Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

THE

LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.

CANTO FOURTH.

I.

SWEET Teviot! on thy silver tide
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more;
No longer steel-clad warriors ride

Along thy wild and willow'd shore;
Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill,
All, all is peaceful, all is still,

As if thy waves, since Time was born,
Since first they roll'd upon the Tweed,
Had only heard the shepherd's reed,
Nor started at the bugle-horn.

II.

Unlike the tide of human time,

Which, though it change in ceaseless flow, Retains each grief, retains each crime,

Its earliest course was doom'd to know;

And, darker as it downward bears,

Is stain'd with past and present tears.

Low as that tide has ebb'd with me,

It still reflects to Memory's eye
The hour my brave, my only boy,

Fell by the side of great Dundee.'
Why, when the volleying musket play'd
Against the bloody Highland blade,
Why was not I beside him laid!—

Enough he died the death of fame;

[ocr errors]

Enough he died with conquering Græme.

[ocr errors]

III.

Now over Border dale and fell,

Full wide and far was terror spread; For pathless marsh, and mountain cell, The peasant left his lowly shed.2

1 The Viscount of Dundee, slain in the battle of Killicrankie. * The morasses were the usual refuge of the Border herdsmen, on the approach of an English army.—(Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. i. p. 393.) Caves, hewed in the most dangerous and inaccessible places, also afforded an occasional retreat. Such caverns may be seen in the precipitous banks of the Teviot at Sunlaws, upon the Ale at Ancram, upon the Jed at Hundalee, and in many other places upon the Border. The banks of the Eske, at Gorton and Hawthornden, are hollowed into similar recesses. But even these dreary dens were not always secure places of concealment. "In the way as we came, not far from this place, (Long Niddry,) George Ferres, a gentleman of my Lord Protector's . happened upon a cave in the grounde, the mouth whereof was so worne with the fresh printe of steps, that ne seemed to be certayne thear wear some folke within; and gone doune to trie, he was redily receyved with a hakebut or two. He left them not yet, till he had known wheyther thei wold be content to yield and come out; which they fondly refusing, he went to my lorde's grace, and upon utterance of the thynge, gat licence to deale with them as he coulde; and so

[ocr errors]

The frighten'd flocks and herds were pent
Beneath the peel's rude battlement;
And maids and matrons dropp'd the tear,
While ready warriors seized the spear.
From Branksome's towers, the watchman's eye
Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy,
Which, curling in the rising sun,
Show'd southern ravage was begun.1

IV.

Now loud the heedful gate-ward cried-
Prepare ye all for blows and blood!
Watt Tinlinn,2 from the Liddel-side,

returned to them, with a skore or two of pioners. Three ventes had their cave, that we wear ware of, whereof he first stopt up on; anoother he fill'd full of strawe, and set it a fyer, whereat they within cast water apace; but it was so wel maynteyned without, that the fyer prevayled, and thei within fayn to get them belyke into anoother parler. Then devysed we (for I hapt to be with him) to stop the same up, whereby we should eyther smoother them, or fynd out their ventes, if thei hadde any moe: as this was done at another issue, about xii score of, we moughte see the fume of their smoke to come out: the which continued with so great a force, and so long a while, that we could not but thinke they must needs get them out, or smoother within: and forasmuch as we found not that they dyd the tone, we thought it for certain thei wear sure of the toother."-PATTEN's Account of Somerset's Expedition into Scotland, apud DALYELL's Frag

ments.

1 See Appendix, Note Y.

2 This person was, in my younger days, the theme of many a fireside tale. He was a retainer of the Buccleuch family, and held for his Border service a small tower on the frontiers of Lid desdale. Watt was, by profession, a sutor, but, by inclination and practice, an archer and warrior. Upon one occasion, the

G

Comes wading through the flood.
Full oft the Tynedale snatchers knock
At his lone gate, and prove the lock;
It was but last St. Barnabright
They sieged him a whole summer night,
But fled at morning; well they knew,
In vain he never twang'd the yew.
Right sharp has been the evening shower,
That drove him from his Liddel tower;
And, by my faith," the gate-ward said,
"I think 'twill prove a Warden-Raid."

V.

While thus he spoke, the bold yeoman
Enter'd the echoing barbican.

He led a small and shaggy nag,

[ocr errors]

That through a bog, from hag to hag,2
Could bound like any Billhope stag.3

captain of Bewcastle, military governor of that wild district of Cumberland, is said to have made an incursion into Scotland, in which he was defeated, and forced to fly. Watt Tinlinn pursued him closely through a dangerous morass; the captain, however, gained the firm ground; and seeing Tinlinn dismounted, and floundering in the bog, used these words of insult:-"Sutor Watt, ye cannot sew your boots; the heels risp, and the seams rive."1 —66 "If I cannot sew," retorted Tinlinn, discharging a shaft, which nailed the captain's thigh to his saddle,—“If I cannot sew, I can yerk.” 2

1 An inroad commanded by the Warden in person.

2 The broken ground in a bog.

3 There is an old rhyme, which thus celebrates the places in Liddesdale remarkable for game:

1 Risp, creak.-Rive, tear.

2 Yerk, to twitch, as shoemakers do, in securing the stitches of their work.

« ForrigeFortsæt »