Minstrelsy of the Scottish border (3rd ed) (1 of 3)
Part 3 out of 6
"And I brought a half-fou o' gude red goud,
"Out o'er the sea wi' me."
"Make ready, make ready, my merrymen a'!
"Our gude ship sails the morn."
"Now, ever alake, my master dear,
"I fear a deadly storm!
"I saw the new moon, late yestreen,
"Wi' the auld moon in her arm;
"And if we gang to sea, master,
"I fear we'll come to harm."
They hadna sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud,
And gurly grew the sea.
The ankers brak, and the topmasts lap,
It was sik a deadly storm;
And the waves came o'er the broken ship,
Till a' her sides were torn.
"O where will I get a gude sailor,
"To take my helm in hand,
"Till I get up to the tall top-mast,
"To see if I can spy land?"
"O here am I, a sailor gude,
"To take the helm in hand,
"Till you go up to the tall top-mast;
"But I fear you'll ne'er spy land."
He hadna' gane a step, a step,
A step, but barely ane,
When a bout flew out of our goodly ship,
And the salt sea it came in.
"Gae, fetch a web o' the silken claith,
"Another o' the twine,
"And wap them into our ship's side,
"And let na the sea come in."
They fetched a web o' the silken claith,
Another of the twine,
And they wapped them round that gude ship's side,
But still the sea came in.
O laith, laith, were our gude Scots lords
To weet their cork-heel'd shoon!
But lang or a' the play was play'd,
They wat their hats aboon.
And mony was the feather-bed,
That flattered on the faem;
And mony was the gude lord's son,
That never mair cam hame.
The ladyes wrang their fingers white,
The maidens tore their hair,
A' for the sake of their true loves;
For them they'll see na mair.
O lang, lang, may the ladyes sit,
Wi' their fans into their hand,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the strand!
And lang, lang, may the maidens sit,
Wi' their goud kaims in their hair,
A' waiting for their ain dear loves!
For them they'll see na mair.
O forty miles off Aberdeen,
'Tis fifty fathom deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.
[Footnote 77: In singing, the interjection, O, is added to the second
and fourth lines.]
[Footnote 78: _Skeely skipper_--Skilful mariner.]
[Footnote 79: _Gane_--Suffice.]
[Footnote 80: _Half-fou_--the eighth part of a peck.]
[Footnote 81: _Lap_--Sprang.]
[Footnote 82: _Flattered_--Fluttered, or rather floated, on the foam.]
NOTES ON SIR PATRICK SPENS.
* * * * *
_To send us out at this time of the year_,
_To sail upon the sea_?--P. 8, v. 3.
By a Scottish act of parliament, it was enacted, that no ship should
be fraughted out of the kingdom, with any staple goods, betwixt
the feast of St. Simon's day and Jude and Candelmas.--_James III.
Parliament 2d, chap._ 15. Such was the terror entertained for
navigating the north seas in winter.
_When a bout flew out of our goodly ship_.--P. 10. v. 5.
I believe a modern seaman would say, a plank had started, which must
have been a frequent incident during the infancy of ship-building. The
remedy applied seems to be that mentioned in _Cook's Voyages_, when,
upon some occasion, to stop a leak, which could not be got at in the
inside, a quilted sail was brought under the vessel, which, being
drawn into the leak by the suction, prevented the entry of more water.
"There n'is no new guise that it na'as old."
_O forty miles off Aberdeen_,--P. 11. v. 3.
This concluding verse differs in the three copies of the ballad, which
I have collated. The printed edition bears,
"Have owre, have owre to Aberdour;"
And one of the MSS. reads,
"At the back of auld St. Johnstowne Dykes."
But, in a voyage from Norway, a shipwreck on the north coast seems
as probable as either in the Firth of Forth, or Tay; and the ballad
states the disaster to have taken place out of sight of land.
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
* * * * *
This ballad, notwithstanding its present appearance, has a claim
to very high antiquity. It has been preserved by tradition; and is,
perhaps, the most authentic instance of a long and very old poem,
exclusively thus preserved. It is only known to a few old people, upon
the sequestered banks of the Ettrick; and is published, as written
down from the recitation of the mother of Mr. James Hogg, who
sings, or rather chaunts it, with great animation. She learned the
ballad from a blind man, who died at the advanced age of ninety,
and is said to have been possessed of much traditionary knowledge.
Although the language of this poem is much modernised, yet many words,
which the reciters have retained, without understanding them, still
preserve traces of its antiquity. Such are the words _Springals_
(corruptly pronounced _Springwalls_), _sowies_, _portcullize_, and
many other appropriate terms of war and chivalry, which could never
have been introduced by a modern ballad-maker. The incidents are
striking and well-managed; and they are in strict conformity with
the manners of the age, in which they are placed. The editor has,
therefore, been induced to illustrate them, at considerable length, by
parallel passages from Froissard, and other historians of the period
to which the events refer.
[Footnote 83: This old woman is still alive, and at present resides at
Craig of Douglas, in Selkirkshire.]
The date of the ballad cannot be ascertained with any degree of
accuracy. Sir Richard Maitland, the hero of the poem, seems to have
been in possession of his estate about 1250; so that, as he survived
the commencement of the wars betwixt England and Scotland, in 1296,
his prowess against the English, in defence of his castle of Lauder,
or Thirlestane, must have been exerted during his extreme old age. He
seems to have been distinguished for devotion, as well as valour; for,
A.D. 1249, Dominus Ricardus de Mautlant gave to the abbey of Dryburgh,
"_Terras suas de Haubentside, in territorio suo de Thirlestane,
pro salute animae suae, et sponsae suae, antecessorum suorum et
successorum suorum, in perpetuum_." He also gave, to the same
convent, "_Omnes terras, quas Walterus de Giling tenuit in feodo suo
de Thirlestane, et pastura incommuni de Thirlestane, ad quadraginta
oves, sexaginta vaccas, et ad viginti equos_."--Cartulary of Dryburgh
Abbey, in the Advocates' Library.
[Footnote 84: There exists also an indenture, or bond, entered into by
Patrick, abbot of Kelsau, and his convent, referring to an engagement
betwixt them and Sir Richard Maitland, and Sir William, his eldest
son, concerning the lands of Hedderwicke, and the pasturages of
Thirlestane and Blythe. This Patrick was abbot of Kelso, betwixt 1258
From the following ballad, and from the family traditions referred to
in the Maitland MSS., Auld Maitland appears to have had three sons;
but we learn, from the latter authority, that only one survived
him, who was thence surnamed _Burd alane_, which signifies either
_unequalled_, or _solitary_. A _Consolation_, addressed to Sir Richard
Maitland of Lethington, a poet and scholar who flourished about the
middle of the sixteenth century, and who gives name to the Maitland
MSS., draws the following parallel betwixt his domestic misfortunes
and those of the first Sir Richard, his great ancestor:
Sic destanie and derfe devoring deid
Oft his own hous in hazard put of auld;
Bot your forbeiris, frovard fortounes steid
And bitter blastes, ay buir with breistis bauld;
Luit wanweirdis work and walter ay they wald,
Thair hardie hairtis hawtie and heroik,
For fortounes feid or force wald never fauld;
Bot stormis withstand with stomak stoat and stoik.
Renowned Richert of your race record,
Quhais prais and prowis cannot be exprest;
Mair lustie lynyage nevir haid ane lord,
For he begat the bauldest bairnis and best,
Maist manful men, and madinis maist modest,
That ever wes syn Pyramus tym of Troy,
But piteouslie thai peirles perles apest.
Bereft him all hot Buird-allane, a boy.
Himselfe was aiget, his hous hang be a har,
Duill and distres almaist to deid him draife;
Yet Burd-allane, his only son and air,
As wretched, vyiss, and valient, as the laive,
His hous uphail'd, quhilk ye with honor haive.
So nature that the lyk invyand name,
In kindlie cair dois kindly courage craif,
To follow him in fortoune and in fame.
Richerd he wes, Richerd ye are also,
And Maitland als, and magnanime as he;
In als great age, als wrappit are in wo,
Sewin sons ye haid might contravaill his thrie,
Bot Burd-allane ye haive behind as he:
The lord his linage so inlarge in lyne,
And mony hundreith nepotis grie and grie
Sen Richert wes as hundreth yeiris are hyne.
_An Consolator Ballad to the Richt Honorabill Sir Richert Maitland of
Lethingtoune.--Maitland MSS. in Library of Edinburgh University_.
[Footnote 85: _i.e._ Similar family distress demands the same family
[Footnote 86: _Sewin sons_--This must include sons-in-law; for the
last Sir Richard, like his predecessor, had only three sons, namely,
I. William, the famous secretary of Queen Mary; II. Sir John, who
alone survived him, and is the _Burd-allane_ of the consolation; III.
Thomas, a youth of great hopes, who died in Italy. But he had four
daughters, married to gentlemen of fortune.--_Pinkerton's List of
Scottish Poets_, p. 114.]
[Footnote 87: _Grie and grie_--In regular descent; from _gre_,
Sir William Mautlant, or Maitland, the eldest and sole surviving son
of Sir Richard, ratified and confirmed, to the monks of Dryburgh,
"_Omnes terras quas Dominus Ricardus de Mautlant pater suus fecit
dictis monachis_ _in territorio suo de Thirlestane," Sir William is
supposed to have died about 1315.--Crawford's Peerage_.
Such were the heroes of the ballad. The castle of Thirlestane is
situated upon the Leader, near the town of Lauder. Whether the present
building, which was erected by Chancellor Maitland, and improved by
the Duke of Lauderdale, occupies the site of the ancient castle, I do
not know; but it still merits the epithet of a "_darksome house_."
I find no notice of the siege in history; but there is nothing
improbable in supposing, that the castle, during the stormy period of
the Baliol wars, may have held out against the English. The creation
of a nephew of Edward I., for the pleasure of slaying him by the hand
of young Maitland, is a poetical licence; and may induce us to
place the date of the composition about the reign of David II., or of
his successor, when the real exploits of Maitland, and his sons, were
in some degree obscured, as well as magnified, by the lapse of time.
The inveterate hatred against the English, founded upon the usurpation
of Edward I., glows in every line of the ballad.
[Footnote 88: Such liberties with the genealogy of monarchs were
common to romancers. Henry the Minstrel makes Wallace slay more than
one of King Edward's nephews; and Johnie Armstrong claims the merit of
slaying a sister's son of Henry VIII.]
Auld Maitland is placed, by Gawain Douglas, bishop of Dunkeld,
among the popular heroes of romance, in his allegorical Palice of
[Footnote 89: It is impossible to pass over this curious list of
Scottish romances without a note; to do any justice to the subject
would require an essay.--_Raf Coilyear_ is said to have been printed
by Lekprevik, in 1572; but no copy of the edition is known to exist,
and the hero is forgotten, even by popular tradition.
_John the Reif_, as well as the former personage, is mentioned by
Dunbar, in one of his poems, where he stiles mean persons,
Kyne of Rauf Colyard, and Johne the Reif.
They seem to have been robbers: Lord Hailes conjectured John the Reif
to be the same with Johnie Armstrong; but, surely, not with his usual
accuracy; for the _Palice of Honour_ was printed twenty-eight years
before Johnie's execution. John the Reif is mentioned by Lindesay, in
his tragedy of _Cardinal Beatoun_.
--disagysit, like John the Raif, he geid.--
_Cowkilbeis Sow_ is a strange legend in the Bannatyne MSS.--See
_Complaynt of Scotland_, p. 131.
_How the wren came out of Ailsay_.--The wren, I know not why, is often
celebrated in Scottish song. The testament of the wren is still sung
by the children, beginning,
The wren she lies in care's nest,
Wi' meikle dole and pyne.
This may be a modification of the ballad in the text.]
I Saw Raf Coilyear with his thrawin brow,
Crabit John the Reif, and auld Cowkilbeis Sow;
And how the wran cam out of Ailsay,
And Peirs Plowman, that meid his workmen few;
Gret Gowmacmorne, and Fyn MacCowl, and how
They suld be goddis in Ireland, as they say.
_Thair saw I Maitland upon auld beird gray_,
Robine Hude, and Gilbert with the quhite hand,
How Hay of Nauchton flew in Madin land.
In this curious verse, the most noted romances, or popular histories,
of the poet's day, seem to be noticed. The preceding stanza describes
the sports of the field; and that, which follows, refers to the tricks
of "jugailrie;" so that the three verses comprehend the whole pastimes
of the middle ages, which are aptly represented as the furniture of
dame Venus's chamber. The verse, referring to Maitland, is obviously
corrupted; the true reading was, probably, "_with his_ auld beird
gray." Indeed the whole verse is full of errors and corruptions; which
is the greater pity, as it conveys information, to be found no where
[Footnote 90: _Peirs Plowman_ is well known. Under the uncouth names
of Gow Mac Morn, and of Fyn MacCowl, the admirers of Ossian are to
recognise Gaul, the son of Morni, and Fingal himself; _heu quantum
mutatus ab illo_!
To illustrate the familiar character of _Robin Hood_, would be an
insult to my readers. But they may be less acquainted with _Gilbert
with the White Hand_, one of his brave followers. He is mentioned in
the oldest legend of that outlaw; Ritson's _Robin Hood_, p. 52.
Thryes Robin shot about,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good _Gylberte
With the White Hand_.
_Hay of Nachton_ I take to be the knight, mentioned by Wintown, whose
feats of war and travel may have become the subject of a romance, or
ballad. He fought, in Flanders, under Alexander, Earl of Mar, in 1408,
and is thus described;
Lord of the Nachtane, schire William,
Ane honest knycht, and of gud fame,
A travalit knycht lang before than.
And again, before an engagement,
The lord of Nachtane, schire William
The Hay, a knycht than of gud fame,
Mad schire Gilberte the Hay, knycht.
_Cronykil_, B. IX. c. 27.
I apprehend we should read "How Hay of Nachton _slew_ in Madin Land."
Perhaps Madin is a corruption for Maylin, or Milan Land.]
The descendant of Auld Maitland, Sir Richard of Lethington, seems to
have been frequently complimented on the popular renown of his great
ancestor. We have already seen one instance; and in an elegant copy
of verses in the Maitland MSS., in praise of Sir Richard's seat of
Lethingtoun, which he had built, or greatly improved, this obvious
topic of flattery does not escape the poet. From the terms of his
panegyric we learn, that the exploits of auld Sir Richard with the
gray beard, and of his three sons, were "sung in many far countrie,
albeit in rural rhyme;" from which we may infer, that they were
narrated rather in the shape of a popular ballad, than in a _romance
of price_. If this be the case, the song, now published, may have
undergone little variation since the date of the Maitland MSS.; for,
divesting the poem, in praise of Lethington, of its antique spelling,
it would run as smoothly, and appear as modern, as any verse in the
following ballad. The lines alluded to, are addressed to the castle of
And happie art thou sic a place,
That few thy mak ar sene:
But yit mair happie far that race
To quhome thou dois pertene.
Quha dais not knaw the Maitland bluid,
The best in all this land?
In quhilk sumtyme the honour stuid
And worship of Scotland.
Of auld Sir Richard, of that name,
We have hard sing and say;
Of his triumphant nobill fame,
And of his auld baird gray.
And of his nobill sonnis three,
Quhilk that tyme had no maik;
Quhilk maid Scotland renounit be,
And all England to quaik.
Quhais luifing praysis, maid trewlie,
Efter that simple tyme,
Ar sung in monie far countrie,
Albeit in rural rhyme.
And, gif I dar the treuth declair,
And nane me fleitschour call,
I can to him find a compair,
And till his barnis all.
It is a curious circumstance, that this interesting tale, so often
referred to by ancient authors, should be now recovered in so perfect
a state; and many readers may be pleased to see the following sensible
observations, made by a person, born in Ettrick Forest, in the humble
situation of a shepherd. "I am surprised to hear, that this song is
suspected by some to be a modern forgery; the contrary will be best
proved, by most of the old people, hereabouts, having a great part
of it by heart. Many, indeed, are not aware of the manners of this
country; till this present age, the poor illiterate people, in these
glens, knew of no other entertainment, in the long winter nights, than
repeating, and listening to, the feats of their ancestors, recorded in
songs, which I believe to be handed down, from father to son, for many
generations; although, no doubt, had a copy been taken, at the end of
every fifty years, there must have been some difference, occasioned
by the gradual change of language. I believe it is thus that many
very ancient songs have been gradually modernised, to the common
ear; while, to the connoisseur, they present marks of their genuine
antiquity."--_Letter to the Editor from Mr. James Hogg_. To the
observations of my ingenious correspondent I have nothing to add,
but that, in this, and a thousand other instances, they accurately
coincide with my personal knowledge.
* * * * *
There lived a king in southern land,
King Edward hight his name;
Unwordily he wore the crown,
Till fifty years were gane.
He had a sister's son o's ain,
Was large of blood and bane;
And afterward, when he came up,
Young Edward hight his name.
One day he came before the king,
And kneel'd low on his knee--
"A boon, a boon, my good uncle,
"I crave to ask of thee!
"At our lang wars, in fair Scotland,
"I fain hae wished to be;
"If fifteen hundred waled wight men
"You'll grant to ride wi' me."
"Thou sail hae thae, thou sail hae mae;
"I say it sickerlie;
"And I mysell, an auld gray man,
"Array'd your host sall see."
King Edward rade, King Edward ran--
I wish him dool and pyne!
Till he had fifteen hundred men
Assembled on the Tyne.
And thrice as many at Berwicke
Were all for battle bound,
_Who, marching forth with false Dunbar,
A ready welcome found_.
They lighted on the banks of Tweed,
And blew their coals sae het,
And fired the Merse and Teviotdale,
All in an evening late.
As they fared up o'er Lammermore,
They burned baith up and down,
Until they came to a darksome house;
Some call it Leader-Town.
"Wha hauds this house?" young Edward cry'd,
"Or wha gies't ower to me?"
A gray-hair'd knight set up his head,
And crackit right crousely:
"Of Scotland's king I haud my house;
"He pays me meat and fee;
"And I will keep my gude auld house,
"While my house will keep me."
They laid their sowies to the wall,
Wi' mony a heavy peal;
But he threw ower to them agen
Baith pitch and tar barrel.
With springalds, stanes, and gads of airn,
Amang them fast he threw;
Till mony of the Englishmen
About the wall he slew.
Full fifteen days that braid host lay,
Sieging Auld Maitland keen,
Syne they hae left him, hail and fair,
Within his strength of stane.
Then fifteen barks, all gaily good,
Met them upon a day,
Which they did lade with as much spoil
As they could bear away.
"England's our ain by heritage;
"And what can us withstand,
"Now we hae conquer'd fair Scotland,
"With buckler, bow, and brand?"
Then they are on to the land o' France,
Where auld King Edward lay,
Burning baith castle, tower, and town,
That he met in his way,
Untill he came unto that town,
Which some call Billop-Grace;
There were Auld Maitland's sons, a' three,
Learning at school, alas!
The eldest to the youngest said,
"O see ye what I see?
"Gin a' be trew yon standard says,
"We're fatherlesse a' three.
"For Scotland's conquer'd, up and down;
"Landmen we'll never be:
"Now, will ye go, my brethren two,
"And try some jeopardy?"
Then they hae saddled twa black horse,
Twa black horse, and a grey;
And they are on to King Edward's host,
Before the dawn of day.
When they arriv'd before the host,
They hover'd on the lay--
"Wilt thou lend me our king's standard,
"To bear a little way?"
"Where was thou bred? where was thou born?
"Where, or in what countrie?"
"In north of England I was born:
(It needed him to lie.)
"A knight me gat, a lady bore,
"I'm a squire of high renowne;
I well may bear't to any king,
"That ever yet wore crowne."
"He ne'er came of an Englishman,
"Had sic an e'e or bree;
"But thou art the likest Auld Maitland,
"That ever I did see.
"But sick a gloom, on ae brow-head,
"Grant I ne'er see agane!
"For mony of our men he slew,
"And mony put to pain."
When Maitland heard his father's name,
An angry man was he!
Then, lifting up a gilt dagger,
Hung low down by his knee,
He stabb'd the knight, the standard bore,
He stabb'd him cruellie;
Then caught the standard by the neuk,
And fast away rode he.
"Now, is't na time, brothers," he cried,
"Now, is't na time to flee?"
"Aye, by my sooth!" they baith replied,
"We'll bear you company."
The youngest turn'd him in a path,
And drew a burnished brand,
And fifteen of the foremost slew,
Till back the lave did stand.
He spurr'd the gray into the path,
Till baith his sides they bled--
"Gray! thou maun carry me away,
"Or my life lies in wad!"
The captain lookit ower the wa',
About the break o' day;
There he beheld the three Scots lads,
Pursued along the way.
"Pull up portcullize! down draw-brigg!
"My nephews are at hand;
And they sall lodge wi' me to-night,
"In spite of all England."
Whene'er they came within the yate,
They thrust their horse them frae,
And took three lang spears in their hands,
Saying, "Here sall come nae mae!".
And they shot out, and they shot in,
Till it was fairly day;
When mony of the Englishmen
About the draw-brigg lay.
Then they hae yoked carts and wains,
To ca' their dead away,
And shot auld dykes aboon the lave,
In gutters where they lay.
The king, at his pavilion door,
Was heard aloud to say,
"Last night, three o' the lads o' France
"My standard stole away.
"Wi' a fause tale, disguised, they came,
"And wi' a fauser trayne;
"And to regain my gaye standard,
"These men were a' down slayne."
"It ill befits," the youngest said,
"A crowned king to lie;
"But, or that I taste meat and drink,
"Reproved sall he be."
He went before King Edward strait,
And kneel'd low on his knee;
"I wad hae leave, my lord," he said,
"To speak a word wi' thee."
The king he turned him round about,
And wistna what to say--
Quo' he, "Man, thou's hae leave to speak,
Tho' thou should speak a' day."
"Ye said, that three young lads o' France
"Your standard stole away,
"Wi' a fause tale, and fauser trayne,
"And mony men did slay:
"But we are nane the lads o' France,
"Nor e'er pretend to be;
"We are three lads o' fair Scotland,
"Auld Maitland's sons are we;
"Nor is there men, in a' your host,
"Daur fight us, three to three."
"Now, by my sooth," young Edward said,
"Weel fitted ye sall be!
"Piercy sall wi' the eldest fight,
"And Ethert Lunn wi' thee;
"William of Lancaster the third,
"And bring your fourth to me!"
"_Remember, Piercy, aft the Scot
"Has cow'rd beneath thy hand_:
"For every drap of Maitland blood,
"I'll gie a rigg of land."
He clanked Piercy ower the head,
A deep wound and a sair,
Till the best blood o' his bodie
Cam rinning down his hair.
"Now, I've slayne ane; slay ye the twa;
"And that's gude companye;
"And if the twa suld slay you baith,
"Ye'se get na help frae me."
But Ethert Lunn, a baited bear,
Had many battles seen;
He set the youngest wonder sair,
Till the eldest he grew keen--
"I am nae king, nor nae sic thing:
"My word it shanna stand!
"For Ethert sail a buffet bide,
"Come he beneath my brand."
He clanked Ethert ower the head,
A deep wound and a sair,
Till the best blood of his bodie
Cam rinning ower his hair.
"Now I've slayne twa; slay ye the ane;
"Is na that gude companye?
"And tho' the ane suld slay ye baith,
"Ye'se get na help o' me."
The twa-some they hae slayne the ane;
They maul'd him cruellie;
Then hung them over the draw-brigg,
That all the host might see.
They rade their horse, they ran their horse,
Then hovered on the lee;
"We be three lads o' fair Scotland,
"That fain wad fighting see."
This boasting, when young Edward heard.
An angry man was he!
"I'll take yon lad, I'll bind yon lad,
"And bring him bound to thee!"
"Now, God forbid," King Edward said,
"That ever thou suld try!
"Three worthy leaders we hae lost,
"And thou the fourth wad lie.
"If thou should'st hang on yon draw-brigg,
"Blythe wad I never be!"
But, wi' the poll-axe in his hand,
Upon the brigg sprang he.
The first stroke that young Edward gae,
He struck wi' might and mayn;
He clove the Maitlan's helmet stout,
And bit right nigh the brayn.
When Maitland saw his ain blood fa',
An angry man was he!
He let his weapon frae him fa',
And at his throat did flee.
And thrice about he did him swing,
Till on the grund he light,
Where he has halden young Edward,
Tho' he was great in might.
"Now, let him up," King Edward cried,
"And let him come to me!
"And, for the deed that thou hast done,
"Thou shalt hae erldomes three!"
"Its ne'er be said in France, nor e'er
In Scotland, when I'm hame,
That Edward once lay under me,
And e'er gat up again!"
He pierced him through and through the heart;
He maul'd him cruellie;
Then hung him ower the draw-brigg,
Beside the other three.
"Now, take frae me that feather-bed!
"Mak me a bed o' strae!
"I wish I had na lived this day,
"To mak my heart sae wae.
"If I were ance at London tower,
"Where I was wont to be,
"I never mair suld gang frae hame,
"Till borne on a bier-tree."
[Footnote 90: _Waled_--Chosen.]
[Footnote 91: North-Berwick, according to some reciters.]
[Footnote 92: Edward had quartered the arms of Scotland with his own.]
[Footnote 93: The two first lines are modern, to supply an imperfect
NOTES ON AULD MAITLAND.
* * * * *
_Young Edward hight his name_.--P, 25. v. 2.
Were it possible to find an authority for calling this personage
_Edmund_, we should be a step nearer history; for a brother, though
not a nephew of Edward I., so named, died in Gascony during an
unsuccessful campaign against the French.--_Knighton_, Lib. III. cap.
_I wish him dool and pyne_.--P. 26. v. 3.
Thus, Spenser, in _Mother Huberd's tale_--
Thus is this ape become a shepherd swain,
And the false fox his dog, God give them pain!
_Who, marching forth with false Dunbar,
A ready welcome found_.--P. 26. v. 4.
These two lines are modern, and inserted to complete the verse.
Dunbar, the fortress of Patrick, Earl of March, was too often opened
to the English, by the treachery of that baron, during the reign of
_They laid their sowies to the wall_,
_Wi' many a heavy peal_.--P. 27. v. 4.
In this and the following verse, the attack and defence of a
fortress, during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, is described
accurately and concisely. The sow was a military engine, resembling
the Roman _testudo_. It was framed of wood, covered with hides, and
mounted on wheels, so that, being rolled forwards to the foot of the
besieged wall, it served as a shed, or cover, to defend the miners, or
those who wrought the battering ram, from the stones and arrows of the
garrison. In the course of the famous defence, made by Black Agnes,
Countess of March, of her husband's castle of Dunbar, Montague, Earl
of Salisbury, who commanded the besiegers, caused one of these engines
to be wheeled up to the wall. The countess, who, with her damsels,
kept her station on the battlements, and affected to wipe off with her
handkerchief the dust raised by the stones, hurled from the English
machines, awaited the approach of this new engine of assault. "Beware,
Montague," she exclaimed, while the fragment of a rock was discharged
from the wall--"Beware, Montague! for farrow shall thy sow!" Their
cover being dashed to pieces, the assailants, with great loss and
difficulty, scrambled back to their trenches. "By the regard of suche
a ladye," would Froissart have said, "and by her comforting, a man
ought to be worth two men, at need." The sow was called by the French
_Truie_.--See _Hailes' Annals_, Vol. II. p. 89. _Wintown's Cronykil_,
Book VIII. _William of Malmesbury_, Lib. IV.
The memory of the _sow_ is preserved in Scotland by two trifling
circumstances. The name given to an oblong hay-stack, is a _hay-sow_;
and this may give us a good idea of the form of the machine. Children
also play at a game with cherry stones, placing a small heap on the
ground, which they term a _sowie_, endeavouring to hit it, by throwing
single cherry-stones, as the sow was formerly battered from the
walls of the besieged fortress. My companions, at the High School of
Edinburgh, will remember what was meant by _berrying a sowie_. It is
strange to find traces of military antiquities in the occupation of
the husbandman, and the sports of children.
[Footnote 94: This sort of bravade seems to have been fashionable in
those times: "Et avec drapeaux, et leurs chaperons, ils torchoient
les murs a l'endroit, ou les pierres venoient frapper."--_Notice des
Manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Nationale_.]
The pitch and tar-barrels of Maitland were intended to consume the
formidable machines of the English. Thus, at a fabulous siege of York,
by Sir William Wallace, the same mode of defence is adopted:
The Englishmen, that cruel were and kene,
Keeped their town, and fended there full fast;
Faggots of fire among the host they cast,
Up _pitch and tar_ on feil _sowis_ they lent;
Many were hurt ere they from the walls went;
_Stones on Springalds they did cast out so fast,
And goads of iron made many grome agast_.
Henry the Minstrel's History of Wallace.--B. 8. c. 5.
A more authentic illustration may be derived from Barbour's Account of
the Siege of Berwick, by Edward II., in 1319, when a _sow_ was brought
on to the attack by the English, and burned by the combustibles hurled
down upon it, through the device of John Crab, a Flemish engineer, in
the Scottish service.
And thai, that at the sege lay,
Or it was passyt the fyft day,
Had made thaim syndry apparall,
To gang eft sonys till assaill.
Off gret gests a _sow_ thai maid,
That stalwart heildyne aboyne it haid;
With armyt men inew tharin,
And instruments for to myne.
Syndry scaffalds thai maid withall,
That war wele heyar than the wall,
And ordanyt als that, be the se,
The town suld weill assaillyt be.
Thai within, that saw thaim swa,
Swa gret apparaill schap to ma,
Throw Craby's cunsaill, that wes sley,
A crane thai haiff gert dress up hey,
Rynnand on quheills, that thai micht bryng
It quhar that nede war off helping.
And pyk, and ter, als haiff thai tane;
And lynt, and herds, and brymstane;
And dry treyis that wele wald brin,
And mellyt aythir other in:
And gret fagalds thairoff thai maid,
Gyrdyt with irne bands braid.
The fagalds weill mycht mesuryt be,
Till a gret towrys quantite.
The fagalds bryning in a ball,
With thair cran thoucht till awaill;
And giff the sow come to the wall,
To lat it brynand on her fall;
And with stark chenyeis hald it thar,
Quhill all war brynt up that thar war.
* * * * *
Upon sic maner gan thai fycht,
Quhill it wes ner none off the day,
That thai without, on gret aray,
Pryssyt thair _sow_ towart the wall;
And thai within sune gert call
The engynour, that takyn was,
And gret manance till hym mais,
And swour that he suld dey, bot he
Prowyt on the sow sic sutelte
That he to fruschyt ilk dele,
And he, that hath persawyt wele
That the dede wes wele ner hym till,
Bot giff he mycht fulfil thair will
Thoucht that he at hys mycht wald do.
Bendyt in gret by then wes sche,
That till the sow wes ewyn set.
In hy he gert draw the cleket;
And smertly swappyt owt a stane,
Ewyn our the sow the stane is gane,
And behind it a litill way
It fell: and then they cryt, "Hey!"
That war in hyr, "furth to the wall,
For dredles it is ours all!"
The gynour than deleuerly
Gert bend the gyn in full gret hy;
And the stane smertly swappyt out.
It flaw out quethyr, and with a rout,
And fell rycht ewyn befor the sow.
Thair harts than begouth to grow.
Bot yhet than, with thair mychts all
Thai pressyt the sow towart the wall;
And has hyr set tharto gentilly.
The gynour than gert bend in hy
The gyne, and wappyt owt the stane,
That ewyn towart the lyft is gane,
And with gret wycht syne duschyt doun,
Rycht be the wall in a randoun;
And hyt the sow in sic maner,
That it that wes the maist sowar,
And starkast for to stynt a strak,
In sundre with that dusche it brak.
The men than owt in full gret hy,
And on the wallis thai gan cry,
That thair sow wes feryt thar.
Jhon Crab, that had hys geer all yar
In hys fagalds has set the fyr,
And our the wall syne gan thai wyr,
And brynt the sow till brands bar.
_The Bruce_, Book XVII
The _springalds_, used in defence of the castle of Lauder, were
_balistae_, or large cross-bows, wrought by machinery, and capable of
throwing stones, beams, and huge darts. They were numbered among the
heavy artillery of the age; "Than the kynge made all his navy to
draw along, by the cost of the Downes, every ship well garnished
with bombardes, crosbowes, archers, _springalls_, and other
Goads, or sharpened bars of iron, were an obvious and formidable
missile weapon. Thus, at the assault of Rochemiglion "They within
cast out great barres of iron, and pots with lyme, wherewith they
hurt divers Englishmen, such as adventured themselves too
far."--_Froissart_, Vol. I. cap. 108.
From what has been noticed, the attack and defence of Lauder castle
will be found strictly conformable to the manners of the age; a
circumstance of great importance, in judging of the antiquity of the
ballad. There is no mention of guns, though these became so common in
the latter part of the reign of Edward III., that, at the siege of St.
Maloes, "the English had well a four hondred gonnes, who shot day and
night into the fortresse, and agaynst it."--_Froissart_, Vol. I. cap.
336. Barbour informs us, that guns, or "crakis of wer," as he calls
them, and crests for helmets, were first seen by the Scottish, in
their skirmishes with Edward the Third's host, in Northumberland A.D.
_Which some call Billop-Grace_.--P. 28. v. 5.
If this be a Flemish, or Scottish, corruption for Ville de Grace, in
Normandy, that town was never besieged by Edward I., whose wars in
France were confined to the province of Gascony. The rapid change of
scene, from Scotland to France, excites a suspicion, that some verses
may have been lost in this place. The retreat of the English
host, however, may remind us of a passage, in Wintown, when, after
mentioning that the Earl of Salisbury raised the siege of Dunbar, to
join King Edward in France, he observes,
"It was to Scotland a gud chance,
"That thai made thaim to werray in France;
"For had thai halyly thaim tane
"For to werray in Scotland allane.
Eftyr the gret mischeffis twa,
Duplyn and Hallydowne war tha,
Thai suld have skaithit it to gretly.
Bot fortowne thoucht scho fald fekilly
Will noucht at anis myscheffis fall;
Thare-fore scho set thare hartis all,
To werray Fraunce richit to be,
That Scottis live in grettar le.
_Cronykil_, B. VIII. cap. 34.
_Now, will ye go, my brethren two,
And try some jeopardie_?--P. 29. v. 2.
The romantic custom of atchieving, or attempting, some desperate and
perilous adventure, without either necessity or cause, was a peculiar,
and perhaps the most prominent, feature of chivalry. It was not merely
the duty, but the pride and delight, of a true knight, to perform such
exploits, as no one but a madman would have undertaken. I think it is
in the old French romance of _Erec and Eneide_, that an adventure, the
access to which lay through an avenue of stakes, garnished with the
bloody heads of the knights who had attempted and failed to atchieve
it, is called by the inviting title of _La joie de la Cour_. To be
first in advancing, or last in retreating; to strike upon the gate of
a certain fortress of the enemy; to fight blindfold, or with one
arm tied up; to carry off a banner, or to defend one; were often the
subjects of a particular vow, among the sons of chivalry. Until some
distinguishing exploit of this nature, a young knight was not said
to have _won his spurs_; and, upon some occasions, he was obliged to
bear, as a mark of thraldom, a chain upon his arm, which was removed,
with great ceremony, when his merit became conspicuous. These chains
are noticed in the romance of _Jehan de Saintre_. In the language of
German chivalry, they were called _Ketten des Gelubdes_ (fetters of
duty). Lord Herbert of Cherbury informs us, that the knights of the
Bath were obliged to wear certain strings, of silk and gold, upon
their left arm, until they had atchieved some noble deed of arms. When
Edward III. commenced his French wars, many of the young bachelors
of England bound up one of their eyes with a silk ribband, and swore,
before the peacock and the ladies, that they would not see with
both eyes until they had accomplished certain deeds of arms in
France.--_Froissart_, cap. 28.
A remarkable instance of this chivalrous frenzy occurred during
the expedition of Sir Robert Knowles, who, in 1370, marched through
France, and laid waste the country, up to the very gates of Paris.
"There was a knighte, in their companye, had made a vowe, the day
before, that he wolde ryde to the walles or gates of Parys, and stryke
at the barryers with his speare. And, for the fournyshing of his vowe,
he departed fro his companye, his spear in his fyst, his shelde
about his neck, armed at all pecesse, on a good horsse, his squyer on
another, behinde him, with his bassenet. And whan he approached neare
to Parys, he toke and dyde on his helme, and left his squyer behind
hym, and dashed his spurres to his horsse, and came gallopynge to
the barryers, the whiche as then were opyn; and the lordes, that were
there, had wened he wolde have entred into the towne; but that was
not his mynde; for, when he hadde stryken at the barryers, as he
had before avowed, he towrned his reyne, and drue back agayne, and
departed. Than the knightes of France, that sawe hym depart, sayd to
hym, 'Go your waye; you have ryghte well acquitted yourself.' I can
nat tell you what was thys knyghtes name, nor of what contre; but the
blazure of his armes was, goules, two fusses sable, a border sable.
Howbeit, in the subbarbes, he had a sore encontre; for, as he passed
on the pavement, he founde before hym a bocher, a bigge man, who had
well sene this knighte pass by. And he helde in his handes a sharpe
hevy axe, with a longe poynt; and, as the knyght returned agayne, and
toke no hede, this bocher came on his side, and gave the knyghte suche
a stroke, betwene the neck and the shulders, that he reversed forwarde
heedlynge, to the neck of his horsse, and yet he recovered agayne. And
than the bocher strake hym agayne, so that the axe entered into his
body, so that, for payne, the knyghte fell to the erthe, and his
horsse ran away, and came to the squyer, who abode for his mayster
at the stretes ende. And so, the squyer toke the horsse, and had gret
marveyle what was become of his mayster; for he had well sene him
ryde to the barryers, and stryke therat with his glayve, and retourne
agayne. Thanne he rode a lytell forthe, thyderwarde, and anone he sawe
where his master layn upon the erthe, bytwene foure men, layenge on
him strokes, as they wolde have stryken on a stethey _(anvil)_; and
than the squyer was so affreyed, that he durst go no farther; for he
sawe well he could nat helpe his mayster. Therefore he retourned
as fast as he myght: so there the sayd knyghte was slayne. And the
knyghtes, that were at the gate, caused hym to be buried in holy
ground."--_Froissart_, ch. 281.
A similar instance of a military jeopardy occurs in the same author,
ch. 364. It happened before the gates of Troyes. "There was an
Englyshe squyre, borne in the bishopryke of Lincolne, an expert man
of armes; I can nat say whyder he could se or nat; but he spurred his
horse, his speare in his hande, and his targe about his necke; his
horse came rushyng downe the waye, and lept clene over the barres of
the baryers, and so galoped to the gate, where as the duke of Burgoyne
and the other lords of France were, who reputed that dede for a great
enterprise. The squyer thoughte to have returned, but he could nat;
for his horse was stryken with speares, and beaten downe, and
the squyer slayn; wherewith the Duke of Burgoyne was right sore
_Wilt thou lend me our king's standard,
To bear a little way_?--P. 29. v. 4.
In all ages, and in almost all countries, the military standards have
been objects of respect to the soldiery, whose duty it is to range
beneath them, and, if necessary, to die in their defence. In the ages
of chivalry, these ensigns were distinguished by their shape, and by
the various names of banners, pennons, penoncelles, &c., according to
the number of men, who were to fight under them. They were displayed,
on the day of battle, with singular solemnity, and consigned to the
charge only of such as were thought willing and able to defend them to
the uttermost. When the army of Edward, the Black Prince, was drawn
up against that of Henry the Bastard, king of Castile, "Than Sir Johan
Chandos brought his baner, rolled up togyder, to the prince, and said,
'Sir, behold, here is my baner. I requyre you display it abrode, and
give me leave, this daye, to raise it; for, sir, I thanke God and you,
I have land and heritage suffyciente to maynteyne it withal.' Than the
prince, and King Dampeter (Don Pedro), toke the baner betwene their
handes, and spred it abrode, the which was of sylver, a sharp pyle
gaules, and delyvered it to hym, and said, 'Sir Johan, behold here
youre baner; God sende you joye and honour thereof!' Than Sir Johan
Chandos bare his baner to his owne company, and sayde, 'Sirs, beholde
here my baner, and yours; kepe it as your owne.' And they toke it, and
were right joyful therof, and sayd, that, by the pleasure of God,
and Saint George, they wold kepe and defend it to the best of their
powers. And so the baner abode in the handes of a good Englishe
squyer, called William Alery, who bare it that day, and acquaytted
himself right nobly."--_Froissart_, Vol. I. ch. 237. The loss of a
banner was not only great dishonour, but an infinite disadvantage. At
the battle of Cocherel, in Normandy, the flower of the combatants, on
each side, were engaged in the attack and defence of the banner of the
captall of Buche, the English leader. It was planted amid a bush of
thorns, and guarded by sixty men at arms, who defended it gallantly.
"There were many rescues, and many a one hurt and cast to the earth,
and many feats of armes done, and many gret strokes given, with good
axes of steel, that it was wonder to behold." The battle did not cease
until the captall's standard was taken and torn to pieces.
We learn, from the following passage in _Stowe's Chronicle_, that the
standard of Edward I. was a golden dragon. "The king entred Wales
with an army, appointing the footmen to occupie the enemies in fight,
whiles his horsemen, in a wing, set on the rere battell: himselfe,
with a power, kept his place, where he pight his golden dragon, unto
whiche, as to a castle, the wounded and wearied might repair."
"_Where was thou bred? where was thou born?
Where, or in what countrie?"
"In north of England I was born:
(It needed him to lie_.)--P. 29. v. 5.
Stratagems, such as that of Maitland, were frequently practised with
success, in consequence of the complete armour worn by the knights of
the middle ages. In 1359, Edward III. entered France, to improve the
success of the battle of Poictiers. Two French knights, Sir Galahaut
of Rybamont, and Sir Roger of Cologne, rode forth, with their
followers, to survey the English host, and, in short, to seek
adventures. It chanced that they met a foraging party of Germans,
retained in King Edward's service, under the command of Reynold of
Boulant, a knight of that nation. By the counsel of a squire of his
retinue, Sir Galahaut joined company with the German knight, under the
assumed character of Bartholomew de Bonne, Reynold's countryman, and
fellow soldier in the English service. The French knights "were a 70
men of armes, and Sir Renolde had not past a 30; and, whan Sir Renolde
saw theym, he displayed his baner befor hym, and came softely rydynge
towarde theym, wenyng to hym that they had been Englyshemen. Whan he
approched, he lyft up hys vyser, saluted Sir Galahaut, in the name of
Sir Bartylmewe de Bonnes. Sir Galahaut helde hymselfe styll secrete,
and answered but fayntly, and sayd, 'let us ryde forth;' and so rode
on, and hys men, on the one syde, and the Almaygnes on the other. Whan
Sir Renolde of Boulant sawe theyr maner, and howe Sir Galahaut rode
sometyme by hym, and spake no word, than he began to suspecte. And
he had not so ryden, the space of a quarter of an hour, but he stode
styll, under his baner, among hys men, and sayd, 'Sir, I have dout
what knyght ye be. I thynke ye be nat Sir Bartylmewe, for I knowe hym
well; and I see well that yt ys nat you. I woll ye telle me your name,
or I ryde any farter in your company.' Therwith Sir Galahaut lyft
up hys vyser, and rode towardes the knyght to have taken hym by the
raygne of hys brydell, and cryed, '_Our Ladye of Rybamont_!' than Sir
Roger of Coloyne sayd, '_Coloyne to the rescue_!' Whan Sir Renolde
of Boulant sawe what case he was in, he was nat gretly afrayed, but
drewe out his sworde; and, as Sir Galahaut wolde have taken hym by the
brydell, Sir Renolde put his sworde clene through hym, and drue agayne
hys sworde out of hym, and toke his horse, with the spurres, and left
Sir Galahaut sore hurt. And, whan Sir Galahautes men sawe theyr master
in that case, they were sore dyspleased, and set on Sir Renolde's
men; there were many cast to the yerth, but as sone as Sir Renolde had
gyven Sir Galahaut that stroke, he strak hys horse with the spurres,
and toke the feldes. Than certayne of Galahaut's squyers chasyd hym,
and, whan he sawe that they folowed hym so nere, that he muste other
tourne agayne, or els be shamed, lyke a hardy knyght he tourned, and
abode the foremost, and gave hym such a stroke, that he had no more
lyste to folwe him. And thus, as he rode on, he served three of theym,
that folowed hym, and wounded theym sore: if a goode axe had been in
hys hand, at every stroke he had slayne a man. He dyd so muche, that
he was out of danger of the Frenchmen, and saved hymselfe withoute any
hurte; the whyche hys enemyes reputed for a grete prowess, and so dyd
all other that harde thereof; but hys men were nere slayne or taken,
but few that were saved. And Sir Galahaut was caryed from thence sore
hurt to Perone; of that hurt he was never after perfectly hole; for
he was a knyght of suche courage, that, for all his hurte, he wold not
spare hymselfe; wherefore he lyved not long after."--_Froissart_, Vol.
I. Chap. 207.
[Footnote 95: The war-cries of their family.]
_The youngest turn'd him in a path,
And drew a burnished brand, &c._--P. 31. v. 2.
Thus, Sir Walter Mauny, retreating into the fortress of Hanyboute,
after a successful sally, was pursued by the besiegers, who ranne
after them, lyke madde men; than Sir Gualtier saide, "Let me never
be beloved wyth my lady, without I have a course wyth one of these
folowers!" and turning, with his lance in the rest, he overthrew
several of his pursuers, before he condescended to continue his
_Whene'er they came within the yate,
They thrust their horse them frae, &c._--P. 32. v. 1.
"The Lord of Hangest (pursued by the English) came so to the barryers
(of Vandonne) that were open, as his happe was, and so entred in
therat, and than toke his speare, and turned him to defence, right
valiantly."--_Froissart_, Vol. I. Chap. 367.
_They rade their horse, they ran their horse,
Then hovered on the lee, &c._--P. 36. v. 1.
The sieges, during the middle ages, frequently afforded opportunity
for single combat, of which the scene was usually the draw-bridge,
or barriers, of the town. The former, as the more desperate place of
battle, was frequently chosen by knights, who chose to break a lance
for honour, and their ladies' love. In 1387, Sir William Douglas,
lord of Nithisdale, upon the draw-bridge of the town of Carlisle,
consisting of two beams, hardly two feet in breadth, encountered and
slew, first, a single champion of England, and afterwards two, who
attacked him together.--_Forduni Scotichronicon_, Lib. XIV. cap. 51.
He brynt the surburbys of Carlele,
And at the bareris he faucht sa wele,
That on thare bryg he slw a man,
The wychtast that in the town wes than:
Quhare, on a plank of twa feet brade,
He stude, and twa gude payment made,
That he feld twa stout fechteris,
And but skath went till his feres.
_Wintown's Cronykil_, Book IX. Chap. 8.
These combats at the barriers, or palisades, which formed the outer
fortification of a town, were so frequent, that the mode of attack and
defence was early taught to the future knight, and continued long
to be practised in the games of chivalry. The custom, therefore, of
defying the inhabitants of a besieged town to this sort of contest,
was highly fashionable in the middle ages; and an army could hardly
appear before a place, without giving rise to a variety of combats
at the barriers, which were, in general, conducted without any unfair
advantage being taken on either part.
The following striking example of this romantic custom occurs in
Froissart. During the French wars of Edward the Black Prince, and in
the year 1370, a body of English, and of adventurers retained in
his service, approached the city of Noyon, then occupied by a French
garrison, and arrayed themselves, with displayed banners, before
the town, defying the defenders to battle. "There was a Scottysh
knyghte dyde there a goodly feate of armes, for he departed fro
his companye, hys speare in hys hand, and mounted on a good horse, hys
page behynde hyme, and so came before the barryers. Thys knyghte was
called Sir Johan Assueton, a hardy man and a couragyous. Whan he
was before the barryers of Noyon, he lyghted a-fote, and sayd to hys
page, 'Holde, kepe my horse, and departe nat hens;' and so wente to
the barryers. And wythyn the barryers, there were good knyghtes; as,
Sir John of Roy, Sir Lancelat of Loutys, and a x or xii other, who
had grete marveyle what thys sayde knyghte wolde do. Than he sayde to
them, 'Sirs, I am come hyder to se you. I se well, ye wyll nat issue
out of your barryers; therefore I will entre, and I can, and wyll
prove my knyghthode agaynst yours; wyn me and ye can.' And therewyth
he layde on, round about hym, and they at hym. And thus, he alone
fought agaynst them, more than an houre; and dyd hurte two or three
of them; so that they of the towne, on the walles and garrettes,
stode still, and behelde them, and had great pleasure to regarde his
valyauntness, and dyd him no hurte; the whiche they myght have done,
if they hadde list to have shotte, or cast stones at hym. And also
the French knyghtes charged them to let hym and them alone togyder. So
long they foughte, that, at last, his page came near to the barryers,
and spake in his langage, and sayd, 'Sir, come awaye; it is time for
you to departe, for your cumpanye is departyng hens.' The knyghte
harde hym well, and than gave a two or three strokes about him, and
so, armed as he was, he lepte out of the barryers, and lepte upon
his horse, without any hurte, behynde his page; and sayd to the
Frenchemen, 'Adue, sirs! I thank you;' and so rode forthe to his
owne company. The whiche dede was moche praysed of many
folkes."--_Froissart_, cap. 278.
[Footnote 96: By the terms of the peace betwixt England and Scotland,
the Scottish were left at liberty to take service either with France
or England, at their pleasure. Sir Robert Knolles, therefore, who
commanded the expedition, referred to in the text, had under his
command a hundred Scottish spears.]
[Footnote 97: _Assueton_ is a corruption for Swinton. Sir John
Swinton, of Swinton, was a Scottish champion, noted for his courage
and gigantic stature.]
The barriers, so often alluded to, are described, by the same
admirable historian, to be grated pallisades, the grates being
about half a foot wide. In a skirmish before Honycourt, Sir Henry
of Flanders ventured to thrust his sword so far through one of those
spaces, that a sturdy abbot, who was within, seized his sword-arm,
and drew it through the harriers, up to the shoulder. In this aukward
situation he remained for some time, being unwilling to dishonour
himself by quitting his weapon. He was at length rescued, but lost his
sword; which Froissart afterwards saw preserved, as a relique, in the
monastery of Honycourt.--Vol. I. chap. 39. For instances of single
combats, at the barriers, see the same author, _passim_.
_And if the twa suld slay ye baith,
Ye'se get na help frae me_.--P. 34. v. 5.
According to the laws of chivalry, laws, which were also for a long
time observed in duels, when two or more persons were engaged on
each side, he, who first conquered his immediate antagonist, was at
liberty, if he pleased, to come to the assistance of his companions.
The play of the "_Little French Lawyer_" turns entirely upon this
circumstance; and it may be remarked throughout the poems of Boiardo
and Ariosto; particularly in the combat of three Christian and three
Pagan champions, in the 42d canto of _Orlando Furioso_. But doubtless
a gallant knight was often unwilling, like young Maitland, to avail
himself of this advantage. Something of this kind seems to have
happened in the celebrated combat, fought in the presence of James II.
at Stirling, in 1449, between three French, or Flemish, warriors, and
three noble Scottishmen, two of whom were of the house of Douglas.
The reader will find a literal translation of Olivier de la Marche's
account of this celebrated tourney, in _Pinkerton's History_, Vol. I.
_I am nae king, nor nae sic thing:
My word it shanna stand_!--P. 35. v. 2.
Maitland's apology for retracting his promise to stand neuter, is as
curious as his doing so is natural. The unfortunate John of France was
wont to say, that, if truth and faith were banished from all the rest
of the universe, they should still reside in the breast and the mouth
_They maul'd him cruellie_.--P. 35. v. 5.
This has a vulgar sound, but is actually a phrase of romance. _Tant
frappent et_ maillent _lex deux vassaux l'un sur l'autre, que leurs
heaumes, et leurs hauberts, sont tous cassez et rompus_.--La fleur des
_But, wi' the poll-axe in his hand,
Upon the brigg sprang he_.--P. 36. v. 4.
The battle-axe, of which there are many kinds, was a knightly weapon,
much used in the middle ages, as well in single combat as in battle.
"And also there was a younge bachelor, called Bertrande of Glesguyne,
who duryng the seige, fought wyth an Englyshman, called Sir Nycholas
Dagerne; and that batayle was takene thre courses wyth a speare,
thre strokes wyth an axe, and thre wyth a dagger. And eche of these
knyghtes bare themselves so valyantly, that they departed fro the
felde wythout any damage, and they were well regarded, bothe of theyme
wythyn, and they wythout." This happened at the siege of Rennes, by
the Duke of Lancaster, in 1357.--_Froissart_, Vol. I. c. 175. With the
same weapon Godfrey of Harcourt long defended himself, when surprised
and defeated by the French. "And Sir Godfraye's men kepte no goode
array, nor dyd nat as they had promysed; moost part of theyme fledde:
whan Sir Godfraye sawe that, he sayde to hymselfe, howe he had rather
there be slayne than be taken by the Frenchmen; there he toke hys axe
in hys handes, and set fast the one legge before the other, to stonde
the more surely; for hys one legge was a lytell crooked, but he was
strong in the armes. Ther he fought valyantly and long: none durste
well abyde hys strokes; than two Frenchmen mounted on theyr horses,
and ranne both with their speares at ones at hym, and so bare hym to
the yerth: than other, that were a-fote, came wyth theyr swerdes,
and strake hym into the body, under his barneys, so that ther he was
slayne."--_Ibid_, chap. 172. The historian throws Sir Godfrey into a
striking attitude of desperation.
_When Maitland saw his ain blude fa',
An angry man was he_,--P. 37, v. 1.
There is a saying, that a Scottishman fights best after seeing his own
blood. Camerarius has contrived to hitch this foolish proverb into
a national compliment; for he quotes it as an instance of the
persevering gallantry of his countrymen. "_Si in pugna proprium
effundi sanguinem vidissent, non statim prostrato animo concedebant,
sed irato potius in hostes velut furentes omnibus viribus
_That Edward once lay under me,
And e'er gat up again_.--P. 37. v. 4.
Some reciters repeat it thus:
"That _Englishman_ lay under me,"
which is in the true spirit of Blind Harry, who makes Wallace say,
"I like better to see the southeron die,
"Than gold or land, that they can gie to me."
In slaying Edward, Maitland acts pitilessly, but not contrary to
the laws of arms, which did not enjoin a knight to shew mercy to his
antagonist, until he yielded him, "_rescue or no rescue_." Thus, the
seigneur de Languerant came before the walls of an English garrison,
in Gascony, and defied any of the defenders to run a course with a
spear: his challenge being accepted by Bertrand Courant, the governor
of the place, they couched their spears, like good knights, and dashed
on their horses. Their spears were broke to pieces, and Languerant was
overthrown, and lost his helmet among the horses' feet. His attendants
were coming up; but Bernard drew his dagger, and said, "Sir, yield
ye my prisoner, rescue or no rescue; else ye are but dead." The
dismounted champion spoke not a word; on which, Bertrand, entering
into fervent ire, dashed his dagger into his skull. Besides, the
battle was not always finished by one warrior obtaining this advantage
over the other. In the battle of Nejara, the famous Sir John Chandos
was overthrown, and held down, by a gigantic Spanish cavalier, named
Martino Fernandez. "Then Sir Johan Chandos remembred of a knyfe, that
he had in his bosome, and drew it out, and struck this Martyne so in
the backe, and in the sydes, that he wounded him to dethe, as he laye
upon hym." The dagger, which the knights employed in these close and
desperate struggles, was called the _poniard of mercy_.
BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE.
THE SCOTTISH EDITION.
* * * * *
The following edition of the Battle of Otterbourne, being essentially
different from that which is published in the _Reliques of Ancient
Poetry_, Vol. I. and being obviously of Scottish composition, claims a
place in the present collection. The particulars of that noted action
are related by Froissard, with the highest encomium upon the valour of
the combatants on each side. James, Earl of Douglas, with his brother,
the Earl of Murray, in 1387 invaded Northumberland, at the head of
3000 men; while the Earls of Fife and Strathern, sons to the king of
Scotland, ravaged the western borders of England, with a still more
numerous army. Douglas penetrated as far as Newcastle, where the
renowned Hotspur lay in garrison. In a skirmish before the walls,
Percy's lance, with the pennon, or guidon, attached to it, was taken
by Douglas, as most authors affirm, in a personal encounter betwixt
the two heroes. The earl shook the pennon aloft, and swore he would
carry it as his spoil into Scotland, and plant it upon his castle of
Dalkeith. "That," answered Percy, "shalt thou never!"--Accordingly,
having collected the forces of the marches, to a number equal, or
(according to the Scottish historians) much superior, to the army
of Douglas, Hotspur made a night attack upon the Scottish camp, at
Otterbourne, about thirty-two miles from Newcastle. An action took
place, fought, by moon-light, with uncommon gallantry and desperation.
At length, Douglas, armed with an iron mace, which few but he could
wield, rushed into the thickest of the English battalions, followed
only by his chaplain, and two squires of his body. Before his
followers could come up, their brave leader was stretched on the
ground, with three mortal wounds: his squires lay dead by his side;
the priest alone, armed with a lance, was protecting his master from
farther injury. "I die like my forefathers," said the expiring hero,
"in a field of battle, and not on a bed of sickness. Conceal my death,
defend my standard, and avenge my fall! It is an old prophecy,
that a dead man shall gain a field, and I hope it will be
accomplished this night."--_Godscroft_.--With these words he expired;
and the fight was renewed with double obstinacy around his body. When
morning appeared, however, victory began to incline to the Scottish
side. Ralph Percy, brother to Hotspur, was made prisoner by the earl
Marischal, and, shortly after, Harry Percy himself was taken by
Lord Montgomery. The number of captives, according to Wyntoun, nearly
equalled that of the victors. Upon this the English retired, and left
the Scots masters of the dear-bought honours of the field. But the
bishop of Durham approaching, at the head of a body of fresh forces,
not only checked the pursuit of the victors, but made prisoners some
of the stragglers, who had urged the chase too far. The battle was
not, however, renewed, as the bishop of Durham did not venture
to attempt the rescue of Percy. The field was fought 15th August,
1388.--_Fordun, Froissard, Hollinshed, Godscroft_.
[Footnote 98: Their names were Robert Hart and Simon Glendinning.
The chaplain was Richard Lundie, afterwards archdean of
Aberdeen.--_Godscroft_. Hart, according to Wintown, was a knight. That
historian says, no one knew how Douglas fell.]
[Footnote 99: The banner of Douglas, upon this memorable occasion, was
borne by his natural son, Archibald Douglas, ancestor of the family of
Cavers, hereditary sheriffs of Teviotdale, amongst whose archives this
glorious relique is still preserved. The earl, at his onset, is said
to have charged his son to defend it to the last drop of his blood.]
[Footnote 100: This prophecy occurs in the ballad as an ominous
[Footnote 101: Hotspur, for his ransom, built the castle of Penoon,
in Ayrshire, belonging to the family of Montgomery, now earls of
The ground, on which this memorable engagement took place, is now the
property of John Davidson, Esq. of Newcastle, and still retains the
name of Battle Cross. A cross, erroneously termed _Percy's Cross_,
has been erected upon the spot where the gallant Earl of Douglas is
supposed to have fallen. These particulars were communicated to the
editor, in the most obliging manner, by the present proprietor of
The ballad, published in the _Reliques_, is avowedly an English
production; and the author, with a natural partiality, leans to
the side of his countrymen; yet, that ballad, or some one similar,
modified probably by national prejudice, must have been current in
Scotland during the reign of James VI.: for Godscroft, in treating of
this battle, mentions its having been the subject of popular song,
and proceeds thus: But that, which is commonly sung of the _Hunting of
Chiviot_, seemeth indeed poetical, and a mere fiction, perhaps to stir
up virtue; yet a fiction whereof there is no mention, either in the
Scottish or English Chronicle. Neither are the songs, that are made of
them, both one; for the _Scots song made of Otterbourne_, telleth
the time, about Lammas; and also the occasion, to take preys out of
England; also the dividing the armies betwixt the earls of Fife
and Douglas, and their several journeys, almost as in the authentic
history. It beginneth thus;
"It fell about the Lammas tide,
"When yeomen win their hay,
"The doughty Douglas 'gan to ride,
"In England to take a prey."--
GODSCROFT, _ed. Edin_. 1743. Vol. I. p. 195.
I cannot venture to assert, that the stanzas, here published, belong
to the ballad alluded to by Godscroft; but they come much nearer to
his description than the copy published in the first edition, which
represented Douglas as falling by the poignard of a faithless
page. Yet we learn, from the same author, that the story of the
assassination was not without foundation in tradition.--"There are
that say, that he (Douglas) was not slain by the enemy, but by one of
his own men, a groom of his chamber, whom he had struck the day before
with a truncheon, in ordering of the battle, because he saw him make
somewhat slowly to. And they name this man John Bickerton of Luffness,
who left a part of his armour behind, unfastened, and when he was in
the greatest conflict, this servant of his came behind his back, and
slew him thereat."--_Godscroft, ut supra_.--"But this narration," adds
the historian, "is not so probable." Indeed, it seems to have
no foundation, but the common desire of assigning some remote and
extraordinary cause for the death of a great man. The following ballad
is also inaccurate in many other particulars, and is much shorter, and
more indistinct, than that printed in the _Reliques_, although many
verses are almost the same. Hotspur, for instance, is called _Earl
Percy_, a title he never enjoyed; neither was Douglas buried on the
field of battle, but in Melrose Abbey, where his tomb is still shown.
[Footnote 102: Wintown assigns another cause for Douglas being
"The erle Jamys was sa besy,
For til ordane his cumpany;
And on his Fays for to pas,
That reckles he of his armyng was;
The Erle of Mwrrawys Bassenet,
Thai sayd, at that tyme was feryhete."
Book VIII. Chap 7.
The circumstance of Douglas' omitting to put on his helmet, occurs in
This song was first published from Mr. Herd's _Collection of Scottish
Songs and Ballads_, Edin. 1774: 2 vols. octavo; but two recited copies
have fortunately been obtained from the recitation of old persons
residing at the head of Ettrick Forest, by which the story is brought
out, and completed, in a manner much more correspondent to the true
I cannot dismiss the subject of the Battle of Otterbourne, without
stating (with all the deference due to the father of this species of
literature) a doubt, which occurs to me, as to the account given of
"Sir John of Agurstone," one of the Scottish warriors, in the learned
and excellent notes subjoined to the ballad, in the _Reliques of
Ancient Poetry_. This personage is there supposed to have been one of
the Haggerstons of Haggerston, a Northumbrian family, who, according
to the fate of war, were sometimes subjects of Scotland. I cannot,
however, think, that at this period, while the English were in
possession both of Berwick and Roxburgh, with the intermediate
fortresses of Wark, Cornwall, and Norham, the Scots possessed any
part of Northumberland, much less a manor which lay within that strong
chain of castles. I should presume the person alluded to rather to
have been one of the Rutherfords, barons of Edgerstane, or Adgerston,
a warlike family, which has long flourished on the Scottish borders,
and who were, at this very period, retainers of the house of Douglas.
The same notes contain an account of the other Scottish warriors of
distinction, who were present at the battle. These were, the earls
of Monteith, Buchan, and Huntley; the barons of Maxwell and Johnston;
Swinton of that ilk, an ancient family which, about that period,
produced several distinguished warriors; Sir David (or rather, as the
learned editor well remarks, Sir Walter) Scott of Buccleuch, Stewart
of Garlies, and Murray of Cockpool.
_Regibus et legibus Scotici constantes,
Vos clypeis et gladiis pro patria pugnantes,
Vestra est victoria, vestra est et gloria,
In cantu et historia, perpes est memoria_!
BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE.
* * * * *
It fell about the Lammas tide,
When the muir-men win their hay,
The doughty earl of Douglas rode
Into England, to catch a prey.
He chose the Gordons and the Graemes,
With them the Lindesays, light and gay;
But the Jardines wald not with him ride,
And they rue it to this day.
And he has burn'd the dales of Tyne,
And part of Bambrough shire;
And three good towers on Roxburgh fells,
He left them all on fire.
And he march'd up to Newcastle,
And rode it round about;
"O wha's the lord of this castle,
"Or wha's the lady o't?"
But up spake proud Lord Percy, then,
And O but he spake hie!
"I am the lord of this castle,
"My wife's the lady gay."
"If thou'rt the lord of this castle,
"Sae weel it pleases me!
"For, ere I cross the border fells,
"The tane of us shall die."
He took a lang spear in his hand.
Shod with the metal free,
And for to meet the Douglas there,
He rode right furiouslie.
But O how pale his lady look'd,
Frae aff the castle wa',
When down, before the Scottish spear,
She saw proud Percy fa',
"Had we twa been upon the green,
"And never an eye to see,
I wad hae had you, flesh and fell;
"But your sword sall gae wi' me."
"But gae ye up to Otterbourne,
"And wait there dayis three;
And, if I come not ere three dayis end,
"A fause knight ca' ye me."
"The Otterbourne's a bonnie burn;
"'Tis pleasant there to be;
"But there is nought at Otterbourne,
"To feed my men and me.
"The deer rins wild on hill and dale,
"The birds fly wild from tree to tree;
"But there is neither bread nor kale,
"To fend my men and me.
"Yet I will stay at Otterbourne,
"Where you shall welcome be;
"And, if ye come not at three dayis end,
"A fause lord I'll ca' thee."
"Thither will I come," proud Percy said,
"By the might of Our Ladye!"--
"There will I bide thee," said the Douglas,
"My trowth I plight to thee."
They lighted high on Otterbourne,
Upon the bent sae brown;
They lighted high on Otterbourne,
And threw their pallions down.
And he that had a bonnie boy,
Sent out his horse to grass;
And he that had not a bonnie boy,
His ain servant he was.
But up then spake a little page,
Before the peep of dawn--
"O waken ye, waken ye, my good lord,
"For Percy's hard at hand."
"Ye lie, ye lie, ye liar loud!
"Sae loud I hear ye lie:
For Percy had not men yestreen,
"To dight my men and me."
"But I hae dream'd a dreary dream,
"Beyond the Isle of Sky;
"I saw a dead man win a fight,
"And I think that man was I."
He belted on his good braid sword,
And to the field he ran;
But he forgot the helmet good,
That should have kept his brain.
When Percy wi' the Douglas met,
I wat he was fu' fain!
They swakked their swords, till sair they swat,
And the blood ran down like rain.
But Percy, with his good broad sword,
That could so sharply wound,
Has wounded Douglas on the brow,
Till he fell to the ground.
Then he call'd on his little foot-page.
And said--"Run speedilie,
"And fetch my ain dear sister's son,
"Sir Hugh Montgomery."
"My nephew good," the Douglas said,
"What recks the death of ane!
"Last night I dream'd a dreary dream,
"And I ken the day's thy ain,
"My wound is deep; I fain would sleep;
"Take thou the vanguard of the three,
"And hide me by the braken bush,
"That grows on yonder lilye lee,
"O bury me by the braken bush,
"Beneath the blooming briar;
"Let never living mortal ken,
"That ere a kindly Scot lies here."
He lifted up that noble lord,
Wi' the saut tear in his e'e;
He hid him in the braken bush,
That his merrie men might not see.
The moon was clear, the day drew near,
The spears in flinders flew,
But mony a gallant Englishman,
Ere day the Scotsmen slew.
The Gordons good, in English blood,
They steep'd their hose and shoon;
The Lindsays flew like fire about,
Till all the fray was done.
The Percy and Montgomery met,
That either of other were fain;
They swapped swords, and they twa swat,
And aye the blude ran down between.
"Yield thee, O yield thee, Percy!" he said,
"Or else I vow I'll lay thee low!"
"Whom to shall I yield," said Earl Percy,
"Now that I see it must be so?"
"Thou shalt not yield to lord nor loun,
"Nor yet shalt thou yield to me;
"But yield thee to the braken bush,
"That grows upon yon lilye lee!"
"I will not yield to a braken bush,
"Nor yet will I yield to a briar;
But I would yield to Earl Douglas,
"Or Sir Hugh the Montgomery, if he were here."
As soon as he knew it was Montgomery,
He stuck his sword's point in the gronde;
And the Montgomery was a courteous knight,
And quickly took him by the honde.
This deed was done at Otterbourne,
About the breaking of the day;
Earl Douglas was buried at the braken bush,
And the Percy led captive away.
[Footnote 103: _Fell_.--Hide. Douglas insinuates, that Percy was
rescued by his soldiers.]
[Footnote 104: _Fend_.--Support.]
[Footnote 105: _Braken_.--Fern.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON THE BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE.
_He chose the Gordons and the Graemes_.--P. 64. v. 2.
The illustrious family of Gordon was originally settled upon the lands
of Gordon and Huntly, in the shire of Berwick, and are, therefore, of
border extraction. The steps, by which they removed from thence to the
shires of Aberdeen and Inverness, are worthy notice. In 1300, Adam
de Gordon was warden of the marches.--_Rymer_, Vol. II. p. 870. He
obtained, from Robert the Bruce, a grant of the forfeited estate of
David de Strathbolgie, Earl of Athol; but no possession followed,
the earl having returned to his allegiance.--John de Gordon, his
great-grandson, obtained, from Robert II., a new charter of the lands
of Strathbolgie, which had been once more and finally forfeited, by
David, Earl of Athol, slaine in the battle of Kilblene. This grant is
dated 13th July, 1376. John de Gordon who was destined to transfer,
from the borders of England to those of the Highlands, a powerful
and martial race, was himself a redoubted warrior, and many of his
exploits occur in the annals of that turbulent period. In 1371-2, the
English borderers invaded and plundered the lands of Gordon, on the
Scottish east march. Sir John of Gordon retaliated, by an incursion
on Northumberland, where he collected much spoil. But, as he returned
with his booty, he was attacked, at unawares, by Sir John Lillburne,
a Northumbrian, who, with a superior force, lay near Carham in ambush,
to intercept him. Gordon harangued and cheered his followers, charged
the English gallantly, and, after having himself been five times in
great peril, gained a complete victory; slaying many southerns, and
taking their leader and his brother captive. According to the prior of
Lochlevin, he was desperately wounded; but
"Thare rays a welle gret renowne,
"And gretly prysyd wes gud Gordown."
Shortly after this exploit, Sir John of Gordon encountered and
routed Sir Thomas Musgrave, a renowned English marc-hman whom he made
prisoner. The lord of Johnstone had, about the same time, gained a
great advantage on the west border; and hence, says Wynton,
He and the Lord of Gordowne
Had a soverane gud renown,
Of ony that war of thare degre,
For full thai war of gret bounte.
Upon another occasion, John of Gordon is said to have partially
succeeded in the surprisal of the town of Berwick, although the
superiority of the garrison obliged him to relinquish his enterprise.
The ballad is accurate, in introducing this warrior, with his clan,
into the host of Douglas at Otterbourne. Perhaps, as he was in
possession of his extensive northern domains, he brought to the
field the northern broad-swords, as well as the lances of his eastern
borderers. With his gallant leader, he lost his life in the deadly
conflict. The English ballad commemorates his valour and prudence;
"The Erle of Huntley, cawte and kene."
But the title is a premature designation. The earldom of Huntly was
first conferred on Alexander Seaton, who married the grand-daughter
of the hero of Otterbourne, and assumed his title from Huntly, in the
north. Besides his eldest son Adam, who carried on the line of the
family, Sir John de Gordon left two sons, known, in tradition, by the
familiar names of _Jock_ and _Tam_. The former was the ancestor of
the Gordons of Pitlurg; the latter of those of Lesmoir, and of
Craig-Gordon. This last family is now represented by James Gordon,
Esq. of Craig, being the eleventh, in direct descent, from Sir John de
The clan of Graeme, always numerous and powerful upon the border, were
of Scottish origin, and deduce the descent of their chieftain, Graeme
of Netherby, from John _with the bright sword_, a son of Malice
Graeme, Earl of Menteith, who flourished in the fourteenth century.
Latterly, they _became Englishmen_, as the phrase went, and settled
upon the Debateable Land, whence they were transported to Ireland,
by James VI., with the exception of a very few respectable families;
"because," said his majesty in a proclamation, "they do all (but
especially the Graemes) confess themselves to be no meet persons to
live in these countries; and also, to the intent their lands may be
inhabited by others, of good and honest conversation." But, in the
reign of Henry IV., the Graemes of the border still adhered to the
Scottish allegiance, as appears from the tower of Graeme in Annandale,
Graemes Walls in Tweeddale, and other castles within Scotland, to
which they have given their name. The reader is, however, at liberty
to suppose, that the Graemes of the Lennox and Menteith, always ready
to shed their blood in the cause of their country, on this occasion
_With them the Lindsays light and gay_.--p. 64. v. 2.
The chief of this ancient family, at the date of the battle of
Otterbourne, was David Liudissay, lord of Glenesk, afterwards created
Earl of Crawford. He was, after the manner of the times, a most
accomplished knight. He survived the battle of Otterbourne, and the
succeeding carnage of Homildon. In May, 1390, he went to England, to
seek adventures of chivalry; and justed, upon London Bridge, against
the lord of Wells, an English knight, with so much skill and success,
as to excite, among the spectators, a suspicion that he was tied
to his saddle; which he removed, by riding up to the royal chair,
vaulting out of his saddle, and resuming his seat without assistance,
although loaded with complete armour. In 1392, Lindsay was nearly
slain in a strange manner. A band of Catterans, or wild Highlanders,
had broken down from the Grampian Hills, and were engaged in
plundering the county of Angus. Walter Ogilvy, the sheriff, with
Sir Patrick Gray, marched against them, and were joined by Sir
David Lindsay. Their whole retinue did not exceed sixty men, and the
Highlanders were above three hundred. Nevertheless, trusting to
the superiority of arms and discipline, the knights rushed on the
invaders, at Gasclune, in the Stormont. The issue was unfortunate.
Ogilvy, his brother, and many of his kindred, were overpowered and
slain. Lindsay, armed at all points, made great slaughter among the
naked Catterans; but, as he pinned one of them to the earth with
his lance, the dying mountaineer writhed upwards and, collecting
his force, fetched a blow with his broad-sword which cut through the
knight's stirrup-leather and steel-boot and nearly severed his leg.
The Highlander expired, and Lindsay was with difficulty borne out of
the field by his followers--_Wyntown_. Lindsay is also noted for
a retort, made to the famous Hotspur. At a march-meeting, at
Haldane-Stank, he happened to observe, that Percy was sheathed in
complete armour. "It is for fear of the English horsemen," said
Percy, in explanation; for he was already meditating the insurrection,
immortalised by Shakespeare. "Ah! Sir Harry," answered Lindsay, "I
have seen you more sorely bestad by Scottish footmen than by English
horse."--_Wyntown_. Such was the leader of the "_Lindsays light and
According to Froissard, there were three Lindsays in the battle of
Otterbourne, whom he calls Sir William, Sir James, and Sir Alexander.
To Sir James Lindsay there fell "a strange chance of war," which I
give in the words of the old historian. "I shall shewe you of Sir
Mathewe Reedman (an English warrior, and governor of Berwick), who
was on horsebacke, to save himselfe, for he alone coude nat remedy the
mater. At his departynge, Sir James Limsay was nere him, and sawe Sir
Mathewe departed. And this Sir James, to wyn honour, followed in chase
Sir Mathewe Reedman, and came so nere him, that he myght have stryken
hym with hys speare, if he had lyst. Than he said, 'Ah! Sir knyght,
tourne! it is a shame thus to fly! I am James of Lindsay. If ye
will nat tourne, I shall strike you on the back with my speare.' Sir
Mathewe spoke no worde, but struke his hors with his spurres sorer
than he did before. In this maner he chased hym more than three myles.
And at last Sir Mathewe Reedman's hors foundered, and fell under hym.
Than he stept forthe on the erthe, and drewe oute his swerde, and toke
corage to defend himselfe. And the Scotte thoughte to have stryken hym
on the brest, but Sir Mathewe Reedman swerved fro the stroke, and the
speare point entred into the erthe. Than Sir Mathewe strake asonder
the speare wyth his swerde. And whan Sir James Limsay sawe howe he had
lost his speare, he cast away the tronchon, and lyghted a-fote, and
toke a lytell battell-axe, that he carryed at his backe, and handled
it with his one hand, quickly and delyverly, in the whyche feate
Scottes be well experte. And than he set at Sir Mathewe, and he
defended himselfe properly. Thus they journeyed toguyder, one with an
axe, and the other with a swerde, a longe season, and no man to lette
them. Fynally, Sir James Limsay gave the knyght such strokes, and
helde him so shorte, that he was putte out of brethe in such wyse,
that he yelded himselfe, and sayde,--'Sir James Limsay, I yeld me to
you.'--'Well,' quod he; 'and I receyve you, rescue or no rescue.'--'I
am content,' quod Reedman, 'so ye dele wyth me like a good
companyon.'--'I shall not fayle that,' quod Limsay, and so put up his
swerde. 'Well,' said Reedman, 'what will ye nowe that I shall do? I
am your prisoner; ye have conquered me; I wolde gladly go agayn
to Newcastell, and, within fiftene dayes, I shall come to you into
Scotlande, where as ye shall assigne me.'--'I am content,' quod
Limsay; 'ye shall promyse, by your faythe, to present yourselfe,
within these foure wekes, at Edinborowe; and wheresoever ye go,
to repute yourselfe my prisoner.' All this Sir Mathewe sware, and
promised to fulfil."
The warriors parted upon these liberal terms, and Reedman returned
to Newcastle. But Lindsay had scarcely ridden a mile, when he met the
bishop of Durham, with 500 horse, whom he rode towards, believing them
to be Scottish, until he was too near them to escape. The bysshoppe
stepte to him, and sayde, 'Limsay, ye are taken; yelde ye to
me.'--'Who be you?' quod Limsay. 'I am,' quod he, 'the bysshoppe of
Durham.'--'And fro whens come you, sir?' quod Limsay. 'I come fro the
battell,' quod the bysshoppe, 'but I strucke never a stroke there. I
go backe to Newcastell for this night, and ye shal go with me.'--'I
may not chuse,' quod Limsay, 'sith ye will have it so. I have taken,
and I am taken; suche is the adventures of armes.' Lindsay was
accordingly conveyed to the bishop's lodgings in Newcastle, and here
he was met by his prisoner, Sir Matthew Reedman; who founde hym in a
studye, lying in a windowe, and sayde, 'What! Sir James Lindsay, what
make you here?' Than Sir James came forth of the study to him, and
saydc, 'By my fayth, Sir Mathewe, fortune hath brought me hyder; for,
as soon as I was departed fro you, I mete by chaunce the bisshoppe of
Durham, to whom I am prisoner, as ye be to me. I beleve ye shall
not nede to come to Edenborowe to me to mak your fynaunce. I thynk,
rather, we shall make an exchange one for another, if the bysshoppe
be also contente.'--'Well, sir,' quod Reedman, 'we shall accord ryghte
well toguyder; ye shall dine this day with me: the bysshoppe and our
men be gone forth to fyght with your men. I can nat tell what we
shall know at their retourne.'--'I am content to dyne with you,'
quod Limsay."--_Froissart's Chronicle_, translated by Bourchier, Lord
Berners, Vol. I, chap. 146.
_O gran bonta de' cavalieri antiqui!
Eran rivali, eran di fe diversi;
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