NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
This ballad, notwithstanding its present appearance, has a claim
to very high antiquity. It has been preserved by tradition; and is,
perhaps, the most authentic instance of a long and very old poem,
exclusively thus preserved. It is only known to a few old people, upon
the sequestered banks of the Ettrick; and is published, as written
down from the recitation of the mother of Mr. James Hogg , who
sings, or rather chaunts it, with great animation. She learned the
ballad from a blind man, who died at the advanced age of ninety,
and is said to have been possessed of much traditionary knowledge.
Although the language of this poem is much modernised, yet many words,
which the reciters have retained, without understanding them, still
preserve traces of its antiquity. Such are the words Springals
(corruptly pronounced Springwalls), sowies,
portcullize, and many other appropriate terms of war and
chivalry, which could never have been introduced by a modern
ballad-maker. The incidents are striking and well-managed; and they
are in strict conformity with the manners of the age, in which they
are placed. The editor has, therefore, been induced to illustrate
them, at considerable length, by parallel passages from Froissard, and
other historians of the period to which the events refer.
The date of the ballad cannot be ascertained with any degree of
accuracy. Sir Richard Maitland, the hero of the poem, seems to have
been in possession of his estate about 1250; so that, as he survived
the commencement of the wars betwixt England and Scotland, in 1296,
his prowess against the English, in defence of his castle of Lauder,
or Thirlestane, must have been exerted during his extreme old age. He
seems to have been distinguished for devotion, as well as valour; for,
A.D. 1249, Dominus Ricardus de Mautlant gave to the abbey of Dryburgh,
"Terras suas de Haubentside, in territorio suo de Thirlestane,
pro salute animae suae, et sponsae suae, antecessorum suorum et
successorum suorum, in perpetuum ." He also gave, to the same
convent, "Omnes terras, quas Walterus de Giling tenuit in feodo suo
de Thirlestane, et pastura incommuni de Thirlestane, ad quadraginta
oves, sexaginta vaccas, et ad viginti equos."—Cartulary of
Dryburgh Abbey, in the Advocates' Library.
From the following ballad, and from the family traditions referred to
in the Maitland MSS., Auld Maitland appears to have had three sons;
but we learn, from the latter authority, that only one survived him,
who was thence surnamed Burd alane, which signifies either
unequalled, or solitary. A Consolation, addressed
to Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington, a poet and scholar who
flourished about the middle of the sixteenth century, and who gives
name to the Maitland MSS., draws the following parallel betwixt his
domestic misfortunes and those of the first Sir Richard, his great
Sic destanie and derfe devoring deid
Oft his own hous in hazard put of auld;
Bot your forbeiris, frovard fortounes steid
And bitter blastes, ay buir with breistis bauld;
Luit wanweirdis work and walter ay they wald,
Thair hardie hairtis hawtie and heroik,
For fortounes feid or force wald never fauld;
Bot stormis withstand with stomak stoat and stoik.
Renowned Richert of your race record,
Quhais prais and prowis cannot be exprest;
Mair lustie lynyage nevir haid ane lord,
For he begat the bauldest bairnis and best,
Maist manful men, and madinis maist modest,
That ever wes syn Pyramus tym of Troy,
But piteouslie thai peirles perles apest.
Bereft him all hot Buird-allane, a boy
Himselfe was aiget, his hous hang be a har,
Duill and distres almaist to deid him draife;
Yet Burd-allane, his only son and air,
As wretched, vyiss, and valient, as the laive,
His hous uphail'd, quhilk ye with honor haive.
So nature that the lyk invyand name, 
In kindlie cair dois kindly courage craif,
To follow him in fortoune and in fame.
Richerd he wes, Richerd ye are also,
And Maitland als, and magnanime as he;
In als great age, als wrappit are in wo,
Sewin sons  ye haid might contravaill his thrie,
Bot Burd-allane ye haive behind as he:
The lord his linage so inlarge in lyne,
And mony hundreith nepotis grie and grie 
Sen Richert wes as hundreth yeiris are hyne.
An Consolator Ballad to the Richt Honorabill Sir Richert Maitland of Lethingtoune.
—Maitland MSS. in Library of Edinburgh University.
Sir William Mautlant, or Maitland, the eldest and sole surviving son
of Sir Richard, ratified and confirmed, to the monks of Dryburgh,
"Omnes terras quas Dominus Ricardus de Mautlant pater suus fecit
dictis monachis in territorio suo de Thirlestane," Sir William
is supposed to have died about 1315.—Crawford's Peerage.
Such were the heroes of the ballad. The castle of Thirlestane is
situated upon the Leader, near the town of Lauder. Whether the present
building, which was erected by Chancellor Maitland, and improved by
the Duke of Lauderdale, occupies the site of the ancient castle, I
do not know; but it still merits the epithet of a "darksome
house." I find no notice of the siege in history; but there is
nothing improbable in supposing, that the castle, during the stormy
period of the Baliol wars, may have held out against the English. The
creation of a nephew of Edward I., for the pleasure of slaying him by
the hand of young Maitland, is a poetical licence ; and may induce
us to place the date of the composition about the reign of David II.,
or of his successor, when the real exploits of Maitland, and his sons,
were in some degree obscured, as well as magnified, by the lapse of
time. The inveterate hatred against the English, founded upon the
usurpation of Edward I., glows in every line of the ballad.
Auld Maitland is placed, by Gawain Douglas, bishop of Dunkeld,
among the popular heroes of romance, in his allegorical Palice of
I Saw Raf Coilyear with his thrawin brow,
Crabit John the Reif, and auld Cowkilbeis Sow;
And how the wran cam out of Ailsay,
And Peirs Plowman , that meid his workmen few;
Gret Gowmacmorne, and Fyn MacCowl, and how
They suld be goddis in Ireland, as they say.
Thair saw I Maitland upon auld beird gray,
Robine Hude, and Gilbert with the quhite hand,
How Hay of Nauchton flew in Madin land.
In this curious verse, the most noted romances, or popular histories,
of the poet's day, seem to be noticed. The preceding stanza describes
the sports of the field; and that, which follows, refers to the tricks
of "jugailrie;" so that the three verses comprehend the whole pastimes
of the middle ages, which are aptly represented as the furniture of
dame Venus's chamber. The verse, referring to Maitland, is obviously
corrupted; the true reading was, probably, "with his auld beird
gray." Indeed the whole verse is full of errors and corruptions; which
is the greater pity, as it conveys information, to be found no where
The descendant of Auld Maitland, Sir Richard of Lethington, seems to
have been frequently complimented on the popular renown of his great
ancestor. We have already seen one instance; and in an elegant copy
of verses in the Maitland MSS., in praise of Sir Richard's seat of
Lethingtoun, which he had built, or greatly improved, this obvious
topic of flattery does not escape the poet. From the terms of his
panegyric we learn, that the exploits of auld Sir Richard with the
gray beard, and of his three sons, were "sung in many far countrie,
albeit in rural rhyme;" from which we may infer, that they were
narrated rather in the shape of a popular ballad, than in a romance
of price. If this be the case, the song, now published, may have
undergone little variation since the date of the Maitland MSS.; for,
divesting the poem, in praise of Lethington, of its antique spelling,
it would run as smoothly, and appear as modern, as any verse in the
following ballad. The lines alluded to, are addressed to the castle of
And happie art thou sic a place,
That few thy mak ar sene:
But yit mair happie far that race
To quhome thou dois pertene.
Quha dais not knaw the Maitland bluid,
The best in all this land?
In quhilk sumtyme the honour stuid
And worship of Scotland.
Of auld Sir Richard, of that name,
We have hard sing and say;
Of his triumphant nobill fame,
And of his auld baird gray.
And of his nobill sonnis three,
Quhilk that tyme had no maik;
Quhilk maid Scotland renounit be,
And all England to quaik.
Quhais luifing praysis, maid trewlie,
Efter that simple tyme,
Ar sung in monie far countrie,
Albeit in rural rhyme.
And, gif I dar the treuth declair,
And nane me fleitschour call,
I can to him find a compair,
And till his barnis all.
It is a curious circumstance, that this interesting tale, so often
referred to by ancient authors, should be now recovered in so perfect
a state; and many readers may be pleased to see the following sensible
observations, made by a person, born in Ettrick Forest, in the humble
situation of a shepherd. "I am surprised to hear, that this song is
suspected by some to be a modern forgery; the contrary will be best
proved, by most of the old people, hereabouts, having a great part
of it by heart. Many, indeed, are not aware of the manners of this
country; till this present age, the poor illiterate people, in these
glens, knew of no other entertainment, in the long winter nights, than
repeating, and listening to, the feats of their ancestors, recorded in
songs, which I believe to be handed down, from father to son, for many
generations; although, no doubt, had a copy been taken, at the end of
every fifty years, there must have been some difference, occasioned
by the gradual change of language. I believe it is thus that many
very ancient songs have been gradually modernised, to the common
ear; while, to the connoisseur, they present marks of their genuine
antiquity."—Letter to the Editor from Mr. James Hogg. To the
observations of my ingenious correspondent I have nothing to add,
but that, in this, and a thousand other instances, they accurately
coincide with my personal knowledge.
There lived a king in southern land,
King Edward hight his name;
Unwordily he wore the crown,
Till fifty years were gane.
He had a sister's son o's ain,
Was large of blood and bane;
And afterward, when he came up,
Young Edward hight his name.
One day he came before the king,
And kneel'd low on his knee—
"A boon, a boon, my good uncle,
"I crave to ask of thee!
"At our lang wars, in fair Scotland,
"I fain hae wished to be;
"If fifteen hundred waled  wight men
"You'll grant to ride wi' me."
"Thou sail hae thae, thou sail hae mae;
"I say it sickerlie;
"And I mysell, an auld gray man,
"Array'd your host sall see."
King Edward rade, King Edward ran—
I wish him dool and pyne!
Till he had fifteen hundred men
Assembled on the Tyne.
And thrice as many at Berwicke 
Were all for battle bound,
Who, marching forth with false Dunbar,
A ready welcome found.
They lighted on the banks of Tweed,
And blew their coals sae het,
And fired the Merse and Teviotdale,
All in an evening late.
As they fared up o'er Lammermore,
They burned baith up and down,
Until they came to a darksome house;
Some call it Leader-Town.
"Wha hauds this house?" young Edward cry'd,
"Or wha gies't ower to me?"
A gray-hair'd knight set up his head,
And crackit right crousely:
"Of Scotland's king I haud my house;
"He pays me meat and fee;
"And I will keep my gude auld house,
"While my house will keep me."
They laid their sowies to the wall,
Wi' mony a heavy peal;
But he threw ower to them agen
Baith pitch and tar barrel.
With springalds, stanes, and gads of airn,
Amang them fast he threw;
Till mony of the Englishmen
About the wall he slew.
Full fifteen days that braid host lay,
Sieging Auld Maitland keen,
Syne they hae left him, hail and fair,
Within his strength of stane.
Then fifteen barks, all gaily good,
Met them upon a day,
Which they did lade with as much spoil
As they could bear away.
"England's our ain by heritage;
"And what can us withstand,
"Now we hae conquer'd fair Scotland,
"With buckler, bow, and brand?"
Then they are on to the land o' France,
Where auld King Edward lay,
Burning baith castle, tower, and town,
That he met in his way,
Untill he came unto that town,
Which some call Billop-Grace;
There were Auld Maitland's sons, a' three,
Learning at school, alas!
The eldest to the youngest said,
"O see ye what I see?
"Gin a' be trew yon standard says ,
"We're fatherlesse a' three.
"For Scotland's conquer'd, up and down;
"Landmen we'll never be:
"Now, will ye go, my brethren two,
"And try some jeopardy?"
Then they hae saddled twa black horse,
Twa black horse, and a grey;
And they are on to King Edward's host,
Before the dawn of day.
When they arriv'd before the host,
They hover'd on the lay—
"Wilt thou lend me our king's standard,
"To bear a little way?"
"Where was thou bred? where was thou born?
"Where, or in what countrie?"
"In north of England I was born:
(It needed him to lie.)
"A knight me gat, a lady bore,
"I'm a squire of high renowne;
I well may bear't to any king,
"That ever yet wore crowne."
"He ne'er came of an Englishman,
"Had sic an e'e or bree;
"But thou art the likest Auld Maitland,
"That ever I did see.
"But sick a gloom, on ae brow-head,
"Grant I ne'er see agane!
"For mony of our men he slew,
"And mony put to pain."
When Maitland heard his father's name,
An angry man was he!
Then, lifting up a gilt dagger,
Hung low down by his knee,
He stabb'd the knight, the standard bore,
He stabb'd him cruellie;
Then caught the standard by the neuk,
And fast away rode he.
"Now, is't na time, brothers," he cried,
"Now, is't na time to flee?"
"Aye, by my sooth!" they baith replied,
"We'll bear you company."
The youngest turn'd him in a path,
And drew a burnished brand,
And fifteen of the foremost slew,
Till back the lave did stand.
He spurr'd the gray into the path,
Till baith his sides they bled—
"Gray! thou maun carry me away,
"Or my life lies in wad!"
The captain lookit ower the wa',
About the break o' day;
There he beheld the three Scots lads,
Pursued along the way.
"Pull up portcullize! down draw-brigg!
"My nephews are at hand;
And they sall lodge wi' me to-night,
"In spite of all England."
Whene'er they came within the yate,
They thrust their horse them frae,
And took three lang spears in their hands,
Saying, "Here sall come nae mae!".
And they shot out, and they shot in,
Till it was fairly day;
When mony of the Englishmen
About the draw-brigg lay.
Then they hae yoked carts and wains,
To ca' their dead away,
And shot auld dykes aboon the lave,
In gutters where they lay.
The king, at his pavilion door,
Was heard aloud to say,
"Last night, three o' the lads o' France
"My standard stole away.
"Wi' a fause tale, disguised, they came,
"And wi' a fauser trayne;
"And to regain my gaye standard,
"These men were a' down slayne."
"It ill befits," the youngest said,
"A crowned king to lie;
"But, or that I taste meat and drink,
"Reproved sall he be."
He went before King Edward strait,
And kneel'd low on his knee;
"I wad hae leave, my lord," he said,
"To speak a word wi' thee."
The king he turned him round about,
And wistna what to say—
Quo' he, "Man, thou's hae leave to speak,
Tho' thou should speak a' day."
"Ye said, that three young lads o' France
"Your standard stole away,
"Wi' a fause tale, and fauser trayne,
"And mony men did slay:
"But we are nane the lads o' France,
"Nor e'er pretend to be;
"We are three lads o' fair Scotland,
"Auld Maitland's sons are we;
"Nor is there men, in a' your host,
"Daur fight us, three to three."
"Now, by my sooth," young Edward said,
"Weel fitted ye sall be!
"Piercy sall wi' the eldest fight,
"And Ethert Lunn wi' thee;
"William of Lancaster the third,
"And bring your fourth to me!"
"Remember, Piercy, aft the Scot 
"Has cow'rd beneath thy hand:
"For every drap of Maitland blood,
"I'll gie a rigg of land."
He clanked Piercy ower the head,
A deep wound and a sair,
Till the best blood o' his bodie
Cam rinning down his hair.
"Now, I've slayne ane; slay ye the twa;
"And that's gude companye;
"And if the twa suld slay you baith,
"Ye'se get na help frae me."
But Ethert Lunn, a baited bear,
Had many battles seen;
He set the youngest wonder sair,
Till the eldest he grew keen—
"I am nae king, nor nae sic thing:
"My word it shanna stand!
"For Ethert sail a buffet bide,
"Come he beneath my brand."
He clanked Ethert ower the head,
A deep wound and a sair,
Till the best blood of his bodie
Cam rinning ower his hair.
"Now I've slayne twa; slay ye the ane;
"Is na that gude companye?
"And tho' the ane suld slay ye baith,
"Ye'se get na help o' me."
The twa-some they hae slayne the ane;
They maul'd him cruellie;
Then hung them over the draw-brigg,
That all the host might see.
They rade their horse, they ran their horse,
Then hovered on the lee;
"We be three lads o' fair Scotland,
"That fain wad fighting see."
This boasting, when young Edward heard.
An angry man was he!
"I'll take yon lad, I'll bind yon lad,
"And bring him bound to thee!"
"Now, God forbid," King Edward said,
"That ever thou suld try!
"Three worthy leaders we hae lost,
"And thou the fourth wad lie.
"If thou should'st hang on yon draw-brigg,
"Blythe wad I never be!"
But, wi' the poll-axe in his hand,
Upon the brigg sprang he.
The first stroke that young Edward gae,
He struck wi' might and mayn;
He clove the Maitlan's helmet stout,
And bit right nigh the brayn.
When Maitland saw his ain blood fa',
An angry man was he!
He let his weapon frae him fa',
And at his throat did flee.
And thrice about he did him swing,
Till on the grund he light,
Where he has halden young Edward,
Tho' he was great in might.
"Now, let him up," King Edward cried,
"And let him come to me!
"And, for the deed that thou hast done,
"Thou shalt hae erldomes three!"
"Its ne'er be said in France, nor e'er
In Scotland, when I'm hame,
That Edward once lay under me,
And e'er gat up again!"
He pierced him through and through the heart;
He maul'd him cruellie;
Then hung him ower the draw-brigg,
Beside the other three.
"Now, take frae me that feather-bed!
"Mak me a bed o' strae!
"I wish I had na lived this day,
"To mak my heart sae wae.
"If I were ance at London tower,
"Where I was wont to be,
"I never mair suld gang frae hame,
"Till borne on a bier-tree."
NOTES ON AULD MAITLAND.
Young Edward hight his name.—P, 25. v. 2.
Were it possible to find an authority for calling this personage
Edmund, we should be a step nearer history; for a brother,
though not a nephew of Edward I., so named, died in Gascony during an
unsuccessful campaign against the French.—Knighton, Lib. III.
I wish him dool and pyne.—P. 26. v. 3.
Thus, Spenser, in Mother Huberd's tale—
Thus is this ape become a shepherd swain,
And the false fox his dog, God give them pain!
Who, marching forth with false Dunbar,
A ready welcome found.—P. 26. v. 4.
These two lines are modern, and inserted to complete the verse.
Dunbar, the fortress of Patrick, Earl of March, was too often opened
to the English, by the treachery of that baron, during the reign of
They laid their sowies to the wall,
Wi' many a heavy peal.—P. 27. v. 4.
In this and the following verse, the attack and defence of a
fortress, during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, is described
accurately and concisely. The sow was a military engine, resembling
the Roman testudo. It was framed of wood, covered with hides,
and mounted on wheels, so that, being rolled forwards to the foot
of the besieged wall, it served as a shed, or cover, to defend the
miners, or those who wrought the battering ram, from the stones and
arrows of the garrison. In the course of the famous defence, made by
Black Agnes, Countess of March, of her husband's castle of Dunbar,
Montague, Earl of Salisbury, who commanded the besiegers, caused one
of these engines to be wheeled up to the wall. The countess, who, with
her damsels, kept her station on the battlements, and affected to wipe
off with her handkerchief the dust raised by the stones, hurled from
the English machines, awaited the approach of this new engine of
assault. "Beware, Montague," she exclaimed, while the fragment of a
rock was discharged from the wall—"Beware, Montague! for farrow shall
thy sow!"  Their cover being dashed to pieces, the assailants, with
great loss and difficulty, scrambled back to their trenches. "By
the regard of suche a ladye," would Froissart have said, "and by her
comforting, a man ought to be worth two men, at need." The sow was
called by the French Truie.—See Hailes' Annals,
Vol. II. p. 89. Wintown's Cronykil, Book VIII. William of
Malmesbury, Lib. IV.
The memory of the sow is preserved in Scotland by two
trifling circumstances. The name given to an oblong hay-stack, is a
hay-sow; and this may give us a good idea of the form of the
machine. Children also play at a game with cherry stones, placing a
small heap on the ground, which they term a sowie, endeavouring
to hit it, by throwing single cherry-stones, as the sow was formerly
battered from the walls of the besieged fortress. My companions,
at the High School of Edinburgh, will remember what was meant by
berrying a sowie. It is strange to find traces of military
antiquities in the occupation of the husbandman, and the sports of
The pitch and tar-barrels of Maitland were intended to consume the
formidable machines of the English. Thus, at a fabulous siege of York,
by Sir William Wallace, the same mode of defence is adopted:
The Englishmen, that cruel were and kene,
Keeped their town, and fended there full fast;
Faggots of fire among the host they cast,
Up pitch and tar on feil sowis they lent;
Many were hurt ere they from the walls went;
Stones on Springalds they did cast out so fast,
And goads of iron made many grome agast.
Henry the Minstrel's History of Wallace.—B. 8. c. 5.
A more authentic illustration may be derived from Barbour's Account
of the Siege of Berwick, by Edward II., in 1319, when a sow
was brought on to the attack by the English, and burned by the
combustibles hurled down upon it, through the device of John Crab, a
Flemish engineer, in the Scottish service.
And thai, that at the sege lay,
Or it was passyt the fyft day,
Had made thaim syndry apparall,
To gang eft sonys till assaill.
Off gret gests a sow thai maid,
That stalwart heildyne aboyne it haid;
With armyt men inew tharin,
And instruments for to myne.
Syndry scaffalds thai maid withall,
That war wele heyar than the wall,
And ordanyt als that, be the se,
The town suld weill assaillyt be.
Thai within, that saw thaim swa,
Swa gret apparaill schap to ma,
Throw Craby's cunsaill, that wes sley,
A crane thai haiff gert dress up hey,
Rynnand on quheills, that thai micht bryng
It quhar that nede war off helping.
And pyk, and ter, als haiff thai tane;
And lynt, and herds, and brymstane;
And dry treyis that wele wald brin,
And mellyt aythir other in:
And gret fagalds thairoff thai maid,
Gyrdyt with irne bands braid.
The fagalds weill mycht mesuryt be,
Till a gret towrys quantite.
The fagalds bryning in a ball,
With thair cran thoucht till awaill;
And giff the sow come to the wall,
To lat it brynand on her fall;
And with stark chenyeis hald it thar,
Quhill all war brynt up that thar war.
Upon sic maner gan thai fycht,
Quhill it wes ner none off the day,
That thai without, on gret aray,
Pryssyt thair sow towart the wall;
And thai within sune gert call
The engynour, that takyn was,
And gret manance till hym mais,
And swour that he suld dey, bot he
Prowyt on the sow sic sutelté
That he to fruschyt ilk dele,
And he, that hath persawyt wele
That the dede wes wele ner hym till,
Bot giff he mycht fulfil thair will
Thoucht that he at hys mycht wald do.
Bendyt in gret by then wes sche,
That till the sow wes ewyn set.
In hy he gert draw the cleket;
And smertly swappyt owt a stane,
Ewyn our the sow the stane is gane,
And behind it a litill way
It fell: and then they cryt, "Hey!"
That war in hyr, "furth to the wall,
For dredles it is ours all!"
The gynour than deleuerly
Gert bend the gyn in full gret hy;
And the stane smertly swappyt out.
It flaw out quethyr, and with a rout,
And fell rycht ewyn befor the sow.
Thair harts than begouth to grow.
Bot yhet than, with thair mychts all
Thai pressyt the sow towart the wall;
And has hyr set tharto gentilly.
The gynour than gert bend in hy
The gyne, and wappyt owt the stane,
That ewyn towart the lyft is gane,
And with gret wycht syne duschyt doun,
Rycht be the wall in a randoun;
And hyt the sow in sic maner,
That it that wes the maist sowar,
And starkast for to stynt a strak,
In sundre with that dusche it brak.
The men than owt in full gret hy,
And on the wallis thai gan cry,
That thair sow wes feryt thar.
Jhon Crab, that had hys geer all yar
In hys fagalds has set the fyr,
And our the wall syne gan thai wyr,
And brynt the sow till brands bar.
The Bruce, Book XVII
The springalds, used in defence of the castle of Lauder,
were balistae, or large cross-bows, wrought by machinery, and
capable of throwing stones, beams, and huge darts. They were numbered
among the heavy artillery of the age; "Than the kynge made all
his navy to draw along, by the cost of the Downes, every ship well
garnished with bombardes, crosbowes, archers, springalls, and
Goads, or sharpened bars of iron, were an obvious and formidable
missile weapon. Thus, at the assault of Rochemiglion "They within
cast out great barres of iron, and pots with lyme, wherewith they
hurt divers Englishmen, such as adventured themselves too
far."—Froissart, Vol. I. cap. 108.
From what has been noticed, the attack and defence of Lauder castle
will be found strictly conformable to the manners of the age; a
circumstance of great importance, in judging of the antiquity of the
ballad. There is no mention of guns, though these became so common in
the latter part of the reign of Edward III., that, at the siege of St.
Maloes, "the English had well a four hondred gonnes, who shot day and
night into the fortresse, and agaynst it."—Froissart, Vol.
I. cap. 336. Barbour informs us, that guns, or "crakis of wer," as he
calls them, and crests for helmets, were first seen by the Scottish,
in their skirmishes with Edward the Third's host, in Northumberland
Which some call Billop-Grace.—P. 28. v. 5.
If this be a Flemish, or Scottish, corruption for Ville de Grace, in
Normandy, that town was never besieged by Edward I., whose wars in
France were confined to the province of Gascony. The rapid change of
scene, from Scotland to France, excites a suspicion, that some verses
may have been lost in this place. The retreat of the English
host, however, may remind us of a passage, in Wintown, when, after
mentioning that the Earl of Salisbury raised the siege of Dunbar, to
join King Edward in France, he observes,
"It was to Scotland a gud chance,
"That thai made thaim to werray in France;
"For had thai halyly thaim tane
"For to werray in Scotland allane.
Eftyr the gret mischeffis twa,
Duplyn and Hallydowne war tha,
Thai suld have skaithit it to gretly.
Bot fortowne thoucht scho fald fekilly
Will noucht at anis myscheffis fall;
Thare-fore scho set thare hartis all,
To werray Fraunce richit to be,
That Scottis live in grettar lé.
Cronykil, B. VIII. cap. 34.
Now, will ye go, my brethren two,
And try some jeopardie?—P. 29. v. 2.
The romantic custom of achieving, or attempting, some desperate and
perilous adventure, without either necessity or cause, was a peculiar,
and perhaps the most prominent, feature of chivalry. It was not merely
the duty, but the pride and delight, of a true knight, to perform such
exploits, as no one but a madman would have undertaken. I think it
is in the old French romance of Erec and Eneide, that an
adventure, the access to which lay through an avenue of stakes,
garnished with the bloody heads of the knights who had attempted and
failed to atchieve it, is called by the inviting title of La joie
de la Cour. To be first in advancing, or last in retreating; to
strike upon the gate of a certain fortress of the enemy; to fight
blindfold, or with one arm tied up; to carry off a banner, or to
defend one; were often the subjects of a particular vow, among the
sons of chivalry. Until some distinguishing exploit of this nature, a
young knight was not said to have won his spurs; and, upon some
occasions, he was obliged to bear, as a mark of thraldom, a chain upon
his arm, which was removed, with great ceremony, when his merit became
conspicuous. These chains are noticed in the romance of Jehan de
Saintré. In the language of German chivalry, they were called
Ketten des Gelubdes (fetters of duty). Lord Herbert of Cherbury
informs us, that the knights of the Bath were obliged to wear certain
strings, of silk and gold, upon their left arm, until they had
atchieved some noble deed of arms. When Edward III. commenced his
French wars, many of the young bachelors of England bound up one of
their eyes with a silk ribband, and swore, before the peacock and
the ladies, that they would not see with both eyes until they had
accomplished certain deeds of arms in France.—Froissart, cap.
A remarkable instance of this chivalrous frenzy occurred during
the expedition of Sir Robert Knowles, who, in 1370, marched through
France, and laid waste the country, up to the very gates of Paris.
"There was a knighte, in their companye, had made a vowe, the day
before, that he wolde ryde to the walles or gates of Parys, and stryke
at the barryers with his speare. And, for the fournyshing of his vowe,
he departed fro his companye, his spear in his fyst, his shelde
about his neck, armed at all pecesse, on a good horsse, his squyer on
another, behinde him, with his bassenet. And whan he approached neare
to Parys, he toke and dyde on his helme, and left his squyer behind
hym, and dashed his spurres to his horsse, and came gallopynge to
the barryers, the whiche as then were opyn; and the lordes, that were
there, had wened he wolde have entred into the towne; but that was
not his mynde; for, when he hadde stryken at the barryers, as he
had before avowed, he towrned his reyne, and drue back agayne, and
departed. Than the knightes of France, that sawe hym depart, sayd to
hym, 'Go your waye; you have ryghte well acquitted yourself.' I can
nat tell you what was thys knyghtes name, nor of what contre; but the
blazure of his armes was, goules, two fusses sable, a border sable.
Howbeit, in the subbarbes, he had a sore encontre; for, as he passed
on the pavement, he founde before hym a bocher, a bigge man, who had
well sene this knighte pass by. And he helde in his handes a sharpe
hevy axe, with a longe poynt; and, as the knyght returned agayne, and
toke no hede, this bocher came on his side, and gave the knyghte suche
a stroke, betwene the neck and the shulders, that he reversed forwarde
heedlynge, to the neck of his horsse, and yet he recovered agayne. And
than the bocher strake hym agayne, so that the axe entered into his
body, so that, for payne, the knyghte fell to the erthe, and his
horsse ran away, and came to the squyer, who abode for his mayster
at the stretes ende. And so, the squyer toke the horsse, and had gret
marveyle what was become of his mayster; for he had well sene him
ryde to the barryers, and stryke therat with his glayve, and retourne
agayne. Thanne he rode a lytell forthe, thyderwarde, and anone he sawe
where his master layn upon the erthe, bytwene foure men, layenge on
him strokes, as they wolde have stryken on a stethey (anvil);
and than the squyer was so affreyed, that he durst go no farther; for
he sawe well he could nat helpe his mayster. Therefore he retourned
as fast as he myght: so there the sayd knyghte was slayne. And the
knyghtes, that were at the gate, caused hym to be buried in holy
ground."—Froissart, ch. 281.
A similar instance of a military jeopardy occurs in the same author,
ch. 364. It happened before the gates of Troyes. "There was an
Englyshe squyre, borne in the bishopryke of Lincolne, an expert man
of armes; I can nat say whyder he could se or nat; but he spurred his
horse, his speare in his hande, and his targe about his necke; his
horse came rushyng downe the waye, and lept clene over the barres of
the baryers, and so galoped to the gate, where as the duke of Burgoyne
and the other lords of France were, who reputed that dede for a great
enterprise. The squyer thoughte to have returned, but he could nat;
for his horse was stryken with speares, and beaten downe, and
the squyer slayn; wherewith the Duke of Burgoyne was right sore
Wilt thou lend me our king's standard,
To bear a little way?—P. 29. v. 4.
In all ages, and in almost all countries, the military standards have
been objects of respect to the soldiery, whose duty it is to range
beneath them, and, if necessary, to die in their defence. In the ages
of chivalry, these ensigns were distinguished by their shape, and by
the various names of banners, pennons, penoncelles, &c., according to
the number of men, who were to fight under them. They were displayed,
on the day of battle, with singular solemnity, and consigned to the
charge only of such as were thought willing and able to defend them to
the uttermost. When the army of Edward, the Black Prince, was drawn
up against that of Henry the Bastard, king of Castile, "Than Sir Johan
Chandos brought his baner, rolled up togyder, to the prince, and said,
'Sir, behold, here is my baner. I requyre you display it abrode, and
give me leave, this daye, to raise it; for, sir, I thanke God and you,
I have land and heritage suffyciente to maynteyne it withal.' Than the
prince, and King Dampeter (Don Pedro), toke the baner betwene their
handes, and spred it abrode, the which was of sylver, a sharp pyle
gaules, and delyvered it to hym, and said, 'Sir Johan, behold here
youre baner; God sende you joye and honour thereof!' Than Sir Johan
Chandos bare his baner to his owne company, and sayde, 'Sirs, beholde
here my baner, and yours; kepe it as your owne.' And they toke it, and
were right joyful therof, and sayd, that, by the pleasure of God,
and Saint George, they wold kepe and defend it to the best of their
powers. And so the baner abode in the handes of a good Englishe
squyer, called William Alery, who bare it that day, and acquaytted
himself right nobly."—Froissart, Vol. I. ch. 237. The loss of
a banner was not only great dishonour, but an infinite disadvantage.
At the battle of Cocherel, in Normandy, the flower of the combatants,
on each side, were engaged in the attack and defence of the banner of
the captall of Buche, the English leader. It was planted amid a
bush of thorns, and guarded by sixty men at arms, who defended it
gallantly. "There were many rescues, and many a one hurt and cast to
the earth, and many feats of armes done, and many gret strokes given,
with good axes of steel, that it was wonder to behold." The battle did
not cease until the captall's standard was taken and torn to pieces.
We learn, from the following passage in Stowe's Chronicle, that
the standard of Edward I. was a golden dragon. "The king entred Wales
with an army, appointing the footmen to occupie the enemies in fight,
whiles his horsemen, in a wing, set on the rere battell: himselfe,
with a power, kept his place, where he pight his golden dragon, unto
whiche, as to a castle, the wounded and wearied might repair."
"Where was thou bred? where was thou born?
Where, or in what countrie?"
"In north of England I was born:
(It needed him to lie.)—P. 29. v. 5.
Stratagems, such as that of Maitland, were frequently practised with
success, in consequence of the complete armour worn by the knights of
the middle ages. In 1359, Edward III. entered France, to improve the
success of the battle of Poictiers. Two French knights, Sir Galahaut
of Rybamont, and Sir Roger of Cologne, rode forth, with their
followers, to survey the English host, and, in short, to seek
adventures. It chanced that they met a foraging party of Germans,
retained in King Edward's service, under the command of Reynold of
Boulant, a knight of that nation. By the counsel of a squire of his
retinue, Sir Galahaut joined company with the German knight, under the
assumed character of Bartholomew de Bonne, Reynold's countryman, and
fellow soldier in the English service. The French knights "were a 70
men of armes, and Sir Renolde had not past a 30; and, whan Sir Renolde
saw theym, he displayed his baner befor hym, and came softely rydynge
towarde theym, wenyng to hym that they had been Englyshemen. Whan he
approched, he lyft up hys vyser, saluted Sir Galahaut, in the name of
Sir Bartylmewe de Bonnes. Sir Galahaut helde hymselfe styll secrete,
and answered but fayntly, and sayd, 'let us ryde forth;' and so rode
on, and hys men, on the one syde, and the Almaygnes on the other. Whan
Sir Renolde of Boulant sawe theyr maner, and howe Sir Galahaut rode
sometyme by hym, and spake no word, than he began to suspecte. And
he had not so ryden, the space of a quarter of an hour, but he stode
styll, under his baner, among hys men, and sayd, 'Sir, I have dout
what knyght ye be. I thynke ye be nat Sir Bartylmewe, for I knowe hym
well; and I see well that yt ys nat you. I woll ye telle me your name,
or I ryde any farter in your company.' Therwith Sir Galahaut lyft
up hys vyser, and rode towardes the knyght to have taken hym by the
raygne of hys brydell, and cryed, 'Our Ladye of Rybamont!' than
Sir Roger of Coloyne sayd, 'Coloyne to the rescue!'  Whan
Sir Renolde of Boulant sawe what case he was in, he was nat gretly
afrayed, but drewe out his sworde; and, as Sir Galahaut wolde have
taken hym by the brydell, Sir Renolde put his sworde clene through
hym, and drue agayne hys sworde out of hym, and toke his horse, with
the spurres, and left Sir Galahaut sore hurt. And, whan Sir Galahautes
men sawe theyr master in that case, they were sore dyspleased, and set
on Sir Renolde's men; there were many cast to the yerth, but as sone
as Sir Renolde had gyven Sir Galahaut that stroke, he strak hys horse
with the spurres, and toke the feldes. Than certayne of Galahaut's
squyers chasyd hym, and, whan he sawe that they folowed hym so nere,
that he muste other tourne agayne, or els be shamed, lyke a hardy
knyght he tourned, and abode the foremost, and gave hym such a stroke,
that he had no more lyste to folwe him. And thus, as he rode on, he
served three of theym, that folowed hym, and wounded theym sore: if a
goode axe had been in hys hand, at every stroke he had slayne a man.
He dyd so muche, that he was out of danger of the Frenchmen, and saved
hymselfe withoute any hurte; the whyche hys enemyes reputed for a
grete prowess, and so dyd all other that harde thereof; but hys men
were nere slayne or taken, but few that were saved. And Sir Galahaut
was caryed from thence sore hurt to Perone; of that hurt he was never
after perfectly hole; for he was a knyght of suche courage, that, for
all his hurte, he wold not spare hymselfe; wherefore he lyved not long
after."—Froissart, Vol. I. Chap. 207.
The youngest turn'd him in a path,
And drew a burnished brand, &c.—P. 31. v. 2.
Thus, Sir Walter Mauny, retreating into the fortress of Hanyboute,
after a successful sally, was pursued by the besiegers, who ranne
after them, lyke madde men; than Sir Gualtier saide, "Let me never
be beloved wyth my lady, without I have a course wyth one of these
folowers!" and turning, with his lance in the rest, he overthrew
several of his pursuers, before he condescended to continue his
Whene'er they came within the yate,
They thrust their horse them frae, &c.—P. 32. v. 1.
"The Lord of Hangest (pursued by the English) came so to the barryers
(of Vandonne) that were open, as his happe was, and so entred in
therat, and than toke his speare, and turned him to defence, right
valiantly."—Froissart, Vol. I. Chap. 367.
They rade their horse, they ran their horse,
Then hovered on the lee, &c.—P. 36. v. 1.
The sieges, during the middle ages, frequently afforded opportunity
for single combat, of which the scene was usually the draw-bridge,
or barriers, of the town. The former, as the more desperate place of
battle, was frequently chosen by knights, who chose to break a lance
for honour, and their ladies' love. In 1387, Sir William Douglas,
lord of Nithisdale, upon the draw-bridge of the town of Carlisle,
consisting of two beams, hardly two feet in breadth, encountered and
slew, first, a single champion of England, and afterwards two, who
attacked him together.—Forduni Scotichronicon, Lib. XIV. cap.
He brynt the surburbys of Carlele,
And at the bareris he faucht sa wele,
That on thare bryg he slw a man,
The wychtast that in the town wes than:
Quhare, on a plank of twa feet brade,
He stude, and twa gude payment made,
That he feld twa stout fechteris,
And but skath went till his feres.
Wintown's Cronykil, Book IX. Chap. 8.
These combats at the barriers, or palisades, which formed the outer
fortification of a town, were so frequent, that the mode of attack and
defence was early taught to the future knight, and continued long
to be practised in the games of chivalry. The custom, therefore, of
defying the inhabitants of a besieged town to this sort of contest,
was highly fashionable in the middle ages; and an army could hardly
appear before a place, without giving rise to a variety of combats
at the barriers, which were, in general, conducted without any unfair
advantage being taken on either part.
The following striking example of this romantic custom occurs in
Froissart. During the French wars of Edward the Black Prince, and in
the year 1370, a body of English, and of adventurers retained in
his service, approached the city of Noyon, then occupied by a French
garrison, and arrayed themselves, with displayed banners, before
the town, defying the defenders to battle. "There was a Scottysh
knyghte  dyde there a goodly feate of armes, for he departed fro
his companye, hys speare in hys hand, and mounted on a good horse, hys
page behynde hyme, and so came before the barryers. Thys knyghte was
called Sir Johan Assueton,  a hardy man and a couragyous. Whan he
was before the barryers of Noyon, he lyghted a-fote, and sayd to hys
page, 'Holde, kepe my horse, and departe nat hens;' and so wente to
the barryers. And wythyn the barryers, there were good knyghtes; as,
Sir John of Roy, Sir Lancelat of Loutys, and a x or xii other, who
had grete marveyle what thys sayde knyghte wolde do. Than he sayde to
them, 'Sirs, I am come hyder to se you. I se well, ye wyll nat issue
out of your barryers; therefore I will entre, and I can, and wyll
prove my knyghthode agaynst yours; wyn me and ye can.' And therewyth
he layde on, round about hym, and they at hym. And thus, he alone
fought agaynst them, more than an houre; and dyd hurte two or three
of them; so that they of the towne, on the walles and garrettes,
stode still, and behelde them, and had great pleasure to regarde his
valyauntness, and dyd him no hurte; the whiche they myght have done,
if they hadde list to have shotte, or cast stones at hym. And also
the French knyghtes charged them to let hym and them alone togyder. So
long they foughte, that, at last, his page came near to the barryers,
and spake in his langage, and sayd, 'Sir, come awaye; it is time for
you to departe, for your cumpanye is departyng hens.' The knyghte
harde hym well, and than gave a two or three strokes about him, and
so, armed as he was, he lepte out of the barryers, and lepte upon
his horse, without any hurte, behynde his page; and sayd to the
Frenchemen, 'Adue, sirs! I thank you;' and so rode forthe to his
owne company. The whiche dede was moche praysed of many
folkes."—Froissart, cap. 278.
The barriers, so often alluded to, are described, by the same
admirable historian, to be grated pallisades, the grates being
about half a foot wide. In a skirmish before Honycourt, Sir Henry
of Flanders ventured to thrust his sword so far through one of those
spaces, that a sturdy abbot, who was within, seized his sword-arm,
and drew it through the harriers, up to the shoulder. In this aukward
situation he remained for some time, being unwilling to dishonour
himself by quitting his weapon. He was at length rescued, but lost his
sword; which Froissart afterwards saw preserved, as a relique, in the
monastery of Honycourt.—Vol. I. chap. 39. For instances of single
combats, at the barriers, see the same author, passim.
And if the twa suld slay ye baith,
Ye'se get na help frae me.—P. 34. v. 5.
According to the laws of chivalry, laws, which were also for a long
time observed in duels, when two or more persons were engaged on
each side, he, who first conquered his immediate antagonist, was at
liberty, if he pleased, to come to the assistance of his companions.
The play of the "Little French Lawyer" turns entirely upon this
circumstance; and it may be remarked throughout the poems of Boiardo
and Ariosto; particularly in the combat of three Christian and three
Pagan champions, in the 42d canto of Orlando Furioso. But
doubtless a gallant knight was often unwilling, like young Maitland,
to avail himself of this advantage. Something of this kind seems to
have happened in the celebrated combat, fought in the presence of
James II. at Stirling, in 1449, between three French, or Flemish,
warriors, and three noble Scottishmen, two of whom were of the house
of Douglas. The reader will find a literal translation of Olivier
de la Marche's account of this celebrated tourney, in Pinkerton's
History, Vol. I. p. 428.
I am nae king, nor nae sic thing:
My word it shanna stand!—P. 35. v. 2.
Maitland's apology for retracting his promise to stand neuter, is as
curious as his doing so is natural. The unfortunate John of France was
wont to say, that, if truth and faith were banished from all the rest
of the universe, they should still reside in the breast and the mouth
They maul'd him cruellie.—P. 35. v. 5.
This has a vulgar sound, but is actually a phrase of romance. Tant
frappent et maillent lex deux vassaux l'un sur l'autre, que
leurs heaumes, et leurs hauberts, sont tous cassez et rompus.—La
fleur des Battailes.
But, wi' the poll-axe in his hand,
Upon the brigg sprang he.—P. 36. v. 4.
The battle-axe, of which there are many kinds, was a knightly weapon,
much used in the middle ages, as well in single combat as in battle.
"And also there was a younge bachelor, called Bertrande of Glesguyne,
who duryng the seige, fought wyth an Englyshman, called Sir Nycholas
Dagerne; and that batayle was takene thre courses wyth a speare,
thre strokes wyth an axe, and thre wyth a dagger. And eche of these
knyghtes bare themselves so valyantly, that they departed fro the
felde wythout any damage, and they were well regarded, bothe of theyme
wythyn, and they wythout." This happened at the siege of Rennes, by
the Duke of Lancaster, in 1357.—Froissart, Vol. I. c. 175.
With the same weapon Godfrey of Harcourt long defended himself, when
surprised and defeated by the French. "And Sir Godfraye's men kepte
no goode array, nor dyd nat as they had promysed; moost part of theyme
fledde: whan Sir Godfraye sawe that, he sayde to hymselfe, howe he had
rather there be slayne than be taken by the Frenchmen; there he toke
hys axe in hys handes, and set fast the one legge before the other, to
stonde the more surely; for hys one legge was a lytell crooked, but
he was strong in the armes. Ther he fought valyantly and long: none
durste well abyde hys strokes; than two Frenchmen mounted on theyr
horses, and ranne both with their speares at ones at hym, and so
bare hym to the yerth: than other, that were a-fote, came wyth theyr
swerdes, and strake hym into the body, under his barneys, so that
ther he was slayne."—Ibid, chap. 172. The historian throws Sir
Godfrey into a striking attitude of desperation.
When Maitland saw his ain blude fa',
An angry man was he,—P. 37, v. 1.
There is a saying, that a Scottishman fights best after seeing his own
blood. Camerarius has contrived to hitch this foolish proverb into
a national compliment; for he quotes it as an instance of the
persevering gallantry of his countrymen. "Si in pugna proprium
effundi sanguinem vidissent, non statim prostrato animo concedebant,
sed irato potius in hostes velut furentes omnibus viribus
That Edward once lay under me,
And e'er gat up again.—P. 37. v. 4.
Some reciters repeat it thus:
"That Englishman lay under me,"
which is in the true spirit of Blind Harry, who makes Wallace say,
"I like better to see the southeron die,
"Than gold or land, that they can gie to me."
In slaying Edward, Maitland acts pitilessly, but not contrary to
the laws of arms, which did not enjoin a knight to shew mercy to his
antagonist, until he yielded him, "rescue or no rescue."
Thus, the seigneur de Languerant came before the walls of an English
garrison, in Gascony, and defied any of the defenders to run a course
with a spear: his challenge being accepted by Bertrand Courant, the
governor of the place, they couched their spears, like good knights,
and dashed on their horses. Their spears were broke to pieces, and
Languerant was overthrown, and lost his helmet among the horses' feet.
His attendants were coming up; but Bernard drew his dagger, and said,
"Sir, yield ye my prisoner, rescue or no rescue; else ye are but
dead." The dismounted champion spoke not a word; on which, Bertrand,
entering into fervent ire, dashed his dagger into his skull. Besides,
the battle was not always finished by one warrior obtaining this
advantage over the other. In the battle of Nejara, the famous Sir John
Chandos was overthrown, and held down, by a gigantic Spanish cavalier,
named Martino Fernandez. "Then Sir Johan Chandos remembred of a knyfe,
that he had in his bosome, and drew it out, and struck this Martyne
so in the backe, and in the sydes, that he wounded him to dethe, as he
laye upon hym." The dagger, which the knights employed in these close
and desperate struggles, was called the poniard of mercy.
There exists also an indenture, or bond, entered into by
Patrick, abbot of Kelsau, and his convent, referring to an engagement
betwixt them and Sir Richard Maitland, and Sir William, his eldest
son, concerning the lands of Hedderwicke, and the pasturages of
Thirlestane and Blythe. This Patrick was abbot of Kelso, betwixt 1258
i.e. Similar family distress demands the same
Sewin sons—This must include sons-in-law; for
the last Sir Richard, like his predecessor, had only three sons,
namely, I. William, the famous secretary of Queen Mary; II. Sir
John, who alone survived him, and is the Burd-allane of the
consolation; III. Thomas, a youth of great hopes, who died in
Italy. But he had four daughters, married to gentlemen of
fortune.—Pinkerton's List of Scottish Poets, p. 114.
Grie and grie—In regular descent; from
Such liberties with the genealogy of monarchs were
common to romancers. Henry the Minstrel makes Wallace slay more than
one of King Edward's nephews; and Johnie Armstrong claims the merit of
slaying a sister's son of Henry VIII.
It is impossible to pass over this curious list of
Scottish romances without a note; to do any justice to the subject
would require an essay.—Raf Coilyear is said to have been
printed by Lekprevik, in 1572; but no copy of the edition is known to
exist, and the hero is forgotten, even by popular tradition.
John the Reif, as well as the former personage, is mentioned by
Dunbar, in one of his poems, where he stiles mean persons,
Kyne of Rauf Colyard, and Johne the Reif.
They seem to have been robbers: Lord Hailes conjectured John the Reif
to be the same with Johnie Armstrong; but, surely, not with his usual
accuracy; for the Palice of Honour was printed twenty-eight
years before Johnie's execution. John the Reif is mentioned by
Lindesay, in his tragedy of Cardinal Beatoun.
—disagysit, like John the Raif, he geid.—
Cowkilbeis Sow is a strange legend in the Bannatyne MSS.—See
Complaynt of Scotland, p. 131.
How the wren came out of Ailsay.—The wren, I know not why, is
often celebrated in Scottish song. The testament of the wren is still
sung by the children, beginning,
The wren she lies in care's nest,
Wi' meikle dole and pyne.
This may be a modification of the ballad in the text.
Peirs Plowman is well known. Under the uncouth
names of Gow Mac Morn, and of Fyn MacCowl, the admirers of Ossian
are to recognise Gaul, the son of Morni, and Fingal himself; heu
quantum mutatus ab illo!
To illustrate the familiar character of Robin Hood, would be an
insult to my readers. But they may be less acquainted with Gilbert
with the White Hand, one of his brave followers. He is mentioned
in the oldest legend of that outlaw; Ritson's Robin Hood, p.
Thryes Robin shot about,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
With the White Hand.
Hay of Nachton I take to be the knight, mentioned by Wintown,
whose feats of war and travel may have become the subject of a
romance, or ballad. He fought, in Flanders, under Alexander, Earl of
Mar, in 1408, and is thus described;
Lord of the Nachtane, schire William,
Ane honest knycht, and of gud fame,
A travalit knycht lang before than.
And again, before an engagement,
The lord of Nachtane, schire William
The Hay, a knycht than of gud fame,
Mad schire Gilberte the Hay, knycht.
Cronykil, B. IX. c. 27.
I apprehend we should read "How Hay of Nachton slew in Madin
Land." Perhaps Madin is a corruption for Maylin, or Milan Land.
 North-Berwick, according to some reciters.
 Edward had quartered the arms of Scotland with his own.
 The two first lines are modern, to supply an imperfect
 This sort of bravade seems to have been fashionable in
those times: "Et avec drapeaux, et leurs chaperons, ils torchoient
les murs à l'endroit, ou les pierres venoient frapper."—Notice des
Manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Nationale.
 The war-cries of their family.
 By the terms of the peace betwixt England and Scotland,
the Scottish were left at liberty to take service either with France
or England, at their pleasure. Sir Robert Knolles, therefore, who
commanded the expedition, referred to in the text, had under his
command a hundred Scottish spears.
 Assueton is a corruption for Swinton. Sir John
Swinton, of Swinton, was a Scottish champion, noted for his courage
and gigantic stature.