Minstrelsy of the Scottish border (3rd ed) (1 of 3)
Walter Scott

Part 6 out of 6

And set ourselves at little lee.

"Gar warn the bows of Hartlie-burn;
See they sharp their arrows on the wa':
Warn Willeva, and Speir Edom,
And see the morn they meet me a'.

"Gar meet me on the Rodric-haugh,
And see it be by break o' day;
And we will on to Conscouthart-green,
For there, I think, we'll get our prey."

Then Hobbie Noble has dreimt a dreim,
In the Foulbogshiel, where that he lay;
He dreimt his horse was aneath him shot,
And he himself got hard away.

The cocks could craw, the day could daw,
And I wot sae even fell down the rain;
Had Hobble na wakened at that time,
In the Foulbogshiel he had been ta'en or slain.

"Awake, awake, my feres five!
I trow here makes a fu' ill day;
Yet the worst cloak o' this company,
I hope, shall cross the Waste this day."

Now Hobbie thought the gates were clear;
But, ever alas! it was na sae:
They were beset by cruel men and keen,
That away brave Hobbie might na gae.

"Yet follow me, my feres five,
And see ye kelp of me guid ray;
And the worst cloak o' this company
Even yet may cross the Waste this day."

But the land-serjeant's men came Hobbie before,
The traitor Sim came Hobbie behin',
So had Noble been wight as Wallace was,
Away, alas! he might na win.

Then Hobbie had but a laddie's sword;
But he did mair than a laddie's deed;
For that sword had clear'd Conscouthart green,
Had it not broke o'er Jerswigham's head.

Then they hae ta'en brave Hobbie Noble,
Wi's ain bowstring they band him sae;
But his gentle heart was ne'er sae sair,
As when his ain five bound him on the brae.

They hae ta'en him on for west Carlisle;
They asked him, if he kend the way?
Tho' much he thought, yet little he said;
He knew the gate as weel as they.

They hae ta'en him up the Ricker-gate;
The wives they cast their windows wide:
And every wife to another can say,
"That's the man loosed Jock o' the Side!"

"Fy on ye, women! why ca' ye me man?
For it's nae man that I'm used like;
I am but like a forfoughen[183] hound,
Has been fighting in a dirty syke."[184]

They hae had him up thro' Carlisle toun,
And set him by the chimney fire;
They gave brave Noble a loaf to eat,
And that was little his desire.

They gave him a wheaten loaf to eat,
And after that a can of beer;
And they a' cried, with one consent,
"Eat, brave Noble, and make gude cheir!

"Confess my lord's horse, Hobbie," they said,
"And to-morrow in Carlisle thou's na die."
"How can I confess them," Hobbie says,
"When I never saw them with my e'e?"

Then Hobbie has sworn a fu' great aith,
Bi the day that he was gotten and born,
He never had ony thing o' my lord's,
That either eat him grass or corn.

"Now fare thee weel, sweet Mangerton!
For I think again I'll ne'er thee see:
I wad hae betrayed nae lad alive,
For a' the gowd o' Christentie.

"And fare thee weel, sweet Liddesdale!
Baith the hie land and the law;
Keep ye weel frae the traitor Mains!
For goud and gear he'll sell ye a'.

"Yet wad I rather be ca'd Hobbie Noble,
In Carlisle, where he suffers for his fau't,
Than I'd be ca'd the traitor Mains,
That eats and drinks o' the meal and maut."

[Footnote 181: _Feres_--Companions.]

[Footnote 182: _Earl of Whitfield_--The editor does not know who is
here meant.]

[Footnote 183: _Forfoughen_--Quite fatigued.]

[Footnote 184: _Syke_--Ditch.]


* * * * *

_Aft has he driven our bluidhounds back_.--P. 234. v. 2.

"The russet blood-hound wont, near Annand's stream,
"To trace the sly thief with avenging foot,
"Close as an evil conscience still at hand."

Our ancient statutes inform us, that the blood-hound, or sluith-hound
(so called from its quality of tracing the slot, or track, of men and
animals), was early used in the pursuit and detection of marauders.
_Nullus perturbet, aut impediat canem trassantem, aut homines
trassantes cum ipso, ad sequendum latrones.--Regiam Majestatem_,
Lib. 4tus, Cap. 32. And, so late as 1616, there was an order from the
king's commissioners of the northern counties, that a certain number
of slough-hounds should be maintained in every district of Cumberland,
bordering upon Scotland. They were of great value, being sometimes
sold for a hundred crowns. _Exposition of Bleau's Atlas, voce
Nithsdale_. The breed of this sagacious animal, which could trace the
human footstep with the most unerring accuracy, is now nearly extinct.


* * * * *

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


* * * * *

As I was a walking mine alane,
It was by the dawning of the day,
I heard twa brithers make their mane,
And I listened weel to what they did say.

The youngest to the eldest said,
"Blythe and merrie how can we be?
There were three brithren of us born,
And ane of us is condemned to die."

"An' ye wad be merrie, an' ye wad be sad,
What the better wad billie Archie be?
Unless I had thirty men to mysell,
And a' to ride in my cumpanie.

"Ten to hald the horses' heads,
And other ten the watch to be,
And ten to break up the strong prison,
Where billy[185] Archie he does lie."

Then up and spak him mettled John Hall,
(The luve of Teviotdale aye was he)
"An' I had eleven men to mysell,
Its aye the twalt man I wad be."

Then up bespak him coarse Ca'field,
(I wot and little gude worth was he)
"Thirty men is few anew,
And a' to ride in our cumpanie."

There was horsing, horsing in haste,
And there was marching on the lee;
Until they cam to Murraywhate,
And they lighted there right speedilie.

"A smith! a smith!" Dickie he cries,
"A smith, a smith, right speedilie,
To turn back the caukers of our horses' shoon!
For its unkensome[186] we wad be."

"There lives a smith on the water side,
Will shoe my little black mare for me;
And I've a crown in my pocket,
And every groat of it I wad gie."

"The night is mirk, and its very mirk,
And by candle light I canna weel see;
The night is mirk, and its very pit mirk,
And there will never a nail ca' right for me."

"Shame fa' you and your trade baith,
Canna beet[187] a gude fellow by your myster[188]
But leez me on thee, my little black mare,
Thou's worth thy weight in gold to me."

There was horsing, horsing in haste,
And there was marching upon the lee;
Until they cam to Dumfries port,
And they lighted there right speedilie.

"There's five of us will hold the horse,
And other five will watchmen be:
But wha's the man, amang ye a',
Will gae to the Tolbooth door wi' me?"

O up then spak him mettled John Hall,
(Frae the laigh Tiviotdale was he)
"If it should cost my life this very night,
I'll gae to the Tolbooth door wi' thee."

"Be of gude cheir, now, Archie, lad!
Be of gude cheir, now, dear billie!
Work thou within, and we without,
And the mom thou'se dine at Ca'field wi' me."

O Jockie Hall stepped to the door,
And he bended low back his knee;
And he made the bolts, the door hang on,
Loup frae the wa' right wantonlie.

He took the prisoner on his back,
And down the Tolbooth stair cam he;
The black mare stood ready at the door,
I wot a foot ne'er stirred she.

They laid the links out ower her neck,
And that was her gold twist to be;[189]
And they cam down thro' Dumfries toun,
And wow but they cam speedilie.

The live long night these twelve men rade,
And aye till they were right wearie,
Until they cam to the Murraywhate,
And they lighted there right speedilie.

"A smith! a smith!" then Dickie he cries;
"A smith, a smith, right speedilie,
To file the irons frae my dear brither!
For forward, forward we wad be,"

They had na filed a shackle of iron,
A shackle of iron but barely thrie,
When out and spak young Simon brave,
"O dinna ye see what I do see?

"Lo! yonder comes Lieutenant Gordon,
Wi' a hundred men in his cumpanie;
This night will be our lyke-wake night,
The morn the day we a' maun die,"

O there was mounting, mounting in haste,
And there was marching upon the lee;
Until they cam to Annan water,
And it was flowing like the sea.

"My mare is young and very skeigh,[190]
And in o' the weil[191] she will drown me;
But ye'll take mine, and I'll take thine,
And sune through the water we sall be."

Then up and spak him, coarse Ca'field,
(I wot and little gude worth was he)
"We had better lose are than lose a' the lave;
We'll lose the prisoner, we'll gae free."

"Shame fa' you and your lands baith!
Wad ye e'en[192] your lands to your born billy?
But hey! bear up, my bonnie black mare,
And yet thro' the water we sall be."

Now they did swim that wan water,
And wow but they swam bonilie!
Until they cam to the other side,
And they wrang their cloathes right drunkily.

"Come thro', come thro', Lieutenant Gordon!
Come thro' and drink some wine wi' me!
For there is an ale-house here hard by,
And it shall not cost thee ae penny."

"Throw me my irons," quo' Lieutenant Gordon;
"I wot they cost me dear aneugh."
"The shame a ma," quo' mettled John Ha',
"They'll be gude shackles to my pleugh."

"Come thro', come thro', Lieutenant Gordon!
Come thro' and drink some wine wi' me!
Yestreen I was your prisoner,
But now this morning am I free."

[Footnote 185: _Billy_--Brother.]

[Footnote 186: _Unkensome_--Unknown.]

[Footnote 187: _Beet_--Abet, aid.]

[Footnote 188: _Mystery_--Trade.--See Shakespeare.]

[Footnote 189: The _Gold Twist_ means the small gilded chains drawn
across the chest of a war-horse, as a part of his caparaison.]

[Footnote 190: _Skeigh_--Shy.]

[Footnote 191: _Weil_--Eddy.]

[Footnote 192: _E'en_--Even, put into comparison.]


* * * * *

_The followng verses are said to have been composed by one of the_
ARMSTRONGS, _executed for the murder of Sir_ JOHN CARMICHAEL _of
Edrom, warden of the middle marches, (See_ p. 165.) _The tune is
popular in Scotland; but whether these are the original words, will
admit of a doubt_.

* * * * *

This night is my departing night,
For here nae langer must I stay;
There's neither friend nor foe o' mine,
But wishes me away.

What I have done thro' lack of wit,
I never, never, can recall;
I hope ye're a' my friends as yet;
Goodnight and joy be with you all!

* * * * *



* * * * *

Of all the border ditties, which have fallen into the editor's hands,
this is by far the most uncouth and savage. It is usually chaunted in
a sort of wild recitative, except the burden, which swells into a long
and varied howl, not unlike to a view hollo'. The words, and the
very great irregularity of the stanza (if it deserves the name),
sufficiently point out its intention and origin. An English woman,
residing in Suport, near the foot of the Kershope, having been
plundered in the night by a band of the Scottish moss-troopers, is
supposed to convoke her servants and friends for the pursuit, or _Hot
Trod_; upbraiding them, at the same time, in homely phrase, for their
negligence and security. The _Hot Trod_ was followed by the persons
who had lost goods, with blood-hounds and horns, to raise the country
to help. They also used to carry a burning wisp of straw at a spear
head, and to raise a cry, similar to the Indian war-whoop. It appears,
from articles made by the wardens of the English marches, September
12th, in 6th of Edward VI. that all, on this cry being raised, were
obliged to follow the fray, or chace, under pain of death. With
these explanations, the general purport of the ballad may be easily
discovered, though particular passages have become inexplicable,
probably through corruptions introduced by reciters. The present copy
is corrected from four copies, which differed widely from each other.


* * * * *

Sleep'ry Sim of the Lamb-hill,
And snoring Jock of Suport-mill,
Ye are baith right het and fou';--
But my wae wakens na you.
Last night I saw a sorry sight--
Nought left me, o' four-and-twenty gude ousen and ky,
My weel-ridden gelding, and a white quey,
But a toom byre and a wide,
And the twelve nogs[193] on ilka side.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' gane.

Weel may ye ken,
Last night I was right scarce o' men:
But Toppet Hob o' the Mains had guesten'd in my
house by chance;
I set him to wear the fore-door wi' the speir, while I
kept the back door wi' the lance;
But they hae run him thro' the thick o' the thie, and
broke his knee-pan,
And the mergh[194] o' his shin bane has run down on his
spur leather whang:
He's lame while he lives, and where'er he may gang.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' gane.

But Peenye, my gude son, is out at the Hagbut-head,
His e'en glittering for anger like a fierye gleed;
Crying--"Mak sure the nooks
Of Maky's-muir crooks;
For the wily Scot takes by nooks, hooks, and crooks.
Gin we meet a' together in a head the morn,
We'll be merry men."
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a'
My gear's a' gane.

There's doughty Cuddy in the Heugh-head,
Thou was aye gude at a' need:
With thy brock-skin bag at thy belt,
Ay ready to mak a puir man help.
Thou maun awa' out to the cauf-craigs,
(Where anes ye lost your ain twa naigs)
And there toom thy brock-skin bag.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' taen.

Doughty Dan o' the Houlet Hirst,
Thou was aye gude at a birst:
Gude wi' a bow, and better wi' a speir,
The bauldest march-man, that e'er followed gear;
Come thou here.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' gane.

Rise, ye carle coopers, frae making o' kirns and tubs,
In the Nicol forest woods.
Your craft has na left the value of an oak rod,
But if you had had ony fear o' God,
Last night ye had na slept sae sound,
And let my gear be a' ta'en.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' ta'en.

Ah! lads, we'll fang them a' in a net!
For I hae a' the fords o' Liddel set;
The Dunkin, and the Door-loup,
The Willie-ford, and the Water-slack,
The Black-rack and the Trout-dub o' Liddel;
There stands John Forster wi' five men at his back,
Wi' bufft coat and cap of steil:
Boo! ca' at them e'en, Jock;
That ford's sicker, I wat weil.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' ta'en.

Hoo! hoo! gar raise the Reid Souter, and Ringan's Wat,
Wi' a broad elshin and a wicker;
I wat weil they'll mak a ford sicker.
Sae whether they be Elliots or Armstrangs,
Or rough riding Scots, or rude Johnstones,
Or whether they be frae the Tarras or Ewsdale,
They maun turn and fight, or try the deeps o' Liddel.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' ta'en.

"Ah! but they will play ye another jigg,
For they will out at the big rig,

And thro' at Fargy Grame's gap."
"But I hae another wile for that:
For I hae little Will, and stalwart Wat,
And lang Aicky, in the Souter moor,
Wi' his sleuth dog sits in his watch right sure:
Shou'd the dog gie a bark,
He'll be out in his sark,
And die or won.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' ta'en.

Ha! boys--I see a party appearing--wha's yon!
Methinks it's the captain of Bewcastle, and Jephtha's
Coming down by the foul steps of Catlowdie's loan:
They'll make a sicker, come which way they will.
Ha lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a' ta'en.

Captain Musgrave, and a' his band,
Are coming down by the Siller-strand,
And the muckle toun-bell o' Carlisle is rung:
My gear was a' weel won,
And before it's carried o'er the border, mony a man's
gae down.
Fy lads! shout a' a' a' a' a',
My gear's a gane.

[Footnote 193: _Nogs_--Stakes.]

[Footnote 194: _Mergh_--Marrow.]


* * * * *

_And there, toom thy brock-skin bag_.--P. 254. v. 1.

The badger-skin pouch was used for carrying ammunition.

_In the Nicol forest woods_.--P. 254. v. 3.

A wood in Cumberland, in which Suport is situated.

_For I hae a' the fords o' Liddel set_.--P. 255. v. 1.

Watching fords was a ready mode of intercepting the marauders; the
names of the most noted fords upon the Liddel are recited in this

_And thro' at Fargy Grame's gap_.--P. 256. v. 1.

Fergus Grame of Sowport, as one of the chief men of that clan, became
security to Lord Scroope for the good behaviour of his friends
and dependants, 8th January, 1602.--_Introduction to History of
Westmoreland and Cumberland_, p. 111.

_Wi' his sleuth dog sits in his watch right sure_.--P 256. v. 1.

The centinels, who, by the march laws, were planted upon the border
each night, had usually sleuth-dogs, or blood-hounds, along with
them.--See _Nicolson's Border Laws_, and _Lord Wharton's Regulations,
in the 6th of Edward VI_.

Of the blood-hound we have said something in the notes on _Hobbie
Noble_; but we may, in addition, refer to the following poetical
description of the qualities and uses of that singular animal:

--Upon the banks
Of Tweed, slow winding thro' the vale, the seat
Of war and rapine once, ere Britons knew
The sweets of peace, or Anna's dread commands
To lasting leagues the haughty rivals awed,
There dwelt a pilfering race; well trained and skill'd
In all the mysteries of theft, the spoil
Their only substance, feuds and war their sport.
Not more expert in every fraudful art
The arch felon was of old, who by the tail
Drew back his lowing prize: in vain his wiles,
In vain the shelter of the covering rock,
In vain the sooty cloud, and ruddy flames,
That issued from his mouth; for soon he paid
His forfeit life: a debt how justly due
To wronged Alcides, and avenging Heaven!
Veil'd in the shades of night, they ford the stream;
Then, prowling far and near, whate'er they seize
Becomes their prey; nor flocks nor herds are safe,
Nor stalls protect the steer, nor strong barr'd doors
Secure the favourite horse. Soon as the morn
Reveals his wrongs, with ghastly visage wan
The plunder'd owner stands, and from his lips
A thousand thronging curses burst their way.
He calls his stout allies, and in a line
His faithful hound he leads; then, with a voice
That utters loud his rage, attentive cheers.
Soon the sagacious brute, his curling tail
Flourish'd in air, low bending, plies around
His busy nose, the steaming vapour snuffs
Inquisitive, nor leaves one turf untried;

Till, conscious of the recent stains, his heart
Beats quick, his snuffling nose, his active tail,
Attest his joy; then, with deep-opening mouth
That makes the welkin tremble, he proclaims
The audacious felon; foot by foot he marks
His winding way, while all the listening crowd
Applaud his reasonings. O'er the watery ford,
Dry sandy heaths, and stony barren hills,
O'er beaten tracks, with men and beast distain'd,
Unerring he pursues; till, at the cot
Arrived, and seizing by his guilty throat
The caitiff vile, redeems the captive prey:
So exquisitely delicate his sense!


_Methinks it's the Captain of Newcastle, &c.
Coming down by the foul steps of Catlowdie's loan_.--P. 256. v. 2.

According to the late Glenriddell's notes on this ballad, the office
of captain of Bewcastle was held by the chief of the Nixons.

Catlowdie is a small village in Cumberland, near the junction of the
Esk and Liddel.

_Captain Musgrave and a' his band_.--P. 256. v. 3.

This was probably the famous Captain Jack Musgrave, who had charge of
the watch along the Cryssop, or Kershope, as appears from the order of
the watches appointed by Lord Wharton, when deputy-warden-general, in
6th Edward VI.



* * * * *

This beautiful ballad is published from a copy in Glenriddel's MSS.,
with some slight variations from tradition. It alludes to one of the
most remarkable feuds upon the west marches.

A.D. 1585, John, Lord Maxwell, or, as he styled himself, Earl of
Morton, having quarrelled with the Earl of Arran, reigning favourite
of James VI., and fallen, of course, under the displeasure of the
court, was denounced rebel. A commission was also given to the laird
of Johnstone, then warden of the west-marches, to pursue and apprehend
the ancient rival and enemy of his house. Two bands of mercenaries,
commanded by Captains Cranstoun and Lammie, who were sent from
Edinburgh to support Johnstone, were attacked and cut to pieces
at Crawford-muir by Robert Maxwell, natural brother to the
chieftain;[195] who, following up his advantage, burned Johnstone's
castle of Lochwood, observing, with savage glee, that he would
give Lady Johnstone light enough by which to "set her hood." In
a subsequent conflict, Johnstone himself was defeated, and made
prisoner, and is said to have died of grief at the disgrace which
he sustained.--See _Spottiswoode_ and _Johnstone's Histories_, and
_Moyse's Memoirs, ad annum_ 1585.

By one of the revolutions, common in those days, Maxwell was soon
after restored to the king's favour, in his turn, and obtained the
wardenry of the west marches. A bond of alliance was subscribed by
him, and by Sir James Johnstone, and for some time the two clans
lived in harmony. In the year 1593, however, the hereditary feud was
revived, on the following occasion: A band of marauders, of the clan
Johnstone, drove a prey of cattle from the lands belonging to the
lairds of Crichton, Sanquhar, and Drumlanrig; and defeated,
with slaughter, the pursuers, who attempted to rescue their
property.--[_See the following Ballad and Introduction_.] The injured
parties, being apprehensive that Maxwell would not cordially
embrace their cause, on account of his late reconciliation with the
Johnstones, endeavoured to overcome his reluctance, by ottering
to enter into bonds of manrent, and so to become his followers
and liegemen; he, on the other hand, granting to them a bond of
maintenance, or protection, by which he bound himself, in usual form,
to maintain their quarrel against all mortals, saving his loyalty.
Thus, the most powerful and respectable families in Dumfries-shire
became, for a time, the vassals of Lord Maxwell. This secret alliance
was discovered to Sir James Johnstone by the laird of Cummertrees,
one of his own clan, though a retainer to Maxwell. Cummertrees
even contrived to possess himself of the bonds of manrent, which he
delivered to his chief. The petty warfare betwixt the rival barons was
instantly renewed. Buccleuch, a near relation of Johnstone, came to
his assistance with his clan, "the most renowned freebooters (says
a historian), the fiercest and bravest warriors, among the border
tribes"[196] With Buccleuch also came the Elliots, Armstrongs, and
Graemes. Thus reinforced, Johnstone surprised and cut to pieces a
party of the Maxwells, stationed at Lochmaben. On the other hand,
Lord Maxwell, armed with the royal authority, and numbering among his
followers all the barons of Nithesdale, displayed his banner as the
king's lieutenant, and invaded Annandale, at the head of 2000 men. In
those days, however, the royal auspices to have carried as little good
fortune as effective strength with them. A desperate conflict, still
renowned in tradition, took place at the Dryffe sands, not far from
Lockerby, in which Johnstone, although inferior in numbers, partly by
his own conduct, partly by the valour of his allies, gained a decisive
victory. Lord Maxwell, a tall man, and heavily armed, was struck from
his horse in the flight, and cruelly slain, after the hand, which he
stretched out for quarter, had been severed from his body. Many of
his followers were slain in the battle, and many cruelly wounded;
especially by slashes in the face, which wound was thence termed
a "_Lockerby lick_." The barons of Lag, Closeburn, and Drumlanrig,
escaped by the fleetness of their horses; a circumstance alluded to in
the following ballad.

[Footnote 195: It is devoutly to be wished, that this Lammie (who was
killed in the skirmish) may have been the same miscreant, who, in the
day of Queen Mary's distress, "hes ensigne being of quhyt taffitae,
had painted one it ye creuell murther of King Henry, and layed down
before her majestie, at quhat time she presented herself as prisoner
to ye lordis."--_Birrel's Diary, June_ 15, 1567. It would be some
satisfaction to know, that the grey hairs of this worthy personage did
not go down to the grave in peace.]

[Footnote 196: _Inter accolas latrociniis famosos Scotos Buccleuchi
clientes--fortissimos tributium et ferocissimos_,--JOHNSTONI
_Historia, ed. Amstael_, p. 182.]

This fatal battle was followed by a long feud, attended with all the
circumstances of horror, proper to a barbarous age. Johnstone, in
his diffuse manner, describes it thus: "_Ab eo die ultro citroque
in Annandia et Nithia magnis utriusque regionis jacturis certatum.
Caedes, incendia, rapinae, et nefanda facinora; liberi in maternis
gremiis trucidati; mariti in conspectu conjugum suarum, incensae
villae lamentabiles ubique querimoniae et horribiles armorum
fremitus_." JOHNSTONI _Historia, Ed. Amstael_. p. 182.

John, Lord Maxwell, with whose _Goodnight_ the reader is here
presented, was son to him who fell at the battle of Dryffe Sands,
and is said to have early vowed the deepest revenge for his father's
death. Such, indeed, was the fiery and untameable spirit of the man,
that neither the threats nor entreaties of the king himself could make
him lay aside his vindictive purpose; although Johnstone, the object
of his resentment, had not only reconciled himself to the court, but
even obtained the wardenry of the middle-marches, in room of Sir John
Carmichael, murdered by the Armstrongs. Lord Maxwell was therefore
prohibited to approach the border counties; and having, in contempt of
that mandate, excited new disturbances, he was confined in the castle
of Edinburgh. From this fortress, however, he contrived to make his
escape; and, having repaired to Dumfries-shire, he sought an amicable
interview with Johnstone, under pretence of a wish to accommodate
their differences. Sir Robert Maxwell, of Orchardstane (mentioned
in the Ballad, verse 1.), who was married to a sister of Sir James
Johnstone, persuaded his brother-in-law to accede to Maxwell's
proposal. The two chieftains met, each with a single attendant, at a
place called Achmanhill, 6th April, 1608. A quarrel arising betwixt
the two gentlemen who attended them (Charles Maxwell, brother to the
laird of Kirkhouse, and Johnstone of Lockerby), and a pistol being
discharged, Sir James turned his horse to separate the combatants; at
which instant Lord Maxwell shot him through the back with a brace of
bullets, of which wound he died on the spot, after having for some
time gallantly defended himself against Maxwell, who endeavoured to
strike him with his sword. "A fact," saith Spottiswoode, "detested by
all honest men, and the gentleman's misfortune severely lamented, for
he was a man full of wisdom and courage."--SPOTTISWOODE, _Edition_
1677, _pages_ 467, 504. JOHNSTONI _Historia, Ed. Amstael_. pp. 254,
283, 449.

Lord Maxwell, the murderer, made his escape to France; but, having
ventured to return to Scotland, he was apprehended lurking in the
wilds of Caithness, and brought to trial at Edinburgh. The royal
authority was now much strengthened by the union of the crowns, and
James employed it in staunching the feuds of the nobility, with a
firmness which was no attribute of his general character. But, in the
best actions of that monarch, there seems to have been an unfortunate
tincture of that meanness, so visible on the present occasion.
Lord Maxwell was indicted for the murder of Johnstone; but this was
combined with a charge of _fire-raising_, which, according to the
ancient Scottish law, if perpetrated by a landed man, constituted a
species of treason, and inferred forfeiture. Thus, the noble purpose
of public justice was sullied, by being united with that of enriching
some needy favourite. John, Lord Maxwell, was condemned, and beheaded,
21st May, 1613. Sir Gideon Murray, treasurer-depute, had a great share
of his forfeiture; but the attainder was afterwards reversed, and
the honours and estate were conferred upon the brother of the
deceased.--LAING'S _History of Scotland_, Vol. I. p. 62.--JOHNSTONI
_Historia_, p. 493.

The lady, mentioned in the ballad, was sister to the Marquis of
Hamilton, and, according to Johnstone the historian, had little reason
to regret being separated from her husband, whose harsh treatment
finally occasioned her death. But Johnstone appears not to be
altogether untinctured with the prejudices of his clan, and is
probably, in this instance, guilty of exaggeration; as the active
share, taken by the Marquis of Hamilton in favour of Maxwell, is a
circumstance inconsistent with such a report.

Thus was finally ended, by a salutary example of severity, the "foul
debate" betwixt the Maxwells and Johnstones, in the course of which
each family lost two chieftains; one dying of a broken heart, one in
the field of battle, one by assassination, and one by the sword of the

It seems reasonable to believe, that the following ballad must have
been written before the death of Lord Maxwell, in 1613; otherwise
there would have been some allusion to that event. It must therefore
have been composed betwixt 1608 and that period.


* * * * *

Adieu, madame, my mother dear,
But and my sisters three!
Adieu, fair Robert of Orchardstane!
My heart is wae for thee.
Adieu, the lily and the rose,
The primrose fair to see:
Adieu, my ladie, and only joy!
For I may not stay with thee.

"Though I hae slain the Lord Johnstone,
What care I for their feid?
My noble mind their wrath disdains:
He was my father's deid.
Both night and day I laboured oft
Of him avenged to be;
But now I've got what lang I sought,
And I may not stay with thee.

"Adieu! Drumlanrig, false wert aye,
And Closeburn in a Land!
The laird of Lag, frae my father that fled,
When the Johnston struck aff his hand.
They were three brethren in a band--
Joy may they never see!
Their treacherous art, and cowardly heart,
Has twin'd my love and me,

Adieu! Dumfries, my proper place,
But and Carlaverock fair!
Adieu! my castle of the Thrieve,
Wi' a my buildings there:
Adieu! Lochmaben's gates sae fair,
The Langholm-holm where birks there be;
Adieu! my ladye, and only joy,
For, trust me, I may not stay wi' thee,

"Adieu! fair Eskdale up and down,
Where my puir friends do dwell;
The bangisters[197] will ding them down,
And will them sair compell.
But I'll avenge their feid mysell,
When I come o'er the sea;
Adieu! my ladye, and only joy,
For I may not stay wi' thee."

"Lord of the land!"--that ladye said,
"O wad ye go wi' me,
Unto my brother's stately tower,
Where safest ye may be!
There Hamiltons and Douglas baith,
Shall rise to succour thee."
"Thanks for thy kindness, fair my dame,
But I may not stay wi' thee."

Then he tuik aff a gay gold ring,
Thereat hang signets three;
"Hae, take thee that, mine ain dear thing,
And still hae mind o' me;
But, if thou take another lord,
Ere I come ower the sea--
His life is but a three day's lease,
Tho' I may not stay wi' thee."

The wind was fair, the ship was clear,
That good lord went away;
And most part of his friends were there,
To give him a fair convey.
They drank the wine, they did na spair,
Even in that gude lord's sight--
Sae now he's o'er the floods sae gray,
And Lord Maxwell has ta'en his Goodnight.

[Footnote 197: _Bangisters_--The prevailing party.]


* * * * *

_Adieu! Drumlanrig, &c_.--P. 268. v. 1.

The reader will perceive, from the Introduction, what connection the
bond, subscribed by Douglas of Drumlanrig, Kirkpatrick of Closeburn,
and Grierson of Lagg, had with the death of Lord Maxwell's father. For
the satisfaction of those, who may be curious as to the form of
these bonds, I have transcribed a letter of manrent,[198] from a MS.
collection of upwards of twenty deeds of that nature, copied from the
originals by the late John Syme, Esq. writer to the signet; for
the use of which, with many other favours of a similar nature, I am
indebted to Dr. Robert Anderson of Edinburgh. The bond is granted by
Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, to Robert, Lord Maxwell, father of
him who was slain at the battle of the Dryffe Sands.

[Footnote 198: The proper spelling is _manred_. Thus, in the romance
of _Florice and Blancheflour_--

"He wil falle to thi fot,
"And bicom thi man gif be mot;
"His _manred_ thou schalt afonge,
"and the trewthe of his honde."


"Be it kend till all men be thir present lettres, me Thomas Kirkpatrik
of Closburn, to be bundin and oblist, and be the tenor heirof, bindis
and oblissis me be the faith and treuth of my body, in manrent and
service to ane nobil and mychty lord, Robert Lord Maxwell, induring
all the dayis of my lyfe; and byndis and oblissis me, as said is, to
be leill and trew man and servand to the said Robert Lord Maxwell,
my master, and sall nowthir heir nor se his skaith, but sall lat the
samyn at my uter power, an warn him therof. And I sall conceill it
that the said lord schawis to me, and sall gif him agane the best
leill and trew counsale that I can, quhen he ony askis at me; and that
I sall ryde with my kin, freyndis, servandis, and allies, that wil do
for me, or to gang with the said lord; and do to him aefauld, trew,
and thankful service, and take aefauld playne part with the said lord,
my maister, in all and sindry his actionis, causis, querrellis, leful
and honest, movit, or to be movit be him, or aganis him, baith in
peace and weir, contrair or aganis all thae that leiffes or de may
(my allegeant to owr soveran ladye the quenis grace, her tutor and
governor, allanerly except). And thir my lettres of manrent, for all
the dayis of my life foresaid to indure, all dissimulations, fraud,
or gyle, secludit and away put. In witness, &c." The deed is signed at
Edinburgh, 3d February, 1542.

In the collection, from which this extract is made, there are bonds
of a similar nature granted to Lord Maxwell, by Douglas of Drumlanrig,
ancestor of the Duke of Queensberry; by Crichton Lord Sanquhar,
ancestor of the earls of Dumfries, and many of his kindred; by
Stuart of Castlemilk; by Stuart of Garlies, ancestor of the earls
of Galloway; by Murray of Cockpool, ancestor of the Murrays, lords
Annandale; by Grierson of Lagg, Gordon of Lochmaben, and many other of
the most ancient and respectable barons in the south-west of Scotland,
binding themselves, in the most submissive terms, to become the
liegemen and the vassals of the house of Maxwell; a circumstance which
must highly excite our idea of the power of that family. Nay, even
the rival chieftain, Johnstone of Johnstone, seems at one time to
have come under a similar obligation to Maxwell, by a bond, dated 11th
February 1528, in which reference is made to the counter-obligation of
the patron, in these words: "Forasmeikle as the said lord has oblist
him to supple, maintene, and defend me, in the peciabill brouking and
joysing of all my landis, rentis, &c. and to take my aefald, leill and
trew part, in all my good actionis, causis, and quarles, leiful and
honest, aganes all deedlie, his alledgeance to our soveraigne lord the
king allanerly excepted, as at mair length is contained in his lettres
of maintenance maid to me therupon; therfore, &c." he proceeds to bind
himself as liegeman to the Maxwell.

I cannot dismiss the subject without observing, that, in the dangerous
times of Queen Mary, when most of these bonds are dated, many barons,
for the sake of maintaining unanimity and good order, may have chosen
to enroll themselves among the clients of Lord Maxwell, then warden
of the border, from which, at a less turbulent period, personal
considerations would have deterred them.

_Adieu! my castle of the Thrieve_.--P. 268. v. 2.

This fortress is situated in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, upon an
island about two acres in extent, formed by the river Dee. The walls
are very thick and strong, and bear the marks of great antiquity. It
was a royal castle; but the keeping of it, agreeable to the feudal
practice, was granted by charter, or sometimes by a more temporary and
precarious right, to different powerful families, together with lands
for their good service in maintaining and defending the place. This
office of heritable keeper remained with the Nithesdale family (chief
of the Maxwells) till their forfeiture, 1715. The garrison seems to
have been victualled upon feudal principles; for each parish in the
stewartry was burdened with the yearly payment of a _lardner mart
cow_, i.e. a cow fit for being killed and salted at Martinmas, for
winter provisions. The right of levying these cattle was retained by
the Nithesdale family, when they sold the castle and estate, in
1704, and they did not cease to exercise it till their
attainder.--_Fountainhall's Decisions_, Vol. I. p. 688.

This same castle of the Thrieve was, A.D. 1451-2, the scene of an
outrageous and cruel insult upon the royal authority. The fortress was
then held by William VIII. Earl of Douglas, who, in fact, possessed a
more unlimited authority over the southern districts of Scotland,
than the reigning monarch. The earl had, on some pretence, seized
and imprisoned a baron, called Maclellan, tutor of Bombie, whom he
threatened to bring to trial, by his power of hereditary jurisdiction.
The uncle of this gentleman, Sir Patrick Gray of Foulis, who commanded
the body-guard of James II., obtained from that prince a warrant,
requiring from Earl Douglas the body of the prisoner. When Gray
appeared, the earl instantly suspected his errand. "You have not
dined," said he, without suffering him to open his commission: "it is
ill talking between a full man and a fasting." While Gray was at meat,
the unfortunate prisoner was, by Douglas's command, led forth to the
court-yard and beheaded. When the repast was finished, the king's
letter was presented and opened. "Sir Patrick," says Douglas, leading
Gray to the court, "right glad had I been to honour the king's
messenger; but you have come too late. Yonder lies your sister's son,
without the head: you are welcome to his dead body." Gray, having
mounted his horse, turned to the earl, and expressed his wrath in a
deadly oath, that he would requite the injury with Douglas's heart's
blood.--"To horse!" cried the haughty baron, and the messenger of
his prince was pursued till within a few miles of Edinburgh. Gray,
however, had an opportunity of keeping his vow; for, being upon guard
in the king's anti-chamber at Stirling, when James, incensed at the
insolence of the earl, struck him with his dagger, Sir Patrick rushed
in, and dispatched him with a pole-axe. The castle of Thrieve was the
last of the fortresses which held out for the house of Douglas, after
their grand rebellion in 1553. James II. writes an account of the
exile of this potent family, to Charles VII. of France, 8th July,
1555; and adds, that all their castles had been yielded to him,
_Excepto duntaxat castro de Trefe, per nostres fideles
impraesentiarum obsesso; quod domino concedente in brevi obtinere
speramus.--Pinkerton's History, Appendix_, Vol. I. p. 486.--See
_Pitscottie's History, Godscroft, &c._

_And most part of his friends were, there_,--P. 269. v. 3. The
ancestor of the present Mr. Maxwell of Broomholm is particularly
mentioned in Glenriddell's MS. as having attended his chieftain in his
distress, and as having received a grant of lands, in reward of this
manifestation of attachment.

_Sae now he's o'er the floods sae gray_.--P. 269. v. 3.

This seems to have been a favourite epithet in old romances, Thus in
_Hornchilde_, and _Maiden Rimuild_,

Thai sayled ower the _flode so gray_,
In Inglond arrived were thay,
Ther him levest ware.


The reader will find, prefixed to the foregoing ballad, an account
of the noted feud betwixt the families of Maxwell and Johnstone.
The following song celebrates the skirmish, in 1593, betwixt the
Johnstones and Crichtons, which led to the revival of the ancient
quarrel betwixt Johnstone and Maxwell, and finally to the battle of
Dryffe Sands, in which the latter lost his life. Wamphray is the name
of a parish in Annandale. Lethenhall was the abode of Johnstone of
Wamphray, and continued to be so till of late years. William Johnstone
of Wamphray, called the _Galliard_, was a noted freebooter. A place,
near the head of Tiviotdale, retains the name of the _Galliard's
Faulds_, (folds) being a valley where he used to secrete and divide
his spoil, with his Liddesdale and Eskdale associates. His _nom
de guerre_ seems to have been derived from the dance called _The
Galliard_. The word is still used in Scotland, to express an active,
gay, dissipated character.[199] Willie of the Kirkhill, nephew to the
Galliard, and his avenger, was also a noted border robber. Previous
to the battle of Dryffe Sands, so often mentioned, tradition reports,
that Maxwell had offered a ten-pound-land to any of his party, who
should bring him the head or hand of the laird of Johnstone.
This being reported to his antagonist, he answered, he had not a
ten-pound-land to offer, but would give a five-merk-land to the man
who should that day cut off the head or hand of Lord Maxwell. Willie
of the Kirkhill, mounted upon a young gray horse, rushed upon the
enemy, and earned the reward, by striking down their unfortunate
chieftain, and cutting off his right hand.

Leverhay, Stefenbiggin, Girth-head, &c. are all situated in the parish
of Wamphray. The Biddes-burn, where the skirmish took place betwixt
the Johnstones and their pursuers, is a rivulet which takes its course
among the mountains on the confines of Nithesdale and Annandale. The
Wellpath is a pass by which the Johnstones were retreating to their
fastnesses in Annandale. Ricklaw-holm is a place upon the Evan water,
which falls into the Annan, below Moffat. Wamphray-gate was in these
days an ale-house. With these local explanations, it is hoped the
following ballad will be easily understood.

From a pedigree in the appeal case of Sir James Johnstone of Westeraw,
claiming the honours and titles of Annandale, it appears that the
Johnstones of Wamphray were descended from James, sixth son of the
sixth baron of Johnstone. The male line became extinct in 1657.

[Footnote 199: Cleveland applies the phrase in a very different
manner, in treating of the assembly of Divines at Westminster, 1644:

And Selden is a _Galliard_ by himself.
And wel might be; there's more divines in him.
Than in all this their Jewish Sanhedrim.

Skelton, in his railing poem against James IV., terms him _Sir Skyr


'Twixt Girth-head and the Langwood end,
Lived the Galliard, and the Galliard's men;
But and the lads of Leverhay,
That drove the Crichtons' gear away.

It is the lads of Lethenha',
The greatest rogues amang them a':
But and the lads of Stefenbiggin,
They broke the house in at the rigging.

The lads of Fingland, and Hellbeck-hill,
They were never for good, but aye for ill;
'Twixt the Staywood-bush and Langside-hill,
They stealed the broked cow and the branded bull.

It is the lads of the Girth-head,
The deil's in them for pride and greed;
For the Galliard, and the gay Galliard's men,
They ne'er saw a horse but they made it their ain.

The Galliard to Nithside is gane,
To steal Sim Crichton's winsome dun;
The Galliard is unto the stable gane,
But instead of the dun, the blind he has ta'en.

"Now Simmy, Simmy of the Side,
Come out and see a Johnstone ride!
Here's the bonniest horse in a' Nithside,
And a gentle Johnstone aboon his hide."

Simmy Crichton's mounted then,
And Crichtons has raised mony a ane;
The Galliard trowed his horse had been wight,
But the Crichtons beat him out o' sight.

As soon as the Galliard the Crichton saw,
Behind the saugh-bush he did draw;
And there the Crichtons the Galliard hae ta'en,
And nane wi' him but Willie alane.

"O Simmy, Simmy, now let me gang,
And I'll nevir mair do a Crichton wrang!
O Simmy, Simmy, now let me be,
And a peck o' gowd I'll give to thee!

O Simmy, Simmy, now let me gang,
And my wife shall heap it with her hand."
But the Crichtons wad na let the Galliard be,
But they hanged him hie upon a tree.

O think then Willie he was right wae,
When he saw his uncle guided sae;
"But if ever I live Wamphray to see,
My uncle's death avenged shall be!"

Back to Wamphray he is gane,
And riders has raised mony a ane;
Saying--"My lads, if ye'll be true,
Ye shall a' be clad in the noble blue."

Back to Nithisdale they have gane,
And awa' the Crichtons' nowt hae ta'en;
But when they cam to the Wellpath-head,
The Crichtons bade them 'light and lead.

And when they cam to the Biddes burn,
The Crichtons bade them stand and turn;
And when they cam to the Biddess strand,
The Crichtons they were hard at hand.

But when they cam to the Biddes law,
The Johnstones bade them stand and draw;
"We've done nae ill, we'll thole nae wrang,
"But back to Wamphray we will gang,"

And out spoke Willy o' the Kirkhill,
"Of fighting, lads, ye'se hae your fill."
And from his horse Willie he lap,
And a burnished brand in his hand he gat.

Out through the Crichtons Willie he ran,
And dang them down baith horse and man;
O but the Johnstones were wondrous rude,
When the Biddes burn ran three days blood.

"Now, Sirs, we have done a noble deed;
"We have revenged the Galliard's bleid:
"For every finger of the Galliard's hand,
"I vow this day I've killed a man."

As they cam in at Evan-head,
At Ricklaw-holm they spread abread;
"Drive on, my lads! it will be late;
We'll hae a pint at Wamphray gate.

"For where'er I gang, or e'er I ride,
The lads of Wamphray are on my side;
And of a' the lads that I do ken,
A Wamphray lad's the king of men."



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