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Thir Weardale-men, they have good hearts, They are as stiff as any tree; For, if they'd every one been slain, Never a foot back man would flee. 140

And such a storm amongst them fell As I think you never heard the like, For he that bears his head so high, He oft-times falls into the dyke.

And now I do entreat you all, 145 As many as are present here.

To pray for [the] singer of this song, For he sings to make blithe your cheer.

5. Thirlwall, or Thirlitwall, is said by Fordun, the Scottish historian, to be a name given to the Picts' or Roman wall, from its having been thirled, or perforated, in ancient times, by the Scots and Picts.

Willie-haver, or Willeva, is a small district or township in the parish of Lanercost, near Bewcastledale, in Cumberland, mentioned in the ballad of _Hobie Noble_.--RITSON.]

31. This would be about eleven o'clock, the usual dinner-hour in that period.--RITSON.]

43. The two Earls were Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Charles Nevil, Earl of Westmoreland, who, on the 15th of November, 1569, at the head of their tenantry and others, took arms for the purpose of liberating Mary, Queen of Scots, and restoring the old religion. They besieged Barnard castle, which was, for eleven days, stoutly defended by Sir George Bowes, who, afterward, being appointed the Queen's marshal, hanged the poor constables and peasantry by dozens in a day, to the amount of 800. The Earl of Northumberland, betrayed by the Scots, with whom he had taken refuge, was beheaded at York, on the 22d of August, 1572; and the Earl of Westmoreland, deprived of the ancient and noble patrimony of the Nevils, and reduced to beggary, escaped over sea, into Flanders, and died in misery and disgrace, being the last of his family.--RITSON. See _The Rising in the North_ and _Northumberland betrayed by Douglas_.]

48. This is still the phraseology of Westmoreland: a _poorly_ man, a _softly_ day, and the like.--RITSON.]

52. The 6th of December.]

66. Now a straggling village so called; originally, it would seem, the gate-house, or ranger's lodge, at the east entrance of Stanhope-park. At some distance from this place is Westgate, so called for a similar reason.--RITSON.

The mention of the bailiff's house at the East-gate is (were such a proof wanting) strongly indicative of the authenticity of the ballad.

The family of Emerson of East-gate, a fief, if I may so call it, held under the bishop, long exercised the office of bailiff of Wolsingham, the chief town and borough of Weardale, and of Forster, &c., under successive prelates.--SURTEES.]

68. A place in the neighbourhood of East-gate, known at present, as well as the Dry-rig, or Smale-burns.--RITSON.]

92. The reciter, from his advanced age, could not recollect the original line thus imperfectly supplied.--RITSON.]


From _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, ii. 15.

This ballad is preserved in the Bannatyne MS., and was first printed in Ramsay's _Evergreen_, ii. 224. Scott informs us that Ramsay took some liberties with the original text, and even interpolated the manuscript to favor his readings. A more accurate copy was given in the _Border Minstrelsy_. The text in Herd's _Scottish Songs_, i. 91, and Caw's _Museum_, p. 235, is that of the _Evergreen_.

"The skirmish of the Reidswire happened upon the 7th of June, 1575, at one of the meetings held by the Wardens of the Marches, for arrangements necessary upon the Border. Sir John Carmichael was the Scottish Warden, and Sir John Forster held that office on the English Middle March. In the course of the day, which was employed as usual in redressing wrongs, a bill, or indictment, at the instance of a Scottish complainer, was fouled (_i. e._ found a true bill) against one Farnstein, a notorious English freebooter. Forster alleged that he had fled from justice.

Carmichael, considering this as a pretext to avoid making compensation for the felony, bade him "play fair!" to which the haughty English warden retorted, by some injurious expressions respecting Carmichael's family, and gave other open signs of resentment. His retinue, chiefly men of Redesdale and Tynedale, the most ferocious of the English Borderers, glad of any pretext for a quarrel, discharged a flight of arrows among the Scots. A warm conflict ensued, in which, Carmichael being beat down and made prisoner, success seemed at first to incline to the English side, till the Tynedale men, throwing themselves too greedily upon the plunder, fell into disorder; and a body of Jedburgh citizens arriving at that instant, the skirmish terminated in a complete victory on the part of the Scots, who took prisoners, the English warden, James Ogle, Cuthbert Collingwood, Francis Russell, son to the Earl of Bedford, and son-in-law to Forster, some of the Fenwicks, and several other Border chiefs. They were sent to the Earl of Morton, then Regent, who detained them at Dalkeith for some days, till the heat of their resentment was abated; which prudent precaution prevented a war betwixt the two kingdoms. He then dismissed them with great expressions of regard; and, to satisfy Queen Elizabeth, sent Carmichael to York, whence he was soon after honourably dismissed. The field of battle, called the Reidswire, is a part of the Carter Mountain, about ten miles from Jedburgh."--SCOTT.

The seventh of July, the suith to say, At the Reidswire the tryst was set;[L2]

Our wardens they affixed the day, And, as they promised, so they met.

Alas! that day I'll ne'er forgett! 5 Was sure sae feard, and then sae faine-- They came theare justice for to gett, Will never green to come again.

Carmichael was our warden then, He caused the country to conveen; 10 And the Laird's Wat, that worthie man,[L11]

Brought in that sirname weil beseen: The Armestranges, that aye hae been A hardy house, but not a hail,[L14]

The Elliots' honours to maintaine, 15 Brought down the lave o' Liddesdale.

Then Tividale came to wi' spied; The Sheriffe brought the Douglas down,[L18]

Wi' Cranstane, Gladstain, good at need, Baith Rewle water, and Hawick town. 20 Beanjeddart bauldly made him boun, Wi' a' the Trumbills, stronge and stout; The Rutherfoords, with grit renown, Convoy'd the town of Jedbrugh out.[L24]

Of other clans I cannot tell, 25 Because our warning was not wide-- Be this our folks hae ta'en the fell, And planted down palliones, there to bide, We looked down the other side, And saw come breasting ower the brae, 30 Wi' Sir John Forster for their guyde,[L31]

Full fifteen hundred men and mae.

It grieved him sair that day, I trow, Wi' Sir George Hearoune of Schipsydehouse;[L34]

Because we were not men enow, 35 They counted us not worth a louse.

Sir George was gentle, meek, and douse, But _he_ was hail and het as fire; And yet, for all his cracking crouse, He rewd the raid o' the Reidswire. 40

To deal with proud men is but pain; For either must ye fight or flee, Or else no answer make again, But play the beast, and let them be.

It was na wonder he was hie, 45 Had Tindaill, Reedsdaill, at his hand,[L46]

Wi' Cukdaill, Gladsdaill on the lee, And Hebsrime, and Northumberland.[L48]

Yett was our meeting meek eneugh, Begun wi' merriment and mowes, 50 And at the brae, aboon the heugh, The clark sat down to call the rowes.

And some for kyne, and some for ewes, Call'd in of Dandrie, Hob, and Jock-- We saw, come marching ower the knows, 55 Five hundred Fennicks in a flock,--[L56]

With jack and speir, and bows all bent, And warlike weapons at their will: Although we were na weel content, Yet, by my troth, we fear'd no ill. 60 Some gaed to drink, and some stude still, And some to cards and dice them sped; Till on ane Farnstein they fyled a bill, And he was fugitive and fled.

Carmichaell bade them speik out plainlie, 65 And cloke no cause for ill nor good; The other, answering him as vainlie, Began to reckon kin and blood: He raise, and raxed him where he stood, And bade him match him with his marrows; 70 Then Tindaill heard them reasun rude, And they loot off a flight of arrows.

Then was there nought but bow and speir, And every man pull'd out a brand; "A Schafton and a Fenwick" thare: 75 Gude Symington was slain frae hand.

The Scotsmen cried on other to stand, Frae time they saw John Robson slain-- What should they cry? the King's command Could cause no cowards turn again. 80

Up rose the laird to red the cumber, Which would not be for all his boast; What could we doe with sic a number-- Fyve thousand men into a host?

Then Henry Purdie proved his cost, 85 And very narrowlie had mischief'd him, And there we had our warden lost, Wert not the grit God he relieved him.

Another throw the breiks him bair, Whill flatlies to the ground he fell: 90 Than thought I weel we had lost him there, Into my stomack it struck a knell!

Yet up he raise, the treuth to tell ye, And laid about him dints full dour; His horsemen they raid sturdily, 95 And stude about him in the stoure.

Then raise the slogan with ane shout-- "Fy, Tindaill, to it! Jedburgh's here!"[L98]

I trow he was not half sae stout, But anis his stomach was asteir. 100 With gun and genzie, bow and speir, Men might see mony a cracked crown!

But up amang the merchant geir, They were as busy as we were down.

The swallow taill frae tackles flew, 105 Five hundredth flain into a flight: But we had pestelets enew, And shot among them as we might.

With help of God the game gaed right, Fra time the foremost of them fell; 110 Then ower the know, without goodnight, They ran with mony a shout and yell.

But after they had turned backs, Yet Tindail men they turn'd again, And had not been the merchant packs,[L115] 115 There had been mae of Scotland slain.

But, Jesu! if the folks were fain To put the bussing on their thies; And so they fled, wi' a' their main, Down ower the brae, like clogged bees. 120

Sir Francis Russell ta'en was there,[L121]

And hurt, as we hear men rehearse; Proud Wallinton was wounded sair,[L123]

Albeit he be a Fennick fierce.

But if ye wald a souldier search, 125 Among them a' were ta'en that night, Was nane sae wordie to put in verse, As Collingwood, that courteous knight.[L128]

Young Henry Schafton, he is hurt;[L129]

A souldier shot him wi' a bow; 130 Scotland has cause to mak great sturt, For laiming of the Laird of Mow.[L132]

The Laird's Wat did weel indeed; His friends stood stoutlie by himsell, With little Gladstain, gude in need, 135 For Gretein kend na gude be ill.[L136]

The Sheriffe wanted not gude will, Howbeit he might not fight so fast; Beanjeddart, Hundlie, and Hunthill,[L139]

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