The Lay of the Last Minstrel/Notes on Canto 1
The feast was over in Branksome Tower.—St. I. p. 9.
In the reign of James I. Sir William Scott, of Buccleuch, chief of the clan bearing that name, exchanged with Sir Thomas Inglis of Manor, the estate of Murdiestone, in Lanarkshire, for one half of the barony of Branksome, or Branxholm, lying upon the Teviot, about three miles above Hawick. He was probably induced to this transaction from the vicinity of Branksome to the extensive domain which he possessed in Ettricke forest and in Teviotdale. In the former district he held by occupancy the estate of Buccleuch, and much of the forest land on the river Ettricke. In Teviotdale, he held the barony of Eckford by a grant from Robert II. to his ancestor, Walter Scott of Kirkurd, for the apprehending of Gilbert Ridderford, confirmed by Robert III., 3d May, 1424. Tradition imputes the exchange betwixt Scott and Inglis to a conversation in which the latter, a man, it would appear, of a mild and forbearing nature, complained much of the injuries which he was exposed to from the English borderers, who frequently plundered his lands of Branksome. Sir William Scott instantly offered him the estate of Murdiestone, in exchange for that which was subject to such egregious inconvenience. When the bargain was completed, he drily remarked, that the cattle in Cumberland were as good as those of Teviotdale, and proceeded to commence a system of reprisals upon the English, which was regularly pursued by his successors. In the next reign, James II. granted to Sir Walter Scott of Branksome, and to Sir David, his son, the remaining half of the barony of Branksome, to be held in blanch for the payment of a red rose. The cause assigned for the grant is, their brave and faithful exertions in favour of the king against the house of Douglas, with whom James had been recently tugging for the throne of Scotland. This charter is dated the 2d February, 1443; and in the same month, part of the barony of Langholm, and many lands in Lanarkshire, were conferred upon Sir Walter and his son by the same monarch.
After the period of the exchange with Sir Thomas Inglis, Branksome became the principal seat of the Buccleuch family. The castle was enlarged and strengthened by Sir David Scott, the grandson of Sir William, its first possessor. But in 1570-1, the vengeance of Elizabeth, provoked by the inroads of Buccleuch; and his attachment to the cause of Queen Mary, destroyed the castle, and laid waste the lands of Branksome. In the same year the castle was repaired and enlarged by Sir Walter Scott, its brave possessor; but the work was not completed until after his death, in 1574, when his widow finished the building. This appears from the following inscriptions. Around a stone, bearing the arms of Scott of Buccleuch, appears the following legend: "Sir W. Scott, of Branxheim Knyt Yoe of Sir Willram Scott of Kirkuird Knyt began ye work upon ye 24 of Marche 1571 zeir quha departit at God's pleisour ye 17 April 1574." On a similar copartment are sculptured the arms of Douglas, with this inscription, "Dame Margaret Douglas his spous compleitit the forsaid Work in October 1576." Over an arched door is inscribed the following moral verse:
Sir Valter Scot of Branxholme knicht.Margaret Douglas 1571.
Branksome Castle continued to be the principal seat of the Buccleuch family, while security was any object in the choice of a mansion. It has been since the residence of the commissioners or chamberlains of the family. From the various alterations which the building has undergone, it is not only greatly restricted in its dimensions, but retains little of the castellated form, if we except one square tower of massy thickness, being the only part of the original building which now remains. The whole forms a handsome modern residence, and is now inhabited by my respected friend, Adam Ogilvy, Esq. of Hartwoodmyres, commissioner of his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch.
The extent of the ancient edifice can still be traced by some vestiges of its foundation, and its strength is obvious from the situation on a steep bank surrounded by the Teviot, and flanked by a deep ravine, formed by a precipitous brook. It was anciently surrounded by wood, as appears from the survey of Roxburghshire, made for Pont's Atlas, and preserved in the Advocates Library. This wood was cut about fifty years ago, but is now replaced by the thriving plantations which have been formed by the noble proprietor, for miles around the ancient mansion of his forefathers.
Hung their shields in Branksome Hall.
St. III. p. 10.
The ancient barons of Buccleuch, both from feudal splendour, and from their frontier situation, retained in their household, at Branksome, a number of gentlemen of their own name, who held lands from their chief for the military service of watching and warding his castle. Satchels tells us, in his doggrel poetry,
The barons of Buckleugh they kept at their call,
Four and twenty gentlemen in their hall,
All being of his name and kin;
Each two had a servant to wait upon them;
Before supper and dinner, most renowned,
The bells rung and the trumpets sowned,
And more than that, I do confess,
They kept four and twenty pensioners.
Think not I lie, nor do me blame,
For the pensioners I can all name,
There’s men alive elder than I,
They know if I speak truth or lie;
Every pensioner a room did gain,
For service done and to be done;
This I'll let the reader understand,
The name both of the men and land,
Which they possessed, it is of truth,
Both from the lairds and lord of Buckleugh.
Accordingly, dismounting from his Pegasus, Satchells gives us, in prose, the names of twenty-four. gentlemen, younger brothers of ancient families, who were pensioners to the house of Buccleuch, and describes the lands which each possessed for his border service. In time of war with England, the garrison was doubtless augmented. Satchells adds, "These twenty-three pensioners, all of his own name of Scott, and Walter Gladstanes of Whitelaw, a near cousin of My Lord's, as aforesaid, were ready on all occasions when his honour pleased cause to advertise them. It is known to many of the country better than it is to me, that the rent of these lands, which the lairds and lords of Buccleuch did freely bestow upon their friends, will amount to above twelve or fourteen thousand merks a-year."—History of the name of Scot, p. 45. An immense sum in those times.
And with Jedwood axe at saddle-bow.—St. V. p. 11.
"Of a truth," says Froissart, "the Scottish cannot boast great skill with the bow, but rather bear axes, with which, in time of need, they give heavy strokes." The Jedwood axe was a sort of partizan, used by horsemen, as appears from the arms of Jedburgh, which bear a cavalier mounted and armed with this weapon. It is also called a Jedwood or Jeddart staff.
Lest Scroope, or Howard, or Percy's powers,
Threaten Branksome's lordly towers,
From Warkworth, or Naworth, or merry Carlisle
St. VI. p: 12.
Branksome Castle was continually exposed to the attacks of the English, both from its situation and the restless military disposition of its inhabitants, who were seldom on good terms with their neighbours. The following letter from the Earl of Northumberland to Henry VIII. in 1533, gives an account of a successful inroad of the English, in which the country was plundered up to the gates of the castle. It occurs in the Cotton M.S. Calig. B. VIII. f. 222.
"Pleasith yt your most gracious highnes to be aduertised that my comptroller with Raynald Carnaby desyred licence of me to invade the realme of Scotland, for the annoysaunce of your highnes enemys, where they thought best exployt by theyme might be done, and to haue to concur withe theyme the inhabitants of Northumbreland, suche as woas towards me according to theyre assembly, and as by theyre discrecions vppone the same they shulde thinke most convenient; and soo they dyd mete vppon Monday, before nyght, being the iii day of this instant monethe, at Wawhop, uppon northe Tyne water, above Tyndaill, where they were to the nombre of xv c men, and soo invadet Scotland, at the howre of viii of the clok at nyght, at a place called whele causay; and before xi of the clok dyd send forth a forrey of Tyndaill and Ryddisdaill, and laide all the resydewe in a bushment, and actyvely dyd set vppon a towne called Branxhom, where the Lord of Buclough dwellythe, and purpesed theymeselves with a trayne for hym lyke to his accustommed maner, in rysynge, to all frayes; albeit, that nyght he was not at home, and soo they brynt the said Branxhom, and other townes, as to say Whichestre, Whichestre-helme, and Whelley, and haid ordered theymeself soo, that sundry of the said Lord Buclough servants whoo dyd issue fourthe of his gates, was takyn prisoners. They dyd not leve one house, one stak of corne, nor one sheyf, without the gate of the said Lord Buclough vnbrynt; and thus scrymaged and frayed, supposing the Lord of Buclough to be within iii or iiii myles to have trayned hym to the bushment; and soo in the breyking of the day dyd the forrey and the bushment mete, and reculed homeward, making theyr way westward from theyre invasion to be over Lyddersdaill, as intending yf the fray frome theyre furst entry by the Scotts waiches, or otherwyse by warnyng shulde haue bene gyven to Gedworth and the countrey of Scotland theyreabouts of theyre invasion; whiche Gedworthe is from the wheles causay, vi myles, that thereby the Scotts shulde have comen further ynto theyme, and more owte of ordre; and soo vppon sundry good consideracons, before they entred Lyddersdaill, as well accompting the inhabitants of the same to be towards your highnes, and to inforce theyme the more therby, as alsoo to put an occasion of suspect to the kinge of Scotts and his counsaill, to be takyn anenst theyme, amongs theymeselves, maid proclamacions commaunding vppon payne of dethe, assurance to be for the said inhabitants of Lyddersdaill, without any prejudice or hurt to be done by any Inglyssman vnto theyme, and soo in good ordre abowte the howre of ten of the clok before none, vppon Tewsday, dyd pas through the said Lyddersdaill, when dyd come diverse of the said inhabitants there to my servauntes, under the said assurance, efferring theymeselfs with any service they couthe make; and thus, thanks be to Godde, your highnes' subjects abowte the howre of xii of the clok at none the same day, came into this youre highness realme, brynging wt theyme above xl Scottsmen prisoners, one of theyme named Scot, of the surname and kyn of the said Lord of Buclough, and of his howsehold; they brought alsoo ccc nowte, and above Ix horse and mares, keping in savetie frome losse or hurte all your said highnes subjects. There was alsoo a towne called Newbyggyns, by diverse fotmen of Tyndaill and Ryddesdaill takyn vp of the nyght, and spoyled, when was slayne ii Scottsmen of the said towne, and many Scotts there hurte; your highnes subjects was xiiii myles within the grounde of Scotland, and is frome my house of Werkworthe, above lx myles of the most evill passage, where great snawes dothe lye; heretofore the same townes nowe brynt haith not at any tyme in the mynd of man in any warrs been enterprised unto nowe; your subjects were therto more incouraged for the better advancement of your highnes service, the said Lord of Buclough beyng alwais a mortall enemy to this your graces realme, and he dyd say within xiiii dayes before, he wolde see who durst lye near hym, wt many other cruell words, the knowledge whereof was certaynly haid to my said servaunts, before theyre enterprice maid vppon him, most humbly beseeching your maiesty that youre highness thanks may concur vnto theyme, whose names be here inclosed, and to have in your most gracious memory, the paynfull and diligent service of my pore servaunte Wharton, and thus, as I am most bounden, shall dispose wt them that be vnder me f. . . . . . . . . . . annoysaunce of your highnes enemy's.
How Lord Walter fell.—St. VII. p. 13.
Sir Walter Scott, of Buccleugh, succeeded to his grandfather, Sir David, in 1492. He was a brave and powerful baron, and warden of the west marches of Scotland. His death was the consequence of a feud betwixt the Scotts and Kerrs, the history of which is necessary to explain repeated allusions in the romance.
In the year 1526, in the words of Pitscottie, "The Earl of Angus, and the rest of the Douglasses, ruled all which they liked, and no man durst say the contrary: wherefore the king (James V. then a minor) was heavily displeased, and would fain have been out of their hands, if he might by any way: And to that effect wrote a quiet and secret letter with his own hand, and sent it to the laird of Buccleuch, beseeching him that he would come with his kin and friends, and all the force that he might be, and meet him at Melross, at his home-passing, and there to take him out of the Douglasses hands, and to put him to liberty, to use himself among the lave (rest) of his lords, as he thinks expedient.
"This letter was quietly directed and sent by one of the king's own secret servants, which was received very thankfully by the laird of Buckleuch, who was very glad thereof, to be put to such charges and familiarity with his prince, and did great diligence to perform the king's writing, and to bring the matter to pass as the king desired: And to that effect convened all his kin and friends, and all that would do for him, to ride with him to Melross, when he knew of the king's home-coming. And so he brought with him six hundred spears, of Liddisdale, and Annandale, and countrymen, and clans thereabout, and held themselves quiet while that the king returned out of Jedburgh, and came to Melross, to remain there all that night.
"But when the Lord Hume, Cessfoord, and Fernyhirst (the chiefs of the clan of Kerr) took their leave of the king, and returned home, then appeared the laird of Buckleuch in sight, and his company with him, in an arrayed battle, intending to have fulfilled the king's petition, and therefore came stoutly forward on the back side of Halidenhill. By that the Earl of Angus, with George Douglas, his: brother, and sundry other of his friends, seeing this army coming, they marvelled what the matter meant; while at the last they knew the laird of Buccleuch, with a certain company of the thieves of Annandale; with him they were less affeared, and made them manfully to the field contrary them, and said to the king in this manner, "Sir, yon is Buccleugh, and thieves of Annandale with him, to unbeset your Grace from the gate (i.e. interrupt your passage). I vow to God they shall either fight or flee; and ye shall tarry here on this know, and my brother George with you, with any other company you please; and I shall pass, and put yon off the ground, and rid the gate unto your Grace, or else die for it". The king tarried still, as was devised; and George Douglas, with him and sundry other lords, such as the earl of Lennox and the lord Erskine, and some of the king's own servants; but all the lave (rest) past with the earl of Angus to the field against the laird of Buccleuch, who joyned and countered cruelly both the said parties in the field of Darnelinvir, either against other, with uncertain victory. But at the last, the Lord Hume, hearing word of that matter how it stood, returned again to the king in all possible haste, with him the lairds of Cessfoord and Fairnyhirst, to the number of fourscore spears, and set freshly on the lap and wing of the laird of Buccleugh's field, and shortly bare them backward to the ground; which caused the laird of Buccleugh, and the rest of his friends, to go back and flee, whom they followed and chased; and especially the lairds of Cessfoord and Fairnihirst followed furiouslie, till at the foot of a path the laird of Cessfoord was slain by the stroke of a spear by an Elliot, who was then servant to the laird of Buccleugh. But when the laird of Cessfoord was slain, the chase ceased. The earl of Angus returned again with great merriness and victory, and thanked God that he saved him from that chance, and past with the king to Melross, where they remained all that night. On the morn they past to Edinburgh with the king, who was very sad and dolorous of the slaughter of the laird of Cessfoord, and many other gentlemen and yeomen slain by the laird of Buccleugh, containing the number of fourscore and fifteen, which died in defence of the king, and at the command of his writing."
In consequence of this battle, there ensued a deadly feud betwixt the names of Scott and Kerr, which, in spite of all means used to bring about an agreement, raged for many years upon the Borders. One of the acts of violence to which this quarrel gave rise, was, the murder of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, who was slain by the Kerrs in the streets of Edinburgh, in 1552. This is the event alluded to in Stanza VII.; and the poem is supposed to open shortly after it had taken place.
In mutual pilgrimage, they drew.—St. VIII. p. 13.
Among other expedients resorted to for staunching the feud betwixt the Scotts and the Kerrs, there was a bond executed, in 1529, between the heads of each clan, binding themselves to perform reciprocally the four principal pilgrimages of Scotland, for the benefit of the souls of those of the opposite name who had fallen in the quarrel. This indenture is printed in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. I. But either it never took effect, or else the feud was renewed shortly afterward.
Such pactions were not uncommon in feudal times; and, as might be expected, they were often, as in the present case, void of the effect desired. When Sir Walter Mauny, the renowned follower of Edward III., had taken the town of Ryoll, in Gascony, he remembered to have heard that his father lay there buried, and offered a hundred crowns to any who could shew him his grave. A very old man appeared before Sir Walter, and informed him of the manner of his father's death, and the place of his sepulture. It seems the lord of Mauny had, at a great tournament, unhorsed, and wounded to the death, a Gascon knight of the house of Mirepoix, whose kinsman was bishop of Cambray. For this deed he was held at feud by the relations of the knight, until he agreed to undertake a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James of Compostella, for the benefit of the soul of the deceased. But as he returned through the town of Ryoll, after accomplishment of his vow, he was beset, and treacherously slain by the kindred of the knight, whom he had killed. Sir Walter, guided by the old man, visited the lowly tomb of his father; and, having read the inscription, which was in Latin, he caused the body to be raised and transported to his native city of Valenciennes, where masses were, in the days of Froissart, duly said for the soul of the unfortunate pilgrim.—Cronycle of Froyssart, Vol. I. p. 123.
While Cessford owns the rule of Car.—St. VIII. p. 14.
Before Lord Cranstoun she should wed.— St. X. p. 15.
The Cranstouns, Lord Cranstoun, are an ancient Border family, whose chief seat was at Crailing in Teviotdale. They were at this time at feud with the clan of Scot; for it appears that the Lady of Buccleuch, in 1557, beset the laird of Cranstoun, seeking his life. Nevertheless the same Cranstoun, or perhaps his son, was married to a daughter of the same lady.
Of Bethune's line of Picardie.— St. XI. p. 16.
The Bethunes were of French origin, and derived their name from a small town in Artois. There were several distinguished families of the Bethunes in the neighbouring province of Picardie; they numbered among their descendants the celebrated Due de Sully; and the name was accounted among the most noble in France, while aught noble remained in that country. The family of Bethune, or Beatoun, in Fife, produced three learned and dignified prelates; namely. Cardinal Beaton, and two successive archbishops of Glasgow, all of whom flourished about the date of the romance. Of this family was descended Dame Janet Beaton, Lady Buccleuch, widow of Sir Walter Scott of Branksome. She was a woman of a masculine spirit, as appeared from her riding at the head of her son's clan after her husband's murder. She also possessed the hereditary abilities of her family in such a degree, that the superstition of the vulgar imputed them to supernatural knowledge. With this was mingled, by faction, the foul accusation of her having influenced Queen Mary to the murder of her husband. One of the placards preserved in Buchanan's Detection, accuses of Darnley's murder "the Erle Bothwell, Mr James Balfour, the persoun of Fliske Mr David Chalmers, blak Mr John Spens, wha was principal deviser of the murder; and the Quene, assenting thairto, throw the persuasioun of the Erle Bothwell, and the witchcraft of the Lady Buckcleuch."
In Padua, far beyond the sea.—St. XI. p. 16.
Padua was long supposed by the Scottish peasants to be the principal school of necromancy. The Earl of Gowrie, slain at Perth in 1600, pretended, during his studies in Italy, to have acquired some knowledge of the cabala, by which he said he could charm snakes, and work other miracles; and, in particular, could produce children without the intercourse of the sexes. See the examination of Wemyss of Bogie before the Privy Council, concerning Gowrie's conspiracy.
Upon the sunny wall!—St. XI. p. 16.
The shadow of a necromancer is independant of the sun. Glyeas informs us, that Simon Magus caused his shadow to go before him, making people believe it was an attendant spirit. Heywoon's Hierarchie, p. 475.—The vulgar conceive, that when a class of students have made a certain progress in their mystic studies, they are obliged to run through a subterraneous hall, where the devil literally catches the hindmost in the race, unless he crosses the hall so speedily, that the arch enemy can only apprehend his shadow. In the latter case, the person of the sage never after throws any shade; and those, who have thus lost their shadow, always prove the best magicians.
The viewless forms of air.—St. XII. p. 16.
The Scottish vulgar, without having any very defined notion of their attributes, believe in the existence of an intermediate class of spirits residing in the air, or in the waters; to whose agency they ascribe floods, storms, and all such phenomena as their own philosophy cannot readily explain. They are supposed to interfere in the affairs of mortals, sometimes with a malevolent purpose, and sometimes with milder views. It is said, for example, that a gallant Baron, having returned from the Holy Land to his castle of Drummelziar, found his fair lady nursing a healthy child, whose birth did not by any means correspond to the date of his departure. Such an occurrence, to the credit of the dames of the crusaders be it spoken, was so rare, as to require a miraculous solution. The lady therefore was believed, when she averred confidently, that the Spirit of the Tweed had issued from the river while she was walking upon its bank, and had compelled her to submit to his embraces; and the name of Tweedie was bestowed upon the child, who afterwards became Baron of Drummelziar, and chief of a powerful clan. To those spirits were also ascribed, in Scotland, the
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses."
When the workmen were engaged in erecting the ancient church of Old Deer, in Aberdeenshire, upon a small hill called Bissau, they were surprised to find that the work was impeded by supernatural obstacles. At length the Spirit of the River was heard to say,
That ye shall build the kirk of Deer;
But on Taptillery,
Where many a corpse shall lie.
The site of the edifice was accordingly transferred to Taptillery, an eminence at some distance from the place where the building had been commenced. Macfarlain's MSS.—I mention these popular fables, because the introduction of the River and Mountain Spirits may not at first sight seem to accord with the general tone of the romance, and the superstitions of the country where the scene is laid.
A fancied moss-trooper, &c.—St. XIX. p. 21.
This was the usual appellation of the marauders upon the Border; a profession diligently pursued by the inhabitants on both sides, and by none more actively and successfully than by Buccleugh's clan. Long after the union of the crowns, the moss-troopers, although sunk in reputation, and no longer enjoying the pretext of national hostility, continued to pursue their calling.
Fuller includes, among the wonders of Cumberland, "The moss-troopers; so strange is the condition of their living, if considered in their Original, Increase, Height, Decay, and Ruine.
1. "Original. I conceive them the same called Borderers in Mr Cambden; and characterised by him to be, a wild and warlike people. They are called Moss-troopers, because dwelling in the mosses, and riding in troops together. They dwell in the bounds, or meeting, of two kingdoms, but obey the laws of neither. They come to church as seldom as the 29th of February comes into the kalendar.
2. "Increase. When England and Scotland were united in Great Britain, they that formerly lived by hostile incursions, betook themselves to the robbing of their neighbours. Their sons are free of the trade by their fathers' copy. They are like to Job, not in piety and patience, but in suddain plenty and poverty; sometimes having flocks and herds in the morning, none at night, and perchance many again next day. They may give for their mottoe, vivitur ex rapto, stealing from their honest neighbours what they sometimes require. They are a nest of hornets; strike one, and stir all of them about your ears. Indeed, if they promise safely to conduct a traveller, they will perform it with the fidelity of a Turkish Janizary; otherwise, wo be to him that falleth into their quarters!
3. "Height. Amounting forty years since to some thousands. These compelled the vicenage to purchase their security, by paying a constant rent to them. When in their greatest height, they had two great enemies, the laws of the land, and the Lord William Howard of Naworth. He sent many of them to Carlisle, to that place, where the officer always doth his work by day-light. Yet these Moss-troopers, if possibly they could procure the pardon for a condemned person of their company, would advance great sums out of their common stock, who, in such a case, cast in their lots amongst themselves, and all have one purse.
4. "Decay. Caused by the wisdom, valour, and diligence, of the Right Honourable Charles Lord Howard, Earl of Carlisle, who routed these English tories with his regiment. His severity unto them will not only be excused, but commended, by the judicious, who consider how our great lawyer doth describe such persons who are solemnly outlawed. Bracton, lib. 3. tract. 2. cap. 11. 'Ex tunc gerunt caput lupinum, ita quod sine judiciali inquisitione rite pereant, et secum suum judicium portent; et merito sine lege pereunt qui secundum legem vivere recusarunt.' Thenceforward (after that they are outlawed) they wear a woolf's head, so that they lawfully may be destroyed, without any judicial inquisition, as who carry their own condemnation about them, and deservedly die without law, because they refused to live according to law.'
5. "Ruine. Such was the success of this worthy Lord's severity, that he made a thorough reformation amongst them; and, the ring-leaders being destroyed, the rest are reduced to legall obedience, and so, I trust, will continue." Fuller's Worthies of England, 1662, p. 216.
Should tame the Unicorn's pride,
Exalt the Crescent and the Star.—St. XIX. p. 21.
The arms of the Kerrs of Cessford were, Vert on a cheveron, betwixt three unicorns' heads erased argent, three mollets sible. Crest, an unicorn's head erased proper. The Scotts of Buccleuch bore, Or on a bend azure; a star of six points betwixt two crescents of the first.
William of Deloraine.—St. XX. p. 22.
The lands of Deloraine are adjoining to those of Buccleuch, in Ettricke Forest. They were immemorially possessed by the Buccleuch family under the strong title of occupancy, although no charter was obtained from the crown until 1545. Like other possessions, the lands of Deloraine were occasionally granted by them to vassals, or kinsmen, for Border-service. Satchells mentions, among the twenty-four gentlemen-pensioners of the family, "William Scott, commonly called Cut at the Black, who had the lands of Nether Deloraine for his service." And again, "This William of Deloraine, commonly called Cut at the Black, was a brother of the ancient house of Haining, which house of Haining is descended from the ancient house of Hassandean." The lands of Deloraine now give an Earl's title to the descendant of Henry the second, surviving son of the Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth. I have endeavoured to give William of Deloraine the attributes which characterised the Borderers of his-day; for which I can only plead Froissart's apology, that "it behoveth, in a lynage, some to be folyshe and outrageous, to maynteyne and sustayne the peasable." As a contrast to my Marchman, I beg leave to transcribe, from the same author, the speech of Amergot Marcell, a captain of the adventurous companions, a robber, and a pillager of the country of Auvergne, who had been bribed to sell his strong-holds, and to assume a more honourable military life under the banners of the Earl of Armagnac. But "when he remembred alle this, he was sorrowfull his tresour he thought he wolde not mynysshe, he was wonte dayly to serche for newe pyllages, wherbye encresed his profyte, and than he sawe that alle was closed fro' hym. Than he sayde and imagyned, that to pyll and to robbe (all thynge considered) was a good lyfe, and so repented hym of his good doing. Ona tyme, he said to his old companyons, 'Sirs, there is no sporte nor glory in this worlde amonge men of warre, but to use suche lyfe as we have done in tyme past. What a joy was it to us when we rode' forthe at adventure, and somtyme found by the way a ryche priour or merchaunt, or a route of mulettes of Mountpellyer, of Narbonne, of Lymens, of Fongans, of Besyers, of Tholous, or of Carcassone, laden with cloth of Brusselles, or peltre ware comynge fro the fayres, or laden with spycery fro Bruges, fro Damas, or fro Alysaundre: whatsoever we met, alle was ours, or els raunsomed at our pleasures: dayly we gate newe money, and the vyllaynes of Auvergne and of Lymosyn dayly provyded and brought to our castell whete mele, good wynes, beffes, and fatte mottons, pullayne and wylde foule: We were ever furnyshed as tho we had ben kings. Whan we rode forthe, alle the countrey trymbled for feare: alle was ours goynge or comynge. Howe toke we Carlast I and the Bourge of Compayne, and I and Perot of Bernoys tooke Caluset: howe dyd we scale, with lytell ayde, the strong castell of Marquell, pertayning to the Earl Dolphyn; I kept it nat past fyve days, but I receyved for it, on a feyre table, fyve thousande frankes, and forgave one thousande for the love of the Erl Dolphyn's children. By my fayth, this was a fayre and a good lyfe; wherefore I repute myselve sore desceyved, in that I have rendred up the fortres of Aloys; for it wolde have ben kept fro alle the worlde, and the daye that I gave it up, it was fournysshed with vytaylles to have been kepte seven yere without any re-vytaylynge. This Erl of Armynake hath disceyved me: Olyve Barbe, and Perot le Bernoys, shewed to me howe I shulde repente myselfe; certayne I sore repente myself of that I have done."—-Froissart, vol. ii. p. 195.
Had baffled Percy's best blood-hounds.—St. XXI. p. 22.
The kings and heroes of Scotland, as well as the Border-riders, were sometimes obliged to study how to evade the pursuit of blood-hounds. Barbour informs us, that Robert Bruce was repeatedly tracked by sleuth-dogs. On one occasion, he escaped by wading a bow-shot down a brook, and thus baffled the scent. The pursuers came up:
Bot the sleuth-hund made stinting thar,
And waueryt lang tyme ta and fra,
That he na certane gate couth ga;
Till at the last that Jhon of Lorn,
Perseuvit the hund the sleuth had lorne.
The Bruce, Buke vii.
A sure way of stopping the dog was to spill blood upon the track, which destroyed the discriminating fineness of his scent. A captive was sometimes sacrificed on such occasions. Henry the Minstrel tells a romantic story of Wallace, founded on this circumstance. The hero's little band had been joined by an Irishman, named Fawdoun, or Fadzean, a dark, savage, and suspicious character. After a sharp skirmish at Black-Erne Side, Wallace was forced to retreat with only 16 followers. The English pursued with a Border sleuth-bratch, or bloodhound.
Siker of scent, to follow them that fled;
So was she used in Eske and Liddisdail,
While (i.e. till) she gat blood no fleeing might avail.
In the retreat, Fawdoun, tired, or affected to be so, would go no farther; Wallace having in vain argued with him, in hasty anger, struck off his head, and continued his retreat. When the English came up, their hound stayed upon the dead body.
Nor farther would fra time she fund the blood.
The story concludes with a fine scene of Gothic terror. Wallace took refuge in the solitary tower of Gask. Here he was disturbed at midnight by the blast of a horn: he sent out his attendants by two and two, but no one returned with tidings. At length, when he was left alone, the sound was heard still louder. The champion descended, sword in hand; and at the gate of the tower was encountered by the headless spectre of Fawdoun, whom he had slain so rashly. Wallace, in great terror, fled up into the tower, tore open the boards of a window, leapt down fifteen feet in height, and continued his flight up the river. Looking back to Gask, he discovered the tower on fire, and the form of Fawdoun upon the battlements, dilated to immense size, and holding in his hand a blazing rafter. The Minstrel concludes,
Supposing it be no point of the creed.
The Wallace, Book fifth.
Mr Ellis has extracted this tale as a sample of Henry's poetry. Specimens of English Poetry, vol. i. p. 351.
Dimly he viewed the Moat-hill's mound.—St. XXV. p. 25.
This is a round artificial mount near Hawick, which, from its name (Mot Ang. Sax. Concilium Conventus), was probably anciently used as a place for assembling a national council of the adjacent tribe. There are many such mounds in Scotland, and they are sometimes, but rarely, of a square form.
Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.—St. XXV. p. 25.
The estate of Hazeldean, corruptly Hassendean, belonged formerly to a family of Scotts thus commemorated by Satchells.
The ancientest house among them all."
On Minto-crags the moon-beams glint.—St. XXVII. p. 26.
A romantic assemblage of cliffs, which rise suddenly above the vale of Teviot, in the immediate vicinity of the family-seat, from which Lord Minto takes his title. A small platform, on a projecting crag, commanding a most beautiful prospect, is termed Barnhills' Bed. This Barnhills is said to have been a robber or outlaw. There are remains of a strong tower beneath the rocks, where he is supposed to have dwelt, and from which he derived his name. On the summit of the crags there are the fragments of another ancient tower, in a very picturesque situation. Among the houses cast down by the Earl of Hertforde, in 1545, occur the towers of Easter Barnhills, and of Minto-crag, with Minto town and place. Sir Gilbert Elliot, father to the present Lord Minto, was the author of a beautiful pastoral song, of which the following is a more correct copy than is usually published. The poetical mantle of Sir Gilbert Elliot has descended to his family.
And all the gay haunts of my youth I forsook:
No more for Amynta fresh garlands I wove;
Ambition, I said, would soon cure me of love.
But what had my youth with ambition to do?
Why left I Amynta? Why broke I my vow?
And bid the wide world secure me from love.
Ah, fool, to imagine, that aught could subdue
A love so well-founded, a passion so true!
Ah, give me my sheep, and my sheep-hook restore,
And I'll wander from love and Amynta no more!
Poor shepherd, Amynta no more can be thine!
Thy tears all are fruitless, thy wishes are vain,
The moments neglected return not again.
Ah! what had my youth with ambition to do?
Why left I Amynta? Why broke I my vow?
Ancient Riddel's fair domain.—St. XXVIII. p. 27.
The family of Riddell have.been very long in possession of the barony called Riddell, or Ryedale, part of which still bears the latter name. Tradition carries their antiquity to a point extremely remote; and is in some degree sanctioned by the discovery of two stone coffins, one containing an earthen pot filled with ashes and arms, bearing a legible date, A.D. 727; the other dated 936, and filled with the bones of a man of gigantic size. These coffins were found in the foundations of what was, but has long ceased to be, the chapel of Riddell; and as it was argued, with plausibility, that they contained the remains of some ancestors of the family, they were deposited in the more modern place of sepulture, comparatively so termed, though built in 1110. But the following curious and authentic documents warrant most conclusively the epithet of ancient Riddell. 1st, A charter by David I. to Walter Rydale, sheriff of Roxburgh, confirming all the estates of Liliesclive, &c. of which his father, Gervasius de Rydale, died possessed. 2dly, A bull of Pope Adrian IV. confirming the will of Walter de Ridale, knight, in favour of his brother Anschittil de Ridale, dated 8th April, 1155. 3dly, A bull of Pope Alexander III., confirming the said will of Walter de Ridale, bequeathing to his brother Anschittil the lands of Liliesclive, Whettunes, &c. and ratifying the bargain betwixt Anschittil and Huctredus, concerning the church of Liliesclive, in consequence of the mediation of Malcolm II., and confirmed by a charter from that monarch. This bull is dated 17th June, 1160. 4thly, A bull of the same Pope, confirming the will of Sir Anschittil de Ridale, in favour of his son Walter, conveying the said lands of Liliesclive and others, dated 10th March, 1120. It is remarkable, that Liliesclive, otherwise Rydale, or Riddel, and the Whittunes, have descended, through a long train of ancestors, without ever passing into a collateral line, to the person of Sir John Buchanan Riddell, bart. of Riddell, the lineal descendant and representative of Sir Anschittel. These circumstances appeared worthy of notice in a Border work.
As glanced his eye o'er Halidon.—St. XXX. p. 28.
Halidon was an ancient seat of the Kerrs of Cessford, now demolished. About a quarter of a mile to the northward lay the field of battle betwixt Buccleuch and Angus, which is called to this day the Skirmish Field. See the fourth note on this Canto.
Old Melros' rose, and fair Tweed ran.—St. XXXI. p. 29.
The ancient and beautiful monastery of Melrose was founded by King David I. Its ruins afford the finest specimen of Gothic architecture, and Gothic sculpture, which Scotland can boast. The stone, of which it is built, though it has resisted the weather for so many ages, retains perfect sharpness, so that even the most minute ornaments seem as entire as when newly wrought. In some of the cloisters, as is hinted in the next Canto, there are representations of flowers, vegetables, &c. carved in stone, with accuracy and precision so delicate, that we almost distrust our senses when we consider the difficulty of subjecting so hard a substance to such intricate and exquisite modulation. This superb convent was dedicated to St Mary, and the monks were of the Cistercian order. At the time of the Reformation, they shared in the general reproach of sensuality and irregularity thrown upon the Roman churchmen. The old words of Galashiels, a favourite Scottish air, ran thus:
On Fridays when they fasted;
They never wanted beef nor ale
As long as their neighbour's lasted.
- Branxholm is the proper name of the barony; but Branksome has been adopted as suitable to the pronunciation, and more proper for poetry.
- There are no vestiges of any building at Buccleuch, except the site of a chapel, where, according to a tradition current in the time of Scott of Satchells, many of the ancient barons of Buccleuch lie buried. There is also said to have been a mill near this solitary spot; an extraordinary circumstance, as little or no corn grows within several miles of Buccleuch. Satchells says it was used to grind corn for the hounds of the chieftain.
- Room, portion of land.
- Darnwick, near Melrose. The place of conflict is still called Skinners' Field, from a corruption of Skirmish Field.
- The name is spelled differently by the various families who bear it. Car is selected, not as the most correct, but as the most poetical reading.
- Kale, Broth.