Walter Scott.

Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Volume 2 Consisting of Historical and Romantic Ballads, Collected in The Southern Counties of Scotland; with a Few of Modern Date, Founded Upon Local Tradition online

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"Or dared the deadly sin?
"Wha was sae stout, and feared nae dout,
"As thraw ye o'er the linn?"

"Young Benjie was the first ae man
"I laid my love upon;
"He was sae stout and proud-hearted,
"He threw me o'er the linn."

"Sall we young Benjie head, sister,
"Sall we young Benjie hang,
"Or sall we pike out his twa gray een,
"And punish him ere he gang?"

"Ye mauna Benjie head, brothers,
"Ye mauna Benjie hang,
"But ye maun pike out his twa gray een,
"And punish him ere he gang.

"Tie a green gravat round his neck,
"And lead him out and in,
"And the best ae servant about your house
"To wait young Benjie on.

"And ay, at every seven year's end,
"Ye'll tak him to the linn;
"For that's the penance he maun drie,
"To scug[E] his deadly sin."

[Footnote A: _Plea_ - Used obliquely for _dispute_.]

[Footnote B: _Stout_ - Through this whole ballad, signifies _haughty_.]

[Footnote C: _Sets ye_ - Becomes you - ironical.]

[Footnote D: _Dang_ - defeated.]

[Footnote E: _Scug_ - shelter or expiate.]


This ballad was communicated to me by Mr Kirkpatrick Sharpe of Hoddom,
who mentions having copied it from an old magazine. Although it has
probably received some modern corrections, the general turn seems to
be ancient, and corresponds with that of a fragment, containing the
following verses, which I have often heard sung in my childhood: -

She set her back against a thorn,
And there she has her young son borne;
"O smile nae sae, my bonny babe!
"An ye smile sae sweet, ye'll smile me dead."

* * * * *

An' when that lady went to the church,
She spied a naked boy in the porch,

"O bonnie boy, an' ye were mine,
"I'd clead ye in the silks sae fine."
"O mither dear, when I was thine,
"To me ye were na half sae kind."

* * * * *

Stories of this nature are very common in the annals of popular
superstition. It is, for example, currently believed in Ettrick Forest,
that a libertine, who had destroyed fifty-six inhabited houses, in order
to throw the possessions of the cottagers into his estate, and who added
to this injury, that of seducing their daughters, was wont to commit, to
a carrier in the neighbourhood, the care of his illegitimate children,
shortly after they were born. His emissary regularly carried them away,
but they were never again heard of. The unjust and cruel gains of the
profligate laird were dissipated by his extravagance, and the ruins of
his house seem to bear witness to the truth of the rhythmical prophecies
denounced against it, and still current among the peasantry. He himself
died an untimely death; but the agent of his amours and crimes survived
to extreme old age. When on his death-bed, he seemed much oppressed in
mind, and sent for a clergyman to speak peace to his departing spirit:
but, before the messenger returned, the man was in his last agony;
and the terrified assistants had fled from his cottage, unanimously
averring, that the wailing of murdered infants had ascended from behind
his couch, and mingled with the groans of the departing sinner.


Fair lady Anne sate in her bower,
Down by the greenwood side,
And the flowers did spring, and the birds did sing,
'Twas the pleasant May-day tide.

But fair lady Anne on sir William call'd,
With the tear grit in her e'e,
"O though thou be fause, may heaven thee guard,
"In the wars ayont the sea!"

Out of the wood came three bonnie boys,
Upon the simmer's morn,
And they did sing, and play at the ba',
As naked as they were born.

"O seven lang year was I sit here,
"Amang the frost and snaw,
"A' to hae but ane o' these bonnie boys,
"A playing at the ba'."

Then up and spake the eldest boy,
"Now listen, thou fair ladie!
"And ponder well the read that I tell,
"Then make ye a choice of the three.

"'Tis I am Peter, and this is Paul,
"And that are, sae fair to see,
"But a twelve-month sinsyne to paradise came,
"To join with our companie."

"O I will hae the snaw-white boy,
"The bonniest of the three."
"And if I were thine, and in thy propine,[A]
"O what wad ye do to me?"

"'Tis I wad clead thee in silk and gowd,
"And nourice thee on my knee."
"O mither! mither! when I was thine,
"Sic kindness I could na see.

"Before the turf, where I now stand,
"The fause nurse buried me;
"Thy cruel penknife sticks still in my heart,
"And I come not back to thee."

[Footnote A: _Propine_ - Usually gift, but here the power of giving or

* * * * *


This ballad was communicated to me by Mr James Hogg; and, although it
bears a strong resemblance to that of _Earl Richard_, so strong, indeed,
as to warrant a supposition, that the one has been derived from the
other, yet its intrinsic merit seems to warrant its insertion. Mr Hogg
has added the following note, which, in the course of my enquiries, I
have found most fully corroborated.

"I am fully convinced of the antiquity of this song; for, although much
of the language seems somewhat modernized, this must be attributed
to its currency, being much liked, and very much sung, in this
neighbourhood. I can trace it back several generations, but cannot
hear of its ever having been in print. I have never heard it with any
considerable variation, save that one reciter called the dwelling of the
feigned sweetheart, _Castleswa_."


Lord William was the bravest knight
That dwait in fair Scotland,
And, though renowned in France and Spain,
Fell by a ladie's hand.

As she was walking maid alone,
Down by yon shady wood.
She heard a smit[A] o' bridle reins,
She wish'd might be for good.

"Come to my arms, my dear Willie,
"You're welcome hame to me;
"To best o' chear and charcoal red,[B]
"And candle burnin' free."

"I winna light, I darena light,
"Nor come to your arms at a';
"A fairer maid than ten o' you,
"I'll meet at Castle-law."

"A fairer maid than me, Willie!
"A fairer maid than me!
"A fairer maid than ten o' me,
"Your eyes did never see."

He louted owr his saddle lap,
To kiss her ere they part,
And wi' a little keen bodkin,
She pierced him to the heart.

"Ride on, ride on, lord William, now,
"As fast as ye can dree!
"Your bonny lass at Castle-law
"Will weary you to see."

Out up then spake a bonny bird,
Sat high upon a tree, -
How could you kill that noble lord?
"He came to marry thee."

"Come down, come down, my bonny bird,
"And eat bread aff my hand!
"Your cage shall be of wiry goud,
"Whar now its but the wand."

"Keep ye your cage o' goud, lady,
"And I will keep my tree;
"As ye hae done to lord William.,
"Sae wad ye do to me."

She set her foot on her door step,
A bonny marble stane;
And carried him to her chamber,
O'er him to make her mane.

And she has kept that good lord's corpse
Three quarters of a year,
Until that word began to spread,
Then she began to fear.

Then she cried on her waiting maid,
Ay ready at her ca';
"There is a knight unto my bower,
"'Tis time he were awa."

The ane has ta'en him by the head,
The ither by the feet,
And thrown him in the wan water,
That ran baith wide and deep.

"Look back, look back, now, lady fair,
"On him that lo'ed ye weel!
"A better man than that blue corpse
"Ne'er drew a sword of steel."

[Footnote A: _Smit_ - Clashing noise, from smite - hence also _(perhaps)_
Smith and Smithy.]

[Footnote B: _Charcoal red_ - This circumstance marks the antiquity of
the poem. While wood was plenty in Scotland, charcoal was the usual fuel
in the chambers of the wealthy.]


The concluding verses of this ballad were inserted in the copy of
_Tamlane_, given to the public in the first edition of this work. They
are now restored to their proper place. Considering how very apt the
most accurate reciters are to patch up one ballad with verses from
another, the utmost caution cannot always avoid such errors.

A more sanguine antiquary than the editor might perhaps endeavour to
identify this poem, which is of undoubted antiquity, with the _"Broom
Broom on Hill,"_ mentioned by Lane, in his _Progress of Queen Elizabeth
into Warwickshire_, as forming part of Captain's Cox's collection,
so much envied by the black-letter antiquaries of the present
day. - _Dugdale's Warwickshire,_ p. 166. The same ballad is quoted by one
of the personages, in a "very mery and pythie comedie," called _"The
longer thou livest, the more fool thou art."_ See Ritson's Dissertation,
prefixed to _Ancient Songs,_ p. lx. "Brume brume on hill," is also
mentioned in the _Complayat of Scotland_. See Leyden's edition, p. 100.


There was a knight and a lady bright,
Had a true tryste at the broom;
The ane ga'ed early in the morning,
The other in the afternoon.

And ay she sat in her mother's bower door,
And ay she made her mane,
"Oh whether should I gang to the Broomfield hill,
"Or should I stay at hame?

"For if I gang to the Broomfield hill,
"My maidenhead is gone;
"And if I chance to stay at hame,
"My love will ca' me mansworn."

Up then spake a witch woman,
Ay from the room aboon;
"O, ye may gang to the Broomfield hill,
"And yet come maiden hame.

"For, when ye gang to the Broomfield hill,
"Ye'll find your love asleep,
"With a silver-belt about his head,
"And a broom-cow at his feet.

"Take ye the blossom of the broom,
"The blossom it smells sweet,
"And strew it at your true love's head,
"And likewise at his feet.

"Take ye the rings off your fingers,
"Put them on his right hand,
"To let him know, when he doth awake,
"His love was at his command."

She pu'd the broom flower on Hive-hill,
And strew'd on's white hals bane,
And that was to be wittering true,
That maiden she had gane.

"O where were ye, my milk-white steed,
"That I hae coft sae dear,
"That wadna watch and waken me,
"When there was maiden here?"

"I stamped wi' my foot, master,
"And gar'd my bridle ring;
"But na kin' thing wald waken ye,
"Till she was past and gane."

"And wae betide ye, my gay goss hawk,
"That I did love sae dear,
"That wadna watch and waken me,
"When there was maiden here."

"I clapped wi' my wings, master,
"And aye my bells I rang,
"And aye cry'd, waken, waken, master,
"Before the ladye gang."

"But haste and haste, my good white steed,
"To come the maiden till,
"Or a' the birds, of gude green wood,
"Of your flesh shall have their fill."

"Ye need na burst your good white steed,
"Wi' racing o'er the howm;
"Nae bird flies faster through the wood,
"Than she fled through the broom."


_This Ballad was communicated to the Editor by Mr_ HAMILTON,
_Music-seller, Edinburgh, with whose Mother it had been a, favourite.
Two verses and one line were wanting, which are here supplied from a
different Ballad, having a plot somewhat similar. These verses are the
6th and 9th._

'Twas on a night, an evening bright,
When the dew began to fa',
Lady Margaret was walking up and down,
Looking o'er her castle wa'.

She looked east, and she looked west,
To see what she could spy,
When a gallant knight came in her sight,
And to the gate drew nigh.

"You seem to be no gentleman,
"You wear your boots so wide;
"But you seem to be some cunning hunter,
"You wear the horn so syde."[A]

"I am no cunning hunter," he said,
"Nor ne'er intend to be;
"But I am come to this castle
"To seek the love of thee;
"And if you do not grant me love,
"This night for thee I'll die."

"If you should die for me, sir knight,
"There's few for you will mane,
"For mony a better has died for me,
"Whose graves are growing green.

"But ye maun read my riddle," she said,
"And answer my questions three;
"And but ye read them right," she said,
"Gae stretch ye out and die. -

"Now, what is the flower, the ae first flower,
"Springs either on moor or dale?
"And what is the bird, the bonnie bonnie bird,
"Sings on the evening gale?"

"The primrose is the ae first flower,
"Springs either on moor or dale;
"And the thistlecock is the bonniest bird;
"Sings on the evening gale."

"But what's the little coin," she said,
"Wald buy my castle bound?
"And what's the little boat," she said,
"Can sail the world all round?"

"O hey, how mony small pennies
"Make thrice three thousand pound?
"Or hey, how mony small fishes
"Swim a' the salt sea round."

"I think you maun be my match," she said,
"My match, and something mair;
"You are the first e'er got the grant
Of love frae my father's heir.

"My father was lord of nine castles,
"My mother lady of three;
"My father was lord of nine castles,
"And there's nane to heir but me.

"And round about a' thae castles,
"You may baith plow and saw,
"And on the fifteenth day of May,
"The meadows they will maw."

"O hald your tongue, lady Margaret," he said,
"For loud I hear you lie!
"Your father was lord of nine castles,
"Your mother was lady of three;
"Your father was lord of nine castles,
"But ye fa' heir to but three.

"And round about a' thae castles,
"You may baith plow and saw,
"But on the fifteenth day of May
"The meadows will not maw.

"I am your brother Willie," he said,
"I trow ye ken na me;
"I came to humble your haughty heart,
"Has gar'd sae mony die."

"If ye be my brother Willie," she said,
"As I trow weel ye be,
"This night I'll neither eat nor drink,
"But gae alang wi' thee."

"O hold your tongue, lady Margaret," he said.
"Again I hear you lie;
"For ye've unwashen hands, and ye've unwashen feet,[B]
"To gae to clay wi' me.

"For the wee worms are my bedfellows,
"And cauld clay is my sheets;
"And when the stormy winds do blow,
"My body lies and sleeps."

[Footnote A: _Syde_ - Long or low.]

[Footnote B: _Unwashen hands and unwashen feet_ - Alluding to the custom
of washing and dressing dead bodies.]


_The beautiful air of Cowdenknows is well known and popular. In Ettrick
Forest the following words are uniformly adapted to the tune, and seem
to be the original ballad. An edition of this pastoral tale, differing
considerably from the present copy, was published by Mr_ HERD, _in 1772.
Cowdenknows is situated upon the river Leader, about four miles from
Melrose, and is now the property of Dr_ HUME.

O the broom, and the bonny bonny broom,
And the broom of the Cowdenknows!
And aye sae sweet as the lassie sang,
I' the bought, milking the ewes.

The hills were high on ilka side,
An' the bought i' the lirk o' the hill,
And aye, as she sang, her voice it rang
Out o'er the head o' yon hill.

There was a troop o' gentlemen
Came riding merrilie by,
And one of them has rode out o' the way,
To the bought to the bonny may.

"Weel may ye save an' see, bonny lass,
"An' weel may ye save an' see."
"An' sae wi' you, ye weel-bred knight,"
"And what's your will wi' me?"

"The night is misty and mirk, fair may,
"And I have ridden astray,
"And will ye be so kind, fair may,
"As come out and point my way?"

"Ride out, ride out, ye ramp rider!
"Your steed's baith stout and strang;
"For out of the bought I dare na come,
"For fear 'at ye do me wrang."

"O winna ye pity me, bonny lass,
"O winna ye pity me?
"An' winna ye pity my poor steed,
"Stands trembling at yon tree?"

"I wadna pity your poor steed,
"Tho' it were tied to a thorn;
"For if ye wad gain my love the night,
"Ye wad slight me ere the morn.

"For I ken you by your weel-busked hat,
"And your merrie twinkling e'e,
"That ye're the laird o' the Oakland hills,
"An' ye may weel seem for to be."

"But I am not the laird o' the Oakland hills,
"Ye're far mista'en o' me;
"But I'm are o' the men about his house,
"An' right aft in his companie."

He's ta'en her by the middle jimp,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
He's lifted her over the fauld dyke,
And speer'd at her sma' leave.

O he's ta'en out a purse o' gowd,
And streek'd her yellow hair,
"Now, take ye that, my bonnie may,
"Of me till you hear mair."

O he's leapt on his berry-brown steed,
An' soon he's o'erta'en his men;
And ane and a' cried out to him,
"O master, ye've tarry'd lang!"

"O I hae been east, and I hae been west,
"An' I hae been far o'er the know,
"But the bonniest lass that ever I saw
"Is i'the bought milking the ewes."

She set the cog[A] upon her head,
An' she's gane singing hame -
"O where hae ye been, my ae daughter?
"Ye hae na been your lane."

"O nae body was wi' me, father,
"O nae body has been wi' me;
"The night is misty and mirk, father,
"Ye may gang to the door and see.

"But wae be to your ewe-herd, father,
"And an ill deed may he die;
"He bug the bought at the back o' the know,
"And a tod[B] has frighted me.

"There came a tod to the bought-door,
"The like I never saw;
"And ere he had tane the lamb he did,
"I had lourd he had ta'en them a'."

O whan fifteen weeks was come and gane,
Fifteen weeks and three.
That lassie began to look thin and pale,
An' to long for his merry twinkling e'e.

It fell on a day, on a het simmer day,
She was ca'ing out her father's kye,
By came a troop o' gentlemen,
A' merrilie riding bye.

"Weel may ye save an' see, bonny may,
"Weel may ye save and see!
"Weel I wat, ye be a very bonny may,
"But whae's aught that babe ye are wi'?"

Never a word could that lassie say,
For never a ane could she blame,
An' never a word could the lassie say,
But "I have a good man at hame."

"Ye lied, ye lied, my very bonny may,
"Sae loud as I hear you lie;
"For dinna ye mind that misty night
"I was i' the bought wi' thee?

"I ken you by your middle sae jimp,
"An' your merry twinkling e'e,
"That ye're the bonny lass i'the Cowdenknow,
"An' ye may weel seem for to be."

Than he's leap'd off his berry-brown steed,
An' he's set that fair may on -
"Caw out your kye, gude father, yoursell,
"For she's never caw them out again.

"I am the laird of the Oakland hills,
"I hae thirty plows and three;
"Ah' I hae gotten the bonniest lass
"That's in a' the south country.

[Footnote A: _Cog_ - Milking-pail.]

[Footnote B: _Tod_ - Fox.]


There is a beautiful air to this old ballad. The hero is more generally
termed _Lord Ronald;_ but I willingly follow the authority of an Ettrick
Forest copy for calling him _Randal;_ because, though the circumstances
are so very different, I think it not impossible, that the ballad may
have originally regarded the death of Thomas Randolph, or Randal, earl
of Murray, nephew to Robert Bruce, and governor of Scotland. This great
warrior died at Musselburgh, 1332, at the moment when his services were
most necessary to his country, already threatened by an English army.
For this sole reason, perhaps, our historians obstinately impute his
death to poison. See _The Bruce_, book xx. Fordun repeats, and Boece
echoes, this story, both of whom charge the murder on Edward III. But it
is combated successfully by Lord Hailes, in his _Remarks on the History
of Scotland_.

The substitution of some venomous reptile for food, or putting it into
liquor, was anciently supposed to be a common mode of administering
poison; as appears from the following curious account of the death of
King John, extracted from a MS. Chronicle of England, _penes_ John
Clerk, esq. advocate. "And, in the same tyme, the pope sente into
Englond a legate, that men cald Swals, and he was prest cardinal of
Rome, for to mayntene King Johnes cause agens the barons of Englond; but
the barons had so much pte (_poustie_, i.e. power) through Lewys, the
kinges sone of Fraunce, that King Johne wist not wher for to wend ne
gone: and so hitt fell, that he wold have gone to Suchold; and as he
went thedurward, he come by the abbey of Swinshed, and ther he abode II
dayes. And, as he sate at meat, he askyd a monke of the house, how moche
a lofe was worth, that was before hym sete at the table? and the monke
sayd that loffe was worthe bot ane halfpenny. 'O!' quod the kyng, 'this
is a grette cheppe of brede; now,' said the king, 'and yff I may, such a
loffe shalle be worth xxd. or half a yer be gone:' and when he said the
word, muche he thought, and ofte tymes sighed, and nome and ete of the
bred, and said, 'By Gode, the word that I have spokyn shall be sothe.'
The monke, that stode befor the kyng, was ful sory in his hert; and
thought rather he wold himself suffer peteous deth; and thought yff
he myght ordeyn therfore sum remedy. And anon the monke went unto his
abbott, and was schryvyd of him, and told the abbott all that the kyng
said, and prayed his abbott to assoyl him, for he wold gyffe the kyng
such a wassayle, that all Englond shuld be glad and joyful therof. Tho
went the monke into a gardene, and fond a tode therin; and toke her upp,
and put hyr in a cuppe, and filled it with good ale, and pryked hyr in
every place, in the cuppe, till the venome come out in every place; an
brought hitt befor the kyng, and knelyd, and said, 'Sir, wassayle; for
never in your lyfe drancke ye of such a cuppe,' 'Begyne, monke,' quod
the king; and the monke dranke a gret draute, and toke the kyng the
cuppe, and the kyng also drank a grett draute, and set downe the
cuppe. - The monke anon went to the Farmarye, and ther dyed anon, on
whose soule God have mercy, Amen. And v monkes syng for his soule
especially, and shall while the abbey stondith. The kyng was anon ful
evil at ese, and comaunded to remove the table, and askyd after the
monke; and men told him that he was ded, for his wombe was broke in
sondur. When the king herd this tidyng, he comaunded for to trusse; but
all hit was for nought, for his bely began to swelle for the drink that
he dranke, that he dyed within II dayes, the moro aftur Seynt Luke's

A different account of the poisoning of King John is given in a MS.
Chronicle of England, written in the minority of Edward III., and
contained in the Auchinleck MS. of Edinburgh. Though not exactly to our
present purpose, the passage is curious, and I shall quote it without
apology. The author has mentioned the interdict laid on John's kingdom
by the pope, and continues thus:

He was ful wroth and grim,
For no prest wald sing for him
He made tho his parlement,
And swore his _croy de verament_,
That he shuld make such assaut,
To fede all Inglonde with a spand.
And eke with a white lof,
Therefore I hope[A] he was God-loth.
A monk it herd of Swines-heued,
And of this wordes he was adred,
He went hym to his fere,
And seyd to hem in this manner;
"The king has made a sori oth,
That he schal with a white lof
Fede al Inglonde, and with a spand,
Y wis it were a sori saut;
And better is that we die to,
Than al Inglond be so wo.
Ye schul for me belles ring,
And after wordes rede and sing;
So helpe you God, heven king,
Granteth me alle now mill asking,
And Ichim wil with puseoun slo,
Ne schal he never Inglond do wo."

His brethren him graunt alle his bone.
He let him shrive swithe sone,
To make his soule fair and cleue,
To for our leuedi heven queen,
That sche schuld for him be,
To for her son in trinité.

Dansimond zede and gadred frut,
For sothe were plommes white,
The steles[B] he puld out everichon,
Puisoun he dede therin anon,
And sett the steles al ogen,
That the gile schuld nought be sen.
He dede hem in a coupe of gold,
And went to the kinges bord;
On knes he him sett,
The king full fair he grett;
"Sir," he said, "by Seynt Austin,
This is front of our garden,
And gif that your wil be,
Assayet herof after me."
Dansimoud ete frut, on and on,
And al tho other ete King Jon;

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