, followed by such of his disorderly cavalry as had gathered upon the alarm, he galloped from Selkirk, crossed the Ettrick, and made a bold and desperate attempt to retrieve the fortune of the day. But all was in vain; and, after cutting his way, almost singly, through a body of Lesly’s troopers, the gallant Montrose graced by his example the retreat of the fugitives. That retreat he continued up Yarrow, and over Minch-moor; nor did he stop till he arrived at Traquair, sixteen miles from the field of battle. Upon Philiphaugh he lost, in one defeat, the fruit of six splendid victories: nor was he again able effectually to make head, in Scotland, against the covenanted cause. The number slain in the field did not exceed three or four hundred; for the fugitives found refuge in the mountains, which had often been the retreat of vanquished armies, and were impervious to the pursuer’s cavalry. Lesly abused his victory, and dishonoured his arms, by slaughtering, in cold blood, many of the prisoners whom he had taken; and the court-yard of Newark castle is said to have been the spot, upon which they were shot by his command. Many others are said, by Wishart, to have been precipitated from a high bridge over the Tweed. This, as Mr Laing remarks, is impossible; because there was not a bridge over the Tweed betwixt Peebles and Berwick. But there is an old bridge, over the Ettrick, only four miles from Philiphaugh, and another over the Yarrow, both of which lay in the very line of flight and pursuit; and either might have been the scene of the massacre. But if this is doubtful, it is too certain, that several of the royalists were executed by the Covenanters, as traitors to the king and parliament.[A]
A covenanted minister, present at the execution of these gentlemen observed, “This wark gaes bonnilie on!” an amiable exclamation equivalent to the modern ça ira, so often used on similar occasions.—Wishart’s Memoirs of Montrose.
I have reviewed, at some length, the details of this memorable engagement, which, at the same time, terminated the career of a hero, likened, by no mean judge of mankind[A] to those of antiquity, and decided the fate of his country. It is further remarkable, as the last field which was fought in Ettrick forest, the scene of so many bloody actions. The unaccountable neglect of patroles, and the imprudent separation betwixt the horse and foot, seem to have been the immediate causes of Montrose’s defeat. But the ardent and impetuous character of this great warrior, corresponding with that of the troops which he commanded was better calculated for attack than defence; for surprising others, rather than for providing against surprise himself. Thus, he suffered loss by a sudden attack upon part of his forces, stationed at Aberdeen;[B] and, had he not extricated himself with the most singular ability, he must have lost his whole army, when surprised by Baillie, during the plunder of Dundee. Nor has it escaped an ingenious modern historian, that his final defeat at Dunbeath, so nearly resembles in its circumstances the surprise at Philiphaugh, as to throw some shade on his military talents.—LAING’S History.
Cardinal du Retz.
Colonel Hurry, with a party of horse, surprised the town, while Montrose’s Highlanders and cavaliers were “dispersed through the town, drinking carelessly in their lodgings; and, hearing the horse’s feet, and great noise, were astonished, never dreaming of their enemy. However, Donald Farquharson happened to come to the causey, where he was cruelly slain, anent the Court de Guard; a brave gentleman, and one of the noblest captains amongst all the Highlanders of Scotland. Two or three others were killed, and some (taken prisoners) had to Edinburgh, and cast into irons in the tolbooth. Great lamentation was made for this gallant, being still the king’s man for life and death.”—SPALDING Vol. II. p. 281. The journalist, to whom all matters were of equal importance, proceeds to inform us, that Hurry took the marquis of Huntly’s best horse, and, in his retreat through Montrose seized upon the marquis’s second son. He also expresses his regret, that “the said Donald Farquharson’s body was found in the street, stripped naked: for they tirr’d from off his body a rich stand of apparel, but put on the same day.”—Ibid.
The following ballad, which is preserved by tradition in Selkirkshire, coincides accurately with historical fact. This, indeed, constitutes its sole merit. The Covenanters were not, I dare say, addicted, more than their successors “to the profane and unprofitable art of poem-making.”[A] Still, however, they could not refrain from some strains of exultation, over the defeat of the truculent tyrant, James Grahame. For, gentle reader, Montrose, who, with resources which seemed as none, gained six victories, and reconquered a kingdom; who, a poet, a scholar, a cavalier, and a general, could have graced alike a court, and governed a camp; this Montrose was numbered, by his covenanted countrymen, among “the troublers of Israel, the fire-brands of hell, the Corahs, the Balaams, the Doegs, the Rabshakahs, the Hamans, the Tobiahs, and Sanballats of the time.”
So little was the spirit of illiberal fanaticism decayed in some parts of Scotland, that only thirty years ago, when Wilson, the ingenious author of a poem, called “Clyde,” now republished, was inducted into the office of schoolmaster at Greenock, he was obliged formally, and in writing, to abjure “the profane and unprofitable art of poem-making.” It is proper to add, that such an incident is now as unlikely to happen in Greenock as in London.
THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH.
On Philiphaugh a fray began,
At Hairhead wood it ended;
The Scots out o’er the Graemes they ran,
Sae merrily they bended.
Sir David frae the border came,
Wi’ heart an’ hand came he;
Wi’ him three thousand bonny Scotts,
To bear him company.
Wi’ him three thousand valiant men,
A noble sight to see!
A cloud o’ mist them weel concealed,
As close as e’er might be.
When they came to the Shaw burn,
Said he, “Sae weel we frame,
“I think it is convenient,
“That we should sing a psalm.”[A]
When they came to the Lingly burn,
As day-light did appear,
They spy’d an aged father,
And he did draw them near.
“Come hither, aged father!”
Sir David he did cry,
“And tell me where Montrose lies,
“With all his great army.”
“But, first, you must come tell to me,
“If friends or foes you be;
“I fear you are Montrose’s men,
“Come frae the north country.”
“No, we are nane o’ Montrose’s men,
“Nor e’er intend to be;
“I am sir David Lesly,
“That’s speaking unto thee.”
“If you’re sir David Lesly,
“As I think weel ye be,
“I’m sorry ye hae brought so few
“Into your company.
“There’s fifteen thousand armed men,
“Encamped on yon lee;
“Ye’ll never be a bite to them,
“For aught that I can see.
“But, halve your men in equal parts,
“Your purpose to fulfil;
“Let ae half keep the water side,
“The rest gae round the hill.
“Your nether party fire must,
“Then beat a flying drum;
“And then they’ll think the day’s their ain,
“And frae the trench they’ll come.
“Then, those that are behind them maun
“Gie shot, baith grit and sma’;
“And so, between your armies twa,
“Ye may make them to fa’.”
“O were ye ever a soldier?”
Sir David Lesly said;
“O yes; I was at Solway flow,
“Where we were all betray’d.
“Again I was at curst Dunbar,
“And was a pris’ner ta’en;
“And many weary night and day,
“In prison I hae lien.”
“If ye will lead these men aright,
“Rewarded shall ye be;
“But, if that ye a traitor prove,
“I’ll hang thee on a tree.”
“Sir, I will not a traitor prove;
“Montrose has plundered me;
“I’ll do my best to banish him
“Away frae this country.”
He halv’d his men in equal parts,
His purpose to fulfill;
The one part kept the water side,
The other gaed round the hill.
The nether party fired brisk,
Then turn’d and seem’d to rin;
And then they a’ came frae the trench,
And cry’d, “the day’s our ain!”
The rest then ran into the trench,
And loos’d their cannons a’:
And thus, between his armies twa,
He made them fast to fa’.
Now, let us a’ for Lesly pray,
And his brave company!
For they hae vanquish’d great Montrose,
Our cruel enemy.
Various reading; “That we should take a dram.”
NOTES ON THE BATTLE OF PHILIPHAUGH.
When they came to the Shaw burn.—P. 27. v. 1. A small stream, that joins the Ettrick, near Selkirk, on the south side of the river.
When they came to the Lingly burn.—P. 27. v. 2. A brook, which falls into the Ettrick, from the north, a little above the Shaw burn.
They spy’d an aged father.—P. 27. v. 2. The traditional commentary upon the ballad states this man’s name to have been Brydone, ancestor to several families in the parish of Ettrick, particularly those occupying the farms of Midgehope and Redford Green. It is a strange anachronism, to make this aged father state himself at the battle of Solway flow,which was fought a hundred years before Philiphaugh; and a still stranger, to mention that of Dunbar, which did not take place till five years after Montrose’s defeat.
A tradition, annexed to a copy of this ballad, transmitted to me by Mr James Hogg, bears, that the earl of Traquair, on the day of the battle, was advancing with a large sum of money, for the payment of Montrose’s forces, attended by a blacksmith, one of his retainers. As they crossed Minch-moor, they were alarmed by firing, which the earl conceived to be Montrose exercising his forces, but which his attendant, from the constancy and irregularity of the noise, affirmed to be the tumult of an engagement. As they came below Broadmeadows, upon Yarrow, they met their fugitive friends, hotly pursued by the parliamentary troopers. The earl, of course, turned, and fled also: but his horse, jaded with the weight of dollars which he carried, refused to take the hill; so that the earl was fain to exchange with his attendant, leaving him with the breathless horse, and bag of silver, to shift for himself; which he is supposed to have done very effectually. Some of the dragoons, attracted by the appearance of the horse and trappings, gave chase to the smith, who fled up the Yarrow; but finding himself as he said, encumbered with the treasure, and unwilling that it should be taken, he flung it into a well, or pond, near the Tinnies, above Hangingshaw. Many wells were afterwards searched in vain; but it is the general belief, that the smith, if he ever hid the money, knew too well how to anticipate the scrutiny. There is, however, a pond, which some peasants began to drain, not long ago, in hopes of finding the golden prize, but were prevented, as they pretended, by supernatural interference.
THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
The preceding ballad was a song of triumph over the defeat of Montrose at Philiphaugh; the verses, which follow are a lamentation for his final discomfiture and cruel death. The present edition of “The Gallant Grahams” is given from tradition, enlarged and corrected by an ancient printed edition, entitled, “The Gallant Grahams of Scotland” to the tune of “I will away, and I will not tarry,” of which Mr Ritson favoured the editor with an accurate copy.
The conclusion of Montrose’s melancholy history is too well known. The Scottish army, which sold king Charles I. to his parliament, had, we may charitably hope, no idea that they were bartering his blood; although they must have been aware, that they were consigning him to perpetual bondage.[A] At least the sentiments of the kingdom at large differed widely from those of the military merchants, and the danger of king Charles drew into England a well appointed Scottish army, under the command of the duke of Hamilton. But he met with Cromwell, and to meet with Cromwell was inevitable defeat. The death of Charles, and the triumph of the independents, excited still more highly the hatred and the fears of the Scottish nation. The outwitted presbyterians, who saw, too late, that their own hands had been employed in the hateful task of erecting the power of a sect, yet more fierce and fanatical than themselves, deputed a commission to the Hague, to treat with Charles II., whom, upon certain conditions they now wished to restore to the throne of his fathers. At the court of the exiled monarch, Montrose also offered to his acceptance a splendid plan of victory and conquest, and pressed for his permission to enter Scotland; and there, collecting the remains of the royalists to claim the crown for his master, with the sword in his hand. An able statesman might perhaps have reconciled these jarring projects; a good man would certainly have made a decided choice betwixt them. Charles was neither the one not the other; and, while he treated with the presbyterians, with a view of accepting the crown from their hands, he scrupled not to authorise Montrose, the mortal enemy of the sect, to pursue his separate and inconsistent plan of conquest.
As Salmasius quaintly, but truly, expresses it, Presbyterian iligaverunt independantes trucidaverunt.
Montrose arrived in the Orkneys with six hundred Germans, was furnished with some recruits from those islands, and was joined by several royalists, as he traversed the wilds of Caithness and Sutherland: but, advancing into Ross-shire, he was surprised, and totally defeated, by colonel Strachan, an officer of the Scottish parliament, who had distinguished himself in the civil wars, and who afterwards became a decided Cromwellian. Montrose, after a fruitless resistance, at length fled from the field of defeat, and concealed himself in the grounds of Macleod of Assint to whose fidelity he entrusted his life, and by whom he was delivered up to Lesly, his most bitter enemy.
He was tried for what was termed treason against the estates of the kingdom; and, despite the commission of Charles for his proceedings, he was condemned to die by a parliament, who acknowledged Charles to be their king, and whom, on that account only, Montrose acknowledged to be a parliament.
“The clergy,” says a late animated historian, “whose vocation it was to persecute the repose of his last moments, sought, by the terrors of his sentence, to extort repentance; but his behaviour, firm and dignified to the end, repelled their insulting advances with scorn and disdain. He was prouder, he replied, to have his head affixed to the prison-walls, than to have his picture placed in the king’s bed-chamber: ‘and, far from being troubled that my limbs are to be sent to your principal cities, I wish I had flesh enough to be dispersed through Christendom, to attest my dying attachment to my king.’ It was the calm employment of his mind, that night, to reduce this extravagant sentiment to verse. He appeared next day, on the scaffold, in a rich habit, with the same serene and undaunted countenance, and addressed the people, to vindicate his dying unabsolved by the church, rather than to justify an invasion of the kingdom, during a treaty with the estates. The insults of his enemies were not yet exhausted. The history of his exploits was attached to his neck by the public executioner: but he smiled at their inventive malice; declared, that he wore it with more pride than he had done the garter; and, when his devotions were finished, demanding if any more indignities remained to be practised, submitted calmly to an unmerited fate.”—Laing’s History of Scotland, Vol. I. p. 404.
Such was the death of James Graham, the great marquis of Montrose, over whom some lowly bard has poured forth the following elegiac verses. To say, that they are far unworthy of the subject, is no great reproach; for a nobler poet might have failed in the attempt. Indifferent as the ballad is, we may regret its being still more degraded by many apparent corruptions. There seems an attempt to trace Montrose’s career, from his first raising the royal standard, to his second expedition and death; but it is interrupted and imperfect. From the concluding stanza, I presume the song was composed upon the arrival of Charles in Scotland, which so speedily followed the execution of Montrose, that the king entered the city while the head of his most faithful and most successful adherent was still blackening in the sun.
THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
Now, fare thee weel, sweet Ennerdale!
Baith kith and countrie I bid adieu;
For I maun away, and I may not stay,
To some uncouth land which I never knew.
To wear the blue I think it best,
Of all the colours that I see;
And I’ll wear it for the gallant Grahams,
That are banished from their countrie.
I have no gold, I have no land,
I have no pearl, nor precious stane;
But I wald sell my silken snood,
To see the gallant Grahams come hame.
In Wallace days when they began,
Sir John the Graham did bear the gree,
Through all the lands of Scotland wide;
He was a lord of the south countrie.
And so was seen full many a time;
For the summer flowers did never spring,
But every Graham, in armour bright,
Would then appear before the king.
They all were dressed in armour sheen,
Upon the pleasant banks of Tay;
Before a king they might be seen,
These gallant Grahams in their array.
At the Goukhead our camp we set,
Our leaguer down there for to lay;
And, in the bonnie summer light,
We rode our white horse and our gray.
Our false commander sold our king
Unto his deadly enemie,
Who was the traitor Cromwell, then;
So I care not what they do with me.
They have betrayed our noble prince,
And banish’d him from his royal crown;
But the gallant Grahams have ta’en in hand,
For to command those traitors down.
In Glen-Prosen[A] we rendezvoused,
March’d to Glenshie by night and day,
And took the town of Aberdeen,
And met the Campbells in their array.
Five thousand men, in armour strong.
Did meet the gallant Grahams that day
At Inverlochie, where war began,
And scarce two thousand men were they.
Gallant Montrose, that chieftain bold,
Courageous in the best degree,
Did for the king fight well that day;
The lord preserve his majestie!
Nathaniel Gordon, stout and bold,
Did for king Charles wear the blue;
But the cavaliers they all were sold,
And brave Harthill, a cavalier too.
And Newton Gordon, burd-alone
And Dalgatie, both stout and keen,
And gallant Veitch upon the field,
A braver face was never seen.
Now, fare ye weel, sweet Ennerdale!
Countrie and kin I quit ye free;
Chear up your hearts, brave cavaliers,
For the Grahams are gone to high Germany.
Now brave Montrose he went to France,
And to Germany, to gather fame;
And bold Aboyne is to the sea,
Young Huntly is his noble name.
Montrose again, that chieftain bold,
Back unto Scotland fair he came,
For to redeem fair Scotland’s land,
The pleasant, gallant, worthy Graham!
At the water of Carron he did begin,
And fought the battle to the end;
Where there were killed, for our noble king,
Two thousand of our Danish men.
Gilbert Menzies, of high degree,
By whom the king’s banner was borne;
For a brave cavalier was he,
But now to glory he is gone.
Then woe to Strachan, and Hacket baith!
And, Lesly, ill death may thou die!
For ye have betrayed the gallant Grahams,
Who aye were true to majestic.
And the laird of Assint has seized Montrose,
And had him into Edinburgh town;
And frae his body taken the head,
And quartered him upon a trone.
And Huntly’s gone the selfsame way,
And our noble king is also gone;
He suffered death for our nation,
Our mourning tears can ne’er be done.
But our brave young king is now come home,
King Charles the second in degree;
The Lord send peace into his time,
And God preserve his majestie!
Glen-Prosen, in Angus-shire.
NOTES ON THE GALLANT GRAHAMS.
Now, fare thee weel, sweet Ennerdale.—P. 38. v. 1. A corruption of Endrickdale. The principal, and most ancient possessions of the Montrose family lie along the water of Endrick, in Dumbartonshire.
Sir John the Graham did bear the gree.—P. 39. v. 1. The faithful friend and adherent of the immortal Wallace, slain at the battle of Falkirk.
Who was the traitor Cromwell, then.—P. 39. v. 5. This extraordinary character, to whom, in crimes and in success our days only have produced a parallel, was no favourite in Scotland. There occurs the following invective against him, in a MS. in the Advocates’ Library. The humour consists in the dialect of a Highlander, speaking English, and confusing Cromwell with Gramach, ugly:
Te commonwelt, tat Gramagh ting.
Gar brek hem’s word, gar do hem’s king;
Gar pay hem’s sesse, or take hem’s (geers)
We’l no de at, del come de leers;
We’l bide a file amang te crowes, (i.e. in the woods)
We’l scor te sword, and wiske to bowes;
And fen her nen-sel se te re, (the king)
Te del my care for Gromaghee.
The following tradition, concerning Cromwell, is preserved by an uncommonly direct line of traditional evidence; being narrated (as I am informed) by the grandson of an eye-witness. When Cromwell, in 1650, entered Glasgow, he attended divine service in the High Church; but the presbyterian divine, who officiated, poured forth, with more zeal than prudence, the vial of his indignation upon the person, principles, and cause, of the independent general. One of Cromwell’s officers rose, and whispered his commander; who seemed to give him a short and stern answer, and the sermon was concluded without interruption Among the crowd, who were assembled to gaze at the general, as he came out of the church, was a shoemaker, the son of one of James the sixth’s Scottish footmen. This man had been born and bred in England, but, after his father’s death, had settled in Glasgow. Cromwell eyed him among the crowd, and immediately called him by his name—the man fled; but, at Cromwell’s command, one of his retinue followed him, and brought him to the general’s lodgings. A number of the inhabitants remained at the door, waiting the end of this extraordinary scene. The shoemaker soon came out, in high spirits, and, shewing some gold, declared, he was going to drink Cromwell’s health. Many attended him to hear the particulars of his interview; among others, the grandfather of the narrator. The shoemaker said, that he had been a playfellow of Cromwell when they were both boys, their parents residing in the same street; that he had fled, when the general first called to him, thinking he might owe him some ill-will, on account of his father being in the service of the royal family. He added, that Cromwell had been so very kind and familiar with him, that he ventured to ask him, what the officer had said to him in the church. “He proposed,” said Cromwell, “to pull forth the “minister by the ears; and I answered, that the preacher was “one fool, and he another.” In the course of the day, Cromwell held an interview with the minister, and contrived to satisfy his scruples so effectually, that the evening discourse, by the same man, was tuned to the praise and glory of the victor of Naseby.
Nathaniel Gordon, stout and bold,
Did for King Charles wear the, blue.—P. 40. v. 5.
This gentleman was of the ancient family of Gordon of Gight. He had served, as a soldier, upon the continent, and acquired great military skill. When his chief, the marquis of Huntly, took up arms in 1640, Nathaniel Gordon, then called Major Gordon, joined him, and was of essential service during that short insurrection. But, being checked for making prize of a Danish fishing buss, he left the service of the marquis, in some disgust. In 1644, he assisted at a sharp and dexterous camisade (as it was then called), when the barons of Haddo, of Gight, of Drum, and other gentlemen, with only sixty men under their standard, galloped through the old town of Aberdeen, and, entering the burgh itself, about seven in the morning, made prisoners, and carried off, four of the covenanting magistrates and effected a safe retreat, though the town was then under the domination of the opposite party. After the death of the baron of Haddo, and the severe treatment of Sir George Gordon of Gight, his cousin-german, Major Nathaniel Gordon seems to have taken arms, in despair of finding mercy at the covenanters’ hands. On the 24th of July, 1645, he came down, with a band of horsemen, upon the town of Elgin, while St James’ fair was held, and pillaged the merchants of 14,000 merks of money and merchandize.[A] He seems to have joined Montrose, as soon as he raised the royal standard; and, as a bold and active partizan, rendered him great service. But, in November 1644, Gordon, now a colonel, suddenly deserted Montrose, aided the escape of Forbes of Craigievar, one of his prisoners, and reconciled himself to the kirk, by doing penance for adultery, and for the almost equally heinous crime of having scared Mr Andrew Cant,[B] the famous apostle of the covenant. This, however, seems to have been an artifice, to arrange a correspondence betwixt Montrose and Lord Gordon, a gallant young nobleman, representative of the Huntley family, and inheriting their loyal spirit, though hitherto engaged in the service of the covenant. Colonel Gordon was successful, and returned to the royal camp with his converted chief. Both followed zealously the fortunes of Montrose, until Lord Gordon fell in the battle of Alford, and Nathaniel Gordon was taken at Philiphaugh. He was one of ten loyalists, devoted upon that occasion, by the parliament, to expiate, with their blood, the crime of fidelity to their king. Nevertheless, the covenanted nobles would have probably been satisfied with the death of the gallant Rollock, sharer of Montrose’s dangers and glory, of Ogilvy, a youth of eighteen, whose crime was the hereditary feud betwixt his family and Argyle, and of Sir Philip Nisbet, a cavalier of the ancient stamp, had not the pulpits resounded with the cry, that God required the blood of the malignants, to expiate the sins of the people. “What meaneth,” exclaimed the ministers, in the perverted language of scripture—”What meaneth, then, this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen?” The appeal to the judgment of Samuel was decisive, and the shambles were instantly opened. Nathaniel Gordon was brought first to execution. He lamented the sins of his youth, once more (and probably with greater sincerity) requested absolution from the sentence of excommunication pronounced on account of adultery, and was beheaded 6th January 1646.
Spalding, Vol. II. pp. 151, 154, 169, 181, 221. History of the Family of Gordon, Edin. 1727, Vol. II. p. 299.
He had sent him a letter, which nigh frightened him out of his wits.—SPALDING, Vol. II. p. 231.
And brave Harthill, a cavalier too.—P. 40, v. 5.
Leith, of Harthill, was a determined loyalist, and hated the covenanters, not without reason. His father, a haughty high-spirited baron, and chief of a clan, happened, in 1639, to sit down in the desk of provost Lesly, in the high kirk of Aberdeen He was disgracefully thrust out by the officers, and, using some threatening language to the provost, was imprisoned, like a felon, for many months, till he became furious, and nearly mad. Having got free of the shackles, with which he was loaded, he used his liberty by coming to the tolbooth window where he uttered the most violent and horrible threats against Provost Lesly, and the other covenanting magistrates, by whom he had been so severely treated. Under pretence of this new offence, he was sent to Edinburgh, and lay long in prison there; for, so fierce was his temper, that no one would give surety for his keeping the peace with his enemies, if set at liberty. At length he was delivered by Montrose, when he made himself master of Edinburgh.—SPALDING, Vol. I. pp. 201; 266. His house of Harthill was dismantled, and miserably pillaged by Forbes of Craigievar, who expelled his wife and children with the most relentless inhumanity.—Ibid. Vol. II. p. 225. Meanwhile, young Harthill was the companion and associate of Nathaniel Gordon, whom he accompanied at plundering the fair of Elgin, and at most of Montrose’s engagements. He retaliated severely on the covenanters, by ravaging and burning their lands. Ibid. Vol. II. p. 301. His fate has escaped my notice.
And Dalgatie, both stout and keen.—P. 41. v. 1.
Sir Francis Hay, of Dalgatie, a steady cavalier, and a gentleman of great gallantry and accomplishment. He was a faithful follower of Montrose, and was taken prisoner with him at his last fatal battle. He was condemned to death, with his illustrious general. Being a Roman catholic, he refused the assistance of the presbyterian clergy, and was not permitted, even on the scaffold, to receive ghostly comfort, in the only form in which his religion taught him to consider it as effectual. He kissed the axe, avowed his fidelity to his sovereign, and died like a soldier.—Montrose’s Memoirs, p. 322.
And Newton Gordon, burd-alone.—P. 41. v. 1.
Newton, for obvious reasons, was a common appellation of an estate, or barony, where a new edifice had been erected. Hence, for distinction’s sake, it was anciently compounded with the name of the proprietor; as, Newtown-Edmonstone, Newtown-Don, Newtown-Gordon, &c. Of Gordon of Newtown, I only observe, that he was, like all his clan, a steady loyalist, and a follower of Montrose.
And gallant Veitch, upon the field.—P. 41. v. 1.
I presume this gentleman to have been David Veitch, brother to Veitch of Dawick, who, with many other of the Peebles-shire gentry, was taken at Philiphaugh. The following curious accident took place, some years afterwards, in consequence of his loyal zeal.
“In the year 1653, when the loyal party did arise in arms against the English, in the North and West Highlands, some noblemen and loyal gentlemen, with others, were forward to repair to them, with such forces as they could make; which the English, with marvelouse diligence, night and day, did bestir themselves to impede; making their troops of horse and dragoons to pursue the loyal party in all places, that they might not come to such a considerable number as was designed. It happened, one night, that one Captain Masoun, commander of a troop of dragoons, that came from Carlisle, in England, marching through the town of Sanquhar, in the night, was encountered by one captain Palmer, commanding a troop of horse, that came from Ayr, marching eastward; and, meeting at the tollhouse, or tolbooth, one David Veitch, brother to the laird of Dawick, in Tweeddale, and one of the loyal party, being prisoner in irons by the English, did arise, and came to the window at their meeting, and cryed out, that they should fight valiantly for King Charles, Where-through, they, taking each other for the loyal party, did begin a brisk fight, which continued for a while, til the dragoons, having spent their shot, and finding the horsemen to be too strong for them, did give ground; but yet retired, in some order, towards the castle of Sanquhar, being hotly pursued by the troop, through the whole town, above a quarter of a mile, till they came to the castle; where both parties did, to their mutual grief, become sensible of their mistake. In this skirmish there were several killed on both sides, and Captain Palmer himself dangerously wounded, with many mo wounded in each troop, who did peaceably dwell together afterward for a time, untill their wounds were cured, in Sanquhar castle.”—Account of Presbytery of Penpont, in Macfarlane’s MSS.
And bold Aboyne is to the sea,
Young Huntly is his noble name.—P. 41. v. 3.
James, earl of Aboyne, who fled to France, and there died heart-broken. It is said, his death was accelerated by the news of King Charles’ execution. He became representative of the Gordon family, or Young Huntly, as the ballad expresses it, in consequence of the death of his elder brother, George, who fell in the battle of Alford.—History of Gordon Family.
Two thousand of our Danish men.—P. 41. v. 5.
Montrose’s foreign auxiliaries, who, by the way, did not exceed 600 in all.
Gilbert Menzies, of high degree,
By whom the king’s banner was borne.—P. 42. v. 1.
Gilbert Menzies, younger of Pitfoddells, carried the royal banner in Montrose’s last battle. It bore the headless corpse of Charles I., with this motto, “Judge and revenge my cause, O Lord!” Menzies proved himself worthy of this noble trust, and, obstinately refusing quarter, died in defence of his charge. Montrose’s Memoirs.
Then woe to Strachan, and Hacket baith.—P. 42. v. 2.
Sir Charles Hacket, an officer in the service of the estates.
And Huntly’s gone, the selfsame way.—P. 42. v. 4.
George Gordon, second marquis of Huntley, one of the very few nobles in Scotland, who had uniformly adhered to the king from the very beginning of the troubles, was beheaded by the sentence of the parliament of Scotland (so calling themselves), upon the 22d March, 1649, one month and twenty-two days after the martyrdom of his master. He has been much blamed for not cordially co-operating with Montrose; and Bishop Wishart, in the zeal of partiality for his hero, accuses Huntley of direct treachery. But he is a true believer, who seals, with his blood, his creed, religious or political; and there are many reasons, short of this foul charge, which may have dictated the backward conduct of Huntley towards Montrose. He could not forget, that, when he first stood out for the king, Montrose, then the soldier of the covenant, had actually made him prisoner: and we cannot suppose Huntley to have been so sensible of Montrose’s superior military talents, as not to think himself, as equal in rank, superior in power, and more uniform in loyalty entitled to equally high marks of royal trust and favour. This much is certain, that the gallant clan of Gordon contributed greatly to Montrose’s success; for the gentlemen of that name, with the brave and loyal Ogilvies, composed the principal part of his cavalry.
THE BATTLE OF PENTLAND HILLS.
We have observed the early antipathy, mutually entertained by the Scottish presbyterians and the house of Stuart It seems to have glowed in the breast even of the good-natured Charles II. He might have remembered, that, in 1551, the presbyterians had fought, bled, and ruined themselves in his cause. But he rather recollected their early faults than their late repentance; and even their services were combined with the recollection of the absurd and humiliating circumstances of personal degradation,[A] to which their pride and folly had subjected him, while they professed to espouse his cause. As a man of pleasure, he hated their stern and inflexible rigour, which stigmatised follies even more deeply than crimes; and he whispered to his confidents, that “presbytery was no religion for a gentleman.” It is not, therefore, wonderful, that, in the first year of his restoration, he formally reestablished prelacy in Scotland; but it is surprising, that, with his father’s example before his eyes, he should not have been satisfied to leave at freedom the consciences of those who could not reconcile themselves to the new system. The religious opinions of sectaries have a tendency like the water of some springs, to become soft and mild, when freely exposed to the open day. Who can recognise in the decent and industrious quakers, and ana-baptists the wild and ferocious tenets which distinguished their sects, while they were yet honoured with the distinction of the scourge and the pillory? Had the system of coercion against the presbyterians been continued until our day, Blair and Robertson would have preached in the wilderness, and only discovered their powers of eloquence and composition, by rolling along a deeper torrent of gloomy fanaticism.
Among other ridiculous occurrences, it is said, that some of Charles’s gallantries were discovered by a prying neighbour. A wily old minister was deputed, by his brethren, to rebuke the king for this heinous scandal. Being introduced into the royal presence he limited his commission to a serious admonition, that, upon such occasions, his majesty should always shut the windows.—The king is said to have recompensed this unexpected lenity after the Restoration. He probably remembered the joke, though he might have forgotten the service.
The western counties distinguished themselves by their opposition to the prelatic system. Three hundred and fifty ministers, ejected from their churches and livings, wandered through the mountains, sowing the seeds of covenanted doctrine, while multitudes of fanatical followers pursued them, to reap the forbidden crop. These conventicles as they were called, were denounced by the law, and their frequenters dispersed by military force. The genius of the persecuted became stubborn, obstinate, and ferocious; and, although indulgencies were tardily granted to some presbyterian ministers, few of the true covenanters or whigs, as they were called, would condescend to compound with a prelatic government, or to listen even to their own favourite doctrine under the auspices of the king. From Richard Cameron, their apostle, this rigid sect acquired the name of Cameronians. They preached and prayed against the indulgence, and against the presbyterians who availed themselves of it, because their accepting this royal boon was a tacit acknowledgment of the king’s supremacy in ecclesiastical matters. Upon these bigotted and persecuted fanatics, and by no means upon the presbyterians at large, are to be charged the wild anarchical principles of anti-monarchy and assassination which polluted the period when they flourished.
The insurrection, commemorated and magnified in the following ballad, as indeed it has been in some histories, was, in itself, no very important affair. It began in Dumfries-shire where Sir James Turner, a soldier of fortune, was employed to levy the arbitrary fines imposed for not attending the episcopal churches. The people rose, seized his person, disarmed his soldiers, and having continued together, resolved to march towards Edinburgh, expecting to be joined by their friends in that quarter. In this they were disappointed; and, being now diminished to half their numbers, they drew up on the Pentland Hills, at a place called Rullien Green. They were commanded by one Wallace; and here they awaited the approach of General Dalziel, of Binns; who, having marched to Calder, to meet them on the Lanark road, and finding, that, by passing through Collington, they had got to the other side of the hills, cut through the mountains, and approached them. Wallace shewed both spirit and judgment: he drew his men up in a very strong situation, and withstood two charges of Dalziel’s cavalry; but, upon the third shock, the insurgents were broken, and utterly dispersed. There was very little slaughter, as the cavalry of Dalziel were chiefly gentlemen, who pitied their oppressed and misguided countrymen. There were about fifty killed, and as many made prisoners. The battle was fought on the 28th November, 1666; a day still observed by the scattered remnant of the Cameronian sect, who regularly hear a field-preaching upon the field of battle.
I am obliged for a copy of the ballad to Mr Livingston of Airds, who took it down from the recitation of an old woman residing on his estate.
The gallant Grahams, mentioned in the text, are Graham of Claverhouse’s horse.
THE BATTLE OF PENTLAND HILLS.
This Ballad is copied verbatim from the Old Woman’s recitation.
The gallant Grahams cum from the west,
Wi’ their horses black as ony craw;
The Lothian lads they marched fast,
To be at the Rhyns o’ Gallowa.
Betwixt Dumfries town and Argyle,
The lads they marched mony a mile;
Souters and taylors unto them drew,
Their covenants for to renew.
The whigs, they, wi’ their merry cracks,
Gard the poor pedlars lay down their packs;
But aye sinsyne they do repent
The renewing o’ their covenant.
A the Mauchline muir, where they were reviewed,
Ten thousand men in armour shewed;
But, ere they cam to the Brockie’s burn,
The half o’ them did back return.
General Dalyell, as I hear tell,
Was our lieutenant general;
And captain Welsh, wi’ his wit and skill,
Was to guide them on to the Pentland hill.
General Dalyell held to the hill,
Asking at them what was their will;
And who gave them this protestation,
To rise in arms against the nation?
“Although we all in armour be,
It’s not against his majesty;
Nor yet to spill our neighbour’s bluid,
But wi’ the country we’ll conclude.”
“Lay down your arms, in the king’s name,
And ye shall all gae safely hame;”
But they a’ cried out, wi’ ae consent,
“We’ll fight a broken covenant.”
“O well,” says he, “since it is so,
A willfu’ man never wanted woe;”
He then gave a sign unto his lads,
And they drew up in their brigades.
The trumpets blew, and the colours flew,
And every man to his armour drew;
The whigs were never so much aghast,
As to see their saddles toom sae fast.
The cleverest men stood in the van,
The whigs they took their heels and ran;
But such a raking was never seen,
As the raking o’ the Rullien Green.
THE BATTLE OF LOUDONHILL.
The whigs, now become desperate, adopted the most desperate principles; and retaliating, as far as they could, the intolerating persecution which they endured, they openly disclaimed allegiance to any monarch who should not profess presbytery, and subscribe the covenant.—These principles were not likely to conciliate the favour of government; and as we wade onward in the history of the times, the scenes become yet darker. At length, one would imagine the parties had agreed to divide the kingdom of vice betwixt them; the hunters assuming to themselves open profligacy and legalized oppression; and the hunted, the opposite attributes of hypocrisy, fanaticism, disloyalty, and midnight assassination. The troopers and cavaliers became enthusiasts in the pursuit of the covenanters If Messrs Kid, King, Cameron, Peden, &c. boasted of prophetic powers, and were often warned of the approach of the soldiers, by supernatural impulse,[A] captain John Creichton, on the other side, dreamed dreams, and saw visions (chiefly, indeed, after having drunk hard), in which the lurking holes of the rebels were discovered to his imagination.[B] Our ears are scarcely more shocked with the profane execrations of the persecutors,[C] than with the strange and insolent familiarity used towards the Deity by the persecuted fanatics. Their indecent modes of prayer, their extravagant expectations of miraculous assistance, and their supposed inspirations, might easily furnish out a tale, at which the good would sigh, and the gay would laugh.
In the year 1684, Peden, one of the Cameronian preachers, about ten o’clock at night, sitting at the fire-side, started up to his feet, and said, “Flee, auld Sandie (thus he designed himself), and hide yourself! for colonel——is coming to this house to apprehend you; and I advise you all to do the like, for he will be here within an hour;” which came to pass: and when they had made a very narrow search, within and without the house, and went round the thorn-bush, under which he was lying praying, they went off without their prey. He came in, and said, “And has this gentleman (designed by his name) given poor Sandie, and thir poor things, such a fright? For this night’s work, God shall give him such a blow, within a few days, that all the physicians on earth shall not be able to cure;” which came to pass, for he died in great misery.—Life of Alexander Peden.
See the life of this booted apostle of prelacy, written by Swift, who had collected all his anecdotes of persecution, and appears to have enjoyed them accordingly.
“They raved,” says Peden’s historian, “like fleshly devils, when the mist shrouded from their pursuit the wandering whigs.” One gentleman closed a declaration of vengeance against the conventiclers with this strange imprecation, “Or may the devil make my ribs a gridiron to my soul!”—MS. Account of the Presbytery of Penpont.Our armies swore terribly in Flanders, but nothing to this!
In truth, extremes always approach each other; and the superstition of the Roman catholics was, in some degree, revived, even by their most deadly enemies. They are ridiculed by the cavaliers, as wearing the relics of their saints by way of amulet:—
“She shewed to me a box, wherein lay hid
The pictures of Cargil and Mr Kid;
A splinter of the tree, on which they were slain;
A double inch of Major Weir’s best cane;
Rathillet’s sword, beat down to table-knife,
Which took at Magus’ Muir a bishop’s life;
The worthy Welch’s spectacles, who saw,
That windle-straws would fight against the law;
They, windle-straws, were stoutest of the two,
They kept their ground, away the prophet flew;
And lists of all the prophets’ names were seen
At Pentland Hills, Aird-Moss, and Rullen Green.
“Don’t think,” she says, “these holy things are foppery;
They’re precious antidotes against the power of popery.”
The Cameronian Tooth.—Pennycuick’s Poems, p. 110.
The militia and standing army soon became unequal to the task of enforcing conformity, and suppressing conventicles In, their aid, and to force compliance with a test proposed by government, the Highland clans were raised, and poured down into Ayrshire.[A] An armed host of undisciplined mountaineers, speaking a different language, and professing, many of them, another religion, were let loose, to ravage and plunder this unfortunate country; and it is truly astonishing to find how few acts of cruelty they perpetrated, and how seldom they added murder to pillage[B] Additional levies of horse were also raised, under the name of Independent Troops, and great part of them placed under the command of James Grahame of Claverhouse a man well known to fame, by his subsequent title of viscount Dundee, but better remembered, in the western shires, under the designation of the bloody Clavers. In truth, he appears to have combined the virtues and vices of a savage chief. Fierce, unbending, and rigorous, no emotion of compassion prevented his commanding, and witnessing, every detail of military execution against the non-conformists. Undauntedly brave, and steadily faithful to his prince, he sacrificed himself in the cause of James, when he was deserted by all the world. If we add, to these attributes, a goodly person, complete skill in martial exercises, and that ready and decisive character, so essential to a commander, we may form some idea of this extraordinary character. The whigs, whom he persecuted daunted by his ferocity and courage, conceived him to be impassive to their bullets,[C] and that he had sold himself, for temporal greatness, to the seducer of mankind. It is still believed, that a cup of wine, presented to him by his butler, changed into clotted blood; and that, when he plunged his feet into cold water, their touch caused it to boil. The steed, which bore him, was supposed to be the gift of Satan; and precipices are shewn, where a fox could hardly keep his feet, down which the infernal charger conveyed him safely, in pursuit of the wanderers. It is remembered, with terror, that Claverhouse was successful in every engagement with the whigs, except that at Drumclog, or Loudon-hill, which is the subject of the following ballad. The history of Burly, the hero of the piece, will bring us immediately to the causes and circumstances of that event.
Peden complained heavily, that, after a heavy struggle with the devil, he had got above him, spur-galled him hard, and obtained a wind to carry him from Ireland to Scotland, when, behold! another person had set sail, and reaped the advantage of his prayer-wind, before he could embark.
Cleland thus describes this extraordinary army:
—Those, who were their chief commanders,
As sach who bore the pirnie standarts.
Who led the van, and drove the rear,
Were right well mounted of their gear;
With brogues, and trews, and pirnie plaids,
With good blue bonnets on their heads,
Which, oil the one side, had a flipe,
Adorn’d with a tobacco pipe,
With durk, and snap-work, and snuff-mill,
A bag which they with onions fill;
And, as their strict observers say,
A tup-born filled with usquebay;
A slasht out coat beneath her plaides,
A targe of timber, nails, and hides;
With a long two-handed sword,
As good’s the country can afford.
Had they not need of bulk-and bones.
Who fought with all these arms at once?
* * * *
Of moral honestie they’re clean,
Nought like religion they retain;
In nothing they’re accounted sharp,
Except in bag-pipe, and in harp;
For a misobliging word,
She’ll durk her neighbour o’er the boord,
And then she’ll flee like fire from flint,
She’ll scarcely ward the second dint;
If any ask her of her thrift.
Forsooth her nainsell lives by thift.
Cleland’s Poems, Edin. 1697, p. 12.
It was, and is believed, that the devil furnished his favourites, among the persecutors, with what is called proof against leaden bullets, but against those only. During the battle of Pentland-hills Paton of Meadowhead conceived he saw the balls hop harmlessly down from General Dalziel’s boots, and, to counteract the spell, loaded his pistol with a piece of silver coin. But Dalziel, having his eye on him, drew back behind his servant, who was shot dead.—Paton’s Life. At a skirmish, in Ayrshire, some of the wanderers defended themselves in a sequestered house, by the side of a lake. They aimed repeatedly, but in vain, at the commander of the assailants, an English officer, until, their ammunition running short, one of them loaded his piece with the ball at the head of the tongs, and succeeded in shooting the hitherto impenetrable captain. To accommodate Dundee’s fate to their own hypothesis, the Cameronian tradition runs, that, in the battle of Killicrankie, he fell, not by the enemy’s fire, but by the pistol of one of his own servants, who, to avoid the spell, had loaded it with a silver button from his coat. One of their writers argues thus: “Perhaps, some may think this, anent proof-shot, a paradox, and be ready to object here, as formerly concerning Bishop Sharpe and Dalziel—How can the devil have, or give, power to save life? Without entering upon the thing in its reality, I shall only observe, 1. That it is neither in his power, or of his nature, to be a saviour of men’s lives; he is called Apollyon, the destroyer. 2. That, even in this case, he is said only to give enchantment against one kind of metal, and this does not save life: for, though lead could not take Sharpe and Claverhouse’s lives, yet steel and silver could do it; and, for Dalziel, though he died not on the field, yet he did not escape the arrows of the Almighty.”—God’s Judgement against Persecutors. If the reader be not now convinced of the thing in its reality, I have nothing to add to such exquisite reasoning.
John Balfour of Kinloch, commonly called Burly, was one of the fiercest of the proscribed sect. A gentleman by birth, he was, says his biographer, “zealous and honest-hearted, courageous in every enterprise, and a brave soldier, seldom any escaping that came in his hands.” Life of John Balfour. Creichton says, that he was once chamberlain to Archbishop Sharpe, and, by negligence, or dishonesty, had incurred a large arrear, which occasioned his being active in his master’s assassination. But of this I know no other evidence than Creichton’s assertion, and a hint in Wodrow. Burly, for that is his most common designation, was brother-in-law to Hackston of Rathillet a wild enthusiastic character, who joined daring courage, and skill in the sword, to the fiery zeal of his sect. Burly, himself, was less eminent for religious fervour than for the active and violent share which he had in the most desperate enterprises of his party. His name does not appear among the covenanters, who were denounced for the affair of Pentland. But, in 1677, Robert Hamilton, afterwards commander of the insurgents at Loudon Hill, and Bothwell Bridge, with several other non-conformists, were assembled at this Burly’s house, in Fife. There they were attacked by a party of soldiers, commanded by Captain Carstairs, whom they beat off, wounding desperately one of his party. For this resistance to authority, they were declared rebels. The next exploit, in which Burly was engaged, was of a bloodier complexion, and more dreadful celebrity. It is well known, that James Sharpe, archbishop of St Andrews, was regarded, by the rigid presbyterians, not only as a renegade, who had turned back from the spiritual plough, but as the principal author of the rigours exercised against their sect. He employed, as an agent of his oppression, one Carmichael, a decayed gentleman. The industry of this man, in procuring information, and in enforcing the severe penalties against conventiclers, having excited the resentment of the Cameronians, nine of their number, of whom Burly, and his brother-in-law, Hackston, were the leaders, assembled, with the purpose of way-laying and murdering Carmichael; but, while they searched for him in vain, they received tidings that the archbishop himself was at hand. The party resorted to prayer; after which, they agreed, unanimously, that the Lord had delivered the wicked Haman into their hand. In the execution of the supposed will of heaven, they agreed to put themselves under the command of a leader; and they requested Hackston of Rathillet to accept the office, which he declined alleging, that, should he comply with their request, the slaughter might be imputed to a private quarrel, which existed betwixt him and the archbishop. The command was then offered to Burly, who accepted it without scruple; and they galloped off in pursuit of the archbishop’s carriage, which contained himself and his daughter. Being well mounted, they easily overtook and disarmed the prelate’s attendants. Burly, crying out, “Judas, be taken!” rode up to the carriage, wounded the postillion and ham-strung one of the horses. He then fired into the coach a piece, charged with several bullets, so near, that the archbishop’s gown was set on fire. The rest, coming up, dismounted, and dragged him out of the carriage, when, frightened and wounded, he crawled towards Hackston, who still remained on horseback, and begged for mercy. The stern enthusiast contented himself with answering, that he would not himself lay a hand on him. Burly and his men again fired a volley upon the kneeling old man; and were in the act of riding off, when one, who remained to girth his horse, unfortunately heard the daughter of their victim call to the servant for help, exclaiming, that his master was still alive. Burly then again dismounted, struck off the prelate’s hat with his foot, and split his skull with his shable (broad sword), although one of the party (probably Rathillet) exclaimed, “Spare these grey hairs!”[A] The rest pierced him with repeated wounds. They plundered the carriage, and rode off, leaving, beside the mangled corpse, the daughter, who was herself wounded, in her pious endeavour to interpose betwixt her father and his murderers. The murder is accurately represented, in bas-relief, upon a beautiful monument erected to the memory of Archbishop Sharpe, in the metropolitan church of St Andrews. This memorable example of fanatic revenge was acted upon Magus Muir, near St Andrews, 3d May, 1679.[B]
They believed Sharpe to be proof against shot; for one of the murderers told Wodrow, that, at the sight of cold iron, his courage fell. They no longer doubted this, when they found in his pocket a small clue of silk, rolled round a bit of parchment, marked with two long words, in Hebrew or Chaldaic characters. Accordingly, it is still averred, that the balls only left blue marks on the prelate’s neck and breast, although the discharge was so near as to burn his clothes.
The question, whether the bishop of St Andrews’ death was murder was a shibboleth, or experimentum crucis, frequently put to the apprehended conventiclers. Isabel Alison, executed at Edinburgh, 26th January, 1681, was interrogated, before the privy council, if she conversed with David Hackston? “I answered, I did converse with him, and I bless the Lord that ever I saw him; for I never saw ought in him but a godly pious youth. They asked, if the killing of the bishop of St Andrews was a pious act? I answered, I never heard him say he killed him; but, if God moved any, and put it upon them, to execute his righteous judgment upon him, I have nothing to say to that. They asked me, when saw ye John Balfour (Burly), that pious youth? I answered, I have seen him. They asked, when? I answered, these are frivolous questions; I am not bound to answer them.” Cloud of Witnesses, p. 85.
Burly was, of course, obliged to leave Fife; and, upon the 25th of the same month, he arrived in Evandale, in Lanarkshire, along with Hackston, and a fellow, called Dingwall, or Daniel, one of the same bloody band. Here he joined his old friend Hamilton, already mentioned; and, as they resolved to take up arms, they were soon at the head of such a body of the “chased and tossed western men,” as they thought equal to keep the field. They resolved to commence their exploits upon the 29th of May, 1679, being the anniversary of the Restoration, appointed to be kept as a holiday, by act of parliament; an institution which they esteemed a presumptuous and unholy solemnity. Accordingly, at the head of eighty horse, tolerably appointed, Hamilton, Burly, and Hackston, entered the royal burgh of Rutherglen, extinguished the bonfires, made in honour of the day; burned at the cross the acts of parliament in favour of prelacy, and for suppression of conventicles, as well as those acts of council, which regulated the indulgence granted to presbyterians. Against all these acts they entered their solemn protest, or testimony, as they called it; and, having affixed it to the cross, concluded with prayer and psalms. Being now joined by a large body of foot, so that their strength seems to have amounted to five or six hundred men, though very indifferently armed, they encamped upon Loudoun Hill. Claverhouse, who was in garrison at Glasgow, instantly marched against the insurgents, at the head of his own troop of cavalry and others, amounting to about one hundred and fifty men. He arrived at Hamilton, on the 1st of June, so unexpectedly, as to make prisoner John King, a famous preacher among the wanderers; and rapidly continued his march, carrying his captive along with him, till he came to the village of Drumclog, about a mile east of Loudoun Hill, and twelve miles south-west of Hamilton. At some distance from this place, the insurgents were skilfully posted in a boggy strait, almost inaccessible to cavalry, having a broad ditch in their front. Claverhouse’s dragoons discharged their carabines, and made an attempt to charge; but the nature of the ground threw them into total disorder. Burly, who commanded the handful of horse belonging to the whigs, instantly led them down on the disordered squadrons of Claverhouse, who were, at the same time, vigorously assaulted by the foot, headed by the gallant Cleland,[A] and the enthusiastic Hackston. Claverhouse himself was forced to fly, and was in the utmost danger of being taken; his horse’s belly being cut open by the stroke of a scythe, so that the poor animal trailed his bowels for more than a mile. In his flight, he passed King, the minister, lately his prisoner, but now deserted by his guard, in the general confusion. The preacher hollowed to the flying commander, “to halt, and take his prisoner with him;” or, as others say, “to stay, and take the afternoon’s preaching.” Claverhouse, at length remounted, continued his retreat to Glasgow. He lost, in the skirmish, about twenty of his troopers, and his own cornet and kinsman, Robert Graham, whose fate is alluded to in the ballad. Only four of the other side were killed, among whom was Dingwall, or Daniel, an associate of Burly in Sharpe’s murder. “The rebels,” says Creichton, “finding the cornet’s body, and supposing it to be that of Clavers, because the name of Graham was wrought in the shirt-neck, treated it with the utmost inhumanity; cutting off the nose, picking out the eyes, and stabbing it through in a hundred places.” The same charge is brought by Guild, in his Bellum Bothuellianum, in which occurs the following account of the skirmish at Drumclog:—
Mons est occiduus surgit qui celsus in oris
(Nomine Loudunum) fossis puteisque profundis
Quot scatet hic tellus et aprico gramine tectus:
Huc collecta (ait) numeroso milite cincta;
Turba ferox, matres, pueri, innuptaeque puellae;
Quam parat egregia Graemus dispersere turma.
Venit, et primo campo discedere cogit;
Post hos et alios, caeno provolvit inerti;
At numerosa cohors, campum dispersa per omnem,
Circumfusa, ruit; turmasque indagine captas,
Aggreditur; virtus non hic, nec profuit ensis;
Corripuere fugam, viridi sed gramine tectis,
Precipitata perit, fossis, pars plurima, quorum
Cornipedes haesere luto, sessore rejecto:
Tum rabiosa cohors, misereri nescia, stratos
Invadit laceratque viros: hic signifer eheu!
Trajectus globulo, Graemus quo fortior alter,
Inter Scotigenas fuerat, nec justior ullus:
Hunc manibus rapuere feris, faciemque virilem
Faedarunt, lingua, auriculus, manibusque resectis,
Aspera, diffuso, spargentes saxa, cerebro:
Vix dux ipse fuga salvus, namque exta trahebat
Vulnere tardatus, sonipes generosus hiante:
Insequitur clamore, cohors fanatica, namque
Crudelis semper timidus si vicerit unquam.
MS. Bellum Bothuellianum.
William Cleland, a man of considerable genius, was author of several poems, published in 1697. His Hudibrastic verses are poor scurrilous trash, as the reader may judge from the description of the Highlanders, already quoted. But, in a wild rhapsody, entitled, “Hollo, my Fancy,” he displays some imagination. His anti-monarchical principles seem to break out in the following lines:—
Fain would I know (if beasts have any reason)
If falcons killing eagles do commit a treason?
He was a strict non-conformist, and, after the Revolution, became lieutenant colonel of the earl of Angus’s regiment, called the Cameronian regiment. He was killed 21st August, 1689, in the churchyard of Dunkeld, which his corps manfully and successfully defended against a superior body of Highlanders. His son was the author of the letter prefixed to the Dunciad, and is said to have been the notorious Cleland, who, in circumstances of pecuniary embarrassment, prostituted his talents to the composition of indecent and infamous works; but this seems inconsistent with dates, and the latter personage was probably the grandson of Colonel Cleland.
Although Burly was among the most active leaders in the action, he was not the commander in chief, as one would conceive from the ballad. That honour belonged to Robert Hamilton, brother to Sir William Hamilton of Preston, a gentleman, who, like most of those at Drumclog, had imbibed the very wildest principles of fanaticism. The Cameronian account of the insurrection states, that “Mr Hamilton discovered a great deal of bravery and valour, both in the conflict with, and pursuit of the enemy; but when he and some others were pursuing the enemy, others flew too greedily upon the spoil, small as it was, instead of pursuing the victory: and some, without Mr Hamilton’s knowledge, and against his strict command, gave five of these bloody enemies quarters, and then let them go: this greatly grieved Mr Hamilton, when he saw some of Babel’s brats spared, after the Lord had delivered them to their hands, that they might dash them against the stones.” Psalm cxxxvii. 9. In his own account of this, “he reckons the sparing of these enemies, and letting them go, to be among their first stepping aside; for which, he feared that the Lord would not honour them to do much more for him; and says, that he was neither for taking favours from, nor giving favours to the Lord’s enemies.” Burly was not a likely man to fall into this sort of backsliding. He disarmed one of the duke of Hamilton’s servants, who had been in the action, and desired him to tell his master, he would keep, till meeting, the pistols he had taken from him. The man described Burly to the duke as a little stout man, squint-eyed, and of a most ferocious aspect; from which it appears, that Burly’s figure corresponded to his manners, and perhaps gave rise to his nickname, Burlysignifying strong. He was with the insurgents till the battle of Bothwell Bridge, and afterwards fled to Holland. He joined the prince of Orange, but died at sea, during the expedition. The Cameronians still believe, he had obtained liberty from the prince to be avenged of those who had persecuted the Lord’s people; but through his death, the laudable design of purging the land with their blood, is supposed to have fallen to the ground.—Life of Balfour of Kinloch.
The consequences of the battle of Loudon Hill will be detailed in the introduction to the next ballad.
THE BATTLE OF LOUDONHILL.
You’l marvel when I tell ye o’
Our noble Burly, and his train;
When last he march’d up thro’ the land,
Wi’ sax and twenty westland men.
Than they I ne’er o’ braver heard,
For they had a’ baith wit and skill
They proved right well, as I heard tell,
As they cam up o’er Loudoun Hill.
Weel prosper a’ the gospel lads,
That are into the west countrie;
Ay wicked Claver’se to demean,
And ay an ill dead may he die!
For he’s drawn up i’ battle rank,
An’ that baith soon an’ hastilie;
But they wha live till simmer come,
Some bludie days for this will see.
But up spak cruel Claver’se then,
Wi’ hastie wit, an’ wicked skill;
“Gie fire on yon westlan’ men;
“I think it is my sov’reign’s will.”
But up bespake his cornet, then,
“It’s be wi’ nae consent o’ me!
“I ken I’ll ne’er come back again,
“An’ mony mae as weel as me.
“There is not ane of a’ yon men,
“But wha is worthy other three;
“There is na ane amang them a’,
“That in his cause will stap to die.
“An’ as for Burly, him I knaw;
“He’s a man of honour, birth, an’ fame;
“Gie him a sword into his hand,
“He’ll fight thysel an’ other ten.”
But up spake wicked Claver’se then,
I wat his heart it raise fu’ hie!
And he has cry’d that a’ might hear,
“Man, ye hae sair deceived me.
“I never ken’d the like afore,
“Na, never since I came frae hame,
“That you sae cowardly here suld prove,
“An’ yet come of a noble Graeme.”
But up bespake his cornet, then,
“Since that it is your honour’s will,
“Mysel shall be the foremost man,
“That shall gie fire on Loudoun Hill.
“At your command I’ll lead them on,
“But yet wi’ nae consent o’ me;
“For weel I ken I’ll ne’er return,
“And mony mae as weel as me.”
Then up he drew in battle rank;
I wat he had a bonny train!
But the first time that bullets flew,
Ay he lost twenty o’ his men.
Then back he came the way he gael,
I wat right soon an’ suddenly!
He gave command amang his men,
And sent them back, and bade them flee.
Then up came Burly, bauld an’ stout,
Wi’s little train o’ westland men;
Wha mair than either aince or twice
In Edinburgh confined had been.
They hae been up to London sent,
An’ yet they’re a’ come safely down;
Sax troop o’ horsemen they hae beat,
And chased them into Glasgow town.
THE BATTLE OF BOTHWELL-BRIDGE.
It has been often remarked, that the Scottish, notwithstanding their national courage, were always unsuccessful, when fighting for their religion. The cause lay, not in the principle, but in the mode of its application. A leader like Mahomet, who is, at the same time, the prophet of his tribe, may avail himself of religious enthusiasm, because it comes to the aid of discipline, and is a powerful means of attaining the despotic command, essential to the success of a general. But, among the insurgents, in the reigns of the last Stuarts, were mingled preachers, who taught different shades of the presbyterian doctrine; and, minute as these shades sometimes were, neither the several shepherds, nor their flocks, could cheerfully unite in a common cause. This will appear from the transactions leading to the battle of Bothwell Bridge.
We have seen, that the party, which defeated Claverhouse at Loudoun Hill, were Cameronians, whose principles consisted in disowning all temporal authority, which did not flow from and through the Solemn League and Covenant. This doctrine, which is still retained by a scattered remnant of the sect in Scotland, is in theory, and would be in practice, inconsistent with the safety of any well regulated government, because the Covenanters deny to their governors that toleration, which was iniquitously refused to themselves. In many respects, therefore, we cannot be surprised at the anxiety and rigour with which the Cameronians were persecuted, although we may be of opinion, that milder means would have induced a melioration of their principles. These men, as already noticed, excepted against such presbyterians, as were contented to exercise their worship under the indulgence granted by government, or, in other words, who would have been satisfied with toleration for themselves, without insisting upon a revolution in the state, or even in the church government.
When, however, the success at Loudoun Hill was spread abroad, a number of preachers, gentlemen, and common people, who had embraced the more moderate doctrine, joined the army of Hamilton, thinking, that the difference in their opinions ought not to prevent their acting in the common cause. The insurgents were repulsed in an attack upon the town of Glasgow, which, however, Claverhouse, shortly afterwards, thought it necessary to evacuate. They were now nearly in full possession of the west of Scotland, and pitched their camp at Hamilton, where, instead of modelling and disciplining their army, the Cameronians and Erastians (for so the violent insurgents chose to call the more moderate presbyterians) only debated, in council of war, the real cause of their being in arms. Hamilton, their general, was the leader of the first party; Mr John Walsh, a minister, headed the Erastians. The latter so far prevailed, as to get a declaration drawn up, in which they owned the king’s government; but the publication of it gave rise to new quarrels. Each faction had its own set of leaders, all of whom aspired to be officers; and there were actually two councils of war issuing contrary orders and declarations at the same time; the one owning the king, and the other designing him a malignant, bloody, and perjured tyrant.
Meanwhile, their numbers and zeal were magnified at Edinburgh, and great alarm excited lest they should march eastward. Not only was the foot militia instantly called out, but proclamations were issued, directing all the heritors, in the eastern, southern, and northern shires, to repair to the king’s host, with their best horses, arms, and retainers. In Fife, and other countries, where the presbyterian doctrines prevailed, many gentlemen disobeyed this order, and were afterwards severely fined. Most of them alleged, in excuse, the apprehension of disquiet from their wives.[A] A respectable force was soon assembled; and James, duke of Buccleuch and Monmouth, was sent down, by Charles, to take the command, furnished with instructions, not unfavourable to presbyterians. The royal army now moved slowly forwards towards Hamilton, and reached Bothwell-moor on the 22d of June, 1679. The insurgents were encamped chiefly in the duke of Hamilton’s park, along the Clyde, which separated the two armies. Bothwell-bridge, which is long and narrow, had then a portal in the middle, with gates, which the Covenanters shut, and barricadoed with stones and logs of timber. This important post was defended by three hundred of their best men, under Hackston of Rathillet, and Hall of Haughhead. Early in the morning, this party crossed the bridge, and skirmished with the royal vanguard, now advanced as far as the village of Bothwell. But Hackston speedily retired to his post, at the western end of Bothwell-bridge.
“Balcanquhall of that ilk alledged, that his horses were robbed, but shunned to take the declaration, for fear of disquiet from his wife. Young of Kirkton—his ladyes dangerous sickness, and bitter curses if he should leave her, and the appearance of abortion on his offering to go from her. And many others pled, in general terms, that their wives opposed or contradicted their going. But the justiciary court found this defence totally irrelevant.”—Fountainhall’s Decisions, Vol. I. p. 88.
While the dispositions, made by the duke of Monmouth, announced his purpose of assailing the pass, the more moderate of the insurgents resolved to offer terms. Ferguson of Kaithloch, a gentleman of landed fortune, and David Hume, a clergyman, carried to the duke of Monmouth a supplication, demanding free exercise of their religion, a free parliament, and a free general assembly of the church. The duke heard their demands with his natural mildness, and assured them, he would interpose with his majesty in their behalf, on condition of their immediately dispersing themselves, and yielding up their arms. Had the insurgents been all of the moderate opinion, this proposal would have been accepted, much bloodshed saved, and, perhaps, some permanent advantage derived to their party; or, had they been all Cameronians, their defence would have been fierce and desperate. But, while their motley and misassorted officers were debating upon the duke’s proposal, his field-pieces were already planted on the eastern side of the river, to cover the attack of the foot guards, who were led on by Lord Livingstone to force the bridge. Here Hackston maintained his post with zeal and courage; nor was it until all his ammunition was expended, and every support denied him by the general, that he reluctantly abandoned the important pass.[A] When his party were drawn back, the duke’s army, slowly, and with their cannon in front, defiled along the bridge, and formed in line of battle, as they came over the river; the duke commanded the foot, and Claverhouse the cavalry. It would seem, that these movements could not have been performed without at least some loss, had the enemy been serious in opposing them. But the insurgents were otherwise employed. With the strangest delusion, that ever fell upon devoted beings, they chose these precious moments to cashier their officers, and elect others in their room. In this important operation, they were at length disturbed by the duke’s cannon, at the very first discharge of which, the horse of the Covenanters wheeled, and rode off, breaking and trampling down the ranks of their infantry in their flight. The Cameronian account blames Weir of Greenridge, a commander of the horse, who is termed a sad Achan in the camp. The more moderate party lay the whole blame on Hamilton, whose conduct, they say, left the world to debate, whether he was most traitor, coward, or fool. The generous Monmouth was anxious to spare the blood of his infatuated countrymen, by which he incurred much blame among the high-flying royalists. Lucky it was for the insurgents that the battle did not happen a day later, when old General Dalziel, who divided with Claverhouse the terror and hatred of the whigs, arrived in the camp, with a commission to supersede Monmouth, as commander in chief. He is said to have upbraided the duke, publicly, with his lenity, and heartily to have wished his own commission had come a day sooner, when, as he expresses himself, “These rogues should never more have troubled the king or country.”[B] But, notwithstanding the merciful orders of the duke of Monmouth, the cavalry made great slaughter among the fugitives, of whom four hundred were slain. Guild thus expresses himself:
Ei ni Dux validus tenuisset forte catervas,
Vix quisquam profugus vitam servasset inertem:
Non audita Ducis verum mandata supremi
Omnibus, insequitur fugientes plurima turba,
Perque agros, passim, trepida formidine captos
Obtruncat, saevumque adigit per viscera ferrum.
MS. Bellum Bothuellianum.
There is an accurate representation of this part of the engagement in an old painting, of which there are two copies extant; one in the collection of his grace the duke of Hamilton, the other at Dalkeith house. The whole appearance of the ground, even including a few old houses, is the same which the scene now presents: The removal of the porch, or gateway, upon the bridge, is the only perceptible difference. The duke of Monmouth, on a white charger, directs the march of the party engaged in storming the bridge, while his artillery gall the motley ranks of the Covenanters. An engraving of this painting would be acceptable to the curious; and I am satisfied an opportunity of copying it, for that purpose, would be readily granted by either of the noble proprietors.
Dalziel was a man of savage manners. A prisoner having railed at him, while under examination before the privy council, calling him “a Muscovia beast, who used to roast men, the general, in a passion, struck him, with the pomel of his shabble, on the face, till the blood sprung.”—FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. p. 159. He had sworn never to shave his beard after the death of Charles the First. This venerable appendage reached his girdle, and, as he wore always an old-fashioned buff coat, his appearance in London never failed to attract the notice of the children and of the mob. King Charles II. used to swear at him, for bringing such a rabble of boys together, to be squeezed to death, while they gaped at his long beard and antique habit, and exhorted him to shave and dress like a Christian, to keep the poor bairns, as Dalziel expressed it, out of danger. In compliance with this request, he once appeared at court fashionably dressed, excepting the beard; but, when the king had laughed sufficiently at the metamorphosis, he resumed his old dress, to the great joy of the boys, his usual attendants.—CREICHTON’S Memoirs, p. 102.
The same deplorable circumstances are more elegantly bewailed in Clyde, a poem, reprinted in Scotish Descriptive Poems, edited by Dr John Leyden, Edinburgh, 1803:
“Where Bothwell’s bridge connects the margins steep,
And Clyde, below, runs silent, strong, and deep,
The hardy peasant, by oppression driven
To battle, deemed his cause the cause of heaven:
Unskilled in arms, with useless courage stood,
While gentle Monmouth grieved to shed his blood:
But fierce Dundee, inflamed with deadly hate,
In vengeance for the great Montrose’s fate,
Let loose the sword, and to the hero’s shade
A barbarous hecatomb of victims paid.”
The object of Claverhouse’s revenge, assigned by Wilson, is grander, though more remote and less natural, than that in the ballad, which imputes the severity of the pursuit to his thirst to revenge the death of his cornet and kinsman, at Drumclog;[A] and to the quarrel betwixt Claverhouse and Monmouth, it ascribes, with great naiveté the bloody fate of the latter. Local tradition is always apt to trace foreign events to the domestic causes, which are more immediately in the narrator’s view. There is said to be another song upon this battle, once very popular, but I have not been able to recover it. This copy is given from recitation.
There is some reason to conjecture, that the revenge of the Cameronians, if successful, would have been little less sanguinary than that of the royalists. Creichton mentions, that they had erected, in their camp, a high pair of gallows, and prepared a quantity of halters, to hang such prisoners as might fall into their hands, and he admires the forbearance of the king’s soldiers, who, when they returned with their prisoners, brought them to the very spot where the gallows stood, and guarded them there, without offering to hang a single individual. Guild, in the Bellum Bothuellianum, alludes to the same story, which is rendered probable by the character of Hamilton, the insurgent general. GUILD’S MSS.—CREICHTON’S Memoirs, p. 61.
There were two Gordons of Earlstoun, father and son. They were descended of an ancient family in the west of Scotland, and their progenitors were believed to have been favourers of the reformed doctrine, and possessed of a translation of the Bible, as early as the days of Wickliffe. William Gordon, the father, was, in 1663, summoned before the privy council, for keeping conventicles in his house and woods. By another act of council, he was banished out of Scotland; but the sentence was never put into execution. In 1667, Earlstoun was turned out of his house, which was converted into a garrison for the king’s soldiers. He was not in the battle of Bothwell Bridge, but was met, hastening towards it, by some English dragoons, engaged in the pursuit, already commenced. As he refused to surrender, he was instantly slain. WILSON’S History of Bothwell Rising—Life of Gordon of Earlston, in Scottish Worthies—WODROW’S History, Vol. II. The son, Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun, I suppose to be the hero of the ballad. He was not a Cameronian, but of the more moderate class of presbyterians, whose sole object was freedom of conscience, and relief from the oppressive laws against non-conformists. He joined the insurgents, shortly after the skirmish at Loudoun-hill. He appears to have been active in forwarding the supplication sent to the duke of Monmouth. After the battle, he escaped discovery, by flying into a house at Hamilton, belonging to one of his tenants, and disguising himself in female attire. His person was proscribed, and his estate of Earlstoun was bestowed upon Colonel Theophilus Ogilthorpe, by the crown, first in security for L.5000, and afterwards in perpetuity.—FOUNTAINHALL, p. 390. The same author mentions a person tried at the circuit court, July 10, 1683, solely for holding intercourse with Earlstoun, an intercommuned (proscribed) rebel. As he had been in Holland after the battle of Bothwell, he was probably accessory to the scheme of invasion, which the unfortunate earl of Argyle was then meditating. He was apprehended upon his return to Scotland, tried, convicted of treason, and condemned to die; but his fate was postponed by a letter from the king, appointing him to be reprieved for a month, that he might, in the interim, be tortured for the discovery of his accomplices. The council had the unusual spirit to remonstrate against this illegal course of severity. On November 3, 1653, he received a farther respite, in hopes he would make some discovery. When brought to the bar, to be tortured (for the king had reiterated his commands), he, through fear or distraction, roared like a bull, and laid so stoutly about him, that the hangman and his assistant could hardly master him. At last he fell into a swoon, and, on his recovery, charged General Dalziel and Drummond (violent tories), together with the duke of Hamilton, with being the leaders of the fanatics. It was generally thought, that he affected this extravagant behaviour, to invalidate all that agony might extort from him concerning his real accomplices. He was sent, first, to Edinburgh castle, and, afterwards, to a prison upon the Bass island; although the privy council more than once deliberated upon appointing his immediate death. On 22d August, 1684, Earlstoun was sent for from the Bass, and ordered for execution, 4th November, 1684. He endeavoured to prevent his doom by escape; but was discovered and taken, after he had gained the roof of the prison. The council deliberated, whether, in consideration of this attempt, he was not liable to instant execution. Finally, however, they were satisfied to imprison him in Blackness castle, where he remained till after the Revolution, when he was set at liberty, and his doom of forfeiture reversed by act of parliament.—See FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. pp. 238, 240, 245, 250, 301, 302.
THE BATTLE OF BOTHWELL-BRIDGE.
“O Billie, billie, bonny billie,
“Will ye go to the wood wi’ me?
“We’ll ca’ our horse hame masterless,
“An’ gar them trow slain men are we.”
“O no, O no!” says Earlstoun,
“For that’s the thing that mauna be;
“For I am sworn to Bothwell Hill,
“Where I maun either gae or die.”
So Earlstoun rose in the morning,
An’ mounted by the break o’ day;
An’ he has joined our Scottish lads,
As they were marching out the way.
“Now, farewell father, and farewell mother,
“An’ fare ye weel my sisters three;
“An’ fare ye weel my Earlstoun,
“For thee again I’ll never see!”
So they’re awa’ to Bothwell Hill,
An waly[A] they rode bonnily!
When the duke o’ Monmouth saw them comin’,
He went to view their company.
“Ye’re welcome, lads,” then Monmouth said,
“Ye’re welcome, brave Scots lads, to me;
“And sae are ye, brave Earlstoun,
“The foremost o’ your company!
“But yield your weapons ane an’ a’;
“O yield your weapons, lads, to me;
“For, gin ye’ll yield your weapons up,
“Ye’se a’ gae hame to your country.”
Out up then spak a Lennox lad,
And waly but he spak bonnily!
“I winna yield my weapons up,
“To you nor nae man that I see.”
Then he set up the flag o’ red,
A’ set about wi’ bonny blue;
“Since ye’ll no cease, and be at peace,
“See that ye stand by ither true.”
They stell’d[B] their cannons on the height,
And showr’d their shot down in the how;[C]
An’ beat our Scots lads even down,
Thick they lay slain on every know.[D]
As e’er you saw the rain down fa’,
Or yet the arrow frae the bow,—
Sae our Scottish lads fell even down,
An’ they lay slain on every know.
“O, hold your hand,” then Monmouth cry’d,
“Gie quarters to yon men for me!”
But wicked Claver’se swore an oath,
His cornet’s death reveng’d sud be.
“O hold your hand,” then Monmouth cry’d,
“If ony thing you’ll do for me;
“Hold up your hand, you cursed Graeme,
“Else a rebel to our king ye’ll be.”
Then wicked Claver’se turn’d about,
I wot an angry man was he;
And he has lifted up his hat,
And cry’d, “God bless his majesty!”
Then he’s awa to London town,
Ay e’en as fast as he can dree;
Fause witnesses he has wi’ him ta’en.
An’ ta’en Monmouth’s head f’rae his body.
Alang the brae, beyond the brig,
Mony brave man lies cauld and still;
But lang we’ll mind, and sair we’ll rue,
The bloody battle of Bothwell Hill.
Waly! an interjection.
NOTES ON THE BATTLE OF BOTHWELL-BRIDGE.
Then he set up the flag of red,
A’ set about wi’ bonnie blue.—P. 91. v. 1.
Blue was the favourite colour of the Covenanters; hence the vulgar phrase of a true blue whig. Spalding informs us, that when the first army of Covenanters entered Aberdeen, few or none “wanted a blue ribband; the lord Gordon, and some others of the marquis (of Huntley’s) family had a ribband, when they were dwelling in the town, of a red fresh colour, which they wore in their hats, and called it the royal ribband, as a sign of their love and loyalty to the king. In despite and derision thereof, this blue ribband was worn, and called the Covenanter’s ribband, by the hail soldiers of the army, who would not hear of the royal ribband, such was their pride and malice.”—Vol. I. p. 123. After the departure of this first army, the town was occupied by the barons of the royal party, till they were once more expelled by the Covenanters, who plundered the burgh and country adjacent; “no fowl, cock, or hen, left unkilled, the hail house-dogs, messens (i.e. lap-dogs), and whelps, within Aberdeen, killed upon the streets; so that neither hound, messen, nor other dog, was left alive that they could see: the reason was this,—when the first army came here, ilk captain and soldier had a blue ribband about his craig (i.e. neck); in despite and derision whereof, when they removed from Aberdeen, some women of Aberdeen, as was alleged, knit blue ribbands about their messens’ craigs, whereat their soldiers took offence, and killed all their dogs for this very cause.”—P. 160.
I have seen one of the ancient banners of the Covenanters: it was divided into four copartments, inscribed with the words, Christ—Covenant—King—Kingdom. Similar standards are mentioned in Spalding’s curious and minute narrative, Vol. II. pp. 182, 245.
Hold up your hand, ye cursed Graeme,
Else a rebel to our king ye’ll be.—P, 91. v. 5.
It is very extraordinary, that, in April, 1685, Claverhouse was left out of the new commission of privy council, as being too favourable to the fanatics. The pretence was his having married into the presbyterian family of lord Dundonald. An act of council was also past, regulating the payment of quarters, which is stated by Fountainhall to have been done in odium of Claverhouse, and in order to excite complaints against him. This charge, so inconsistent with the nature and conduct of Claverhouse, seems to have been the fruit of a quarrel betwixt him and the lord high treasurer. FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. p. 360.
That Claverhouse was most unworthily accused of mitigating the persecution of the Covenanters, will appear from the following simple, but very affecting narrative, extracted from one of the little publications which appeared soon after the Revolution, while the facts were fresh in the memory of the sufferers. The imitation of the scriptural stile produces, in some passages of these works, an effect not unlike what we feel in reading the beautiful book of Ruth. It is taken from the life of Mr Alexander Peden,[A] printed about 1720.
“In the beginning of May, 1685, he came to the house of John Brown and Marion Weir, whom he married before he went to Ireland, where he stayed all night; and, in the morning when he took farewell, he came out of the door, saying to himself, “Poor woman, a fearful morning,” twice over. “A dark misty morning!” The next morning, between five and six hours, the said John Brown having performed the worship of God in his family, was going, with a spade in his hand, to make ready some peat ground: the mist being very dark, he knew not until cruel and bloody Claverhouse compassed him with three troops of horse, brought him to his house, and there examined him; who, though he was a man of a stammering speech, yet answered him distinctly and solidly; which made Claverhouse to examine those whom he had taken to be his guides through the muirs, if ever they heard him preach? They answered, “No, no, he was never a preacher.” He said, “If he has never preached, meikle he has prayed in his time;” he said to John, “Go to your prayers, for you shall immediately die!” When he was praying, Claverhouse interrupted him three times; one time, that he stopt him, he was pleading that the Lord would spare a remnant, and not make a full end in the day of his anger. Claverhouse said, “I gave you time to pray, and ye are begun to preach;” he turned about upon his knees, and said, “Sir, you know neither the nature of preaching or praying, that calls this preaching.” Then continued without confusion. When ended, Claverhouse said, “Take goodnight of your wife and children.” His wife, standing by with her child in her arms that she had brought forth to him, and another child of his first wife’s, he came to her, and said, “Now, Marion, the day is come, that I told you would come, when I spake first to you of marrying me.” She said, “Indeed, John, I can willingly part with you.”—”Then,” he said, “this is all I desire, I have no more to do but die.” He kissed his wife and bairns, and wished purchased and promised blessings to be multiplied upon them, and his blessing. Clavers ordered six soldiers to shoot him; the most part of the bullets came upon his head, which scattered his brains upon the ground. Claverhouse said to his wife, “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” She said, “I thought ever much of him, and now as much as ever.” He said, “It were justice to lay thee beside him.” She said, “If ye were permitted, I doubt not but your cruelty would go that length; but how will ye make answer for this morning’s work?” He said, “To man I can be answerable; and for God, I will take him in my own hand.” Claverhouse mounted his horse, and marched, and left her with the corpse of her dead husband lying there; she set the bairn on the ground, and gathered his brains, and tied up his head, and straighted his body, and covered him in her plaid, and sat down, and wept over him. It being a very desart place, where never victual grew, and far from neighbours, it was some time before any friends came to her; the first that came was a very fit hand, that old singular Christian woman, in the Cummerhead, named Elizabeth Menzies, three miles distant, who had been tried with the violent death of her husband at Pentland, afterwards of two worthy sons, Thomas Weir, who was killed at Drumclog, and David Steel, who was suddenly shot afterwards when taken. The said Marion Weir, sitting upon her husband’s grave, told me, that before that, she could see no blood but she was in danger to faint; and yet she was helped to be a witness to all this, without either fainting or confusion, except when the shots were let off her eyes dazzled. His corpse were buried at the end of his house, where he was slain, with this inscription on his grave-stone:—
In earth’s cold bed, the dusty part here lies,
Of one who did the earth as dust despise!
Here, in this place, from earth he took departure;
Now, he has got the garland of the martyrs.
The enthusiasm of this personage, and of his followers, invested him, as has been already noticed, with prophetic powers; but hardly any of the stories told of him exceeds that sort of gloomy conjecture of misfortune, which the precarious situation of his sect so greatly fostered. The following passage relates to the battle of Bothwell-bridge:—”That dismal day, 22d of June, 1679, at Bothwell-bridge, when the Lord’s people fell and fled before the enemy, he was forty miles distant, near the border, and kept himself retired until the middle of the day, when some friends said to him, ‘Sir, the people are waiting for sermon,’ He answered, ‘Let them go to their prayers; for me, I neither can nor will preach any this day, for our friends are fallen and fled before the enemy, at Hamilton, and they are hacking and hewing them down, and their blood is running like water.” The feats of Peden are thus commemorated by Fountainhall, 27th of March, 1650: “News came to the privy council, that about one hundred men, well armed and appointed, had left Ireland, because of a search there for such malcontents, and landed in the west of Scotland, and joined with the wild fanatics. The council, finding that they disappointed the forces, by skulking from hole to hole, were of opinion, it were better to let them gather into a body, and draw to a head, and so they would get them altogether in a snare. They had one Mr Peden, a minister, with them, and one Isaac, who commanded them. They had frighted most part of all the country ministers, so that they durst not stay at their churches, but retired to Edinburgh, or to garrison towns; and it was sad to see whole shires destitute of preaching, except in burghs. Wherever they came they plundered arms, and particularly at my Lord Dumfries’s house.”—FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. p. 359.
“This murder was committed betwixt six and seven in the morning: Mr Peden was about ten or eleven miles distant, having been in the fields all night: he came to the house betwixt seven and eight, and desired to call in the family, that he might pray amongst them; when praying, he said, “Lord, when wilt thou avenge Brown’s blood? Oh, let Brown’s blood be precious in thy sight! and hasten the day when thou wilt avenge it, with Cameron’s, Cargil’s, and many others of our martyrs’ names; and oh! for that day, when the Lord would avenge all their bloods!” When ended, John Muirhead enquired what he meant by Brown’s blood? He said twice over, “What do I mean? Claverhouse has been at the Preshil this morning, and has cruelly murdered John Brown; his corpse are lying at the end of his house, and his poor wife sitting weeping by his corpse, and not a soul to speak a word comfortably to her.”
While we read this dismal story, we must remember Brown’s situation was that of an avowed and determined rebel, liable as such to military execution; so that the atrocity was more that of the times than of Claverhouse. That general’s gallant adherence to his master, the misguided James VII., and his glorious death on the field of victory, at Killicrankie, have tended to preserve and gild his memory. He is still remembered in the Highlands as the most successful leader of their clans. An ancient gentleman, who had borne arms for the cause of Stuart, in 1715, told the editor, that, when the armies met on the field of battle, at Sheriff-muir, a veteran chief (I think he named Gordon of Glenbucket), covered with scars, came up to the earl of Mar, and earnestly pressed him to order the Highlanders to charge, before the regular army of Argyle had completely formed their line, and at a moment when the rapid and furious onset of the clans might have thrown them into total disorder. Mar repeatedly answered, it was not yet time; till the chieftain turned from him in disdain and despair, and, stamping with rage, exclaimed aloud, “O for one hour of Dundee!”
Claverhouse’s sword (a strait cut-and-thrust blade) is in the possession of Lord Woodhouselee. In Pennycuik-house is preserved the buff-coat, which he wore at the battle of Killicrankie. The fatal shot-hole is under the arm-pit, so that the ball must have been received while his arm was raised to direct the pursuit However he came by his charm ofproof, he certainly had not worn the garment usually supposed to confer that privelage, and which is called the waistcoat of proof, or of necessity. It was thus made: “On Christmas daie, at night, a thread must be sponne of flax, by a little virgine girle, in the name of the divell: and it must be by her woven, and also wrought with the needle. In the breast, or forepart thereof, must be made with needle work, two heads; on the head, at the right side, must be a hat and a long beard; the left head must have on a crown, and it must be so horrible that it maie resemble Belzebub; and on each side of the wastcote must be made a crosse.”—SCOTT’S Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 231.
It would be now no difficult matter to bring down our popular poetry, connected with history, to the year 1745. But almost all the party ballads of that period have been already printed, and ably illustrated by Mr Ritson.
END OF HISTORICAL BALLADS.
MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER.
SCOTTISH MUSIC, AN ODE,
BY J. LEYDEN.
Again, sweet syren, breathe again
That deep, pathetic, powerful strain;
Whose melting tones, of tender woe,
Fall soft as evening’s summer dew,
That bathes the pinks and harebells blue,
Which in the vales of Tiviot blow.
Such was the song that soothed to rest.
Far in the green isle of the west,
The Celtic warrior’s parted shade;
Such are the lonely sounds that sweep
O’er the blue bosom of the deep,
Where ship-wrecked mariners are laid.
Ah! sure, as Hindú legends tell,
When music’s tones the bosom swell,
The scenes of former life return;
Ere, sunk beneath the morning star,
We left our parent climes afar,
Immured in mortal forms to mourn.
Or if, as ancient sages ween,
Departed spirits, half-unseen,
Can mingle with the mortal throng;
‘Tis when from heart to heart we roll
The deep-toned music of the soul,
That warbles in our Scottish song.
I hear, I hear, with awful dread,
The plaintive music of the dead;
They leave the amber fields of day:
Soft as the cadence of the wave,
That murmurs round the mermaid’s grave,
They mingle in the magic lay.
Sweet syren, breathe the powerful strain!
Lochroyan’s Damsel[A] sails the main;
The chrystal tower enchanted see!
“Now break,” she cries, “ye fairy charms!”
As round she sails with fond alarms,
“Now break, and set my true love free!”
Lord Barnard is to greenwood gone,
Where fair Gil Morrice sits alone,
And careless combs his yellow hair;
Ah! mourn the youth, untimely slain!
The meanest of Lord Barnard’s train
The hunter’s mangled head must bear.
Or, change these notes of deep despair,
For love’s more soothing tender air:
Sing, how, beneath the greenwood tree,
Brown Adam’s[B] love maintained her truth,
Nor would resign the exiled youth
For any knight the fair could see.
And sing the Hawk of pinion gray,[C]
To southern climes who winged his way,
For he could speak as well as fly;
Her brethren how the fair beguiled,
And on her Scottish lover smiled,
As slow she raised her languid eye.
Fair was her cheek’s carnation glow,
Like red blood on a wreath of snow;
Like evening’s dewy star her eye:
White as the sea-mew’s downy breast,
Borne on the surge’s foamy crest,
Her graceful bosom heaved the sigh.
In youth’s first morn, alert and gay,
Ere rolling years had passed away,
Remembered like a morning dream,
I heard these dulcet measures float,
In many a liquid winding note,
Along the banks of Teviot’s stream.
Sweet sounds! that oft have soothed to rest
The sorrows of my guileless breast,
And charmed away mine infant tears:
Fond memory shall your strains repeat,
Like distant echoes, doubly sweet,
That in the wild the traveller hears.
And thus, the exiled Scotian maid,
By fond alluring love betrayed
To visit Syria’s date-crowned shore;
In plaintive strains, that soothed despair,
Did “Bothwell’s banks that bloom so fair,”
And scenes of early youth, deplore.
Soft syren! whose enchanting strain
Floats wildly round my raptured brain,
I bid your pleasing haunts adieu!
Yet, fabling fancy oft shall lead
My footsteps to the silver Tweed,
Through scenes that I no more must view.
The Lass of Lochroyan—In this volume.
See the ballad, entitled, Brown Adam.
See the Gay Goss Hawk.
NOTES ON SCOTTISH MUSIC, AN ODE.
Far in the green isle of the west.—P. 103. v. 2.
The Flathinnis, or Celtic paradise.
Ah! sure, as Hindú legends tell.—P. 104. v. 1.
The effect of music is explained by the Hindús, as recalling to our memory the airs of paradise, heard in a state of pre-existence—Vide Sacontala.
Did “Bathwell’s banks that bloom so fair.”—P. 106. v. 3.
“So fell it out of late years, that an English gentleman, travelling in Palestine, not far from Jerusalem, as he passed through a country town, he heard, by chance, a woman sitting at her door, dandling her child, to sing, Bothwel bank thou blumest fair. The gentleman hereat wondered, and forthwith, in English, saluted the woman, who joyfully answered him; and said, she was right glad there to see a gentleman of our isle: and told him, that she was a Scottish woman, and came first from Scotland to Venice, and from Venice thither, where her fortune was to be the wife of an officer under the Turk; who being at that instant absent, and very soon to return, she entreated the gentleman to stay there until his return. The which he did; and she, for country sake, to shew herself the more kind and bountiful unto him, told her husband, at his home-coming, that the gentleman was her kinsman; whereupon her husband entertained him very kindly; and, at his departure gave him divers things of good value.”—Verstigan’s Restitution of Decayed Intelligence.Chap. Of the Sirnames of our Antient Families. Antwerp, 1605.
INTRODUCTION TO THE TALE OF TAMLANE.
ON THE FAIRIES OF POPULAR SUPERSTITION.
“Of airy elves, by moon-light shadows seen,
The silver token, and the circled green.—POPE.
In a work, avowedly dedicated to the preservation of the poetry and tradition of the “olden time,” it would be unpardonable to omit this opportunity of making some observations upon so interesting an article of the popular creed, as that concerning the Elves, or Fairies. The general idea of spirits, of a limited power, and subordinate nature, dwelling among the woods and mountains, is, perhaps common to all nations. But the intermixture of tribes, of languages, and religion, which has occurred in Europe, renders it difficult to trace the origin of the names which have been bestowed upon such spirits, and the primary ideas which were entertained concerning their manners and habits.
The word elf, which seems to have been the original name of the beings, afterwards denominated fairies, is of Gothic origin, and probably signified, simply, a spirit of a lower order. Thus, the Saxons had not only dun-elfen, berg-elfen,and munt-elfen, spirits of the downs, hills, and mountains; but also feld-elfen, wudu-elfen, sae-elfen, and water-elfen; spirits of the fields, of the woods, of the sea, and of the waters. In low German, the same latitude of expression occurs; for night hags are termed aluinnen, and aluen, which is sometimes Latinized eluoe. But the prototype of the English elf, is to be sought chiefly in the berg-elfen, or duergar, of the Scandinavians. From the most early of the Icelandic Sagas, as well as from the Edda itself, we learn the belief of the northern nations in a race of dwarfish spirits, inhabiting the rocky mountains, and approaching, in some respects, to the human nature. Their attributes, amongst which we recognize the features of the modern Fairy, were, supernatural wisdom and prescience, and skill in the mechanical arts, especially in the fabrication of arms. They are farther described, as capricious, vindictive, and easily irritated. The story of the elfin sword, Tyrfing, may be the most pleasing illustration of this position. Suafurlami, a Scandinavian monarch, returning from hunting, bewildered himself among the mountains. About sun-set, he beheld a large rock, and two dwarfs, sitting before the mouth of a cavern. The king drew his sword, and intercepted their retreat, by springing betwixt them and their recess, and imposed upon them the following condition of safety:—that they should make for him a faulchion, with a baldric and scabbard of pure gold, and a blade, which should divide stones and iron as a garment, and which should render the wielder ever victorious in battle. The elves complied with the requisition, and Suafurlami pursued his way home. Returning at the time appointed, the dwarfs delivered to him the famous sword Tyrfing; then, standing in the entrance of their cavern, spoke thus: “This sword, O king, shall “destroy a man every time it is brandished; but it shall “perform three atrocious deeds, and it shall be thy bane.” The king rushed forward with the charmed sword, and buried both its edges in the rock; but the dwarfs escaped into their recesses.[A] This enchanted sword emitted rays like the sun, dazzling all against whom it was brandished; it divided steel like water, and was never unsheathed without slaying a man—Hervarar Saga, p. 9. Similar to this was the enchanted sword, Skoffhung, which was taken by a pirate out of the tomb of a Norwegian monarch. Many such tales are narrated in the Sagas; but the most distinct account of the -duergar, or elves, and their attributes, is to be found in a preface of Torfaeus to the history of Hrolf Kraka, who cites a dissertation by Einar Gudmund, a learned native of Iceland. “I am firmly of opinion,” says the Icelander, “that these beings are creatures of God, consisting, like human beings, of a body and rational soul; that they are of different sexes, and capable of producing children, and subject to all human affections, as sleeping and waking, laughing and crying, poverty and wealth; and that they possess cattle, and other effects, and are obnoxious to death, like other mortals.” He proceeds to state, that the females of this race are capable of procreating with mankind; and gives an account of one who bore a child to an inhabitant of Iceland, for whom she claimed the privilege of baptism; depositing the infant, for that purpose, at the gate of the church-yard, together with a goblet of gold, as an offering.—Historia Hrolfi Krakae, a TORFAEO.
Perhaps in this, and similar tales, we may recognize something of real history. That the Fins, or ancient natives of Scandinavia, were driven into the mountains, by the invasion of Odin and his Asiatics, is sufficiently probable; and there is reason to believe, that the aboriginal inhabitants understood, better than the intruders, how to manufacture the produce of their own mines. It is therefore possible, that, in process of time, the oppressed Fins may have been transformed into the supernaturalduergar. A similar transformation has taken place among the vulgar in Scotland, regarding the Picts, or Pechs, to whom they ascribe various supernatural attributes.
Similar to the traditions of the Icelanders, are those current among the Laplanders of Finland, concerning a subterranean people, gifted with’ supernatural qualities, and inhabiting the recesses of the earth. Resembling men in their general appearance, the manner of their existence, and their habits of life, they far excel the miserable Laplanders in perfection of nature, felicity of situation, and skill in mechanical arts. From all these advantages, however, after the partial conversion of the Laplanders, the subterranean people have derived no farther credit, than to be confounded with the devils and magicians of the dark ages of Christianity; a degradation which, as will shortly be demonstrated, has been also suffered by the harmless Fairies of Albion, and indeed by the whole host of deities of learned Greece and mighty Rome. The ancient opinions are yet so firmly rooted, that the Laps of Finland, at this day, boast of an intercourse with these beings, in banquets, dances, and magical ceremonies, and even in the more intimate commerce of gallantry. They talk, with triumph, of the feasts which they have shared in the elfin caverns, where wine and tobacco, the productions of the Fairy region, went round in abundance, and whence the mortal guest, after receiving the kindest treatment and the most salutary counsel, has been conducted to his tent by an escort of his supernatural entertainers.—Jessens, de Lapponibus.
The superstitions of the islands of Feroe, concerning their Froddenskemen, or under-ground people, are derived from the duergar of Scandinavia. These beings are supposed to inhabit the interior recesses of mountains, which they enter by invisible passages. Like the Fairies, they are supposed to steal human beings. “It happened,” says Debes, p. 354, “a good while since, when the burghers of Bergen had the commerce of Feroe, that there was a man in Servaade, called Jonas Soideman, who was kept by spirits in a mountain, during the space of seven years, and at length came out; but lived afterwards in great distress and fear, lest they should again take him away; wherefore people were obliged to watch him in the night.” The same author mentions another young man, who had been carried away, and, after his return, was removed a second time upon the eve of his marriage. He returned in a short time, and narrated, that the spirit that had carried him away, was in the shape of a most beautiful woman, who pressed him to forsake his bride, and remain with her; urging her own superior beauty, and splendid appearance. He added, that he saw the men who were employed to search for him, and heard them call; but that they could not see him, nor could he answer them, till, upon his determined refusal to listen to the spirit’s persuasions, the spell ceased to operate. The kidney-shaped West Indian bean, which is sometimes driven upon the shore of the Feroes, is termed, by the natives “the Fairie’s kidney.”
In these traditions of the Gothic and Finnish tribes, we may recognize, with certainty, the rudiments of elfin superstition; but we must look to various other causes for the modifications which it has undergone. These are to be sought, 1st, in the traditions of the east; 2d, in the wreck and confusion of the Gothic mythology; 3d, in the tales of chivalry; 4th, in the fables of classical antiquity; 5th, in the influence of the Christian religion; 6th, and finally, in the creative imagination of the sixteenth century. It may be proper to notice the effect of these various causes, before stating the popular belief of our own time, regarding the Fairies.
I. To the traditions of the east, the Fairies of Britain owe, I think, little more than the appellation, by which they have been distinguished since the days of the crusade. The term “Fairy,” occurs not only in Chaucer, and in yet older English authors, but also, and more frequently, in the romance language; from which they seem to have adopted it. Ducange cites the following passage from Gul. Guiart, in Historia Francica, MS.
Plusiers parlent de Guenart,
Du Lou, de L’Asne, de Renart,
De Faëries et de Songes,
De phantosmes et de mensonges.
The Lay le Frain,enumerating the subjects of the Breton Lays, informs us expressly,
Many ther beth faëry.
By some etymologists of that learned class, who not only know whence words come, but also whither they are going, the term Fairy, or Faërie, is derived from Faë, which is again derived from Nympha. It is more probable the term is of oriental origin, and is derived from the Persic, through the medium of the Arabic. In Persic, the term Periexpresses a species of imaginary being, which resembles the Fairy in some of its qualities, and is one of the fairest creatures of romantic fancy. This superstition must have been known to the Arabs, among whom the Persian tales, or romances, even as early as the time of Mahomet, were so popular, that it required the most terrible denunciations of that legislator to proscribe them. Now, in the enunciation of the Arabs, the term Peri would sound Fairy, the letter p not occurring in the alphabet of that nation; and, as the chief intercourse of the early crusaders was with the Arabs, or Saracens, it is probable they would adopt the term according to their pronounciation. Neither will it be considered as an objection to this opinion, that in Hesychius, the Ionian term Phereas, or Pheres, denotes the satyrs of classical antiquity, if the number of words of oriental origin in that lexicographer be recollected. Of the Persian Peris, Ouseley, in his Persian Miscellanies, has described some characteristic traits, with all the luxuriance of a fancy, impregnated with the oriental association of ideas. However vaguely their nature and appearance is described, they are uniformly represented as gentle, amiable females, to whose character beneficence and beauty are essential. None of them are mischievous or malignant; none of them are deformed or diminutive, like the Gothic fairy. Though they correspond in beauty with our ideas of angels, their employments are dissimilar; and, as they have no place in heaven, their abode is different. Neither do they resemble those intelligences, whom, on account of their wisdom, the Platonists denominated Daemons; nor do they correspond either to the guardian Genii of the Romans, or the celestial virgins of paradise, whom the Arabs denominate Houri. But the Peris hover in the balmy clouds, live in the colours of the rainbow, and, as the exquisite purity of their nature rejects all nourishment grosser than the odours of flowers, they subsist by inhaling the fragrance of the jessamine and rose. Though their existence is not commensurate with the bounds of human life, they are not exempted from the common fate of mortals.—With the Peris, in Persian mythology, are contrasted the Dives, a race of beings, who differ from them in sex, appearance, and disposition. These are represented as of the male sex, cruel, wicked, and of the most hideous aspect; or, as they are described by Mr Finch, “with ugly shapes, long horns, staring eyes, shaggy hair, great fangs, ugly paws, long tails, with such horrible difformity and deformity, that I wonder the poor women are not frightened therewith.” Though they live very long, their lives are limited, and they are obnoxious to the blows of a human foe. From the malignancy of their nature, they not only wage war with mankind, but persecute the Peris with unremitting ferocity. Such are the brilliant and fanciful colours in which the imaginations of the Persian poets have depicted the charming race of the Peris; and, if we consider the romantic gallantry of the knights of chivalry, and of the crusaders, it will not appear improbable, that their charms might occasionally fascinate the fervid imagination of an amorous troubadour. But, further; the intercourse of France and Italy with the Moors of Spain, and the prevalence of the Arabic, as the language of science in the dark ages, facilitated the introduction of their mythology amongst the nations of the west. Hence, the romances of France, of Spain, and of Italy, unite in describing the Fairy as an inferior spirit, in a beautiful female form, possessing many of the amiable qualities of the eastern Peri. Nay, it seems sufficiently clear, that the romancers borrowed from the Arabs, not merely the general idea concerning those spirits, but even the names of individuals amongst them. The Peri, Mergian Banou (seeHerbelot, ap. Peri), celebrated in the ancient Persian poetry, figures in the European romances, under the various names of Mourgue La Faye, sister to King Arthur; Urgande La Deconnue, protectress of Amadis de Gaul; and the Fata Morgana of Boiardo and Ariosto. The description of these nymphs, by the troubadours and minstrels, is in no respect inferior to those of the Peris. In the tale of Sir Launfal, in Way’s Fabliaux, as well as in that of Sir Gruelan, in the same interesting collection, the reader will find the fairy of Normandy, or Bretagne, adorned with all the splendour of eastern description. The fairy Melusina, also, who married Guy de Lusignan, count of Poictou, under condition that he should never attempt to intrude upon her privacy, was of this latter class. She bore the count many children, and erected for him a magnificent castle by her magical art. Their harmony was uninterrupted, until the prying husband broke the conditions of their union, by concealing himself, to behold his wife make use of her enchanted bath. Hardly hadMelusina discovered the indiscreet intruder, than, transforming herself into a dragon, she departed with a loud yell of lamentation, and was never again visible to mortal eyes; although, even in the days of Brantome, she was supposed to be the protectress of her descendants, and was heard wailing, as she sailed upon the blast round the turrets of the castle of Lusiguan, the night before it was demolished. For the full story, the reader may consult the Bibliotheque des Romans.[A]—Gervase of Tilbury (pp. 895, and 989), assures us, that, in his days, the lovers of the Fadae, or Fairies, were numerous; and describes the rules of their intercourse with as much accuracy, as if he had himself been engaged in such an affair. Sir David Lindsay also informs us, that a leopard is the proper armorial bearing of those who spring from such intercourse, because that beast is generated by adultery of the pard and lioness. He adds, that Merlin, the prophet, was the first who adopted this cognizance, because he was “borne of faarie in adultre, and right sua the first duk of Guyenne, was borne of a fee; and, therefoir, the armes of Guyenne are a leopard.”—MS. on Heraldry, Advocates’ Library, w. 4. 13. While, however, the Fairy of warmer climes was thus held up as an object of desire and of affection, those of Britain, and more especially those of Scotland, were far from being so fortunate; but, retaining the unamiable qualities, and diminutive size of the Gothic elves, they only exchanged that term for the more popular appellation of Fairies.
Upon this, or some similar tradition, was founded the notion, which the inveteracy of national prejudice, so easily diffused in Scotland, that the ancestor of the English monarchs, Geoffrey Plantagenet, had actually married a daemon. Bowmaker, in order to explain the cruelty and ambition of Edward I., dedicates a chapter to shew “how the kings of England are descended from the devil, by the mother’s side.”—Fordun, Chron. lib. 9, cap. 6. The lord of a certain castle, called Espervel, was unfortunate enough to have a wife of the same class. Having observed, for several years, that she always left the chapel before the mass was concluded, the baron, in a fit of obstinacy or curiosity, ordered his guard to detain her by force; of which the consequence was, that, unable to support the elevation of the host, she retreated through the air, carrying with her one side of the chapel, and several of the congregation.
II. Indeed, so singularly unlucky were the British Fairies that, as has already been hinted, amid the wreck of the Gothic mythology, consequent upon the introduction of Christianity, they seem to have preserved, with difficulty, their own distinct characteristics, while, at the same time, they engrossed the mischievous attributes of several other classes of subordinate spirits, acknowledged by the nations of the north. The abstraction of children, for example, the well known practice of the modern Fairy, seems, by the ancient Gothic nations, to have rather been ascribed to a species of night-mare, or hag, than to the berg-elfen, or duergar. In the ancient legend of St Margaret, of which there is a Saxo-Norman copy, in Hickes’ Thesaurus Linguar. Septen. and one, more modern, in the Auchinleck MSS., that lady encounters a fiend, whose profession it was, among other malicious tricks, to injure new-born children and their mothers; a practice afterwards imputed to the Fairies. Gervase of Tilbury, in the Otia Imperialia, mentions certain hags, orLamiae, who entered into houses in the night-time, to oppress the inhabitants, while asleep, injure their persons and property, and carry off their children. He likewise mentions the Dracae, a sort of water spirits, who inveigle women and children into the recesses which they inhabit, beneath lakes and rivers, by floating past them, on the surface of the water, in the shape of gold rings, or cups. The women, thus seized, are employed as nurses, and, after seven years, are permitted to revisit earth. Gervase mentions one woman, in particular, who had been allured by observing a wooden dish, or cup, float by her, while washing clothes in a river. Being seized as soon as she reached the depths, she was conducted into one of these subterranean recesses, which she described as very magnificent, and employed as nurse to one of the brood of the hag who had allured her. During her residence in this capacity, having accidentally touched one of her eyes with an ointment of serpent’s grease, she perceived, at her return to the world, that she had acquired the faculty of seeing the dracae, when they intermingle themselves with men. Of this power she was, however, deprived by the touch of her ghostly mistress, whom she had one day incautiously addressed. It is a curious fact, that this story, in almost all its parts, is current in both the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, with no other variation than the substitution of Fairies for dracae, and the cavern of a hill for that of a river.[A] These water fiends are thus characterized by Heywood, in the Hierarchie—
“Spirits, that have o’er water gouvernement,
Are to mankind alike malevolent;
They trouble seas, flouds, rivers, brookes, and wels,
Meres, lakes, and love to enhabit watry cells;
Hence noisome and pestiferous vapours raise;
Besides, they men encounter divers ways.
At wreckes some present are; another sort,
Ready to cramp their joints that swim for sport:
One kind of these, the Italians fatae name,
Fee the French, we sybils, and the same;
Others white nymphs, and those that have them seen,
Night ladies some, of which Habundia queen.
Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels, p. 507.
Indeed, many of the vulgar account it extremely dangerous to touch any thing, which they may happen to find, without saining (blessing) it, the snares of the enemy being notorious and well attested. A poor woman of Tiviotdale, having been fortunate enough, as she thought herself, to find a wooden beetle, at the very time when she needed such an implement, seized it without pronouncing the proper blessing, and, carrying it home, laid it above her bed, to be ready for employment in the morning. At midnight, the window of her cottage opened, and a loud voice was heard, calling upon some one within, by a strange and uncouth name, which I have forgotten. The terrified cottager ejaculated a prayer, which, we may suppose, insured her personal safety; while the enchanted implement of housewifery, tumbling from the bed-stead, departed by the window with no small noise and precipitation. In a humorous fugitive tract, the late Dr Johnson is introduced as disputing the authenticity of an apparition, merely because the spirit assumed the shape of a tea-pot, and of a shoulder of mutton. No doubt, a case so much in point, as that we have now quoted, would have removed his incredulity.
The following Frisian superstition, related by Schott, in his Physica Curiosa, p. 362, on the authority of Cornelius a Kempen, coincides more accurately with the popular opinions concerning the Fairies, than even the dracae of Gervase, or the water-spirits of Thomas Heywood.—”In the time of the emperor Lotharius, in 830,” says he, “many spectres infested Frieseland, particularly the white nymphs of the ancients, which the moderns denominate witte wiven, who inhabited a subterraneous cavern, formed in a wonderful manner, without human art, on the top of a lofty mountain. These were accustomed to surprise benighted travellers, shepherds watching their herds and flocks, and women newly delivered, with their children; and convey them into their caverns, from which subterranean murmurs, the cries of children, the groans and lamentations of men, and sometimes imperfect words, and all kinds of musical sounds, were heard to proceed.” The same superstition is detailed by Bekker, in his World Bewitch’d, p. 196, of the English translation. As the different classes of spirits were gradually confounded, the abstraction of children seems to have been chiefly ascribed to the elves, or Fairies; yet not so entirely, as to exclude hags and witches from the occasional exertion of their ancient privilege.—In Germany, the same confusion of classes has not taken place. In the beautiful ballads of the Erl King, the Water King, and the Mer-Maid, we still recognize the ancient traditions of the Goths, concerning the wald-elven, and the dracae.
A similar superstition, concerning abstraction by daemons, seems, in the time of Gervase of Tilbury, to have pervaded the greatest part of Europe. “In Catalonia,” says that author, “there is a lofty mountain, named Cavagum, at the foot of which runs a river with golden sands, in the vicinity of which there are likewise mines of silver. This mountain is steep, and almost inaccessible. On its top, which is always covered with ice and snow, is a black and bottomless lake, into which if a stone be thrown, a tempest suddenly rises; and near this lake, though invisible to men, is the porch of the palace of daemons. In a town adjacent to this mountain, named Junchera, lived one Peter de Cabinam. Being one day teazed with the fretfulness of his young daughter, he, in his impatience, suddenly wished that the devil might take her; when she was immediately borne away by the spirits. About seven years afterwards, an inhabitant of the same city, passing by the mountain, met a man, who complained bitterly of the burthen he was constantly forced to bear. Upon enquiring the cause of his complaining, as he did not seem to carry any load, the man related, that he had been unwarily devoted to the spirits by an execration, and that they now employed him constantly as a vehicle of burthen. As a proof of his assertion, he added, that the daughter of his fellow-citizen was detained by the spirits, but that they were willing to restore her, if her father would come and demand her on the mountain. Peter de Cabinam, on being informed of this, ascended the mountain to the lake, and, in the name of God, demanded his daughter; when, a tall, thin, withered figure, with wandering eyes, and almost bereft of understanding, was wafted to him in a blast of wind. After some time, the person, who had been employed as the vehicle of the spirits, also returned, when he related where the palace of the spirits was situated; but added, that none were permitted to enter but those who devoted themselves entirely to the spirits; those, who had been rashly committed to the devil by others, being only permitted, during their probation, to enter the porch.” It may be proper to observe, that the superstitious idea, concerning the lake on the top of the mountain, is common to almost every high hill in Scotland. Wells, or pits, on the top of high hills, were likewise supposed to lead to the subterranean habitations of the Fairies. Thus, Gervase relates, (p. 975), “that he was informed the swine-herd of William Peverell, an English baron, having lost a brood-sow, descended through a deep abyss, in the middle of an ancient ruinous castle, situated on the top of a hill, called Bech, in search of it. Though a violent wind commonly issued from this pit, he found it calm; and pursued his way, till he arrived at a subterraneous region, pleasant and cultivated, with reapers cutting down corn, though the snow remained on the surface of the ground above. Among the ears of corn he discovered his sow, and was permitted to ascend with her, and the pigs which she had farrowed.” Though the author seems to think that the inhabitants of this cave might be Antipodes, yet, as many such stories are related of the Fairies, it is probable that this narration is of the same kind. Of a similar nature seems to be another superstition, mentioned by the same author, concerning the ringing of invisible bells, at the hour of one, in a field in the vicinity of Carleol, which, as he relates, was denominated Laikibraine, or Lai ki brait. From all these tales, we may perhaps be justified in supposing, that the faculties and habits ascribed to the Fairies, by the superstition of latter days, comprehended several, originally attributed to other classes of inferior spirits.
III. The notions, arising from the spirit of chivalry, combined to add to the Fairies certain qualities, less atrocious, indeed, but equally formidable, with those which they derived from the last mentioned source, and alike inconsistent with the powers of the duergar, whom we may term their primitive prototype. From an early period, the daring temper of the northern tribes urged them to defy even the supernatural powers. In the days of Caesar, the Suevi were described, by their countrymen, as a people, with whom the immortal gods dared not venture to contend. At a later period, the historians of Scandinavia paint their heroes and champions, not as bending at the altar of their deities, but wandering into remote forests and caverns, descending into the recesses of the tomb, and extorting boons, alike from gods and daemons, by dint of the sword, and battle-axe. I will not detain the reader by quoting instances, in which heaven is thus described as having been literally attempted by storm. He may consult Saxo, Olaus Wormius, Olaus Magnus, Torfaeus, Bartholin, and other northern antiquaries. With such ideas of superior beings, the Normans, Saxons, and other Gothic tribes, brought their ardent courage to ferment yet more highly in the genial climes of the south, and under the blaze of romantic chivalry. Hence, during the dark ages, the invisible world was modelled after the material; and the saints, to the protection of whom the knights-errant were accustomed to recommend themselves, were accoutered like preux chevaliers, by the ardent imaginations of their votaries. With such ideas concerning the inhabitants of the celestial regions, we ought not to be surprised to find the inferior spirits, of a more dubious nature and origin, equipped in the same disguise. Gervase of Tilbury (Otia Imperial, ap. Script, rer. Brunsvic, Vol. I. p. 797.) relates the following popular story concerning a Fairy Knight. “Osbert, a bold and powerful baron, visited a noble family in the vicinity of Wandlebury, in the bishopric of Ely. Among other stories related in the social circle of his friends, who, according to custom, amused each other by repeating ancient tales and traditions, he was informed, that if any knight, unattended, entered an adjacent plain by moon-light, and challenged an adversary to appear, he would be immediately encountered by a spirit in the form of a knight. Osbert resolved to make the experiment, and set out, attended by a single squire, whom he ordered to remain without the limits of the plain, which was surrounded by an ancient entrenchment. On repeating the challenge, he was instantly assailed by an adversary, whom he quickly unhorsed, and seized the reins of his steed. During this operation, his ghostly opponent sprung up, and, darting his spear, like a javelin, at Osbert, wounded him in the thigh. Osbert returned in triumph with the horse, which he committed to the care of his servants. The horse was of a sable colour, as well as his whole accoutrements, and apparently of great beauty and vigour. He remained with his keeper till cock-crowing, when, with eyes flashing fire, he reared, spurned the ground, and vanished. On disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he was wounded, and that one of his steel boots was full of blood. Gervase adds, that, as long as he lived, the scar of his wound opened afresh on the anniversary of the eve on which he encountered the spirit.”[A] Less fortunate was the gallant Bohemian knight, who, travelling by night, with a single companion, came in sight of a fairy host, arrayed under displayed banners. Despising the remonstrances of his friend, the knight pricked forward to break a lance with a champion who advanced from the ranks, apparently in defiance. His companion beheld the Bohemian over-thrown horse and man, by his aërial adversary; and, returning to the spot next morning, he found the mangled, corpse of the knight and steed.—Hierarchie of Blessed Angels, p. 554.
The unfortunate Chatterton was not, probably, acquainted with Gervase of Tilbury; yet he seems to allude, in the Battle of Hastings, to some modification of Sir Osbert’s adventure:
So who they be that ouphant fairies strike,
Their souls shall wander to King Offa’s dike.
The entrenchment, which served as lists for the combatants, is said by Gervase to have been the work of the pagan invaders of Britain. In the metrical romance ofArthour and Merlin, we have also an account of Wandlesbury being occupied by the Sarasins, i.e. the Saxons; for all pagans were Saracens with the romancers. I presume the place to have been Wodnesbury, in Wiltshire, situated on the remarkable mound, called Wansdike, which is obviously a Saxon work.—GOUGH’SCambden’s Britannia, pp. 87—95.
To the same current of warlike ideas, we may safely attribute the long train of military processions which the Fairies are supposed occasionally to exhibit. The elves, indeed, seem in this point to be identified with the aërial host, termed, during the middle ages, the Milites Herlikini, or Herleurini, celebrated by Pet. Blesensis, and termed, in the life of St Thomas of Canterbury, the Familia Helliquinii. The chief of this band was originally a gallant knight and warrior; but, having spent his whole possessions in the service of the emperor, and being rewarded with scorn, and abandoned to subordinate oppression, he became desperate, and, with his sons and followers, formed a band of robbers. After committing many ravages, and defeating all the forces sent against him, Hellequin, with his whole troop, fell in a bloody engagement with the Imperial host. His former good life was supposed to save him from utter reprobation; but he and his followers were condemned, after death, to a state of wandering, which should endure till the last day. Retaining their military habits, they were usually seen in the act of justing together, or in similar warlike employments. See the ancient French romance of Richard sans Peur. Similar to this was the Nacht Lager, or midnight camp, which seemed nightly to beleaguer the walls of Prague,
“With ghastly faces thronged, and fiery arms,”
but which disappeared upon recitation of the magical words, Vezelé, Vezelé, ho! ho! ho!—For similar delusions, see DELRIUS, pp. 294, 295.
The martial spirit of our ancestors led them to defy these aërial warriors; and it is still currently believed, that he, who has courage to rush upon a fairy festival, and snatch from them their drinking cup, or horn, shall find it prove to him a cornucopia of good fortune, if he can bear it in safety across a running stream. Such a horn is said to have been presented to Henry I. by a lord of Colchester.—GERVAS TILB. p. 980. A goblet is still carefully preserved in Edenhall, Cumberland, which is supposed to have been seized at a banquet of the elves, by one of the ancient family of Musgrave; or, as others say, by one of their domestics, in the manner above described. The Fairy train vanished, crying aloud,
If this glass do break or fall,
Farewell the luck of Edenhall!
The goblet took a name from the prophecy, under which it is mentioned, in the burlesque ballad, commonly attributed to the duke of Wharton, but in reality composed by Lloyd, one of his jovial companions. The duke, after taking a draught, had nearly terminated the “luck of Edenhall,” had not the butler caught the cup in a napkin, as it dropped from his grace’s hands. I understand it is not now subjected to such risques, but the lees of wine are still apparent at the bottom.
God prosper long, from being broke,
The luck of Edenhall.—Parody on Chevy Chace.
Some faint traces yet remain, on the borders, of a conflict of a mysterious and terrible nature, between mortals and the spirits of the wilds. This superstition is incidentally alluded to by Jackson, at the beginning of the 17th century. The fern seed, which is supposed to become visible only on St John’s Eve,[A] and at the very moment when the Baptist was born, is held by the vulgar to be under the special protection of the queen of Faëry. But, as the seed was supposed to have the quality of rendering the possessor invisible at pleasure,[B] and to be also of sovereign use in charms and incantations, persons of courage, addicted to these mysterious arts, were wont to watch in solitude, to gather it at the moment when it should become visible. The particular charms, by which they fenced themselves during this vigil, are now unknown; but it was reckoned a feat of no small danger, as the person undertaking it was exposed to the most dreadful assaults from spirits, who dreaded the effect of this powerful herb in the hands of a cabalist. Such were the shades, which the original superstition, concerning the. Fairies, received from the chivalrous sentiments of the middle ages.
On that thrice hallowed eve abroad,
When goblins haunt, from fire and fen.
And wood and lake, the steps of men.
COLLINS’S Ode to Fear.
The whole history of St John the Baptist was, by our ancestors, accounted mysterious, and connected with their own superstitions. The fairy queen was sometimes identified with Herodias.—DELRII Disquisitiones Magicae, pp. 168. 807. It is amusing to observe with what gravity the learned Jesuit contends, that it is heresy to believe that this celebrated figurante (saltatricula) still leads choral dances upon earth!
This is alluded to by Shakespeare, and other authors of his time:
“We have the receipt of fern-seed; we walk invisible.”
Henry IV. Part 1st, Act 2d, Sc. 3.
IV. An absurd belief in the fables of classical antiquity lent an additional feature to the character of the woodland spirits of whom we treat. Greece and Rome had not only assigned tutelary deities to each province and city, but had peopled, with peculiar spirits, the Seas, the Rivers, the Woods, and the Mountains. The memory of the pagan creed was not speedily eradicated, in the extensive provinces through which it was once universally received; and, in many particulars, it continued long to mingle with, and influence, the original superstitions of the Gothic nations. Hence, we find the elves occasionally arrayed in the costume of Greece and Rome, and the Fairy Queen and her attendants transformed into Diana and her nymphs, and invested with their attributes and appropriate insignia.—DELRIUS, pp. 168, 807. According to the same author, the Fairy Queen was also called Habundia. Like Diana, who, in one capacity, was denominated Hecate, the goddess of enchantment, the Fairy Queen is identified in popular tradition, with theGyre-Carline, Gay Carline, or mother witch, of the Scottish peasantry. Of this personage, as an individual, we have but few notices. She is sometimes termed Nicneven,and is mentioned in the Complaynt of Scotland, by Lindsay in his Dreme, p. 225, edit. 1590, and in his Interludes, apud PINKERTON’S Scottish Poems, Vol. II. p. 18. But the traditionary accounts regarding her are too obscure to admit of explanation. In the burlesque fragment subjoined, which is copied from the Bannatyne MS. the Gyre Carline is termed the Queen of Jowis (Jovis, or perhaps Jews), and is, with great consistency, married to Mohammed.[A]
Quhen Tynto hills fra skraipiug of toun-henis was keipit,
Thair dwelt are grit Gyre Carling in awld Betokis bour,
That levit upoun Christiane menis flesche, and rewheids unleipit;
Thair wynit ane hir by, on the west syde, callit Blasour,
For luve of hir lanchane lippis, he walit and he weipit;
He gadderit are menzie of modwartis to warp doun the tour:
The Carling with are yren club, quhen yat Blasour sleipit,
Behind the heil scho hat him sic ane blaw,
Quhil Blasour bled ane quart
Off milk pottage inwart,
The Carling luche, and lut fart
North Berwik Law.
The king of fary than come, with elfis many ane,
And sett are sege, and are salt, with grit pensallis of pryd;
And all the doggis fra Dunbar wes thair to Dumblane,
With all the tykis of Tervey, come to thame that tyd;
Thay quelle doune with thair gonnes mony grit stane,
The Carling schup hir on ane sow, and is her gaitis gane,
Grunting our the Greik sie, and durst na langer byd,
For bruklyng of bargane, and breikhig of browis:
The Carling now for dispyte
Is maieit with Mahomyte,
And will the doggis interdyte,
For scho is queue of Jowis.
Sensyne the cockis of Crawmound crew nevir at day,
For dule of that devillisch deme wes with Mahoun mareit,
And the henis of Hadingtoun sensyne wald not lay,
For this wild wibroun wich thame widlit sa and wareit;
And the same North Berwik Law, as I heir wyvis say,
This Carling, with a fals east, wald away careit;
For to luck on quha sa lykis, na langer scho tareit:
All this languor for love before tymes fell,
Lang or Betok was born,
Scho bred of ane accorne;
The laif of the story to morne,
To you I sall telle.
But chiefly in Italy were traced many dim characters of ancient mythology, in the creed of tradition. Thus, so lately as 1536, Vulcan, with twenty of his Cyclops, is stated to have presented himself suddenly to a Spanish merchant, travelling in the night, through the forests of Sicily; an apparition, which was followed by a dreadful eruption of Mount Aetna.—Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels, p. 504 Of this singular mixture, the reader will find a curious specimen in the following tale, wherein the Venus of antiquity assumes the manners of one of the Fays, or Fatae, of romance. “In the year 1058, a young man of noble birth had been married at Rome, and, during the period of his nuptial feast, having gone with his companions to play at ball, he put his marriage ring on the finger of a broken statue of Venus in the area, to remain, while he was engaged in the recreation. Desisting from the exercise, he found the finger, on which he had put his ring, contracted firmly against the palm, and attempted in vain either to break it, or to disengage his ring. He concealed the circumstance from his companions, and returned at night with a servant, when he found the finger extended, and his ring gone. He dissembled the loss, and returned to his wife; but, whenever he attempted to embrace her, he found himself prevented by something dark and dense, which was tangible, though not visible, interposing between them; and he heard a voice saying, ‘Embrace me! for I am Venus, whom this day you wedded, and I will not restore your ring.’ As this was constantly repeated, he consulted his relations, who had recourse to Palumbus, a priest, skilled in necromancy. He directed the young man to go, at a certain hour of night, to a spot among the ruins of ancient Rome, where four roads met, and wait silently till he saw a company pass by, and then, without uttering a word, to deliver a letter, which he gave him, to a majestic being, who rode in a chariot, after the rest of the company. The young man did as he was directed; and saw a company of all ages, sexes, and ranks, on horse and on foot, some joyful and others sad, pass along; among whom he distinguished a woman in a meretricious dress, who, from the tenuity of her garments, seemed almost naked. She rode on a mule; her long hair, which flowed over her shoulders, was bound with a golden fillet; and in her hand was a golden rod, with which she directed her mule. In the close of the procession, a tall majestic figure appeared in a chariot, adorned with emeralds and pearls, who fiercely asked the young man, ‘What he did there?’ He presented the letter in silence, which the daemon dared not refuse. As soon as he had read, lifting up his hands to heaven, he exclaimed, ‘Almighty God! how long wilt thou endure the iniquities of the sorcerer Palumbus!’ and immediately dispatched some of his attendants, who, with much difficulty, extorted the ring from Venus, and restored it to its owner, whose infernal banns were thus dissolved.”—FORDUNI Scotichronicon, Vol. I. p. 407, cura GOODALL.
But it is rather in the classical character of an infernal deity, that the elfin queen may be considered, than as Hecate, the patroness of magic; for not only in the romance writers, but even in Chaucer, are the Fairies identified with the ancient inhabitants of the classical hell. Thus Chaucer, in his Marchand’s Tale, mentions
Pluto that is king of fayrie—and
Proserpine and all her fayrie.
In the Golden Terge of Dunbar, the same phraseology is adopted: Thus,
Thair was Pluto that elricke incubus
In cloke of grene, his court usit in sable.
Even so late as 1602, in Harsenet’s Declaration of Popish Imposture, p. 57, Mercury is called Prince of the Fairies.
But Chaucer, and those poets who have adopted his phraseology, have only followed the romance writers; for the same substitution occurs in the romance of Orfeo and Heurodis, in which the story of Orpheus and Eurydice is transformed into a beautiful romantic tale of faëry, and the Gothic mythology engrafted on the fables of Greece.Heurodis is represented as wife of Orfeo, and queen of Winchester, the ancient name of which city the romancer, with unparalleled ingenuity, discovers to have been Traciens, or Thrace. The monarch, her husband, had a singular genealogy:
His fader was comen of King Pluto,
And his moder of King Juno;
That sum time were as godes y-holde,
For aventours that thai dede and tolde.
Reposing, unwarily, at noon, under the shade of an ymp tree,[A] Heurodis dreams that she is accosted by the King of Fairies,
With an hundred knights and mo,
And damisels an hundred also,
Al on snowe white stedes;
As white as milke were her wedes;
Y no seigh never yete bifore,
So fair creatours y-core:
The kinge hadde a croun on hed,
It nas of silver, no of golde red,
Ac it was of a precious ston:
As bright as the sonne it schon.
Ymp tree—According to the general acceptation, this only signifies a grafted tree; whether it should he here understood to mean a tree consecrated to the imps, or fairies, is left with the reader.
The King of Fairies, who had obtained power over the queen, perhaps from her sleeping at noon in his domain, orders her, under the penalty of being torn to pieces, to await him to-morrow under the ymp tree, and accompany him to Fairy-Land. She relates her dream to her husband, who resolves to accompany her, and attempt her rescue:
A morwe the under tide is come,
And Orfeo hath his armes y-nome,
And wele ten hundred knights with him,
Ich y-armed stout and grim;
And with the quen wenten he,
Right upon that ympe tre.
Thai made scheltrom in iche aside,
And sayd thai wold there abide,
And dye ther everichon,
Er the qeun schuld fram hem gon:
Ac yete amiddes hem ful right,
The quen was oway y-twight,
With Fairi forth y-nome,
Men wizt never wher sche was become.
After this fatal catastrophe, Orfeo, distracted for the loss of his queen, abandons his throne, and, with his harp, retires into a wilderness, where he subjects himself to every kind of austerity, and attracts the wild beasts by the pathetic melody of his harp. His state of desolation is poetically described:
He that werd the fowe and griis,
And on bed the purpur biis,
Now on bard hethe he lith.
With leves and gresse he him writh:
He that had castells and tours,
Rivers, forests, frith with flowrs.
Now thei it commence to snewe and freze,
This king mot make his bed in mese:
He that had y-had knightes of priis,
Bifore him kneland and leuedis,
Now seth he no thing that him liketh,
Bot wild wormes bi him striketh:
He that had y-had plente
Of mete and drinke, of ich deynte,
Now may he al daye digge and wrote,
Er he find his fille of rote.
In sorner he liveth bi wild fruit,
And verien hot gode lite.
In winter may he no thing find,
Bot rotes, grases, and the rinde.
His here of his herd blac and rowe,
To his girdel stede was growe;
His harp, whereon was al his gle,
He hidde in are holwe tre:
And, when the weder was clere and bright,
He toke his harpe to him wel right,
And harped at his owen will,
Into al the wode the soun gan shill,
That al the wild bestes that ther beth
For joie abouten him thai teth;
And al the foules that ther wer,
Come and sete on ich a brere,
To here his harping a fine,
So miche melody was therein.
At last he discovers, that he is not the sole inhabitant of this desart; for
He might se him besides
Oft in hot undertides,
The king of Fairi, with his route,
Come to hunt him al about,
With dim cri and bloweing,
And houndes also with him berking;
Ac no best thai no nome,
No never he nist whider thai bi come.
And other while he might hem se
As a gret ost bi him te,
Well atourued ten hundred knightes,
Ich y-armed to his rightes,
Of cuntenance stout and fers,
With mani desplaid baners;
And ich his sword y-drawe hold,
Ac never he nist whider thai wold.
And otherwhile he seighe other thing;
Knightis and lenedis com daunceing,
In queynt atire gisely,
Queyete pas and softlie:
Tabours and trumpes gede hem bi,
And al mauer menstraci.—
And on a day he seighe him biside,
Sexti leuedis on hors ride,
Gentil and jolif as brid on ris;
Nought o man amonges hem ther nis;
And ich a faucoun on bond bere,
And riden on hauken bi o river.
Of game thai found wel gode haunt,
Maulardes, hayroun, and cormoraunt;
The foules of the water ariseth,
Ich faucoun hem wele deviseth,
Ich fancoun his pray slough,
That seize Orfeo and lough.
“Par fay,” quoth he, “there is fair game,
“Hider Ichil bi Godes name,
“Ich was y won swich work to se:”
He aros, and thider gan te;
To a leuedie hi was y-come,
Bihelde, and hath wel under nome,
And seth, bi al thing, that is
His owen quen, dam Heurodis;
Gern hi biheld her, and sche him eke,
Ac nouther to other a word no speke:
For messais that sche on him seighe,
That had ben so riche and so heighe,
The teres fel out of her eighe;
The other leuedis this y seighe,
And maked hir oway to ride,
Sche most with him no longer obide.
“Allas!” quoth he, “nowe is mi woe,
“Whi nil deth now me slo;
“Allas! to long last mi liif,
“When y no dare nought with mi wif,
“Nor hye to me o word speke;
“Allas whi nil miin hert breke!
“Par fay,” quoth he, “tide what betide,
“Whider so this leuedis ride,
“The selve way Ichil streche;
“Of liif, no dethe, me no reche.
In consequence, therefore, of this discovery Orfeo pursues the hawking damsels, among whom he has descried his lost queen. They enter a rock, the king continues the pursuit, and arrives at Fairy-Land, of which the following very poetical description is given:
In at roche the leuedis rideth,
And he after and nought abideth;
When he was in the roche y-go,
Wele thre mile other mo,
He com into a fair cuntray,
As bright soonne somers day,
Smothe and plain and al grene,
Hill no dale nas none ysene,
Amiddle the loud a castel he seighe,
Rich and reale and wonder heighe;
Al the utmast wal
Was cler and schine of cristal;
An hundred tours ther were about,
Degiselich and bataild stout;
The butrass come out of the diche,
Of rede gold y-arched riche;
The bousour was anowed al,
Of ich maner deuers animal;
Within ther wer wide wones
Al of precious stones,
The werss piler onto biholde,
Was al of burnist gold:
Al that loud was ever light,
For when it schuld be therk and night,
The riche stonnes light gonne,
Bright as doth at nonne the sonne
No man may tel, no thenke in thought.
The riche werk that ther was rought.
Than he gan biholde about al,
And seighe ful liggeand with in the wal,
Of folk that wer thidder y-brought,
And thought dede and nere nought;
Sum stode with outen hadde;
And some none armes nade;
And sum thurch the bodi hadde wounde;
And sum lay wode y-bounde;
And sum armed on hors sete;
And sum astrangled as thai ete;
And sum war in water adreynt;
And sum with fire al for schreynt;
Wives ther lay on childe bedde;
Sum dede, and sum awedde;
And wonder fere ther lay besides,
Right as thai slepe her undertides;
Eche was thus in this warld y-nome,
With fairi thider y-come.[A]
There he seize his owhen wiif,
Dame Heurodis, his liif liif,
Slepe under an ympe tree:
Bi her clothes he knewe that it was he,
And when he had bihold this mervalis alle,
He went into the kinges halle;
Then seigh he there a semly sight,
A tabernacle blisseful and bright;
Ther in her maister king sete,
And her quen fair and swete;
Her crounes, her clothes schine so bright,
That unnethe bihold he hem might.
Orfeo and Heurodis, MS.
It was perhaps from such a description that Ariosto adopted his idea of the Lunar Paradise, containing every thing that on earth was stolen or lost.
Orfeo, as a minstrel, so charms the Fairy King with the music of his harp, that he promises to grant him whatever he should ask. He immediately demands his lost Heurodis; and, returning safely with her to Winchester, resumes his authority; a catastrophe, less pathetic indeed, but more pleasing, than that of the classical story. The circumstances, mentioned in this romantic legend, correspond very exactly with popular tradition. Almost all the writers on daemonology mention, as a received opinion that the power of the daemons is most predominant at noon and midnight. The entrance to the Land of Faëry is placed in the wilderness; a circumstance, which coincides with a passage in Lindsay’sComplaint of the Papingo:
Bot sen my spreit mon from my bodye go,
I recommend it to the queue of Fary,
Eternally into her court to tarry
In wilderness amang the holtis hair.
LINDSAY’S Works, 1592, p. 222.
Chaucer also agrees, in this particular, with our romancer:
In his sadel he clombe anon,
And priked over stile and ston,
An elf quene for to espie;
Til he so long had riden and gone
That he fond in a privie wone
The countree of Faërie.
Wherein he soughte north and south,
And often spired with his mouth,
In many a foreste wilde;
For in that countree nas ther non,
That to him dorst ride or gon,
Neither wif ne childe.
Rime of Sir Thopas.
V. Other two causes, deeply affecting the superstition of which we treat, remain yet to be noticed. The first is derived from the Christian religion, which admits only of two classes of spirits, exclusive of the souls of men—Angels, namely, and Devils. This doctrine had a necessary tendency to abolish the distinction among subordinate spirits, which had been introduced by the superstitions of the Scandinavians. The existence of the Fairies was readily admitted; but, as they had no pretensions to the angelic character, they were deemed to be of infernal origin. The union, also, which had been formed betwixt the elves and the Pagan deities, was probably of disservice to the former; since every one knows, that the whole synod of Olympus were accounted daemons.
The fulminations of the church were, therefore, early directed against those, who consulted or consorted with the Fairies; and, according to the inquisitorial logic, the innocuous choristers of Oberon and Titania were, without remorse, confounded with the sable inhabitants of the orthodox Gehennim; while the rings, which marked their revels, were assimilated to the blasted sward on which the witches held their infernal sabbath.—Delrii Disq. Mag. p. 179. This transformation early took place; for, among the many crimes for which the famous Joan of Arc was called upon to answer, it was not the least heinous, that she had frequented the Tree and Fountain, near Dompré, which formed the rendezvous of the Fairies, and bore their name; that she had joined in the festive dance with the elves, who haunted this charmed spot; had accepted of their magical bouquets, and availed herself of their talismans, for the delivery of her country.—Vide Acta Judiciaria contra Johannam D’Arceam, vulgo vocutam Johanne la Pucelle.
The Reformation swept away many of the corruptions of the church of Rome; but the purifying torrent remained itself somewhat tinctured by the superstitious impurities of the soil over which it had passed. The trials of sorcerers and witches, which disgrace our criminal records, become even more frequent after the Reformation of the church; as if human credulity, no longer amused by the miracles of Rome, had sought for food in the traditionary records of popular superstition. A Judaical observation of the precepts of the Old Testament also characterized the Presbyterian reformers. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” was a text, which at once (as they conceived) authorized their belief in sorcery, and sanctioned the penalty which they denounced against it. The Fairies were, therefore, in no better credit after the Reformation than before, being still regarded as actual daemons, or something very little better. A famous divine, Doctor Jasper Brokeman, teaches us, in his system of divinity, “that they inhabit in those places that are polluted with any crying sin, as effusion of blood, or where unbelief or superstitione have gotten the upper hand.”—Description of Feroe. The Fairies being on such bad terms with the divines, those, who pretended to intercourse with them, were, without scruple, punished as sorcerers; and such absurd charges are frequently stated as exaggerations of crimes, in themselves sufficiently heinous.
Such is the case in the trial of the noted Major Weir, and his sister; where the following mummery interlards a criminal indictment, too infamously flagitious to be farther detailed: “9th April, 1670. Jean Weir, indicted of sorceries, committed by her when she lived and kept a school at Dalkeith: that she took employment from a woman, to speak in her behalf to the Queen of Fairii, meaning the Devil; and that another woman gave her a piece of a tree, or root, the next day, and did tell her, that as long as she kept the same, she should be able to do what she pleased; and that same woman, from whom she got the tree, caused her spread a cloth before her door, and set her foot upon it, and to repeat thrice, in the posture foresaid, these words, ‘All her losses and crosses go alongst to the doors,’ which was truly a consulting with the devil, and an act of sorcery, &c. That after the spirit, in the shape of a woman, who gave her the piece of tree, had removed, she, addressing herself to spinning, and having spun but a short time, found more yarn upon the pirn than could possibly have come there by good means.”[A]—Books of Adjournal.
It is observed in the record, that Major Weir, a man of the most vicious character, was at the same time ambitious of appearing eminently godly; and used to frequent the beds of sick persons, to assist them with his prayers. On such occasions, he put to his mouth a long staff, which he usually carried, and expressed himself with uncommon energy and fluency, of which he was utterly incapable when the inspiring rod was withdrawn. This circumstance, the result, probably, of a trick or habit, appearing suspicious to the judges, the staff of the sorcerer was burned along with his person. One hundred and thirty years have elapsed since his execution, yet no one has, during that space, ventured to inhabit the house of this celebrated criminal.
Neither was the judgment of the criminal court of Scotland less severe against another familiar of the Fairies, whose supposed correspondence with the court of Elfland seems to have constituted the sole crime, for which she was burned alive. Her name was Alison Pearson, and she seems to have been a very noted person. In a bitter satire against Adamson, Bishop of St Andrews, he is accused of consulting with sorcerers, particularly with this very woman; and an account is given of her travelling through Breadalbane, in the company of the Queen of Faëry, and of her descrying, in the court of Elfland, many persons, who had been supposed at rest in the peaceful grave.[A] Among these we find two remarkable personages; the secretary, young Maitland of Lethington, and one of the old lairds of Buccleuch. The cause of their being stationed in Elfland probably arose from the manner of their decease; which, being uncommon and violent, caused the vulgar to suppose that they had been abstracted by the Fairies. Lethington, as is generally supposed, died a Roman death during his imprisonment in Leith; and the Buccleuch, whom I believe to be here meant, was slain in a nocturnal scuffle by the Kerrs, his hereditary enemies. Besides, they were both attached to the cause of Queen Mary, and to the ancient religion; and were thence, probably, considered as more immediately obnoxious to the assaults of the powers of darkness.[B] The indictment of Alison Pearson notices her intercourse with the Archbishop of St Andrews, and contains some particulars, worthy of notice, regarding the court of Elfland. It runs thus: “28th May, 1586. Alison Pearson, in Byrehill, convicted of witchcraft, and of consulting with evil spirits, in the form of one Mr William Simpsone, her cosin, who she affirmed was a gritt schollar, and doctor of medicine, that healed her of her diseases when she was twelve years of age; having lost the power of her syde, and having a familiaritie with him for divers years, dealing with charms, and abuseing the common people by her arts of witchcraft, thir divers years by-past.
He sped him sone, and gat the thrid;
Ane carling of the quene of Phareis,
That ewill win geir to elpliyne careis;
Through all Brade Abane scho has bene,
On horsbak on Hallow ewin;
And ay in seiking certayne nightis,
As scho sayis with sur silly wychirs:
And names out nybours sex or sewin,
That we belevit had bene in heawin;
Scho said scho saw theme weill aneugh,
And speciallie gude auld Balcleuch,
The secretar, and sundrie uther:
Ane William Symsone, her mother brother,
Whom fra scho has resavit a buike
For ony herb scho likes to luke;
It will instruct her how to tak it,
In saws and sillubs how to mak it;
With stones that meikle mair can doe,
In leich craft, where scho lays them toe:
A thousand maladeis scho hes mendit;
Now being tane, and apprehendit,
Scho being in the bischopis cure,
And keipit in his castle sure,
Without respect of worldlie glamer,
He past into the witches chalmer.
Scottish Poems of XVI. Century, Edin. 1801,
Vol. II, p. 320.
Buccleuch was a violent enemy to the English, by whom his lands had been repeatedly plundered (See Introduction, p. xxvi), and a great advocate for the marriage betwixt Mary and the dauphin, 1549. According to John Knox, he had recourse even to threats, in urging the parliament to agree to the French match. “The laird of Buccleuch,” says the Reformer, “a bloody man, with many Gods wounds, swore, they that would not consent should do worse.”
“Item, For banting and repairing with the gude neighbours, and queene of Elfland, thir divers years by-past, as she had confest; and that she had friends in that court, which were of her own blude, who had gude acquaintance of the queene of Elfland, which might have helped her; but she was whiles well, and whiles ill, sometimes with them, a’nd other times away frae them; and that she would be in her bed haille and feire, and would not wytt where she would be the morn; and that she saw not the queene this seven years, and that she was seven years ill handled in the court of Elfland; that, however, she kad gude friends there, and that it was the gude neighbours that healed her, under God; and that she was comeing and going to St Andrews to haile folkes thir many years past.
“Item, Convict of the said act of witchcraft, in as far as she confest that the said Mr William Sympsoune, who was her guidsir sone, born in Stirleing, who was the king’s smith, who, when about eight years of age, was taken away by ane Egyptian to Egypt; which Egyptian was a gyant, where he remained twelve years, “and then came home.
“Item, That she being in Grange Muir, with some other folke, she, being sick, lay downe; and, when alone, there came a man to her, clad in green, who said to her, if she would be faithful, he would do her good; but she, being feared, cried out, but naebodye came to her; so she said, if he came in God’s name, and for the gude of her saule, it was well; but he gaid away: that he appeared to her another tyme like a lustie man, and many men and women with him; that, at seeing him, she signed herself and prayed, and past with them, and saw them making merrie with pypes, and gude cheir and wine, and that she was carried with them; and that when she telled any of these things, she was sairlie tormentit by them; and that the first time she gaed with them, she gat a sair straike frae one of them, which took all the poustie[A] of her syde frae her, and left ane ill-far’d mark on her syde.
“Item, That she saw the gude neighbours make their sawes[B] with panns and fyres, and that they gathered the herbs before the sun was up, and they came verie fearful sometimes to her, and flaide[C] her very sair, which made her cry, and threatened they would use her worse than before; and, at last, they took away the power of her haile syde frae her, which made her lye many weeks. Sometimes they would come and sitt by her, and promise all that she should never want if she would be faithful, but if she would speak and telle of them, they should murther her; and that Mr William Sympsoune is with them, who healed her, and telt her all things; that he is a young man not six years older than herself, and that he will appear to her before the court comes; that he told her he was taken away by them, and he bidd her sign herself that she be not taken away, for the teind of them are tane to hell everie year.
“Item, That the said Mr William told her what herbs were fit to cure every disease, and how to use them; and particularlie tauld, that the Bishop of St Andrews laboured under sindrie diseases, sic as the riples, trembling, feaver, flux, &c. and bade her make a sawe, and anoint several parts of his body therewith, and gave directions for making a posset, which she made and gave him.”
For this idle story the poor woman actually suffered death. Yet, notwithstanding the fervent arguments thus liberally used by the orthodox, the common people, though they dreaded even to think or speak about the Fairies, by no means unanimously acquiesced in the doctrine, which consigned them to eternal perdition. The inhabitants of the Isle of Man call them the “good people, and say they live in wilds, and forests, and on mountains, and shun great cities, because of the wickedness acted therein: all the houses are blessed where they visit, for they fly vice. A person would be thought impudently prophane who should suffer his family to go to bed, without having first set a tub, or pail, full of clean water, for those guests to bathe themselves in, which the natives aver they constantly do, as soon as ever the eyes of the family are closed, wherever they vouchsafe to come.”—WALDREN’s Works, p. 126. There are some curious, and perhaps anomalous facts, concerning the history of Fairies, in a sort of Cock-lane narrative, contained in a letter from Moses Pitt, to Dr Edward Fowler, Lord Bishop of Gloucester, printed at London in 1696, and preserved in Morgan’s Phoenix Britannicus, 4to, London 1732.
Anne Jefferies was born in the parish of St Teath, in the county of Cornwall, in 1626. Being the daughter of a poor man, she resided as servant in the house of the narrator’s father, and waited upon the narrator himself, in his childhood. As she was knitting stockings in an arbour of the garden, “six small people, all in green clothes,” came suddenly over the garden wall; at the sight of whom, being much frightened, she was seized with convulsions, and continued so long sick, that she became as a changeling, and was unable to walk. During her sickness, she frequently exclaimed, “They are just gone out of the window! they are just gone out of the window! do you not see them?” These expressions, as she afterwards declared, related to their disappearing. During the harvest, when every one was employed, her mistress walked out; and dreading that Anne, who was extremely weak and silly, might injure herself, or the house, by the fire, with some difficulty persuaded her to walk in the orchard till her return. She accidentally hurt her leg, and, at her return, Anne cured it, by stroking it with her hand. She appeared to be informed of every particular, and asserted, that she had this information from the Fairies, who had caused the misfortune. After this, she performed numerous cures, but would never receive money for them. From harvest time to Christmas, she was fed by the Fairies, and eat no other victuals but theirs. The narrator affirms, that, looking one day through the key-hole of the door of her chamber, he saw her eating; and that she gave him a piece of bread, which was the most delicious he ever tasted. The Fairies always appeared to her in even numbers; never less than two, nor more than eight, at a time. She had always a sufficient stock of salves and medicines, and yet neither made, nor purchased any; nor did she ever appear to be in want of money. She, one day, gave a silver cup, containing about a quart, to the daughter of her mistress, a girl about four years old, to carry to her mother, who refused to receive it. The narrator adds, that he had seen her dancing in the orchard among the trees, and that she informed him she was then dancing with the Fairies. The report of the strange cures which she performed, soon attracted the attention of both ministers and magistrates. The ministers endeavoured to persuade her, that the Fairies by which she was haunted, were evil spirits, and that she was under the delusion of the devil. After they had left her, she was visited by the Fairies, while in great perplexity; who desired her to cause those, who termed them evil spirits, to read that place of scripture, First Epistle of John,, chap. iv. v. 1,—Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God, &c. Though Anne Jefferies could not read, she produced a Bible folded down at this passage. By the magistrates she was confined three months, without food, in Bodmin jail, and afterwards for some time in the house of Justice Tregeagle. Before the constable appeared to apprehend her, she was visited by the Fairies, who informed her what was intended, and advised her to go with him. When this account was given, on May 1, 1696, she was still alive; but refused to relate any particulars of her connection with the Fairies, or the occasion on which they deserted her, lest she should again fall under the cognizance of the magistrates.
Anne Jefferies’ Fairies were not altogether singular in maintaining their good character, in opposition to the received opinion of the church. Aubrey and Lily, unquestionably judges in such matters, had a high opinion of these beings, if we may judge from the following succinct and business-like memorandum of a ghost-seer. “Anno 1670. Not far from Cirencester was an apparition. Being demanded whether a good spirit or a bad, returned no answer, but disappeared with a curious perfume, and most melodious twang. M.W. Lilly believes it was a Fairie. So Propertius,
Omnia finierat; tenues secessit in auras,
Mansit odor possis scire fuisse Deam!”
AUBREY’S Miscellanies, p. 80.
A rustic, also, whom Jackson taxed with magical practices, about 1620, obstinately denied that the good King of the Fairies had any connection with the devil; and some of the Highland seers, even in our day, have boasted of their intimacy with the elves, as an innocent and advantageous connection. One Maccoan, in Appin, the last person eminently gifted with the second sight, professed to my learned and excellent friend, Mr Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, that he owed his prophetic visions to their intervention.
VI. There remains yet another cause to be noticed, which seems to have induced a considerable alteration into the popular creed of England, respecting Fairies. Many poets of the sixteenth century, and, above all, our immortal Shakespeare, deserting the hackneyed fictions of Greece and Rome, sought for machinery in the superstitions of their native country. “The fays, which nightly dance upon the wold,” were an interesting subject; and the creative imagination of the bard, improving upon the vulgar belief, assigned to them many of those fanciful attributes and occupations, which posterity have since associated with the name of Fairy. In such employments, as rearing the drooping flower, and arranging the disordered chamber, the Fairies of South Britain gradually lost the harsher character of the dwarfs, or elves. Their choral dances were enlivened by the introduction of the merry goblin Puck,[A] for whose freakish pranks they exchanged their original mischievous propensities. The Fairies of Shakespeare, Drayton, and Mennis, therefore, at first exquisite fancy portraits, may be considered as having finally operated a change in the original which gave them birth.[B]
Robin Goodfellow, or Hobgoblin, possesses the frolicksome qualities of the French Lutin. For his full character, the reader is referred to the Reliques of Ancient Poetry. The proper livery of this sylvan Momus is to be found in an old play. “Enter Robin Goodfellow, in a suit of leather, close to his body, his hands and face coloured russet colour, with a flail.”—Grim, the Collier of Croydon, Act 4, Scene 1. At other times, however, he is presented in the vernal livery of the elves, his associates:
Tim. “I have made
“Some speeches, sir, ill verse, which have been spoke
“By a green Robin Goodfellow, from Cheapside conduit,
“To my father’s company.”
The City Match, Act I, Scene 6.
The Fairy land, and Fairies of Spenser, have no connection with popular superstition, being only words used to denote an Utopian scene of action, and imaginary or allegorical characters; and the title of the “Fairy Queen” being probably suggested by the elfin mistress of Chaucer’s Sir Thopas. The stealing of the Red Cross Knight, while a child, is the only incident in the poem which approaches to the popular character of the Fairy:
—A Fairy thee unweeting reft;
There as thou sleptst in tender swadling band,
And her base elfin brood there for thee left:
Such men do changelings call, so chang’d by Fairies theft.
Book I. Canto 10.
While the fays of South Britain received such attractive and poetical embellishments, those of Scotland, who possessed no such advantage, retained more of their ancient, and appropriate character. Perhaps, also, the persecution which these sylvan deities underwent, at the instance of the stricter presbyterian clergy, had its usual effect, in hardening their dispositions, or at least in rendering them more dreaded by those among whom they dwelt. The face of the country, too, might have some effect; as we should naturally attribute a less malicious disposition, and a less frightful appearance, to the fays who glide by moon-light through the oaks of Windsor, than to those who haunt the solitary heaths and lofty mountains of the North. The fact at least is certain; and it has not escaped a late ingenious traveller, that the character of the Scottish Fairy is more harsh and terrific than that which is ascribed to the elves of our sister kingdom.—See STODDART’S View of Scenery and Manners in Scotland.
The Fairies of Scotland are represented as a diminutive race of beings, of a mixed, or rather dubious nature, capricious in their dispositions, and mischievous in their resentment. They inhabit the interior of green hills, chiefly those of a conical form, in Gaelic termed Sighan, on which they lead their dances by moon-light; impressing upon the surface the mark of circles, which sometimes appear yellow and blasted, sometimes of a deep green hue; and within which it is dangerous to sleep, or to be found after sun-set. The removal of those large portions of turf, which thunderbolts sometimes scoop out of the ground with singular regularity, is also ascribed to their agency. Cattle, which are suddenly seized with the cramp, or some similar disorder, are said to be elf-shot; and the approved cure is, to chafe the parts affected with a blue bonnet, which, it may be readily believed, often restores the circulation. The triangular flints, frequently found in Scotland, with which the ancient inhabitants probably barbed their shafts, are supposed to be the weapons of Fairy resentment, and are termed elf-arrow heads. The rude brazen battle-axes of the ancients, commonly called celts, are also ascribed to their manufacture. But, like the Gothic duergar, their skill is not confined to the fabrication of arms; for they are heard sedulously hammering in linns, precipices, and rocky or cavernous situations where, like the dwarfs of the mines, mentioned by Georg. Agricola, they busy themselves in imitating the actions and the various employments of men. The brook of Beaumont, for example, which passes, in its course, by numerous linns and caverns, is notorious for being haunted by the Fairies; and the perforated and rounded stones, which are formed by trituration in its channel, are termed, by the vulgar, fairy cups and dishes. A beautiful reason is assigned, by Fletcher, for the fays frequenting streams and fountains. He tells us of
A virtuous well, about whose flowery banks
The nimble-footed Fairies dance their rounds,
By the pale moon-shine, dipping oftentimes
Their stolen children, so to make them free
From dying flesh, and dull mortality.
It is sometimes accounted unlucky to pass such places, without performing some ceremony to avert the displeasure of the elves. There is, upon the top of Minchmuir, a mountain in Peebles-shire, a spring, called the Cheese Well, because, anciently, those who passed that way were wont to throw into it a piece of cheese, as an offering to the Fairies, to whom it was consecrated.
Like the feld elfen of the Saxons, the usual dress of the Fairies is green; though, on the moors, they have been sometimes observed in heath-brown, or in weeds dyed with the stoneraw, or lichen.[A] They often ride in invisible procession, when their presence is discovered by the shrill ringing of their bridles. On these occasions, they sometimes borrow mortal steeds; and when such are found at morning, panting and fatigued in their stalls, with their manes and tails dishevelled and entangled, the grooms, I presume, often find this a convenient excuse for their situation; as the common belief of the elves quaffing the choicest liquors in the cellars of the rich (see the story of Lord Duffus below), might occasionally cloak the delinquencies of an unfaithful butler.
Hence the hero of the ballad is termed an “elfin grey.”
The Fairies, beside their equestrian processions, are addicted it would seem, to the pleasures of the chace. A young sailor, travelling by night from Douglas, in the Isle of Man, to visit his sister, residing in Kirk Merlugh, heard the noise of horses, the holla of a huntsman, and the sound of a horn. Immediately afterwards, thirteen horsemen, dressed in green, and gallantly mounted, swept past him. Jack was so much delighted with the sport, that he followed them, and enjoyed the sound of the horn for some miles; and it was not till he arrived at his sister’s house that he learned the danger which he had incurred. I must not omit to mention, that these little personages are expert jockeys, and scorn to ride the little Manks ponies, though apparently well suited to their size. The exercise therefore, falls heavily upon the English and Irish horses brought into the Isle of Man. Mr Waldron was assured by a gentleman of Ballafletcher, that he had lost three or four capital hunters by these nocturnal excursions.—WALDRON’S Works, p. 132. From the same author we learn, that the Fairies sometimes take more legitimate modes of procuring horses. A person of the utmost integrity informed him, that, having occasion to sell a horse, he was accosted among the mountains by a little gentleman plainly dressed, who priced his horse, cheapened him, and, after some chaffering, finally purchased him. No sooner had the buyer mounted, and paid the price, than, he sunk through the earth, horse and man, to the astonishment and terror of the seller; who experienced, however, no inconvenience from dealing with so extraordinary a purchaser.—Ibid. p. 135.
It is hoped the reader will receive, with due respect, these, and similar stories, told by Mr Waldron; for he himself, a scholar and a gentleman, informs us, “as to circles in grass, and the impression of small feet among the snow, I cannot deny but I have seen them frequently, and once thought I heard a whistle, as though in my ear, when nobody that could make it was near me.” In this passage there is a curious picture of the contagious effects of a superstitious atmosphere. Waldron had lived so long among the Manks, that he was almost persuaded to believe their legends.
From the History of the Irish Bards, by Mr Walker, and from the glossary subjoined to the lively and ingenious Tale of Castle Rackrent, we learn, that the same ideas, concerning Fairies, are current among the vulgar in that country. The latter authority mentions their inhabiting the ancient tumuli, called Barrows, and their abstracting mortals. They are termed “the good people;” and when an eddy of wind raises loose dust and sand, the vulgar believe that it announces a Fairy procession, and bid God speed their journey.
The Scottish Fairies, in like manner, sometimes reside in subterranean abodes, in the vicinity of human habitations or, according to the popular phrase, under the “door-stane,” or threshold; in which situation, they sometimes establish an intercourse with men, by borrowing and lending, and other kindly offices. In this capacity they are termed “the good neighbours,”[A] from supplying privately the wants of their friends, and assisting them in all their transactions, while their favours are concealed. Of this the traditionary story of Sir Godfrey Macculloch forms a curious example.
Perhaps this epithet is only one example, among many, of the extreme civility which the vulgar in Scotland use towards spirits of a, dubious, or even a determinedly mischievous, nature. The archfiend himself is often distinguished by the softened title of the “good-man.” This epithet, so applied, must sound strange to a southern ear; but, as the phrase bears various interpretations, according to the places where it is used, so, in the Scottish dialect, the good-man of such a place signifies the tenant, or life-renter, in opposition to the laird, or proprietor. Hence, the devil is termed the good-man, or tenant, of the infernal regions. In the book of the Universal Kirk, 13th May, 1594, mention is made of “the horrible superstitioune usit in Garioch, and dyvers parts of the countrie, in not labouring a parcel of ground dedicated to the devil, under the title of the Guid-man’s Croft.” Lord Hailes conjectured this to have been the tenenos adjoining to some ancient Pagan temple. The unavowed, but obvious, purpose of this practice, was to avert the destructive rage of Satan from the neighbouring possessions. It required various fulminations of the General Assembly of the Kirk to abolish a practice bordering so nearly upon the doctrine of the Magi.
As this Gallovidian gentleman was taking the air on horseback, near his own house, he was suddenly accosted by a little old man, arrayed in green, and mounted upon a white palfrey. After mutual salutation, the old man gave Sir Godfrey to understand, that he resided under his habitation, and that he had great reason to complain of the direction of a drain, or common sewer, which emptied itself directly into his chamber of dais, [A] Sir Godfrey Macculloch was a good deal startled at this extraordinary complaint; but, guessing the nature of the being he had to deal with, he assured the old man, with great courtesy, that the direction of the drain should be altered; and caused it be done accordingly. Many years afterwards, Sir Godfrey had the misfortune to kill, in a fray, a gentleman of the neighbourhood. He was apprehended, tried, and condemned.[B] The scaffold, upon which his head was to be struck off, was erected on the Castle-hill of Edinburgh; but hardly had he reached the fatal spot, when the old man, upon his white palfrey, pressed through the crowd, with the rapidity of lightning. Sir Godfrey, at his command, sprung on behind him; the “good neighbour” spurred his horse down the steep bank, and neither he nor the criminal were ever again seen.
The best chamber was thus currently denominated in Scotland, from the French dais, signifying that part of the ancient halls which was elevated above the rest, and covered with a canopy. The turf-seats, which occupy the sunny side of a cottage wall, is also termed the dais.
In this particular, tradition coincides with the real fact; the trial took place in 1697.
The most formidable attribute of the elves, was their practice of carrying away, and exchanging, children; and that of stealing human souls from their bodies. “A persuasion prevails among the ignorant,” says the author of a MS. history of Moray, “that, in a consumptive disease, the Fairies steal away the soul, and put the soul of a Fairy in the room of it.” This belief prevails chiefly along the eastern coast of Scotland, where a practice, apparently of druidical origin, is used to avert the danger. In the increase of the March moon, withies of oak and ivy are cut, and twisted into wreaths or circles, which they preserve till next March. After that period, when persons are consumptive, or children hectic, they cause them to pass thrice through these circles. In other cases the cure was more rough, and at least as dangerous as the disease, as will appear from the following extract:
“There is one thing remarkable in this parish of Suddie (in Inverness-shire), which I think proper to mention. There is a small hill N.W. from the church, commonly called Therdy Hill, or Hill of Therdie, as some term it; on the top of which there is a well, which I had the curiosity to view, because of the several reports concerning it. When children happen to be sick, and languish long in their malady, so that they almost turned skeletons, the common people imagine they are taken away (at least the substance) by spirits, called Fairies, and the shadow left with them; so, at a particular season in summer, they leave them all night themselves, watching at a distance, near this well, and this they imagine will either end or mend them; they say many more do recover than do not. Yea, an honest tenant who lives hard by it, and whom I had the curiosity to discourse about it, told me it has recovered some, who were about eight or nine years of age, and to his certain knowledge they bring adult persons to it; for, as he was passing one dark night, he heard groanings, and coming to the well, he found a man, who had been long sick, wrapped in a plaid, so that he could scarcely move, a stake being fixed in the earth, with a rope, or tedder, that was about the plaid; he had no sooner enquired what he was, but he conjured him to loose him, and out of sympathy he was pleased to slacken that, wherein he was, as I may so speak, swaddled; but, if I right remember, he signified, he did not recover.”—Account of the Parish of Suddie, apud Macfarlane’s MSS.
According to the earlier doctrine, concerning the original corruption of human nature, the power of daemons over infants had been long reckoned considerable, in the period intervening between birth and baptism. During this period, therefore, children were believed to be particularly liable to abstraction by the Fairies, and mothers chiefly dreaded the substitution of changelings in the place of their own offspring. Various monstrous charms existed in Scotland, for procuring the restoration of a child, which had been thus stolen; but the most efficacious of them was supposed to be, the roasting of the suppositious child upon the live embers, when it was believed it would vanish, and the true child appear in the place, whence it had been originally abstracted.[A]
Less perilous recipes were sometimes used. The editor is possessed of a small relique, termed by tradition a toad-stone, the influence of which was supposed to preserve pregnant women from the power of daemons, and other dangers incidental to their situation. It has been carefully preserved for several generations, was often pledged for considerable sums of money, and uniformly redeemed, from a belief in its efficacy.
The most minute and authenticated account of an exchanged child is to be found in Waldron’s Isle of Man, a book from which I have derived much legendary information. “I was prevailed upon myself,” says that author, “to go and see a child, who, they told me, was one of these changelings, and, indeed, must own, was not a little surprised, as well as shocked, at the sight. Nothing under heaven could have a more beautiful face; but, though between five and six years old, and seemingly healthy, he was so far from being able to walk or stand, that he could not so much as move any one joint; his limbs were vastly long for his age, but smaller than any infant’s of six months; his complexion was perfectly delicate, and he had the finest hair in the world. He never spoke nor cried, ate scarce any thing, and was very seldom seen to smile; but if any one called him a fairy-elf, he would frown, and fix his eyes so earnestly on those who said it, as if he would look them through. His mother, or at least his supposed mother, being very poor, frequently went out a chareing, and left him a whole day together. The neighbours, out of curiosity, have often looked in at the window, to see how he behaved while alone; which, whenever they did, they were sure to find him laughing, and in the utmost delight. This made them judge that he was not without company, more pleasing to him than any mortals could be; and what made this conjecture seem the more reasonable, was, that if he were left ever so dirty, the woman, at her return, saw him with a clean face, and his hair combed with the utmost exactness and nicety.” P. 128.
Waldron gives another account of a poor woman, to whose offspring, it would seem, the Fairies had taken a special fancy. A few nights after she was delivered of her first child, the family were alarmed by a dreadful cry of “Fire!” All flew to the door, while the mother lay trembling in bed, unable to protect her infant, which was snatched from the bed by an invisible hand. Fortunately the return of the gossips, after the causeless alarm, disturbed the Fairies, who dropped the child, which was found sprawling and shrieking upon the threshold. At the good woman’s second accouchement, a tumult was heard in the cow-house, which drew thither the whole assistants. They returned, when they found that all was quiet among the cattle, and lo! the second child had been carried from the bed, and dropped in the middle of the lane. But, upon the third occurrence of the same kind, the company were again decoyed out of the sick woman’s chamber by a false alarm, leaving only a nurse, who was detained by the bonds of sleep. On this last occasion, the mother plainly saw her child removed, though the means were invisible. She screamed for assistance to the nurse; but the old lady had partaken too deeply of the cordials which circulate on such joyful occasions, to be easily awakened. In short, the child was this time fairly carried off, and a withered, deformed creature, left in its stead, quite naked, with the clothes of the abstracted infant, rolled in a bundle, by its side. This creature lived nine years, ate nothing but a few herbs, and neither spoke, stood, walked nor performed any other functions of mortality; resembling, in all respects, the changeling already mentioned.—WALDRON’S Works, ibid.
But the power of the Fairies was not confined to unchristened children alone; it was supposed frequently to extend to full grown persons, especially such as, in an unlucky hour, were devoted to the devil by the execration of parents, and of masters;[A] or those who were found asleep under a rock, or on a green hill, belonging to the Fairies, after sun-set; or, finally, to those who unwarily joined their orgies. A tradition existed, during the seventeenth century, concerning an ancestor of the noble family of Duffus, who, “walking abroad in the fields, near to his own house, was suddenly carried away, and found the next day at Paris, in the French king’s cellar, with a silver cup in his hand. Being brought into the king’s presence, and questioned by him who he was, and how he came thither, he told his name, his country, and the place of his residence; and that, on such a day of the month, which proved to be the day immediately preceding, being in the fields, he heard the noise of a whirlwind, and of voices, crying, ‘Horse and Hattock!’ (this is the word which the Fairies are said to use when they remove from any place), whereupon he cried, ‘Horse and Hattock’ also, and was immediately caught up, and transported through the air, by the Fairies, to that place, where, after he had drunk heartily, he fell asleep, and, before he woke, the rest of the company were gone, and had left him in the posture wherein he was found. It is said the king gave him the cup, which was found in his hand, and dismissed him.” The narrator affirms, “that the cup was still preserved, and known by the name of the Fairy cup.” He adds, that Mr Steward, tutor to the then Lord Duffus, had informed him, “that, when a boy, at the school of Forres, he, and his school-fellows, were upon a time whipping their tops in the church-yard, before the door of the church, when, though the day was calm, they heard a noise of a wind, and at some distance saw the small dust begin to rise and turn round, which motion continued advancing till it came to the place where they were, whereupon they began to bless themselves; but one of their number being, it seems, a little more bold and confident than his companions, said, ‘Horse and Hattock, with my top,’ and immediately they all saw the top lifted up from the ground, but could not see which way it was carried, by reason of a cloud of dust which was raised at the same time. They sought for the top all about the place where it was taken up, but in vain; and it was found afterwards in the church-yard, on the other side of the church.”—This puerile legend is contained in a letter from a learned gentleman in Scotland, to Mr Aubrey, dated 15th March, 1695, published in AUBREY’S Miscellanies, p. 158.
This idea is not peculiar to the Gothic tribes, but extends to those of Sclavic origin. Tooke (History of Russia, Vol. I. p. 100) relates, that the Russian peasants believe the nocturnal daemon, Kikimora, to have been a child, whom the devil stole out of the womb of its mother, because she had cursed it. They also assert, that if an execration against a child be spoken in an evil hour, the child is carried off by the devil. The beings, so stolen, are neither fiends nor men; they are invisible, and afraid of the cross and holy water; but, on the other hand, in their nature and dispositions they resemble mankind, whom they love, and rarely injure.
Notwithstanding the special example of Lord Duffus, and of the top, it is the common opinion, that persons, falling under the power of the Fairies, were only allowed to revisit the haunts of men, after seven years had expired. At the end of seven years more, they again disappeared, after which they were seldom seen among mortals. The accounts they gave of their situation, differ in some particulars. Sometimes they were represented as leading a life of constant restlessness, and wandering by moon-light. According to others, they inhabited a pleasant region, where, however, their situation was rendered horrible, by the sacrifice of one or more individuals to the devil, every seventh year. This circumstance is mentioned in Alison Pearson’s indictment, and in the Tale of the Young Tamlane, where it is termed, “the paying the kane to hell,” or, according to some recitations, “the teind,” or tenth. This is the popular reason assigned for the desire of the Fairies to abstract young children, as substitutes for themselves in this dreadful tribute. Concerning the mode of winning, or recovering, persons abstracted by the Fairies, tradition differs; but the popular opinion, contrary to what may be inferred from the following tale, supposes, that the recovery must be effected within a year and a day, to be held legal in the Fairy court. This feat, which was reckoned an enterprize of equal difficulty and danger, could only be accomplished on Hallowe’en, at the great annual procession of the Fairy court.[A] Of this procession the following description is found in Montgomery’sFlyting against Polwart, apud Watson’s Collection of Scots Poems, 1709, Part III. p. 12.
In the hinder end of harvest, on All-hallowe’en,
When our good neighbours dois ride, if I read right.
Some buckled on a bunewand, and some on a been,
Ay trottand in tronps from the twilight;
Some saidled a she-ape, all grathed into green,
Some hobland on a hemp-stalk, hovand to the hight;
The king of Pharie and his court, with the Elf queen,
With many elfish incubus was ridand that night.
There an elf on an ape, an unsel begat.
Into a pot by Pomathorne;
That bratchart in a busse was born;
They fand a monster on the morn,
War faced nor a cat.
See the inimitable poem of Hallowe’en:—
“Upon that night, when Fairies light
On Cassilis Downan dance;
Or o’er the leas, in splendid blaze,
On stately coursers prance,” &c. Burns.
The catastrophe of Tamlane terminated more successfully than that of other attempts, which tradition still records. The wife of a farmer in Lothian had been carried off by the Fairies, and, during the year of probation, repeatedly appeared on Sunday, in the midst of her children, combing their hair. On one of these occasions she was accosted by her husband; when she related to him the unfortunate event which had separated them, instructed him by what means he might win her, and exhorted him to exert all his courage, since her temporal and eternal happiness depended on the success of his attempt. The farmer, who ardently loved his wife, set out on Hallow-e’en and, in the midst of a plot of furze, waited impatiently for the procession of the Fairies. At the ringing of the Fairy bridles, and the wild unearthly sound which accompanied the cavalcade, his heart failed him, and he suffered the ghostly train to pass by without interruption. When the last had rode past, the whole troop vanished, with loud shouts of laughter and exultation; among which he plainly discovered the voice of his wife, lamenting that he had lost her for ever.
A similar, but real incident, took place at the town of North Berwick, within the memory of man. The wife of a man, above the lowest class of society, being left alone in the house, a few days after delivery, was attacked and carried off by one of those convulsion fits, incident to her situation. Upon the return of the family, who had been engaged in hay-making, or harvest, they found the corpse much disfigured. This circumstance, the natural consequence of her disease, led some of the spectators to think that she had been carried off by the Fairies, and that the body before them was some elfin deception. The husband, probably, paid little attention to this opinion at the time. The body was interred, and, after a decent time had elapsed, finding his domestic affairs absolutely required female superintendence, the widower paid his addresses to a young woman in the neighbourhood. The recollection, however, of his former wife, whom he had tenderly loved, haunted his slumbers; and, one morning, he came to the clergyman of the parish in the utmost dismay, declaring, that she had appeared to him the preceding night, informed him that she was a captive in Fairy Land, and conjured him to attempt her deliverance. She directed him to bring the minister, and certain other persons, whom she named, to her grave at midnight. Her body was then to be dug up, and certain prayers recited; after which the corpse was to become animated, and fly from them. One of the assistants, the swiftest runner in the parish, was to pursue the body; and, if he was able to seize it, before it had thrice encircled the church, the rest were to come to his assistance, and detain it, in spite of the struggles it should use, and the various shapes into which it might be transformed. The redemption of the abstracted person was then to become complete. The minister, a sensible man, argued with his parishioner upon the indecency and absurdity of what was proposed, and dismissed him. Next Sunday, the banns being for the first time proclaimed betwixt the widower and his new bride, his former wife, very naturally, took the opportunity of the following night to make him another visit, yet more terrific than the former. She upbraided him with his incredulity, his fickleness, and his want of affection; and, to convince him that her appearance was no aërial illusion, she gave suck, in his presence, to her youngest child. The man, under the greatest horror of mind, had again recourse to the pastor; and his ghostly counsellor fell upon an admirable expedient to console him. This was nothing less than dispensing with the further solemnity of banns, and marrying him, without an hour’s delay, to the young woman to whom he was affianced; after which no spectre again disturbed his repose.
Having concluded these general observations upon the Fairy superstition, which, although minute, may not, I hope, be deemed altogether uninteresting, I proceed to the more particular illustrations, relating to the Tale of the Young Tamlane.
The following ballad, still popular in Ettrick Forest, where the scene is laid, is certainly of much greater antiquity than its phraseology, gradually modernized as transmitted by tradition, would seem to denote. The Tale of the Young Tamlane is mentioned in the Complaynt of Scotland; and the air, to which it was chaunted, seems to have been accommodated to a particular dance; for the dance of Thorn of Lynn, another variation of Thomalin, likewise occurs in the same performance. Like every popular subject, it seems to have been frequently parodied; and a burlesque ballad, beginning
“Tom o’ the Linn was a Scotsman born,”
is still well known.
In a medley, contained in a curious and ancient MS. cantus, penes J.G. Dalyell, Esq., there is an allusion to our ballad:—
“Sing young Thomlin, be merry, be merry, and twice so merry.”
In Scottish Songs, 1774, a part of the original tale was published, under the title of Kerton Ha’; a corruption of Carterhaugh; and, in the same collection, there is a fragment, containing two or three additional verses, beginning,
“I’ll wager, I’ll wager, I’ll wager with you,” &c.
In Johnson’s Musical Museum, a more complete copy occurs, under the title of Thom Linn, which, with some alterations was reprinted in the Tales of Wonder.
The present edition is the most perfect which has yet appeared; being prepared from a collation of the printed copies, with a very accurate one in Glenriddell’s MSS., and with several recitals from tradition. Some verses are omitted in this edition, being ascertained to belong to a separate ballad, which will be found in a subsequent part of the work. In one recital only, the well known fragment of the Wee, wee Man, was introduced, in the same measure with the rest of the poem. It was retained in the first edition, but is now omitted; as the editor has been favoured, by the learned Mr Ritson, with a copy of the original poem, of which it is a detached fragment. The editor has been enabled to add several verses of beauty and interest to this edition of Tamlane, in consequence of a copy, obtained from a gentleman residing near Langholm, which is said to be very ancient, though the diction is somewhat of a modern cast. The manners of the Fairies are detailed at considerable length, and in poetry of no common merit.
Carterhaugh is a plain, at the conflux of the Ettrick and Yarrow, in Selkirkshire, about a mile above Selkirk, and two miles below Newark Castle; a romantic ruin, which overhangs the Yarrow, and which is said to have been the habitation of our heroine’s father, though others place his residence in the tower of Oakwood. The peasants point out, upon the plain, those electrical rings, which vulgar credulity supposes to be traces of the Fairy revels. Here, they say, were placed the stands of milk, and of water, in whichTamlane was dipped, in order to effect the disenchantment; and upon these spots, according to their mode of expressing themselves, the grass will never grow. Miles Cross (perhaps a corruption of Mary’s Cross), where fair Janet waited the arrival of the Fairy train, is said to have stood near the duke of Buccleuch’s seat of Bowhill, about half a mile from Carterhaugh. In no part of Scotland, indeed, has the belief in Fairies maintained its ground with more pertinacity than in Selkirkshire. The most sceptical among the lower ranks only venture to assert, that their appearances, and mischievous exploits, have ceased, or at least become infrequent, since the light of the Gospel was diffused in its purity. One of their frolics is said to have happened late in the last century. The victim of elfin sport was a poor man, who, being employed in pulling heather upon Peatlaw, a hill not far from Carterhaugh, had tired of his labour, and laid him down to sleep upon a Fairy ring.—When he awakened, he was amazed to find himself in the midst of a populous city, to which, as well as to the means of his transportation, he was an utter stranger. His coat was left upon the Peatlaw; and his bonnet, which had fallen off in the course of his aërial journey, was afterwards found hanging upon the steeple of the church of Lanark. The distress of the poor man was, in some degree, relieved, by meeting a carrier, whom he had formerly known, and who conducted him back to Selkirk, by a slower conveyance than had whirled him to Glasgow.—That he had been carried off by the Fairies, was implicitly believed by all, who did not reflect, that a man may have private reasons for leaving his own country, and for disguising his having intentionally done so.
THE YOUNG TAMLANE
O I forbid ye, maidens a’,
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh;
For young Tamlane is there.
There’s nane, that gaes by Carterhaugh,
But maun leave him a wad;
Either goud rings or green mantles,
Or else their maidenheid.
Now, gowd rings ye may buy, maidens,
Green mantles ye may spin;
But, gin ye lose your maidenheid,
Ye’ll ne’er get that agen.
But up then spak her, fair Janet,
The fairest o’ a’ her kin;
“I’ll cum and gang to Carterhaugh,
“And ask nae leave o’ him.”
Janet has kilted her green kirtle,[A]
A little abune her knee;
And she has braided her yellow hair,
A little abune her bree.
And when she cam to Carterhaugh,
She gaed beside the well;
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsell.
She hadna pu’d a red red rose,
A rose but barely three;
Till up and starts a wee wee man,
At Lady Janet’s knee.
Says—”Why pu’ ye the rose, Janet?
“What gars ye break the tree?
“Or why come ye to Carterhaugh,
“Withoutten leave o’ me?”
Says—”Carterhaugh it is mine ain;
“My daddie gave it me;
“I’ll come and gang to Carterhaugh,
“And ask nae leave o’ thee.”
He’s ta’en her by the milk-white hand,
Amang the leaves sae green;
And what they did I cannot tell—
The green leaves were between.
He’s ta’en her by the milk-white hand,
Amang the roses red;
And what they did I cannot say—
She ne’er returned a maid.
When she cam to her father’s ha’,
She looked pale and wan;
They thought she’d dried some sair sickness,
Or been wi’ some leman.
She didna comb her yellow hair,
Nor make meikle o’ her heid;
And ilka thing, that lady took,
Was like to be her deid.
Its four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba’;
Janet, the wightest of them anes,
Was faintest o’ them a’.
Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess;
And out there came the fair Janet,
As green as any grass.
Out and spak an auld gray-headed knight,
Lay o’er the castle wa’—
“And ever alas! for thee, Janet,
“But we’ll be blamed a’!”
“Now haud your tongue, ye auld gray knight!
“And an ill deid may ye die!
“Father my bairn on whom I will,
“I’ll father nane on thee.”
Out then spak her father dear,
And he spak meik and mild—
“And ever alas! my sweet Janet,
“I fear ye gae with child.”
“And, if I be with child, father,
“Mysell maun bear the blame;
“There’s ne’er a knight about your ha’
“Shall hae the bairnie’s name.
“And if I be with child, father,
“‘Twill prove a wondrous birth;
“For well I swear I’m not wi’ bairn
“To any man on earth.
“If my love were an earthly knight,
“As he’s an elfin grey,
“I wadna gie my ain true love
“For nae lord that ye hae.”
She princked hersell and prinn’d hersell,
By the ae light of the moon,
And she’s away to Carterhaugh,
To speak wi’ young Tamlane.
And when she cam to Carterhaugh,
She gaed beside the well;
And there she saw the steed standing,
But away was himsell.
She hadna pu’d a double rose,
A rose but only twae,
When up and started young Tamlane,
Says—”Lady, thou pu’s nae mae!
“Why pu’ ye the rose, Janet,
“Within this garden grene,
“And a’ to kill the bonny babe,
“That we got us between?”
“The truth ye’ll tell to me, Tamlane;
“A word ye mauna lie;
“Gin ye’re ye was in haly chapel,
“Or sained[B] in Christentie.”
“The truth I’ll tell to thee, Janet,
“A word I winna lie;
“A knight me got, and a lady me bore,
“As well as they did thee.
“Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire,
“Dunbar, Earl March, is thine;
“We loved when we were children small,
“Which yet you well may mind.
“When I was a boy just turned of nine,
“My uncle sent for me,
“To hunt, and hawk, and ride with him,
“And keep him cumpanie.
“There came a wind out of the north,
“A sharp wind and a snell;
“And a dead sleep came over me,
“And frae my horse I fell.
“The Queen of Fairies keppit me,
“In yon green hill to dwell;
“And I’m a Fairy, lyth and limb;
“Fair ladye, view me well.
“But we, that live in Fairy-land,
“No sickness know, nor pain;
“I quit my body when I will,
“And take to it again.
“I quit my body when I please,
“Or unto it repair;
“We can inhabit, at our ease,
“In either earth or air.
“Our shapes and size we can convert,
“To either large or small;
“An old nut-shell’s the same to us,
“As is the lofty hall.
“We sleep in rose-buds, soft and sweet,
“We revel in the stream;
“We wanton lightly on the wind,
“Or glide on a sunbeam.
“And all our wants are well supplied,
“From every rich man’s store,
“Who thankless sins the gifts he gets,
“And vainly grasps for more.
“Then would I never tire, Janet,
“In elfish land to dwell;
“But aye at every seven years,
“They pay the teind to hell;
“And I am sae fat, and fair of flesh,
“I fear ’twill be mysell.
“This night is Hallowe’en, Janet,
“The morn is Hallowday;
“And, gin ye dare your true love win,
“Ye hae na time to stay.
“The night it is good Hallowe’en,
“When fairy folk will ride;
“And they, that wad their true love win,
“At Miles Cross they maun bide.”
“But how shall I thee ken, Tamlane?
“Or how shall I thee knaw,
“Amang so many unearthly knights,
“The like I never saw.?”
“The first company, that passes by,
“Say na, and let them gae;
“The next company, that passes by,
“Say na, and do right sae;
“The third company, that passes by,
“Than I’ll be ane o’ thae.
“First let pass the black, Janet,
“And syne let pass the brown;
“But grip ye to the milk-white steed,
“And pu’ the rider down.
“For I ride on the milk-white steed,
“And ay nearest the town;
“Because I was a christened knight,
“They gave me that renown.
“My right hand will be gloved, Janet,
“My left hand will be bare;
“And these the tokens I gie thee,
“Nae doubt I will be there.
“They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet,
“An adder and a snake;
“But had me fast, let me not pass,
“Gin ye wad be my maik.
“They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet,
“An adder and an ask;
“They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet,
“A bale[C] that burns fast.
“They’ll turn me in your arms, Janet,
“A red-hot gad o’ aim;
“But had me fast, let me not pass,
“For I’ll do you no harm.
“First, dip me in a stand o’ milk,
“And then in a stand o’ water;
“But had me fast, let me not pass—
“I’ll be your bairn’s father.
“And, next, they’ll shape me in your arms,
“A toad, but and an eel;
“But had me fast, nor let me gang,
“As you do love me weel.
“They’ll shape me in your arms, Janet,
“A dove, but and a swan;
“And, last, they’ll shape me in your arms,
“A mother-naked man:
“Cast your green mantle over me—
“I’ll be mysell again.”
Gloomy, gloomy, was the night,
And eiry[D] was the way,
As fair Janet, in her green mantle,
To Miles Cross she did gae.
The heavens were black, the night was dark,
And dreary was the place;
But Janet stood, with eager wish,
Her lover to embrace.
Betwixt the hours of twelve and one,
A north wind tore the bent;
And straight she heard strange elritch sounds
Upon that wind which went.
About the dead hour o’ the night,
She heard the bridles ring;
And Janet was as glad o’ that,
As any earthly thing!
Their oaten pipes blew wondrous shrill,
The hemlock small blew clear;
And louder notes from hemlock large,
And bog-reed struck the ear;
But solemn sounds, or sober thoughts,
The Fairies cannot bear.
They sing, inspired with love and joy,
Like sky-larks in the air;
Of solid sense, or thought that’s grave,
You’ll find no traces there.
Fair Janet stood, with mind unmoved,
The dreary heath upon;
And louder, louder, wax’d the sound,
As they came riding on.
Will o’ Wisp before them went,
Sent forth a twinkling light;
And soon she saw the Fairy bands
All riding in her sight.
And first gaed by the black black steed,
And then gaed by the brown;
But fast she gript the milk-white steed,
And pu’d the rider down.
She pu’d him frae the milk-white steed,
And loot the bridle fa’;
And up there raise an erlish[E] cry—
“He’s won amang us a’!”
They shaped him in fair Janet’s arms,
An esk[F], but and an adder;
She held him fast in every shape—
To be her bairn’s father.
They shaped him in her arms at last,
A mother-naked man;
She wrapt him in her green mantle,
And sae her true love wan.
Up then spake the Queen o’ Fairies,
Out o’ a bush o’ broom—
“She that has borrowed young Tamlane,
Has gotten a stately groom.”
Up then spake the Queen of Fairies,
Out o’ a bush of rye—
“She’s ta’en awa the bonniest knight
In a’ my cumpanie.
“But had I kenn’d, Tamlane,” she says,
“A lady wad borrowed thee—
“I wad ta’en out thy twa gray een,
“Put in twa een o’ tree.
“Had I but kenn’d, Tamlane,” she says,
“Before ye came frae hame—
“I wad tane out your heart o’ flesh,
“Put in a heart o’ stane.
“Had I but had the wit yestreen,
“That I hae coft[G] the day—
“I’d paid my kane seven times to hell,
“Ere you’d been won away!”
The ladies are always represented, in Dunbar’s Poems, with green mantles and yellow hair. Maitland Poems, Vol. I. p. 45.
Eiry—Producing superstitious dread.
NOTES ON THE YOUNG TAMLANE.
Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire,
Dunbar, Earl March, is thine, &c.—P. 185, v. 5.
Both these mighty chiefs were connected with Ettrick Forest, and its vicinity. Their memory, therefore, lived in the traditions of the country. Randolph, earl of Murray, the renowned nephew of Robert Bruce, had a castle at Ha’ Guards, in Annandale, and another in Peebles-shire, on the borders of the forest, the site of which is still called Randall’s Walls. Patrick of Dunbar, earl of March, is said by Henry the Minstrel, to have retreated to Ettrick Forest, after being defeated by Wallace.
And all our wants are well supplied,
From every rich man’s store;
Who thankless sins the gifts he gets, &c.—P. 187. v. 3.
To sin our gifts, or mercies, means, ungratefully to hold them in slight esteem. The idea, that the possessions of the wicked are most obnoxious to the depredations of evil spirits, may be illustrated by the following tale of a Buttery Spirit, extracted from Thomas Heywood:—
An ancient and virtuous monk came to visit his nephew, an inn-keeper, and, after other discourse, enquired into his circumstances. Mine host confessed, that, although he practised all the unconscionable tricks of his trade, he was still miserably poor. The monk shook his head, and asked to see his buttery, or larder. As they looked into it, he rendered visible to the astonished host an immense goblin, whose paunch, and whole appearance, bespoke his being gorged with food, and who, nevertheless, was gormandizing at the innkeeper’s expence, emptying whole shelves of food, and washing it down with entire hogsheads of liquor. “To the depredation of this visitor will thy viands be exposed,” quoth the uncle, “until thou shalt abandon fraud, and false reckonings.” The monk returned in a year. The host having turned over a new leaf, and given christian measure to his customers, was now a thriving man. When they again inspected the larder, they saw the same spirit, but woefully reduced in size, and in vain attempting to reach at the full plates and bottles, which stood around him; starving, in short, like Tantalus, in the midst of plenty. Honest Heywood sums up the tale thus:
In this discourse, far be it we should mean
Spirits by meat are fatted made, or lean;
Yet certain ’tis, by God’s permission, they
May, over goods extorted, bear like sway.
All such as study fraud, and practise evil,
Do only starve themselves to plumpe the devill.
Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels, p. 577.
ERLINTON. NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This ballad is published from the collation of two copies, obtained from recitation. It seems to be the rude original, or perhaps a corrupted and imperfect copy, of The Child of Elle, a beautiful legendary tale, published in the Reliques of Ancient Poetry. It is singular, that this charming ballad should have been translated, or imitated, by the celebrated Bürger, without acknowledgment of the English original. As The Child of Elle avowedly received corrections, we may ascribe its greatest beauties to the poetical taste of the ingenious editor. They are in the truest stile of Gothic embellishment. We may compare, for example, the following beautiful verse, with the same idea in an old romance:
The baron stroked his dark-brown cheek,
And turned his face aside,
To wipe away the starting tear,
He proudly strove to hide!
Child of Elle.
The heathen Soldan, or Amiral, when about to slay two lovers, relents in a similar manner:
Weeping, he turned his heued awai,
And his swerde hit fel to grounde.
Florice and Blauncheflour.
Erlinton had a fair daughter,
I wat he weird her in a great sin,[A]
For he has built a bigly bower,
An’ a’ to put that lady in.
An’ he has warn’d her sisters six,
An’ sae has he her brethren se’en,
Outher to watch her a’ the night,
Or else to seek her morn an’ e’en.
She hadna been i’ that bigly bower,
Na not a night, but barely ane,
Till there was Willie, her ain true love,
Chapp’d at the door, cryin’, “Peace within!”
“O whae is this at my bower door,
“That chaps sae late, nor kens the gin?”[B]
“O it is Willie, your ain true love,
“I pray you rise an’ let me in!”
“But in my bower there is a wake,
“An’ at the wake there is a wane;[C]
“But I’ll come to the green-wood the morn,
“Whar blooms the brier by mornin’ dawn.”
Then she’s gane to her bed again,
Where she has layen till the cock crew thrice,
Then she said to her sisters a’,
“Maidens, ’tis time for us to rise.”
She pat on her back a silken gown,
An’ on her breast a siller pin,
An’ she’s tane a sister in ilka hand,
An’ to the green-wood she is gane.
She hadna walk’d in the green-wood,
Na not a mile but barely ane,
Till there was Willie, her ain true love,
Whae frae her sisters has her ta’en.
He took her sisters by the hand,
He kiss’d them baith, an’ sent them hame,
An’ he’s ta’en his true love him behind,
And through the green-wood they are gane.
They hadna ridden in the bonnie green-wood,
Na not a mile but barely ane,
When there came fifteen o’ the boldest knights.
That ever bare flesh, blood, or bane.
The foremost was an aged knight,
He wore the grey hair on his chin,
Says, “Yield to me thy lady bright,
“An’ thou shalt walk the woods within.”
“For me to yield my lady bright
“To such an aged knight as thee,
“People wad think I war gane mad,
“Or a’ the courage flown frae me.”
But up then spake the second knight,
I wat he spake right boustouslie,
“Yield me thy life, or thy lady bright,
“Or here the tane of us shall die.”
“My lady is my warld’s meed;
“My life I winna yield to nane;
“But if ye be men of your manhead,
“Ye’ll only fight me ane by ane.”
He lighted aff his milk-white steed,
An’ gae his lady him by the head,
Say’n, “See ye dinna change your cheer;
“Until ye see my body bleed.”
He set his back unto an aik,
He set his feet against a stane,
An’ he has fought these fifteen men,
An’ kill’d them a’ but barely ane;
For he has left that aged knight,
An’ a’ to carry the tidings hame.
When he gaed to his lady fair,
I wat he kiss’d her tenderlie;
“Thou art mine ain love, I have thee bought;
“Now we shall walk the green-wood free.”
Weird her in a great sin—Placed her in danger of committing a great sin.
Gin—The slight or trick necessary to open the door, from engine.
Wane—A number of people.
THE TWA CORBIES.
This poem was communicated to me by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq. jun. of Hoddom, as written down, from tradition, by a lady. It is a singular circumstance, that it should coincide so very nearly with the ancient dirge, called The Three Ravens, published by Mr Ritson, in his Ancient Songs; and that, at the same time, there should exist such a difference, as to make the one appear rather a counterpart than copy of the other. In order to enable the curious reader to contrast these two singular poems, and to form a judgment which may be the original, I take the liberty of copying the English ballad from Mr Ritson’s Collection, omitting only the burden and repetition of the first line. The learned editor states it to be given “From Ravencroft’s Metismata. Musical phansies, fitting the cittie and country, humours to 3, 4, and 5 voyces, London, 1611, 4to. It will be obvious (continues Mr Ritson) that this ballad is much older, not only than the date of the book, but most of the other pieces contained in it.” The music is given with the words, and is adapted to four voices:
There were three rauens sat on a tre,
They were as blacke as they might be:
The one of them said to his mate,
“Where shall we our breakfast take?”
“Downe in yonder greene field,
“There lies a knight slain under his shield;
“His hounds they lie downe at his feete,
“So well they their master keepe;
“His haukes they flie so eagerly,
“There’s no fowle dare come him nie.
“Down there comes a fallow doe,
“As great with yong as she might goe,
“She lift up his bloudy hed,
“And kist his wounds that were so red.
“She got him up upon her backe,
“And carried him to earthen lake.
“She buried him before the prime,
“She was dead her selfe ere euen song time.
“God send euery gentleman,
“Such haukes, such houndes, and such a leman.
Ancient Songs, 1792, p. 155.
I have seen a copy of this dirge much modernized.
THE TWA CORBIES.
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t’other say,
“Where sall we gang and dine to-day?”
“In behint yon auld fail[A] dyke,
“I wot there lies a new slain knight;
“And nae body kens that he lies there,
“But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.
“His hound is to the hunting gane,
“His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
“His lady’s ta’en another mate,
“So we may mak our dinner sweet.
“Ye’ll sit on his white hause bane,
“And I’ll pike out his bonny blue een:
“Wi’ ae lock o’ his gowden hair,
“We’ll theek[B] our nest when it grows bare.
“Mony a one for him makes mane,
“But nane sall ken whare he is gane:
“O’er his white banes, when they are bare,
“The wind sall blaw for evermair.”
THE DOUGLAS TRAGEDY.
The ballad of The Douglas Tragedy is one of the few, to which popular tradition has ascribed complete locality. The farm of Blackhouse, in Selkirkshire, is said to have been the scene of this melancholy event. There are the remains of a very ancient tower, adjacent to the farmhouse, in a wild and solitary glen, upon a torrent, named Douglas-burn, which joins the Yarrow, after passing a craggy rock, called the Douglas-craig. This wild scene, now a part of the Traquair estate, formed one of the most ancient possessions of the renowned family of Douglas; for Sir John Douglas, eldest son of William, the first Lord Douglas, is said to have sat, as baronial lord of Douglas-burn, during his father’s lifetime, in a parliament of Malcolm Canmore, held at Forfar.—GODSCROFT, Vol. I. p. 20. The tower appears to have been square, with a circular turret at one angle, for carrying up the staircase, and for flanking the entrance. It is said to have derived its name of Blackhouse from the complexion of the lords of Douglas, whose swarthy hue was a family attribute. But, when the high mountains, by which it is inclosed, were covered with heather, which was the case till of late years, Blackhouse must have also merited its appellation from the appearance of the scenery.
From this ancient tower Lady Margaret is said to have been carried by her lover. Seven large stones, erected upon the neighbouring heights of Blackhouse, are shown, as marking the spot where the seven brethren were slain; and the Douglas-burn is averred to have been the stream, at which the lovers stopped to drink: so minute is tradition in ascertaining the scene of a tragical tale, which, considering the rude state of former times, had probably foundation in some real event.
Many copies of this ballad are current among the vulgar, but chiefly in a state of great corruption; especially such as have been committed to the press in the shape of penny pamphlets. One of these is now before me, which, among many others, has the ridiculous error of “blue gilded horn,” for “bugelet horn.” The copy, principally used in this edition of the ballad, was supplied by Mr Sharpe. The three last verses are given from the printed copy, and from tradition. The hackneyed verse, of the rose and the briar springing from the grave of the lovers, is common to most tragic ballads; but it is introduced into this with singular propriety, as the chapel of St Mary, whose vestiges may be still traced upon the lake, to which it has given name, is said to have been the burial place of Lord William and Fair Margaret. The wrath of the Black Douglas, which vented itself upon the brier, far surpasses the usual stanza:
At length came the clerk of the parish,
As you the truth shall hear,
And by mischance he cut them down,
Or else they had still been there.
THE DOUGLAS TRAGEDY.
“Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas,” she says,
“And put on your armour so bright;
“Let it never be said, that a daughter of thine
“Was married to a lord under night.
“Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,
“And put on your armour so bright,
“And take better care of your youngest sister,
“For your eldest’s awa the last night.”
He’s mounted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And lightly they rode away.
Lord William lookit o’er his left shoulder,
To see what he could see,
And there he spy’d her seven brethren bold
Come riding over the lee.
“Light down, light down, Lady Marg’ret,” he said,
“And hold my steed in your hand,
“Until that against your seven brethren bold,
“And your father, I mak a stand.”
She held his steed in her milk-white hand,
And never shed one tear,
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa’,
And her father hard fighting, who lov’d her so dear.
“O hold your hand, Lord William!” she said,
“For your strokes they are wond’rous sair;
“True lovers I can get many a ane,
“But a father I can never get mair.”
O she’s ta’en out her handkerchief,
It was o’ the holland sae fine,
And ay she dighted her father’s bloody wounds,
That ware redder than the wine.
“O chuse, O chuse, Lady Marg’ret,” he said,
“O whether will ye gang or bide?”
“I’ll gang, I’ll gang, Lord William,” she said,
“For ye have left me no other guide.”
He’s lifted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And slowly they baith rade away.
O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a’ by the light of the moon,
Until they came to yon wan water,
And there they lighted down.
They lighted down to tak a drink
Of the spring that ran sae clear;
And down the stream ran his gude heart’s blood,
And sair she gan to fear.
“Hold up, hold up, Lord William,” she says,
“For I fear that you are slain!”
“‘Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak;
“That shines in the water sae plain.”
O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a’ by the light of the moon,
Until they cam’ to his mother’s ha’ door,
And there they lighted down.
“Get up, get up, lady mother,” he says,
“Get up, and let me in!—
“Get up, get up, lady mother,” he says,
“For this night my fair lady I’ve win.
“O mak my bed, lady mother,” he says,
“O mak it braid and deep!
“And lay Lady Marg’ret close at my back,
“And the sounder I will sleep.”
Lord William was dead lang ere midnight,
Lady Marg’ret lang ere day—
And all true lovers that go thegither,
May they have mair luck than they!
Lord William was buried in St Marie’s kirk,
Lady Margaret in Mary’s quire;
Out o’ the lady’s grave grew a bonny red rose,
And out o’ the knight’s a brier.
And they twa met, and they twa plat,
And fain they wad be near;
And a’ the warld might ken right weel,
They were twa lovers dear.
But bye and rade the Black Douglas,
And wow but he was rough!
For he pull’d up the bonny brier,
And flang’d in St Mary’s loch.
YOUNG BENJIE. NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
In this ballad the reader will find traces of a singular superstition, not yet altogether discredited in the wilder parts of Scotland. The lykewake, or watching a dead body, in itself a melancholy office, is rendered, in the idea of the assistants, more dismally awful, by the mysterious horrors of superstition. In the interval betwixt death and interment, the disembodied spirit is supposed to hover around its mortal habitation, and, if invoked by certain rites, retains the power of communicating, through its organs, the cause of its dissolution. Such enquiries, however are always dangerous, and never to be resorted to unless the deceased is suspected to have suffered foul play, as it is called. It is the more unsafe to tamper with this charm, in an unauthorized manner; because the inhabitants of the infernal regions are, at such periods, peculiarly active. One of the most potent ceremonies in the charm, for causing the dead body to speak, is, setting the door ajar, or half open. On this account, the peasants of Scotland sedulously avoid leaving the door ajar, while a corpse lies in the house. The door must either be left wide open, or quite shut; but the first is always preferred, on account of the exercise of hospitality usual on such occasions. The attendants must be likewise careful never to leave the corpse for a moment alone, or, if it is left alone, to avoid, with a degree of superstitious horror, the first sight of it. The following story, which is frequently related by the peasants of Scotland, will illustrate the imaginary danger of leaving the door ajar. In former times, a man and his wife lived in a solitary cottage, on one of the extensive border fells. One day, the husband died suddenly; and his wife, who was equally afraid of staying alone by the corpse, or leaving the dead body by itself, repeatedly went to the door, and looked anxiously over the lonely moor, for the sight of some person approaching. In her confusion and alarm, she accidentally left the door ajar, when the corpse suddenly started up, and sat in the bed, frowning and grinning at her frightfully. She sat alone, crying bitterly, unable to avoid the fascination of the dead man’s eye, and too much terrified to break the sullen silence, till a catholic priest, passing over the wild, entered the cottage. He first set the door quite open, then put his little finger in his mouth, and said the paternoster backwards; when the horrid look of the corpse relaxed, it fell back on the bed, and behaved itself as a dead man ought to do.
The ballad is given from tradition.
Of a’ the maids o’ fair Scotland,
The fairest was Marjorie;
And young Benjie was her ae true love,
And a dear true love was he.
And wow! but they were lovers dear,
And loved fu’ constantlie;
But ay the mair when they fell out,
The sairer was their plea.[A]
And they hae quarrelled on a day,
Till Marjorie’s heart grew wae;
And she said she’d chuse another luve,
And let young Benjie gae.
And he was stout,[B] and proud-hearted,
And thought o’t bitterlie;
And he’s ga’en by the wan moon-light,
To meet his Marjorie.
“O open, open, my true love,
“O open, and let me in!”
“I dare na open, young Benjie,
“My three brothers are within.”
“Ye lied, ye lied, ye bonny burd,
“Sae loud’s I hear ye lie;
“As I came by the Lowden banks,
“They bade gude e’en to me.
“But fare ye weel, my ae fause love,
“That I hae loved sae lang!
“It sets[C] ye chuse another love,
“And let young Benjie gang.”
Then Marjorie turned her round about,
The tear blinding her ee,—
“I darena, darena, let thee in,
“But I’ll come down to thee.”
Then saft she smiled, and said to him,
“O what ill hae I done?”
He took her in his armis twa,
And threw her o’er the linn.
The stream was strang, the maid was stout,
And laith laith to be dang,[D]
But, ere she wan the Lowden banks,
Her fair colour was wan.
Then up bespak her eldest brother,
“O see na ye what I see?”
And out then spak her second brother,
“Its our sister Marjorie!”
Out then spak her eldest brother,
“O how shall we her ken?”
And out then spak her youngest brother,
“There’s a honey mark on her chin.”
Then they’ve ta’en up the comely corpse,
And laid it on the ground—
“O wha has killed our ae sister,
“And how can he be found?
“The night it is her low lykewake,
“The morn her burial day,
“And we maun watch at mirk midnight,
“And hear what she will say.”
Wi’ doors ajar, and candle light,
And torches burning clear;
The streikit corpse, till still midnight,
They waked, but naething hear.
About the middle o’ the night.
The cocks began to craw;
And at the dead hour o’ the night,
The corpse began to thraw.
“O wha has done the wrang, sister,
“Or dared the deadly sin?
“Wha was sae stout, and feared nae dout,
“As thraw ye o’er the linn?”
“Young Benjie was the first ae man
“I laid my love upon;
“He was sae stout and proud-hearted,
“He threw me o’er the linn.”
“Sall we young Benjie head, sister,
“Sall we young Benjie hang,
“Or sall we pike out his twa gray een,
“And punish him ere he gang?”
“Ye mauna Benjie head, brothers,
“Ye mauna Benjie hang,
“But ye maun pike out his twa gray een,
“And punish him ere he gang.
“Tie a green gravat round his neck,
“And lead him out and in,
“And the best ae servant about your house
“To wait young Benjie on.
“And ay, at every seven year’s end,
“Ye’ll tak him to the linn;
“For that’s the penance he maun drie,
“To scug[E] his deadly sin.”
Plea—Used obliquely for dispute.
Stout—Through this whole ballad, signifies haughty.
Sets ye—Becomes you—ironical.
Scug—shelter or expiate.
This ballad was communicated to me by Mr Kirkpatrick Sharpe of Hoddom, who mentions having copied it from an old magazine. Although it has probably received some modern corrections, the general turn seems to be ancient, and corresponds with that of a fragment, containing the following verses, which I have often heard sung in my childhood:—
She set her back against a thorn,
And there she has her young son borne;
“O smile nae sae, my bonny babe!
“An ye smile sae sweet, ye’ll smile me dead.”
An’ when that lady went to the church,
She spied a naked boy in the porch,
“O bonnie boy, an’ ye were mine,
“I’d clead ye in the silks sae fine.”
“O mither dear, when I was thine,
“To me ye were na half sae kind.”
Stories of this nature are very common in the annals of popular superstition. It is, for example, currently believed in Ettrick Forest, that a libertine, who had destroyed fifty-six inhabited houses, in order to throw the possessions of the cottagers into his estate, and who added to this injury, that of seducing their daughters, was wont to commit, to a carrier in the neighbourhood, the care of his illegitimate children, shortly after they were born. His emissary regularly carried them away, but they were never again heard of. The unjust and cruel gains of the profligate laird were dissipated by his extravagance, and the ruins of his house seem to bear witness to the truth of the rhythmical prophecies denounced against it, and still current among the peasantry. He himself died an untimely death; but the agent of his amours and crimes survived to extreme old age. When on his death-bed, he seemed much oppressed in mind, and sent for a clergyman to speak peace to his departing spirit: but, before the messenger returned, the man was in his last agony; and the terrified assistants had fled from his cottage, unanimously averring, that the wailing of murdered infants had ascended from behind his couch, and mingled with the groans of the departing sinner.
Fair lady Anne sate in her bower,
Down by the greenwood side,
And the flowers did spring, and the birds did sing,
‘Twas the pleasant May-day tide.
But fair lady Anne on sir William call’d,
With the tear grit in her e’e,
“O though thou be fause, may heaven thee guard,
“In the wars ayont the sea!”
Out of the wood came three bonnie boys,
Upon the simmer’s morn,
And they did sing, and play at the ba’,
As naked as they were born.
“O seven lang year was I sit here,
“Amang the frost and snaw,
“A’ to hae but ane o’ these bonnie boys,
“A playing at the ba’.”
Then up and spake the eldest boy,
“Now listen, thou fair ladie!
“And ponder well the read that I tell,
“Then make ye a choice of the three.
“‘Tis I am Peter, and this is Paul,
“And that are, sae fair to see,
“But a twelve-month sinsyne to paradise came,
“To join with our companie.”
“O I will hae the snaw-white boy,
“The bonniest of the three.”
“And if I were thine, and in thy propine,[A]
“O what wad ye do to me?”
“‘Tis I wad clead thee in silk and gowd,
“And nourice thee on my knee.”
“O mither! mither! when I was thine,
“Sic kindness I could na see.
“Before the turf, where I now stand,
“The fause nurse buried me;
“Thy cruel penknife sticks still in my heart,
“And I come not back to thee.”
Propine—Usually gift, but here the power of giving or bestowing.
This ballad was communicated to me by Mr James Hogg; and, although it bears a strong resemblance to that of Earl Richard, so strong, indeed, as to warrant a supposition, that the one has been derived from the other, yet its intrinsic merit seems to warrant its insertion. Mr Hogg has added the following note, which, in the course of my enquiries, I have found most fully corroborated.
“I am fully convinced of the antiquity of this song; for, although much of the language seems somewhat modernized, this must be attributed to its currency, being much liked, and very much sung, in this neighbourhood. I can trace it back several generations, but cannot hear of its ever having been in print. I have never heard it with any considerable variation, save that one reciter called the dwelling of the feigned sweetheart, Castleswa.”
Lord William was the bravest knight
That dwait in fair Scotland,
And, though renowned in France and Spain,
Fell by a ladie’s hand.
As she was walking maid alone,
Down by yon shady wood.
She heard a smit[A] o’ bridle reins,
She wish’d might be for good.
“Come to my arms, my dear Willie,
“You’re welcome hame to me;
“To best o’ chear and charcoal red,[B]
“And candle burnin’ free.”
“I winna light, I darena light,
“Nor come to your arms at a’;
“A fairer maid than ten o’ you,
“I’ll meet at Castle-law.”
“A fairer maid than me, Willie!
“A fairer maid than me!
“A fairer maid than ten o’ me,
“Your eyes did never see.”
He louted owr his saddle lap,
To kiss her ere they part,
And wi’ a little keen bodkin,
She pierced him to the heart.
“Ride on, ride on, lord William, now,
“As fast as ye can dree!
“Your bonny lass at Castle-law
“Will weary you to see.”
Out up then spake a bonny bird,
Sat high upon a tree,—
How could you kill that noble lord?
“He came to marry thee.”
“Come down, come down, my bonny bird,
“And eat bread aff my hand!
“Your cage shall be of wiry goud,
“Whar now its but the wand.”
“Keep ye your cage o’ goud, lady,
“And I will keep my tree;
“As ye hae done to lord William.,
“Sae wad ye do to me.”
She set her foot on her door step,
A bonny marble stane;
And carried him to her chamber,
O’er him to make her mane.
And she has kept that good lord’s corpse
Three quarters of a year,
Until that word began to spread,
Then she began to fear.
Then she cried on her waiting maid,
Ay ready at her ca’;
“There is a knight unto my bower,
“‘Tis time he were awa.”
The ane has ta’en him by the head,
The ither by the feet,
And thrown him in the wan water,
That ran baith wide and deep.
“Look back, look back, now, lady fair,
“On him that lo’ed ye weel!
“A better man than that blue corpse
“Ne’er drew a sword of steel.”
Smit—Clashing noise, from smite—hence also (perhaps) Smith and Smithy.
Charcoal red—This circumstance marks the antiquity of the poem. While wood was plenty in Scotland, charcoal was the usual fuel in the chambers of the wealthy.
THE BROOMFIELD HILL.
The concluding verses of this ballad were inserted in the copy of Tamlane, given to the public in the first edition of this work. They are now restored to their proper place. Considering how very apt the most accurate reciters are to patch up one ballad with verses from another, the utmost caution cannot always avoid such errors.
A more sanguine antiquary than the editor might perhaps endeavour to identify this poem, which is of undoubted antiquity, with the “Broom Broom on Hill,” mentioned by Lane, in his Progress of Queen Elizabeth into Warwickshire, as forming part of Captain’s Cox’s collection, so much envied by the black-letter antiquaries of the present day.—Dugdale’s Warwickshire, p. 166. The same ballad is quoted by one of the personages, in a “very mery and pythie comedie,” called “The longer thou livest, the more fool thou art.” See Ritson’s Dissertation, prefixed to Ancient Songs, p. lx. “Brume brume on hill,” is also mentioned in the Complayat of Scotland. See Leyden’s edition, p. 100.
THE BROOMFIELD HILL.
There was a knight and a lady bright,
Had a true tryste at the broom;
The ane ga’ed early in the morning,
The other in the afternoon.
And ay she sat in her mother’s bower door,
And ay she made her mane,
“Oh whether should I gang to the Broomfield hill,
“Or should I stay at hame?
“For if I gang to the Broomfield hill,
“My maidenhead is gone;
“And if I chance to stay at hame,
“My love will ca’ me mansworn.”
Up then spake a witch woman,
Ay from the room aboon;
“O, ye may gang to the Broomfield hill,
“And yet come maiden hame.
“For, when ye gang to the Broomfield hill,
“Ye’ll find your love asleep,
“With a silver-belt about his head,
“And a broom-cow at his feet.
“Take ye the blossom of the broom,
“The blossom it smells sweet,
“And strew it at your true love’s head,
“And likewise at his feet.
“Take ye the rings off your fingers,
“Put them on his right hand,
“To let him know, when he doth awake,
“His love was at his command.”
She pu’d the broom flower on Hive-hill,
And strew’d on’s white hals bane,
And that was to be wittering true,
That maiden she had gane.
“O where were ye, my milk-white steed,
“That I hae coft sae dear,
“That wadna watch and waken me,
“When there was maiden here?”
“I stamped wi’ my foot, master,
“And gar’d my bridle ring;
“But na kin’ thing wald waken ye,
“Till she was past and gane.”
“And wae betide ye, my gay goss hawk,
“That I did love sae dear,
“That wadna watch and waken me,
“When there was maiden here.”
“I clapped wi’ my wings, master,
“And aye my bells I rang,
“And aye cry’d, waken, waken, master,
“Before the ladye gang.”
“But haste and haste, my good white steed,
“To come the maiden till,
“Or a’ the birds, of gude green wood,
“Of your flesh shall have their fill.”
“Ye need na burst your good white steed,
“Wi’ racing o’er the howm;
“Nae bird flies faster through the wood,
“Than she fled through the broom.”
PROUD LADY MARGARET.
This Ballad was communicated to the Editor by Mr. HAMILTON, Music-seller, Edinburgh, with whose Mother it had been a, favourite. Two verses and one line were wanting, which are here supplied from a different Ballad, having a plot somewhat similar. These verses are the 6th and 9th.
‘Twas on a night, an evening bright,
When the dew began to fa’,
Lady Margaret was walking up and down,
Looking o’er her castle wa’.
She looked east, and she looked west,
To see what she could spy,
When a gallant knight came in her sight,
And to the gate drew nigh.
“You seem to be no gentleman,
“You wear your boots so wide;
“But you seem to be some cunning hunter,
“You wear the horn so syde.”[A]
“I am no cunning hunter,” he said,
“Nor ne’er intend to be;
“But I am come to this castle
“To seek the love of thee;
“And if you do not grant me love,
“This night for thee I’ll die.”
“If you should die for me, sir knight,
“There’s few for you will mane,
“For mony a better has died for me,
“Whose graves are growing green.
“But ye maun read my riddle,” she said,
“And answer my questions three;
“And but ye read them right,” she said,
“Gae stretch ye out and die.—
“Now, what is the flower, the ae first flower,
“Springs either on moor or dale?
“And what is the bird, the bonnie bonnie bird,
“Sings on the evening gale?”
“The primrose is the ae first flower,
“Springs either on moor or dale;
“And the thistlecock is the bonniest bird;
“Sings on the evening gale.”
“But what’s the little coin,” she said,
“Wald buy my castle bound?
“And what’s the little boat,” she said,
“Can sail the world all round?”
“O hey, how mony small pennies
“Make thrice three thousand pound?
“Or hey, how mony small fishes
“Swim a’ the salt sea round.”
“I think you maun be my match,” she said,
“My match, and something mair;
“You are the first e’er got the grant
Of love frae my father’s heir.
“My father was lord of nine castles,
“My mother lady of three;
“My father was lord of nine castles,
“And there’s nane to heir but me.
“And round about a’ thae castles,
“You may baith plow and saw,
“And on the fifteenth day of May,
“The meadows they will maw.”
“O hald your tongue, lady Margaret,” he said,
“For loud I hear you lie!
“Your father was lord of nine castles,
“Your mother was lady of three;
“Your father was lord of nine castles,
“But ye fa’ heir to but three.
“And round about a’ thae castles,
“You may baith plow and saw,
“But on the fifteenth day of May
“The meadows will not maw.
“I am your brother Willie,” he said,
“I trow ye ken na me;
“I came to humble your haughty heart,
“Has gar’d sae mony die.”
“If ye be my brother Willie,” she said,
“As I trow weel ye be,
“This night I’ll neither eat nor drink,
“But gae alang wi’ thee.”
“O hold your tongue, lady Margaret,” he said.
“Again I hear you lie;
“For ye’ve unwashen hands, and ye’ve unwashen feet,[B]
“To gae to clay wi’ me.
“For the wee worms are my bedfellows,
“And cauld clay is my sheets;
“And when the stormy winds do blow,
“My body lies and sleeps.”
Syde—Long or low.
Unwashen hands and unwashen feet—Alluding to the custom of washing and dressing dead bodies.
THE ORIGINAL BALLAD OF THE BROOM OF COWDENKNOWS.
The beautiful air of Cowdenknows is well known and popular. In Ettrick Forest the following words are uniformly adapted to the tune, and seem to be the original ballad. An edition of this pastoral tale, differing considerably from the present copy, was published by Mr. HERD, in 1772. Cowdenknows is situated upon the river Leader, about four miles from Melrose, and is now the property of Dr HUME.
O the broom, and the bonny bonny broom,
And the broom of the Cowdenknows!
And aye sae sweet as the lassie sang,
I’ the bought, milking the ewes.
The hills were high on ilka side,
An’ the bought i’ the lirk o’ the hill,
And aye, as she sang, her voice it rang
Out o’er the head o’ yon hill.
There was a troop o’ gentlemen
Came riding merrilie by,
And one of them has rode out o’ the way,
To the bought to the bonny may.
“Weel may ye save an’ see, bonny lass,
“An’ weel may ye save an’ see.”
“An’ sae wi’ you, ye weel-bred knight,”
“And what’s your will wi’ me?”
“The night is misty and mirk, fair may,
“And I have ridden astray,
“And will ye be so kind, fair may,
“As come out and point my way?”
“Ride out, ride out, ye ramp rider!
“Your steed’s baith stout and strang;
“For out of the bought I dare na come,
“For fear ‘at ye do me wrang.”
“O winna ye pity me, bonny lass,
“O winna ye pity me?
“An’ winna ye pity my poor steed,
“Stands trembling at yon tree?”
“I wadna pity your poor steed,
“Tho’ it were tied to a thorn;
“For if ye wad gain my love the night,
“Ye wad slight me ere the morn.
“For I ken you by your weel-busked hat,
“And your merrie twinkling e’e,
“That ye’re the laird o’ the Oakland hills,
“An’ ye may weel seem for to be.”
“But I am not the laird o’ the Oakland hills,
“Ye’re far mista’en o’ me;
“But I’m are o’ the men about his house,
“An’ right aft in his companie.”
He’s ta’en her by the middle jimp,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
He’s lifted her over the fauld dyke,
And speer’d at her sma’ leave.
O he’s ta’en out a purse o’ gowd,
And streek’d her yellow hair,
“Now, take ye that, my bonnie may,
“Of me till you hear mair.”
O he’s leapt on his berry-brown steed,
An’ soon he’s o’erta’en his men;
And ane and a’ cried out to him,
“O master, ye’ve tarry’d lang!”
“O I hae been east, and I hae been west,
“An’ I hae been far o’er the know,
“But the bonniest lass that ever I saw
“Is i’the bought milking the ewes.”
She set the cog[A] upon her head,
An’ she’s gane singing hame—
“O where hae ye been, my ae daughter?
“Ye hae na been your lane.”
“O nae body was wi’ me, father,
“O nae body has been wi’ me;
“The night is misty and mirk, father,
“Ye may gang to the door and see.
“But wae be to your ewe-herd, father,
“And an ill deed may he die;
“He bug the bought at the back o’ the know,
“And a tod[B] has frighted me.
“There came a tod to the bought-door,
“The like I never saw;
“And ere he had tane the lamb he did,
“I had lourd he had ta’en them a’.”
O whan fifteen weeks was come and gane,
Fifteen weeks and three.
That lassie began to look thin and pale,
An’ to long for his merry twinkling e’e.
It fell on a day, on a het simmer day,
She was ca’ing out her father’s kye,
By came a troop o’ gentlemen,
A’ merrilie riding bye.
“Weel may ye save an’ see, bonny may,
“Weel may ye save and see!
“Weel I wat, ye be a very bonny may,
“But whae’s aught that babe ye are wi’?”
Never a word could that lassie say,
For never a ane could she blame,
An’ never a word could the lassie say,
But “I have a good man at hame.”
“Ye lied, ye lied, my very bonny may,
“Sae loud as I hear you lie;
“For dinna ye mind that misty night
“I was i’ the bought wi’ thee?
“I ken you by your middle sae jimp,
“An’ your merry twinkling e’e,
“That ye’re the bonny lass i’the Cowdenknow,
“An’ ye may weel seem for to be.”
Than he’s leap’d off his berry-brown steed,
An’ he’s set that fair may on—
“Caw out your kye, gude father, yoursell,
“For she’s never caw them out again.
“I am the laird of the Oakland hills,
“I hae thirty plows and three;
“Ah’ I hae gotten the bonniest lass
“That’s in a’ the south country.
There is a beautiful air to this old ballad. The hero is more generally termed Lord Ronald; but I willingly follow the authority of an Ettrick Forest copy for calling him Randal;because, though the circumstances are so very different, I think it not impossible, that the ballad may have originally regarded the death of Thomas Randolph, or Randal, earl of Murray, nephew to Robert Bruce, and governor of Scotland. This great warrior died at Musselburgh, 1332, at the moment when his services were most necessary to his country, already threatened by an English army. For this sole reason, perhaps, our historians obstinately impute his death to poison. See The Bruce, book xx. Fordun repeats, and Boece echoes, this story, both of whom charge the murder on Edward III. But it is combated successfully by Lord Hailes, in his Remarks on the History of Scotland.
The substitution of some venomous reptile for food, or putting it into liquor, was anciently supposed to be a common mode of administering poison; as appears from the following curious account of the death of King John, extracted from a MS. Chronicle of England, penes John Clerk, esq. advocate. “And, in the same tyme, the pope sente into Englond a legate, that men cald Swals, and he was prest cardinal of Rome, for to mayntene King Johnes cause agens the barons of Englond; but the barons had so much pte (poustie, i.e. power) through Lewys, the kinges sone of Fraunce, that King Johne wist not wher for to wend ne gone: and so hitt fell, that he wold have gone to Suchold; and as he went thedurward, he come by the abbey of Swinshed, and ther he abode II dayes. And, as he sate at meat, he askyd a monke of the house, how moche a lofe was worth, that was before hym sete at the table? and the monke sayd that loffe was worthe bot ane halfpenny. ‘O!’ quod the kyng, ‘this is a grette cheppe of brede; now,’ said the king, ‘and yff I may, such a loffe shalle be worth xxd. or half a yer be gone:’ and when he said the word, muche he thought, and ofte tymes sighed, and nome and ete of the bred, and said, ‘By Gode, the word that I have spokyn shall be sothe.’ The monke, that stode befor the kyng, was ful sory in his hert; and thought rather he wold himself suffer peteous deth; and thought yff he myght ordeyn therfore sum remedy. And anon the monke went unto his abbott, and was schryvyd of him, and told the abbott all that the kyng said, and prayed his abbott to assoyl him, for he wold gyffe the kyng such a wassayle, that all Englond shuld be glad and joyful therof. Tho went the monke into a gardene, and fond a tode therin; and toke her upp, and put hyr in a cuppe, and filled it with good ale, and pryked hyr in every place, in the cuppe, till the venome come out in every place; an brought hitt befor the kyng, and knelyd, and said, ‘Sir, wassayle; for never in your lyfe drancke ye of such a cuppe,’ ‘Begyne, monke,’ quod the king; and the monke dranke a gret draute, and toke the kyng the cuppe, and the kyng also drank a grett draute, and set downe the cuppe.—The monke anon went to the Farmarye, and ther dyed anon, on whose soule God have mercy, Amen. And v monkes syng for his soule especially, and shall while the abbey stondith. The kyng was anon ful evil at ese, and comaunded to remove the table, and askyd after the monke; and men told him that he was ded, for his wombe was broke in sondur. When the king herd this tidyng, he comaunded for to trusse; but all hit was for nought, for his bely began to swelle for the drink that he dranke, that he dyed within II dayes, the moro aftur Seynt Luke’s day.”
A different account of the poisoning of King John is given in a MS. Chronicle of England, written in the minority of Edward III., and contained in the Auchinleck MS. of Edinburgh. Though not exactly to our present purpose, the passage is curious, and I shall quote it without apology. The author has mentioned the interdict laid on John’s kingdom by the pope, and continues thus:
He was ful wroth and grim,
For no prest wald sing for him
He made tho his parlement,
And swore his croy de verament,
That he shuld make such assaut,
To fede all Inglonde with a spand.
And eke with a white lof,
Therefore I hope[A] he was God-loth.
A monk it herd of Swines-heued,
And of this wordes he was adred,
He went hym to his fere,
And seyd to hem in this manner;
“The king has made a sori oth,
That he schal with a white lof
Fede al Inglonde, and with a spand,
Y wis it were a sori saut;
And better is that we die to,
Than al Inglond be so wo.
Ye schul for me belles ring,
And after wordes rede and sing;
So helpe you God, heven king,
Granteth me alle now mill asking,
And Ichim wil with puseoun slo,
Ne schal he never Inglond do wo.”
His brethren him graunt alle his bone.
He let him shrive swithe sone,
To make his soule fair and cleue,
To for our leuedi heven queen,
That sche schuld for him be,
To for her son in trinité.
Dansimond zede and gadred frut,
For sothe were plommes white,
The steles[B] he puld out everichon,
Puisoun he dede therin anon,
And sett the steles al ogen,
That the gile schuld nought be sen.
He dede hem in a coupe of gold,
And went to the kinges bord;
On knes he him sett,
The king full fair he grett;
“Sir,” he said, “by Seynt Austin,
This is front of our garden,
And gif that your wil be,
Assayet herof after me.”
Dansimoud ete frut, on and on,
And al tho other ete King Jon;
The monke aros, and went his way,
God gif his soule wel gode day;
He gaf King Jon ther his puisoun,
Himself had that ilk doun,
He dede, it is nouther for mirthe ne ond,
Bot for to save al Iuglond.
The King Jon sate at mete,
His wombe to wex grete;
He swore his oth, per la croyde,
His wombe wald brest a thre;
He wald have risen fram the bord,
Ac he spake never more word;
Thus ended his time,
Y wis he had an evel fine.
Hope, for think.
Shakespeare, from such old chronicles, has drawn his authority for the last fine scene in King John. But he probably had it from Caxton, who uses nearly the words of the prose chronicle. Hemingford tells the same tale with the metrical historian. It is certain, that John increased the flux, of which he died, by the intemperate use of peaches and of ale, which may have given rise to the story of the poison.—See MATTHEW PARIS.
To return to the ballad: there is a very similar song, in which, apparently to excite greater interest in the nursery, the handsome young hunter is exchanged for a little child, poisoned by a false step-mother.
“O where hae ye been, Lord Randal, my son?
“O where hae ye been, my handsome young man?”
“I hae been to the wild wood; mother, make my bed soon,
“For I’m weary wi’ hunting, and fain wald lie down.”
“Where gat ye your dinner, Lord Randal, my son?
“Where gat ye your dinner, my handsome young man?”
“I din’d wi’ my true-love; mother, make my bed soon,
“For I’m weary wi’ hunting, and fain wald lie down.”
“What gat ye to your dinner, Lord Randal, my son?.
“What gat ye to your dinner, my handsome young man?”
“I gat eels boil’d in broo’; mother, make my bed soon,
“For I’m weary wi’ hunting, and fain wald lie down.”
“What became of your bloodhounds, Lord Randal, my son?
“What became of your bloodhounds, my handsome young man?”
“O they swell’d and they died; mother, make my bed soon,
“For I’m weary wi’ hunting, and fain wald lie down.”
“O I fear ye are poison’d, Lord Randal, my son!
“O I fear ye are poison’d, my handsome young man!”
“O yes! I am poison’d; mother, make my bed soon,
“For I’m sick at the heart, and I fain wald lie down.”
SIR HUGH LE BLOND.
This ballad is a northern composition, and seems to have been the original of the legend called Sir Aldingar, which is printed in the Reliques of Antient Poetry. The incidents are nearly the same in both ballads, excepting that, in Aldingar, an angel combats for the queen, instead of a mortal champion. The names of Aldingar and Rodingham approach near to each other in sound, though not in orthography, and the one might, by reciters, be easily substituted for the other.
The tradition, upon which the ballad is founded, is universally current in the Mearns; and the editor is informed, that, till very lately, the sword, with which Sir Hugh le Blond was believed to have defended the life and honour of the queen, was carefully preserved by his descendants, the viscounts of Arbuthnot. That Sir Hugh of Arbuthnot lived in the thirteenth century, is proved by his having, in 1282, bestowed the patronage of the church of Garvoch upon the monks of Aberbrothwick, for the safety of his soul.—Register of Aberbrothwick, quoted by Crawford in Peerage. But I find no instance in history, in which the honour of a queen of Scotland was committed to the chance of a duel. It is true, that Mary, wife of Alexander II., was, about 1242, somewhat implicated in a dark story, concerning the murder of Patrick, earl of Athole, burned in his lodging at Haddington, where he had gone to attend a great tournament. The relations of the deceased baron accused of the murder Sir William Bisat, a powerful nobleman, who appears to have been in such high favour with the young queen, that she offered her oath, as a compurgator, to prove his innocence. Bisat himself stood upon his defence, and proffered the combat to his accusers; but he was obliged to give way to the tide, and was banished from Scotland. This affair interested all the northern barons; and it is not impossible, that some share, taken in it by this Sir Hugh de Arbuthnot, may have given a slight foundation for the tradition of the country.—WINTON, B. vii. ch. 9. Or, if we suppose Sir Hugh le Blond to be a predecessor of the Sir Hugh who flourished in the thirteenth century, he may have been the victor in a duel, shortly noticed as having occurred in 1154, when one Arthur, accused of treason, was unsuccessful in his appeal to the judgment of God. Arthurus regem Malcolm proditurus duello periit. Chron. Sanctae Crucis ap. Anglia Sacra, Vol. I. p. 161.
But, true or false, the incident, narrated in the ballad, is in the genuine style of chivalry. Romances abound with similar instances, nor are they wanting in real history. The most solemn part of a knight’s oath was to defend “all widows, orphelines, and maidens of gude fame.”[A]—LINDSAY’S Heraldry, MS. The love of arms was a real passion of itself, which blazed yet more fiercely when united with the enthusiastic admiration of the fair sex. The knight of Chaucer exclaims, with chivalrous energy,
To fight for a lady! a benedicite!
It were a lusty sight for to see.
It was an argument, seriously urged by Sir John of Heinault, for making war upon Edward II., in behalf of his banished wife, Isabella, that knights were bound to aid, to their uttermost power, all distressed damsels, living without council or comfort.
Such an oath is still taken by the Knights of the Bath; but, I believe, few of that honourable brotherhood will now consider it quite so obligatory as the conscientious Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who gravely alleges it as a sufficient reason for having challenged divers cavaliers, that they had either snatched from a lady her bouquet, or ribband, or, by some discourtesy of similar importance, placed her, as his lordship conceived, in the predicament of a distressed damozell.
An apt illustration of the ballad would have been the combat, undertaken by three Spanish champions against three Moors of Granada, in defence of the honour of the queen of Granada, wife to Mohammed Chiquito, the last monarch of that kingdom. But I have not at hand Las Guerras Civiles de Granada, in which that atchievement is recorded. Raymond Berenger, count of Barcelona, is also said to have defended, in single combat, the life and honour of the Empress Matilda, wife of the Emperor Henry V., and mother to Henry II. of England.—See ANTONIO ULLOA, del vero Honore Militare, Venice, 1569.
A less apocryphal example is the duel, fought in 1387, betwixt Jaques le Grys and John de Carogne, before the king of France. These warriors were retainers of the earl of Alencon, and originally sworn brothers. John de Carogne went over the sea, for the advancement of his fame, leaving in his castle a beautiful wife, where she lived soberly and sagely. But the devil entered into the heart of Jaques le Grys, and he rode, one morning, from the earl’s house to the castle of his friend, where he was hospitably received by the unsuspicious lady. He requested her to show him the donjon, or keep of the castle, and in that remote and inaccessible tower forcibly violated her chastity. He then mounted his horse, and returned to the earl of Alencon within so short a space, that his absence had not been perceived. The lady abode within the donjon, weeping bitterly, and exclaiming, “Ah Jaques! it was not well done thus to shame me! but on you shall the shame rest, if God send my husband safe home!” The lady kept secret this sorrowful deed until her husband’s return from his voyage. The day passed, and night came, and the knight went to bed; but the lady would not; for ever she blessed herself, and walked up and down the chamber, studying and musing, until her attendants had retired; and then, throwing herself on her knees before the knight, she shewed him all the adventure. Hardly would Carogne believe the treachery of his companion; but, when convinced, he replied, “Since it is so, lady, I pardon you; but the knight shall die for this villainous deed.” Accordingly, Jaques le Grys was accused of the crime, in the court of the earl of Alencon. But, as he was greatly loved of his lord, and as the evidence was very slender, the earl gave judgment against the accusers. Hereupon John Carogne appealed to the parliament of Paris; which court, after full consideration, appointed the case to be tried by mortal combat betwixt the parties, John Carogne appearing as the champion of his lady. If he failed in his combat, then was he to be hanged, and his lady burned, as false and unjust calumniators. This combat, under circumstances so very peculiar, attracted universal attention; in so much, that the king of France and his peers, who were then in Flanders, collecting troops for an invasion of England, returned to Paris, that so notable a duel might be fought in the royal presence. “Thus the kynge, and his uncles, and the constable, came to Parys. Then the lystes were made in a place called Saynt Katheryne, behinde the Temple. There was soo moche people, that it was mervayle to beholde; and on the one side of the lystes there was made gret scaffoldes, that the lordes might the better se the batayle of the ii champion; and so they bothe came to the felde, armed at all peaces, and there eche of them was set in theyr chayre; the erle of Saynt Poule gouverned John of Carongne, and the erle of Alanson’s company with Jacques le Grys; and when the knyght entred in to the felde, he came to his wyfe, who was there syttynge in a chayre, covered in blacke, and he sayd to her thus:—Dame, by your enformacyon, and in your quarrell, I do put my lyfe in adventure, as to fyght with Jacques le Grys; ye knowe, if the cause be just and true.’—’Syr,’ sayd the lady, ‘it is as I have sayd; wherefore ye maye fyght surely; the cause is good and true.’ With those wordes, the knyghte kissed the lady, and toke her by the hande, and then blessyd hym, and soo entred into the felde. The lady sate styll in the blacke chayre, in her prayers to God, and to the vyrgyne Mary, humbly prayenge them, by theyr specyall grace, to send her husbande the victory, accordynge to the ryght. She was in gret hevynes, for she was not sure of her lyfe; for, if her husbande sholde have ben dyscomfyted, she was judged, without remedy, to be brente, and her husbande hanged. I cannot say whether she repented her or not, as the matter was so forwarde, that both she and her husbande were in grete peryll: howbeit, fynally, she must as then abyde the adventure. Then these two champyons were set one agaynst another, and so mounted on theyr horses, and behauved them nobly; for they knewe what perteyned to deades of armes. There were many lordes and knyghtes of Fraunce, that were come thyder to se that batayle. The two champyons justed at theyr fyrst metyng, but none of them dyd hurte other; and, after the justes, they lyghted on foote to periournie theyr batayle, and soo fought valyauntly.—And fyrst, John of Carongne was hurt in the thyghe, whereby al his frendes were in grete fere; but, after that, he fought so valyauntly, that he bette down his adversary to the erthe, and threst his swerde in his body, and soo slewe hyrn in the felde; and then he demaunded, if he had done his devoyse or not? and they answered, that he had valyauntly atchieved his batayle. Then Jacques le Grys was delyuered to the hangman of Parys, and he drewe hym to the gybbet of Mountfawcon, and there hanged him up. Then John of Carongne came before the kynge, and kneled downe, and the kynge made him to stand up before hym; and, the same daye, the kynge caused to be delyvred to him a thousande franks, and reteyned him to be of his chambre, with a pencyon of ii hundred pounde by yere, durynge the terme of his lyfe. Then he thanked the kynge and the lordes, and went to his wyfe, and kissed her; and then they wente togyder to the chyrche of our ladye, in Parys, and made theyr offerynge, and then retourned to their lodgynges. Then this Sir John of Carongne taryed not longe in Fraunce, but went, with Syr John Boucequant, Syr John of Bordes, and Syr Loys Grat. All these went to se Lamorabaquyn,[A] of whome, in those dayes, there was moche spekynge.”
This odd name Froissart gives to the famous Mahomet, emperor of Turkey, called the Great.
Such was the readiness, with which, in those times, heroes put their lives in jeopardy, for honour and lady’s sake. But I doubt whether the fair dames of the present day will think, that the risk of being burned, upon every suspicion of frailty, could be altogether compensated by the probability, that a husband of good faith, like John de Carogne, or a disinterested champion, like Hugh le Blond, would take up the gauntlet in their behalf. I fear they will rather accord to the sentiment of the hero of an old romance, who expostulates thus with a certain duke:—
Certes, sir duke, thou doest unright,
To make a roast of your daughter bright;
I wot you ben unkind.
Amis and Amelion.
I was favoured with the following copy of Sir Hugh le Blond, by K. Williamson Burnet, Esq. of Monboddo, who wrote it down from the recitation of an old woman, long in the service of the Arbuthnot family. Of course the diction is very much humbled, and it has, in all probability, undergone many corruptions; but its antiquity is indubitable, and the story, though indifferently told, is in itself interesting. It is believed, that there have been many more verses.
SIR HUGH LE BLOND.
The birds sang sweet as ony bell,
The world had not their make,
The queen she’s gone to her chamber,
With Rodingham to talk.
“I love you well, my queen, my dame,
“‘Bove land and rents so clear
“And for the love of you, my queen,
“Would thole pain most severe.”
“If well you love me, Rodingham,
“I’m sure so do I thee:
“I love you well as any man,
“Save the king’s fair bodye.”
“I love you well, my queen, my dame;
“‘Tis truth that I do tell:
“And for to lye a night with you,
“The salt seas I would sail.”
“Away, away, O Rodingham!
“You are both stark and stoor;
“Would you defile the king’s own bed,
“And make his queen a whore?
“To-morrow you’d be taken sure,
“And like a traitor slain;
“And I’d be burned at a stake,
“Altho’ I be the queen.”
He then stepp’d out at her room-door,
All in an angry mood;
Until he met a leper-man,
Just by the hard way-side.
He intoxicate the leper-man
With liquors very sweet;
And gave him more and more to drink,
Until he fell asleep.
He took him in his arms two,
And carried him along,
Till he came to the queen’s own bed,
And there he laid him down.
He then stepp’d out of the queen’s bower,
As switt as any roe,
Till he came to the very place
Where the king himself did go.
The king said unto Rodingham,
“What news have you to me?”
He said, “Your queen’s a false woman,
“As I did plainly see.”
He hasten’d to the queen’s chamber,
So costly and so fine,
Untill he came to the queen’s own bed,
Where the leper-man was lain.
He looked on the leper-man,
Who lay on his queen’s bed;
He lifted up the snaw-white sheets,
And thus he to him said:
“Plooky, plooky,[A] are your cheeks,
“And plooky is your chin,
“And plooky are your arms two
“My bonny queen’s layne in.
“Since she has lain into your arms,
“She shall not lye in mine;
“Since she has kiss’d your ugsome mouth,
“She never shall kiss mine.”
In anger he went to the queen,
Who fell upon her knee;
He said, “You false, unchaste woman,
“What’s this you’ve done to me?”
The queen then turn’d herself about,
The tear blinded her e’e—
There’s not a knight in all your court
“Dare give that name to me.”
He said, “‘Tis true that I do say;
“For I a proof did make:
“You shall be taken from my bower,
“And burned at a stake.
“Perhaps I’ll take my word again,
“And may repent the same,
“If that you’ll get a Christian man
“To fight that Rodingham.”
“Alas! alas!” then cried our queen,
“Alas, and woe to me!
“There’s not a man in all Scotland
“Will fight with him for me.”
She breathed unto her messengers,
Sent them south, east, and west;
They could find none to fight with him,
Nor enter the contest.
She breathed on her messengers,
She sent them to the north;
And there they found Sir Hugh le Blond,
To fight him he came forth.
When unto him they did unfold
The circumstance all right,
He bade them go and tell the queen,
That for her he would fight.
The day came on that was to do
That dreadful tragedy;
Sir Hugh le Blond was not come up
To fight for our lady.
“Put on the fire,” the monster said;
“It is twelve on the bell!”
“Tis scarcely ten, now,” said the king;
“I heard the clock mysell.”
Before the hour the queen is brought,
The burning to proceed;
In a black velvet chair she’s set,
A token for the dead.
She saw the flames ascending high,
The tears blinded her e’e:
“Where is the worthy knight,” she said,
“Who is to fight for me?”
Then up and spake the king himsel,
“My dearest, have no doubt,
“For yonder comes the man himsel,
“As bold as ere set out.”
They then advanced to fight the duel
With swords of temper’d steel,
Till down the blood of Rodingham
Came running to his heel.
Sir Hugh took out a lusty sword,
‘Twas of the metal clear;
And he has pierced Rodingham
Till’s heart-blood did appear.
“Confess your treachery, now,” he said,
“This day before you die!”
“I do confess my treachery,
“I shall no longer lye:
“I like to wicked Haman am,
“This day I shall be slain.”
The queen was brought to her chamber
A good woman again.
The queen then said unto the king,
“Arbattle’s near the sea;
“Give it unto the northern knight,
“That this day fought for me.”
Then said the king, “Come here, sir knight,
“And drink a glass of wine;
“And, if Arbattle’s not enough,
“To it we’ll Fordoun join.”
NOTES ON SIR HUGH LE BLOND.
Until he met a leper-man. &c.—P. 268. v. 4.
Filth, poorness of living, and the want of linen, made this horrible disease formerly very common in Scotland. Robert Bruce died of the leprosy; and, through all Scotland, there were hospitals erected for the reception of lepers, to prevent their mingling with the rest of the community.
“It is twelve on the bell!”
“Tis scarcely ten, now,” said the king, &c.—P. 272. v. 2.
In the romance of Doolin, called La Fleur des Battailles, a false accuser discovers a similar impatience to hurry over the execution, before the arrival of the lady’s champion:—“Ainsi comme Herchambaut vouloit jetter la dame dedans le feu, Sanxes de Clervaut va a lui, si lui dict; ‘Sire Herchambaut, vous estes trop a blasmer; car vous ne devez mener ceste chose que par droit ainsi qu’il est ordonnè; je veux accorder que ceste dame ait un vassal qui la diffendra contre vous et Drouart, car elle n’a point de coulpe en ce que l’accusez; si la devez retarder jusque a midy, pour scavoir si un bon chevalier l’a viendra secourir centre vous et Drouart.”—Cap. 22.
“And, if Arbattle’s not enough,
“To it we’ll Fordoun join.”—P. 274. v. 1.
Arbattle is the ancient name of the barony of Arbuthnot. Fordun has long been the patrimony of the same family.
GRAEME AND BEWICK.
The date of this ballad, and its subject, are uncertain. From internal evidence, I am inclined to place it late in the sixteenth century. Of the Graemes enough is elsewhere said. It is not impossible, that such a clan, as they are described, may have retained the rude ignorance of ancient border manners to a later period than their more inland neighbours; and hence the taunt of old Bewick to Graeme. Bewick is an ancient name in Cumberland and Northumberland. The ballad itself was given, in the first edition, from the recitation of a gentleman, who professed to have forgotten some verses. These have, in the present edition, been partly restored, from a copy obtained by the recitation of an ostler in Carlisle, which has also furnished some slight alterations.
The ballad is remarkable, as containing, probably, the very latest allusion to the institution of brotherhood in arms, which was held so sacred in the days of chivalry, and whose origin may be traced up to the Scythian ancestors of Odin. Many of the old romances turn entirely upon the sanctity of the engagement, contracted by the freres d’armes. In that of Amis and Amelion, the hero slays his two infant children, that he may compound a potent salve with their blood, to cure the leprosy of his brother in arms. The romance ofGyron le Courtois has a similar subject. I think the hero, like Graeme in the ballad, kills himself, out of some high point of honour towards his friend.
The quarrel of the two old chieftains, over their wine, is highly in character. Two generations have not elapsed since the custom of drinking deep, and taking deadly revenge for slight offences, produced very tragical events on the border; to which the custom of going armed to festive meetings contributed not a little. A minstrel, who flourished about 1720, and is often talked of by the old people, happened to be performing before one of these parties, when they betook themselves to their swords. The cautious musician, accustomed to such scenes, dived beneath the table. A moment after, a man’s hand, struck off with a back-sword, fell beside him. The minstrel secured it carefully in his pocket, as he would have done any other loose moveable; sagely observing, the owner would miss it sorely next morning. I chuse rather to give this ludicrous example, than some graver instances of bloodshed at border orgies. I observe it is said, in a MS. account of Tweeddale, in praise of the inhabitants, that, “when they fall in the humour of good fellowship, they use it as a cement and bond of society, and not to foment revenge, quarrels, and murders, which is usual in other countries;” by which we ought, probably, to understand Selkirkshire and Teviotdale.—Macfarlane’s MSS.
GRAEME AND BEWICK.
Gude lord Graeme is to Carlisle gane;
Sir Robert Bewick there met he;
And arm in arm to the wine they did go,
And they drank till they were baith merrie.
Gude lord Graeme has ta’en up the cup,
“Sir Robert Bewick, and here’s to thee!
“And here’s to our twae sons at hame!
“For they like us best in our ain countrie.”
“O were your son a lad like mine,
“And learn’d some books that he could read,
“They might hae been twae brethren bauld,
“And they might hae bragged the border side.”
“But your son’s a lad, and he is but bad,
“And billie to my son he canna be;
“Ye sent him to the schools, and he wadna learn;
“Ye bought him books, and he wadna read.”
“But my blessing shall he never earn,
“Till I see how his arm can defend his head.”
Gude lord Graeme has a reckoning call’d,
A reckoning then called he;
And he paid a crown, and it went roun’;
It was all for the gude wine and free.[A]
And he has to the stable gaen,
Where there stude thirty steeds and three;
He’s ta’en his ain horse amang them a’,
And hame he’ rade sae manfullie.
“Wellcome, my auld father!” said Christie Graeme,
“But where sae lang frae hame were ye?”
“It’s I hae been at Carlisle town,
“And a baffled man by thee I be.
“I hae been at Carlisle town,
“Where Sir Robert Bewick he met me;
“He says ye’re a lad, and ye are but bad,
“And billie to his son ye canna be.
“I sent ye to the schools, and ye wadna learn;
“I bought ye books, and ye wadna read;
“Therefore, my blessing ye shall never earn,
“Till I see with Bewick thou save thy head.”
“Now, God forbid, my auld father,
“That ever sic a thing suld be!
“Billie Bewick was my master, and I was his scholar,
“And aye sae weel as he learned me.”
“O hald thy tongue, thou limmer lown,
“And of thy talking let me be!
“If thou does na end me this quarrel soon,
“There is my glove I’ll fight wi’ thee.”
Then Christie Graeme he stooped low
Unto the ground, you shall understand;—
“O father, put on your glove again,
“The wind has blown it from your hand.”
“What’s that thou says, thou limmer loun?
“How dares thou stand to speak to me?
“If thou do not end this quarrel soon,
“There’s my right hand thou shalt fight with me.”
Then Christie Graeme’s to his chamber gane,
To consider weel what then should be;
Whether he suld fight with his auld father
Or with his billie Bewick, he.
“If I suld kill my billie dear,
“God’s blessing I sall never win;
“But if I strike at my auld father,
“I think ‘twald be a mortal sin.
“But if I kill my billie dear,
“It is God’s will! so let it be.
“But I make a vow, ere I gang frae hame,
“That I shall be the next man’s die.”
Then he’s put on’s back a good ould jack,
And on his head a cap of steel,
And sword and buckler by his side;
O gin he did not become them weel!
We’ll leave off talking of Christie Graeme,
And talk of him again belive;
And we will talk of bonnie Bewick,
Where he was teaching his scholars five.
When he had taught them well to fence,
And handle swords without any doubt;
He took his sword under his arm,
And he walked his father’s close about.
He looked atween him and the sun,
And a’ to see what there might be,
Till he spied a man, in armour bright,
Was riding that way most hastilie.
“O wha is yon, that came this way,
“Sae hastilie that hither came?
“I think it be my brother dear;
“I think it be young Christie Graeme.”
“Ye’re welcome here, my billie dear,
“And thrice you’re welcome unto me!”
“But I’m wae to say, I’ve seen the day,
“When I am come to fight with thee.
“My father’s gane to Carlisle town,
“Wi’ your father Bewick there met he;
“He says I’m a lad, and I am but bad,
“And a baffled man I trow I be.
“He sent me to schools, and I wadna learn;
“He gae me books, and I wadna read;
“Sae my father’s blessing I’ll never earn,
“Till he see how my arm can guard my head.”
“O God forbid, my billie dear,
“That ever such a thing suld be!
“We’ll take three men on either side,
“And see if we can our fathers agree.”
“O hald thy tongue, now, billie Bewick,
“And of thy talking let me be!
“But if thou’rt a man, as I’m sure thou art,
“Come o’er the dyke, and fight wi’ me.”
“But I hae nae harness, billie, on my back,
“As weel I see there is on thine.”
“But as little harness as is on thy back,
“As little, billie, shall be on mine.”
Then he’s thrown aff his coat of mail,
His cap of steel away flung he;
He stuck his spear into the ground,
And he tied his horse unto a tree.
Then Bewick has thrown aff his cloak,
And’s psalter-book frae’s hand flung he;
He laid his hand upon the dyke,
And ower he lap most manfullie.
O they hae fought for twae lang hours;
When twae lang hours were come and gane,
The sweat drapped fast frae aff them baith,
But a drap of blude could not be seen.
Till Graeme gae Bewick an ackward[B] stroke,
Ane ackward stroke, strucken sickerlie;
He has hit him under the left breast,
And dead-wounded to the ground fell he.
“Rise up, rise up, now, hillie dear!
“Arise, and speak three words to me!—
“Whether thou’se gotten thy deadly wound,
“Or if God and good leaching may succour thee?”
“O horse, O horse, now billie Graeme,
“And get thee far from hence with speed;
“And get thee out of this country,
“That none may know who has done the deed.”
“O I have slain thee, billie Bewick,
“If this be true thou tellest to me;
“But I made a vow, ere I came frae hame,
“That aye the next man I wad be.”
He has pitched his sword in a moodie-hill,[C]
And he has leap’d twentie lang feet and three,
And on his ain sword’s point he lap,
And dead upon the grund fell he.
‘Twas then came up Sir Robert Bewick,
And his brave son alive saw he;
“Rise up, rise up, my son,” he said,
“For I think ye hae gotten the victorie.”
“O hald your tongue, my father dear!
“Of your prideful talking let me be!
“Ye might hae drunken your wine in peace,
“And let me and my billie be.
“Gae dig a grave, baith wide and deep,
“A grave to hald baith him and me;
“But lay Christie Graeme on the sunny side,
“For I’m sure he wan the victorie.”
“Alack! a wae!” auld Bewick cried,
“Alack! was I not much to blame!
“I’m sure I’ve lost the liveliest lad
“That e’er was born unto my name.”
“Alack! a wae!” quo’ gude Lord Graeme,
“I’m sure I hae lost the deeper lack!
“I durst hae ridden the Border through,
“Had Christie Graeme been at my back.
“Had I been led through Liddesdale,
“And thirty horsemen guarding me,
“And Christie Gramme been at my back,
“Sae soon as he had set me free!
“I’ve lost my hopes, I’ve lost my joy,
“I’ve lost the key but and the lock;
“I durst hae ridden the world round,
“Had Christie Graeme been at my back.”
The ostler’s copy reads very characteristically— “It was all for good wine and hay.”
THE DUEL OF WHARTON AND STUART. IN TWO PARTS.
Duels, as may be seen from the two preceding ballads, are derived from the times of chivalry. They succeeded to the combat at outrance, about the end of the sixteenth century; and, though they were no longer countenanced by the laws, nor considered a solemn appeal to the Deity, nor honoured by the presence of applauding monarchs and multitudes, yet they were authorised by the manners of the age, and by the applause of the fair.[A] They long continued, they even yet continue, to be appealed to, as the test of truth; since, by the code of honour, every gentleman is still bound to repel a charge of falsehood with the point of his sword, and at the peril of his life. This peculiarity of manners, which would have surprised an ancient Roman, is obviously deduced from the Gothic ordeal of trial by combat. Nevertheless, the custom of duelling was considered, at its first introduction, as an innovation upon the law of arms; and a book, in two huge volumes, entituled Le vrai Theatre d’ Honneur et de la Chivalerie, was written by a French nobleman, to support the venerable institutions of chivalry against this unceremonious mode of combat. He has chosen for his frontispiece two figures; the first represents a conquering knight, trampling his enemy under foot in the lists, crowned by Justice with laurel, and preceded by Fame, sounding his praises. The other figure presents a duellist, in his shirt, as was then the fashion (see the following ballad), with his bloody rapier in his hand: the slaughtered combatant is seen in the distance, and the victor is pursued by the Furies. Nevertheless, the wise will make some scruple, whether, if the warriors were to change equipments, they might not also exchange their emblematic attendants. The modern mode of duel, without defensive armour, began about the reign of Henry III. of France, when the gentlemen of that nation, as we learn from Davila, began to lay aside the cumbrous lance and cuirass, even in war. The increase of danger being supposed to contribute to the increase of honour, the national ardour of the french gallants led them early to distinguish themselves by neglect of every thing, that could contribute to their personal safety. Hence, duels began to be fought by the combatants in their shirts, and with the rapier only. To this custom contributed also the art of fencing, then cultivated as a new study in Italy and Spain, by which the sword became, at once, an offensive and defensive weapon. The reader will see the new “science of defence,” as it was called, ridiculed by Shakespeare, in Romeo and Juliet, and by Don Quevedo, in some of his novels. But the more ancient customs continued for some time to maintain their ground. The sieur Colombiere mentions two gentlemen, who fought with equal advantage for a whole day, in all the panoply of chivalry, and, the next day, had recourse to the modern mode of combat. By a still more extraordinary mixture of ancient and modern fashions, two combatants on horseback ran a tilt at each other with lances, without any covering but their shirts.
“All things being ready for the ball, and every one being in their place, and I myself being next to the queen (of France), expecting when the dancers would come in, one knockt at the door somewhat louder than became, as I thought, a very civil person. When he came in, I remember there was a sudden whisper among the ladies, saying, ‘C’est Monsieur Balagny,’ or, ’tis Monsieur Balagny; whereupon, also, I saw the ladies and gentlewomen, one after another, invite him to sit near them; and, which is more, when one lady had his company a while, another would say, ‘you have enjoyed him long enough; I must have him now;’ at which bold civility of theirs, though I were astonished, yet it added unto my wonder, that his person could not be thought, at most, but ordinary handsome; his hair, which was cut very short, half grey, his doublet but of sackcloth, cut to his shirt, and his breeches only of plain grey cloth. Informing myself of some standers by who he was, I was told he was one of the gallantest men in the world, as having killed eight or nine men in single fight; and that, for this reason, the ladies made so much of him; it being the manner of all French women to cherish gallant men, as thinking they could not make so much of any one else, with the safety of their honour.”—Life of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, p. 70. How near the character of the duellist, originally, approached to that of the knight-errant, appears from a transaction, which took place at the siege of Juliers, betwixt this Balagny and Lord Herbert. As these two noted duellists stood together in the trenches, the Frenchman addressed Lord Herbert: “Monsieur, on dit que vous etes un des plus braves de votre nation, et je suis Balagny; allons voir qui fera le mieux.” With these words, Balagny jumped over the trench, and Herbert as speedily following, both ran sword in hand towards the defences of the besieged town, which welcomed their approach with a storm of musquetry and artillery. Balagny then observed, this was hot service; but Herbert swore, he would not turn back first; so the Frenchman was finally fain to set him the example or retreat. Notwithstanding the advantage which he had gained over Balagny, in this “jeopardy of war,” Lord Herbert seems still to have grudged that gentleman’s astonishing reputation; for he endeavoured to pick a quarrel with him, on the romantic score of the worth of their mistresses; and, receiving a ludicrous answer, told him, with disdain, that he spoke more like a palliard than a cavalier. From such instances the reader may judge, whether the age of chivalry did not endure somewhat longer than is generally supposed.
When armour was laid aside, the consequence was, that the first duels were very sanguinary, terminating frequently in the death of one, and sometimes, as in the ballad, of both persons engaged. Nor was this all: The seconds, who had nothing to do with the quarrel, fought stoutly, pour se desennuyer, and often sealed with their blood their friendship for their principal. A desperate combat, fought between Messrs Entraguet and Caylus, is said to have been the first, in which this fashion of promiscuous fight was introduced. It proved fatal to two of Henry the Third’s minions, and extracted from that sorrowing monarch an edict against duelling, which was as frequently as fruitlessly renewed by his successors. The use of rapier and poniard together,[A] was another cause of the mortal slaughter in these duels, which were supposed, in the reign of Henry IV., to have cost France at least as many of her nobles as had fallen in the civil wars. With these double weapons, frequent instances occurred, in which a duellist, mortally wounded, threw himself within his antagonist’s guard, and plunged his poniard into his heart. Nay, sometimes the sword was altogether abandoned for the more sure and murderous dagger. A quarrel having arisen betwixt the vicompte d’ Allemagne and the sieur de la Roque, the former, alleging the youth and dexterity of his antagonist, insisted upon fighting the duel in their shirts, and with their poniards only; a desperate mode of conflict, which proved fatal to both. Others refined even upon this horrible struggle, by chusing for the scene a small room, a large hogshead, or, finally, a hole dug in the earth, into which the duellists descended, as into a certain grave.—Must I add, that even women caught the phrenzy, and that duels were fought, not only by those whose rank and character rendered it little surprising, but by modest and well-born maidens! Audiguier Traité de Duel. Theatre D’ Honneur, Vol. I.[B]
It appears from a line in the black-letter copy of the following ballad, that Wharton and Stuart fought with rapier and dagger:
With that stout Wharton was the first
Took rapier and poniard there that day.
Ancient Songs, 1792, p. 204.
This folly ran to such a pitch, that no one was thought worthy to be reckoned a gentleman, who had not tried his valour in at least one duel; of which Lord Herbert gives the following instance:—A young gentleman, desiring to marry a niece of Monsieur Disaucour, ecuyer to the duke de Montmorenci, received this answer: “Friend, it is not yet time to marry; if you will be a brave man, you must first kill, in single combat, two or three men; then marry, and get two or three children; otherwise the world will neither have gained or lost by you.” HERBERT’S Life, p. 64.
We learn, from every authority, that duels became nearly as common in England, after the accession of James VI., as they had ever been in France. The point of honour, so fatal to the gallants of the age, was no where carried more highly than at the court of the pacific Solomon of Britain. Instead of the feudal combats, upon the Hie-gate of Edinburgh, which had often disturbed his repose at Holy-rood, his levees, at Theobald’s, were occupied with listening to the detail of more polished, but not less sanguinary, contests. I rather suppose, that James never was himself disposed to pay particular attention to the laws of the duello; but they were defined with a quaintness and pedantry, which, bating his dislike to the subject, must have deeply interested him. The point of honour was a science, which a grown gentleman might study under suitable professors, as well as dancing, or any other modish accomplishment. Nay, it would appear, that the ingenuity of the sword-men (so these military casuists were termed) might often accommodate a bashful combatant with an honourable excuse for declining the combat:
—Understand’st them well nice points of duel?
Art born of gentle blood and pure descent?
Were none of all thy lineage hang’d, or cuckold?
Bastard or bastinadoed? Is thy pedigree
As long, as wide as mine? For otherwise
Thou wert most unworthy; and ’twere loss of honour
In me to fight. More: I have drawn five teeth—
If thine stand sound, the terms are much unequal;
And, by strict laws of duel, I am excused
To fight on disadvantage.—
Albumazar, Act IV. Sc. 7.
In Beaumont and Fletcher’s admirable play of A King and no King, there is some excellent mirth at the expence of the professors of the point of honour.
But, though such shifts might occasionally be resorted to by the faint-hearted, yet the fiery cavaliers of the English court were but little apt to profit by them; though their vengeance for insulted honour sometimes vented itself through fouler channels than that of fair combat It happened, for example, that Lord Sanquhar, a Scottish nobleman, in fencing with a master of the noble science of defence, lost his eye by an unlucky thrust. The accident was provoking, but without remedy; nor did Lord Sanquhar think of it, unless with regret, until some years after, when he chanced to be in the French court. Henry the Great casually asked him, how he lost his eye? “By the thrust of a sword,” answered Lord Sanquhar, not caring to enter into particulars. The king, supposing the accident the consequence of a duel, immediately enquired, “Does the man yet live?” These few words set the blood of the Scottish nobleman on fire; nor did he rest till he had taken the base vengeance of assassinating, by hired ruffians, the unfortunate fencing-master. The mutual animosity betwixt the English and Scottish nations, had already occasioned much bloodshed among the gentry, by single combat; and James now found himself under the necessity of making a striking example of one of his Scottish nobles, to avoid the imputation of the grossest partiality. Lord Sanquhar was condemned to be hanged, and suffered that ignominious punishment accordingly.
By a circuitous route, we are now arrived at the subject of our ballad; for, to the tragical duel of Stuart and Wharton, and to other instances of bloody combats and brawls betwixt the two nations, is imputed James’s firmness in the case of Lord Sanquhar.
“For Ramsay, one of the king’s servants, not long before Sanquhar’s trial, had switched the earl of Montgomery, who was the king’s first favourite, happily because he tooke it so. Maxwell, another of them, had bitten Hawley, a gentleman of the Temple, by the ear, which enraged the Templars (in those times riotous, and subject to tumults), and brought it allmost to a national quarrel, till the king slept in, and took it up himself.—The Lord Bruce had summoned Sir Edward Sackville (afterward earl of Dorset), into France, with a fatal compliment, to take death from his hand.[A] And the much lamented Sir James Stuart, one of the king’s blood, and Sir George Wharton, the prime branch of that noble family, for little worthless punctilios of honor (being intimate friends), took the field, and fell together by each others hand.”—WILSON’S Life of James VI. p. 60.
See an account of this desperate duel in the Guardian.
The sufferers in this melancholy affair were both men of high birth, the heirs apparent of two noble families, and youths of the most promising expectation. Sir James Stuart was a knight of the Bath, and eldest son of Walter, first lord Blantyre, by Nicolas, daughter of Sir James Somerville, of Cambusnethan. Sir George Wharton was also a knight of the Bath, and eldest son of Philip, lord Wharton, by Frances, daughter of Henry Clifford, earl of Cumberland. He married Anne, daughter of the earl of Rutland, but left no issue.
The circumstances of the quarrel and combat are accurately detailed in the ballad, of which there exists a black-letter copy in the Pearson Collection, now in the library of the late John duke of Roxburghe, entitled, “A Lamentable Ballad, of a Combate, lately fought, near London, between Sir James Stewarde, and Sir George Wharton, knights, who were both slain at that time.—To the tune of, Down Plumpton Park, &c.” A copy of this ballad has been published in Mr Ritson’s Ancient Songs, and, upon comparison, appears very little different from that which has been preserved by tradition in Ettrick Forest. Two verses have been added, and one considerably improved, from Mr Ritson’s edition. These three stanzas are the fifth and ninth of Part First, and the penult verse of Part Second. I am thus particular, that the reader may be able, if he pleases, to compare the traditional ballad with the original edition. It furnishes striking evidence, that, “without characters, fame lives long.” The difference, chiefly to be remarked betwixt the copies, lies in the dialect, and in some modifications applicable to Scotland; as, using the words “Our Scottish Knight.” The black-letter ballad, in like manner, terms Wharton “Our English Knight.” My correspondent, James Hogg, adds the following note to this ballad: “I have heard this song sung by several old people; but all of them with this tradition, that Wharton bribed Stuart’s second, and actually fought in armour. I acknowledge, that, from some dark hints in the song, this appears not impossible; but, that you may not judge too rashly, I must remind you, that the old people, inhabiting the head-lands (high grounds) hereabouts, although possessed of many original songs, traditions, and anecdotes, are most unreasonably partial when the valour or honour of a Scotsman is called in question.” I retain this note, because it is characteristic; but I agree with my correspondent, there can be no foundation for the tradition, except in national partiality.
THE DUEL OF WHARTON AND STUART.
It grieveth me to tell you o’
Near London late what did befal,
‘Twixt two young gallant gentlemen;
It grieveth me, and ever shall.
One of them was Sir George Wharton,
My good Lord Wharton’s son and heir;
The other, James Stuart, a Scottish knight,
One that a valiant heart did bear.
When first to court these nobles came,
One night, a gaining, fell to words;
And in their fury grew so hot,
That they did both try their keen swords.
No manner of treating, nor advice,
Could hold from striking in that place;
For, in the height and heat of blood,
James struck George Wharton on the face.
“What doth this mean,” George Wharton said,
“To strike in such unmanly sort?
“But, that I take it at thy hands,
“The tongue of man shall ne’er report!”
“But do thy worst, then,” said Sir James,
“Now do thy worst! appoint a day!
“There’s not a lord in England breathes
“Shall gar me give an inch of way.”
“Ye brag right weel,” George Wharton said;
“Let our brave lords at large alane,
“And speak of me, that am thy foe;
“For you shall find enough o’ ane!
“I’ll alterchange my glove wi’ thine;
“I’ll show it on the bed o’ death;
“I mean the place where we shall fight;
“There ane or both maun lose life and breath!”
“We’ll meet near Waltham,” said Sir James;
“To-morrow, that shall be the day.
“We’ll either take a single man,
“And try who bears the bell away.”
Then down together hands they shook,
Without any envious sign;
Then went to Ludgate, where they lay,
And each man drank his pint of wine.
No kind of envy could be seen,
No kind of malice they did betray;
But a’ was clear and calm as death,
Whatever in their bosoms lay,
Till parting time; and then, indeed,
They shew’d some rancour in their heart;
“Next time we meet,” says George Wharton,
“Not half sae soundly we shall part!”
So they have parted, firmly bent
Their valiant minds equal to try:
The second part shall clearly show,
Both how they meet, and how they dye.
THE DUEL OF WHARTON AND STUART.
George Wharton was the first ae man,
Came to the appointed place that day,
Where he espyed our Scots lord coming,
As fast as he could post away.
They met, shook hands; their cheeks were pale;
Then to George Wharton James did say,
“I dinna like your doublet, George,
“It stands sae weel on you this day.
“Say, have you got no armour on?
“Have ye no under robe of steel?
“I never saw an English man
“Become his doublet half sae weel.”
“Fy no! fy no!” George Wharton said,
“For that’s the thing that mauna be,
“That I should come wi’ armour on,
“And you a naked man truly.”
“Our men shall search our doublets, George,
“And see if one of us do lie;
“Then will we prove, wi’ weapons sharp,
“Ourselves true gallants for to be.”
Then they threw off their doublets both,
And stood up in their sarks o’ lawn;
“Now, take my counsel,” said Sir James,
“Wharton, to thee I’ll make it knawn:
“So as we stand, so will we fight;
“Thus naked in our sarks,” said he;
“Fy no! fy no!” George Wharton says;
“That is the thing that must not be.
“We’re neither drinkers, quarrellers,
“Nor men that cares na for oursel;
“Nor minds na what we’re gaun about,
“Or if we’re gaun to heav’n or hell.
“Let us to God bequeath our souls,
“Our bodies to the dust and clay!”
With that he drew his deadly sword,
The first was drawn on field that day.
Se’en bouts and turns these heroes had,
Or e’er a drop o’ blood was drawn;
Our Scotch lord, wond’ring, quickly cry’d,
“Stout Wharton! thou still hauds thy awn!”
The first stroke that George Wharton gae,
He struck him thro’ the shoulder-bane;
The neist was thro’ the thick o’ the thigh;
He thought our Scotch lord had been slain.
“Oh! ever alak!” George Wharton cry’d,
“Art thou a living man, tell me?
“If there’s a surgeon living can,
“He’se cure thy wounds right speedily.”
“No more of that!” James Stuart said;
“Speak not of curing wounds to me!
“For one of us must yield our breath,
“Ere off the field one foot we flee.”
They looked oure their shoulders both,
To see what company was there;
They both had grievous marks of death,
But frae the other nane wad steer.
George Wharton was the first that fell;
Our Scotch lord fell immediately:
They both did cry to Him above,
To save their souls, for they boud die.
THE LAMENT OF THE BORDER WIDOW.
This fragment, obtained from recitation in the Forest of Ettrick, is said to relate to the execution of Cokburne of Henderland, a border freebooter, hanged over the gate of his own tower by James V., in the course of that memorable expedition, in 1529, which was fatal to Johnie Armstrang, Adam Scott of Tushielaw, and many other marauders. The vestiges of the castle of Henderland are still to be traced upon the farm of that name, belonging to Mr Murray of Henderland. They are situated near the mouth of the river Meggat, which falls into the lake of St Mary, in Selkirkshire. The adjacent country, which now hardly bears a single tree, is celebrated by Lesly, as, in his time, affording shelter to the largest stags in Scotland. A mountain torrent, called Henderland Burn, rushes impetuously from the hills, through a rocky chasm, named the Dow-glen, and passes near the site of the tower. To the recesses of this glen the wife of Cokburne is said to have retreated, during the execution of her husband; and a place, called the Lady’s Seat, is still shewn, where she is said to have striven to drown, amid the roar of a foaming cataract, the tumultuous noise, which announced the close of his existence. In a deserted burial-place, which once surrounded the chapel of the castle, the monument of Cokburne and his lady is still shewn. It is a large stone, broken into three parts; but some armorial bearings may be yet traced, and the following inscription is still legible, though defaced:
HERE LYES PERYS OF COKBURNE AND HIS WYFE MARJORY.
Tradition says, that Cokburne was surprised by the king, while sitting at dinner. After the execution, James marched rapidly forward, to surprise Adam Scott of Tushielaw, called the King of the Border, and sometimes the King of Thieves. A path through the mountains, which separate the vale of Ettrick from the head of Yarrow, is still called the King’s Road, and seems to have been the rout which he followed. The remains of the tower of Tushielaw are yet visible, overhanging the wild banks of the Ettrick; and are an object of terror to the benighted peasant, from an idea of their being haunted by spectres. From these heights, and through the adjacent county of Peebles, passes a wild path, called still the Thief’s Road, from having been used chiefly by the marauders of the border.
THE LAMENT OF THE BORDER WIDOW.
My love he built me a bonny bower,
And clad it a’ wi’ lilye flour;
A brawer bower ye ne’er did see,
Than my true love he built for me.
There came a man, by middle day,
He spied his sport, and went away;
And brought the king that very night,
Who brake my bower, and slew my knight.
He slew my knight, to me sae dear;
He slew my knight, and poin’d[A] his gear;
My servants all for life did flee,
And left me in extremitie.
I sew’d his sheet, making my mane;
I watched the corpse, myself alane;
I watched his body, night and day;
No living creature came that way.
I took his body on my back,
And whiles I gaed, and whiles I satte;
I digg’d a grave, and laid him in,
And happ’d him with the sod sae green.
But think na ye my heart was sair,
When I laid the moul on his yellow hair?
O think na ye my heart was wae,
When I turn’d about, away to gae?
Nae living man I’ll love again,
Since that my lovely knight is slain;
Wi’ ae lock of his yellow hair
I’ll chain my heart for evermair.
Poin’d—Poinded, attached by legal distress.
FAIR HELEN OF KIRCONNELL.
The following very popular ballad has been handed down by tradition in its present imperfect state. The affecting incident, on which it is founded, is well known. A lady, of the name of Helen Irving, or Bell,[A] (for this is disputed by the two clans) daughter of the laird of Kirconnell, in Dumfries-shire, and celebrated for her beauty, was beloved by two gentlemen in the neighbourhood. The name of the favoured suitor was Adam Fleming, of Kirkpatrick; that of the other has escaped tradition; though it has been alleged, that he was a Bell, of Blacket House. The addresses of the latter were, however, favoured by the friends of the lady, and the lovers were therefore obliged to meet in secret, and by night, in the church-yard of Kirconnell, a romantic spot, surrounded by the river Kirtle. During one of those private interviews, the jealous and despised lover suddenly appeared on the opposite bank of the stream, and levelled his carabine at the breast of his rival. Helen threw herself before her lover, received in her bosom the bullet, and died in his arms. A desperate and mortal combat ensued between Fleming and the murderer, in which the latter was cut to pieces. Other accounts say, that Fleming pursued his enemy to Spain, and slew him in the streets of Madrid.
This dispute is owing to the uncertain date of the ballad; for, although the last proprietors if Kirconnell were Irvings, when deprived of their possession by Robert Maxwell in 1600, yet Kirconnell is termed in old chronicles The Bell’s Tower; and a stone, with the arms of that family, has been found among its ruins. Fair Helen’s sirname, therefore, depends upon the period at which she lived, which it is now impossible to ascertain.
The ballad, as now published, consists of two parts. The first seems to be an address, either by Fleming or his rival, to the lady; if, indeed, it constituted any portion of the original poem. For the editor cannot help suspecting, that these verses have been the production of a different and inferior bard, and only adapted to the original measure and tune. But this suspicion, being unwarranted by any copy he has been able to procure, he does not venture to do more than intimate his own opinion. The second part, by far the most beautiful, and which is unquestionably original, forms the lament of Fleming over the grave of fair Helen.
The ballad is here given, without alteration or improvement, from the most accurate copy which could be recovered. The fate of Helen has not, however, remained unsung by modern bards. A lament, of great poetical merit, by the learned historian Mr Pinkerton, with several other poems on this subject, have been printed in various forms.
The grave of the lovers is yet shewn in the church-yard of Kirconnell, near Springkell. Upon the tomb-stone can still be read—Hie jacet Adamus Fleming; a cross and sword are sculptured on the stone. The former is called, by the country people, the gun with which Helen was murdered; and the latter, the avenging sword of her lover. Sit illis terra levis!A heap of stones is raised on the spot where the murder was committed; a token of abhorrence common to most nations.[A]
This practice has only very lately become obsolete in Scotland. The editor remembers, that, a few years ago, a cairn was pointed out to him in the King’s Park of Edinburgh, which had been raised in detestation of a cruel murder, perpetrated by one Nicol Muschet, on the body of his wife, in that place, in the year 1720.
O! sweetest sweet, and fairest fair,
Of birth and worth beyond compare,
Thou art the causer of my care,
Since first I loved thee.
Yet God hath given to me a mind,
The which to thee shall prove as kind
As any one that thou shalt find,
Of high or low degree.
The shallowest water makes maist din,
The deadest pool the deepest linn.
The richest man least truth within,
Though he preferred be.
Yet, nevertheless, I am content,
And never a whit my love repent,
But think the time was a’ weel spent,
Though I disdained be.
O! Helen sweet, and maist complete,
My captive spirit’s at thy feet!
Thinks thou still fit thus for to treat
Thy captive cruelly?
O! Helen brave! but this I crave,
Of thy poor slave some pity have,
And do him save that’s near his grave,
And dies for love of thee.
I wish I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
O that I were where Helen lies,
On fair Kirconnell Lee!
Curst be the heart, that thought the thought,
And curst the hand, that fired the shot,
When in my arms burd[A] Helen dropt,
And died to succour me!
O think na ye my heart was sair,
When my love dropt down and spak nae mair!
There did she swoon wi’ meikle care,
On fair Kirconnell Lee.
As I went down the water side,
None but my foe to be my guide.
None but my foe to be my guide,
On fair Kirconnell Lee.
I lighted down, my sword did draw,
I hacked him in pieces sma,
I hacked him in pieces sma,
For her sake that died for me.
O Helen fair, beyond compare!
I’ll make a garland of thy hair,
Shall bind my heart for evermair,
Untill the day I die.
O that I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
Out of my bed she bids me rise,
Says, “haste, and come to me!”
O Helen fair! O Helen chaste!
If I were with thee I were blest,
Where thou lies low, and takes thy rest,
On fair Kirconnell Lee.
I wish my grave were growing green,
A winding sheet drawn ower my een,
And I in Helen’s arms lying,
On fair Kirconnell Lee.
I wish I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
And I am weary of the skies,
For her sake that died for me.
Burd Helen—Maid Helen.
HUGHIE THE GRAEME.
The Graemes, as we have had frequent occasion to notice, were a powerful and numerous clan, who chiefly inhabited the Debateable Land. They were said to be of Scottish extraction, and their chief claimed his descent from Malice, earl of Stratherne. In military service, they were more attached to England than to Scotland; but, in their depredations on both countries, they appear to have been very impartial; for, in the year 1600, the gentlemen of Cumberland alleged to Lord Scroope, “that the Graemes, and their clans, with their children, tenants, and servants, were the chiefest actors in the spoil and decay of the country.” Accordingly, they were, at that time, obliged to give a bond of surety for each other’s peaceable demeanour; from which bond, their numbers appear to have exceeded four hundred men.—See Introduction to NICOLSON’S History of Cumberland, p. cviii.
Richard Graeme, of the family of Netherbye, was one of the attendants upon Charles I., when prince of Wales, and accompanied him upon his romantic journey through France and Spain. The following little anecdote, which then occurred, will shew, that the memory of the Graemes’ border exploits was at that time still preserved.
“They were now entered into the deep time of Lent, and could get no flesh in their inns. Whereupon fell out a pleasant passage, if I may insert it, by the way, among more serious. There was, near Bayonne, a herd of goats, with their young ones; upon the sight whereof, Sir Richard Graham tells the marquis (of Buckingham), that he would snap one of the kids, and make some shift to carry him snug to their lodging. Which the prince overhearing, ‘Why, Richard,’ says he, ‘do you think you may practise here your old tricks upon the borders?’ Upon which words, they, in the first place, gave the goat-herd good contentment; and then, while the marquis and Richard, being both on foot, were chasing the kid about the stack, the prince, from horseback, killed him in the head, with a Scottish pistol.—Which circumstance, though trifling, may yet serve to shew how his Royal Highness, even in such slight and sportful damage, had a noble sense of just dealing.”—Sir HENRY WOTTON’S Life of the Duke of Buckingham.
I find no traces of this particular Hughie Graeme, of the ballad; but, from the mention of the Bishop, I suspect he may have been one, of about four hundred borderers, against whom bills of complaint were exhibited to Robert Aldridge, lord bishop of Carlisle, about 1553, for divers incursions, burnings, murders, mutilations, and spoils, by them committed.—NICHOLSON’S History, Introduction, lxxxi. There appear a number of Graemes, in the specimen which we have of that list of delinquents. There occur, in particular,
Ritchie Grame of Bailie,
Will’s Jock Grame,
Fargue’s Willie Grame,
Muckle Willie Grame,
Will Grame of Rosetrees,
Ritchie Grame, younger of Netherby,
Wat Grame, called Flaughtail,
Will Grame, Nimble Willie,
Will Grahame, Mickle Willie,
with many others.
In Mr Ritson’s curious and valuable collection of legendary poetry, entitled Ancient Songs, he has published this Border ditty, from a collation of two old black-letter copies, one in the collection of the late John duke of Roxburghe, and another in the hands of John Bayne, Esq.—The learned editor mentions another copy, beginning, “Good Lord John is a hunting gone.” The present edition was procured for me by my friend Mr W. Laidlaw, in Blackhouse, and has been long current in Selkirkshire. Mr Ritson’s copy has occasionally been resorted to for better readings.
HUGHIE THE GRAEME.
Gude Lord Scroope’s to the hunting gane,
He has ridden o’er moss and muir;
And he has grippit Hughie the Graeme,
For stealing o’ the Bishop’s mare.
“Now, good Lord Scroope, this may not be!
“Here hangs a broad sword by my side;
“And if that thou canst conquer me,
“The matter it may soon be tryed.”
“I ne’er was afraid of a traitor thief;
“Although thy name be Hughie the Graeme,
“I’ll make thee repent thee of thy deeds,
“If God but grant me life and time.”
“Then do your worst now, good Lord Scroope,
“And deal your blows as hard as you can!
“It shall be tried, within an hour,
“Which of us two is the better man.”
But as they were dealing their blows so free,
And both so bloody at the time,
Over the moss came ten yeomen so tall,
All for to take brave Hughie the Graeme.
Then they hae grippit Hughie the Graeme,
And brought him up through Carlisle town;
The lasses and lads stood on the walls,
Crying, “Hughie the Graeme, thou’se ne’er gae down!”
Then hae they chosen a jury of men,
The best that were in Carlisle[A] town;
And twelve of them cried out at once,
“Hughie the Graeme, thou must gae down!”
Then up bespake him gude Lord Hume,[B]
As he sat by the judge’s knee,—
“Twentie white owsen, my gude lord,
“If you’ll grant Hughie the Graeme to me.”
“O no, O no, my gude Lord Hume!
“For sooth and sae it manna be;
“For, were there but three Graemes of the name,
“They suld be hanged a’ for me.”
‘Twas up and spake the gude Lady Hume,
As she sate by the judge’s knee,—
A peck of white pennies, my gude lord judge,
“If you’ll grant Hughie the Graeme to me.”
“O no, O no, my gude Lady Hume!
“Forsooth and so it mustna be;
“Were he but the one Graeme of the name,
“He suld be hanged high for me.”
“If I be guilty,” said Hughie the Graeme,
“Of me my friends shall hae small talk;”
And he has loup’d fifteen feet and three,
Though his hands they were tied behind his back.
He looked over his left shoulder,
And for to see what he might see;
There was he aware of his auld father,
Came tearing his hair most piteouslie.
“O hald your tongue, my father,” he says,
“And see that ye dinna weep for me!
“For they may ravish me o’ my life,
“But they canna banish me fro’ heaven hie.’
“Fare ye weel, fair Maggie, my wife!
“The last time we came ower the muir,
“‘Twas thou bereft me of my life,
“And wi’ the Bishop thou play’d the whore.
“Here, Johnie Armstrang, take thou my sword,
“That is made o’ the metal sae fine;
“And when thou comest to the English[C] side,
“Remember the death of Hughie the Graeme.”
NOTE ON HUGHIE THE GRAEME.
And wi’ the Bishop thou play’d the whore.—P. 326, v. 9.
Of the morality of Robert Aldridge, bishop of Carlisle, we know but little; but his political and religious faith were of a stretching and accommodating texture. Anthony a Wood observes, that there were many changes in his time, both in church and state; but that the worthy prelate retained his offices and preferments during them all.
JOHNIE OF BREADISLEE.
AN ANCIENT NITHESDALE BALLAD.
The hero of this ballad appears to have been an outlaw and deer-stealer—probably one of the broken men residing upon the border. There are several different copies, in one of which the principal personage is called Johnie of Cockielaw. The stanzas of greatest merit have been selected from each copy. It is sometimes said, that this outlaw possessed the old castle of Morton, in Dumfries-shire, now ruinous:—”Near to this castle there was a park, built by Sir Thomas Randolph, on the face of a very great and high hill; so artificially, that, by the advantage of the hill, all wild beasts, such as deers, harts, and roes, and hares, did easily leap in, but could not get out again; and if any other cattle, such as cows, sheep, or goats, did voluntarily leap in, or were forced to do it, it is doubted if their owners were permitted to get them out again.”—Account of Presbytery of Penpont, apud Macfarlane’s MSS. Such a park would form a convenient domain to an outlaw’s castle, and the mention of Durrisdeer, a neighbouring parish, adds weight to the tradition. I have seen, on a mountain near Callendar, a sort of pinfold, composed of immense rocks, piled upon each other, which, I was told, was anciently constructed for the above-mentioned purpose. The mountain is thence called Uah var, or the Cove of the Giant.
JOHNIE OF BREADISLEE.
AN ANCIENT NITHISDALE BALLAD.
Johnie rose up in a May morning,
Called for water to wash his hands—
“Gar loose to me the gude graie dogs
“That are bound wi’ iron bands,”
When Johnie’s mother gat word o’ that,
Her hands for dule she wrang—
“O Johnie! for my benison,
“To the grenewood dinna gang!
“Eneugh ye hae o’ the gude wheat bread,
“And eneugh o’ the blude-red wine;
“And, therefore, for nae venison, Johnie,
“I pray ye, stir frae hame.”
But Johnie’s busk’t up his gude bend bow,
His arrows, ane by ane;
And he has gane to Durrisdeer
To hunt the dun deer down.
As he came down by Merriemass,
And in by the benty line,
There has he espied a deer lying
Aneath a bush of ling.[A]
Johnie he shot, and the dun deer lap,
And he wounded her on the side;
But, atween the water and the brae,
His hounds they laid her pride.
And Johnie has bryttled[B] the deer sae weel,
That he’s had out her liver and lungs;
And wi’ these he has feasted his bludy hounds,
As if they had been erl’s sons.
They eat sae much o’ the venison,
And drank sae much o’ the blude,
That Johnie and a’ his bludy hounds
Fell asleep, as they had been dead.
And by there came a silly auld carle,
An ill death mote he die!
For he’s awa to Hislinton,
Where the Seven Foresters did lie.
“What news, what news, ye gray-headed carle,
“What news bring ye to me?”
“I bring nae news,” said the gray-headed carle,
“Save what these eves did see.
“As I came down by Merriemass,
“And down amang the scroggs,[C]
“The bonniest childe that ever I saw
“Lay sleeping amang his dogs.
“The shirt that was upon his back
“Was o’ the Holland fine;
“The doublet which was over that
“Was o’ the lincome twine.
“The buttons that were on his sleeve
“Were o’ the goud sae gude;
“The gude graie hounds he lay amang,
“Their months were dyed wi’ blude.”
Then out and spak the First Forester,
The held man ower them a’—
If this be Johnie o’ Breadislee,
“Nae nearer will we draw.”
But up and spak the Sixth Forester,
(His sister’s son was he)
“If this be Johnie o’ Breadislee,
“We soon snall gar him die!”
The first flight of arrows the Foresters shot,
They wounded him on the knee;
And out and spak the Seventh Forester,
“The next will gar him die.”
Johnie’s set his back against an aik,
His fute against a stane;
And he has slain the Seven Foresters,
He has slam them a’ but ane.
He has broke three ribs in that ane’s side,
But and his collar bane;
He’s laid him twa-fald ower his steed,
Bade him cany the tidings hame.
“O is there na a bonnie bird,
“Can sing as I can say;
“Could flee away to my mother’s bower,
“And tell to fetch Johnie away?”
The starling flew to his mother’s window stane,
It whistled and it sang;
And aye the ower word o’ the tune
Was—”Johnie tarries lang!”
They made a rod o the hazel bush,
Another o’ the slae-thorn tree,
And mony mony were the men
At fetching our Johnie.
Then out and spak his auld mother,
And fast her tears did fa’—
“Ye wad nae be warned, my son Johnie,
“Frae the hunting to bide awa.
“Aft hae I brought to Breadislee,
“The less gear[D] and the mair,
“But I ne’er brought to Breadislee,
“What grieved my heart sae sair!
“But wae betyde that silly auld carle!
“An ill death shall he die!
“For the highest tree in Merriemass
“Shall be his morning’s fee.”
Now Johnie’s gude bend bow is broke,
And his gude graie dogs are slain;
And his body lies dead in Durrisdeer,
And his hunting it is done.
Brytlled—To cut up venison. See the ancient ballad of Chevy Chace, v. 8.
Gear—Usually signifies goods, but here spoil.
The Ballad was published in the first edition of this work, under the title of “The Laird of Laminton.” It is now given in a more perfect state, from several recited copies. The residence of the Lady, and the scene of the affray at her bridal, is said, by old people, to have been upon the banks of the Cadden, near to where it joins the Tweed. Others say the skirmish was fought near Traquair, and KATHERINE JANFARIE’S dwelling was in the glen, about three miles above Traquair house.
There was a may, and a weel far’d may.,
Lived high up in yon glen;
Her name was Katherine Janfarie,
She was courted by mony men.
Up then came Lord Lauderdale,
Up frae the Lawland border;
And he has come to court this may,
A’ mounted in good order.
He told na her father, he told na her mother,
And he told na ane o’ her kin;
But he whisper’d the bonnie lassie hersel’,
And has her favour won.
But out then cam Lord Lochinvar,
Out frae the English border,
All for to court this bonnie may,
Weil mounted, and in order.
He told her father, he told her mother,
And a’ the lave o’ her kin;
But he told na the bonnie may hersel’,
Till on her wedding e’en.
She sent to the Lord of Lauderdale,
Gin he wad come and see;
And he has sent word back again,
Weel answered she suld be.
And he has sent a messenger
Right quickly through the land,
And raised mony an armed man
To be at his command.
The bride looked out at a high window,
Beheld baith dale and down,
And she was aware of her first true love,
With riders mony a one.
She scoffed him, and scorned him,
Upon her wedding day;
And said—”It was the Fairy court
“To see him in array!
“O come ye here to fight, young lord,
“Or come ye here to play?
“Or come ye here to drink good wine
“Upon the wedding day?”
“I come na here to fight,” he said,
“I come na here to play;
“I’ll but lead a dance wi’ the bonnie bride,
“And mount and go my way.”
It is a glass of the blood-red wine
Was filled up them between,
And aye she drank to Lauderdale,
Wha her true love had been.
He’s ta’en her by the milk-white hand,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
He’s mounted her hie behind himsell,
At her kinsmen spear’d na leave.
“Now take your bride, Lord Lochinvar!
“Now take her if you may!
“But, if you take your bride again,
“We’ll call it but foul play.”
There were four-and-twenty bonnie boys,
A’ clad in the Johnstone grey;[A]
They said they would take the bride again,
By the strong hand, if they may.
Some o’ them were right willing men,
But they were na willing a’;
And four-and-twenty Leader lads
Bid them mount and ride awa’.
Then whingers flew frae gentles’ sides,
And swords flew frae the shea’s,
And red and rosy was the blood
Ran down the lily braes.
The blood ran down by Caddon bank,
And down by Caddon brae;
And, sighing, said the bonnie bride—
“O waes me for foul play!”
My blessing on your heart, sweet thing!
Wae to your willfu’ will!
There’s mony a gallant gentleman
Whae’s blude ye have garr’d to spill.
Now a’ you lords of fair England,
And that dwell by the English border,
Come never here to seek a wife,
For fear of sic disorder.
They’ll haik ye up, and settle ye bye,
Till on your wedding day;
Then gie ye frogs instead of fish,
And play ye foul foul play.
Johnstone grey—The livery of the ancient family of Johnstone.
THE LAIRD O’ LOGIE
An edition of this ballad is current, under the title of “The Laird of Ochiltree;” but the editor, since publication of this work, has been fortunate enough to recover the following more correct and ancient copy, as recited by a gentleman residing near Biggar. It agrees more nearly, both in the name and in the circumstances, with the real fact, than the printed ballad of Ochiltree.
In the year 1592, Francis Stuart, earl of Bothwell, was agitating his frantic and ill-concerted attempts against the person of James VI., whom he endeavoured to surprise in the palace of Falkland. Through the emulation and private rancour of the courtiers, he found adherents even about the king’s person; among whom, it seems, was the hero of our ballad, whose history is thus narrated in that curious and valuable chronicle, of which the first part has been published under the title of “The Historie of “King James the Sext,” and the second is now in the press.
“In this close tyme it fortunit, that a gentelman, callit Weymis of Logye, being also in credence at court, was delatit as a traffekker with Frances Erle Bothwell; and he being examinat before king and counsall, confessit his accusation to be of veritie, that sundrie tymes he had spokin with him, expresslie aganis the king’s inhibitioun proclamit in the contrare, whilk confession he subscryvit with his hand; and because the event of this mater had sik a succes, it sall also be praysit be my pen, as a worthie turne, proceiding frome honest chest loove and charitie, whilk suld on na wayis be obscurit from the posteritie for the gude example; and therefore I have thought gude to insert the same for a perpetual memorie.
“Queen Anne, our noble princess, was servit with dyverss gentilwemen of hir awin cuntrie, and naymelie with are callit Mres Margaret Twynstoun,[A] to whome this gentilman, Weymes of Logye, bure great honest affection, tending to the godlie band of marriage, the whilk was honestlie requytet be the said gentilwoman, yea evin in his greatest mister; for howsone she understude the said gentilman to be in distress, and apperantlie be his confession to be puueist to the death, and she having prevelege to ly in the queynis chalmer that same verie night of his accusation, whare the king was also reposing that same night, she came forth of the dur prevelie, bayth the prencis being then at quyet rest, and past to the chalmer, whare the said gentilman was put in custodie to certayne of the garde, and commandit thayme that immediatelie he sould be broght to the king and queyne, whareunto thay geving sure credence, obeyit. Bot howsone she was cum bak to the chalmer dur, she desyrit the watches to stay till he sould cum furth agayne, and so she closit the dur, and convoyit the gentilman to a windo’, whare she ministrat a long corde unto him to convoy himself doun upon; and sa, be hir gude cheritable help, he happelie escapit be the subteltie of loove.”
Twynelace, according to Spottiswoode.
THE LAIRD O’ LOGIE.
I will sing, if ye will hearken,
If ye will hearken unto me;
The king has ta’en a poor prisoner,
The wanton laird o’ young Logie.
Young Logie’s laid in Edinburgh chapel;
Carmichael’s the keeper o’ the key;
And may Margaret’s lamenting sair,
A’ for the love of young Logie.
“Lament, lament na, may Margaret,
“And of your weeping let me be;
“For ye maun to the king himsell,
“To seek the life of young Logie.”
May Margaret has kilted her green cleiding,
And she has curl’d back her yellow hair—
“If I canna get young Logie’s life,
“Fareweel to Scotland for evermair.”
When she came before the king,
She knelit lowly on her knee—
“O what’s the matter, may Margaret?
“And what needs a’ this courtesie?”
“A boon, a boon, my noble liege,
“A boon, a boon, I beg o’ thee!
“And the first boon that I come to crave,
“Is to grant me the life of young Logic.”
“O na, O na, may Margaret,
“Forsooth, and so it manna be;
“For a’ the gowd o’ fair Scotland
“Shall not save the life of young Logie.”
But she has stown the king’s redding kaim,[A]
Likewise the queen her wedding knife;
And sent the tokens to Carmichael,
To cause young Logic get his life.
She sent him a purse o’ the red gowd,
Another o’ the white monie;
She sent him a pistol for each hand,
And bade him shoot when he gat free.
When he came to the tolbooth stair,
There he let his volley flee;
It made the king in his chamber start,
E’en in the bed where he might be.
“Gae out, gae out, my merrymen a’,
“And bid Carmichael come speak to me;
“For I’ll lay my life the pledge o’ that,
“That yon’s the shot o’ young Logie.”
When Carmichael came before the king,
He fell low down upon his knee;
The very first word that the king spake,
Was—”Where’s the laird of young Logie?”
Carmichael turn’d him round about,
(I wot the tear blinded his eye)
“There came a token frae your grace,
“Has ta’en away the laird frae me.”
“Hast thou play’d me that, Carmichael?”
“And hast thou play’d me that?” quoth he;
“The morn the justice court’s to stand,
“And Logic’s place ye maun supply.”
Carmichael’s awa to Margaret’s bower,
Even as fast as he may drie—
“O if young Logie be within,
“Tell him to come and speak with me!”
May Margaret turned her round about,
(I wot a loud laugh laughed she)
“The egg is chipped, the bird is flown,
“Ye’ll see na mair of young Logie.”
The tane is shipped at the pier of Leith,
The tother at the Queen’s Ferrie;
And she’s gotten a father to her bairn,
The wanton laird of young Logie.
Redding kain—Comb for the hair.
NOTE ON THE LAIRD O’ LOGIE.
Carmichael’s the keeper o’ the key.—P. 344. v. 2.
Sir John Carmichael of Carmichael, the hero of the ballad, called the Raid of the Reidswair, was appointed captain of the king’s guard in 1588, and usually had the keeping of state criminals of rank.
A LYKE-WAKE DIRGE.
This is a sort of charm, sung by the lower ranks of Roman Catholics, in some parts of the north of England, while watching a dead body, previous to interment. The tune is doleful and monotonous, and, joined to the mysterious import of the words, has a solemn effect. The word sleet, in the chorus, seems to be corrupted from selt, or salt; a quantity of which, in compliance with a popular superstition, is frequently placed on the breast of a corpse.
The mythologic ideas of the dirge are common to various creeds. The Mahometan believes, that, in advancing to the final judgment seat, he must traverse a bar of red-hot iron, stretched across a bottomless gulph. The good works of each true believer, assuming a substantial form, will then interpose betwixt his feet and this “Bridge of Dread;” but the wicked, having no such protection, must fall headlong into the abyss.—D’HERBELOT, Bibiotheque Orientale.
Passages, similar to this dirge, are also to be found in Lady Culross’s Dream, as quoted in the second Dissertation prefixed by Mr Pinkerton to his Select Scottish Ballads, 2 vols. The dreamer journeys towards heaven, accompanied and assisted by a celestial guide:
Through dreadful dens, which made my heart aghast,
He bare me up when I began to tire.
Sometimes we clamb o’er craggy mountains high.
And sometimes stay’d on uglie braes of sand:
They were so stay that wonder was to see;
But, when I fear’d, he held me by the hand.
Through great deserts we wandered on our way—
Forward we passed on narrow bridge of trie,
O’er waters great, which hediously did roar.
Again, she supposes herself suspended over an infernal gulph:
Ere I was ware, one gripped me at the last,
And held me high above a naming fire.
The fire was great; the heat did pierce me sore;
My faith grew weak.; my grip was very small;
I trembled fast; my fear grew more and more.
A horrible picture of the same kind, dictated probably by the author’s unhappy state of mind, is to be found in Brooke’s Fool of Quality. The dreamer, a ruined female, is suspended over the gulph of perdition by a single hair, which is severed by a demon, who, in the form of her seducer springs upwards from the flames.
The Russian funeral service, without any allegorical imagery, expresses the sentiment of the dirge in language alike simple and noble.
“Hast thou pitied the afflicted, O man? In death shalt thou be pitied. Hast thou consoled the orphan? The orphan will deliver thee. Hast thou clothed the naked? The naked will procure thee protection.”—RICHARDSON’S Anecdotes of Russia.
But the most minute description of the Brig o’ Dread, occurs in the legend of Sir Owain, No. XL. in the MS. Collection of Romances, W. 4.1. Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh; though its position is not the same as in the dirge, which may excite a suspicion that the order of the stanzas in the latter has been transposed. Sir Owain, a Northumbrian knight, after many frightful adventures in St Patrick’s purgatory, at last arrives at the bridge, which, in the legend, is placed betwixt purgatory and paradise:
The fendes han the knight ynome,
To a stinkand water thai ben ycome,
He no seigh never er non swiche;
It stank fouler than ani hounde.
And maui mile it was to the grounde.
And was as swart as piche.
And Owain seigh ther ouer ligge
A swithe strong naru brigge:
The fendes seyd tho;
“Lo! sir knight, sestow this?
“This is the brigge of paradis,
“Here ouer thou must go.
“And we the schul with stones prowe,
“And the winde the schul ouer blow,
“And wirche the full wo;
“Thou no schalt tor all this unduerd,
“Bot gif thou falle a midwerd,
“To our fewes[A] mo.
“And when thou art adown yfalle,
“Than schal com our felawes alle,
“And with her hokes the hede;
“We schul the teche a newe play:
“Thou hast served ous mani a day,
“And into helle the lede.”
Owain biheld the brigge smert,
The water ther under blac and swert,
And sore him gan to drede:
For of othing he tok yeme,
Never mot, in sonne beme,
Thicker than the fendes yede.
The brigge was as heigh as a tour,
And as scharpe as a rasour,
And naru it was also;
And the water that ther ran under,
Brend o’ lighting and of thonder,
That thoght him michel wo.
Ther nis no clerk may write with ynke,
No no man no may bithink,
No no maister deuine;
That is ymade forsoth ywis.
Under the brigge of paradis,
Halvendel the pine.
So the dominical ous telle,
That is the pure entrae of helle,
Seine Poule berth witnesse;[A]
Whoso falleth of the brigge adown,
Of him nis no redempcioun,
Noîther more nor lesse.
The fendes seyd to the knight tho,
“Ouer this brigge might thou nowght go,
“For noneskines nede;
“Fle peril sorwe and wo,
“And to that stede ther thou com fro,
“Wel fair we schul the lede.”
Owain anon be gan bithenche,
Fram hou mani of the fendes wrenche,
God him saved hadde;
He sett his fot opon the brigge,
No feld he no scharpe egge,
No nothing him no drad.
When the fendes yseigh tho,
That he was more than half ygo,
Loude thai gun to crie;
“Alias! alias! that he was born!
“This ich night we have forlorn
“Out of our baylie.”
Fewes—Probably contracted for fellows.
The reader will probably search St Paul in vain, for the evidence here referred to.
The author of the Legend of Sir Owain, though a zealous catholic, has embraced, in the fullest extent, the Talmudic doctrine of an earthly paradise, distinct from the celestial abode of the just, and serving as a place of initiation, preparatory to perfect bliss, and to the beatific vision.—See the Rabbi Menasse ben Israel, in a treatise called Nishmath Chajim, i.e. The Breath of Life.
THE DOWIE DENS OF YARROW.
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED.
This ballad, which is a very great favourite among the inhabitants of Ettrick Forest, is universally believed to be founded in fact. The editor found it easy to collect a variety of copies; but very difficult, indeed, to select from them such a collated edition, as may, in any degree, suit the taste of “these more light and giddy-paced times.”
Tradition places the event, recorded in the song, very early; and it is probable that the ballad was composed soon afterwards, although the language has been gradually modernized, in the course of its transmission to us, through the inaccurate channel of oral tradition.—The bard does not relate particulars, but barely the striking outlines of a fact, apparently so well known when he wrote, as to render minute detail as unnecessary, as it is always tedious and unpoetical.
The hero of the ballad was a knight of great bravery, called Scott, who is said to have resided at Kirkhope, or Oakwood castle, and is, in tradition, termed the Baron of Oakwood. The estate of Kirkhope belonged anciently to the Scotts of Harden: Oakwood is still their property, and has been so from time immemorial. The editor was therefore led to suppose, that the hero of the ballad might have been identified with John Scott, sixth son of the laird of Harden, murdered in Ettrick Forest by his kinsmen, the Scotts of Gilmanscleugh (see notes to Jamie Telfer, Vol. I. p. 152). This appeared the more probable, as the common people always affirm, that this young man was treacherously slain, and that, in evidence thereof, his body remained uncorrupted for many years; so that even the roses on his shoes seemed as fresh as when he was first laid in the family vault at Hassendean. But from a passage in Nisbet’s Heraldry, he now believes the ballad refers to a duel fought at Deucharswyre, of which Annan’s Treat is a part, betwixt John Scott of Tushielaw and his brother-in-law Walter Scott, third son of Robert of Thirlestane, in which the latter was slain.
In ploughing Annan’s Treat, a huge monumental stone, with an inscription, was discovered; but being rather scratched than engraved, and the lines being run through each other, it is only possible to read one or two Latin words. It probably records the event of the combat.—The person slain was the male ancestor of the present Lord Napier.
Tradition affirms, that the hero of the song (be he who he may) was murdered by the brother, either of his wife, or betrothed bride. The alleged cause of malice was, the lady’s father having proposed to endow her with half of his property, upon her marriage with a warrior of such renown. The name of the murderer is said to have been Annan, and the place of combat is still called Annan’s Treat. It is a low muir, on the banks of the Yarrow, lying to the west of Yarrow Kirk. Two tall unhewn masses of stone are erected, about eighty yards distant from each other; and the least child, that can herd a cow, will tell the passenger, that there lie “the two lords, who were slain in single combat.”
It will be, with many readers, the greatest recommendation of these verses, that they are supposed to have suggested to Mr Hamilton, of Bangour, the modern ballad, beginning,
“Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny bonny bride.”
A fragment, apparently regarding the story of the following ballad, but in a different measure, occurs in Mr Herd’s MSS., and runs thus:—
“When I look cast, my heart is sair,
“But when I look west, its mair and mair;
“For then I see the braes o’ Yarrow,
“And there, for aye, I lost my marrow.”
THE DOWIE DENS OF YARROW.
Late at e’en, drinking the wine,
And ere they paid the lawing,
They set a combat them between,
To fight it in the dawing.
“O stay at hame, my noble lord!
“O stay at hame, my marrow!
“My cruel brother will you betray
“On the dowie houms of Yarrow.”
“O fare ye weel, my ladye gaye!
“O fare ye weel, my Sarah!
“For I maun gae, though I ne’er return,
“Frae the dowie banks o’ Yarrow.
She kissed his cheek, she kaimed his hair,
As oft she had done before, O;
She belted him with his noble brand,
And he’s awa’ to Yarrow.
As he gaed up the Tennies bank,
I wot he gaed wi’ sorrow,
Till, down in a den, he spied nine arm’d men,
On the dowie houms of Yarrow.
“O come ye here to part your land,
“The bonnie forest thorough?
“Or come ye here to wield your brand,
“On the dowie houms of Yarrow?”
“I come not here to part my land,
“And neither to beg nor borrow;
“I come to wield my noble brand,
“On the bonnie banks of Yarrow.
“If I see all, ye’re nine to ane;
“And that’s an unequal marrow;
“Yet will I fight, while lasts my brand,
“On the bonnie banks of Yarrow.”
Four has he hurt, and five has slain,
On the bloody braes of Yarrow,
Till that stubborn knight came him behind,
And ran his bodie thorough.
“Gae hame, gae hame, good-brother[A] John,
“And tell your sister Sarah,
“To come and lift her leafu’ lord;
“He’s sleepin sound on Yarrow.”——
“Yestreen I dream’d a dolefu’ dream;
“I fear there will be sorrow!
“I dream’d, I pu’d the heather green,
“Wi’ my true love, on Yarrow.
“O gentle wind, that bloweth south,
“From where my love repaireth,
“Convey a kiss from his dear mouth,
“And tell me how he fareth!
“But in the glen strive armed men;
“They’ve wrought me dole and sorrow;
“They’ve slain—the comeliest knight they’ve slain—
“He bleeding lies on Yarrow.”
As she sped down yon high high hill,
She gaed wi’ dole and sorrow,
And in the den spyed ten slain men,
On the dowie banks of Yarrow.
She kissed his cheek, she kaim’d his hair,
She search’d his wounds all thorough;
She kiss’d them, till her lips grew red,
On the dowie houms of Yarrow.
“Now, haud your tongue, my daughter dear!
“For a’ this breeds but sorrow;
“I’ll wed ye to a better lord,
“Than him ye lost on Yarrow.”
“O haud your tongue, my father dear!
“Ye mind me but of sorrow;
“A fairer rose did never bloom
“Than now lies cropp’d on Yarrow.”
THE GAY GOSS HAWK.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This Ballad is published, partly from one, under this title, in Mrs. BROWN’S Collection, and partly from a MS. of some antiquity, penes Edit.—The stanzas appearing to possess mo st merit have been selected from each copy.
“O waly, waly, my gay goss hawk,
“Gin your feathering be sheen!”
“And waly, waly, my master dear,
“Gin ye look pale and lean!
“O have ye tint, at tournament,
“Your sword, or yet your spear?
“Or mourn ye for the southern lass,
“Whom you may not win near?”
“I have not tint, at tournament,
“My sword, nor yet my spear;
“But sair I mourn for my true love,
“Wi’ mony a bitter tear.
“But weel’s me on ye, my gay goss hawk,
“Ye can baith speak and flee;
“Ye sall carry a letter to my love,
“Bring an answer back to me.”
“But how sall I your true love find,
“Or how suld I her know?
“I bear a tongue ne’er wi’ her spake,
“An eye that ne’er her saw.”
“O weel sall ye my true love ken,
“Sae sune as ye her see;
“For, of a’ the flowers of fair England,
“The fairest flower is she.
“The red, that’s on my true love’s cheik,
“Is like blood drops on the snaw;
“The white, that is on her breast bare,
“Like the down o’ the white sea-maw.
“And even at my love’s bour door
“There grows a flowering birk;
“And ye maun sit and sing thereon
“As she gangs to the kirk.
“And four-and-twenty fair ladyes
“Will to the mass repair;
“But weel may ye my ladye ken,
“The fairest ladye there.”
Lord William has written a love letter,
Put it under his pinion gray;
And he is awa’ to Southern land
As fast as wings can gae.
And even at that ladye’s bour
There grew a flowering birk;
And he sat down and sang thereon
As she gaed to the kirk.
And weel he kent that ladye fair
Amang her maidens free;
For the flower, that springs in May morning,
Was not sae sweet as she.
He lighted at the ladye’s yate,
And sat him on a pin;
And sang fu’ sweet the notes o’ love,
Till a’ was cosh[A] within.
And first he sang a low low note,
And syne he sang a clear;
And aye the o’erword o’ the sang
Was—”Your love can no win here.”
“Feast on, feast on, my maidens a’:
“The wine flows you amang:
“While I gang to my shot-window,
“And hear yon bonny bird’s sang.
“Sing on, sing on, my bonny bird,
“The sang ye sung yestreen;
“For weel I ken, by your sweet singing,
“Ye are frae my true love sen’.”
O first he sang a merry sang,
And syne he sang a grave;
And syne he peck’d his feathers gray,
To her the letter gave.
“Have there a letter from Lord William;
“He says he’s sent ye three:
“He canna wait your love langer,
“But for your sake he’ll die.”
“Gae bid him bake his bridal bread,
“And brew his bridal ale;
“And I sall meet him at Mary’s kirk
“Lang, lang ere it be stale.”
The ladye’s gane to her chamber,
And a moanfu’ woman was she;
As gin she had ta’en a sudden brash,[B]
And were about to die.
“A boon, a boon, my father deir,
“A boon I beg of thee!”
“Ask not that paughty Scottish lord,
“For him you ne’er shall see.
“But, for your honest asking else,
“Wee! granted it shall be.”
“Then, gin I die in Southern land,
“In Scotland gar bury me.
“And the first kirk that ye come to,
“Ye’s gar the mass be sung;
“And the next kirk that ye come to,
“Ye’s gar the bells be rung.
“And, when ye come to St Mary’s kirk,
“Ye’s tarry there till night.”
And so her father pledged his word,
And so his promise plight.
She has ta’en her to her bigly bour
As fast as she could fare;
And she has drank a sleepy draught,
That she had mixed wi’ care.
And pale, pale grew her rosy cheek,
That was sae bright of blee,
And she seemed to be as surely dead
As any one could be.
Then spak her cruel step-minnie,
“Take ye the burning lead,
“And drap a drap on her bosome,
“To try if she be dead.”
They took a drap o’ boiling lead,
They drap’d it on her breast;
“Alas! alas!” her father cried,
“She’s dead without the priest.”
She neither chatter’d with her teeth,
Nor shiver’d with her chin;
“Alas! alas!” her father cried,
“There is nae breath within.”
Then up arose her seven brethren,
And hew’d to her a bier;
They hew’d it frae the solid aik,
Laid it o’er wi’ silver clear.
Then up and gat her seven sisters,
And sewed to her a kell;
And every steek that they pat in
Sewed to a siller bell.
The first Scots kirk that they cam to,
They gar’d the bells be rung;
The next Scots kirk that they cam to,
They gar’d the mass be sung.
But when they cam to St Mary’s kirk,
There stude spearmen, all on a raw;
And up and started Lord William,
The chieftane amang them a’.
“Set down, set down the bier,” he said;
“Let me looke her upon:”
But as soon as Lord William touched her hand,
Her colour began to come.
She brightened like the lily flower,
Till her pale colour was gone;
With rosy cheik, and ruby lip,
She smiled her love upon.
“A morsel of your bread, my lord,
“And one glass of your wine:
“For I hae fasted these three lang days,
“All for your sake and mine.
“Gae hame, gae hame, my seven bauld brothers!
“Gae hame and blaw your horn!
“I trow you wad hae gien me the skaith,
“But I’ve gien you the scorn.
“Commend me to my grey father,
“That wish’d, my saul gude rest;
“But wae be to my cruel step-dame,
“Gar’d burn me on the breast.”
“Ah! woe to you, you light woman!
“An ill death may you die!
“For we left father and sisters at hame
“Breaking their hearts for thee.”
NOTES ON THE GAY GOSS HAWK.
The red, that’s on my true love’s cheik,
Is like blood drops on the snaw.—P. 362. v, 5.
This simile resembles a passage in a MS. translation of an Irish Fairy tale, called The Adventures of Faravla, Princess of Scotland, and Carral O’Daly, Son of Donogho More O’Daly, Chief Bard of Ireland.
“Faravla, as she entered her bower, cast her looks upon the earth, which was tinged with the blood of a bird which a raven had newly killed; ‘Like that snow,’ said Faravla, ‘was the complexion of my beloved, his cheeks like the sanguine traces thereon; whilst the raven recals to my memory the colour of his beautiful locks.”
There is also some resemblance, in the conduct of the story, betwixt the ballad and the tale just quoted. The Princess Faravla, being desperately in love with Carral O’Daly, dispatches in search of him a faithful confidant, who, by her magical art, transforms herself into a hawk, and, perching upon the windows of the bard, conveys to him information of the distress of the princess of Scotland.
In the ancient romance of Sir Tristrem, the simile of the “blood drops upon snow” likewise occurs:
A bride bright thai ches
As blod open snoweing.
There is a copy of this Ballad in Mrs. BROWN’S Collection. The Editor has seen one, printed on a single sheet. The epithet, “Smith,” implies, probably, the sirname, not the profession, of the hero, who seems to have been an outlaw There is, however, in Mrs. BROWN’S copy, a verse of little merit here omitted, alluding to the implements of that occupation.
O wha wad wish the wind to blaw,
Or the green leaves fa’ therewith?
Or wha wad, wish a lealer love
Than Brown Adam the smith?
But they hae banished him, Brown Adam,
Frae father and frae mother;
And they hae banished him, Brown Adam,
Frae sister and frae brother.
And they hae banished him, Brown Adam,
The flower o’ a’ his kin;
And he’s bigged a hour in gude green-wood
Atween his ladye and him.
It fell upon a summer’s day,
Brown Adam he thought lang;
And, for to hunt some venison,
To green-wood he wald gang.
He has ta’en his bow his arm o’er,
His bolts and arrows lang;
And he is to the gude green-wood
As fast as he could gang.
O he’s shot up, and he’s shot down,
The bird upon the brier;
And he’s sent it hame to his ladye,
Bade her be of gude cheir.
O he’s shot up, and he’s shot down,
The bird upon the thorn;
And sent it hame to his ladye,
Said he’d be hame the morn.
When he cam to his ladye’s bour door
He stude a little forbye,
And there he heard a fou fause knight
Tempting his gay ladye.
For he’s ta’en out a gay goud ring,
Had cost him mony a poun’,
“O grant me love for love, ladye,
“And this shall be thy own.”
“I lo’e Brown Adam weel,” she said;
“I trew sae does he me:
“I wadna gie Brown Adam’s love
“For nae fause knight I see.”
Out has he ta’en a purse o’ gowd,
Was a’ fou to the string,
“O grant me love for love, ladye,
“And a’ this shall be thine.”
“I lo’e Brown Adam weel,” she says;
“I wot sae does he me:
“I wad na be your light leman
“For mair than ye could gie.”
Then out he drew his lang bright brand,
And flashed it in her een;
“Now grant me love for love, ladye,
“Or thro’ ye this sall gang!”
Then, sighing, says that ladye fair,
“Brown Adam tarries lang!”
Then in and starts him Brown Adam,
Says—”I’m just at your hand.”
He’s gar’d him leave his bonny bow,
He’s gar’d him leave his brand,
He’s gar’d him leave a dearer pledge—
Four fingers o’ his right hand.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This ballad is published from tradition, with some conjectural emendations. It is corrected by a copy in Mrs Brown’s MS., from which it differs in the concluding stanzas. Some verses are apparently modernized.
Jellon seems to be the same name with Jyllian or Julian. “Jyl of Brentford’s Testament” is mentioned in Warton’s History of Poetry, Vol. II. p. 40. The name repeatedly occurs in old ballads, sometimes as that of a man, at other times as that of a woman. Of the former is an instance in the ballad of “Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter,”—Reliques of Ancient Poetry, Vol. III. p. 72.
Some do call me Jack, sweetheart.
And some do call me Jille.
Witton Gilbert, a village four miles west of Durham, is, throughout the bishopric, pronounced Witton Jilbert. We have also the common name of Giles, always in Scotland pronounced Jill. For Gille, or Julianna, as a female name, we have Fair Gillian of Croyden, and a thousand authorities. Such being the case, the editor must enter his protest against the conversion of Gil Morrice, into child Maurice, an epithet of chivalry. All the circumstances in that ballad argue, that the unfortunate hero was an obscure and very young man, who had never received the honour of knighthood. At any rate, there can be no reason, even were internal evidence totally wanting, for altering a well known proper name, which, till of late years, has been the uniform title of the ballad.
O JELLON GRAME sat in Silverwood,[A]
He sharped his broad sword lang;
And he has call’d his little foot page
An errand for to gang.
“Win up, my bonny boy,” he says,
“As quickly as ye may;
“For ye maun gang for Lillie Flower
“Before the break of day.”
The boy has buckled his belt about,
And thro’ the green-wood ran;
And he cam to the ladye’s bower
Before the day did dawn.
“O sleep ye, wake ye, Lillie Flower?
“The red sun’s on the rain:
“Ye’re bidden come to Silverwood,
“But I doubt ye’ll never win hame.”
She hadna ridden a mile, a mile,
A mile but barely three,
Ere she cam to a new made grave,
Beneath a green aik tree.
O then up started Jellon Grame,
Out of a bush thereby;
“Light down, light down, now, Lillie Flower,
“For its here that ye maun lye.”
She lighted aff her milk-white steed,
And kneel’d upon her knee;
“O mercy, mercy, Jellon Grame,
“For I’m no prepared to die!
“Your bairn, that stirs between my sides,
“Maun shortly see the light;
“But to see it weltering in my blood,
“Would be a piteous sight.”
“O should I spare your life,” he says,
“Until that bairn were born,
“Full weel I ken your auld father
“Would hang me on the morn.”
“O spare my life, now, Jellon Grame!
“My father ye need na dread:
“I’ll keep my babe in gude green-wood,
“Or wi’ it I’ll beg my bread.”
He took no pity on Lillie Flower,
Tho’ she for life did pray;
But pierced her thro’ the fair body
As at his feet she lay.
He felt nae pity for Lillie Flower,
Where she was lying dead;
But he felt some for the bonny bairn,
That lay weltering in her bluid.
Up has he ta’en that bonny boy,
Given him to nurses nine;
Three to sleep, and three to wake,
And three to go between.
And he bred up that bonny boy,
Called him his sister’s son;
And he thought no eye could ever see
The deed that he had done.
O so it fell, upon a day,
When hunting they might be,
They rested them in Silverwood,
Beneath that green aik tree.
And mony were the green-wood flowers
Upon the grave that grew,
And marvell’d much that bonny boy
To see their lovely hue.
“What’s paler than the prymrose wan?
“What’s redder than the rose?
“What’s fairer than the lilye flower
“On this wee know[B] that grows?”
O out and answered Jellon Grame,
And he spak hastelie—
“Your mother was a fairer flower,
“And lies beneath this tree.
“More pale she was, when she sought my grace,
“Than prymrose pale and wan;
“And redder than rose her ruddy heart’s blood,
“That down my broad sword ran.”
Wi’ that the boy has bent his bow,
It was baith stout and lang;
And thro’ and thro’ him, Jellon Grame,
He gar’d an arrow gang.
Says—”Lie ye there, now, Jellon Grame!
“My malisoun gang you wi’!
“The place my mother lies buried in
“Is far too good for thee.”
Silverwood, mentioned in this ballad, occurs in a medley MS song, which seems to have been copied from the first edition of the Aberdeen caurus, penes John G. Dalyell, esq. advocate. One line only is cited, apparently the beginning of some song:
Silverwood, gin ye were mine.
Wee know—Little hillock.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
Mr Lewis, in his Tales of Wonder, has presented the public with a copy of this ballad, with additions and alterations. The editor has also seen a copy, containing some modern stanzas, intended by Mr Jamieson, of Macclesfield, for publication in his Collection of Scottish Poetry. Yet, under these disadvantages, the editor cannot relinquish his purpose of publishing the old ballad, in its native simplicity, as taken from Mrs Brown of Faulkland’s MS.
Those, who wish to know how an incantation, or charm, of the distressing nature here described, was performed in classic days, may consult the story of Galanthis’s Metamorphosis, in Ovid, or the following passage in Apuleius: “Eadem (Saga scilicet quaedam), amatoris uxorem, quod in sibi dicacule probrum dixerat, jam in sarcinam praegnationis, obsepto utero, et repigrato faetu, perpetua praegnatione damnavit. Et ut cuncti numerant, octo annorum onere, misella illa, velut elephantum paritura, distenditur.”—APUL. Metam. lib. 1.
There is also a curious tale about a count of Westeravia, whom a deserted concubine bewitched upon his marriage, so as to preclude all hopes of his becoming a father. The spell continued to operate for three years, till one day, the count happening to meet with his former mistress, she maliciously asked him about the increase of his family. The count, conceiving some suspicion from her manner, craftily answered, that God had blessed him with three fine children; on which she exclaimed, like Willie’s mother in the ballad, “May Heaven confound the old hag, by whose counsel I threw an enchanted pitcher into the draw-well of your palace!” The spell being found, and destroyed, the count became the father of a numerous family.—Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels, p. 474.
Willie’s ta’en him o’er the faem,[A]
He’s wooed a wife, and brought her hame;
He’s wooed her for her yellow hair,
But his mother wrought her meikle care;
And meikle dolour gar’d her drie,
For lighter she can never be;
But in her bower she sits wi’ pain,
And Willie mourns o’er her in vain.
And to his mother he has gane,
That vile rank witch, o’ vilest kind!
He says—”My ladie has a cup,
Wi’ gowd and silver set about,
This gudely gift sall be your ain,
And let her be lighter o’ her young bairn.”
“Of her young bairn she’s never be lighter,
“Nor in her bour to shine the brighter;
“But she sall die, and turn to clay,
“And you shall wed another may.”
“Another may I’ll never wed,
“Another may I’ll never bring hame.”
But, sighing, said that weary wight—
“I wish my life were at an end!”
“Yet gae ye to your mother again,
“That vile rank witch, o’ vilest kind!
“And say, your ladye has a steed,
“The like o’ him’s no in the land o’ Leed.[B]
“For he is silver shod before,
“And he is gowden shod behind;
“At every tuft of that horse mane,
“There’s a golden chess[C], and a bell to ring.
“This gudely gift sall be her ain,
“And let me be lighter o’ my young bairn.”
“Of her young bairn she’s ne’er be lighter,
“Nor in her bour to shine the brighter;
“But she sall die, and turn to clay,
“And ye sall wed another may.”
“Another may I’ll never wed,
“Another may I’ll never bring hame.”
But, sighing, said that weary wight—
“I wish my life were at an end!”
“Yet gae ye to your mother again,
“That vile rank witch, o’ rankest kind!
“And say, your ladye has a girdle,
“It is a’ red gowd to the middle;
“And aye, at ilka siller hem
“Hang fifty siller bells and ten;
“This gudely gift sall be her ain,
“And let me be lighter o’ my young bairn.”
“Of her young bairn she’s ne’er be lighter,
“Nor in your bour to shine the brighter;
“For she sall die, and turn to clay,
“And thou sall wed another may.”
“Another may I’ll never wed,
“Another may I’ll never bring hame.”
But, sighing, said that weary wight—
“I wish my days were at an end!”
Then out and spak the Billy Blind,[D]
(He spak ay in a gude time:)
“Yet gae ye to the market-place,
“And there do buy a loaf of wace;[E]
“Do shape it bairn and bairnly like,
“And in it twa glassen een you’ll put;
“And bid her your boy’s christening to,
“Then notice weel what she shall do;
“And do ye stand a little away,
“To notice weel what she may saye.
[A stanza seems to be wanting. Willie is supposed to follow
the advice of the spirit.—His mother speaks.]
“O wha has loosed the nine witch knots,
“That were amang that ladye’s locks?
“And wha’s ta’en out the kaims o’ care,
“That were amang that ladye’s hair?
“And wha has ta’en downe that bush o’ woodbine,
“That hung between her bour and mine?
“And wha has kill’d the master kid,
“That ran beneath that ladye’s bed?
“And wha has loosed her left foot shee,
“And let that ladye lighter be?”
Syne, Willy’s loosed the nine witch knots,
That were amang that ladye’s locks;
And Willy’s ta’en out the kaims o’ care,
That were into that ladye’s hair;
And he’s ta’en down the bush o’ woodbine,
Hung atween her bour and the witch carline;
And he has kill’d the master kid,
That ran beneath that ladye’s bed;
And he has loosed her left foot shee,
And latten that ladye lighter be;
And now he has gotten a bonny son,
And meikle grace be him upon.
Faem—The sea foam.
Land o’ Leed—Perhaps Lydia.
Chess—Should probably be jess, the name of a hawk’s bell.
Billy-Blind—A familiar genius, or propitious spirit, somewhat similar to the Brownie. He is mentioned repeatedly in Mrs Brown’s Ballads, but I have not met with him any where else, although he is alluded to in the rustic game of Bogle (i.e. goblin) Billy-Blind. The word is, indeed, used in Sir David Lindsay’s plays, but apparently in a different sense—
“Preists sall leid you like ane Billy Blinde.”
PINKERTON’S Scottish Poems, 1792, Vol. II. p. 232.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This romantic ballad is taken from Mr Herd’s MSS., with several corrections from a shorter and more imperfect copy, in the same volume, and one or two conjectural emendations in the arrangement of the stanzas. The resemblance of the conclusion to the ballad, beginning, “There came a ghost to Margaret’s door,” will strike every reader.—The tale is uncommonly wild and beautiful, and apparently very ancient. The custom of the passing bell is still kept up in many villages of Scotland. The sexton goes through the town, ringing a small bell, and announcing the death of the departed, and the time of the funeral.—The three concluding verses have been recovered since the first edition of this work; and I am informed by the reciter, that it was usual to separate from the rest, that part of the ballad which follows the death of the lovers, as belonging to another story. For this, however, there seems no necessity, as other authorities give the whole as a complete tale.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
Clerk Saunders and may Margaret
Walked ower yon garden green;
And sad and heavy was the love
That fell thir twa between.
“A bed, a bed,” Clerk Saunders said,
“A bed for you and me!”
“Fye na, fye na,” said may Margaret,
“Till anes we married be.
“For in may come my seven bauld brothers,
“Wi’ torches burning bright;
“They’ll say—’We hae but ae sister,
“And behold she’s wi’ a knight!’
“Then take the sword frae my scabbard,
“And slowly lift the pin;
“And you may swear, and safe your aith,
“Ye never let Clerk Saunders in.
“And take a napkin in your hand,
“And tie up baith your bonny een;
“And you may swear, and safe your aith,
“Ye saw me na since late yestreen.”
It was about the midnight hour,
When they asleep were laid,
When in and came her seven brothers,
Wi’ torches burning red.
When in and came her seven brothers,
Wi’ torches shining bright;
They said, “We hae but ae sister,
“And behold her lying with a knight!”
Then out and spake the first o’ them,
“I bear the sword shall gar him die!”
And out and spake the second o’ them,
“His father has nae mair than he!”
And out and spake the third o’ them,
“I wot that they are lovers dear!”
And out and spake the fourth o’ them,
“They hae been in love this mony a year!”
Then out and spake the fifth o’ them,
“It were great sin true love to twain!”
And out and spake the sixth o’ them,
“It were shame to slay a sleeping man!”
Then up and gat the seventh o’ them,
And never a word spake he;
But he has striped[A] his bright brown brand
Out through Clerk Saunders’ fair bodye.
Clerk Saunders he started, and Margaret she turned
Into his arms as asleep she lay;
And sad and silent was the night
That was atween thir twae.
And they lay still and sleeped sound,
Until the day began to daw;
And kindly to him she did say,
“It is time, true love, you were awa’.”
But he lay still, and sleeped sound,
Albeit the sun began to sheen;
She looked atween her and the wa’,
And dull and drowsie were his een.
Then in and came her father dear,
Said—”Let a’ your mourning be:
“I’ll carry the dead corpse to the clay,
“And I’ll come back and comfort thee.”
“Comfort weel your seven sons;
“For comforted will I never be:
“I ween ’twas neither knave nor lown
“Was in the bower last night wi’ me.”
The clinking bell gaed through the town,
To carry the dead corse to the clay;
And Clerk Saunders stood at may Margaret’s window,
I wot, an hour before the day.
“Are ye sleeping, Margaret?” he says,
“Or are ye waking presentlie?
“Give me my faith and troth again,
“I wot, true love, I gied to thee.”
“Your faith and troth ye sall never get,
“Nor our true love sall never twin,
“Until ye come within my bower,
“And kiss me cheik and chin.”
“My mouth it is full cold, Margaret,
“It has the smell, now, of the ground;
“And if I kiss thy comely mouth,
“Thy days of life will not be lang.
“O, cocks are crowing a merry midnight,
“I wot the wild fowls are boding day;
“Give me my faith and troth again,
“And let me fare me on my way.”
“Thy faith and troth thou sall na get,
“And our true love sall never twin,
“Until ye tell what comes of women,
“I wot, who die in strong traivelling?”[B]
“Their beds are made in the heavens high,
“Down at the foot of our good lord’s knee,
“Weel set about wi’ gillyflowers:
“I wot sweet company for to see.
“O cocks are crowing a merry mid-night,
“I wot the wild fowl are boding day;
“The psalms of heaven will soon be sung,
“And I, ere now, will be missed away.”
Then she has ta’en a crystal wand,
And she has stroken her troth thereon;
She has given it him out at the shot-window,
Wi’ mony a sad sigh, and heavy groan.
“I thank ye, Marg’ret; I thank ye, Marg’ret;
“And aye I thank ye heartilie;
“Gin ever the dead come for the quick,
“Be sure, Marg’ret, I’ll come for thee.”
Its hosen and shoon, and gown alone,
She climbed the wall, and followed him,
Until she came to the green forest,
And there she lost the sight o’ him.
“Is there ony room at your head, Saunders?
“Is there ony room at your feet?
“Or ony room at your side, Saunders,
“Where fain, fain, I wad sleep?”
“There’s nae room at my head, Marg’ret,
“There’s nae room at my feet;
“My bed it is full lowly now:
“Amang the hungry worms I sleep.
“Cauld mould is my covering now,
“But and my winding-sheet;
“The dew it falls nae sooner down,
“Than my resting-place is weet.
“But plait a wand o’ bonnie birk,
“And lay it on my breast;
“And shed a tear upon my grave,
“And wish my saul gude rest.
“And fair Marg’ret, and rare Marg’ret,
“And Marg’ret o’ veritie,
“Gin ere ye love another man,
“Ne’er love him as ye did me.”
Then up and crew the milk-white cock,
And up and crew the gray;
Her lover vanish’d in the air,
And she gaed weeping away.
NOTES ON CLERK SAUNDERS.
Weel set about wi’ gillyflowers.—P. 394. v. 5.
From whatever source the popular ideas of heaven be derived, the mention of gillyflowers is not uncommon. Thus, in the Dead Men’s Song—
The fields about this city faire
Were all with roses set;
Gillyflowers, and carnations faire,
Which canker could not fret.
RITSON’S Ancient Songs, p. 288.
The description, given in the legend of Sir Owain, of the terrestrial paradise, at which the blessed arrive, after passing through purgatory, omits gillyflowers, though it mentions many others. As the passage is curious, and the legend has never been published, many persons may not be displeased to see it extracted—
Fair were her erbers with flowres,
Rose and lili divers colours,
Primrol and parvink;
Mint, feverfoy, and eglenterre
Colombin, and mo ther wer
Than ani man mai bithenke.
It berth erbes of other maner,
Than ani in erth groweth here,
Tho that is lest of priis;
Evermore thai grene springeth,
For winter no somer it no clingeth,
And sweeter than licorice.
But plait a wand o’ bonnie birk, &c.—P. 396. v. 3.
The custom of binding the new-laid sod of the church-yard with osiers, or other saplings, prevailed both in England and Scotland, and served to protect the turf from injury by cattle, or otherwise. It is alluded to by Gay, in the What d’ye call it—
Stay, let me pledge, ’tis my last earthly liquor,
When I am dead you’ll bind my grave with wicker.
In the Shepherd’s Week, the same custom is alluded to, and the cause explained:—
With wicker rods we fenced her tomb around,
To ward, from man and beast, the hallowed ground,
Lest her new grave the parson’s cattle raze,
For both his horse and cow the church-yard graze.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
There are two Ballads in Mr. HERD’S MSS. upon the following Story, in one of which the unfortunate Knight is termed YOUNG HUNTIN. A Fragment, containing from the sixth to the tenth verse, has been repeatedly published. The best verses are here selected from both copies, and some trivial alterations have been adopted from tradition.
“O lady, rock never your young son young,
“One hour langer for me;
“For I have a sweetheart in Garlioch Wells,
“I love far better than thee.
“The very sole o’ that ladye’s foot
“Than thy face is far mair white.”—
“But, nevertheless, now, Erl Richard,
“Ye will bide in ray bower a’ night?”
She birled[A] him with the ale and wine,
As they sat down to sup;
A living man he laid him down,
But I wot he ne’er rose up.
Then up and spak the popinjay,
That flew aboun her head;
“Lady! keep weel your green cleiding
“Frae gude Erl Richard’s bleid.”
“O better I’ll keep my green cleiding
“Frae gude Erl Richard’s bleid,
“Than thou canst keep thy clattering toung,
“That trattles in thy head.”
She has call’d upon her bower maidens,
She has call’d them ane by ane;
“There lies a deid man in my bour:
“I wish that he were gane!”
They hae booted him, and spurred him,
As he was wont to ride;—
A hunting-horn tied round his waist,
A sharp sword by his side;
And they hae had him to the wan water,
For a’ men call it Clyde.
Then up and spak the popinjay,
That sat upon the tree—
“What hae ye done wi’ Erl Richard?
“Ye were his gay ladye.”
“Come down, come down, my bonny bird,
“And sit upon my hand;
“And thou sall hae a cage o’ gowd,
“Where thou hast but the wand.”
“Awa! awa! ye ill woman:
“Nae cage o’ gowd for me;
“As ye hae dune to Erl Richard,
“Sae wad ye do to me.”
She hadna cross’d a rigg o’ land,
A rigg, but barely ane;
When she met wi’ his auld father,
Came riding all alane.
“Where hae ye been, now, ladye fair,
“Where hae ye been sae late?”
“We hae been seeking Erl Richard,
“But him we canna get.”
“Erl Richard kens a’ the fords in Clyde,
“He’ll ride them ane by ane,
“And though the night was ne’er sae mirk,
“Erl Richard will he hame.”
O it fell anes, upon a day,
The king was boun’ to ride;
And he has mist him, Erl Richard,
Should hae ridden on his right side.
The ladye turn’d her round about,
Wi’ meikle mournfu’ din—
“It fears me sair o’ Clyde water,
“That he is drown’d therein.”
“Gar douk, gar douk,”[B] the king he cried,
“Gar douk for gold and fee;
“O wha will douk for Erl Richard’s sake,
“Or wha will douk for me?”
They douked in at ae weil-head,[C]
And out ay at the other;
“We can douk nae mair for Erl Richard,
“Although he were our brother.”
It fell that, in that ladye’s castle,
The king was boun’ to bed;
And up and spake the popinjay,
That flew abune his head.
“Leave off your douking on the day,
“And douk upon the night;
“And where that sackless[D] knight lies slain,
“The candles will burn bright.”
“O there’s a bird within this bower,
“That sings baith sad and sweet;
“O there’s a bird within your bower,
“Keeps me frae my night’s sleep.”
They left the douking on the day,
And douked upon the night;
And, where that sackless knight lay slain,
The candles burned bright.
The deepest pot in a’ the linn,
They fand Erl Richard in;
A grene turf tyed across his breast,
To keep that gude lord down.
Then up and spake the king himsell,
When he saw the deadly wound—
“O wha has slain my right-hand man,
“That held my hawk and hound?”
Then up and spake the popinjay,
Says—”What needs a’ this din?
“It was his light lemman took his life,
“And hided him in the linn.”
She swore her by the grass, sae grene,
Sae did she by the corn,
She had na’ seen him, Erl Richard,
Since Moninday at morn.
“Put na the wite on me,” she said;
“It was my may Catherine.”
Then they hae cut baith fern and thorn,
To burn that maiden in.
It wadna take upon her cheik,
Nor yet upon her chin;
Nor yet upon her yellow hair,
To cleanse the deadly sin.
The maiden touched the clay-cauld corpse,
A drap it never bled;
The ladye laid her hand on him,
And soon the ‘ground was red.
Out they hae ta’en her, may Catherine,
And put her mistress in:
The flame tuik fast upon her cheik,
Tuik fast upon her chin,
Tuik fast upon her faire bodye—
She burn’d like hollins green.[E]
Hollins green—Green holly.
NOTES ON EARL RICHARD.
The candles burned bright.—P. 403. v. 4.
These are unquestionably the corpse lights, called in Wales Canhwyllan Cyrph, which are sometimes seen to illuminate the spot where a dead body is concealed. The editor is informed, that, some years ago, the corpse of a man, drowned in the Ettrick, below Selkirk, was discovered by means of these candles. Such lights are common in churchyards, and are probably of a phosphoric nature. But rustic superstition derives them from supernatural agency, and supposes, that, as soon as life has departed, a pale flame appears at the window of the house, in which the person had died, and glides towards the church-yard, tracing through every winding the route of the future funeral, and pausing where the bier is to rest. This and other opinions, relating to the “tomb-fires’ livid gleam,” seem to be of Runic extraction.
The deepest pot in a’ the linn.—P. 403. v. 5.
The deep holes, scooped in the rock by the eddies of a river, are called pots; the motion of the water having there some resemblance to a boiling cauldron.
Linn, means the pool beneath a cataract.
The maiden touched the clay-cauld corpse,
A drop it never bled.—P. 405. v. I.
This verse, which is restored from tradition, refers to a superstition formerly received in most parts of Europe, and even resorted to, by judicial authority, for the discovery of murder. In Germany, this experiment was called bahr-recht, or the law of the bier; because, the murdered body being stretched upon a bier, the suspected person was obliged to put one hand upon the wound, and the other upon the mouth of the deceased, and, in that posture, call upon heaven to attest his innocence. If, during this ceremony, the blood gushed from the mouth, nose, or wound, a circumstance not unlikely to happen in the course of shifting or stirring the body, it was held sufficient evidence of the guilt of the party.
The same singular kind of evidence, although reprobated by Mathaeus and Carpzovius, was admitted in the Scottish criminal courts, at the short distance of one century. My readers may be amused by the following instances:
“The laird of Auchindrane (Muir of Auchindrane, in Ayrshire) was accused of a horrid and private murder, where there were no witnesses, and which the Lord had witnessed from heaven, singularly by his own hand, and proved the deed against him. The corpse of the man being buried in Girvan church-yard, as a man cast away at sea, and cast out there, the laird of Colzean, whose servant he had been, dreaming of him in his sleep, and that he had a particular mark upon his body, came and took up the body, and found it to be the same person; and caused all that lived near by come and touch the corpse, as is usual in such cases. All round the place came but Auchindrane and his son, whom nobody suspected, till a young child of his, Mary Muir, seeing the people examined, came in among them; and, when she came near the dead body, it sprang out in bleeding; upon which they were apprehended, and put to the torture.”—WODROW’S History, Vol. I. p. 513. The trial of Auchindrane happened in 1611. He was convicted and executed.—HUME’SCriminal Law, Vol. I. p. 428.
A yet more dreadful case was that of Philip Standfield, tried upon the 30th November, 1687, for cursing his father (which, by the Scottish law, is a capital crime, Act 1661, Chap. 20), and for being accessory to his murder. Sir James Standfield, the deceased, was a person of melancholy temperament; so that, when his body was found in a pond near his own house of Newmilns, he was at first generally supposed to have drowned himself. But, the body having been hastily buried, a report arose that he had been strangled by ruffians, instigated by his son Philip, a profligate youth, whom be had disinherited on account of his gross debauchery. Upon this rumour, the Privy Council granted warrant to two surgeons of character, named Crawford and Muirhead, to dig up the body, and to report the state in which they should find it. Philip was present on this occasion, and the evidence of both surgeons bears distinctly, that he stood for some time at a distance from the body of his parent; but, being called upon to assist in stretching out the corpse, he put his hand to the head, when the mouth and nostrils instantly gushed with blood. This circumstance, with the evident symptoms of terror and remorse, exhibited by young Standfield, seem to have had considerable weight with the jury, and are thus stated in the indictment: “That his (the deceased’s) nearest relations being required to lift the corpse into the coffin, after it had been inspected, upon the said Philip Standfield touching of it (according to God’s usual mode of discovering murder), it bled afresh upon the said Philip; and that thereupon he let the body fall, and fled from it in the greatest consternation, crying, Lord have mercy upon me!” The prisoner was found guilty of being accessory to the murder of his father, although there was little more than strong presumptions against him. It is true, he was at the same time separately convicted of the distinct crimes of having cursed his father, and drank damnation to the monarchy and hierarchy. His sentence, which was to have his tongue cut out, and hand struck off, previous to his being hanged, was executed with the utmost rigour. He denied the murder with his last breath. “It is,” says a contemporary judge, “a dark case of divination, to be remitted to the great day, whether he was guilty or innocent. Only it is certain he was a bad youth, and may serve as a beacon to all profligate persons.”—FOUNTAINHALL’S Decisions, Vol. I. p. 483.
While all ranks believed alike the existence of these prodigies, the vulgar were contented to refer them to the immediate interference of the Deity, or, as they termed it, God’s revenge against murder. But those, who, while they had overleaped the bounds of superstition, were still entangled in the mazes of mystic philosophy, amongst whom we must reckon many of the medical practitioners, endeavoured to explain the phenomenon, by referring to the secret power of sympathy, which even Bacon did not venture to dispute. To this occult agency was imputed the cure of wounds, effected by applying salves and powders, not to the wound itself, but to the sword or dagger, by which it had been inflicted; a course of treatment, which, wonderful as it may at first seem, was certainly frequently attended with signal success.[A] This, however, was attributed to magic, and those, who submitted to such a mode of cure, were refused spiritual assistance.
The first part of the process was to wash the wound clean, and bind it up so as to promote adhesion, and exclude the air. Now, though the remedies, afterwards applied to the sword, could hardly promote so desirable an issue, yet it is evident the wound stood a good chance of healing by the operation of nature, which, I believe, medical gentlemen call a cure by the first intention.
The vulgar continue to believe firmly in the phenomenon of the murdered corpse bleeding at the approach of the murderer. “Many (I adopt the words of an ingenious correspondent) are the proofs advanced in confirmation of the opinion, against those who are so hardy as to doubt it; but one, in particular, as it is said to have happened in this place, I cannot help repeating.
“Two young men, going a fishing in the river Yarrow, fell out; and so high ran the quarrel, that the one, in a passion, stabbed the other to the heart with a fish spear. Astonished “at the rash act, he hesitated whether to fly, give himself up to justice, or conceal the crime; and, in the end, fixed on the latter expedient, burying the body of his friend very deep in the sands. As the meeting had been accidental, he was never from gaiety to a settled melancholy. Time passed on for the space of fifty years, when a smith, fishing near the same place, discovered an uncommon and curious bone, which he put in his pocket, and afterwards showed to some people in his smithy. The murderer being present, now an old white-headed man, leaning on his staff, desired a sight of the little bone; but how horrible was the issue! no sooner had he touched it, than it streamed with purple blood. Being told where it was found, he confessed the crime, was condemned, but was prevented, by death, from suffering the punishment due to his crime.
“Such opinions, though reason forbids us to believe them, a few moments reflection on the cause of their origin will teach us to revere. Under the feudal system which prevailed, the rights of humanity were too often violated, and redress very hard to be procured; thus an awful deference to one of the leading attributes of Omnipotence begat on the mind, untutored by philosophy, the first germ of these supernatural effects; which was, by superstitious zeal, assisted, perhaps, by a few instances of sudden remorse, magnified into evidence of indisputable guilt.”
THE LASS OF LOCHROYAN.
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED IN A PERFECT STATE.
Lochroyan, whence this ballad probably derives its name, lies in Galloway. The lover, who, if the story be real, may be supposed to have been detained by sickness, is represented, in the legend, as confined by Fairy charms in an enchanted castle situated in the sea. The ruins of ancient edifices are still visible on the summits of most of those small islands, or rather insulated rocks, which lie along the coast of Ayrshire and Galloway; as Ailsa and Big Scaur.
This edition of the ballad obtained is composed of verses selected from three MS. copies, and two from recitation. Two of the copies are in Herd’s MSS.; the third in that of Mrs Brown of Falkland.
A fragment of the original song, which is sometimes denominated Lord Gregory, or Love Gregory, was published in Mr Herd’s Collection, 1774, and, still more fully, in that of Laurie and Symington, 1792. The story has been celebrated both by Burns and Dr Wolcott.
THE LASS OF LOCHROYAN.
“O wha will shoe my bonny foot?
“And wha will glove my hand?
“And wha will lace my middle jimp
“W’ a lang lang linen band?
“O wha will kame my yellow hair
“With a new made silver kame?
“And wha will father my young son
“Till Lord Gregory come hame?”
“Thy father will shoe thy bonny foot,
“Thy mother will glove thy hand,
“Thy sister will lace thy middle jimp,
“Till Lord Gregory come to land.
“Thy brother will kame thy yellow hair
“With a new made silver kame,
“And God will be thy bairn’s father
“Till Lord Gregory come hame.”
“But I will get a bonny boat,
“And I will sail the sea;
“And I will gang to Lord Gregory,
“Since he canna come hame to me.”
Syne she’s gar’d build a bonny boat,
To sail the salt salt sea:
The sails were o’ the light-green silk,
The tows[A] o’ taffety.
She hadna sailed but twenty leagues,
But twenty leagues and three,
When she met wi’ a rank robber,
And a’ his company.
“Now whether are ye the queen hersell,
“(For so ye weel might be)
“Or are ye the lass of Lochroyan,
“Seekin’ Lord Gregory?”
“O I am neither the queen,” she said,
“Nor sic I seem to be;
“But I am the lass of Lochroyan,
“Seekin’ Lord Gregory.”
“O see na thou yon bonny bower?
“Its a’ covered o’er wi’ tiu:
“When thou hast sailed it round about,
“Lord Gregory is within.”
And when she saw the stately tower
Shining sae clear and bright,
Whilk stood aboon the jawing[B] wave,
Built on a rock of height;
Says—”Row the boat, my mariners,
“And bring me to the land!
“For yonder I see my love’s castle
“Close by the salt sea strand.”
She sailed it round, and sailed it round,
And loud, loud, cried she—
“Now break, now break, ye Fairy charms,
“And set my true love free!”
She’s ta’en her young son in her arms,
And to the door she’s gane;
And long she knocked, and sair she ca’d,
But answer got she nane.
“O open the door, Lord Gregory!
“O open, and let me in!
“For the wind blaws through my yellow hair,
“And the rain drops o’er my chin.”
“Awa, awa, ye ill woman!
“Ye’re no come here for good!
“Ye’re but some witch, or wil warlock,
“Or mermaid o’ the flood.”
“I am neither witch, nor wil warlock,
“Nor mermaid o’ the sea;
“But I am Annie of Lochroyan;
“O open the door to me!”
“Gin thou be Annie of Lochroyan,
“(As I trow thou binna she)
“Now tell me some o’ the love tokens
“That past between thee and me.”
“O dinna ye mind, Lord Gregory,
“As we sat at the wine,
“We chang’d the rings frae our fingers,
“And I can shew thee thine?
“O your’s was gude, and gude enough,
“But ay the best was mine;
“For your’s was o’ the gude red gowd,
“But mine o’ the diamond fine.
“And has na thou mind, Lord Gregory,
“As we sat on the hill,
“Thou twin’d me o’ my maidenheid
“Right sair against my will?
“Now, open the door, Lord Gregory!
“Open the door, I pray!
“For thy young son is in my arms,
“And will be dead ere day.”
“If thou be the lass of Lochroyan,
“(As I kenna thou be)
“Tell me some mair o’ the love tokens
“Past between me and thee.”
Fair Annie turned her round about—
“Weel! since that it be sae,
“May never woman, that has borne a son,
“Hae a heart sae fu’ o’ wae!
“Take down, take down, that mast o’ gowd!
“Set up a mast o’ tree!
“It disna become a forsaken lady.
“To sail sae royallie.”
When the cock had crawn, and the day did dawn.
And the sun began to peep,
Then up and raise him, Lord Gregory,
And sair, sair did he weep.
“O I hae dreamed a dream, mother,
“I wish it may prove true!
“That the bonny lass of Lochroyan
“Was at the yate e’en now.
“O I hae dreamed a dream, mother,
“The thought o’t gars me greet!
“That fair Annie o’ Lochroyan
“Lay cauld dead at my feet.”
“Gin it be for Annie of Lochroyan
“That ye make a’ this din,
“She stood a’ last night at your door,
“But I trow she wanna in.”
“O wae betide ye, ill woman!
“An ill deid may ye die!
“That wadna open the door to her,
“Nor yet wad waken me.”
O he’s gane down to yon shore side
As fast as he could fare;
He saw fair Annie in the boat,
But the wind it tossed her sair.
“And hey Annie, and how Annie!
“O Annie, winna ye bide!”
But ay the mair he cried Annie,
The braider grew the tide.
“And hey Annie, and how Annie!
“Dear Annie, speak to me!”
But ay the louder he cried Annie,
The louder roared the sea.
The wind blew loud, the sea grew rough,
And dashed the boat on shore;
Fair Annie floated through the faem,
But the babie raise no more.
Lord Gregory tore his yellow hair,
And made a heavy moan;
Fair Annie’s corpse lay at his feet,
Her bonny young son was gone.
O cherry, cherry was her cheek,
And gowden was her hair;
But clay-cold were her rosy lips—
Nae spark o’ life was there.
And first he kissed her cherry cheek,
And syne he kissed her chin,
And syne he kissed her rosy lips—
There was nae breath within.
“O wae betide my cruel mother!
“An ill death may she die!
“She turned my true love frae my door,
“Wha came sae far to me.
“O wae betide my cruel mother!
“An ill death may she die!
“She turned fair Annie frae my door,
“Wha died for love o’ me.”
ROSE THE RED AND WHITE LILLY.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This legendary Tale is given chiefly from Mrs. BROWN’S MS. Accordingly, many of the rhymes arise from the Northern mode of pronunciation; as dee for do, and the like.—Perhaps the Ballad may have originally related to the history of the celebrated ROBIN HOOD; as mention is made of Barnisdale, his favourite abode.
O Rose the Red, and White Lilly,
Their mother deir was dead:
And their father has married an ill woman,
Wished them twa little guid.
But she had twa as gallant sons
As ever brake man’s bread;
And the tane o’ them lo’ed her, White Lilly,
And the tother Rose the Red.
O bigged hae they a bigly bour,
Fast by the roaring strand;
And there was mair mirth in the ladyes’ bour,
Nor in a’ their father’s land.
But out and spake their step-mother,
As she stood a little forebye—
“I hope to live and play the prank,
“Sall gar your loud sang lie.”
She’s call’d upon her eldest son;
“Cum here, my son, to me:
“It fears me sair, my bauld Arthur,
“That ye maun sail the sea.”
“Gin sae it maun be, my deir mother,
“Your bidding I maun dee;
“But, be never waur to Rose the Red,
“Than ye hae been to me.”
She’s called upon her youngest son;
“Cum here, my son, to me:
“It fears me sair, my Brown Robin,
“That ye maun sail the sea.”
“Gin it fear ye sair, my mother deir,
“Your bidding I sall dee;
But, be never waur to White Lilly,
“Than ye hae been to me.”
“Now hand your tongues, ye foolish boys!
“For small sall be their part:
“They ne’er again sall see your face,
“Gin their very hearts suld break.”
Sae Bauld Arthur’s gane to our king’s court,
His hie chamberlain to be;
But Brown Robin, he has slain a knight,
And to grene-wood he did flee.
When Rose the Red, and White Lilly,
Saw their twa loves were gane,
Sune did they drop the loud loud sang,
Took up the still mourning.
And out then spake her White Lilly;
“My sister, we’ll be gane:
“Why suld we stay in Barnisdale,
“To mourn our hour within?”
O cutted hae they their green cloathing,
A little abune their knee;
And sae hae they their yellow hair,
A little abune their bree.
And left hae they that bonny hour,
To cross the raging sea;
And they hae ta’en to a holy chapel,
Was christened by Our Ladye.
And they hae changed their twa names,
Sae far frae ony toun;
And the tane o’ them’s hight Sweet Willie,
And the tother’s Rouge the Rounde.
Between the twa a promise is,
And they hae sworn it to fulfill;
Whenever the tane blew a bugle-horn,
The tother suld cum her till.
Sweet Willy’s gane to the king’s court,
Her true love for to see;
And Rouge the Rounde to gude grene-wood,
Brown Robin’s man to be.
O it fell anes, upon a time,
They putted at the stane;
And seven foot ayont them a’,
Brown Robin’s gar’d it gang.
She lifted the heavy putting-stane,
And gave a sad “O hon!”
Then out bespake him, Brown Robin,
“But that’s a woman’s moan!”
“O kent ye by my rosy lips?
“Or by my yellow hair?
“Or kent ye by my milk-white breast,
“Ye never yet saw bare?”
“I kent na by your rosy lips,
“Nor by your yellow hair;
“But, cum to your bour whaever likes,
“They’ll find a ladye there.”
“O gin ye come my bour within,
“Through fraud, deceit, or guile,
“Wi’ this same brand, that’s in my hand,
“I vow I will thee kill.”
“Yet durst I cum into your bour,
“And ask nae leave,” quo’ he;
“And wi’ this same brand, that’s in my hand,
“Wave danger back on thee.”
About the dead hour o’ the night,
The ladye’s bour was broken;
And, about the first hour o’ the day,
The fair knave bairn was gotten.
When days were gane, and months were come,
The ladye was sad and wan;
And aye she cried for a bour woman,
For to wait her upon.
Then up and spake him, Brown Robin,
“And what needs this?” quo’ he;
“Or what can woman do for you,
“That canna be done by me?”
“‘Twas never my mother’s fashion,” she said,
“Nor shall it e’er be mine,
“That belted knights should e’er remain
“While ladyes dree’d their pain.
“But, gin ye take that bugle-horn,
“And wind a blast sae shrill,
“I hae a brother in yonder court,
“Will cum me quickly till.”
“O gin ye hae a brother on earth,
“That ye lo’e mair than me,
“Ye may blaw the horn yoursell,” he says,
“For a blast I winna gie.”
She’s ta’en the bugle in her hand,
And blawn baith loud and shrill;
Sweet William started at the sound,
And cam her quickly till.
O up and starts him, Brown Robin,
And swore by Our Ladye,
“No man shall cum into this hour,
“But first maun fight wi’ me.”
O they hae fought the wood within,
Till the sun was going down;
And drops o’ blood, frae Rose the Red,
Came pouring to the ground.
She leant her back against an aik,
Said—”Robin, let me be:
“For it is a ladye, bred and born,
“That has fought this day wi’ thee.”
O seven foot he started back.
Cried—”Alas and woe is me!
“For I wished never, in all my life,
“A woman’s bluid to see:
“And that all for the knightly vow
“I swore to Our Ladye;
“But mair for the sake o’ ae fair maid,
“Whose name was White Lilly.”
Then out and spake her, Rouge the Rounde,
And leugh right heartilie,
“She has been wi’ you this year and mair,
“Though ye wistna it was she.”
Now word has gane through all the land,
Before a month was gane,
That a forester’s page, in gude grene-wood,
Had borne a bonny son.
The marvel gaed to the king’s court,
And to the king himsell;
“Now, by my fay,” the king did say,
“The like was never heard tell!”
Then out and spake him, Bauld Arthur,
And laugh’d right loud and hie—
“I trow some may has plaid the lown,[A]
“And fled her ain countrie.”
“Bring me my steid!” the king can say;
“My bow and arrows keen;
“And I’ll gae hunt in yonder wood,
“And see what’s to be seen.”
“Gin it please your grace,” quo’ Bauld Arthur,
“My liege, I’ll gang you wi’;
“And see gin I can meet a bonny page,
“That’s stray’d awa frae me.”
And they hae chaced in gude grene-wood,
The buck but and the rae,
Till they drew near Brown Robin’s hour,
About the close o’ day.
Then out and spake the king himsell,
Says—”Arthur, look and see,
“Gin you be not your favourite page,
“That leans against yon tree.”
O Arthur’s ta’en a bugle-horn,
And blawn a blast sae shrill;
Sweet Willie started to her feet,
And ran him quickly till.
“O wanted ye your meat, Willie,
“Or wanted ye your fee?
“Or gat ye e’er an angry word,
“That ye ran awa frae me?”
“I wanted nought, my master dear;
“To me ye aye was good:
“I cam to see my ae brother,
“That wons in this grene-wood.”
Then out bespake the king again,—
“My boy, now tell to me,
“Who dwells into yon bigly bour,
“Beneath yon green aik tree?”
“O pardon me,” said Sweet Willy;
“My liege I dare na tell;
“And gang na near yon outlaw’s bour,
“For fear they suld you kill.”
“O hand your tongue, my bonny boy!
“For I winna be said nay;
“But I will gang yon hour within,
“Betide me weal or wae.”
They have lighted frae their milk-white steids,
And saftly entered in;
And there they saw her, White Lilly,
Nursing her bonny young son.
“Now, by the mass,” the king he said,
“This is a comely sight;
“I trow, instead of a forester’s man,
“This is a ladye bright!”
O out and spake her, Rose the Red,
And fell low on her knee:—
“O pardon us, my gracious liege,
“And our story I’ll tell thee.
“Our father is a wealthy lord,
“Lives into Barnisdale;
“But we had a wicked step-mother,
“That wrought us meikle bale.
“Yet had she twa as fu’ fair sons,
“As e’er the sun did see;
“And the tane o’ them lo’ed my sister deir,
“And the tother said he lo’ed me.”
Then out and cried him, Bauld Arthur,
As by the king he stood,—
“Now, by the faith of my body,
“This suld be Rose the Red!
The king has sent for robes o’ grene,
And girdles o’ shining gold;
And sae sune have the ladyes busked themselves,
Sae glorious to behold.
Then in and came him, Brown Robin,
Frae hunting o’ the king’s deer,
But when he saw the king himsell,
He started back for fear.
The king has ta’en Robin by the hand,
And bade him nothing dread,
But quit for aye the gude grene wood,
And cum to the court wi’ speed.
The king has ta’en White Lilly’s son,
And set him on his knee;
Says—”Gin ye live to wield a brand,
“My bowman thou sall be.”
They have ta’en them to the holy chapelle,
And there had fair wedding;
And when they cam to the king’s court,
For joy the bells did ring.
END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. II (of 3), by Walter Scott *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MINSTRELSY, VOL. II ***