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which terminated so unfortunately for the cause

of Charles, commenced under very different
auspices. Prince Rupert had marched with an
army of twenty thousand men for the relief of
York, then besieged by Sir Thomas Fairfax, at
the head of the Parliamentary army, and the
Earl of Leven, with the Scottish auxiliary
forces. In this he so completely succeeded,
that he compelled the besiegers to retreat to
Marston Moor, a large open plain, about eight
miles distant from the city. Thither they were
followed by the Prince, who had now united to
his army the garrison of York, probably not
less than ten thousand men strong, under the
gallant Marquis (then Earl) of Newcastle.

Lord Clarendon informs us that the King,
previous to receiving the true account of the
battle, had been informed, by an express from
Oxford, " that Prince Rupert had not only
relieved York, but totally defeated the Scots,
with many particulars to confirm it, all which
was so much believed there, that they had
made public fires of joy for the victory."

19. Monckton and Mitton told the news, etc.
Monckton and Mitton are villages near the
river Ouse, and not very distant from the field
of battle. The particulars of the action were
violently disputed at the time.

19. Stout Cromwell has redeemed the day.
Cromwell, with his regiment of cuirassiers, had
a principal share in turning the fate of the day
at Marston Moor ; which was equally matter
of triumph to the Independents, and of grief
and heart-burning to the Presbyterians and to
the Scottish.

20. Of Percy Rede the tragic song, etc. In a
poem, entitled The Lay of the Reedwater Min-
strel, Newcastle, 1809, this tale, with many others
peculiar to the valley of the Reed, is com-
memorated : " The particulars of the tradi-
tional story of Parcy Keed of Troughend, and
the Halls of Girsonfield, the author had from
a descendant of the family of Reed. From his
account, it appears that Percival Reed, Esquire,
a keeper of Reedsdale, was betrayed by the
Halls (hence denominated the false-hearted
Ha's) to a band of mosstroopers of the name
of Crosier, who slew him at Batinghope, near
the source of the Reed.

"The Halls were, after the murder of Parcy
Reed, held in such universal abhorrence and
contempt by the inhabitants of Reedsdale, for
their cowardly and treacherous behavior, that
they were obliged to leave the country." In
another passage we are informed that the ghost
of the injured Borderer is supposed to haunt
the banks of a brook called the Pringle. These
Redes of Troughend were a very ancient family,
as may be conjectured from their deriving their
surname from the river on which they had their
mansion. An epitaph on one of their tombs
affirms that the family held their lands of
Troughend, which are situated on the Reed,
nearly opposite to Otterburn, for the incredible
space of nine hundred years.

20. And near the spot that gave me name, etc.
Risingham, upon the river Reed, near the beau-
tiful hamlet of Woodburn, is an ancient Roman



station, formerly called Habitancum. Camden
says, that in his time the popular account
bore that it had been the abode of a deity, or
giant, called Magon; and appeals, in support
of this tradition, as well as to the etymology of
Risingham, or Reisenham, which signifies, in
German, the habitation of the giants, to two
Roman altars taken out of the river, inscribed
Deo Mogonti Cadenorum. About half a
mile distant from Risingham, upon an emi-
nence covered with scattered birch-trees and
fragments of rock, there is cut upon a large
rock, in alto relievo, a remarkable figure, called
Robin of Risingham, or Robin of Redesdale.
It presents a hunter, with his bow raised in one
hand, and in the other what seems to be a hare.
There is a quiver at the back of the figure, and
he is dressed in a long coat, or kirtle, coming
down to the knees, and meeting close, with a
girdle bound round him. Dr. Horseley, who
saw all monuments of antiquity with Roman
eyes, inclines to think this figure a Roman
archer ; and certainly the bow is rather of the
ancient size than of that which was so formi-
dable in the hand of the English archers of the
middle ages. But the rudeness of the whole
figure prevents our founding strongly upon
mere inaccuracy of proportion. The popular
tradition is, that it represents a giant, whose
brother resided at Woodburn, and he himself
at Risingham. It adds, that they subsisted by
hunting, and that one of them, finding the
game become too scarce to support them,
poisoned his companion, in whose memory the
monument was engraved.

21. The statutes of the Buccaneer. The " stat-
utes of the Buccaneers " were, in reality, more
equitable than could have been expected from
the state of society under which they had been
formed. They chiefly related, as may readily
be conjectured, to the distribution and the in-
heritance of their plunder.

When the expedition was completed, the
fund of prize-money acquired was thrown to-
gether, each party taking his oath that he had
retained or concealed no part of the common
stock. If any one transgressed in this impor-
tant particular, the punishment was, his being
set ashore on some desert key or island, to shift
for himself as he could. The owners of the
vessel had then their share assigned for the ex-
of the outfit. These were generally old
pirates, settled at Tobago, Jamaica, St. Do-
mingo, «>r some other French or English settle-
ment. The surgeon's and carpenter's salaries,
with the price of provisions and ammunition,
were also defrayed. Then followed the com-
pensation due to the maimed and wounded,
rated according to the damage they had sus-
tained ; as six hundred pieces of eight, or six
slaves, for the loss of an arm or leg, and so in
proportion. The remainder of the booty was
divided into as many shares as there were Buc-
The commander could only lay claim
to a single share, as the rest ; but they compli-
ment, -d him with two or three, in proportion as
he had acquitted himself to their satisfaction.


2. The course of Tees. The view from Bar-
nard Castle commands the rich and magnificent
valley of Tees. Immediately adjacent to the
river, the banks are very thickly wooded ; at a
little distance they are more open and culti-
vated ; but, being interspersed with hedge-
rows, and with isolated trees of great size
and age, they still retain the richness of wood-
land scenery. The river itself flows in a deep
trench of solid rock, chiefly limestone and

4. Eglistoris gray ruins. The ruins of this
abbey, or priory, are beautifully situated upon
the angle formed by a little dell called Thors-
gill at its junction with the Tees. Egliston
was dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint John the
Baptist, and is supposed to have been founded
by Ralph de Multon about the end of Henry
the Second's reign.

5. Raised by that Legion loitg renowned, etc.
Close behind the George Inn at Greta Bridge,
there is a well-preserved Roman encampment,
surrounded with a triple ditch, lying between
the river Greta and a brook called the Tutta.
The four entrinces are easily to be discerned.
Very many Roman altars and monuments have
been found in the vicinity.

6. Rokeby's turrets high. This ancient manor
long gave name to a family by whom it is said
to have been possessed from the Conquest
downward, and who are at different times dis-
tinguished in history. It was the Baron of
Rokeby who finally defeated the insurrection of
the Earl of Northumberland, tempore Hen. IV.
The Rokeby, or Rokesby family, continued
to be distinguished until the great Civil War,
when, having embraced the cause of Charles
I., they suffered severely by fines and con-

7. A stern and lone, yet lovely road, etc.
What follows is an attempt to describe the
romantic glen, or rather ravine, through which
the Greta finds a passage between Rokeby and
Mortham; the former situated upon the left
bank of Greta, the latter on the right bank,
about half a mile nearer to its junction with
the Tees. The river runs with very great
rapidity over a bed of solid rock, broken by
many shelving descents, down which the stream
dashes with great noise and impetuosity.

1 1 . How whistle rash bids tempests roar. That
this is a general superstition, is well known to
all who have been on shipboard, or who have
conversed with seamen.

II. Of Erich's cap and Elmo's light. " This
Ericus, King of Sweden, in his time was held
second to none in the magical art ; and he was
so familiar with the evil spirits, which he ex-
ceedingly adored, that which way soever he
turned his cap, the wind would presently blow
that way. From this occasion he was 'called
Windy Cap ; and manv men believed that Reg-
nerus, King of Denmark, by the conduct of this
Ericus, who was his nephew, did happily ex-
tend his piracy into the most remote parts of



the earth, and conquered many countries and
fenced cities by his cunning, and at last was
his coadjutor ; that by the consent of the no-
bles, he should be chosen King of Sweden,
which continued a long time with him very
happily, until he died of old age " (Olaus Mag-
mis, p. 45).

11. The Demon Frigate. This is an allusion
to a well-known nautical superstition concerning
a fantastic vessel, called by sailors the " Flying
Dutchman," and supposed to be seen about the
latitude of the Cape of Good Hope. She is
distinguished from earthly vessels by bearing a
press of sail when all others are unable, from
stress of weather, to show an inch of canvas.
The cause of her wandering is not altogether
certain ; but the general account is, that she
was originally a vessel loaded with great wealth,
on board of which some horrid act of murder
and piracy had been committed ; that the plague
broke out among the wicked crew who had per-
petrated the crime, and that they sailed in vain
from port to port, offering, as the price of shel-
ter, the whole of their ill-gotten wealth ; that
they were excluded from every harbor, for fear
of the contagion which was devouring them ;
and that, as a punishment of their crimes, the
apparition of the ship still continues to haunt
those seas in which the catastrophe took place,
and is considered by the mariners as the worst
of all possible omens.

12. By some desert isle or key. What con-
tributed much to the security of the Buccaneers
about the Windward Islands was the great num-
ber of little islets, called in that country keys.
These are small sandy patches, appearing just
above the surface of the ocean, covered only
with a few bushes and weeds, but sometimes
affording springs of water, and, in general,
much frequented by turtle. Such little unin-
habited spots afforded the pirates good har-
bours, either for refitting or for the purpose of
ambush ; they were occasionally the hiding-
place of their treasure, and often afforded a
shelter to themselves.

16. Before the gate of Mortham stood. The
castle of Mortham, which Leland terms " Mr.
Rokesby's Place, in ripa citer, scant a quarter
•of a mile from Greta Bridge, and not a quarter
of a mile beneath into Tees," is a picturesque
tower, surrounded by buildings of different ages,
now converted into a farm-house and offices.
The situation of Mortham is eminently beauti-
ful, occupying a high bank, at the bottom of
which the Greta winds out of the dark, narrow,
and romantic 'dell, which the text has attempted
to describe, and flows onward through a more
open valley to meet the Tees about a quarter
of a mile from the castle.

18. There dig, and tomb your precious heap,
etc. If time did not permit the Buccaneers to
lavish away their plunder in their usual de-
baucheries, they were wont to hide it, with
many superstitious solemnities, in the desert
islands and keys which they frequented, and
where much treasure, whose lawless owners
perished without reclaiming it, is still supposed

to be concealed. They killed a Negro or Span-
iard, and buried him with the treasure, believ-
ing that his spirit would haunt the spot, and
terrify away all intruders. I cannot produce
any other authority on which this custom is
ascribed to them than that of maritime tradi-
tion, which is, however, amply sufficient for the
purposes of poetry.

19. And force him as by magic spell, etc. All
who are conversant with the administration of
criminal justice must remember many occa-
sions in which malefactors appear to have con-
ducted themselves with a species of infatuation,
either by making unnecessary confidences re-
specting their guilt, or by sudden and involun-
tary allusions to circumstances by which it could
not fail to be exposed. A remarkable instance
occurred in the celebrated case of Eugene Aram.'
It happened to the author himself, while con-
versing with a person accused of an atrocious
crime, for the purpose of rendering him profes-
sional assistance upon his trial, to hear the pris-
oner, after the most solemn and reiterated
protestations that he was guiltless, suddenly,
and, as it were, involuntarily, in the course of
his communications, make such an admission as
was altogether incompatible with innocence.

28. Brackenbury's dismal tower. This tower
is situated near the northeastern extremity of
the wall which encloses Barnard Castle, and is
traditionally said to have been the prison.

31. Right heavy shall his ransom be, etc. After
the battle of Marston Moor, the Earl of New-
castle retired beyond sea in disgust, and many
of his followers laid down their arms and made
the best composition they could with the Com-
mittees of Parliament. Fines were imposed
upon them in proportion to their estates and de-
grees of delinquency, and these fines were often
bestowed upon such persons as had deserved
well of the Commons. In some circumstances
it happened that the oppressed cavaliers were
fain to form family alliances with some power-
ful person among the triumphant party.


2. In Redesdale his youth had heard, etc. The
inhabitants of the valleys of Tyne and Reed
were, in ancient times, so inordinately addicted
to these depredations, that in 1564 the Incor-
porated Merchant-adventurers of Newcastle
made a law that none born in these districts
should be admitted apprentice. The inhab-
itants are stated to be so generally addicted to
rapine that no faith should be reposed in those
proceeding from " such lewde and wicked pro-
genitors." This regulation continued to stand
unrepealed until 1771. A beggar, in an old
play, describes himself as " born in Redesdale,
in Northumberland, and come of a wight-riding
surname called the Robsons, good honest men
and true, saving a little shifting for their living,
God help them ! " — a description which would
have applied to most Borderers on both sides.



Reidswair, famed for a skirmish to which it
gives name, is on the very edge of the Carter-
fell, which divides England from Scotland.
The Rooken is a place upon Reedwater.

4. Hiding his face, lest foemen spy, etc. After
one of the recent battles, in which the Irish
rebels were defeated, one of their most active
leaders was found in a bog, in which he was
immersed up to the shoulders, while his head
was concealed by an impending ledge of turf.
Being detected and seized, notwithstanding his
precaution, he became solicitous to know how
his retreat had been discovered. " I caught,"
answered the Sutherland Highlander by whom
he was taken, " the sparkle of your eye."

1 1 . Of my marauding on the clowns, etc. The
troops of the king, when they first took the field,
were as well disciplined as could be expected
from circumstances. But as the circumstances
of Charles became less favorable, and his
funds for regularly paying his forces decreased,
habits of military license prevailed among them
in greater excess. Lacy the player, who served
his master during the Civil War, brought out
after the Restoration, a piece called The Old
Troop, in which he seems to have commemo-
rated some real incidents which occurred in his
military career. The names of the officers of
the Troop sufficiently express their habits.
We have Flea-flint Plunder-Master-General,
Captain Ferret-farm, and Quarter-Master Burn-
drop. The officers of the Troop are in league
with these worthies, and connive at their plun-
dering the country for a suitable share in the
booty. All this was undoubtedly drawn from
the life, which Lacy had an opportunity to

14. BrignalVs woods, and ScargiWs wave, etc.
The banks of the Greta, below Rutherford
Bridge, abound in seams of grayish slate, which
are wrought in some places to a very great
depth under ground, thus forming artificial
caverns, which, when the seam has been ex-
hausted, are gradually hidden by the under-
wood which grows in profusion upon the ro-
mantic banks of the river. In times of public
confusion, they might be well adapted to the
purposes of banditti.

20. When Spain zvaged warfare with our land.
There was a short war with Spain in 1625-26,
which will be found to agree pretty well with
the chronology of the poem. But probably
Bertram held an opinion very common among
the maritime heroes of the age, that " there
wis no peace beyond the Line." The Spanish
guarda-costas were constantly employed in ag-
ifl upon the trade and settlements of
the English and French; and, by their own
severities, gave room for the syste'm of bucca-
neering, at first adopted in self-defence and re-
taliation, and afterwards persevered in from
habit and thirst of plunder.

23. Our comrade's strife. The laws of the
Buccaneers, and their successors the Pirates,
however Severe and equitable, were, like other
laws, ofteti Sd aside by the stronger party.
Their quarrels about the division of the spoil

fill their history, and they as frequently arose
out of mere frolic, or the tyrannical humor of
their chiefs.

28. Adieu for evermore. The last verse of
this song is taken from jthe fragment of an old
Scottish ballad which seems to express the for-
tunes of some follower of the Stuart family.

30. Rere-cross on Stanmore. This is a frag-
ment of an old cross, with its pediment, sur-
rounded by an intrenchment, upon the very
summit of the waste ridge of Stanmore, near a
small house of entertainment called the Spittal.
The situation of the cross, and the pains taken
to defend it, seem to indicate that it was in-
tended for a landmark of importance.


1. When Denmark's raven soared on high,
etc. About the year of God 4S66 the Danes,
under their celebrated leaders ( Inguar (more
properly Agnar) and Hubba, — sons, it is said,
of the still more celebrated Reginar Lodbrog, —
invaded Northumberland, bringing with them
the magical standard, so often mentioned in
poetry, called Reafen, or Rumfan, from its bear-
ing the figure of a raven. The Danes renewed
and extended their incursions, and began to
colonize, establishing a kind of capital at York,
from which they spread their conquests and in-
cursions in every direction. Stanmore, which
divides the mountains of Westmoreland and
Cumberland, was probably the boundary of
the Danish kingdom in that direction. The
district to the west, known in ancient British
history by the name of Reged, had never been
conquered by the Saxons, and continued to
maintain a precarious independence until it
was ceded to Malcolm, King of Scots, by
William the Conqueror.

1. Beneath the shade the A T orthmen came, etc.
The heathen Danes have left several traces of
their religion in the upper part of Teesdale.
Balder-garth, which derives its name from the
unfortunate son of Odin, is a tract of waste
land on the very ridge of Stanmore ; and a
brook, which falls into the Tees near Barnard
Castle, is named after the same deity. A field
upon the banks of the Tees is also termed Wo-
den-Croft, from the supreme deity of the Edda.
Thorsgill, of which a description is attempted
in stanza 2, is a beautiful little brook and
dell, running up behind the ruins of Egliston

6. Who has not heard how brave O'jVeale, etc.
The O'Neale here meant, for more than one
succeeded to the chieftainship during the reign
of Elizabeth, was Hugh, the grandson of Con
O'Neale, called Con Bacco, or the Lame. His
father, Matthew O'Kelly, was illegitimate, and,
being the son of a blacksmith's wife, was usually
called Matthew the Blacksmith. His father,
nevertheless, destined his succession to him ;
and he was created, by Elizabeth, Baron of
Dungannon. Upon the death of Con Bacco,



this Matthew was slain by his brother. Hugh
narrowly escaped the same fate, and was pro-
tected by the English. Shane O'Neale, his
uncle, called Shane Dymas, was succeeded by
Turlough Lynogh O'Neale ; after whose death
Hugh, having assumed the chieftainship, became
nearly as formidable to the English as any by
whom it had been possessed. Lord Mountjoy
succeeded in finally subjugating O'Neale ; but
it was not till the succession of James, to whom
he made personal submission, and was received
with civility at court.

The Tar list he to great O'Neale. " It is a cus-
tom amongst all the Irish, that presently after
the death of one of their chiefe lords or cap-
taines, they doe presently assemble themselves
to a place generally appointed and knowne unto
them, to choose another in his stead, where
they do nominate and elect, for the most part
not the eldest sonne, nor any of the children of
the lord deceased, but the next to him in blood,
that is, the eldest and worthiest, as commonly
the next brother unto him, if he have any, or
the next cousin, or so forth, as any is elder in
that kindred or sept; and then next to them
doe they choose the next of the blood to be
Tanist, who shall next succeed him in the said
captainry, if he live thereunto" (Spenser's Ire-
land). The Tanist, therefore, of O'Neale, was
the heir- apparent of his power. This kind of
succession appears also to have regulated, in
very remote times, the succession to the crown
of Scotland. It would have been imprudent, if
not impossible, to have asserted a minor's right
of succession in those stormy days.

14. Great Nial of the Pledges Nine. Neal
Naighvallach, or Of the Nine Hostages, is said
to have been monarch of all Ireland, during the
end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth cen-
tury: • He exercised a predatory warfare on the
coast of England and of Bretagne, or Armorica ;
and from the latter country brought off the cele-
brated Saint Patrick, a youth of sixteen, among
other captives, whom he transported to Ireland.
Neal derived his epithet from nine -nations, or
tribes, whom he held under his subjection, and
from whom he took hostages.

14. Shane-Dymas wild. This Shane-Dymas,
or John the Wanton, held the title and power
of O'Neale in the earlier part of Elizabeth's
reign, against whom he rebelled repeatedly.
When reduced to extremity by the English, and
forsaken by his allies, this Shane-Dymas fled to
Clandebov, then occupied by a colony of Scot-
tish Highlanders of the family of MacDonell.
He was at first courteously received; but by
degrees they began to quarrel about the slaugh-
ter of some of their friends whom Shane-Dymas
had put to death, and advancing from words to
deeds, fell upon him with their broadswords,
and cut him to pieces. After his death a law
was made that none should presume to take the
name and title of O'Neale.

14. Geraldine. The O'Neales were closely
allied with this powerful and warlike family;
for Henry Owen O'Neale married the daughter
of Thomas, Earl of Kildare, and their son Con
More married his cousin-german, a daughter of
Gerald, Earl of Kildare. This Con More cursed
any of his posterity who should learn the Eng-
lish language, sow corn, or build houses, so as
to invite the English to settle in their country.
Others ascribe this anathema to his son Con

16. His page, the next degree, etc. Originally,
the order of chivalry embraced three ranks :
1. The Page; 2. The Squire ; 3. The Knight, —
a gradation which seems to have been imitated
in the mystery of freemasonry. But, before
the reign of Charles I., 'the custom of serving
as a squire had fallen into disuse, though the
order of the page was still, to a certain degree,
in observance. This state of servitude was so
far from inferring anything degrading, that it
was considered as the regular school for ac-
quiring every quality necessary for future dis-


3. Seemed half-abandoned to decay. The an-
cient castle of Rokeby stood exactly upon the
site of the present mansion, by which a part of

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 71 of 78)