33. The minister of Longformacus, a volunteer; who, happening to come, the night before the battle, upon a Highlander easing nature at Preston, threw him over, and carried his gun as a trophy to Cope's camp.
41. Another volunteer Presbyterian minister, who said he would convince the rebels of their error by the dint of his pistols; having, for that purpose, two in his pockets, two in his holsters, and one in his belt.
51. Mr. Myrie was a student of physic, from Jamaica; he entered as a volunteer in Cope's army, and was miserably mangled by the broad-swords.
69. Lieutenant Smith, who left Major Bowle when lying on the field of battle, and unable to move with his wound, was of Irish extraction. It is reported that after the publication of the ballad, he sent Mr.
Skirving a challenge to meet him at Haddington, and answer for his conduct in treating him with such opprobrium. "Gang awa back," said Mr.
Skirving to the messenger, "and tell Mr. Smith, I have nae leisure to gae to Haddington, but if he likes to come here, I'll tak a look o' him, and if I think I can fecht him, I'll fecht him, and if no--I'll just do as he did at Preston--I'll rin awa'." STENHOUSE.
THE BATTLE OF OTTERBURN. See p. 5.
In the versions of this ballad given in the body of this work, the Earl of Douglas is represented as falling by the hand of Harry Percy.
In the ballad which follows, taken from Herd's _Scottish Songs_, i.
211, his death is ascribed to the revenge of an offended servant.
Though there is not the slightest reason to give credence to this story, it has a certain foundation in tradition. Hume of Godscroft writes "there are that say, that he [Douglas] was not slain by the enemy, but by one of his own men, a groom of his chamber, whom he had struck the day before with a truncheon, in ordering of the battle, because he saw him make somewhat slowly to. And they name this man John Bickerton of Luffness, who left a part of his armour behind unfastened, and when he was in the greatest conflict, this servant of his came behind his back, and slew him thereat." Wintown says that the Earl was so intent on marshalling his forces, and so eager to be at the foe, that he neglected to arm himself carefully.--SCOTT's _Minstrelsy_, i. 350.
It fell, and about the Lammas time, When husbandmen do win their hay, Earl Douglas is to the English woods, And a' with him to fetch a prey.
He has chosen the Lindsays light, 5 With them the gallant Gordons gay, And the Earl of Fyfe, withouten strife, And Sir Hugh Montgomery upon a grey.
They hae taken Northumberland, And sae hae they the North-shire, 10 And the Otter-dale, they burnt it hale, And set it a' into the fire.
Out then spack a bonny boy,[L13]
That serv'd ane o' Earl Douglas kin, "Methinks I see an English host, 15 A-coming branken us upon."
"If this be true, my little boy, An it be troth that thou tells me, The brawest bower in Otterburn This day shall be thy morning fee. 20
"But if it be false, my little boy, But and a lie that thou tells me, On the highest tree that's in Otterburn With my awin hands I'll hing thee hie."
The boy's taen out his little penknife, 25 That hanget low down by his gare, And he gae Earl Douglas a deadly wound, Alas, a deep wound and a sare!
Earl Douglas said to Sir Hugh Montgomery, "Tack thou the vanguard o' the three, 30 And bury me at yon bracken bush, That stands upon yon lilly lee."
Then Percy and Montgomery met, And weel I wat they war na fain; They swapped swords, and they twa swat, 35 And ay the blood ran down between.
"O yield thee, yield thee, Percy," he said, "Or else I vow I'll lay thee low; "Whom to shall I yield," said Earl Percy, "Now that I see it maun be so?" 40
"O yield thee to yon braken bush, That grows upon yon lilly lee; For there lies aneth yon braken bush[L43]
What aft has conquer'd mae than thee."
"I winna yield to a braken bush, 45 Nor yet will I unto a brier; But I wald yield to Earl Douglas, Or Sir Hugh Montgomery, if he was here."
As soon as he knew it was Montgomery, He stuck his sword's point in the ground, 50 And Sir Hugh Montgomery was a courteous knight.
And he quickly caught him by the hand.
This deed was done at Otterburn, About the breaking o' the day; Earl Douglas was buried at the braken bush, 55 And Percy led captive away.
13. At this place a recited copy, quoted by Finlay (_Scottish Ballads_, I. p. xviii.), has the following stanzas:--
Then out an spak a little wee boy, And he was near o' Percy's kin, "Methinks I see the English host, A-coming branking us upon;
Wi' nine waggons scaling wide, And seven banners bearing high; It wad do any living gude To see their bonny colours fly.
43, 44. Supplied by Motherwell from a recited copy.
THE BATTLE OF HARLAW.
From Ramsay's _Evergreen_, i. 78.
This battle took place at Harlaw, near Aberdeen, on the 24th of July, 1411. The conflict was occasioned by a dispute concerning the succession to the earldom of Ross, between Donald, Lord of the Isles, and the son of the Regent, Robert, Duke of Albany, whose claim was supported by Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar. The consequences of this battle were of the highest importance, inasmuch as the wild Celts of the Highlands and Islands received such a check that they never again combined for the conquest of the civilized parts of Scotland.
The _Battle of Harlaw_ is one of the old ballads whose titles occur in the _Complaynt of Scotland_ (1548). A bag-pipe tune of that name is mentioned in Drummond of Hawthornden's mock-heroic poem, the _Polemo Middinia_:
"Interea ante alios dux Piper Laius heros, Praecedens, magnamque gerens cum burdine pypam Incipit Harlai cunctis sonare Batellum."
Mr. Laing, in his _Early Metrical Tales_ (p. xlv.) speaks of an edition printed in the year 1668 as being "in the curious library of old Robert Myln." No copy is now known to exist of a date anterior to that which was published in Ramsay's _Evergreen_. Of the age of this copy the most opposite opinions have been maintained, some regarding the ballad as contemporary with the event, and others insinuating that Ramsay, or one of his friends, is chargeable with the authorship. This last notion has no other ground than the freedom which Ramsay notoriously took with his texts, and that freedom has very likely been exercised in the present case. We shall, perhaps, be going quite as far as is prudent, if we acknowledge that this may be one of "the Scots poems wrote by the ingenious before 1600." Most readers will agree with Lord Hailes that the language is as recent as the days of Queen Mary, or of James the Sixth. Sibbald, in his _Chronicle of Scottish Poetry_, iii. 288, has stated other objections to receiving this ballad for ancient, which seem, however, to be satisfactorily answered by Finlay, _Scottish Ballads_, i. 160.
The copy of this ballad in _The Thistle of Scotland_, p. 75, is only Ramsay's, imperfectly remembered, or, what is quite as probable, here and there altered according to the taste of the illiterate editor. At page 92 of the same book, three stanzas are given of a burlesque song on this battle. A traditional ballad, recently recovered, is inserted at the end of this volume.
Frae Dunidier as I cam throuch, Doun by the hill of Banochie, Allangst the lands of Garioch, Grit pitie was to heir and se The noys and dulesum hermonie, 5 That evir that dreiry day did daw, Cryand the corynoch on hie, Alas! alas! for the Harlaw.
I marvlit quhat the matter meint, All folks war in a fiery-fairy; 10 I wist nocht quha was fae or freind, Zit quietly I did me carrie.
But sen the days of auld King Hairy, Sic slauchter was not hard nor sene, And thair I had nae tyme to tairy, 15 For bissiness in Aberdene.
Thus as I walkit on the way, To Inverury as I went, I met a man and bad him stay, Requeisting him to mak me quaint 20 Of the beginning and the event, That happenit thair at the Harlaw: Then he entreited me tak tent, And he the truth sould to me schaw.
Grit Donald of the Yles did claim 25 Unto the lands of Ross sum richt, And to the governour he came, Them for to haif, gif that he micht: Quha saw his interest was but slicht, And thairfore answerit with disdain; 30 He hastit hame baith day and nicht, And sent nae bodward back again.
But Donald richt impatient Of that answer Duke Robert gaif, He vowed to God Omnipotent, 35 All the hale lands of Ross to haif, Or ells be graithed in his graif: He wald not quat his richt for nocht, Nor be abusit lyk a slaif; That bargin sould be deirly bocht. 40
Then haistylie he did command, That all his weir-men should convene, Ilk an well harnisit frae hand, To meit and heir quhat he did mein: He waxit wrath, and vowit tein, 45 Sweirand he wald surpryse the North, Subdew the brugh of Aberdene, Mearns, Angus, and all Fyfe to Forth.
Thus with the weir-men of the Yles, Quha war ay at his bidding bown, 50 With money maid, with forss and wyls, Richt far and neir, baith up and doun, Throw mount and muir, frae town to town, Allangst the lands of Ross he roars, And all obey'd at his bandown, 55 Evin frae the North to Suthren shoars.