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And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch Can back a steed, or shake a spear ?* O were there war between the lands, As well I wot that there is none, I would slight Carlisle Castell high, Tho' it were builded of marble stone. 39 THE POETS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE ' But since nae war's between the lands, And there is peace, and peace should be ; I'll neither harm English lad or lass. ' He has call'd him forty Marchmen bauld, I trow they were of his ain name.the latter protested ' against the cruel mandate of the tyrant, that by the ancient law of royal grace of the Realms alike of Scotland, England, and France, any wretch, although guilty of treason, should enjoy the privilege of immunity (sanctuary) so soon as he stood within the sight of the King, and that it never happened that any man should undergo the last penalty after supplicating the grace of the King's face in his presence.' Or answer by the border law.Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch t ' — ^ Hairibee — Haribee, the place of execution at Carlisle. 38 OLD HISTORICAL BALLADS — ' Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver !

And when we cam to the lower prison, Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie — — ' O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie, Upon the morn that thou's to die ? Red Rowan, Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell. We bore him down the ladder lang ; ^ Robert Birrell says Buccleuch's exploit was accompanied ' by sound of trumpet' {Diary, p. ^ — ' O mony a time,' quo' Kinmont Willie, ' I have ridden horse baith wild and wood, But a rouiiher beast than Red Rowan I ween my legs have ne'er bestrode. A memorial of the raid exists in ' The Lads of Wamphray,' one of the ballads preserved in the Glenriddell MS.- Sir Walter Scott seems to have regarded the piece as of much historical value ; and we need not doubt that it contains an early and a fairly trustworthy account of an affair which had important consequences. If this be a discreet and Christian way of speaking, to upbraid his once Parishioners to whom he preached the Gospel for many Years, with the Faults of their Fore-fathers, I leave any to Judge. 4, 31, says, Let all bitterness and evil speaking be done away^ but this Man doeth not only Print his scurrilous Language, but carries such Expressions (as the Riders of Wamfray and the like) to the Pulpit, where nothing but the grave Truths of God should be told.' ^ ' The Lads of Wamphray ' is here reproduced from the Glenriddell MS. It is the Lads of Leuerhay, That drove the Crichton's gier away. Macmath for drawing his attention to the sentences quoted above. Lowell refers to the second part of Scott's version of ' Fair Helen.' 2 Preface to the second edition of ' Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lee,' by Stewart Lewis. 64 OLD BALLADS AND SONGS picture of the tombstone,-^ Just outside the churchyard stands an ancient sandstone cross, which, if we may accept the current theory as to its origin, was erected to mark the spot where Helen died.^ No record of its purpose is now borne by the cross ; but a sunken space that may be seen on each arm was perhaps originally occupied by a plate with an explanatory inscription.

According to Sir Richard Maitland, the Border reivers had all nick-names: _,.,.., ... , 'Thai theifs that steuls, and tursis hame, Ilk ane of thame hes ane to-name.' i^Aganis the Thievis of Liddisdail.) 2 Will o' Kirkhill. 62 1 I OLD BALLADS AND SONGS They have ridden o'er muir and muss, And over mountains high, Till they met wi' an old palmer. or the beginning of that of Mary.' ^ Stewart Lewis (1756-1818), who spent his early years in the vicinity of Kirkconnel, was led by ' several circumstances ' to ' refer the period of the event to the latter years of Queen Mary, or the beginning of the reign of her son, James VI.* The conjecture that Helen was killed about the middle of the sixteenth century derives a certain support from the fact that the heroine's surname is affirmed by tradition to have been Irving, the name of the family known to have held the lands of Kirkconnel for a considerable time prior to 1609,^ when Robert Maxwell 1 In the Gentleman's Magazine for March, 1797. He is not strictly accurate in this, however, for, without taking dialectic peculiarities into account, half of the lines in Sharpe's version differ from the corresponding lines in the other.

On loth July, 1592, Sir John Carmichael wrote to Lowther : ' Willie Johnestoun of Kirkhill hes ane blak hors of my cousing Wille Carmychel of Reidmyre. 45 THE POETS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE But and the Lads o' Stefenbiggin, They broke the house in at the riggin. 2 The late Sir John Heron Maxwell of Springkell conjectured that the monument was set up to indicate ' the site of the battle of Kirkconnel, where the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas were defeated' (see his letter on 'A Picture in the Academy,' in The Daily Telegraph, 24th June, 1871). , now part of Kirkpatrick-Fleming, was in the possession of the Bells in the fifteenth century, but the D. 65 E THE POETS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE became the proprietor. The which to thee shall prove as kind As any one that thou shalt find Of high or low degree. 2 A correspondent in the Gentleman'' s Magazine Certainly his own work as a poet would not have suffered if he had devoted as much attention to ' Edward, Edward ' and ' Sir Patrick Spens ' as to Blair's ' Grave ' and the ' divine Elegies ' of Shenstone.

Here's the boniest horse in a' Nithside, And a gentle Johnston aboon his hide.' Simmy Crichton's mounted then. The Galiard thought his Horse had been fleet, Btit they did outstrip him quite out o' sight. And when they came to the Biddess burn,^ The Crichtons bad them stand and turn. For ther's a Ale-house neer hard by, And it shall not cost thee one penny.' 27. ' he cries, ' For I wat they cost me right dear.' ' O ! ' cries Jokie Ha, ' For they'll be good shoon to my gray mare.' 28. The mention of Durisdeer, a neighbouring parish, adds weight to the tradition.' ^ According to Allan Cunningham, however, ' Breadislee, near Lochmaben, has been pointed out as the more probable residence of the hero of the song ; and the scenery '^Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1802. narrates the manner of his death, which was quite in unison with the fiterce hardihood of his life.' ^ We may be certain that the ballad Bennet refers to dealt with the exploits of ' Johnny Cock,' not of ' John C Cock,' and that his mistake was due to the carelessness with which the reciters pronounced their vowels. - Traits of Scottish Life, and Pictures of Scenes and Character, London, 1830, iii. Bennet's article appeared originally in The Dumfries Monthly Magazine, Sept, 1826. A ballad of his own, 'The Fatal Feud,' was founded on the Kirkconnel tradition, with which he had been made acquainted by Dr. 1 lighted down, my sword did draw, I cutted^ him in pieces sma', I cutted^ him in pieces sma' On fair Kirkconnel Lea. If I were with thee I'd be blest, Where thou liest low, and takest thy rest On fair Kirkconnel Lea. Most of these lays were avowedly mere imitations of minstrel compositions ; but ' The Duke o' Milk ' and ' The Bedesman on Nidsyde ' — ballads which demand our attention — were unmistakably designed to impose on unsuspicious lovers of ' antient ' poetry, and may therefore be described as spurious antiques.

As soon as the Galiard the Crichton he saw, Beyond the Saughbush he did draw. O think then Will ^ he was right wae, When he saw his Uncle guided sae. And when they came to the Biddess strand, The Crichtons they were hard at hand. Untill they came to the other side, And they wrang their cloathes right drunklie 59 THE POETS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE 26. ' Surely thy minnie has been some witch, Or thy dad some warlock has been. For yesterday I was your prisoner, But now the ni2:ht I am set free.' The scene of ' Johnny Cock,' an ancient hunting ballad, has by some writers been located in Dumfriesshire. In Scott's version the ballad ' Now Johnie's gude bend bow is broke ; And his gude graie dogs are slain ; And his body lies dead in Durisdeer, And his hunting it is done.' 60 OLD BALLADS AND SONGS in the neighbourhood, and the tradition of the country, countenance the supposition,'^ That there was a tradi- tion connecting the hero of the ballad with the Lochmaben district is certified by William Bennet, who, in an article entitled ' A Two Days' Tour in Annandale,' writes thus : ' From the Castle Hill, many of the ruined strongholds, once scattered so abundantly over this part of the country, he within view of the observer. Probably the subjoined version of ' this precious specimen of the unspoiled traditional ballad,' as Professor Child describes ' Johnny Cock,' is not unlike the ballad which Bennet knew. 61 THE POETS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE Johnny Cock has gotten word of this, And he is wondrous keen : He['s] custan off the Red scarlet, And on wi' the linkum green ; And he is ridden o'er muir and muss, And over mountains high. They have shotten little Johnny Cock, A little above the ee : • •«•** * For doino; the like to me. Blacklock, who recommended the story as a good subject for a poem. Pennant's Tour in Scotland appeared, and the versifier discovered to his chagrin that it contained the story of Fair Helen, and also a reference to ' an antient ballad of no great merit ' on her death. Soon after the estate was forfeited by the Bells it passed into the hands of the Irvings of Bonshaw. 1 wish my grave were growing green, A winding sheet put o'er my Een, And I in Helen's arms lying In fair Kirkconnel Lea. The tale has not, however, been commemorated only by minor poets. A copy of 'The Duke o' Milk' is preserved among David Herd's MSS. THE POETS OF DUMFRIESSHIRE BY FRANK MILLER ANNAN, DUMFRIESSHIRE " Is there hearing for songs that recede ? » Grant me my Lyfe, my Liege, my King And a bony Gift I will give to thee, Full Four and Twenty Milkwhyt Steids, Were a' foald in a Zeir to me. 3° OLD HISTORICAL BALLADS These Four and twenty Mills complete, Sail gang for thee throw all the Zeir, And as mekle of gude reid Quheit, As all thair Happers dow to bear. to) Grant me my Lyfe, my Liege, my King And a great Gift I'll gie to thee, Bauld Four and Twenty Sisters Sons, Sail for thee fecht tho all sould flee. Grant me my Lyfe, my Liege, my King, And a brave Gift I'll gie to thee ; All betwene heir and Newcastle Town, Sail pay thair zeirly Rent to thee. Scho suld haif found me Meil and Malt, And Beif and Mutton in all Plentie ; But neir a Scots Wyfe could haif said, That eir I skaithd her a pure Flie. King, he says, Althocht a King and Prince ze be ; For I luid naithing in all my Lyfe, I dare well sayit but Honesty : But a fat Horse and a fair Woman, Twa bony Dogs to kill a Deir ; But Ingland suld haif found me Meil and Malt, Gif I had livd this hundred Zeir. Ther hang nine Targats^ at Johnys Hat, And ilk an worth Three hundred Pound, What wants that Knave that a King mid ha'if^ But the Sword of Honour and the Crown.

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