Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. II (of 3)
Part 4 out of 6
"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.
[Footnote A: _Cog_--Milking-pail.]
[Footnote B: _Tod_--Fox.]
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
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
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 trinite.
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.
[Footnote A: _Hope, for think._]
[Footnote B: _Steles_--Stalks.]
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
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.
[Footnote A: 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."
[Footnote A: 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."
[Footnote A: _Plooky_--Pimpled.]
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
_"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 ordonne; 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 of _Gyron 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
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."
[Footnote A: The ostler's copy reads very characteristically-- "It was
all for good wine and _hay_."]
[Footnote B: _Ackward_--Backward.]
[Footnote C: _Moodie-hill_--Mole-hill.]
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.
[Footnote A: "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
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 Traite de Duel. Theatre D' Honneur,_ Vol. I.[B]
[Footnote A: 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.]
[Footnote B: 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
--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
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.
[Footnote A: 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
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.
[Footnote A: _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.
[Footnote A: 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
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]
[Footnote 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.
[Footnote A: _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
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."
[Footnote A: _Garlard_--Anc. Songs.]
[Footnote B: _Boles_--Anc. Songs.]
[Footnote C: _Border_--Anc, Songs.]
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.
[Footnote A: _Ling_--Heath.]
[Footnote B: _Brytlled_--To cut up venison. See the ancient ballad of
_Chevy Chace_, v. 8.]
[Footnote C: _Scroggs_--Stunted trees.]
[Footnote D: _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.
[Footnote A: _Johnstone grey_--The livery of the ancient family of
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