"Horsely, I will make thee a knight, And in Yorkshire thou shalt dwell: 250 Lord Howard shall Earl Bury hight, For this act he deserveth well.
Ninety pound to our Englishmen, Who in this fight did stoutly stand; And twelve-pence a-day to the Scots, till they 255 Come to my brother king's high land."
129-136. In some copies this stanza is wrongly placed after the next.
238. The services of Peter's son, not mentioned in this ballad, are duly recorded in the older, unabridged copy. See v. 53-56, on p. 64.
THE BATTLE OF CORICHIE ON THE HILL OF FAIR, FOUGHT OCT. 28, 1562.
From Evans's _Old Ballads_, iii. 132.
The favor shown by Queen Mary to her brother Lord James Stuart, on her first coming to Scotland, excited a violent jealousy in Gordon, Earl of Huntly, who, as a Catholic, and the head of a loyal and powerful family in the North, expected no slight distinction from his sovereign. This jealousy broke out into open hostility when the Queen, in 1562, conferred on her brother the earldom of Murray, the honors and revenues of which had been enjoyed by Huntly since 1548. Mary was at this time on a progress in the northern part of her kingdom, attended by the new earl and a small escort. Huntly collected his vassals and posted himself at a place called the Fair Bank, or Corichie, near Aberdeen. Murray having increased his forces by seven or eight hundred of the Forbeses and Leslies, who, although attached to the Huntly faction, dared not disobey the Queen's summons, marched to the attack. As little confidence could be placed in the good faith of the northern recruits, he ordered them to begin the battle. In obedience to this command, they advanced against the enemy, but instantly recoiled and retreated in a pretended panic on Murray's reserve, followed by the Gordons in disorder. The Queen's party received both the flying and the pursuers with an impenetrable front of lances. Huntly was repulsed, and the other northern clans, seeing how the victory was going, turned their swords upon their friends.
Many of the Gordons were slain, and the Earl, who was old and fat, being thrown from his horse, was smothered in the retreat. His sons John and Adam were taken prisoners, and the former was put to death at Aberdeen the day after the battle.
The following ballad, it will be perceived, is utterly at variance with the facts of history. It was first printed in Evans's _Old Ballads_, and is said to be the composition of one Forbes, schoolmaster at Mary-Culter, on Dee-side. The dialect is broad Aberdeen.
Murn ye heighlands, and murn ye leighlands, I trow ye hae meikle need; For thi bonny burn o' Corichie His run this day wi' bleid.
Thi hopefu' laird o' Finliter,[L5] 5 Erle Huntly's gallant son, For thi love hi bare our beauteous quine His gar't fair Scotland mone.
Hi his braken his ward in Aberdene, Throu dreid o' thi fause Murry, 10 And his gather't the gentle Gordone clan, An' his father, auld Huntly.
Fain wid he tak our bonny guide quine, An' beare hir awa' wi' him; But Murry's slee wyles spoil't a' thi sport, 15 An' reft him o' lyfe and lim.
Murry gar 't rayse thi tardy Merns men, An' Angis, an' mony ane mair, Erle Morton, and the Byres Lord Linsay, An' campit at thi hill o' Fare. 20
Erle Huntlie came wi' Haddo Gordone, An' countit ane thusan men; But Murry had abien twal hunder, Wi' sax score horsemen and ten.
They soundit thi bougills an' the trumpits, 25 An' marchit on in brave array, Till the spiers an' the axis forgatherit, An' than did begin thi fray.
Thi Gordones sae fercelie did fecht it, Withouten terrer or dreid, 30 That mony o' Murry's men lay gaspin, An' dyit thi grund wi theire bleid.
Then fause Murry feingit to flee them, An' they pursuit at his backe, Whan thi haf o' thi Gordones desertit, 35 An' turnit wi' Murray in a crack.
Wi hether i' thir bonnits they turnit, The traiter Haddo o' their heid, An' slaid theire brithers an' their fatheris, An' spoilit an' left them for deid. 40
Then Murry cried to tak thi auld Gordone, An' mony ane ran wi' speid; But Stuart o' Inchbraik had him stickit, An' out gushit thi fat lurdane's bleid.
Then they teuke his twa sones quick an' hale, 45 An' bare them awa' to Aberdene; But fair did our guide quine lament Thi waeful chance that they were tane.
Erle Murry lost mony a gallant stout man; Thi hopefu' laird o' Thornitune, 50 Pittera's sons, an Egli's far fearit laird, An mair to mi unkend, fell doune.
Erle Huntly mist ten score o' his bra' men, Sum o' heigh an' sum o' leigh degree; Skeenis youngest son, thi pryde o' a' the clan, Was ther fun' dead, he widna flee. 55
This bloody fecht wis fercely faucht Octobri's aught an' twinty day, Crystis' fyfteen hundred thriscore yeir An' twa will merk thi deidlie fray. 60
But now the day maist waefu' came, That day the quine did grite her fill, For Huntly's gallant stalwart son, Wis heidit on thi heidin hill.
Fyve noble Gordones wi' him hangit were 65 Upon thi samen fatal playne; Crule Murry gar't thi waefu' quine luke out, And see hir lover an' liges slayne.
I wis our quine had better frinds, I wis our country better peice; 70 I wis our lords wid na' discord, I wis our weirs at hame may ceise.
THE BATTLE OF BALRINNES,
(OTHERWISE CALLED THE BATTLE OF GLENLIVET.)
When Philip the Second was preparing his Armada for the conquest of England, he spared no pains to induce James of Scotland to favor his enterprise. Elizabeth, on her part, was not less active to secure the friendship of a neighbor, who, by opening or closing his ports, might do so much to assist or to counteract the projects of her enemy. James had the wisdom to see that it was not for his interest to ally himself with a power that sought the extinction of the faith which he professed, and the subjugation of a kingdom to which he was the heir.
The Spanish overtures were rejected, and the great body of the people, warmly applauding the king's decision, entered into a combination to resist an attempt to land at any point on the Scottish coast. There was, nevertheless, a small party in Scotland which favoured the designs of Philip. At the head of this faction were the Catholic Earls of Huntly, Errol, and Angus. Even after the dispersion of the Armada, they kept up negotiations with the Prince of Parma and the King of Spain, in the hope of restoring the ancient religion, or at least of obtaining for themselves an equality of privileges with the Protestants. More than once were the leaders of this party committed to prison for overt acts of treason, and released by the clemency of the sovereign, but suffering as the Romanists did under the oppression of a fanatical majority, rebellion was their natural condition.
After various acts of insubordination, continued for a series of years, it was proved beyond question that the Catholic earls had signed papers for an invasion of Britain by 30,000 foreigners. A Convention of Estates, summoned to consider the affair, finally determined that the three earls should be exempt from further inquiry on account of this conspiracy, but that before the first day of February, 1594, they should either renounce the errors of Popery, or remove from the kingdom. The Catholic leaders, relying on the number of their supporters, and not less on the inaccessible nature of the country in which their estates lay, scornfully rejected the choice proposed to them, renewed their connections with Spain, and were accordingly declared guilty of high treason and subjected to the doom of forfeiture.
King James's exchequer was at this time so low that it was impossible for him to undertake the enforcing of this sentence in person. He was obliged to delegate the office to the young Earl of Argyle, who was induced to accept the appointment by the promise of a portion of Huntly's forfeited estates. The prospect of booty and the authority of the chief of the Campbells drew together six or seven thousand Highlanders, to whom were joined some hundreds of men from the Western Islands, under the chief of Maclean. With this body, one fourth of whom carried firelocks, while the rest were armed after the Gaelic fashion, Argyle descended from the hills towards Huntly's castle of Strathbogie.
The chief of the Gordons, suddenly assailed, had no time to procure assistance from Angus. He collected about a thousand gentlemen of his own name, and Errol came to his aid with two or three hundred of the Hays. All these were men of birth, well armed and mounted, and to this small, but powerful, troop of cavalry, was added a train of six field pieces (engines very terrible to Highlanders), under the management of an excellent soldier, the very same Captain Ker, who has figured already in the ballad of _Edom o' Gordon_.
The armies encountered at a place called Belrinnes in a district called Glenlivet. The Highlanders were posted on a mountain-side, so steep that footmen could barely keep their hold. Notwithstanding this obstacle, the Earls determined to attempt the ascent, and Errol, supported by Sir Patrick Gordon, led the Hays up the hill in the very face of the foe. While the vanguard was advancing, Ker brought some of his artillery to bear on Argyle's front, which threw the Highlanders into confusion, and caused some of them to fly. Errol's horsemen, however, were soon forced by the steepness of the mountain to wheel and move obliquely, and their flank being thus exposed, their horses suffered considerable damage from a volley of bullets and arrows. Upon this Huntly made a fierce attack upon Argyle's centre, and bore down his banner, and his cavalry soon after attaining to more even ground, where their horses could operate with efficiency, the Highlanders, who were destitute of lances, and so unable to withstand the shock, were driven down the other side of the hill, and put to utter rout. The chief of Maclean alone withstood the assault of the horsemen, and performed marvellous feats of bravery, but was at last forced off the field by his own soldiers, and Argyle himself was compelled to fly, weeping with anger. Of the Catholics, Sir Patrick Gordon, Huntley's uncle, was slain, with only twelve others. The loss of the other party was several hundred soldiers, besides some men of note, among them Campbell of Lochinzell.
This battle was fought on the third of October, 1594. The action is called the Battle of Glenlivet, or of Balrinnes, and also of Strath-aven.--See the 38th chapter of Sir W. Scott's _History of Scotland_, and the contemporary narrative in Dalzell's _Scotish Poems of the Sixteenth Century_, i. 136.
The ballad which follows is taken from the publication of Dalzell just mentioned, vol. ii. p. 347. There is a copy in the Pepys Collection, and another in the Advocates' Library, printed at Edinburgh in 1681. The ballad is also printed, undoubtedly from a stall copy, in _Scarce Ancient Ballads_, p. 29. The first four stanzas had previously been given in Jamieson's _Popular Ballads_, ii. 144.
The older version of Dalzell is somewhat defective, and abounds in errors, which, as well as the vitiated orthography, are attributed to the ignorance of an English transcriber. The omissions are here supplied in the margin from the other copies.
Betuixt Dunother and Aberdein, I rais and tuik the way, Beleiuing weill it had not beine Nought halff ane hour to day.
The lift was clad with cloudis gray, 5 And owermaskit was the moone, Quhilk me deceaued whair I lay, And maid me ryss ouer soone.
On Towie Mounth I mett a man, Weill grathed in his gear: 10 Quoth I, "Quhat neues?" then he begane To tell a fitt of warre.
Quoth he, "Of lait I heir,[L13]
Ane bloodie broust there was brouine, Zesterday, withouten moir, 15 Upone ane hill at Strathdoune."
Then I, as any man wold be, 25 Desyrous for to know Mair of that taill he told to me, The quhilk he said he sawe-- Be then the day began to daw, And back with him I red; 30 Then he began the soothe to schaw, And on this wayis he said.
Macallenmore cam from the wast With many a bow and brand; To wast the Rinnes he thought best, 35 The Earll of Huntlies land.[L36]
He swore that none should him gainestand, Except that he war fay; Bot all sould be at his comand That dwelt be northen Tay. 40
Then Huntlie, for to prevent that perrill, Directit hastilie Unto the noble Erll of Erroll, Besought him for supplie.
Quha said, "It is my deutie 45 For to giue Huntlie support; For if he lossis Strabolgie, My Slaines will be ill hurt.