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Title: Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy
Author: Lang, Andrew
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1910 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                             SIR WALTER SCOTT
                                 AND THE
                            BORDER MINSTRELSY

                               ANDREW LANG

                                * * * * *

                         LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
                        39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
                      NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA


PERSONS not much interested in, or cognisant of, “antiquarian old
womanries,” as Sir Walter called them, may ask “what all the pother is
about,” in this little tractate.  On my side it is “about” the veracity
of Sir Walter Scott.  He has been suspected of helping to compose, and of
issuing as a genuine antique, a ballad, _Auld Maitland_.  He also wrote
about the ballad, as a thing obtained from recitation, to two friends and
fellow-antiquaries.  If to Scott’s knowledge it was a modern imitation,
Sir Walter deliberately lied.

He did not: he did obtain the whole ballad from Hogg, who got it from
recitation—as I believe, and try to prove, and as Scott certainly
believed.  The facts in the case exist in published works, and in
manuscript letters of Ritson to Scott, and Hogg to Scott, and in the
original MS. of the song, with a note by Hogg to Laidlaw.  If we are
interested in the truth about the matter, we ought at least to read the
very accessible material before bringing charges against the Sheriff and
the Shepherd of Ettrick.

Whether _Auld Maitland_ be a good or a bad ballad is not part of the
question.  It was a favourite of mine in childhood, and I agree with
Scott in thinking that it has strong dramatic situations.  If it is a bad
ballad, such as many people could compose, then it is not by Sir Walter.

The _Ballad of Otterburne_ is said to have been constructed from Herd’s
version, tempered by Percy’s version, with additions from a modern
imagination.  We have merely to read Professor Child’s edition of
_Otterburne_, with Hogg’s letter covering his MS. copy of _Otterburne_
from recitation, to see that this is a wholly erroneous view of the
matter.  We have all the materials for forming a judgment accessible to
us in print, and have no excuse for preferring our own conjectures.

“No one now believes,” it may be said, “in the aged persons who lived at
the head of Ettrick,” and recited _Otterburne_ to Hogg.  Colonel Elliot
disbelieves, but he shows no signs of having read Hogg’s curious letter,
in two parts, about these “old parties”; a letter written on the day when
Hogg, he says, twice “pumped their memories.”

I print this letter, and, if any one chooses to think that it is a crafty
fabrication, I can only say that its craft would have beguiled myself as
it beguiled Scott.

It is a common, cheap, and ignorant scepticism that disbelieves in the
existence, in Scott’s day, or in ours, of persons who know and can recite
variants of our traditional ballads.  The strange song of _The Bitter
Withy_, unknown to Professor Child, was recovered from recitation but
lately, in several English counties.  The ignoble lay of _Johnny
Johnston_ has also been recovered: it is widely diffused.  I myself
obtained a genuine version of _Where Goudie rins_, through the kindness
of Lady Mary Glyn; and a friend of Lady Rosalind Northcote procured the
low English version of _Young Beichan_, or _Lord Bateman_, from an old
woman in a rural workhouse.  In Shropshire my friend Miss Burne, the
president of the Folk-Lore Society, received from Mr. Hubert Smith, in
1883, a very remarkable variant, undoubtedly antique, of _The Wife of
Usher’s Well_. {0a}  In 1896 Miss Backus found, in the hills of Polk
County, North Carolina, another variant, intermediate between the
Shropshire and the ordinary version. {0b}

There are many other examples of this persistence of ballads in the
popular memory, even in our day, and only persons ignorant of the facts
can suppose that, a century ago, there were no reciters at the head of
Ettrick, and elsewhere in Scotland.  Not even now has the halfpenny
newspaper wholly destroyed the memories of traditional poetry and of
traditional tales even in the English-speaking parts of our islands,
while in the Highlands a rich harvest awaits the reapers.

I could not have produced the facts, about _Auld Maitland_ especially,
and in some other cases, without the kind and ungrudging aid, freely
given to a stranger, of Mr. William Macmath, whose knowledge of
ballad-lore, and especially of the ballad manuscripts at Abbotsford, is
unrivalled.  As to _Auld Maitland_, Mr. T. F. Henderson, in his edition
of the _Minstrelsy_ (Blackwood, 1892), also made due use of Hogg’s MS.,
and his edition is most valuable to every student of Scott’s method of
editing, being based on the Abbotsford MSS.  Mr. Henderson suspects, more
than I do, the veracity of the Shepherd.

I am under obligations to Colonel Elliot’s book, as it has drawn my
attention anew to _Auld Maitland_, a topic which I had studied “somewhat
lazily,” like Quintus Smyrnæus.  I supposed that there was an
inconsistency in two of Scott’s accounts as to how he obtained the
ballad.  As Colonel Elliot points out, there was no inconsistency.  Scott
had two copies.  One was Hogg’s MS.: the other was derived from the
recitation of Hogg’s mother.

This trifle is addressed to lovers of Scott, of the Border, and of
ballads, _et non aultres_.

It is curious to see how facts make havoc of the conjectures of the
Higher Criticism in the case of _Auld Maitland_.  If Hogg was the forger
of that ballad, I asked, how did he know the traditions about Maitland
and his three sons, which we only know from poems of about 1576 in the
manuscripts of Sir Richard Maitland?  These poems in 1802 were, as far as
I am aware, still unpublished.

Colonel Elliot urged that Leyden would know the poems, and must have
known Hogg.  From Leyden, then, Hogg would get the information.  In the
text I have urged that Leyden did not know Hogg.  I am able now to prove
that Hogg and Leyden never met till after Laidlaw gave the manuscript of
_Auld Maitland_ to Hogg.

The fact is given in the original manuscript of Laidlaw’s _Recollections
of Sir Walter Scott_ (among the Laing MSS. in the library of the
University of Edinburgh).  Carruthers, in publishing Laidlaw’s
reminiscences, omitted the following passage.  After Scott had read _Auld
Maitland_ aloud to Leyden and Laird Laidlaw, the three rode together to
dine at Whitehope.

“Near the Craigbents,” says Laidlaw, “Mr. Scott and Leyden drew together
in a close and seemingly private conversation.  I, of course, fell back.
After a minute or two, Leyden reined in his horse (a black horse that Mr.
Scott’s servant used to ride) and let me come up.  ‘This Hogg,’ said he,
‘writes verses, I understand.’  I assured him that he wrote very
beautiful verses, and with great facility.  ‘But I trust,’ he replied,
‘that there is no fear of his passing off any of his own upon Scott for
old ballads.’  I again assured him that he would never think of such a
thing; and neither would he at that period of his life.

“‘Let him beware of forgery,’ cried Leyden with great force and energy,
and in, I suppose, what Mr. Scott used afterwards to call the _saw tones
of his voice_.”

This proves that Leyden had no personal knowledge of “this Hogg,” and did
not supply the shepherd with the traditions about Auld Maitland.

Mr. W. J. Kennedy, of Hawick, pointed out to me this passage in Laidlaw’s
_Recollections_, edited from the MS. by Mr. James Sinton, as reprinted
from the _Transactions_ of the Hawick Archæological Society, 1905.


SCOTT AND THE BALLADS                                  1
AULD MAITLAND                                         18
THE BALLAD OF OTTERBURNE                              53
KINMONT WILLIE                                       126
CONCLUSIONS                                          148


IT was through his collecting and editing of _The Border Minstrelsy_ that
Sir Walter Scott glided from law into literature.  The history of the
conception and completion of his task, “a labour of love truly, if ever
such there was,” says Lockhart, is well known, but the tale must be
briefly told if we are to understand the following essays in defence of
Scott’s literary morality.

Late in 1799 Scott wrote to James Ballantyne, then a printer in Kelso, “I
have been for years collecting Border ballads,” and he thought that he
could put together “such a selection as might make a neat little volume,
to sell for four or five shillings.”  In December 1799 Scott received the
office of Sheriff of Selkirkshire, or, as he preferred to say, of Ettrick
Forest.  In the Forest, as was natural, he found much of his materials.
The people at the head of Ettrick were still, says Hogg, {1a} like many
of the Highlanders even now, in that they cheered the long winter nights
with the telling of old tales; and some aged people still remembered, no
doubt in a defective and corrupted state, many old ballads.  Some of
these, especially the ballads of Border raids and rescues, may never even
have been written down by the original authors.  The Borderers, says
Lesley, Bishop of Ross, writing in 1578, “take much pleasure in their old
music and chanted songs, which they themselves compose, whether about the
deeds of their ancestors, or about ingenious raiding tricks and
stratagems.” {2a}

The historical ballads about the deeds of their ancestors would be far
more romantic than scientifically accurate.  The verses, as they passed
from mouth to mouth and from generation to generation, would be in a
constant state of flux and change.  When a man forgot a verse, he would
make something to take its place.  A more or less appropriate stanza from
another ballad would slip in; or the reciter would tell in prose the
matter of which he forgot the versified form.

Again, in the towns, street ballads on remarkable events, as early at
least as the age of Henry VIII., were written or printed.  Knox speaks of
ballads on Queen Mary’s four Maries.  Of these ballads only one is left,
and it is a libel.  The hanging of a French apothecary of the Queen, and
a French waiting-maid, for child murder, has been transferred to one of
the Maries, or rather to an apocryphal Mary Hamilton, with Darnley for
her lover.  Of this ballad twenty-eight variants—and extremely various
they are—were collected by Professor Child in his _English and Scottish
Popular Ballads_ (ten parts, 1882–1898).  In one mangled form or another
such ballads would drift at last even to Ettrick Forest.

A ballad may be found in a form which the first author could scarcely
recognise, dozens of hands, in various generations, having been at work
on it.  At any period, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, the cheap press might print a sheet of the ballads, edited and
interpolated by the very lowest of printer’s hacks; that copy would
circulate, be lost, and become in turn a traditional source, though full
of modernisms.  Or an educated person might make a written copy, filling
up gaps himself in late seventeenth or in eighteenth century ballad
style, and this might pass into the memory of the children and servants
of the house, and so to the herds and to the farm lasses.  I suspect that
this process may have occurred in the cases of _Auld Maitland_ and of
_The Outlaw Murray_—“these two bores” Mr. Child is said to have styled

When Allan Ramsay, about 1720, took up and printed a ballad, he altered
it if he pleased.  More faithful to his texts (wherever he got them), was
David Herd, in his collection of 1776, but his version did not reach, as
we shall see, old reciters in Ettrick.  If Scott found any traditional
ballads in Ettrick, as his collectors certainly did, they had passed
through the processes described.  They needed re-editing of some sort if
they were to be intelligible, and readable with pleasure.

In 1800, apparently, while Scott made only brief flying visits from the
little inn of Clovenfords, on Tweed, to his sheriffdom, he found a
coadjutor.  Richard Heber, the wealthy and luxurious antiquary and
collector, looked into Constable’s first little bookselling shop, and saw
a strange, poor young student prowling among the books.  This was John
Leyden, son of a shepherd in Roxburghshire, a lad living in extreme

Leyden, in 1800, was making himself a savant.  Heber spoke with him,
found that he was rich in ballad-lore, and carried him to Scott.  He was
presently introduced into the best society in Edinburgh (which would not
happen in our time), and a casual note of Scott’s proves that he did not
leave Leyden in poverty.  Early in 1802, Leyden got the promise of an
East Indian appointment, read medicine furiously, and sailed for the East
in the beginning of 1803.  It does not appear that Leyden went
ballad-hunting in Ettrick before he rode thither with Scott in the spring
of 1802.  He was busy with books, with editorial work, and in aiding
Scott in Edinburgh.  It was he who insisted that a small volume at five
shillings was far too narrow for the materials collected.

Scott also corresponded with the aged Percy, Bishop of Dromore, editor of
the _Reliques_, and with Joseph Ritson, the precise collector, Percy’s
bitter foe.  Unfortunately the correspondence on ballads with Ritson, who
died in 1803, is but scanty; nor has most of the correspondence with
another student, George Ellis, been published.  Even in Mr. Douglas’s
edition of Scott’s _Familiar Letters_, the portion of an important letter
of Hogg’s which deals with ballad-lore is omitted.  I shall give the
letter in full.

In 1800–01, “_The Minstrelsy_ formed the editor’s chief occupation,” says
Lockhart; but later, up to April 1801, the Forest and Liddesdale had
yielded little material.  In fact, I do not know that Scott ever procured
much in Liddesdale, where he had no Hogg or Laidlaw always on the spot,
and in touch with the old people.  It was in spring, 1802, that Scott
first met his lifelong friend, William Laidlaw, farmer in Blackhouse, on
Douglasburn, in Yarrow.  Laidlaw, as is later proved completely,
introduced Scott to Hogg, then a very unsophisticated shepherd.
“Laidlaw,” says Lockhart, “took care that Scott should see, without
delay, James Hogg.” {4a}  These two men, Hogg and Laidlaw, knowing the
country people well, were Scott’s chief sources of recited balladry; and
probably they sometimes improved, in making their copies, the materials
won from the failing memories of the old.  Thus Laidlaw, while tenant in
Traquair Knowe, obtained from recitation, _The Dæmon Lover_.  Scott does
not tell us whether or not he knew the fact that Laidlaw wrote in stanza
6 (half of it traditional), stanza 12 (also a ballad formula), stanzas 17
and 18 (necessary to complete the sense; the last two lines of 18 are
purely and romantically modern).

We shall later quote Hogg’s account of his own dealings with his raw
materials from recitation.

In January 1802 Scott published the two first volumes of _The
Minstrelsy_.  Lockhart describes the enthusiasm of dukes, fine ladies,
and antiquarians.  In the end of April 1803 the third volume appeared,
including ballads obtained through Hogg and Laidlaw in spring 1802.
Scott, by his store of historic anecdote in his introductions and notes,
by his way of vivifying the past, and by his method of editing, revived,
but did not create, the interest in the romance of ballad poetry.

It had always existed.  We all know Sidney’s words on “The Douglas and
the Percy”; Addison’s on folk-poetry; Mr. Pepys’ ballad collection; the
ballads in Tom Durfey’s and other miscellanies; Allan Ramsay’s
_Evergreen_; Bishop Percy’s _Reliques of Ancient Poetry_; Herd’s ballad
volumes of 1776; Evans’ collections; Burns’ remakings of old songs;
Ritson’s publications, and so forth.  But the genius of Burns, while it
transfigured many old songs, was not often exercised on old narrative
ballads, and when Scott produced _The Minstrelsy_, the taste for ballads
was confined to amateurs of early literature, and to country folk.

Sir Walter’s method of editing, of presenting his traditional materials,
was literary, and, usually, not scientific.  A modern collector would
publish things—legends, ballads, or folk-tales—exactly as he found them
in old broadsides, or in MS. copies, or received them from oral
recitation.  He would give the names and residences and circumstances of
the reciters or narrators (Herd, in 1776, gave no such information).  He
would fill up no gaps with his own inventions, would add no stanzas of
his own, and the circulation of his work would arrive at some two or
three hundred copies given away!

As Lockhart says, “Scott’s diligent zeal had put him in possession of a
variety of copies in various stages of preservation, and to the task of
selecting a standard text among such a diversity of materials he brought
a knowledge of old manners and phraseology, and a manly simplicity of
taste, such as had never before been united in the person of a poetical

Lockhart speaks of “The editor’s conscientious fidelity . . . which
prevented the introduction of anything new, and his pure taste in the
balancing of discordant recitations.”  He had already written that “Scott
had, I firmly believe, interpolated hardly a line or even an epithet of
his own.” {8a}

It is clear that Lockhart had not compared the texts in _The Minstrelsy_
with the mass of manuscript materials which are still at Abbotsford.
These, copied by the accurate Mr. Macmath, have been published in the
monumental collection of _English and Scottish Popular Ballads_, in ten
parts, by the late Professor Child of Harvard, the greatest of scholars
in ballad-lore.  From his book we often know exactly what kinds of copies
of ballads Scott possessed, and what alterations he made in his copies.
The _Ballad of Otterburne_ is especially instructive, as we shall see
later.  But of the most famous of Border historical ballads, _Kinmont
Willie_, and its companion, _Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead_, Scott has
left no original manuscript texts.  Now into each of these ballads Scott
has written (if internal evidence be worth anything) verses of his own;
stanzas unmistakably marked by his own spirit, energy, sense of romance,
and, occasionally, by a somewhat inflated rhetoric.  On this point doubt
is not easy.  When he met the names of his chief, Buccleuch, and of his
favourite ancestor, Wat of Warden, Scott did, in two cases, for those
heroes what, by his own confession, he did for anecdotes that came in his
way—he decked them out “with a cocked hat and a sword.”

Sir Walter knew perfectly well that he was not “playing the game” in a
truly scientific spirit.  He explains his ideas in his “Essay on Popular
Poetry” as late as 1830.  He mentions Joseph Ritson’s “extreme attachment
to the severity of truth,” and his attacks on Bishop Percy’s purely
literary treatment of the materials of his _Reliques of Ancient Poetry_

As Scott says, “by Percy words were altered, phrases improved, and whole
verses were inserted or omitted at pleasure.”  Percy “accommodated” the
ballads “with such emendations as might recommend them to the modern
taste.”  Ritson cried “forgery,” but Percy, says Scott, had to win a
hearing from his age, and confessed (in general terms) to his additions
and decorations.

Scott then speaks reprovingly of Pinkerton’s wholesale fabrication of
_entire ballads_ (1783), a crime acknowledged later by the culprit
(1786).  Scott applauds Ritson’s accuracy, but regrets his preference of
the worst to the better readings, as if their inferiority was a security
for their being genuine.  Scott preferred the best, the most poetical

In 1830, Scott also wrote an essay on “Imitations of the Ancient
Ballads,” and spoke very leniently of imitations passed off as authentic.
“There is no small degree of cant in the violent invectives with which
impostors of this nature have been assailed.”  As to _Hardyknute_, the
favourite poem of his infancy, “the first that I ever learned and the
last that I shall forget,” he says, “the public is surely more enriched
by the contribution than injured by the deception.”  Besides, he says,
the deception almost never deceives.

His method in _The Minstrelsy_, he writes, was “to imitate the plan and
style of Bishop Percy, observing only more strict fidelity concerning my
originals.”  That is to say, he avowedly made up texts out of a variety
of copies, when he had more copies than one.  This is frequently
acknowledged by Scott; what he does not acknowledge is his own occasional
interpolation of stanzas.  A good example is _The Gay Gosshawk_.  He had
a MS. of his own “of some antiquity,” a MS. of Mrs. Brown, a famous
reciter and collector of the eighteenth century; and the Abbotsford MSS.
show isolated stanzas from Hogg, and a copy from Will Laidlaw.  Mr. T. F.
Henderson’s notes {10a} display the methods of selection, combination,
emendation, and possible interpolation.

By these methods Scott composed “a standard text,” now the classical
text, of the ballads which he published.  Ballad lovers, who are not
specialists, go to _The Minstrelsy_ for their favourite fare, and for
historical elucidation and anecdote.

Scott often mentions his sources of all kinds, such as MSS. of Herd and
Mrs. Brown; “an old person”; “an old woman at Kirkhill, West Lothian”;
“an ostler at Carlisle”; Allan Ramsay’s _Tea-Table Miscellany_; Surtees
of Mainsforth (these ballads are by Surtees himself: Scott never
suspected him); Caw’s _Hawick Museum_ (1774); Ritson’s copies, others
from Leyden; the Glenriddell MSS. (collected by the friend of Burns); on
several occasions copies from recitations procured by James Hogg or Will
Laidlaw, and possibly or probably each of these men emended the copy he
obtained; while Scott combined and emended all in his published text.

Sometimes Scott gives no source at all, and in these cases research finds
variants in old broadsides, or elsewhere.

In thirteen cases he gives no source, or “from tradition,” which is the
same thing; though “tradition in Ettrick Forest” may sometimes imply,
once certainly does, the intermediary Hogg, or Will Laidlaw.

We now understand Scott’s methods as editor.  They are not scientific;
they are literary.  We also acknowledge (on internal evidence) his
interpolation of his own stanzas in _Kinmont Willie_ and _Jamie Telfer_,
where he exalts his chief and ancestor.  We cannot do otherwise (as
scholars) than regret and condemn Scott’s interpolations, never
confessed.  As lovers of poetry we acknowledge that, without Scott’s
interpolation, we could have no more of _Kinmont Willie_ than verses,
“much mangled by reciters,” as Scott says, of a ballad perhaps no more
poetical than _Jock o’ the Side_.  Scott says that “some conjectural
emendations have been absolutely necessary to render it intelligible.”
As it is now very intelligible, to say “conjectural emendations” is a way
of saying “interpolations.”

But while thus confessing Scott’s sins, I cannot believe that he, like
Pinkerton, palmed off on the world any ballad or ballads of his own sole
manufacture, or any ballad which he knew to be forged.

The truth is that Scott was easily deceived by a modern imitation, if he
liked the poetry.  Surtees hoaxed him not only with _Barthram’s Dirge_
and _Anthony Featherstonhaugh_, but with a long prose excerpt from a
non-existent manuscript about a phantom knight.  Scott made the plot of
_Marmion_ hinge on this myth, in the encounter of Marmion with Wilfred as
the phantasmal cavalier.  He tells us that in _The Flowers of the Forest_
“the manner of the ancient minstrels is so happily imitated, that it
required the most positive evidence to convince the editor that the song
was of modern date.”  Really the author was Miss Jane Elliot (1747–1805),
daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto.  Herd published a made-up copy
in 1776.  The tune, Scott says, is old, and he has heard an imperfect
verse of the original ballad—

    “I ride single on my saddle,
    For the flowers o’ the forest are a’ wede awa’”

The _constant_ use of double rhymes within the line—

    “At e’en, in the gloaming, nae younkers are roaming,”

an artifice rare in genuine ballads, might alone have proved to Scott
that the poem of Miss Elliot is not popular and ancient.

I have cleared my conscience by confessing Scott’s literary sins.  His
interpolations, elsewhere mere stopgaps, are mainly to be found in
_Kinmont Willie_ and _Jamie Telfer_.  His duty was to say, in his preface
to each ballad, “The editor has interpolated stanza” so and so; if he
made up the last verses of _Kinmont Willie_ from the conclusion of a
version of _Archie o’ Ca’field_, he should have said so; as he does
acknowledge two stopgap interpolations by Hogg in _Auld Maitland_.  But
as to the conclusion of _Kinmont Willie_, he did, we shall see, make

Professor Kittredge, who edited Child’s last part (X.), says in his
excellent abridged edition of Child (1905), “It was no doubt the feeling
that the popular ballad is a fluid and unstable thing that has prompted
so many editors—among them Sir Walter Scott, whom it is impossible to
assail, however much the scholarly conscience may disapprove—to deal
freely with the versions that came into their hands.”

Twenty-five years after the appearance of _The Border Minstrelsy_, in
1827, appeared Motherwell’s _Minstrelsy_, _Ancient and Modern_.
Motherwell was in favour of scientific methods of editing.  Given two
copies of a ballad, he says, “perhaps they may not have a single stanza
which is mutual property, except certain commonplaces which seem an
integral portion of the original mechanism of all our ancient ballads
. . . ”  By selecting the most beautiful and striking passages from each
copy, and making those cohere, an editor, he says, may produce a more
perfect and ornate version than any that exists in tradition.  Of the
originals “the individuality entirely disappears.”

Motherwell disapproved of this method, which, as a rule, is Scott’s, and,
scientifically, the method is not defensible.  Thus, having three ballads
of rescues, in similar circumstances, with a river to ford, Scott
confessedly places that incident where he thinks it most “poetically
appropriate”; and in all probability, by a single touch, he gives poetry
in place of rough humour.  Of all this Motherwell disapproved. (See
_Kinmont Willie_, _infra._)

Aytoun, in _The Ballads of Scotland_, thought Motherwell hypercritical;
and also, in his practice inconsistent with his preaching.  Aytoun
observed, “with much regret and not a little indignation” (1859), “that
later editors insinuated a doubt as to the fidelity of Sir Walter’s
rendering.  My firm belief, resting on documentary evidence, is that
Scott was most scrupulous in adhering to the very letter of his
transcripts, whenever copies of ballads, previously taken down, were
submitted to him.”  As an example, Aytoun, using a now lost MS. copy of
about 1689–1702, of _The Outlaw Murray_, says “Sir Walter has given it
throughout just as he received it.”  Yet Scott’s copy, mainly from a lost
Cockburn MS., contains a humorous passage on Buccleuch which Child half
suspects to be by Sir Walter himself. {15a}  It is impossible for me to
know whether Child’s hesitating conjecture is right or wrong.  Certainly
we shall see, when Scott had but one MS. copy, as of _Auld Maitland_, his
editing left little or nothing to be desired.

But now Scott is assailed, both where he deserves, and where, in my
opinion, he does not deserve censure.

Scott did no more than his confessed following of Percy’s method implies,
to his original text of the _Ballad of Otterburne_.  This I shall prove
from his original text, published by Child from the Abbotsford MSS., and
by a letter from the collector of the ballad, the Ettrick Shepherd.

The facts, in this instance, apparently are utterly unknown to
Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. Fitzwilliam Elliot, in his _Further Essays on
Border Ballads_ (1910), pp. 1–45.

Again, I am absolutely certain, and can demonstrate, that Scott did not
(as Colonel Elliot believes) detect Hogg in forging _Auld Maitland_, join
with him in this fraud, and palm the ballad off on the public.  Nothing
of the kind occurred.  Scott did not lie in this matter, both to the
world and to his intimate friends, in private letters.

Once more, without better evidence than we possess, I do not believe
that, in _Jamie Telfer_, Scott transferred the glory from the Elliots to
the Scotts, and the shame from Buccleuch to Elliot of Stobs.  The
discussion leads us into very curious matter.  But here, with our present
materials, neither absolute proof nor disproof is possible.

Finally, as to _Kinmont Willie_, I merely give such reasons as I can find
for thinking that Scott _had_ “mangled” fragments of an old ballad before
him, and did not merely paraphrase the narrative of Walter Scott of
Satchells, in his doggerel _True History of the Name of Scott_ (1688).

The positions of Colonel Elliot are in each case the reverse of mine.  In
the instance of _Auld Maitland_ (where Scott’s conduct would be
unpardonable if Colonel Elliot’s view were correct), I have absolute
proof that he is entirely mistaken.  For _Otterburne_ I am equally
fortunate; that is, I can show that Scott’s part went no further than
“the making of a standard text” on his avowed principles.  For _Jamie
Telfer_, having no original manuscript, I admit _decorative_
interpolations, and for the rest, argue on internal evidence, no other
being accessible.  For _Kinmont Willie_, I confess that the poem, as it
stands, is Scott’s, but give reasons for thinking that he had ballad
fragments in his mind, if not on paper.

It will be understood that Colonel Elliot does not, I conceive, say that
his charges are _proved_, but he thinks that the evidence points to these
conclusions.  He “hopes that I will give reasons for my disbelief” in his
theories; and “hopes, though he cannot expect that they will completely
dispose of” his views about _Jamie Telfer_. {17a}

I give my reasons, though I entertain but slight hope of convincing my
courteous opponent.  That is always a task rather desperate.  But the
task leads me, in defence of a great memory, into a countryside, and into
old times on the Border, which are so alluring that, like Socrates, I
must follow where the _logos_ guides me.  To one conclusion it guides me,
which startles myself, but I must follow the _logos_, even against the
verdict of Professor Child, _notre maître à tous_.  In some instances, I
repeat, positive proof of the correctness of my views is impossible; all
that I can do is to show that Colonel Elliot’s contrary opinions also
fall far short of demonstration, or are demonstrably erroneous.


THE ballad of _Auld Maitland_ holds in _The Border Minstrelsy_ a place
like that of the _Doloneia_, or Tenth Book, in the _Iliad_.  Every
professor of the Higher Criticism throws his stone at the _Doloneia_ in
passing, and every ballad-editor does as much to _Auld Maitland_.
Professor Child excluded it from his monumental collection of “English
and Scottish Popular Ballads,” fragments, and variants, for which Mr.
Child and his friends and helpers ransacked every attainable collection
of ballads in manuscript, and ballads in print, as they listened to the
last murmurings of ballad tradition from the lips of old or young.

Mr. Child, says his friend and pupil, Professor Kittredge, “possessed a
kind of instinct” for distinguishing what is genuine and traditional, or
modern, or manipulated, or, if I may say so, “faked” in a ballad.

“This instinct, trained by thirty years of study, had become wonderfully
swift in its operations, and almost infallible.  A forged or retouched
piece could not escape him for a moment: he detected the slightest jar in
the ballad ring.” {18a}

But all old traditional ballads are masses of “retouches,” made through
centuries, by reciters, copyists, editors, and so forth.  Unluckily,
Child never gave in detail his reasons for rejecting that treasure of Sir
Walter’s, _Auld Maitland_.  Child excluded the poem _sans phrase_.  If he
did this, like Falstaff “on instinct,” one can only say that antiquarian
instincts are never infallible.  We must apply our reason to the problem,
“What is _Auld Maitland_?”

Colonel Elliot has taken this course.  By far the most blighting of the
many charges made by Colonel Elliot against Sir Walter Scott are
concerned with the ballad of _Auld Maitland_. {19a}  After stating that,
in his opinion, “several stanzas” of the ballad are by Sir Walter
himself, Colonel Elliot sums up his own ideas thus:

“My view is that Hogg, in the first instance, tried to palm off the
ballad on Scott, and failed; and then Scott palmed it off on the public,
and succeeded . . . let us, as gentlemen and honest judges, admit that
the responsibility of the deception rests rather on the laird (Scott)
than on the herd” (Hogg.) {19b}

If Colonel Elliot’s “views” were correct (and it is absolutely
erroneous), the guilt of “the laird” would be great.  Scott conspires
with a shepherd, a stranger, to palm off a forgery on the public.  Scott
issues the forgery, and, what is worse, in a private letter to a learned
friend, he utters what I must borrow words for: he utters “cold and
calculated falsehoods” about the manner in which, and the person from
whom, he obtained what he calls “my first copy” of the song.  If Hogg and
Scott forged the poem, then when Scott told his tale of its acquisition
by himself from Laidlaw, Scott lied.

Colonel Elliot is ignorant of the facts in the case.  He gropes his way
under the misleading light of a false date, and of fragments torn from
the context of a letter which, in its complete form, has never till now
been published.  Where positive and published information exists, it has
not always come within the range of the critic’s researches; had it done
so, he would have taken the information into account, but he does not.
Of the existence of Scott’s “first copy” of the ballad in manuscript our
critic seems never to have heard; certainly he has not studied the MS.
Had he done so he would not assign (on grounds like those of Homeric
critics) this verse to Hogg and that to Scott.  He would know that Scott
did not interpolate a single stanza; that spelling, punctuation, and some
slight verbal corrections, with an admirable emendation, were the sum of
his industry: that he did not even excise two stanzas of, at earliest,
eighteenth century work.

I must now clear up misconceptions which have imposed themselves on all
critics of the ballad, on myself, for example, no less than on Colonel
Elliot: and must tell the whole story of how the existence of the ballad
first became known to Scott’s collector and friend, William Laidlaw, how
he procured the copy which he presented to Sir Walter, and how Sir Walter
obtained, from recitation, his “second copy,” that which he printed in
_The Minstrelsy_ in 1803.

In 1801 Scott, who was collecting ballads, gave a list of songs which he
wanted to Mr. Andrew Mercer, of Selkirk.  Mercer knew young Will Laidlaw,
farmer in Blackhouse on Yarrow, where Hogg had been a shepherd for ten
years.  Laidlaw applied for two ballads, one of them _The Outlaw Murray_,
to Hogg, then shepherding at Ettrick House, at the head of Ettrick, above
Thirlestane.  Hogg replied on 20th July 1801.  He could get but a few
verses of _The Outlaw_ from his maternal uncle, Will Laidlaw of Phawhope.
He said that, from traditions known to him, he could make good songs,
“but without Mr. Scott’s permission this would be an imposition, neither
could I undertake it without an order from him in his own handwriting
. . . ” {21a}  Laidlaw went on trying to collect songs for Scott.  We now
take his own account of _Auld Maitland_ from a manuscript left by him.

“I heard from one of the servant girls, who had all the turn and
qualifications for a collector, of a ballad called _Auld Maitland_, that
a grandfather (maternal) of Hogg could repeat, and she herself had
several of the first stanzas, which I took a note of, and have still the
copy.  This greatly aroused my anxiety to procure the whole, for this was
a ballad not even hinted at by Mercer in his list of desiderata received
from Mr. Scott.  I forthwith wrote to Hogg himself, requesting him to
endeavour to procure the whole ballad.  In a week or two I received his
reply, containing _Auld Maitland_ exactly as he had received it from the
recitation of his uncle Will of Phawhope, corroborated by his mother, who
both said they learned it from their father, a still older Will of
Phawhope, and an old man called Andrew Muir, who had been servant to the
famous Mr. Boston, minister of Ettrick.”  Concerning Laidlaw’s evidence,
Colonel Elliot says not a word.

This copy of _Auld Maitland_, with the superscription outside—

                             MR. WILLIAM LAIDLAW,

all in Hogg’s hand, is now at Abbotsford.  We next have, through
Carruthers using Laidlaw’s manuscript, an account of the arrival of Scott
and Leyden at Blackhouse, of Laidlaw’s presentation of Hogg’s manuscript,
which Scott read aloud, and of their surprise and delight.  Scott was
excited, so that his _burr_ became very perceptible. {23a}

The time of year when Scott and Leyden visited Yarrow was not the
_autumn_ vacation of 1802, as Lockhart erroneously writes, {23b} but the
_spring_ vacation of 1802.  The spring vacation, Mr. Macmath informs me,
ran from 11th March to 12th May in 1802.  In May, apparently, Scott
having obtained the _Auld Maitland_ MS. in the vernal vacation of the
Court of Session, gave his account of his discovery to his friend Ellis
(Lockhart does not date the letter, but wrongly puts it after the return
to Edinburgh in November 1802).

Scott wrote thus:—“We” (John Leyden and himself) “have just concluded an
excursion of two or three weeks through my jurisdiction of Selkirkshire,
where, in defiance of mountains, rivers, and bogs, damp and dry, we have
penetrated the very recesses of Ettrick Forest . . . I have . . .
returned _loaded_ with the treasures of oral tradition.  The principal
result of our inquiries has been a complete and perfect copy of “Maitland
with his Auld Berd Graie,” referred to by [Gawain] Douglas in his _Palice
of Honour_ (1503), along with John the Reef and other popular characters,
and celebrated in the poems from the Maitland MS.” (_circ._ 1575).  You
may guess the surprise of Leyden and myself when this was presented to
us, copied down from the recitation of an old shepherd, by a country
farmer . . . Many of the old words are retained, which neither the
reciter nor the copyer understood.  Such are the military engines,
sowies, _springwalls_ (springalds), and many others . . . ” {24a}

That Scott got the ballad in spring 1802 is easily proved.  On 10th April
1802, Joseph Ritson, the crabbed, ill-tempered, but meticulously accurate
scholar, who thought that ballad-forging should be made a capital
offence, wrote thus to Scott:—

“I have the pleasure of enclosing my copy of a very ancient poem, which
appears to me to be the original of _The Wee Wee Man_, and which I learn
from Mr. Ellis you are desirous to see.”  In Scott’s letter to Ellis,
just quoted, he says: “I have lately had from him” (Ritson) “_a copie_ of
‘Ye litel wee man,’ of which I think I can make some use.  In return, I
have sent him a sight of _Auld Maitland_, the original MS . . . I wish
him to see it _in puris naturalibus_.”  “The precaution here taken was
very natural,” says Lockhart, considering Ritson’s temper and hatred of
literary forgeries.  Scott, when he wrote to Ellis, had received Ritson’s
_The Wee Wee Man_ “lately”: it was sent to him by Ritson on 10th April
1802.  Scott had already, when he wrote to Ellis, got “the original MS.
of _Auld Maitland_” (now in Abbotsford Library).  By 10th June 1802
Ritson wrote saying, “You may depend on my taking the utmost care of _Old
Maitland_, and returning it in health and safety.  I would not use the
liberty of transcribing it into my manuscript copy of Mrs. Brown’s
ballads, but if you will signify your permission, I shall be highly
gratified.” {25} “Your ancient and curious ballad,” he styles the piece.

Thus Scott had _Auld Maitland_ in May 1802; he sent the original MS. to
Ritson; Ritson received it graciously; he had, on 10th April 1802, sent
Scott another MS., _The Wee Wee Man_: and when Scott wrote to Ellis about
his surprise at getting “a complete and perfect copy of Maitland,” he had
but lately received _The Wee Wee Man_, sent by Ritson on 10th April 1802.
He had made a spring, not an autumn, raid into the Forest.

We now know the external history of the ballad.  Laidlaw, hearing his
servant repeat some stanzas, asks Hogg for the full copy, which Hogg
sends with a pedigree from which he never wavered.  Auld Andrew Muir
taught the song to Hogg’s mother and uncle.  Hogg took it from his
uncle’s recitation, and sent it, directed outside,

                           TO MR. WILLIAM LAIDLAW,

and Laidlaw gave it to Scott, in March 12–May 12, 1802.  But Scott,
publishing the ballad in _The Minstrelsy_ (1803), says it is given “as
written down from the recitation of the mother of Mr. James Hogg, who
sings, or rather chants, it with great animation” (manifestly he had
heard the recitation which he describes).

It seems that Scott, before he wrote to Ellis in May 1802, had misgivings
about the ballad.  Says Carruthers, he “made another visit to Blackhouse
for the purpose of getting Laidlaw as a guide to Ettrick,” being “curious
to see the poetical shepherd.”

Laidlaw’s MS., used by Carruthers, describes the wild ride by the marshes
at the head of the Loch of the Lowes, through the bogs on the knees of
the hills, down a footpath to Ramseycleuch in Ettrick.  They sent to
Ettrick House for Hogg; Scott was surprised and pleased with James’s
appearance.  They had a delightful evening: “the qualities of Hogg came
out at every instant, and his unaffected simplicity and fearless
frankness both surprised and pleased the Sheriff.” {26a}  Next morning
they visited Hogg and his mother at her cottage, and Hogg tells how the
old lady recited _Auld Maitland_.  Hogg gave the story in prose, with
great vivacity and humour, in his _Domestic Manners of Sir Walter Scott_

In an earlier poetical address to Scott, congratulating him on his
elevation to the baronetcy (1818), the Shepherd says—

    When Maitland’s song first met your ear,
    How the furled visage up did clear.
    Beaming delight! though now a shade
    Of doubt would darken into dread,
    That some unskilled presumptuous arm
    Had marred tradition’s mighty charm.
    Scarce grew thy lurking dread the less,
    Till she, the ancient Minstreless,
    With fervid voice and kindling eye,
    And withered arms waving on high,
    Sung forth these words in eldritch shriek,
    While tears stood on thy nut-brown cheek:
    “Na, we are nane o’ the lads o’ France,
    Nor e’er pretend to be;
    We be three lads of fair Scotland,
    Auld Maitland’s sons a’ three.”

(Stanza xliii. as printed.  In Hogg’s MS. copy, given to Laidlaw there
are two verbal differences, in lines 1 and 4.)

Then says Hogg—

    Thy fist made all the table ring,
    By —, sir, but that is the thing!

Hogg could not thus describe the scene in addressing Scott himself, in
1818, if his story were not true.  It thus follows that his mother knew
the sixty-five stanzas of the ballad by heart.  Does any one believe
that, as a woman of seventy-two, she learned the poem to back Hogg’s
hoax?  That he wrote the poem, and caused her to learn it by rote, so as
to corroborate his imposture?

This is absurd.

But now comes the source of Colonel Elliot’s theory of a conspiracy
between Scott and Hogg, to forge a ballad and issue the forgery.  Colonel
Elliot knows scraps of a letter to Hogg of 30th June 1802.  He has read
parts, not bearing on the question, in Mr. Douglas’s _Familiar Letters of
Sir Walter Scott_ (vol. i. pp. 12–15), and another scrap, in which Hogg
says that “I am surprised to hear that _Auld Maitland_ is suspected by
some to be a modern forgery.”  This part of Hogg’s letter of 30th June
1802 was published by Scott himself in the third volume of _The
Minstrelsy_ (April 1803).

Not having the context of the letter, Colonel Elliot seems to argue,
“Scott says he got his first copy in autumn 1802” (Lockhart’s mistake),
“yet here are Hogg and Scott corresponding about the ballad long before
autumn, in June 1802.  This is very suspicious.”  I give what appears to
be Colonel Elliot’s line of reflection in my own words.  He decides that,
as early as June 1802, “Hogg”(in the Colonel’s ‘view’), “in the first
instance, tried to palm off the ballad on Scott, and failed; and that
then Scott palmed it off on the public, and succeeded.”

This is all a mare’s nest.  Scott, in March-May 1802, had the whole of
the ballad except one stanza, which Hogg sent to him on 30th June.

I now print, for the first time, the whole of Hogg’s letter of 30th June,
with its shrewd criticism on ballads, hitherto omitted, and I italicise
the passage about _Auld Maitland_:—

                                                 ETTRICK HOUSE, _June_ 30.

    DEAR SIR,—I have been perusing your minstrelsy very diligently for a
    while past, and it being the first book I ever perused which was
    written by a person I had seen and conversed with, the consequence
    hath been to me a most sensible pleasure; for in fact it is the
    remarks and modern pieces that I have delighted most in, being as it
    were personally acquainted with many of the modern pieces formerly.
    My mother is actually a living miscellany of old songs.  I never
    believed that she had half so many until I came to a trial.  There
    are some (_sic_) in your collection of which she hath not a part, and
    I should by this time had a great number written for your amusement,
    thinking them all of great antiquity and lost to posterity, had I not
    luckily lighted upon a collection of songs in two volumes, published
    by I know not who, in which I recognised about half-a-score of my
    mother’s best songs, almost word for word.  No doubt I was piqued,
    but it saved me much trouble, paper, and ink; for I am carefully
    avoiding anything which I have seen or heard of being in print,
    although I have no doubt that I shall err, being acquainted with
    almost no collections of that sort, but I am not afraid that you too
    will mistake.  I am still at a loss with respect to some: such as the
    Battle of Flodden beginning, “From Spey to the Border,” a long
    poetical piece on the battle of Bannockburn, I fear modern: The
    Battle of the Boyne, Young Bateman’s Ghost, all of which, and others
    which I cannot mind, I could mostly recover for a few miles’ travel
    were I certain they could be of any use concerning the above; and I
    might have mentioned May Cohn and a duel between two friends, Graham
    and Bewick, undoubtedly very old.  You must give me information in
    your answer.  I have already scraped together a considerable
    quantity—suspend your curiosity, Mr. Scott, you will see them when I
    see you, of which I am as impatient as you can be to see the songs
    for your life.  But as I suppose you have no personal acquaintance in
    this parish, it would be presumption in me to expect that you will
    visit my cottage, but I will attend you in any part of the Forest if
    you will send me word.  I am far from supposing that a person of your
    discernment,—d—n it, I’ll blot out that, ’tis so like flattery.  I
    say I don’t think you would despise a shepherd’s “humble cot an’
    hamely fare,” as Burns hath it, yet though I would be extremely proud
    of a visit, yet hang me if I would know what to do wi’ ye.  I am
    surprised to find that the songs in your collection differ so widely
    from my mother’s.  Is Mr. Herd’s MS. genuine?  I suspect it.  Jamie
    Telfer differs in many particulars.  Johnny Armstrong of Gilnockie is
    another song altogether.  I have seen a verse of my mother’s way
    called Johny Armstrong’s last good-night cited in the _Spectator_,
    and another in _Boswell’s Journal_.  It begins, “Is there ne’er a man
    in fair Scotland?”  Do you know if this is in print, Mr. Scott?  In
    the Tale of Tomlin the whole of the interlude about the horse and the
    hawk is a distinct song altogether. {30a}  Clerk Saunders is nearly
    the same with my mother’s, until that stanza [xvi.] which ends, “was
    in the tower last night wi’ me,” then with another verse or two which
    are not in yours, ends Clerk Saunders.  All the rest of the song in
    your edition is another song altogether, which my mother hath mostly
    likewise, and I am persuaded from the change in the stile that she is
    right, for it is scarce consistent with the forepart of the ballad.
    I have made several additions and variations out, to the printed
    songs, for your inspection, but only when they could be inserted
    without disjointing the songs as they are at present; to have written
    all the variations would scarcely be possible, and I thought would
    embarrass you exceedingly.  _I have recovered another half verse of
    Old Maitlan_, _and have rhymed it thus_—

    _Remember Fiery of the Scot_
    _Hath cowr’d aneath thy hand_;
    For ilka drap o’ Maitlen’s blood
    I’ll gie _thee_ rigs o’ land.—

    _The two last lines only are original_; _you will easily perceive
    that they occur in the very place where we suspected a want_.  _I am
    surprised to hear that this song is suspected by some to be a modern
    forgery_; _this 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 place, it is but lately emerged from
    barbarity, and till this present age the poor illiterate people in
    these glens knew of no other entertainment in the long winter nights
    than in repeating and listening to these feats of their ancestors,
    which I believe to be handed down inviolate from father to son, for
    many generations, although no doubt, had a copy been taken of them at
    the end of every fifty years, there must have been some difference,
    which the repeaters would have insensibly fallen into merely by the
    change of terms in that period.  I believe that it is thus that many
    very ancient songs have been modernised, which yet to a connoisseur
    will bear visible marks of antiquity.  The Maitlen, for instance,
    exclusive of its mode of description, is all composed of words, which
    would mostly every one spell and pronounce in the very same dialect
    that was spoken some centuries ago.

    Pardon, my dear Sir, the freedom I have taken in addressing you—it is
    my nature; and I could not resist the impulse of writing to you any
    longer.  Let me hear from you as soon as this comes to your hand, and
    tell me when you will be in Ettrick Forest, and suffer me to
    subscribe myself, Sir, your most humble and affectionate servant,

                                                               JAMES HOGG.

In Scott’s printed text of the ballad, two interpolations, of two lines
each, are acknowledged in notes.  They occur in stanzas vii., xlvi., and
are attributed to Hogg.  In fact, Hogg sent one of them (vii.) to Laidlaw
in his manuscript.  The other he sent to Scott on 30th June 1802.

Colonel Elliot, in the spirit of the Higher Criticism (_chimæra bombinans
in vacuo_), writes, {31a} “Few will doubt that the footnotes” (on these
interpolations) “were inserted with the purpose of leading the public to
think that Hogg made no other interpolations; but I am afraid I must go
further than this and say that, since they were inserted on the editor’s
responsibility, the intention must have been to make it appear as if no
other interpolations by any other hand had been inserted.”

But no other interpolations by another hand _were_ inserted!  Some verbal
emendations were made by Scott, but he never put in a stanza or two lines
of his own.

Colonel Elliot provides us with six pages of the Higher Criticism.  He
knows how to distinguish between verses by Hogg, and verses by Scott!
{32a}  But, save when Scott puts one line, a ballad formula, where Hogg
has another line, Scott makes no interpolations, and the ballad formula
he probably took, with other things of no more importance, from Mrs.
Hogg’s recitation.  Oh, Higher Criticism!

I now print the ballad as Hogg sent it to Laidlaw, between August 1801
and March 1802, in all probability.

[Back of Hogg’s MS.: Mr. William Laidlaw, Blackhouse.]


   THERE lived a king in southern land
      King Edward hecht his name
   Unwordily he wore the crown
      Till fifty years was gane.

   He had a sister’s son o’s ain
      Was large o’ blood and bane
   And afterwards when he came up,
      Young Edward hecht his name.

   One day he came before the king,
      And kneeld low on his knee
   A boon a boon my good uncle,
      I crave to ask of thee

   “At our lang wars i’ fair Scotland
      I lang hae lang’d to be
   If fifteen hunder wale wight men
      You’ll grant to ride wi’ me.”

   “Thou sal hae thae thou sal hae mae
      I say it sickerly;
   And I mysel an auld grey man
      Arrayd your host sal see.”—

   King Edward rade King Edward ran—
      I wish him dool and pain!
   Till he had fifteen hundred men
      Assembled on the Tyne.
   And twice as many at North Berwick
      Was a’ for battle bound

   They lighted on the banks of Tweed
      And blew their coals sae het
   And fired the Merce and Tevidale
      All in an evening late

   As they far’d up o’er Lammermor
      They burn’d baith tower and town
   Until they came to a derksome house,
      Some call it Leaders Town

   Whae hauds this house young Edward crys,
      Or whae gae’st ower to me
   A grey haired knight set up his head
      And cracked right crousely

   Of Scotlands King I haud my house
      He pays me meat and fee
   And I will keep my goud auld house
      While my house will keep me

   They laid their sowies to the wall
      Wi’ mony heavy peal
   But he threw ower to them again
      Baith piech and tar barille

   With springs: wall stanes, and good of ern,
      Among them fast he threw
   Till mony of the Englishmen
      About the wall he slew.

   Full fifteen days that braid host lay
      Sieging old Maitlen keen
   Then they hae left him safe and hale
      Within his strength o’ stane

   Then fifteen barks, all gaily good,
      Met themen on a day,
   Which they did lade with as much spoil
      As they could bear away.

   “England’s our ain by heritage;
      And whae can us gainstand,
   When we hae conquerd fair Scotland
      Wi’ bow, buckler, and brande”—

   Then they are on to th’ land o’ france,
      Where auld King Edward lay,
   Burning each town and castle strong
      That ance cam in his way.

   Untill he cam unto that town
      Which some call Billop-Grace
   There were old Maitlen’s sons a’ three
      Learning at School alas

   The eldest to the others said,
      O see ye what I see
   If a’ be true yon standard says,
      We’re fatherless a’ three

   For Scotland’s conquerd up and down
      Landsmen we’ll never be:
   Now will you go my brethren two,
      And try some jeopardy

   Then they hae saddled two black horse,
      Two black horse and a grey
   And they are on to Edwardes host
      Before the dawn of day

   When they arriv’d before the host
      They hover’d on the ley
   Will you lend me our King’s standard
      To carry a little way

   Where was thou bred where was thou born
      Wherein in what country—
   In the north of England I was born
      What needed him to lie.

   A knight me got a lady bare
      I’m a squire of high renown
   I well may bear’t to any king,
      That ever yet wore crown.

   He ne’er came of an Englishman
      Had sic an ee or bree
   But thou art likest auld Maitlen
      That ever I did see

   But sic a gloom inon ae browhead
      Grant’s ne’er see again
   For many of our men he slew
      And many put to pain

   When Maitlan heard his father’s name,
      An angry man was he
   Then lifting up a gilt dager
      Hung low down by his kee

   He stab’d the knight the standard bore,
      He stabb’d him cruelly;
   Then caught the standard by the neuk,
      And fast away rade he.

   Now is’t na time brothers he cry’d
      Now, is’t na time to flee
   Ay by my soothe they baith reply’d,
      We’ll bear you company

   The youngest turn’d him in a path
      And drew a burnish’d brand
   And fifteen o’ the foremost slew
      Till back the lave did stand

   He spurr’d the grey unto the path
      Till baith her sides they bled
   Grey! thou maun carry me away
      Or my life lies in wed

   The captain lookit owr the wa’
      Before the break o day
   There he beheld the three Scots lads
      Pursued alongst the way

   Pull up portculzies down draw briggs
      My nephews are at hame
   And they shall lodge wi’ me to-night,
      In spite of all England

   Whene’er they came within the gate
      They thrust their horse them frae
   And took three lang spears in their hands,
      Saying, here sal come nae mae

   And they shott out and they shott in,
      Till it was fairly day
   When many 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 in his pavilion door
      Was heard aloud to say
   Last night three o’ the lads o’ France
      My standard stole away

   Wi’ a fause tale disguis’d they came
      And wi’ a fauser train
   And to regain my gaye standard
      These men were a’ down slaine

   It ill befits the youngest said
      A crowned king to lie
   But or that I taste meat and drink,
      Reproved shall he be.

   He went before King Edward straight
      And kneel’d low on his knee
   I wad hae leave my liege he said,
      To speak a word wi’ thee

   The king he turn’d him round about
      And wistna what to say
   Quo’ he, Man, thou’s hae leave to speak
      Though thou should speak a day.

   You said that three young lads o’ France,
      Your standard stole away
   Wi’ a fause tale and fauser train,
      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 Maitlen’s sons a’ three

   Nor is there men in a your host,
      Dare fight us three to three
   Now by my sooth young Edward cry’d,
      Weel fitted sall ye be!

   Piercy sall with the eldest fight
      And Ethert Lunn wi’ thee
   William of Lancastar the third
      And bring your fourth to me

   He clanked Piercy owr the head
      A deep wound and a sair
   Till the best blood o’ his body
      Came rinnen owr his hair.

   Now I’ve slain one slay ye the two;
      And that’s good company
   And if the two should slay ye 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 sanna stand
   For Ethert shall a buffet bide,
      Come he aneath my brand.

   He clanked Ethert owr the head,
      A deep wound and a sair
   Till a’ the blood of his body
      Came rinnen owr his hair

   Now I’ve slayne two slay ye the one;
      Isna that gude company
   And tho’ the one should slay ye both
      Ye’se get nae help o’ me.

   The twasome they hae slayn the one
      They maul’d them cruelly
   Then hang them owr the drawbridge,
      That a’ the host might see

   They rade their horse they ran their horse,
      Then hover’d on the ley
   We be three lads o’ fair Scotland,
      We fain wad fighting see

   This boasting when young Edward heard,
      To’s uncle thus said he,
   I’ll take yon lad I’ll bind yon lad,
      And bring him bound to thee

   But God forbid King Edward said
      That ever thou should try
   Three worthy leaders we hae lost,
      And you the fourth shall be.

   If thou wert hung owr yon drawbrigg
      Blythe wad I never be
   But wi’ the pole-axe in his hand,
      Outower the bridge sprang he

   The first stroke that young Edward gae
      He struck wi might and main
   He clove the Maitlen’s helmet stout,
      And near had pierced his brain.

   When Matlen saw his ain blood fa,
      An angry man was he
   He let his weapon frae him fa’
      And at his neck did flee

   And thrice about he did him swing,
      Till on the ground he light
   Where he has halden young Edward
      Tho’ he was great in might

   Now let him up, King Edward cry’d,
      And let him come to me
   And for the deed that ye hae done
      Ye shal hae earldoms three

   It’s ne’er be said in France nor Ire
      In Scotland when I’m hame
   That Edward once was under me,
      And yet wan up again

   He stabb’d him thro and thro the hear
      He maul’d him cruelly
   Then hung him ower the drawbridge
      Beside the other three

   Now take from me that feather bed
      Make me a bed o’ strae
   I wish I neer had seen this day
      To mak my heart fu’ wae

   If I were once at London Tower,
      Where I was wont to be
   I never mair should gang frae hame,
      Till borne on a bier-tree

At the end of his copy Hogg writes (probably of stanza vii.)—“You may
insert the two following lines anywhere you think it needs them, or
substitute two better—

    And marching south with curst Dunbar
       A ready welcome found.”


Is _Auld Maitland_ a sheer forgery by Hogg, or is it in any sense, and if
so, in what sense, antique and traditional?  That Hogg made the whole of
it is to me incredible.  He had told Laidlaw on 20th July 1801, that he
would make no ballads on traditions without Scott’s permission, written
in Scott’s hand.  Moreover, how could he have any traditions about “Auld
Maitland, his noble Sonnis three,” personages of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries?  Scott had read about them in poems of about 1580,
but these poems then lay in crabbed manuscripts.  Again, Hogg wrote in
words (“springs, wall-stanes”) of whose meaning he had no idea; he took
it as he heard it in recitation.  Finally, the style is not that of Hogg
when he attempts the ballad.  Scott observed that “this ballad,
notwithstanding its present appearance, has a claim to very high
antiquity.”  The language, except for a few technical terms, is modern,
but what else could it be if handed down orally?  The language of
undoubted ballads is often more modern than that which was spoken in my
boyhood in Ettrick Forest.  As Sir Walter Scott remarked, a poem of
1570–1580, which he quotes from the Maitland MSS., “would run as
smoothly, and appear as modern, as any verse in the ballad (with a few
exceptions) if divested of its antique spelling.”

We now turn to the historical characters in the ballad.

Sir Richard Maitland of Lauder, or Thirlestane, says Scott, was already
in his lands, and making donations to the Church in 1249.  If, in 1296,
forty-seven years later, he held his castle against Edward I., as in the
ballad, he must have been a man of, say, seventy-five.  By about 1574 his
descendant, Sir Richard Maitland, was consoled for his family misfortunes
(his famous son, Lethington, having died after the long siege of
Edinburgh Castle, which he and Kirkcaldy of Grange held for Queen Mary),
by a poet who reminded him that his ancestor, in the thirteenth century,
lost all his sons—“peerless pearls”—save one, “Burdallane.”  The Sir
Richard of 1575 has also one son left (John, the minister of James VI.).

From this evidence, in 1802 in MS. unpublished, and from other Maitland
MSS., we learn that, in the sixteenth century, the Auld Maitland of the
ballad was an eminent character in the legends of that period, and in the
ballads of the people. {41b}  His

       Nobill sonnis three,
    Ar sung in monie far countrie,
    _Albeit in rural rhyme_.

Pinkerton published, in 1786, none of the pieces to which Scott refers in
his extracts from the Maitland MSS.  How, then, did Hogg, if Hogg forged
the ballad, know of Maitland and his “three noble sons”?  Except Colonel
Elliot, to whose explanation we return, I am not aware that any critic
has tried to answer this question.

It seems to me that if the _Ballad of Otterburne_, extant in 1550 in
England, survived in Scottish memory till Herd’s fragment appeared in
1776, a tradition of Maitland, who was popular in the ballads of 1575,
and known to Gawain Douglas seventy years earlier, may also have
persisted.  There is no impossibility.

Looking next at Scott’s _Auld Maitland_ the story is that King Edward I.
reigned for fifty years.  He had a nephew Edward (an apocryphal person:
such figures are common in ballads), who wished to take part in the
invasion of Scotland.  The English are repulsed by old Maitland from his
“darksome house” on the Leader.  The English, however, (stanza xv.)
conquer Scotland, and join Edward I. in France.  They besiege that town,

    Which some call Billop-Grace (xviii.).

Here Maitland’s three sons are learning at school, as Scots often were
educated in France.  They see that Edward’s standard quarters the arms of
France, and infer that he has conquered their country.  They “will try
some jeopardy.”  Persuading the English that they are themselves
Englishmen, they ask leave to carry the royal flag.  The eldest is told
that he is singularly like Auld Maitland.  In anger he stabs the
standard-bearer, seizes the flag, and, with his brothers, spurs to
Billop-Grace, where the French captain receives them.  There is fighting
at the gate.  The King says that three disguised lads of France have
stolen his flag.  The Maitlands apparently heard of this; the youngest
goes to Edward, and explains that they are Maitland’s sons, and Scots;
they challenge any three Englishmen; a thing in the manner of the period.
The three Scots are victorious.  Young Edward then challenges one of the
dauntless three, who slays him.  Edward wishes himself home at London

Such is the story.  It is out of the regular line of ballad narrative,
but it does not follow that, in the sixteenth century, some such tale was
not told “in rural rhyme” about Maitland’s “three noble sons.”  That it
is not historically true is nothing, of course, and that it is not in the
Scots of the thirteenth century is nothing.

Colonel Elliot asks, What in the ballad raised suspicion of forgery (in
1802–03)?  The historical inaccuracies are common to all historical
ballads.  (In an English ballad known to me of 1578, Henry Darnley is
“hanged on a tree”!)

Next, “there are occasional lines, and even stanzas, which jar in style
to such a degree that they must have been written by two separate hands.”

But this, also, is a common feature.  In “Professor Child and the
Ballad,” Mr. W. M. Hart gives a list of Professor Child’s notes on the
multiplicity of hands, which he, and every critic, detect in some ballads
with a genuinely antique substratum. {44a}

Colonel Elliot quotes, as in his opinion the best, stanzas viii., ix.,
x., xi., while he thinks xv., xviii. the worst.  I give these stanzas—


   They lighted on the banks o’ Tweed,
      And blew their coals sae het,
   And fired the Merse and Teviotdale,
      All in an evening late.


   As they fared up o’er Lammermoor,
      They burned baith up and doun,
   Until they came to a darksome house,
      Some call it Leader Town.


   “Wha hauds this house?” young Edward cried,
      “Or wha gi’est ower to me?”
   A grey-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 guid auld house,
      While my house will keep me.”

I cannot, I admit, find any fault with these stanzas: cannot see any
reason why they should not be traditional.

Then Colonel Elliot cites, as the worst—


   Then fifteen barks, all gaily good,
      Met them upon a day,
   Which they did lade with as much spoil
      As they could take away.


   Until we came unto that town
      Which some call Billop-Grace;
   There were Auld Maitland’s sons, a’ three,
      Learning at school, alas!

Now, if I venture to differ from Colonel Elliot here, I may plead that I
am practised in the art of ballad-faking, and can produce high
testimonials of skill!  To me stanzas xv., xviii. seem to differ much
from viii.–xi., but not in such a way as Hogg would have differed, had he
made them.  Hogg’s error would have lain, as Scott’s did, in being, as
Scott said of Mrs. Hemans, _too poetical_.

Neither Hogg nor Scott, I think, was crafty enough to imitate the prosaic
drawl of the printed broadside ballad, or the feeble interpolations with
which the “gangrel scrape-gut,” or _bänkelsänger_, supplied gaps in his
memory.  The modern complete ballad-faker _would_ introduce such abject
verses, but Scott and Hogg desired to decorate, not to debase, ballads
with which they intermeddled, and we track them by their modern romantic
touch when they interpolate.  I take it, for this reason, that Hogg did
not write stanzas xv., xviii.  It was hardly in nature for Hogg, if he
knew Ville de Grace in Normandy (a thing not very probable), to invent
“Billop-Grace” as a popular corruption of the name—and a popular
corruption it is, I think.  Probably the original maker of this stanza
wrote, in line 4, “alace,” an old spelling—not “alas”—to rhyme with

Colonel Elliot then assigns xv., xviii. as most likely of all to be by
Hogg.  On that I have given my opinion, with my reasons.

These verses, with xviii., lead us to France, and whereas Scott here
suspects that some verses have been lost (see his note to stanza xviii.),
Colonel Elliot suspects that the stanzas relating to France have been
interpolated.  But the French scenes occupy the whole poem from xvi. to
lxv., the end.

What, if Hogg were the forger, were his sources?  He _may_ have known
Douglas’s _Palice of Honour_, which, of course, existed in print, with
its mention of Maitland’s grey beard.  But how did he know Maitland’s
“three noble sons,” in 1801–1802, lying unsunned in the Maitland MSS.?

This is a point which critics of _Auld Maitland_ studiously ignore, yet
it is the essential point.  How did the Shepherd know about the three
young Maitlands, whose existence, in legend, is only revealed to us
through a manuscript unpublished in 1802?  Colonel Elliot does not evade
the point.  “We may be sure,” he says, that Leyden, before 1802, knew
Hogg, and Hogg might have obtained from him sufficient information to
enable him to compose the ballad. {47a}  But it was from Laidlaw, not
from Leyden, that Scott, after receiving his first copy at Blackhouse, in
spring 1802, obtained Hogg’s address. {47b}  There is no hint that before
spring 1802 Leyden ever saw Hogg.  Had he known him, and his ballad-lore,
he would have brought him and Scott together.  In 1801–02, Leyden was
very busy in Edinburgh helping Scott to edit _Sir Tristram_, copying
_Arthour_, seeking for an East India appointment, and going into society.
Scott’s letters prove all this. {47c}

That Hogg, in 1802, was very capable of writing a ballad, I admit; also
that, through Blind Harry’s _Wallace_, he may have known all about
“sowies,” and “portculize,” and _springwalls_, or _springald’s_, or
_springalls_, mediæval _balistas_ for throwing heavy stones and darts.
But Hogg did not know or guess what a _springwall_ was.  In his stanza
xiii. (in the MS. given to Laidlaw), Hogg wrote—

    With springs; wall stanes, and good o’ern
       Among them fast he threw.

Scott saw the real meaning of this nonsense, and read—

    With springalds, stones, and gads o’ airn.

In his preface he says that many words in the ballad, “which the reciters
have retained without understanding them, still preserve traces of their
antiquity.”  For instance, _springalls_, corruptedly pronounced
_springwalls_.  Hogg, hearing the pronunciation, and not understanding,
wrote, “with springs: wall stanes.”  A leader would not throw “wall
stanes” till he had exhausted his ammunition.  Hogg heard “with
springwalls stones, he threw,” and wrote it, “with springs: wall stones
he threw.”

Hogg could not know of Auld Maitland “and his three noble sons” except
through an informant familiar with the Maitland MSS. in Edinburgh
University Library.  On the theory of a conspiracy to forge, Scott taught
him, but that theory is crushed.

Hogg says, in _Domestic Manners of Sir Walter Scott_, that when his
mother met Scott she told him that her brother and she learned the ballad
from auld Andrew Muir, and he from “auld Babby Mettlin,” housekeeper of
the first (“Anderson”) laird of Tushielaw.  This first Anderson, laird of
Tushielaw, reigned from 1688 to 1721 (?) or 1724. {48a}  Hogg’s mother
was born in 1730, and was only one remove—filled up by Andrew Muir—from
Babby, who was “ither than a gude yin,” and knew many songs.  Does any
one think Hogg crafty enough to have invented Babby Maitland as the
source of a song about the Maitlands, and to have introduced her into his
narrative in 1834?  I conjecture that this Maitland woman knew a Maitland
song, modernised in time, and perhaps copied out and emended by one of
the Maitland family, possibly one of the descendants of Lethington.  We
know that, under James I., about 1620, Lethington’s impoverished son,
James, had several children; and that Lauderdale was still supporting
them (or _their_ children) during the Restoration.  Only a century
before, ballads on the Maitlands had certainly been popular, and there is
nothing impossible in the suggestion that one such ballad survived in the
Lauderdale or Lethington family, and came through Babby Maitland to
Andrew Muir, then to Hogg’s mother, to Hogg, and to Scott.

If a manuscript copy ever existed, and was Babby’s ultimate source, it
would be of the late seventeenth century.  That is the ascertained date
of the oldest known MS. of _The Outlaw Murray_, as is proved from an
allusion in a note appended to a copy, referring to a Judge of Session,
Lord Philiphaugh, as then alive.  The copy was of 1689–1702. {49a}

Granting a MS. of _Auld Maitland_ existing in any branch of the Maitland
family in 1680–1700, Babby Mettlin’s knowledge of the ballad, and its few
modernisms, are explained.

As Lockhart truly says, Hogg “was the most extraordinary man that ever
wore the maud of a shepherd.”  He had none of Burns’ education.  In 1802
he was young, and ignorant of cities, and always was innocent of research
in the crabbed MSS. of the sixteenth century.  Yet he gets at legendary
persons known to us only through these MSS.  He makes a ballad named
_Auld Maitland_ about them.  Through him a farm-lass at Blackhouse
acquires some stanzas which Laidlaw copies.  In a fortnight Hogg sends
Laidlaw the whole ballad, with the pedigree—his uncle, his mother, their
father, and old Andrew Muir, servant to the famous Rev. Mr. Boston of
Ettrick.  The copy takes in Scott and Leyden.  Later, Ritson makes no
objection.  Mrs. Hogg recites it to Scott, and, according to Hogg, gives
a casual “auld Babby Maitland” as the original source.

Is the whole fraud conceivable?  Hogg, we must believe, puts in two
stanzas (xv., xviii.), of the lowliest order of printed stall-copy or
“gangrel scrape-gut” style, and the same with intent to deceive.  He
introduces “Billop-Grace” as a deceptive popular corruption of _Ville de
Grace_.  This is far beyond any craft that I have found in the most
artful modern “fakers.”  One stanza (xlix.)—

    But Ethert Lunn, a baited bear,
    Had many battles seen—

seems to me very recent, whoever made it.  Scott, in lxii., gives a
variant of “some reciters,” for “That Edward once lay under me,” they
read “That Englishman lay under me.”  This, if a false story, was an
example of an art more delicate than Scott elsewhere exhibits.

One does not know what Professor Child would have said to my arguments.
He never gave a criticism in detail of the ballad and of the
circumstances in which Scott acquired it.  A man most reasonable, most
open to conviction, he would, I think, have confessed his perplexity.

Scott did not interpolate a single stanza, even where, as Hogg wrote, he
suspected a lacuna in the text.  He neither cut out nor improved the
cryingly modern stanzas.  He kept them, as he kept several stanzas in
_Tamlane_, which, so he told Laidlaw, were obviously recent, but were in
a copy which he procured through Lady Dalkeith. {51a}

By neither adding to nor subtracting from his MS. copy of _Auld
Maitland_, Scott proved, I think, his respect for a poem which, in its
primal form, he believed to be very ancient.  We know, at all events,
that ballads on the Maitland heroes were current about 1580.  So, late in
the sixteenth century, were the ballads quoted by Hume of Godscroft, on
the murder of the Knight of Liddesdale (1354), the murder of the young
Earl of Douglas in Edinburgh Castle (1440), and the battle of Otterburn.
Of these three, only _Otterburne_ was recovered by Herd, published in
1776.  The other two are lost; and there is no _prima facie_ reason why a
Maitland ballad, of the sort current in 1580, should not, in favourable
circumstances, have survived till 1802.

As regards the Shepherd’s ideas of honesty in ballad-collecting at this
early period, I have quoted his letter to Laidlaw of 20th July 1802.

Again, in the case of his text from recitation of the _Ballad of
Otterburne_ (published by Scott in _The Minstrelsy_ of 1806), he gave the
Sheriff a full account of his mode of handling his materials, and Scott
could get more minute details by questioning him.

To this text of _Otterburne_, freely attacked by Colonel Elliot, in
apparent ignorance, as before, of the published facts of the case, and of
the manuscript, we next turn our attention.  In the meantime, Scott no
more conspired to forge _Auld Maitland_ than he conspired to forge the
Pentateuch.  That Hogg did not forge _Auld Maitland_ I think I have made
as nearly certain as anything in this region can be.  I think that the
results are a lesson to professors of the Higher Criticism of Homer.


SCOTT’S version of the _Ballad of Otterburne_, as given first in _The
Minstrelsy_ of 1806, comes under Colonel Elliot’s most severe censure.
He concludes in favour of “the view that it consists partly of stanzas
from Percy’s _Reliques_, which have undergone emendations calculated to
disguise the source from which they came, partly of stanzas of modern
fabrication, and partly of a very few stanzas and lines from Herd’s
version” (1776). {53a}

As a matter of fact we know, though Colonel Elliot does not, the whole
process of construction of the _Otterburne_ in _The Minstrelsy_ of 1806.
Professor Child published all the texts with a letter. {53b}  It is a
pity that Colonel Elliot overlooks facts in favour of conjecture.
Concerning historical facts he is not more thorough in research.  The
story, in Percy’s _Reliques_, of the slaying of Douglas by Percy, “is, so
far as I know, supported neither by history nor by tradition.” {53c}  If
unfamiliar with the English chroniclers (in Latin) of the end of the
fourteenth century, Colonel Elliot could find them cited by Professor
Child.  Knyghton, Walsingham, and the continuator of Higden (Malverne),
all assert that Percy killed Douglas with his own hand. {54a}  The
English ballad of _Otterburne_ (in MS. of about 1550) gives this version
of Douglas’s death.  It is erroneous.  Froissart, a contemporary, had
accounts of the battle from combatants, both English and Scottish.
Douglas, fighting in the front of the van, on a moonlight night, was
slain by three lance-wounds received in the mellay.  The English knew not
whom they had slain.

The interesting point is that, while the Scottish ballads give either the
English version of Percy’s death (in _Minstrelsy_, 1806) or another
account mentioned by Hume of Godscroft (_circ._ 1610), that he was slain
by one of his own men, the Scottish versions are _all_ deeply affected in
an important point by Froissart’s contemporary narrative, which has not
affected the English versions. {54b}  The point is that the death of
Douglas was by his order concealed from both parties.

When both the English version in Percy’s _Reliques_ (from a MS. of about
1550), and Scott’s version of 1806, mention a “challenge to battle”
between Percy and Douglas, Colonel Elliot calls this incident “probably
purely fanciful and imaginary,” and suspects Scott’s version of being
made up and altered from the English text.  But the challenge which
resulted in the battle of Otterburn is not fanciful and imaginary!

It is mentioned by Froissart.  Douglas, he says, took Percy’s pennon in
an encounter under Newcastle.  Percy vowed that Douglas would never carry
the pennon out of Northumberland; Douglas challenged him to come and take
it from his tent door that night; but Percy was constrained not to accept
the challenge.  The Scots then marched homewards, but Douglas insisted on
besieging Otterburn Castle; here he passed some days on purpose to give
Percy a chance of a fight; Percy’s force surprised the Scots; they were
warned, as in the ballads, suddenly, by a man who galloped up; the fight
began; and so on.

Now Herd’s version says nothing of Douglas at Newcastle; the whole scene
is at Otterburn.  On the other hand, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe’s MS.
text _did_ bring Douglas to Newcastle.  Of this Colonel Elliot says
nothing.  The English version says _nothing of Percy’s loss of his pennon
to Douglas_ (nor does Sharpe’s), and gives the challenge and tryst.
Scott’s version says nothing of Percy’s pennon, but Douglas takes Percy’s
_sword_ and vows to carry it home.  Percy’s challenge, in the English
version, is accompanied by a gross absurdity.  He bids Douglas wait at
Otterburn, where, _pour tout potage_ to an army absurdly stated at 40,000
men, Percy suggests venison and pheasants!  In the Scottish version Percy
offers tryst at Otterburn.  Douglas answers that, though Otterburn has no
supplies—nothing but deer and wild birds—he will there tarry for Percy.
This is chivalrous, and, in Scott’s version, Douglas understands war.  In
the English version Percy does not.  (To these facts I return, giving
more details.)  Colonel Elliot supposes some one (Scott, I daresay) to
have taken Percy’s,—the English version,—altered it to taste, concealed
the alterations, as in this part of the challenge, by inverting the
speeches and writing new stanzas of the fight at Otterburn, used a very
little of Herd (which is true), and inserted modern stanzas.

Now, first, as regards pilfering from the English version, that version,
and Herd’s undisputed version, have undeniably a common source.  Neither,
as it stands, is “original”; of an _original_ contemporary Otterburn
ballad we have no trace.  By 1550, when such ballads were certainly
current both in England and Scotland, they were late, confused by
tradition, and, of what we possess, say Herd’s, and the English MS. of
1550, all were interblended.

The Scots ballad version, known to Hume of Godscroft (1610), may have
been taken from the English, and altered, as Child thought, or the
English, as Motherwell maintained, may have been borrowed from the Scots,
and altered.  One or the other process undeniably occurred; the second
poet, who made the changes, introduced the events most favourable to his
country, and left out the less favourable.  By Scott’s time, or Herd’s,
the versions were much degraded through decay of memory, bad penny
broadsides (lost), and uneducated reciters.  Herd’s version has forgotten
the historic affair of the capture of Percy’s pennon (and of the whole
movement on Newcastle, preserved in Sharpe’s and Scott’s); Scott’s
remembers the encounter at Newcastle, forgets the pennon, and substitutes
the capture by Douglas of Percy’s sword.  The Englishman deliberately
omits the capture of the pennon.  The Scots version (here altered by Sir
Walter) makes Percy wound Douglas at Otterburn—

    Till backward he did flee.

Now Colonel Elliot has no right, I conceive, to argue that this Scots
version, with the Newcastle incident, the captured sword, the challenge,
the “backward flight” of Douglas, were introduced by a modern (Scott?)
who was deliberately “faking” the English version.  There is no reason
why tradition should _not_ have retained historical incidents in the
Scottish form; it is a mere assumption that a modern borrowed and
travestied these incidents from Percy’s _Reliques_.  We possess Hogg’s
_unedited_ original of Scott’s version of 1806 (an original MS. never
hinted at by Colonel Elliot), and it retains clear traces of being
contaminated with a version of _The Huntiss of Chevet_, popular in 1459,
as we read in _The Complaynte of Scotland_ of that date.  There is also
an old English version of _The Hunting of the Cheviot_ (1550 or later,
Bodleian Library).  The _unedited_ text of Scott’s _Otterburne_ then
contained traces of _The Huntiss of Chevet_; the two were mixed in
popular memory.  In short, Scott’s text, manipulated slightly by him in a
way which I shall describe, was _a thing surviving in popular memory_:
how confusedly will be explained.

The differences between the English version of 1550 and the Scots
(collected for Scott by Hogg), are of old standing.  I am not sure that
there was not, before 1550, a Scottish ballad, which the English
ballad-monger of that date annexed and altered.  The English version of
1550 is not “popular”; it is the work of a humble literary man.

The English is a very long ballad, in seventy quatrains; it greatly
exaggerates the number of the Scots engaged (40,000), and it is the work
of a professional author who uses the stereotyped prosaic stopgaps of the
cheap hack—

    I tell you withouten dread,

is his favourite phrase, and he cites historical authority—

    The cronykle wyll not layne (lie).

Scottish ballads do not appeal to chroniclers!  A patriotic and imbecile
effort is made by the Englishman to represent Percy as captured, indeed,
but released without ransom—

    There was then a Scottysh prisoner tayne,
    Sir Hew Mongomery was his name;
    For sooth as I yow saye,
    He borrowed the Persey home agayne.

This is obscure, and in any case false.  Percy _was_ taken, and towards
his ransom Richard II. paid £3000. {59a}

It may be well to quote the openings of each ballad, English and Scots.

                                ENGLISH (1550)


    It fell about the Lammas tyde,
       When husbands win their hay,
    The doughty Douglas bound him to ride,
       In England to take a prey.


    The Earl of Fife, withouten strife,
       He bound him over Solway;
    The great would ever together ride
       That race they may rue for aye.


    Over Hoppertop hill they came in,
       And so down by Rodcliff crag,
    Upon Green Linton they lighted down,
       Stirring many a stag.


    And boldly brent Northumberland,
       And harried many a town,
    They did our Englishmen great wrong,
       To battle that were not boune.


    Then spake a berne upon the bent . . .

                            SCOTTISH, HERD (1776)


    It fell and about the Lammas time,
       When hushandmen 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,
       With them the gallant Gordons gay;
    And the Earl of Fyfe, withouten strife,
       And Hugh Montgomery upon a grey.

(_The last line is obviously a reciter’s stopgap_.)


    They have taken Northumberland,
       And sae hae they _the north shire_,
    And the Otterdale they hae burned hale,
       And set it a’ into fire.


    Out then spak a bonny boy;

Manifestly these copies, so far, are not independent.  But now Herd’s
copy begins to vary much from the English.

In both ballads a boy or “berne” speaks up.  In the English he recommends
to the Scots an attack on Newcastle; in the Scots he announces the
approach of an English host.  Douglas promises to reward the boy if his
tale be true, to hang him if it be false.  _The scene is Otterburn_.  The
boy stabs Douglas, in a stanza which is a common ballad formula of
frequent occurrence—

    The boy’s taen out his little pen knife,
       That hanget low down by his gare,
    And he gaed Earl Douglas a deadly wound,
       Alack! a deep wound and a sare.

Douglas then says to Sir Hugh Montgomery—

       Take _thou_ the vanguard of the three,
    And bury me at yon bracken bush,
       That stands upon yon lilly lea.  (Herd, 4–8.)

Hume of Godscroft (about 1610), author of the _History of the Douglases_,
was fond of quoting ballads.  He gives a form of the first verse in
_Otterburn_ which is common to Herd and the English copy.  He says that,
according to some, Douglas was treacherously slain by one of his own men
whom he had offended.  “But this narration is not so probable,” and the
fact is fairly meaningless in Herd’s fragment (the boy has no motive for
stabbing Douglas, for if his report is true, he will be rewarded).  The
deed is probably based on the tradition which Godscroft thought “less
probable,”—the treacherous murder of the Earl.

In the English ballad, Douglas marches on Newcastle, where Percy, without
fighting, makes a tryst to meet and combat him at Otterburn, on his way
home from Newcastle to Scotland.  Thither Douglas goes, and is warned by
a Scottish knight of Percy’s approach: as in Herd, he is sceptical, but
is convinced by facts.  (This warning of Douglas by a scout who gallops
up is narrated by Froissart, from witnesses engaged in the battle.)
After various incidents, Percy and Douglas encounter each other, and
Douglas is slain.  After a desperate fight, Sir Hugh Montgomery, a
prisoner of the English,

    Borrowed the Percy home again.

This is absurd.  The Scots fought on, took Percy, and won the day.
Walsingham, the contemporary English chronicler (in Latin), says that
Percy slew Douglas, so do Knyghton and the continuator of Higden.

Meanwhile we observe that the English ballad says nothing of Douglas’s
chivalrous fortitude, and soldier-like desire to have his death
concealed.  Here every Scottish version follows Froissart.  In Herd’s
fragment, Montgomery now attacks Percy, and bids him “yield thee to yon
bracken bush,” where the dead Douglas’s body lies concealed.  Percy does
yield—to Sir Hugh Montgomery.  The fragment has but fourteen stanzas.

In 1802, Scott, correcting by another MS., published Herd’s copy.  In
1806 he gave another version, for “fortunately two copies have since been
obtained from the recitation of old persons residing at the head of
Ettrick Forest.” {62a}

Colonel Elliot devotes a long digression to the trivial value of
recitations, so styled, {62b} and gives his suggestions about the copy
being made up from the _Reliques_.  When Scott’s copy of 1806 agrees with
the English version, Colonel Elliot surmises that a modern person,
familiar with the English, has written the coincident verses in _with
differences_.  Percy and Douglas, for example, change speeches, each
saying what, in the English, the other said in substance, not in the
actual words.  When Scott’s version touches on an incident known in
history, but not given in the English version, the encounter between
Douglas and Percy at Newcastle (Scott, vii., viii.), Colonel Elliot
suspects the interpolator (and well he may, for the verses are mawkish
and modern, not earlier than the eighteenth century imitations or
_remaniements_ which occur in many ballads traditional in essence).

So Colonel Elliot says, “We are not told, either in _The Minstrelsy_ or
in any of Scott’s works or writings, who the reciters were, and who the
transcribers were.” {63a}  We very seldom are told by Scott who the
reciters were and who the transcribers, but our critic’s information is
here mournfully limited—by his own lack of study.  Colonel Elliot goes on
to criticise a very curious feature in Scott’s version of 1806, and finds
certain lines “beautiful” but “without a note of antiquity,” that he can
detect, while the sentiment “is hardly of the kind met with in old

To understand the position we must remember that, _in the English_, Percy
and Douglas fight each other thus (1.)—

    The Percy and the Douglas met,
       That either of other was fain,
    They swapped together while that they sweat,
       With swords of fine Collayne.  (Cologne steel.)

Douglas bids Percy yield, but Percy slays Douglas (as in Walsingham’s and
other contemporary chronicles, stanzas li.–lvi.).  The Scottish losses
are then enumerated (only eighteen Scots were left alive!), and stanza
lix. runs—

    This fray began at Otterburn
       Between the night and the day.
    There the Douglas lost his life,
       And the Percy was led away.

Herd ends—

    This deed was done at Otterburn,
       About the breaking of the day,
    Earl Douglas was buried at the bracken bush,
       And Percy led captive away.

Manifestly, either the maker of Herd’s version knew the English, and
altered at pleasure, or the Englishman knew a Scots version, and altered
at pleasure.  The perversion is of ancient standing, undeniably.  But
when Scott’s original text exhibits the same phenomena of perversion, in
a part of the ballad missing in Herd’s brief lay, Colonel Elliot supposes
that _now_ the exchanges are by a modern ballad-forger, shall we say Sir
Walter?  By Sir Walter they certainly are _not_!  One tiny hint of Scots
originality is dubious.  In the English, and in all Scots versions, men
“win their hay” at Lammastide.  In Scotland the hay harvest is often much
later.  But if the English ballad be _Northumbrian_, little can be made
out of that proof of Scottish origin.  If the English version be a
southern version (for the minstrel is a professional), then Lammastide
for hay-making is borrowed from the Scots.

The Scots version (Herd’s) insists on Douglas’s burial “by the bracken
bush,” to which Montgomery bids Percy surrender.  This is obviously done
to hide his body and keep his death secret from both parties, _as in
Froissart he bids his friends do_.  The verse of the English (l.) on the
fight between Douglas and Percy, is borrowed by, or is borrowed from, the
Scottish stanza (ix.) in Herd, where Sir Hugh Montgomery fights Percy.

    Then Percy and Montgomery met,
       And weel a wot they warna fain;
    They swaped swords, and they twa swat,
       And ay the blood ran down between.

       The Persses and the Mongomry met,

as quoted, is already familiar in _The Complaynte of Scotland_ (about
1549), and this line is not in the English ballad.  So far it seems as if
the English balladist borrowed the scene from a Scots version, and
perverted it into a description of a fight, between Percy, who wins, and
Douglas—in place of the Scots version, the victory over Percy of Sir Hugh

This transference of incidents in the English and Scottish ballads is a
phenomenon which we are to meet again in the ballad of _Jamie Telfer of
the Fair Dodhead_.  One “maker” or the other has, in old times, pirated
and perverted the ballad of another “maker.”


AS early as December 1802–January 1803, Scott was “so anxious to have a
complete Scottish _Otterburn_ that I will omit the ballad entirely in the
first volume (of 1803), hoping to recover it in time for insertion in the
third.” {67a}

The letter is undated, but is determined by Scott’s expressed interest
“about the Tushielaw lines, which, from what you mention, must be worth
recovering.”  In a letter (Abbotsford MSS.) from Hogg to Scott (marked in
copy, “January 7, 1803”) Hogg encloses “the Tushielaw lines,” which were
popular in Ettrick, but were verses of the eighteenth century.  They were
orally repeated, but literary in origin.

Scott, who wanted “a complete Scottish Otterburn” in winter 1802, did not
sit down and make one.  He waited till he got a text from Hogg, in 1805,
and published an edited version in 1806.

_Scott’s published_ stanza i. is Herd’s stanza i., with slight verbal
changes taken from the Hogg MS. text of 1805. (?)  Hogg’s MS. and Scott,
in stanza ii., give Herd’s lines on the Lindsays and Gordons, adding the
Grahams, and, in place of Herd’s

          The Earl of Fife,
    And Sir Hugh Montgomery upon a grey,

they end thus—

    But the Jardines wald not wi’ him ride,
       And they rue it to this day.

This is from Hogg’s copy; it is a natural Border variant.  No Earl of
Fife is named, but a reproach to a Border clan is conveyed.

For Herd’s iii. (they take Northumberland, and burn “the North shire,”
and the Otter dale), Hogg’s reciters gave—

    And he has burned the dales o’ Tyne,
       And part o’ _Almonshire_,
    And three good towers in Roxburgh fells,
       He left them all on fire.

Hogg, in his letter accompanying his copy, says that “Almonshire” may
stand for the “Bamborowshire” of the English vi., but that he leaves in
“Almonshire,” as both reciters insist on it.  Scott printed
“Bambroughshire,” as in the English version (vi.).

Now here is proof that Hogg had a copy, from reciters—a copy which he
could not understand.  “Almonshire” is “Alneshire,” or “Alnwickshire,”
where is the Percy’s Alnwick Castle.  In Froissart the Scots burn and
waste the region of Alneshire, all round Alnwick, but the Earl of
Northumberland holds out in the castle, unattacked, and sends his sons,
Henry and Ralph Percy, to Newcastle to gather forces, and take the
retreating Scots between two fires, Newcastle and Alnwick.  But the Scots
were not such poor strategists as to return by the way they had come.  In
a skirmish or joust at Newcastle, says Froissart, Douglas captured
Percy’s lance and pennon, with his blazon of arms, and vowed that he
would set it up over his castle of Dalkeith.  Percy replied that he would
never carry it out of England.  To give Percy a chivalrous chance of
recovering his pennon and making good his word, Douglas insists on
waiting at Otterburn to besiege the castle there; and he is taken by
surprise (as in the ballads) when a mounted man brings news of Percy’s
approach.  No tryst is made by Percy and Douglas _at Otterburn_ in
Froissart; Douglas merely tarried there by the courtesy of Scotland.

In Hogg’s version we have a reason why Douglas should tarry at Otterburn;
in the English ballad we have none very definite.  No captured pennon of
Percy’s is mentioned, no encounter of the heroes “at the barriers” of
Newcastle.  Percy, from the castle wall, merely threatens Douglas
vaguely; Douglas says, “Where will you meet me?” and Percy appoints
Otterburn as we said.  He makes the absurd remark that, by way of
supplies (for 40,000 men), Douglas will find abundance of pheasants and
red deer. {69a}

We see that the English balladist is an unwarlike literary hack.  The
author of the Ettrick version knew better the nature of war, as we shall
see, and his Douglas objects to Otterburn as a place destitute of
supplies; nothing is there but wild beasts and birds.  If the original
poem is the sensible poem, the Scott version is the original which the
English hath perverted.

In Hogg, Douglas jousts with Percy at Newcastle, and gives him a fall.
Then come two verses (viii.–ix.).  The second is especially modern and

    But O how pale his lady look’d,
       Frae off the castle wa’,
    When down before the Scottish spear
       She saw brave Percy fa’!
    How pale and wan his lady look’d,
       Frae off the castle hieght,
    When she beheld her Percy yield
       To doughty Douglas’ might.

Colonel Elliot asks, “Can any one believe that these stanzas are really
ancient and have come down orally through many generations?” {70a}

Certainly not!  But Colonel Elliot does not allow for the fact, insisted
on by Professor Child, that traditional ballads, from the sixteenth to
the eighteenth centuries, were often printed on broad-sheets as edited by
the cheapest broadside-vendors’ hacks; that the hacks interpolated and
messed their originals; and that, after the broadside was worn out, lost,
or burned, oral memory kept it alive in tradition.  For examples of this
process we have only to look at _William’s Ghost_ in Herd’s copy of 1776.
This is a traditional ballad; it is included in Scott’s _Clerk Saunders_,
but, as Hogg told him, is a quite distinct song.  In Herd’s copy it ends

    “Oh, stay, my only true love, stay,”
       The constant Marg’ret cry’d;
    Wan grew her cheeks, she closed her eyes,
       Stretched her soft limbs, and dy’d.

Let _this_ get into tradition, and be taken down from recitation, and the
ballad will be denounced as modern.  But it is essentially ancient.

These two modern stanzas, in Hogg’s copy, are rather too bad for Hogg’s
making; and I do not know whether they are his (he practically says they
are not, we shall see), or whether they are remembered by reciters from a
stall-copy of the period of Lady Wardlaw’s _Hardyknute_.

After that, Hogg’s copy becomes more natural.  Douglas says to the
discomfited Percy (x.)—

    Had we twa been upon the green,
       And never an eye to see,
    I should hae had ye flesh and fell,
       But your sword shall gae wi’ me.

That rings true!  Moreover, had either Hogg or Scott tampered here (Scott
excised), either would have made Douglas carry off—not Percy’s _sword_,
but the historic captured _pennon_ of Percy.  Scott really could not have
resisted the temptation had he been interpolating _à son dévis_.

    But your _pennon_ shall gae wi’ me!

It was easy to write in that!

Percy had challenged Douglas thus—

    But gae ye up to Otterburn,
       And there wait days three (xi.),

as in the English (xiii.).  In the English, Percy, we saw, promises game
enough there; in Hogg, Douglas demurs (xii., xiii., xiv.).  There are no
supplies at Otterburn, he says—

       To feed my men and me.

    The deer rins wild frae dale to dale,
       The birds fly wild frae tree to tree,
    And there is neither bread nor kale,
       To fend my men and me.

These seem to me sound true ballad lines, like—

    My hounds may a’ rin masterless
       My hawks may fly frae tree to tree,

in Child’s variant of _Young Beichan_.  The speakers, we see, are
“inverted.”  Percy, in the English, promises Douglas’s men
pheasants—absurd provision for the army of 40,000 men of the English
ballad.  In the Ettrick text Douglas says that there are no supplies,
merely _feræ naturæ_, but he will wait at Otterburn to give Percy his

Colonel Elliot takes the inversion of parts as a proof of modern
pilfering and deliberate change to hide the theft; at least he mentions
them, and the “prettier verses,” with a note of exclamation (!). {73a}
But there are, we repeat, similar inversions in the English and in Herd’s
old copy, and nobody says that Scott or Hogg or any modern faker made the
inversions in Herd’s text.  The differences and inversions in the English
and in Herd are very ancient; by 1550 “the Percy and the Montgomery met,”
in the line quoted in _The Complaynte of Scotland_.  At about the same
period (1550) it was the Percy and the Douglas who met, in the English
version.  Manifestly there pre-existed, by 1550, an old ballad, which
either a Scot then perverted from the English text, or an Englishman from
the Scots.  Thus the inversions in the Ettrick and English version need
not be due (they are not due) to a _modern_ “faker.”

In the Hogg MS. (xxiii.), Percy wounds Douglas “till backwards he did
flee.”  Hogg was too good a Scot to interpolate the flight of Douglas;
and Scott was so good a Scot that—what do you suppose he did?—he excised
“till backwards he did flee” from Hogg’s text, and inserted “that he fell
to the ground” _from the English text_!

In the Hogg MS. (xviii., xix.), in Scott xvii., xviii., Douglas, at
Otterburn, is roused from sleep by his page with news of Percy’s
approach.  Douglas says that the page lies (compare Herd, where Douglas
doubts the page)—

    For Percy hadna’ men yestreen
    To dight my men and me.

There is nothing in this to surprise any one who knows the innumerable
variants in traditional ballads.  But now comes in a very curious
variation (Hogg MS. xx., Scott, xix.).  Douglas says (Hogg MS. xx.)—

    But I have seen a dreary dream
       Beyond the Isle o’ Skye,
    I saw a dead man won the fight,
       And I think that man was I.

Here is something not in Herd, and as remote from the manner of the
English poet, with his

    The Chronicle will not lie,

as Heine is remote from, say,—Milman.  The verse is magical, it has
haunted my memory since I was ten years old.  Godscroft, who does not
approve of the story of Douglas’s murder by one of his men, writes that
the dying leader said:—

“First do yee keep my death both from our own folke and from the enemy”
(Froissart, “Let neither friend nor foe know of my estate”); “then that
ye suffer not my standard to be lost or cast downe” (Froissart, “Up with
my standard and call _Douglas_!”;) “and last, that ye avenge my death”
(also in Froissart).  “Bury me at Melrose Abbey with my father.  If I
could hope for these things I should die with the greater contentment;
for long since I _heard a prophesie that a dead man should winne a
field_, _and I hope in God it shall be I_.” {75a}

    I saw a dead man won the fight,
       And I think that man was I!

Godscroft, up to the mention of Melrose and the prophecy, took his tale
direct from Froissart, or, if he took it from George Buchanan’s Latin
History, Buchanan’s source was Froissart, but Froissart’s was evidence
from Scots who were in the battle.

But who changed the prophecy to a dream of Douglas, and who versified
Godscroft’s “a dead man shall winne a field, and I hope in God it shall
be I”?  Did Godscroft take that from the ballad current in his time and
quoted by him?  Or did a _remanieur_ of Godscroft turn _his_ words into

    I saw a dead man win the fight,
       And I think that man was I?

Scott did not make these two noble lines out of Godscroft, he found them
in Hogg’s copy from recitation, only altering “I saw” into “I dreamed,”
and the ungrammatic “won” into “win”; and “_the_ fight” into “_a_ fight.”

The whole dream stanza occurs in a part of the ballad where Hogg
confesses to no alteration or interpolation, and I doubt if the Shepherd
of Ettrick had read a rare old book like Godscroft.  If he had not, this
stanza is purely traditional; if he had, he showed great genius in his
use of Godscroft.

In Hogg’s Ettrick copy, Douglas, after telling his dream, rushes into
battle, is wounded by Percy, and “backward flees.”  Scott (xx.),
following a historical version (Wyntoun’s _Cronykil_), makes

    Douglas forget the helmit good
       That should have kept his brain.

Being wounded, in Hogg’s version, and “backward fleeing,” Douglas sends
his page to bring Montgomery (Hogg), and from stanza xxiv. to xxxiv., in
Hogg, all is made up by himself, he says,—from facts given “in plain
prose” by his reciters, with here and there a line or two given in verse.
Scott omitted some verses here, amended others slightly, by help of
Herd’s version, _left out a broken last stanza_ (xl.) and put in Herd’s
concluding lines (stanza lxviii. in the English text).

    This deed was done at the Otterburn. (Herd.)

    The fraye began at Otterburn. (English.)

Now what was the broken Ettrick stanza that Scott omitted in his
published _Otterburne_ (1806)?  It referred to Sir Hugh Montgomery, who,
in Herd, captured Percy after a fight; in the English version is a
prisoner apparently exchanged for Percy.  In the Ettrick MS. the omitted
verse is

    He left not an Englishman on the field
    . . .
    That he hadna either killed or taen
       Ere his heart’s blood was cauld.

Scott ended with Herd’s last stanza; in the English version the last but

Now the death, at Otterburn, of Sir Hugh, is recorded in an English
ballad styled _The Hunting of the Cheviot_.  By 1540–50 it was among the
popular songs north of Tweed.  _The Complaynte of Scotland_ (1549)
mentions among “The Songis of Natural Music of the Antiquitie”
(_volkslieder_), _The Hunttis of Chevet_.  Our copy of the English
version is in the Bodleian (MS. Ashmole, 48).  It ends: “Expliceth, quod
Rychard Sheale,” a minstrel who recited ballads and tales at Tamworth
(_circ._ 1559).  The text was part of his stock-in-trade.

The Cheviot ballad, in a Scots form popular in 1549, is later in many
ways than the English _Battle of Otterburne_.  It begins with a brag of
Percy, a vow that, despite Douglas, he will hunt in the Cheviot hills.
While Percy is hunting with a strong force, Douglas arrives with another.
Douglas offers to decide the quarrel by single combat with Percy, who
accepts.  Richard Witherington refuses to look on quietly, and a general
engagement ensues.

    At last the Duglas and the Perse met,
    Lyk to Captayns of myght and of mayne,
    They swapte together tylle they both swat
    With swordes that wear of fyn myllan.

We are back in stanza I. of the English _Otterburne_, in stanza xxxv.
(substituting Hugh Montgomery for Douglas) of the Hogg MS.  In _The
Hunting_, Douglas is slain by an English arrow (xxxvi.–xxxviii.).

Sir Hugh Montgomery now charges and slays Percy (who, of course, was
merely taken prisoner).  An archer of Northumberland sends an arrow
through good Sir Hugh Montgomery (xliii.–xlvi.).  Stanza lxvi. has

    At Otterburn begane this spurne,
       Upon a Monnynday;
    There was the doughte Douglas slean,
       The Perse never went away.

This is a form of Herd’s stanza xiv. of the English _Otterburn_
(lxviii.), made soon after the battle.  We see that the _original_ ballad
has protean variants; in time all is mixed in tradition.

Now the curious and interesting point is that Hogg, when he collected the
ballad from two reciters, himself noticed that the _Cheviot_ ballad had
merged, in some way, into the _Otterburn_ ballad, and pointed this out to
Scott.  I now publish Hogg’s letter to Scott, in which, as usual, he does
not give the year-date: I think it was 1805.

                                       ETTRICK HOUSE, _Sept._ 10, [?1805].

    DEAR SIR,—Though I have used all diligence in my power to recover the
    old song about which you seemed anxious, I am afraid it will arrive
    too late to be of any use.  I cannot at this time have Grame and
    Bewick; the only person who hath it being absent at a harvest; and as
    for the scraps of Otterburn which you have got, _they seem to have
    been some confused jumble made by some person who had learned both
    the songs you have_, {79a} _and in time had been straitened to make
    one out of them both_.  But you shall have it as I had it, saving
    that, as usual, I have sometimes helped the metre without altering
    one original word.

Hogg here gives his version from recitation as far as stanza xxiv.

Here Hogg stops and writes:—

    The ballad, which I have collected from two different people, a crazy
    old man and a woman deranged in her mind, seems hitherto considerably
    entire; but now, when it becomes most interesting, they have both
    failed me, and I have been obliged to take much of it in plain prose.
    However, as none of them seemed to know anything of the history save
    what they had learned from the song, I took it the more kindly.  Any
    few verses which follow are to me unintelligible.

    He told Sir Hugh that he was dying, and ordered him to conceal his
    body, and neither let his own men nor Piercy’s know; which he did,
    and the battle went on headed by Sir Hugh Montgomery, and at length—

Here follow stanzas up to xxxviii.

Hogg then goes on thus:—

    Piercy seems to have been fighting devilishly in the dark.  Indeed my
    narrators added no more, but told me that Sir Hugh died on the field,
    but that

    He left not an Englishman on the field,
    . . .
    That he hadna either killed or ta’en
       Ere his heart’s blood was cauld.

    Almonshire (Stanza iii.) may probably be a corruption of
    Bamburghshire, but as both my narrators called it so I thought proper
    to preserve it.  The towers in Roxburgh fells (Stanza iii.) may not
    be so improper as we were thinking, there may have been some
    [English] strength on the very borders.—I remain, Dear Sir, your most
    faithful and affectionate servant, JAMES HOGG.

Hogg adds a postscript:

    Not being able to get the letter away to the post, I have taken the
    opportunity of again pumping my old friend’s memory, and have
    recovered some more lines and half lines of Otterburn, of which I am
    becoming somewhat enamoured.  These I have been obliged to arrange
    somewhat myself, as you will see below, but so mixed are they with
    original lines and sentences that I think, if you pleased, they might
    pass without any acknowledgment.  Sure no man will like an old song
    the worse of being somewhat harmonious.  After stanza xxiv. you may
    read stanzas xxv. to xxxiv.  Then after xxxviii. read xxxix.

Now we know all that can be known about the copy of the ballad which, in
1805, Scott received from Hogg.  Up to stanza xxiv. it is as given by the
two old reciters.  The crazy man may be the daft man who recited to Hogg
Burns’s _Tam o’ Shanter_, and inspired him with the ambition to be a
poet.  The deranged woman, like mad Madge Wildfire, was rich in ballad
scraps.  From stanza xxv. to xxxiv., Hogg confessedly “harmonises” what
he got in plain prose intermixed with verse.  Stanza xxxix. is apparently
Hogg’s.  The last broken stanza, as Hogg said, is a reminiscence of the
_Hunting of the Cheviot_, in a Scots form, long lost.

Hogg was not a scientific collector: had he been, he would have taken
down “the plain prose” and the broken lines and stanzas verbally.  But
Hogg has done his best.

We have next to ask, How did Scott treat the material thus placed before
him?  He dropped five stanzas sent by Hogg, mainly from the part made up
from “plain prose”; he placed in a stanza and a line or two from Herd’s
text; he remade a stanza and adopted a line from the English of 1550, and
inserted an incident from Wyntoun’s _Cronykil_ (about 1430).  He did
these things in the effort to construct what Lockhart calls “a standard

1.  In stanza i., for Hogg’s “Douglas _went_,” Scott put “bound him to

2.  (_H._)  “With the Lindsays.”

   (_S._)  “With _them_ the Lindesays.”

3.  (_H._)  “Almonshire.”

   (_S._)  “Bamboroughshire.”

   (_H._)  “Roxburgh.”

   (_S._)  “Reidswire.”

6.  (_H._)  “The border again.”

   (_S._)  “The border fells.”

7.  (_H._)  “_Most_ furiously.”

   (_S._)  “_Right_ furiouslie.”

9.  (_H._) A modernised stanza.

   (_S._) Scott deletes it.

15.  (_H._) Scott rewrites the stanza thus,


   But I will stay at Otterburn,
      Where you shall welcome be;
   And if ye come not at three days end,
      A coward I’ll call thee.


   “Thither will I come,” proud Percy said,
      “By the might of Our Ladye.”
   “There will I bide thee,” said the Douglas,
      “My troth I’ll plight to thee.”

19.  (_H._)  “I have _seen_ a dreary dream.”

20.  (_S._)  “I have _dreamed_ a dreary dream.”

21.  (_H._)

   Where he met with the stout Percy
      And a’ his goodly train.

21.  (_S._)

    But he forgot the helmet good
    That should have kept his brain.

                                                           (From Wyntoun.)

22.  (_H._) Line 2.  “Right keen.”

   (_S._) Line 2.  “Fu’ fain.”

Line 4.

    The blood ran down like rain.

Line 4.

    The blood ran them between.

23.  (_H._)

    But Piercy wi’ his good broadsword
       Was made o’ the metal free,
    Has wounded Douglas on the brow
       Till backward did he flee.

24.  (_S._)

    But Piercy wi’ his broadsword good
       That could so sharply wound,
    Has wounded Douglas on the brow,
       Till he fell to the ground.

25.  (_H._) Here Hogg has mixed prose and verse, and does his best.
Scott deletes Hogg’s 25.

27.  (_H._) Douglas repeats the story of his dream.  Scott deletes the

28.  In Hogg’s second line,

    Nae mair I’ll fighting see.

Scott gives, from Herd,

    Take thou the vanguard of the three.

29.  Hogg’s verse is

    But tell na ane of my brave men
       That I lie bleeding wan,
    But let the name of Douglas still
       Be shouted in the van.

This is precisely what Douglas does say, in Froissart, but Scott deletes
the stanza.  Probably Hogg got the fact from his reciters, “in plain
prose,” with a phrase or two in verse.

31.  (_H._) Line 4.

    On yonder lily lee.

27.  (_S._)

    That his merrie men might not see.

33.  (_H._) Scott deletes the stanza.

35.  (_H._)

    When stout Sir Hugh wi’ Piercy met.

30.  (_S._)

    The Percy and Montgomery met. {83a}

36.  (_H._)

    “O yield thee, Piercy,” said Sir Hugh,
       “O yield, or ye shall die!”
    “Fain would I yield,” proud Percy said,
       “But ne’er to loon like thee.”

31.  (_S._)

    “Now yield thee, yield thee, Percy,” he said,
       “Or else I vow I’ll lay thee low,”
    “To whom must I yield,” quoth Earl Percy,
       “Now that I see it must be so?”

Scott took this from Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe’s MS. copy. {84a}

38.  (_H._)

38.  (_S._) Scott makes a slight verbal alteration.

39.  (_H._) Line 1.

34.  (_S._) Line 1.

Scott substitutes Herd’s

    As soon as he knew it was Montgomery.

40.  (_H._) Hogg’s broken stanza on the death of Montgomery, derived from
a lost form of the _Huntiss of Chevets_, named in _The Complaynte of

35.  (_S._) Scott omits giving the formula common to the English of 1550
and to Herd.  This was the whole of Scott’s editorial alteration.  Any
one may discover the facts from Professor Kittredge’s useful abbreviation
of Child’s collection into a single volume (Nutt.  London, 1905).
Colonel Elliot quotes Professor Kittredge’s book three or four times, but
in place of looking at the facts he abounds in the Higher Criticism.
Colonel Elliot says that Scott does not tell us of a single line having
been borrowed from Percy’s version. {84b}  Scott has only “a single line”
to tell of, the fourth line in his stanza xxii., “Till he fell to the

For the rest, the old English version and Herd’s have many
inter-borrowings of stanzas, but we do not know whether a Scot borrowed
from an Englishman, or _vice versa_.  Thus, in another and longer
traditional version—Hogg’s—more correspondence must be expected than in
Herd’s fourteen stanzas.  It is, of course, open to scepticism to allege
that Hogg merely made his text, invented the two crazy old reciters, and
the whole story about them, and his second “pumping of their memories,”
invented “Almonshire,” which he could not understand, and invented his
last broken stanza on the death of Montgomery, to give the idea that _The
Huntiss of Chevets_ was mingled in the recollections of the reciters with
_The Battle of Otterburn_.  He also gave the sword in place of the pennon
of Percy as the trophy of Douglas, “and the same with intent to deceive,”
just as he pretended, in _Auld Maitland_, not to know what “springwalls”
were, and wrote “springs: wall-stanes.”  If this probable theory be
correct, then Scott was the dupe of Truthful James.  At all events,
though for three years Scott was moving heaven and earth and Ettrick
Forest to find a copy of a Scottish ballad of Otterburn, he did not sit
down and make one, as, in Colonel Elliot’s system, he easily could and
probably would have done.

Before studying his next ill deed, we must repeat that the Otterburn
ballads prove that in early times one nation certainly pirated a ballad
of a rival nation, and very ingeniously altered it and inverted the parts
of the heroes.

We have next to examine a case in a later generation, in which a maker
who was interested in one clan, pirated, perverted, and introverted the
_rôles_ of the heroes in a ballad by a maker interested in another clan.
Either an Elliotophile perverted a ballad by a Scottophile, or a
Scottophile perverted a ballad by an Elliotophile.

This might be done at the time when the ballad was made (say 1620–60).
But Colonel Elliot believes that the perversion was inflicted on an
Elliotophile ballad by a Scottophile impostor about 1800–1802.  The name
of this desperate and unscrupulous character was Walter Scott, Sheriff of
Ettrick Forest, commonly called Selkirkshire.

In this instance I have no manuscript evidence.  The name of “Jamie of
the Fair Dodhead,” the ballad, appears in a list of twenty-two ballads in
Sir Walter’s hand, written in a commonplace book about 1800–1801.  Eleven
are marked X.  “Jamie” is one of that eleven.  _Kinmont Willie_ is among
the eleven not marked X.  We may conjecture that he had obtained the
first eleven, and was hunting for the second eleven,—some of which he
never got, or never published.



_The Ballad of Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead_ has many charms for
lovers of the Border.  The swift and simple stanzas carry us through a
great tract of country, which remains not unlike what it was in the days
when Scotts, Armstrongs, and Elliots rode the hills in jack and knapscap,
with sword and lance.  The song leads us first, with a foraging party of
English riders, from Bewcastle, an English hold, east of the Border
stream of the Liddel; then through the Armstrong tribe, on the north
bank; then through more Armstrongs north across Tarras water (“Tarras for
the good bull trout”); then north up Ewes water, that springs from the
feet of the changeless green hills and the _pastorum loca vasta_, where
now only the shepherd or the angler wakens the cry of the curlews, but
where then the Armstrongs were in force.  We ride on, as it were, and
look down into the dale of the stripling Teviot, _electro clarior_ (then
held by the Scotts); we descend and ford “Borthwick’s roaring strand,” as
Leyden sings, though the burn is usually a purling brook even where it
joins Teviot, three miles above Hawick.

Next we pass across the green waves of moorlands that rise to the heights
over Ettrick (held by the Scotts), whence the foragers of the song gallop
down to “The Fair Dodhead,” now a heap of grass-covered stones, but in
their day a peel tower, occupied, _according to the ballad_, by one James
Telfer.  The English rob the peel tower, they drive away ten cows, and
urge them southwards over Borthwick water, then across Teviot at Coultart
Cleugh (say seven miles above Hawick), then up the Frostily burn, and so
down Ewes water as before; but the Scottish pursuers meet them before
they cross the Liddel again into English bounds.  The English are
defeated, their captain is shot through the head (which in no way affects
his power of making speeches); he is taken, twenty or thirty of his men
are killed or wounded, his own cattle are seized, and his victim Telfer,
returns rejoicing to Dodhead in distant Ettrick.

_C’est magnifique_, _mais ce n’est pas la guerre_!  These events never
occurred, as we shall see later, yet the poet has the old reiving spirit,
the full sense of the fierce manly times, and possesses a traditional
knowledge of the historical personages of the day, and knows the
country,—more or less.

The poem has raised as many difficulties as Nestor’s long story about
raided cattle in the eleventh book of the _Iliad_.  Historical Greece
knew but dimly the places which were familiar to Nestor, the towns that
time had ruined, the hill where Athene “turned the people again.”  We,
too, have to seek in documents of the end of the sixteenth century, or in
an old map of 1654 (drawn about 1600), to find Dodhead, Catslack, or
Catloch, or Catlock hill, and Preakinhaugh, places essential to our

I see the student who has ventured so far into my tract wax wan!  He does
not,—she does not,—wish to hear about dusty documents and ancient maps.
For him or for her the ballad is enough, and a very good ballad it is.  I
would shake the faith of no man in the accuracy of the ballad tale, if it
were not necessary for me to defend the character of Sir Walter Scott,
which, on occasion of this and other ballads, is impugned by Colonel the
Hon. FitzWilliam Elliot.  He “hopes, though he cannot expect,” that I
will give my reasons for not sharing his belief that Sir Walter did a
certain thing which I could not easily palliate. {89}


My attempts to relieve Colonel Elliot from his painful convictions about
Sir Walter’s unsportsmanlike behaviour must begin with proof that the
ballad, as it stands, cannot conceivably be other than “a pack o’ lees.”
Here Colonel Elliot, to a great extent and on an essential point, agrees
with me.  In sketching rapidly the story of the ballad,—the raid from
England into Ettrick, the return of the raiders, the pursuit,—I omitted
the _clou_, the pivot, the central point of dramatic interest.  It is
this: in one version of the ballad,—call it A for the present,—the
unfortunate Telfer runs to ask aid from the laird of Buccleuch, at
Branksome Hall, some three and a half or four miles above Hawick, on the
Teviot.  From the Dodhead it was a stiff run of eight miles, through
new-fallen snow.  The farmer of Dodhead, in the centre of the Scott
country, naturally went for help to the nearest of his neighbours, the
greatest chief in the mid-Border.  In version A (which I shall call “the
Elliot version”), “auld Buccleuch” (who was a man of about thirty in
fact) was deaf to Telfer’s prayer.

    Gae seek your succour frae Martin Elliot,
       For succour ye’s get nane frae me,
    Gae seek your succour where ye paid blackmail,
       For, man, ye ne’er paid money to me.

This is impossibly absurd!  As Colonel Elliot writes, “I pointed out in
my book” (_The Trustworthiness of Border Ballads_) “that the allegation
that Buccleuch had refused to strike a blow at a party of English
raiders, who had insolently ridden some twenty-five miles into Scottish
ground and into the very middle of his own territory, was too absurd to
be believed . . . ” {91a}

Certainly; and the story is the more ridiculous as Buccleuch (who has
taken Telfer’s protection-money, or “blackmail”) pretends to believe that
Telfer—living in Ettrick, about nine miles from Selkirk—pays
protection-money to Martin Elliot, residing at Preakinhaugh, high up the
water of Liddel.  Martin was too small a potentate, and far too remote to
be chosen as protector by a man living near the farm of Singlee on
Ettrick, and near the bold Buccleuch.

All this is nonsense.  Colonel Elliot sees that, and suggests that all
this is not by the original poet, but has been “inserted at some later
period.” {91b}  But, if so, _what was the original ballad before the
insertion_?  As it stands, all hinges on this impossible refusal of
Buccleuch to help his neighbour and retainer, James Telfer.  If Colonel
Elliot excises Buccleuch’s refusal of aid as a later interpolation, and
if he allows Telfer to reach Branksome and receive the aid which
Buccleuch would rejoice to give, then the Elliot version of the ballad
cannot take a further step.  It becomes a Scott ballad, Buccleuch sends
out his Scotts to pursue the English raiders, and the Elliots, if they
come in at all, must only be subordinates.  But as the Elliot version
stands, it is Buccleuch’s refusal to do his duty that compels poor Jamie
to run to his brother-in-law, “auld Jock Grieve” in Coultartcleugh, four
miles higher on Teviot than Branksome.  Jock gives him a mount, and he
rides to “Martin’s Hab” at “Catlockhill,” a place unknown to research
thereabout.  Thence they both ride to Martin Elliot at Preakinhaugh, high
up in Liddesdale, and the Elliots under Martin rescue Jamie’s kye.

Now the original ballad, if it did not contain Buccleuch’s refusal of aid
to Telfer (which refusal is a thing “too absurd to be believed”) must
merely have told about the rescue of Jamie’s kye by the Scotts, Wat of
Harden, and the rest.  If Buccleuch did not refuse help he gave it, and
there was no ride by Telfer to Martin Elliot.  Therefore, without a
passage “too absurd to be believed” (Buccleuch’s refusal), _there could
be no Elliots in the story_.  The alternative is, that Telfer in Ettrick
_did_ pay blackmail to a man so remote as Elliot of Preakinhaugh, though
Buccleuch was his chief and his neighbour.  This is absurd.  Yet Colonel
Elliot firmly maintains that the version, in which the Elliots have all
the glory and Buccleuch all the shame, is the original version, and is
true on essential points.

That is only possible if we cut out the verses about Buccleuch and make
an Ettrick man not appeal to him, but go direct to a Liddesdale man for
succour.  He must run from Dodhead to Coultartcleugh, get a horse from
Jock Grieve (Buccleuch’s man and tenant), and then ride into Liddesdale
to Martin.  But an Ettrick man, in a country of Scotts, would inevitably
go to his chief and neighbour, Buccleuch: it is inconceivable that he
should choose the remote Martin Elliot as his protector, and go to _him_.

Thus, as a corollary from Colonel Elliot’s own disbelief in the Buccleuch
incident, the Elliot version of the ballad must be absolutely false and

If Colonel Elliot leaves in the verses on Buccleuch’s refusal, he leaves
in what he calls “too absurd to be believed.”  If he cuts out these
verses as an interpolation, then Buccleuch lent aid to Telfer, and there
was no occasion to approach Martin Elliot.  Or, by a third course, the
Elliot ballad originally made an Ettrick man, a neighbour of the great
Buccleuch, never dream of appealing to _him_ for help, but run to
Coultartcleugh, four miles above Buccleuch’s house, and thence make his
way over to distant Liddesdale to Martin Elliot!  Yet Colonel Elliot says
that in what I call “the Elliot version,” “the story defies criticism.”
{93a}  Now, however you take it,—I give you three choices,—the story is
absolutely impossible.

This Elliot version was unknown to lovers of the ballads, till the late
Professor Child of Harvard, the greatest master of British ballad-lore
that ever lived, in his beautiful _English and Scottish Popular Ballads_,
printed it from a manuscript belonging to Mr. Macmath, which had
previously been the property of a friend of Scott, Charles Kirkpatrick
Sharpe.  This version is entitled “Jamie Telfer _in_ the Fair Dodhead,”
not “_of_”: Jamie was a tenant (there was no Jamie Telfer tenant of
Dodhead in 1570–1609, but concerning that I have more to say).  Jamie was
no laird.

Before Professor Child’s publication of the Elliot version, we had only
that given by Scott in _The Border Minstrelsy_ of 1802.  Now Scott’s
version is at least as absurdly incredible as the Elliot version.  In
Scott’s version the unhappy Jamie runs, not to Branksome and Buccleuch,
to meet a refusal; but to “the Stobs’s Ha’”(on Slitterick above Hawick)
and to “auld Gibby Elliot,” the laird.  Elliot bids him go to Branksome
and the laird of Buccleuch,

    For, man, ye never paid money to me!

Naturally Telfer did not pay to Elliot: he paid to Buccleuch, if to any
one.  More, till after the Union of 1603, and the end of Border raids,
Gilbert Elliot, a cousin and friend of Buccleuch, _was not the owner of
Stobs_.  The Hon. George Elliot pointed out this fact in his _Border
Elliots and the Family of Minto_: Colonel Elliot rightly insists on this

The Scott version is therefore as hopelessly false as the Elliot version.
The Elliot version, with the Buccleuch incident, is “too absurd to be
believed,” and could not have been written (except in banter of
Buccleuch), while men remembered the customs of the sixteenth century.
The Scott version, again, could not be composed before the tradition
arose that Gilbert Elliot _was_ laird of Stobs before the Union of the
Crowns in 1603.  Now that tradition was in full force on the Border
before 1688.  We know that (see chapter on _Kinmont Willie_, _infra_),
for, in 1688, a man born in 1613, Captain Walter Scott of Satchells, in
his _Metrical History of the Honourable Families of the Names of Scott
and Elliot_, represents Gilbert Elliot of Stobs as riding with Buccleuch
in the rescue of Kinmont Willie, in 1596. {95a}  Now Satchells’s own
father rode in that fray, he says, {95b} and he gives a minute genealogy
of the Elliots of Stobs. {95c}

Thus the belief that Gilbert Elliot was laird of Stobs by 1596 was
current in the traditions of a man born seventeen years after 1596.  _The
Scott version rests on that tradition_, and is not earlier than the rise
of that erroneous belief.

Neither the Scott nor Elliot version is other than historically false.
But the Scott version, if we cut out the reference to auld Gibby Elliot,
offers a conceivable, though not an actual, course of events.  The Elliot
version, if we excise the Buccleuch incident, does not.  Cutting out the
Buccleuch incident, Telfer goes all the way from Ettrick to Liddesdale,
seeking help in that remote country, and never thinks of asking aid from
Buccleuch, his neighbour and chief.  This is idiotic.  In the Scott
version, if we cut out the refusal of Gilbert Elliot of Stobs, Telfer
goes straight to his brother-in-law, auld Jock Grieve, within four miles
of Buccleuch at Branksome; thence to another friend, William’s Wat, at
Catslockhill (now Branksome-braes), and so to Buccleuch at Branksome.
This is absurd enough.  Telfer would have gone straight to Branksome and
Buccleuch, unless he were a poor shy small farmer, _who wanted sponsors_,
known to Buccleuch.  Jock Grieve and William’s Wat, both of them
retainers and near neighbours of Buccleuch, were such sponsors.  Granting
this, the Scott version runs smoothly, Telfer goes to his sponsors, and
with his sponsors to Buccleuch, and Buccleuch’s men rescue his kye.


Colonel Elliot believes generally in the historical character of the
ballad as given in the Elliot version, but “is inclined to think that”
the original poet “never wrote the stanza” (the stanza with Buccleuch’s
refusal) “at all, and that it has been inserted at some later period.”
{97a}  In that case Colonel Elliot is “inclined to think” that an Ettrick
farmer, robbed by the English, never dreamed of going to his neighbour
and potent chief, but went all the way to Martin Elliot, high up in
Liddesdale, to seek redress!  Surely few can share the Colonel’s
inclination.  Why should a farmer in Ettrick “choose to lord” a remote
Elliot, when he had the Cock of the Border, the heroic Buccleuch, within
eight miles of his home?

Holding these opinions, Colonel Elliot, with deep regret—

    I wat the tear blinded his ee—

accuses Sir Walter Scott of having taken the Elliot version—till then the
only version—and of having altered stanzas vii.–xi. (in which Jamie goes
to Branksome, and is refused succour) into his own stanzas vii.–xi., in
which Jamie goes to Stobs and is refused succour.  This evil thing Scott
did, thinks Colonel Elliot.  Scott had no copy, he thinks, of the ballad
except an Elliot copy, which he deliberately perverted.

We must look into the facts of the case.  I know no older published copy
of the ballad than that of Scott, in _Border Minstrelsy_, vol. i. p. 91
_et seqq._ (1802).  Professor Child quotes a letter from the Ettrick
shepherd to Scott of “June 30, 1802” thus: “I am surprised to find that
the songs in your collection differ so widely from my mother’s; _Jamie
Telfer_ differs in many particulars.” {98a}  (This is an incomplete
quotation.  I give the MS. version later.)

Scott himself, before Hogg wrote thus, had said, in the prefatory note to
his _Jamie Telfer_: “There is another ballad, under the same title as the
following, in which nearly the same incidents are narrated, with little
difference, except that the honour of rescuing the cattle is attributed
to the Liddesdale Elliots, headed by a chief there called Martin Elliot
of the Preakin Tower, whose son, Simm, is said to have fallen in the
action.  It is very possible that both the Teviotdale Scotts and the
Elliots were engaged in the affair, and that each claimed the honour of
the victory.”

Old Mrs. Hogg’s version, “differing in many particulars” from Scott’s,
must have been the Elliot version, published by Professor Child, as “A*,”
“Jamie Telfer _in_” (not “_of_”) “the Fair Dodhead,” “from a MS. written
about the beginning of the nineteenth century, and now in the possession
of Mr. William Macmath”; it had previously belonged to Charles
Kirkpatrick Sharpe. {98b}

There is one great point of difference between the two forms.  In Sir
Walter’s variant, verse 26 summons the Scotts of Teviotdale, including
Wat of Harden.  In his 28 the Scotts ride with the slogan “Rise for
Branksome readily.”  Scott’s verses 34, 36, and the two first lines of
38, are, if there be such a thing as internal evidence, from his own pen.
Such lines as

    The Dinlay snaw was ne’er mair white
    Nor the lyart locks o’ Harden’s hair

are cryingly modern and “Scottesque.”

That Sir Walter knew the other version, as in Mr. Macmath’s MS. of the
early nineteenth century, is certain; he describes that version in his
preface.  That he effected the whole transposition of Scotts for Elliots
is Colonel Elliot’s opinion. {99a}

If Scott did, I am not the man to defend his conduct; I regret and
condemn it; and shall try to prove that he found the matter in his copy.
I shall first prove, beyond possibility of doubt, that the ballad is,
from end to end, utterly unhistorical, though based on certain real
incidents of 1596–97.  I shall next show that the Elliot version is
probably later than the Scott version.  Finally, I shall make it certain
(or so it seems to me) that Scott worked on an old copy which was _not_
the copy that belonged to Kirkpatrick Sharpe, but contained points of
difference, _not_ those inserted by Sir Walter Scott about “Dinlay snaw,”
and so forth.


Colonel Elliot has made no attempt to prove that one Telfer was tenant of
the Dodhead in 1580–1603, which must, we shall see, include the years in
which the alleged incidents occur.  On this question—was there a Telfer
in the Dodhead in 1580–1603?—I consulted my friend, Mr. T. Craig Brown,
author of an excellent _History of Selkirkshire_.  In that work (vol. i.
p. 356) the author writes: “Dodhead or Scotsbank; Dodhead was one of the
four stedes of Redefurd in 1455.  In 1609 Robert Scot of Satchells
(ancestor of the poet-captain) obtained a Crown charter of the lands of
Dodbank.”  For the statement that Dodhead was one of the three stedes in
1455, Mr. Craig Brown quotes “The Retoured Extent of 1628,” “an
unimpeachable authority.”  For the Crown charter of 1609, we have only to
look up “Dodbank” in the Register of the Great Seal of 1609.  The charter
is of November 24, 1609, and gratifies “Robert Scott of Satscheillis”
(father of the Captain Walter Scott who composed the _Metrical History_
of the Scotts in 1688) with the lands, which have been occupied by him
and his forefathers “from a time past human memory.”  Thus, writes Mr.
Craig Brown to me, “Scott of Satchells was undoubtedly Scott of _Dodhead_
also in 1609.”

In “The Retoured Extent of 1628,” “_Dodhead_ or Dodbank” appears as
Harden’s property.  Thus in 1628 the place was “Dodhead or Dodbank,” a
farm that had been tenanted by Scotts “from beyond human memory.”  But
Mr. Craig Brown proves from record that one Simpson farmed it in 1510.

So where does Jamie Telfer come in?

The farmers were Scotts, it was to their chief, Buccleuch, that they went
when they needed aid. {101a}

Thus vanishes the hero of the ballad, _Jamie Telfer in the Fair Dodhead_,
and thus the ballad is pure fiction from end to end.


This is only one of the impossibilities in the ballad.  That the Captain
of Bewcastle, an English hold, stated in a letter of the period to be
distant three miles from the frontier, the Liddel water, should seek “to
drive a prey” from the Ettrick, far through the bounds of his neighbours
and foes, Grahams, Armstrongs, Scotts, and Elliots, is a ridiculously
absurd circumstance.

Colonel Elliot attempts to meet this difficulty by his theory of the
route taken by the Captain, which he illustrates by a map. {102a}  The
ballad gives no details except that the Captain found his first guide
“high up in Hardhaughswire,” which Colonel Elliot cannot identify.  The
second guide was “laigh down in Borthwick water.”  If this means on the
lower course of the Borthwick, the Captain was perilously near Branksome
Hall and Harden, and his ride was foolhardy.  But “laigh down,” I think,
means merely “on lower ground than Hardhaughswire.”

The Captain, as soon as he crossed the Ritterford after leaving
Bewcastle, was in hostile and very watchful Armstrong country.  This
initial difficulty Colonel Elliot meets by marking on his map, as
Armstrong country, the north bank of the Liddel down to Kershope burn;
and the Captain crosses Liddel below that burn at Ritterford.  Thence he
goes north by west, across Tarras water, up Ewes water, up Mickledale
burn, by Merrylaw and Ramscleugh and so on to Howpasley, which is not on
the lower but the upper Borthwick.

Looking at Colonel Elliot’s chart of the Captain’s route, all seems easy
enough for the Captain.  He does not try to ride into Teviotdale, for
which he is making, up the Liddel water, and thence by the Hermitage
tributary on his left.  Colonel Elliot studs that region with names of
Armstrong and Elliot strongholds.  He makes the Captain, crossing Liddel
by the Ritterford, bear to his left, through a space empty of hostile
habitations, in his map.  This seems prudent, but the region thus left
blank was full of the fiercest and most warlike of the Armstrong name.
That road was closed to the Captain!

Colonel Elliot has failed to observe this fact, which I go on to prove,
from a memoir addressed in 1583 to Burleigh, by Thomas Musgrave, the
active son of the aged Captain of Bewcastle, Sir Simon Musgrave.  Thomas
describes the topography of the Middle Marches.  He says that the
Armstrongs hold both banks of Liddel as far south as “Kershope foot” (the
junction of the Kershope with the Liddel), and hold the north side of the
Liddel as far as its junction with the Esk. {103a}  Thus on crossing
Liddel by the Ritterford, the Captain had at once to pass through the
hostile Armstrongs.  Thereby also were Grahams with whom the Musgraves of
Bewcastle were in deadly feud.  Farther down Esk, west of Esk, dwelt
Kinmont Willie, an Armstrong, “at a place called Morton.”  If he did pass
so far through Armstrongs, the Captain met them again, farther north, on
Tarras side, where Runyen Armstrong lived at Thornythaite.  Near him was
Armstrong of Hollhouse, Musgrave’s great enemy.  North of Tarras the
Captain rode through Ewesdale; there he had to deal with three hundred
Armstrong men of the spear. {104a}  When he reached Ramscleuch (which he
never could have done), the Colonel’s map makes the Captain ride past
Ramscleuch, then farmed by the Grieves, retainers of Buccleuch, who would
warn Branksome.  When the Captain reached Howpasley on Borthwick water,
he would be observed by the men of Scott of Howpasley, the Grieves, who
could send a rider some six miles to warn Branksome.

We get the same information as to the perils of the Captain’s path from
the places marked on Blaeu’s map of 1600–54.  There are Hollhouse and
Thornythaite, Armstrong towers, and the active John Armstrong of Langholm
can come at a summons.

It seems to be a great error to suppose that the route chosen for the
Captain by Colonel Elliot could lead him into anything better than a
death-trap.  I must insist that it would have been madness for a Captain
of Bewcastle to ride far through Armstrong country, deep into Buccleuch’s
country, and return on another line through Scott, and near Elliot, and
through Armstrong country—and all for no purpose but to steal ten cows in
remote Selkirkshire!

Here I may save the reader trouble, by omitting a great mass of detail as
to the deplorable condition of Bewcastle itself in 1580–96.  Sir Simon,
the Captain, declares himself old and weary.  The hold is “utterly
decayed,” the riders are only thirty-seven men fairly equipped.  Soldiers
are asked for, sometimes fifty are sent from the garrison of Berwick,
then they are withdrawn.  Bewcastle is forayed almost daily; “March
Bills” minutely describe the cattle, horses, and personal property taken
from the Captain and the people by the Armstrongs and Elliots.

Once, in 1582, Thomas Musgrave slew Arthur Graham, a near neighbour, and
took one hundred and sixty kye, but this only caused such a feud that the
Musgraves could not stir safely from home.  From 1586 onwards, Thomas
Musgrave, officially or unofficially, was acting Captain of Bewcastle.
He had no strength to justify him in raiding to remote Ettrick, through
enemies who penned him in at Bewcastle.

I look on Musgrave as the Captain whose existence is known to the
ballad-maker, and I find the origin of the tale of his defeat and capture
in the ballad, in a distorted memory of his actual capture.

On 3rd July 1596, Thomas (having got Scrope’s permission, without which
he dared not cross the Border on affairs of war) attempted a retaliatory
raid on Armstrongs within seven miles of the Border, the Armstrongs of
Hollace, or Hollhouse.  “He found only empty houses;” he “sought a prey”
in vain; he let his men straggle, and returning homeward, with some
fifteen companions, he was ambushed by the Armstrongs near Bewcastle, was
refused shelter by a Graham, was taken prisoner, and was sent to
Buccleuch at Branksome.  On 15th July he came home under a bond of £200
for ransom. {106a}  As every one did, in his circumstances, the Captain
made out his Bill for Damages.  It was indented on 28th April 1597.  We
learn that John (Armstrong) of Langholm, Will of Kinmont (not Liddesdale
men), and others, who took him, are in the Captain’s debt for “24 horses
and mares, himself prisoner, and ransomed to £200, and 16 other
prisoners, and slaughter.”  The charges are admitted by the accused; the
Captain is to get £400. {106b}

In my opinion this capture of the Captain of Bewcastle and others,
poetically handled, is, with other incidents, the basis of the ballad.
Colonel Elliot says that the incident “is no proof that a Captain of
Bewcastle was not also taken or killed at some other place or at some
other time.”  But _what_ Captain, and when?  Sir Simon, in 1586, had been
Captain, he says, for thirty years.  Thenceforth till near the Union of
the Crowns, Thomas was Captain, or acting Captain.

So considerable an event as the taking of a Captain of Bewcastle, who, in
the ballad, was shot through the head and elsewhere, could not escape
record in dispatches, and the periodical “March Bills,” or statements of
wrongs to be redressed.  Colonel Elliot’s reply takes the shape of the
argument that the ballad may speak of some other Captain, at some other
time; and that, in one way or another, the sufferings and losses of
_that_ Captain may have escaped mention in the English dispatches from
the Border.  These dispatches are full of minute details, down to the
theft of a single mare.  I am content to let historians familiar with the
dispatches decide as to whether the Captain’s mad ride into Ettrick, with
his dangerous wounds, loss of property, and loss of seventeen men killed
and wounded (as in the ballad), could escape mention.

The capture of Thomas Musgrave, I think, and two other
incidents,—confused in course of tradition, and handled by the poet with
poetic freedom,—are the materials of _Jamie Telfer_.  One of the other
incidents is of April 1597. {107a}  Here Buccleuch in person, on the
Sabbath, burned twenty houses in Tynedale, and “slew fourteen men who had
been in Scotland and brought away their booty.”  Here we have Buccleuch
“on the hot trod,” pursuing English reivers, recovering the spoils
probably, and slaying as many of the raiders as the Captain lost, in the
ballad.  Again, not a _son_ of Elliot of Preakinhaugh (as I had
erroneously said), but a _nephew_ named Martin, was slain in a Tynedale
raid into Liddesdale. {108a}  Soldiers aided the English raiders.  A
confused memory of this death of Elliot’s nephew in 1597 may be the
source of the story of the death of his son, Simmy, in the ballad.

Our traditional ballads all arise out of some germs of history, all
handle the facts romantically, and all appear to have been composed, in
their extant shapes, at a considerable time after the events.  I may cite
_Mary Hamilton_; _The Laird of Logie_ is another case in point; there are
many others.

Colonel Elliot does not agree with me.  So be it.

Colonel Elliot writes that,—in place of my saying that _Jamie Telfer_ “is
a mere mythical perversion of carefully recorded facts,”—“it would surely
be more correct to say that it is a fairly true, though jumbled, account
of actual incidents, separated from each other by only short periods of
time . . . ” {108b}  If he means, or thinks that I mean, that the actual
facts were the capture of Musgrave near Bewcastle in 1596 by the
Armstrongs, with Buccleuch’s hot-trod, and Martin Elliot’s slaying in
1597, I entirely agree with him that the facts are “jumbled.”  But as to
the opinion that the ballad is “fairly true” about the raid to Ettrick
(the Captain could not ride a mile beyond the Border without the Warden’s
permission), about the non-existent Jamie Telfer, about the shooting,
taking, and plundering of the Captain, about his loss of seventeen men
wounded and slain (he lost about as many prisoners),—I have given reasons
for my disbelief.


We now come to the important question, Is the Scott version of the ballad
(apart from Sir Walter’s decorative stanzas) necessarily _later_ than the
Elliot version in Sharpe’s copy?  The chief argument for the lateness of
the Scott version, the presence of a Gilbert Elliot of Stobs at a date
when this gentleman had not yet acquired Stobs, I have already treated.
If the ballad is no earlier than the date when Elliot was believed (as by
Satchells) to have obtained Stobs before 1596, the argument falls to the

Starting from that point, and granting that a minstrel fond of the Scotts
wants to banter the Elliots, he may make Telfer ask aid at Stobs.  After
that, which version is better in its topography?  Bidden by Stobs to seek
Buccleuch, Telfer runs to Teviot, to Coultartcleugh, some four miles
above Branksome.  Branksome was nearer, but Telfer was shy, let us say,
and did not know Buccleuch; while at Coultartcleugh, Jock Grieve was his
brother-in-law.  Jock gives him a mount, and takes him to “Catslockhill.”

Now, no Catslockhill is known anywhere, to me or to Colonel Elliot.  Mr.
Henderson, in a note to the ballad, {110a} speaks of “Catslack in
Branxholm,” and cites the _Register of the Privy Seal_ for 4th June 1554,
and the _Register of the Privy Council_ for 14th October 1592.  The
records are full of _that_ Catslack, but it is not in Branksome.  Blaeu’s
map (1600–54) gives it, with its appurtenances, on the north side of St.
Mary’s Loch.  There is a Catslack on the north side of Yarrow, near
Ladhope, on the southern side.  Neither Catslack is the Catslockhill of
the Scott ballad.  But on evidence, “and it is good evidence,” says
Colonel Elliot, {110b} I prove that, in 1802, a place called “Catlochill”
existed between Coultartcleugh and Branksome.  The place (Mrs. Grieve,
Branksome Park, informs me) is now called Branksome-braes.  On his copy
of _The Minstrelsy_ of 1802, Mr. Grieve, then tenant of Branksome Park,
made a marginal note.  Catlochill was still known to him; it was in a
commanding site, and had been strengthened by the art of man.  His note I
have seen and read.

Thus, on good evidence, there was a Catlochill, or Catlockhill, between
Coultartcleugh and Branksome.  The Scott version is right in its

This fact was unknown to Colonel Elliot.  Not knowing a Catslackhill or
Catslockhill in Teviot, he made Scott’s Telfer go to an apocryphal
Catlockhill in Liddesdale.  Professor Veitch had said that the
Catslockhill of the ballad “_is to be sought_” in some locality between
Coultartcleugh and Branxholm.  Colonel Elliot calls this “a really
preposterously cool suggestion.” {111a}  Why “really preposterously
cool”?  Being sought, the place is found where it had always been.  Jamie
Telfer found it, and in it his friend “William’s Wat,” who took him to
the laird of Buccleuch at Branksome.

In the Elliot version, when refused aid by Buccleuch, Jamie ran to
Coultartcleugh,—as in Scott’s,—on his way to Martin Elliot at
Preakinhaugh on the Liddel.  Jamie next “takes the fray” to “the
Catlockhill,” and is there remounted by “Martin’s Hab,” an Elliot (not by
William’s Wat), and _they_ “take the fray” to Martin Elliot at
Preakinhaugh in Liddesdale.  This is very well, but where _is_ this
“Catlockhill” in Liddesdale?  Is it even a real place?

Colonel Elliot has found no such place; nor can I find it in the
_Registrum Magni Sigilli_, nor in Blaeu’s map of 1600–54.

Colonel Elliot’s argument has been that the Elliot version, the version
of the Sharpe MS., is the earlier, for, among other reasons, its
topography is correct. {112a}  It makes Telfer run from Dodhead to
Branksome for aid, because that was the comparatively near residence of
the powerful Buccleuch.  Told by Buccleuch to seek aid from Martin Elliot
in Liddesdale, Telfer does so.  He runs up Teviot four miles to his
brother-in-law, Jock Grieve, who mounts him.  He then rides off at a
right angle, from Teviot to Catlockhill, says the Elliot ballad, where he
is rehorsed by Martin’s Hab.  The pair then take the fray to Martin
Elliot at Preakinhaugh on Liddel water, and Martin summons and leads the
pursuers of the Captain.

This, to Colonel Elliot’s mind, is all plain sailing, all is feasible and
natural.  And so it _is_ feasible and natural, if Colonel Elliot can find
a Catlockhill anywhere between Coultartcleugh and Preakinhaugh.  On that
line, in Mr. Veitch’s words, Catlockhill “is to be sought.”  But just as
Mr. Veitch could find no Catslockhill between Coultartcleugh and
Branksome, so Colonel Elliot can find no Catlockhill between
Coultartcleugh and Preakinhaugh.  He tells us {112b} indeed of
“Catlockhill on Hermitage water.”  But there is no such place known!
Colonel Elliot’s method is to take a place which, he says, is given as
“Catlie” Hill, “between Dinlay burn and Hermitage water, on Blaeu’s map
of 1654.”  We may murmur that Catlie Hill is one thing and Catlock
another, but Colonel Elliot points out that “lock” means “the meeting of
waters,” and that Catlie Hill is near the meeting of Dinlay burn and the
Hermitage water.  But then why does Blaeu call it, not Catlockhill, nor
Catlie hill, nor “Catlie” even, but “_Gatlie_,” for so it is distinctly
printed on my copy of the map?  Really we cannot take a place called
“Gatlie Hill” and pronounce that we have found “Catlockhill”!  Would
Colonel Elliot have permitted Mr. Veitch—if Mr. Veitch had found “Gatlie
Hill” near Branksome, in Blaeu—to aver that he had found Catslockhill
near Branksome?

Thus, till Colonel Elliot produces on good evidence a Catlockhill between
Coultartcleugh and Preakinhaugh, the topography of the Elliot ballad, of
the Sharpe copy of the ballad, is nowhere, for neither Catliehill nor
Gatliehill is Catlockhill.  That does not look as if the Elliot were
older than the Scott version.  (There was a Sim _Armstrong_ of the
_Cathill_, slain by a Ridley of Hartswell in 1597. {113a})

We now take the Scott version where Telfer has arrived at Branksome.
Scott’s stanza xxv. is Sharpe’s xxiv.  In Scott, Buccleuch; in Sharpe,
Martin Elliot bids his men “warn the waterside” (Sharpe), “warn the water
braid and wide” (Scott).  Scott’s stanza xxvi. is probably his own, or
may be, for he bids them warn Wat o’ Harden, Borthwick water, and the
Teviot Scotts, and Gilmanscleuch—which is remote.  Then, in xxvii.,
Buccleuch says—

    Ride by the gate of Priesthaughswire,
       And warn the Currors o’ the Lee,
    As ye come down the Hermitage slack
       Warn doughty Wiliie o’ Gorrinberry.

All this is plain sailing, by the pass of Priesthaughswire the Scotts
will ride from Teviot into Hermitage water, and, near the Slack, they
will pass Gorrinberry, will call Will, and gallop down Hermitage water to
the Liddel, where they will nick the returning Captain at the Ritterford.

The Sharpe version makes Martin order the warning of the waterside
(xxiv.), and then Martin says (xxv.)—

    When ye come in at the Hermitage Slack,
    Warn doughty Will o’ Gorranherry.

Colonel Elliot {114a} supposes Martin (if I follow his meaning) to send
Simmy with his command, _back over all the course that Telfer and
Martin’s Hab have already ridden_: back past Shaws, near Braidley (a
house of Martin’s), past “Catlockhill,” to Gorranberry, to “warn the
waterside.”  But surely Telfer, who passed Gorranberry gates, and with
Hab passed the other places, had “taken the fray,” and warned the water
quite sufficiently already.  If this be granted, the Sharpe version is
taking from the Scott version the stanza, so natural there, about the
Hermitage Slack and Gorranberry.  But Colonel Elliot infers, from stanzas
xxvi., xxx., xxxi., that Simmy has warned the water as far as Gorranberry
(_again_), has come in touch with the Captain, “between the Frostily and
the Ritterford,” and that this is “consistent only with his having moved
up the Hermitage water.”

Meanwhile Martin, he thinks, rode with his men down Liddel water.  But
here we get into a maze of topographical conjecture, including the
hypothesis that perhaps the Liddel came down in flood, and caused the
English to make for Kershope ford instead of Ritterford, and here they
were met by Martin’s men on the Hermitage line of advance.  I cannot find
this elegant combined movement in the ballad; all this seems to me
hypothesis upon hypothesis, even granting that Martin sent Simmy back up
Hermitage that he might thence cut sooner across the enemy’s path.
Colonel Elliot himself writes: “It is certain that after the news of the
raid reached Catlockhill” (_and_ Gorranberry, Telfer passed it), “it must
have spread rapidly through Hermitage water, and it is most unlikely for
the men of this district to have delayed taking action until they
received instructions from their chief.” {115}

That is exactly what I say; but Martin says, “When ye come in at the
Hermitage Slack, warn doughty Will o’ Gorranberry.”  Why go to warn him,
when, as Colonel Elliot says, the news is running through Hermitage
water, and the men are most probably acting on it,—as they certainly
would do?

Martin’s orders, in Sharpe xxv., are taken, I think, from Buccleuch’s, in
Scott’s xxvii.

The point is that Martin had no need to warn men so far away as
Gorranberry,—they were roused already.  Yet he orders them to be warned,
and about a combined movement of Martin and Simmy on different lines the
ballad says not a word.  All this is inference merely, inference not from
historical facts, but from what may be guessed to have been in the mind
of the poet.

Thus the Elliot or Sharpe version has topography that will not hold
water, while the Scott topography does hold water; and the Elliot song
seems to borrow the lines on the Hermitage Slack and Gorranberry from a
form of the Scott version.  This being the case, the original version on
which Scott worked is earlier than the Elliot version.  In the Scott
version the rescuers must come down the Hermitage Slack: in the Elliot
they have no reason for riding _back_ to that place.


Did Scott know no other version than that of the Sharpe MS.?  In Scott’s
version, stanza xlix., the last, is absent from the Elliot version, which
concludes triumphantly, thus—

    Now on they came to the fair Dodhead,
       They were a welcome sight to see,
    And instead of his ain ten milk-kye
       Jamie Telfer’s gotten thirty and three.

Scott too gives this, but ends with a verse not in Sharpe—

    And he has paid the rescue shot
       Baith wi’ goud and white money,
    And at the burial o’ Willie Scott
       I wat was mony a weeping ee.

Did Scott add this?  Proof is impossible; but the verse is so prosaic,
and so injurious to the triumphant preceding verse, that I think Scott
found it in his copy: in which case he had another copy than Sharpe’s.

Scott (stanza xviii.) reads “Catslockhill” where the Sharpe MS. reads
“Catlockhill.”  In Scott’s time it was a mound, but the name was then
known to Mr. Grieve, the tenant of Branksome Park.  To-day I cannot find
the mound; is it likely that Scott, before making the change, sought
diligently for the mound and its name?  If so, he found “_Catlochill_,”
for so Mr. Grieve writes it, not Catslockhill.

Meanwhile Colonel Elliot, we know, has no Catlockhill where he wants it;
he has only Gatliehill, unless his Blaeu varies from my copy, and
Gatliehill is not Catlockhill.

Scott gives (xlviii.) the speech of the Captain after he is shot through
the head and in another dangerous part of his frame—

    “Hae back thy kye!” the Captain said,
       “Dear kye, I trow, to some they be,
    For gin I suld live a hundred years,
       There will ne’er fair lady smile on me.”

This is not in Sharpe’s MS., and I attribute this redundant stanza to
Scott’s copy.  The Captain, remember, has a shot “through his head,” and
another which must have caused excruciating torture.  In these
circumstances would a poet like Scott put in his mouth a speech which
merely reiterates the previous verse?  No!  But the verse was in Scott’s

Colonel Elliot has himself noted a more important point than these: he
quotes Scott’s stanza xii., which is absent from the Sharpe MS.—

    My hounds may a’ rin masterless,
       My hawks may fly frae tree to tree,
    My lord may grip my vassal lands,
       For there again maun I never be!

“They are, doubtless, beautiful lines, but their very beauty jars like a
false note.  One feels they were written by another hand, by an artist of
a higher stamp than a Border ‘ballad-maker.’  And not only is it their
beauty that jars, but so also does their inapplicability to Jamie Telfer
and to the circumstances in which he found himself—so much so, indeed,
that it may well occur to one that the stanza belongs to some other
ballad, and has accidentally been pitchforked into this one.  It would
not have been out of place in the ballad of _The Battle of Otterbourne_,
and, indeed, it bears some resemblance to a stanza in that ballad.”  Here
the Colonel says that the lines “one feels were written by another hand,
by an artist of a higher stamp than a Border ballad-maker.”  But “it may
also occur to one that the stanza belongs to some other ballad, and has
_accidentally_” (my italics) “been pitchforked into this”: a very sound

Now if Scott had only the Sharpe version, he was the last man to
“pitchfork” into it, “accidentally,” a stanza from “some other ballad,”
that stanza being as Colonel Elliot says “inapplicable” to Telfer and his
circumstances.  Poor Jamie, a small tenant-farmer, with ten cows, and, as
far as we learn, not one horse, had no hawks and hounds; no “vassal
lands,” and no reason to say that at the Dodhead he “maun never be
again.”  He could return from his long run!  Scott certainly did not
compose these lines; and he could not have pitchforked them into _Jamie
Telfer_, either by accident or design.

Professor Child remarked on all this: “Stanza xii. is not only found
elsewhere (compare _Young Beichan_, E vi.), but could not be more
inappropriately brought in than here; Scott, however, is not responsible
for that.” {120a}

    The hawk that flies from tree to tree

is a formula; it comes in the Kinloch MS. copy of the ballad of _Jamie
Douglas_, date about 1690.

I know no proof that Scott was acquainted with variant E of _Young
Beichan_. {120b}  If he had been, he could not have introduced into
_Jamie Telfer_ lines so utterly out of keeping with Telfer’s
circumstances, as Colonel Elliot himself says that stanza xii. is.  It
may be argued, “if Scott _did_ find stanza xii. in his copy, it was in
his power to cut it out; he treated his copies as he pleased.”  This is
true, but my position is that, of the two, Scott is more likely to have
let the stanza abide where he found it (as he did with his MS. of
_Tamlane_, retaining its absurdities) in his copy, than to “pitchfork it
in,” from an obscure variant of _Young Beichan_, which we cannot prove
that he had ever heard or read.  But as we can never tell that Scott did
_not_ know any rhyme, we ask, why did he “pitchfork in” the stanza, where
it was quite out of place?  Child absolves him from this absurdity.

Thus Scott had before him another than the Sharpe copy; had a copy
containing stanza xii.  That copy presented the perversion—the
transposition of Scott’s and Elliot’s—and into that copy Scott wrote the
stanzas which bear his modern romantic mark.  Colonel Elliot, we saw, is
uncertain whether to attribute stanza xii. to “another hand, an artist of
higher stamp than a Border ballad-maker,” or to regard it as belonging
“to some other ballad,” and as having been “accidentally pitchforked into
this one.”  The stanza is, in fact, an old floating ballad stanza,
attracted into the _cantefable of Susie Pye_, and the ballad of _Young
Beichan_ (E), and partly into _Jamie Douglas_.  Thus Scott did not _make_
the stanza, and we cannot suppose that, if he knew the stanza in any
form, he either “accidentally pitchforked” or wilfully inserted into
_Jamie Telfer_ anything so absurdly inappropriate.  The inference is that
Scott worked on another copy, not the Sharpe copy.

If Scott had not a copy other than Sharpe’s, why should he alter Sharpe’s

    The moon was up and the sun was down,


    The sun wasna up but the moon was down?

What did he gain by that?  _Why did he make Jamie_ “_of_” _not_ “_in_”
_the Dodhead_, _if he found_ “_in_” _in his copy_?  “In” means “tenant
in,” “of” means “laird of,” as nobody knew better than Scott.  Jamie is
evidently no laird, but “of” was in Scott’s copy.

If the question were about two Greek texts, the learned would admit that
these points in A (Scott) are not derived from B (Sharpe).  Scott’s
additions have an obvious motive, they add picturesqueness to his clan.
But the differences which I have noticed do nothing of that kind.  When
they affect the poetry they spoil the poetry, when they do not affect the
poetry they are quite motiveless, whence I conclude that Scott followed
his copy in these cases, and that his copy was not the Sharpe MS.

If I have satisfied the reader on that point I need not touch on Colonel
Elliot’s long and intricate argument to prove, or suggest, that Scott had
before him no copy of the ballad except one supposed by the Colonel to
have been taken by James Hogg from his mother’s recitation, while that
copy, again, is supposed to be the Sharpe MS.—all sheer conjecture.
{122a}  Not that I fear to encounter Colonel Elliot on this ground, but
argufying on it is dull, and apt to be inconclusive.

In the letter of Hogg to Scott (June 30, 1803) as given by Mr. Douglas in
_Familiar Letters_, Hogg says, “I am surprised to find that the songs in
your collection differ so widely from my mother’s . . . _Jamie Telfer_
differs in many particulars.” {123a}  The marks of omission were all
filled up in Hogg’s MS. letter thus: “Is Mr. Herd’s MS. genuine?  I
suspect it.”  Then it runs on, “_Jamie Telfer_ differs in many

I owe this information to the kindness of Mr. Macmath.  What does Hogg
mean?  Does “Is Mr. Herd’s MS. genuine?” mean all Herd’s MS. copies used
by Scott?  Or does it refer to _Jamie Telfer_ in especial?

Mr. Macmath, who possesses C. K. Sharpe’s MS. copy of the Elliot version,
believes that it is Herd’s hand as affected by age.  Mr. Macmath and I
independently reached the conclusion that by “Mr. Herd’s MS.” Hogg meant
all Herd’s MSS., which Scott quoted in _The Minstrelsy_ of 1803.  Their
readings varied from Mrs. Hogg’s; therefore Hogg misdoubted them.  He
adds that _Jamie Telfer_ differs from his mother’s version, without
meaning that, for _Jamie_, Scott used a Herd MS.


I have now proved, I hope, that the ballad of _Jamie Telfer_ is entirely
mythical except for a few suggestions derived from historical events of
1596–97.  I have shown, and Colonel Elliot agrees, that refusal of aid by
Buccleuch (or by Elliot of Stobs) is impossible, and that the ballad, if
it existed without this incident, must have been a Scott, and could not
be an Elliot ballad.  No farmer in Ettrick would pay protection-money to
an Elliot on Liddel, while he had a Scott at Branksome.  I have also
disproved the existence of a _Jamie Telfer_ as farmer at “Dodhead or
Dodbank” in the late sixteenth century.

As to the character of Sir Walter Scott, I have proved, I hope, that he
worked on a copy of the ballad which was not the Elliot version, or the
Sharpe copy; so that this copy may have represented the Scotts as taking
the leading part; while for the reasons given, it is apparently earlier
than the Elliot version—cannot, at least, be proved to be later—and is
topographically the more correct of the two.  I have given antique
examples of the same sort of perversions in _Otterburn_.  If I am right,
Colonel Elliot’s charge against Scott lacks its base—that Scott knew none
but the Sharpe copy, whence it is inferred that he not only decorated the
song (as is undeniable), but perverted it in a way far from

I may have shaken Colonel Elliot’s belief in the historicity of the
ballad.  His suspicions of Scott I cannot hope to remove, and they are
very natural suspicions, due to Scott’s method of editing ballads and
habit of “giving them a cocked hat and a sword,” as he did to stories
which he heard; and repeated, much improved.

Absolute proof that Scott did, or did not, pervert the ballad, and turn a
false Elliot into a false Scott version, cannot be obtained unless new
documents bearing on the matter are discovered.

But, I repeat, as may be read in the chapter on _The Ballad of
Otterburne_, such inversions and perversions of ballads occurred freely
in the sixteenth century, and, in the seventeenth, the process may have
been applied to _Jamie Telfer_. {125a}


IF there be, in _The Border Minstrelsy_, a ballad which is still popular,
or, at least, is still not forgotten, it is _Kinmont Willie_.  This hero
was an Armstrong, and one of the most active of that unbridled clan.  He
was taken prisoner, contrary to Border law, on a day of “Warden’s Truce,”
by Salkeld of Corby on the Eden, deputy of Lord Scrope, the English
Warden; and, despite the written remonstrances of Buccleuch, he was shut
up in Carlisle Castle.  Diplomacy failing, Buccleuch resorted to force,
and, by a sudden and daring march, he surprised Carlisle Castle, rescued
Willie, and returned to Branksome.  The date of the rescue is 13th April
1596.  The dispatches of the period are full of this event, and of the
subsequent negotiations, with which we are not concerned.

The ballad is worthy of the cool yet romantic gallantry of the
achievement.  Kinmont Willie was a ruffian, but he had been unlawfully
seized.  This was one of many studied insults passed by Elizabeth’s
officials on Scotland at that time, when the English Government, leagued
with the furious pulpiteers of the Kirk, and with Francis Stewart, the
wild Earl of Bothwell, was persecuting and personally affronting James

In Buccleuch, the Warden of the March, England insulted the man who was
least likely to pocket a wrong.  Without causing the loss of an English
life, Buccleuch repaid the affront, recovered the prisoner, broke the
strong Castle of Carlisle, made Scrope ridiculous and Elizabeth frantic.

In addition to _Kinmont Willie_ there survive two other ballads on
rescues of prisoners in similar circumstances.  One is _Jock o’ the
Side_, of which there is an English version in the Percy MSS., _John a
Side_.  Scott’s version, in _The Border Minstrelsy_, is from Caw’s
_Museum_, published at Hawick in 1784.  Scott leaves out Caw’s last
stanza about a punch-bowl.  There are other variations.  Four Armstrongs
break into Newcastle Tower.  Jock, heavily ironed, is carried downstairs
on the back of one of them; they ride a river in spait, where the English
dare not follow.

_Archie o’ Cafield_, another rescue, Scott printed in 1802 from a MS. of
Mr. Riddell of Glenriddell, a great collector, the friend of Burns.  He
omitted six stanzas, and “made many editorial improvements, besides
Scotticising the spelling.”  In the edition published after his death
(1833) he “has been enabled to add several stanzas from recitation.”
Leyden appears to have collected the copy whence the additional stanzas
came; the MS., at Abbotsford, is in his hand.  In this ballad the Halls,
noted freebooters, rescue Archie o’ Cafield from prison in Dumfries.  As
in _Jock o’ the Side_ and _Kinmont Willie_, they speak to their friend,
asking how he sleeps; they carry him downstairs, irons and all, and, as
in the two other ballads, they are pursued, cross a flooded river, banter
the English, and then, in a version in the Percy MSS., “communicated to
Percy by Miss Fisher, 1780,” the English lieutenant says—

    I think some witch has bore thee, Dicky,
       Or some devil in hell been thy daddy.
    I would not swam that wan water, double-horsed,
       For a’ the gold in Christenty.

Manifestly here was a form of Lord Scrope’s reply to Buccleuch, in the
last stanza of _Kinmont Willie_—

    He is either himself a devil frae hell,
       Or else his mother a witch may be,
    I wadna hae ridden that wan water
       For a’ the gowd in Christentie.

Scott writes, in a preface to _Archie o’ Cafield_ and _Jock o’ the Side_,
that there are, with _Kinmont Willie_, three ballads of rescues, “the
incidents in which nearly resemble each other; though the poetical
description is so different, that the editor did not feel himself at
liberty to reject any one of them, as borrowed from the others.  As,
however, there are several verses, which, in recitation, are common to
all these three songs, the editor, to prevent unnecessary and
disagreeable repetition, has used the freedom of appropriating them to
that in which they have the best poetical effect.” {129a}

Consequently the verse quoted from the Percy MS. of _Archie o’ Cafield_
may be improved and placed in the lips of Lord Scrope, in _Kinmont
Willie_.  But there is no evidence that Scott ever saw or even heard of
this Percy MS., and probably he got the verse from recitation.

Now the affair of the rescue of Kinmont Willie was much more important
and resonant than the two other rescues, and was certain to give rise to
a ballad, which would contain much the same formulæ as the other two.
The ballad-maker, like Homer, always uses a formula if he can find one.
But _Kinmont Willie_ is so much superior to the two others, so epic in
its speed and concentration of incidents, that the question rises, had
Scott even fragments of an original ballad of the Kinmont, “much mangled
by reciters,” as he admits, or did he compose the whole?  No MS. copies
exist at Abbotsford.  There is only one hint.  In a list of twenty-two
ballads, pasted into a commonplace book, eleven are marked X (as if he
had obtained them), and eleven others are unmarked, as if they were still
to seek.  Unmarked is _Kinmount Willie_.

Did he find it, or did he make it all?

In 1888, in a note to _Kinmont Willie_, I wrote: “There is a prose
account very like the ballad in Scott of Satchells’ _History of the Name
of Scott_” (1688).  Satchells’ long-winded story is partly in unrhymed
and unmetrical lines, partly in rhymes of various metres.  The man, born
in 1613, was old, had passed his life as a soldier; certainly could not
write, possibly could not read.

Colonel Elliot “believes that Sir Walter wrote the whole from beginning
to end, and that it is, in fact, a clever and extremely beautiful
paraphrase of Satchells’ rhymes.” {130a}

This thorough scepticism is not a novelty, as Colonel Elliot quotes me I
had written years ago, “In _Kinmont Willie_, Scott has been suspected of
making the whole ballad.”  I did not, as the Colonel says, “mention the
names of the sceptics or the grounds of their suspicions.”  “The
sceptics,” or one of them, was myself: I had “suspected” on much the same
grounds as Colonel Elliot’s own, and I shall give my reasons for adopting
a more conservative opinion.  One reason is merely subjective.  As a man,
by long familiarity with ancient works of art, Greek gems, for example,
acquires a sense of their authenticity, or the reverse, so he does in the
case of ballads—or thinks he does—but of course this result of experience
is no ground of argument: experts are often gulled.  The ballad varies in
many points from Satchells’, which Colonel Elliot explains thus: “I think
that the cause for the narrative at times diverging from that recorded by
the rhymes (of Satchells), is due, partly to artistic considerations,
partly to the author having wished to bring it more or less into
conformity with history.” {131a}

Colonel Elliot quotes Scott’s preface to the ballad: “In many things
Satchells agrees with the ballads current in his time” (1643–88), “from
which in all probability he derived most of his information as to past
events, and from which he occasionally pirates whole verses, as we
noticed in the annotations upon the _Raid of the Reidswire_.  In the
present instance he mentions the prisoner’s large spurs (alluding to
fetters), and some other little incidents noticed in the ballad, which
therefore was probably well known in his day.”

As Satchells was born in 1613, while the rescue of _Kinmont Willie_ by
Buccleuch, out of Carlisle Castle, was in 1596, and as Satchells’ father
was in that adventure (or so Satchells says) he probably knew much about
the affair from fresh tradition.  Colonel Elliot notices this, and says:
“The probability of Satchells having obtained information from a
hypothetical ballad is really quite an inadmissible argument.”

This comes near to begging the question.  As contemporary incidents much
less striking and famous than the rescue of _Kinmont Willie_ were
certainly recorded in ballads, the opinion that there was a ballad of
_Kinmont Willie_ is a legitimate hypothesis, which must be tested on its
merits.  For example, we shall ask, Does Satchells’ version yield any
traces of ballad sources?

My own opinion has been anticipated by Mr. Frank Miller in his _The Poets
of Dumfriesshire_ (p. 33, 1910), and in ballad-lore Mr. Miller is well
equipped.  He says: “The balance of probability seems to be in favour of
the originality of _Kinmont Willie_,” rather than of Satchells (he means,
not of our _Kinmont Willie_ as Scott gives it, but of a ballad concerning
the Kinmont).  “Captain Walter Scott’s” (of Satchells) “_True History_
was certainly gathered out of the ballads current in his day, as well as
out of formal histories, and his account of the assault on the Castle
reads like a narrative largely due to suggestions from some popular lay.”

Does Satchells’ version, then, show traces of a memory of such a lay?
Undoubtedly it does.

Satchells’ prolix narrative occasionally drops or rises into ballad
lines, as in the opening about Kinmont Willie—

    It fell about the Martinmas
    When kine was in the prime

that Willie “brought a prey out of Northumberland.”  The old ballad,
disregarding dates, may well have opened with this common formula.  Lord
Scrope vowed vengence:—

    Took Kinmont the self-same night.

    If he had had but ten men more,
       That had been as stout as he,
    Lord Scroup had not the Kinmont ta’en
       With all his company.

Scott’s ballad (stanza i.) says that “fause Sakelde” and Scrope took
Willie (as in fact Salkeld of Corby _did_), and

    Had Willie had but twenty men,
       But twenty men as stout as he,
    Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont ta’en,
       Wi’ eight score in his cumpanie.

Manifestly either Satchells is here “pirating” a verse of a ballad (as
Scott holds) or Scott, if he had _no_ ballad fragments before him, is
“pirating” a verse from Satchells, as Colonel Elliot must suppose.

In my opinion, Satchells had a memory of a Kinmont ballad beginning like
_Jamie Telfer_, “It fell about the Martinmas tyde,” or, like _Otterburn_,
“It fell about the Lammas tide,” and he opened with this formula, broke
away from it, and came back to the ballad in the stanza, “If he had had
but ten men more,” which differs but slightly from stanza ii. of Scott’s
ballad.  That this is so, and that, later, Satchells is again reminiscent
of a ballad, is no improbable opinion.

In the ballad (iii.–viii.) we learn how Willie is brought a prisoner
across Liddel to Carlisle; we have his altercation with Lord Scrope, and
the arrival of the news at Branksome, where Buccleuch is at table.
Satchells also gives the altercation.  In both versions Willie promises
to “take his leave” of Scrope before he quits the Castle.

In Scott’s ballad (Scrope speaks) (stanza vi.).

    Before ye cross my castle yate,
    I trow ye shall take fareweel o’ me.

Willie replies—

    I never yet lodged in a hostelrie,
    But I paid my lawing before I gaed.

In Satchells, Lord Scrope says—

    “Before thou goest away thou must
       Even take thy leave of me?”
    “By the cross of my sword,” says Willie then,
       “I’ll take my leave of thee.”

Now, had Scott been pirating Satchells, I think he would have kept “By
the cross of my sword,” which is picturesque and probable, Willie being
no good Presbyterian.  In _Otterburne_, Scott, _altering Hogg’s copy_,
makes Douglas swear “By the might of Our Ladye.”

It is a question of opinion; but I do think that if Scott were merely
paraphrasing and pirating Satchells, he could not have helped putting
into his version the Catholic, “‘By the cross of my sword,’ then Willy
said,” as given by Satchells.  To do this was safe, as Scott had said
that Satchells does pirate ballads.  On the other hand, Satchells,
composing in black 1688, when Catholicism had been stamped out on the
_Scottish Border_, was not apt to invent “By the cross of my sword.”  It
_looks_ like Scott’s work, for he, of course, knew how Catholicism
lingered among the spears of Bothwell, himself a Catholic, in 1596.  But
it is _not_ Scott’s work, it is in Satchells.  In both Satchells and the
ballad, news comes to Buccleuch.  Here Satchells again balladises—

    “It is that way?” Buckcleugh did say;
       “Lord Scrope must understand
    That he has not only done me wrong
       But my Sovereign, James of Scotland.

    “My Sovereign Lord, King of Scotland,
       Thinks not his cousin Queen,
    Will offer to invade his land
       Without leave asked and gi’en.”

I do not see how Satchells could either invent or glean from tradition
the gist of Buccleuch’s diplomatic remonstrances, first with Salkeld, for
Scrope was absent at the time of Willie’s capture, then with Scrope.
Buccleuch, in fact, wrote that the taking of Willie was “to the touch of
the King,” a stain on his honour, says a contemporary manuscript. {135a}

In a _contemporary_ ballad, a kind of rhymed news-sheet, the facts would
be known and reported.  But at this point (at Buccleuch’s reception of
the news of Kinmont), Scott is perhaps overmastered by his opportunity,
and, I think, himself composes stanzas ix., x., xi., xii.

    O is my basnet a widow’s curch?
    Or my lance a wand o’ the willow tree?

and so on.  Child and Mr. Henderson are of the same opinion; but it is
only sense of style that guides us in such a matter, nor can I give other
grounds for supposing that the original ballad appears again in stanza

    O were there war between the lands,
       As well I wot that there is none,
    I would slight Carlisle castle high,
       Tho’ it were built o’ marble stone!

Thence, I think, the original ballad (doubtless made “harmonious,” as
Hogg put it) ran into stanza xxxi., where Scott probably introduced the
Elliot tune (if it be ancient)—

    O wha dare meddle wi’ me?

Satchells next, through a hundred and forty lines, describes Buccleuch’s
correspondence with Scrope, his counsels with his clansmen, and gives all
their names and estates, with remarks on their relationships.  He thinks
himself a historian and a genealogist.  The stuff is partly in prose
lines, partly in rhymed couplets of various lengths.  There are two or
three more or less ballad-like stanzas at the beginning, but they are too
bad for any author but Satchells.

Scott’s ballad “cuts” all that, omits even what Satchells gives—mentions
of Harden, and goes on (xv.)—

    He has called him forty marchmen bauld,
       I trow they were of his own name.
    Except Sir Gilbert Elliot called
       The Laird of Stubs, I mean the same.

Now I would stake a large sum that Sir Walter never wrote that
“stall-copy” stanza!  Colonel Elliot replies that I have said the
ballad-faker should avoid being too poetical.  The ballad-faker _should_
shun being too poetical, as he would shun kippered sturgeon; but Scott
did not know this, nor did Hogg.  We can always track them by their too
decorative, too literary interpolations.  On this I lay much stress.

The ballad next gives (xvi.–xxv.) the spirited stanzas on the ride to the

    There were five and five before them a’,
       Wi’ hunting horns and bugles bright;
    And five and five came wi’ Buccleuch,
       Like Warden’s men arrayed for fight.

    And five and five like a mason gang,
       That carried the ladders lang and hie;
    And five and five like broken men,
       And so they reached the Woodhouselee.

—a house in Scotland, within “a lang mile” of Netherby, in England, the
seat of the Grahams, who were partial, for private reasons, to the
Scottish cause.  They were at deadly feud with Thomas Musgrave, Captain
of Bewcastle, and Willie had married a Graham.

Now in my opinion, up to stanza xxvi., all the evasive answers given to
Salkeld by each gang, till Dicky o’ Dryhope (a real person) replies with
a spear-thrust—

    “For never a word o’ lear had he,”

are not an invention of Scott’s (who knew that Salkeld was not met and
slain), but a fantasy of the original ballad.  Here I have only
familiarity with the romantic perversion of facts that marks all ballads
on historical themes to guide me.

Salkeld is met—

    “As we crossed the Batable land,
    When to the English side we held.”

The ballad does not specify the crossing of Esk, nor say that Salkeld was
on the English side; nor is there any blunder in the reply of the “mason

    “We gang to harry a corbie’s nest,
    That wons not far frae Woodhouselee.”

Whether on English or Scottish soil the masons say not, and their
pretence is derisive, bitterly ironical.

Colonel Elliot makes much of the absence of mention of the Esk, and says
“it is _after_ they are in England that the false reports are spread.”
{139a}  But the ballad does not say so—read it!  All passes with
judicious vagueness.

    “As we crossed the Batable land,
    When to the English side we held.”

Satchells knows that the ladders were made at Woodhouselee; it took till
nightfall to finish them.  The ballad, swift and poetical, takes the
ladders for granted—as a matter of fact, chronicled in the dispatches,
the Grahams of Netherby harboured Buccleuch: Netherby was his base.

“I could nought have done that matter without great friendship of the
Grames of Eske,” wrote Buccleuch, in a letter which Scrope intercepted.

In Satchells, Buccleuch leaves half his men at the “Stonish bank”
(Staneshaw bank) “_for fear they had made noise or din_.”  An old soldier
should have known better, and the ballad (his probable half-remembered
source here) _does_ know better—

    “And there the laird garr’d leave our _steeds_,
       For fear that they should stamp and nie,”

and alarm the castle garrison.  Each man of the post on the ford would
hold two horses, and also keep the ford open for the retreat of the
advanced party.  The ballad gives the probable version; Satchells, when
offering as a reason for leaving half the force, lest they should make
“noise or din,” is maundering.  Colonel Elliot does not seem to perceive
this obvious fact, though he does perceive Buccleuch’s motive for
dividing his force, “presumably with the object of protecting his line of
retreat,” and also to keep the horses out of earshot, as the ballad says.

In Satchells the river is “in no great rage.”  In the ballad it is “great
and meikle o’ spait.”  And it really was so.  The MS. already cited,
which Scott had not seen when he published the song, says that Buccleuch
arrived at the “Stoniebank beneath Carleile brig, the water being at the
tyme, through raines that had fallen, weill thick.”

In Scott’s _original_ this river, he says, was the Esk, in Satchells it
is the Eden, and Scott says he made this necessary correction in the
ballad.  In Satchells the storming party

    Broke a sheet of leid on the castle top.

In the ballad they

    Cut a hole through a sheet o’ lead.

Both stories are erroneous; the ladders were too short; the rescuers
broke into a postern door.  Scrope told this to his Government on the day
after the deed, 14th April. {140b}

In xxxi. the ballad makes Buccleuch sound trumpets when the castle-roof
was scaled; in fact it was not scaled.  The ladders were too short, and
the Scots broke in a postern door.  The Warden’s trumpet blew “O wha dare
meddle wi’ me,” and here, as has been said, I think Scott is the author.
Here Colonel Elliot enters into learning about “Wha dare meddle wi’ me?”
a “Liddesdale tune,” and in the poem an adaptation, by Scott, of
Satchells’ “the trumpets sounded ‘Come if ye dare.’”

Satchells makes the trumpets sound when the rescuers bring Kinmont Willie
to the castle-top on the ladder (which they did not), and again when the
rescuers reach the ground by the ladder.  They made no use at all of the
ladders, which were too short, and Willie, says the ballad, lay “in the
_lower_ prison.”  They came in and went out by a door; but the trumpets
are not apocryphal.  They, and the shortness of the ladders, are
mentioned in a MS. quoted by Scott, and in Birrell’s contemporary
_Diary_, i. p. 57.  In the MS. Buccleuch causes the trumpets to be
sounded from below, by a detachment “in the plain field,” securing the
retreat.  His motive is to encourage his party, “and to terrify both
castle and town by imagination of a greater force.”  Buccleuch again
“sounds up his trumpet before taking the river,” in the MS. Colonel
Elliot may claim stanza xxxi. for Scott, and also the tune “Wha dare
meddle wi’ me?” he may even claim here a suggestion from Satchells’ “Come
if ye dare.”  Colonel Elliot says that no tune of this title ever
existed, a thing not easy to prove. {142a}

In the conclusion, with differences, there are resemblances in the ballad
and Satchells.  Colonel Elliot goes into them very minutely.  For
example, he says that Kinmont is “made to ride off; not on horseback, but
on Red Rowan’s back!”

The ballad says not a word to that effect.  Kinmont’s speech about Red
Rowan as “a rough beast” to ride, is made immediately after the stanza,

    “Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
       We bore him down the ladder lang;
    At every stride Red Rowan made,
       I wot the Kinmont’s airns played clang.” {142b}

After this verse Kinmont makes his speech (xl.–xli.).  But if he _did_
ride on Red Rowan’s back to Staneshaw bank, it was the best thing that a
heavily ironed man could do.  In the ballad (xxvii.) no horses of the
party were waiting at the castle, _all_ horses were left behind at
Staneshaw bank (Satchells brings horses, or at least a horse for Willie,
to the castle).  On what could Willie “ride off,” except on Red Rowan?

Stanzas xxxv., xxxvi. and xliv. are related, we have seen, to passages in
_Jock o’ the Side_ and _Archie o’ Cafield_, but ballads, like Homer,
employ the same formulæ to describe the same circumstances: a note of
archaism, as in Gaelic poetic passages in _Märchen_.

I do not pretend always to know how far Scott kept and emended old
stanzas mangled by reciters: there are places in which I am quite at a
loss to tell whether he is “making” or copying.

I incline to hold that Satchells was occasionally reminiscent of a ballad
for the reasons and traces given, and I think that Scott when his and
Satchells’ versions coincide, did not borrow direct from Satchells, but
that both men had a ballad source.

That ballad was later than the popular belief, held by Satchells, that
Gilbert Elliot was at the time (1596) laird of Stobs, which he did not
acquire till after the Union (1603), and that he (the only man not a
Scot, says Satchells, wrongly) rode with Buccleuch.  Elliot is not
accused of doing so in Scrope’s dispatches, but he may have come as far
as Staneshaw bank, where half the company were left behind, says
Satchells, with the horses, which were also left, says the ballad.  In
that case Elliot would not be observed in or near the Castle.  Yet it may
have been known in Scotland that he was of the party.

He was, as Satchells says, a cousin, he was also a friend of Buccleuch’s,
and he may conceivably have taken a part in this glorious adventure,
though he could not, _at the moment_, be called laird of Stobs.  Were I
an Elliot, this opinion would be welcome to me!  Really, Salkeld was in a
good position to know whether Elliot rode with Buccleuch or not.

The whole question is not one on which I can speak dogmatically.  A
person who suspects Scott intensely may believe that there were no ballad
fragments of Kinmont in his possession.  The person who, like myself,
thinks Satchells, with his “It fell about the Martinmas,” knew a ballad
vaguely, believes that Satchells _had_ some ballad sources bemuddled in
his old memory.

A person who cannot conceive that Scott wrote

    Except Sir Gilbert Elliot, called
       The laird of Stobs, I mean the same,

will hold that Scott knew some ballad fragments, _disjecta membra_.  But
I quite agree with Colonel Elliot, that the ballad, _as it stands_ (with
the exception, to my mind, of some thirty stanzas, themselves emended),
“belongs to the early nineteenth century, not to the early seventeenth.”
The time for supposing the poem, _as it stands_, to be “saturated with
the folk-spirit” all through is past; the poem is far too much
contaminated by the genius of Scott itself; like Burns’ transfiguration
of “the folk-spirit” at its best.

Near the beginning of this paper I said, in answer to a question of
Colonel Elliot’s, that I myself was the person who had suspected Scott of
composing the whole of _Kinmont Willie_, and I have given my reasons for
not remaining constant to my suspicions.  But in a work which Colonel
Elliot quotes, the abridged edition of Child’s great book by Mrs.
Child-Sargent and Professor Kittredge (1905), the learned professor
writes, “_Kinmont Willie_ is under vehement suspicion of being the work
of Sir Walter Scott.”  Mr. Kittredge’s entire passage on the matter is
worth quoting.  He first says—“The traditional ballad appears to be
inimitable by any person of literary cultivation,” “the efforts of poets
and poetasters” end in “invariable failure.”

I do not think that they need end in failure except for one reason.  The
poet or poetaster cannot, now, except by flat lying and laborious forgery
of old papers, produce any documentary evidence to prove the
_authenticity_ of his attempt at imitation.  Without documentary evidence
of antiquity, no critic can approach the imitation except in a spirit of
determined scepticism.  He knows, certainly, that the ballad is modern,
and, knowing that, he easily finds proofs of modernism even where they do
not really exist.  I am convinced that to imitate a ballad that would,
except for the lack of documentary evidence, beguile the expert, is
perfectly feasible.  I even venture to offer examples of my own
manufacture at the close of this volume.  I can find nothing suspicious
in them, except the deliberate insertion of formulæ which occur in
genuine ballads.  Such _wiederholungen_ are not reasons for rejection, in
my opinion; but they are _suspect_ with people who do not understand that
they are a natural and necessary feature of archaic poetry, and this fact
Mr. Kittredge does understand.

Mr. Kittredge speaks of Sir Walter’s unique success with _Kinmont
Willie_; but is Sir Walter successful?  Some of his stanzas I, for one,
can hardly accept, even as emended traditional verses.

Mr. Kittredge writes—“Sir Walter’s success, however, in a special kind of
balladry for which he was better adapted by nature and habit of mind than
for any other, would only emphasise the universal failure.  And it must
not be forgotten that _Kinmont Willie_, if it be Scott’s work, is not
made out of whole cloth; it is a working over of one of the best
traditional ballads known (_Jock o’ the Side_), with the intention of
fitting it to an historical exploit of Buccleuch.  Further, the subject
itself was of such a nature that it might well have been celebrated in a
ballad,—indeed, one is tempted to say, it must have been so celebrated.”

Not a doubt of _that_!

“And, finally, Sir Walter Scott felt towards ‘the Kinmont’ and ‘the bold
Buccleuch’ precisely as the moss-trooping author of such a ballad would
have felt.  For once, then, the miraculous happened. . . . ” {146a}  Or
did not happen, for the exception is “solitary though doubtful,” and
“under vehement suspicion.”  But Mr. Kittredge must remember that no
known Scottish ballad “is made out of whole cloth.”  All have, in various
degrees, the successive modifications wrought by centuries of oral
tradition, itself, in some cases, modifying a much modified printed
“stall-copy” or “broadside.”

Take _Jock o’ the Side_.  The oldest version is in the Percy MS. {147a}
As Mr. Henderson says, “it contains many evident corruptions,”

    “Jock on his lively bay, Wat’s on his white horse behind.”

There is an example of what the original author could not have written!

We do not know how good _Jock_ was when he left his poet’s hands; and
Scott has not touched him up.  We cannot estimate the original excellence
of any traditional poem by the state in which we find it,

    Corrupt by every beggar-man,
    And soiled by all ignoble use.


WE have now examined critically the four essentially _Border_ ballads
which Sir Walter is suspected of having “edited” in an unrighteous
manner.  Now he helps to forge, and issues _Auld Maitland_.  Now he, or
somebody, makes up _Otterburne_, “partly of stanzas from Percy’s
_Reliques_, which have undergone emendations calculated to disguise the
source from which they came, partly of stanzas of modern fabrication, and
partly of a few stanzas and lines from Herd’s version.” {148a}  Thirdly,
Scott, it is suggested, knew only what I call “the Elliot version” of
_Jamie Telfer_, perverted that by transposing the _rôles_ of Buccleuch
and Stobs, and added picturesque stanzas in glorification of his
ancestor, Wat of Harden.  Fourthly, he is suspected of “writing the whole
ballad” of _Kinmont Willie_, “from beginning to end.”

Of these four charges the first, and most disastrous, we have absolutely
disproved.  Scott did not write one verse of the _Auld Maitland_; he
edited it with unusual scrupulosity, for he had but one copy, and an
almost identical recitation.  He could not “eke and alter” by adding
verses from other texts, as he did in _Otterburne_.

Secondly, Scott did not make up _Otterburne_ in the way suggested by his
critic.  He took Hogg’s MS., and I have shown minutely what that MS. was,
and he edited it in accordance with his professed principles.  He made “a
standard text.”  It is only to be regretted that Hogg did not take down
_verbatim_ the words of his two reciters and narrators, and that Scott
did not publish Hogg’s version, with his letter, in his notes; but that
was not his method, nor the method of his contemporaries.

Thirdly, as to _Jamie Telfer_, long ago I wrote, opposite

    “The lyart locks of Harden’s hair,”

_aut Jacobus aut Diabolus_, meaning that either James Hogg or the devil
composed that stanza.  I was wrong.  Hogg had nothing to do with it; on
internal evidence Scott was the maker.  But that he transposed the Scott
and Elliot _rôles_ is incapable of proof; and I have shown that such
perversions were made in very early times, where national, not clan
prejudices were concerned.  I have also shown that Scott’s version
contains matter not in the Elliot version, matter injurious to the poem,
as in one stanza, certainly not composed by himself, the stanza being an
inappropriate stray formula from other ballads.  But, in the absence of
manuscript materials I can only produce presumptions, not proofs.

Lastly, _Kinmont Willie_, and Scott’s share in it, is matter of
presumption, not of proof.  He had been in quest of the ballad, as we
know from his list of _desiderata_; he says that what he got was
“mangled” by reciters, and that, in what he got, one river was mentioned
where topography requires another.  He also admits that, in the three
ballads of rescues, he placed passages where they had most poetical
appropriateness.  My arguments to show that Satchells had memory of a
Kinmont ballad will doubtless appeal with more or less success, or with
none, to different students.  That an indefinite quantity of the ballad,
and improvements on the rest, are Scott’s, I cannot doubt, from evidence
of style.

“Sir Walter Scott it is impossible to assail, however much the scholarly
conscience may disapprove,” says Mr. Kittredge. {150a}  Not much is to be
taken by assailing him!  “Business first, pleasure afterwards,” as,
according to Sam Weller, Richard III. said, when he killed Henry VI.
before smothering the princes in the Tower.  I proceed to pleasure in the
way of presenting imitations of “the traditional ballad” which “appears
to be inimitable by any person of literary cultivation,” according to Mr.


The three following ballads are exhibited in connection with Mr.
Kittredge’s opinion that neither poet nor poetaster can imitate, to-day,
the traditional ballad.  Of course, not one of my three could now take in
an expert, for he would ask for documentary evidence of their antiquity.
But I doubt if Mr. Kittredge can find any points in my three imitations
which infallibly betray their modernity.

The first, _Simmy o’ Whythaugh_, is based on facts in the Border
despatches.  Historically the attempt to escape from York Castle failed;
after the prisoners had got out they were recaptured.

The second ballad, _The Young Ruthven_, gives the traditional view of the
slaying of the Ruthvens in their own house in Perth, on 5th August 1600.

The third, _The Dead Man’s Dance_, combines the horror of the ballads of
_Lizzy Wan_ and _The Bonny Hind_, with that of the Romaic ballad, in
English, _The Suffolk Miracle_ (Child, No. 272).


   O, will ye hear o’ the Bishop o’ York,
      O, will ye hear o’ the Armstrongs true,
   How they hae broken the Bishop’s castle,
      And carried himsel’ to the bauld Buccleuch?

   They were but four o’ the Lariston kin,
      They were but four o’ the Armstrong name,
   Wi’ stout Sim Armstrong to lead the band,
      The Laird o’ Whythaugh, I mean the same.

   They had done nae man an injury,
      They had na robbed, they had na slain,
   In pledge were they laid for the Border peace,
      In the Bishop’s castle to dree their pain.

   The Bishop he was a crafty carle,
      He has ta’en their red and their white monie,
   But the muddy water was a’ their drink,
      And dry was the bread their meat maun be.

   “Wi’ a ged o’ airn,” did Simmy say,
      “And ilka man wi’ a horse to ride,
   We aucht wad break the Bishop’s castle,
      And carry himsel’ to the Liddel side.

   “The banks o’ Whythaugh I sall na see,
      I never sall look upon wife and bairn;
   I wad pawn my saul for my gude mear, Jean,
      I wad pawn my saul for a ged o’ airn.”

   There was ane that brocht them their water and bread;
      His gude sire, he was a kindly Scot,
   Says “Your errand I’ll rin to the Laird o’ Cessford,
      If ye’ll swear to pay me the rescue shot.”

   Then Simmy has gi’en him his seal and ring,
      To the Laird o’ Cessford has ridden he—
   I trow when Sir Robert had heard his word
      The tear it stood in Sir Robert’s e’e.

   “And sall they starve him, Simmy o’ Whythaugh,
      And sall his bed be the rotten strae?
   I trow I’ll spare neither life nor gear,
      Or ever I live to see that day!

   “Gar bring up my horses,” Sir Robert he said,
      “I bid ye bring them by three and three,
   And ane by ane at St. George’s close,
      At York gate gather your companie.”

   Oh, some rade like corn-cadger men,
      And some like merchants o’ linen and hose;
   They slept by day and they rade by nicht,
      Till they a’ convened at St. George’s close.

   Ilka mounted man led a bridded mear,
      I trow they had won on the English way;
   Ilka belted man had a brace o’ swords,
      To help their friends to fend the fray.

   Then Simmy he heard a hoolet cry
      In the chamber strang wi’ never a licht;
   “That’s a hoolet, I ken,” did Simmy say,
      “And I trow that Teviotdale’s here the nicht!”

   They hae grippit a bench was clamped wi’ steel,
      Wi’ micht and main hae they wrought, they four,
   They hae burst it free, and rammed wi’ the bench,
      Till they brake a hole in the chamber door.

   “Lift strae frae the beds,” did Simmy say;
      To the gallery window Simmy sped,
   He has set his strength to a window bar,
      And bursten it out o’ the binding lead.

   He has bursten the bolts o’ the Elliot men,
      Out ower the window the strae cast he,
   For they bid to loup frae the window high,
      And licht on the strae their fa’ would be.

   To the Bishop’s chamber Simmy ran;
      “Oh, sleep ye saft, my Lord!” says he;
   “Fu’ weary am I o’ your bread and water,
      Ye’se hae wine and meat when ye dine wi’ me.”

   He has lifted the loon across his shoulder;
      “We maun leave the hoose by the readiest way!”
   He has cast him doon frae the window high,
      And a’ to hansel the new fa’n strae!

   Then twa by twa the Elliots louped,
      The Armstrongs louped by twa and twa.
   “I trow, if we licht on the auld fat Bishop,
      That nane the harder will be the fa’!”

   They rade by nicht and they slept by day;
      I wot they rade by an unkenned track;
   “The Bishop was licht as a flea,” said Sim,
      “Or ever we cam’ to the Liddel rack.”

   Then “Welcome, my Lord,” did Simmy say,
      “We’ll win to Whythaugh afore we dine,
   We hae drunk o’ your cauld and ate o’ your dry,
      But ye’ll taste o’ our Liddesdale beef and wine.”


   The King has gi’en the Queen a gift,
      For her May-day’s propine,
   He’s gi’en her a band o’ the diamond-stane,
      Set in the siller fine.

   The Queen she walked in Falkland yaird,
      Beside the hollans green,
   And there she saw the bonniest man
      That ever her eyes had seen.

   His coat was the Ruthven white and red,
      Sae sound asleep was he
   The Queen she cried on May Beatrix,
      That bonny lad to see.

   “Oh! wha sleeps here, May Beatnix,
      Without the leave o’ me?”
   “Oh! wha suld it be but my young brother
      Frae Padua ower the sea!

   “My father was the Earl Gowrie,
      An Earl o’ high degree,
   But they hae slain him by fause treason,
      And gar’d my brothers flee.

   “At Padua hae they learned their leir
      In the fields o’ Italie;
   And they hae crossed the saut sea-faem.
      And a’ for love o’ me!”

                                   * * * *

   The Queen has cuist her siller band
      About his craig o’ snaw;
   But still he slept and naething kenned,
      Aneth the hollans shaw.

   The King was walking thro’ the yaird,
      He saw the siller shine;
   “And wha,” quo’ he, “is this galliard
      That wears yon gift o’ mine?”

   The King has gane till the Queen’s ain bower,
      An angry man that day;
   But bye there cam’ May Beatrix
      And stole the band away.

   And she’s run in by the little black yett,
      Straight till the Queen ran she:
   “Oh! tak ye back your siller band,
      On it gar my brother dee!”

   The Queen has linked her siller band
      About her middle sma’;
   And then she heard her ain gudeman
      Come sounding through the ha’.

   “Oh! whare,” he cried, “is the siller band
      I gied ye late yestreen?
   The knops was a’ o’ the diamond-stane,
      Set in the siller sheen.”

   “Ye hae camped birling at the wine,
      A’ nicht till the day did daw;
   Or ye wad ken your siller band
      About my middle sma’!”

   The King he stude, the King he glowered,
      Sae hard as a man micht stare:
   “Deil hae me!  Like is a richt ill mark,—
      Or I saw it itherwhere!

   “I saw it round young Ruthven’s neck
      As he lay sleeping still;
   And, faith, but the wine was wondrous guid,
      Or my wife is wondrous ill!”

   There was na gane a week, a week,
      A week but barely three;
   The King has hounded John Ramsay out,
      To gar young Ruthven dee!

   They took him in his brother’s house,
      Nae sword was in his hand,
   And they hae slain him, young Ruthven,
      The bonniest in the land!

   And they hae slain his fair brother,
      And laid him on the green,
   And a’ for a band o’ the siller fine
      And a blink o’ the eye o’ the Queen!

   Oh! had they set him man to man,
      Or even ae man to three,
   There was na a knight o’ the Ramsay bluid
      Had gar’d Earl Gowrie dee!


   “The dance is in the castle ha’,
      And wha will dance wi’ me?”
   “There’s never a man o’ living men,
      Will dance the nicht wi’ thee!”

   Then Margaret’s gane within her bower,
      Put ashes on her hair,
   And ashes on her bonny breast
      And on hen shoulders bare.

   There cam’ a knock to her bower-door,
      And blythe she let him in;
   It was her brother frae the wars,
      She lo’ed abune her kin.

   “Oh, Willie, is the battle won?
      Or are you fled?” said she,
   “This nicht the field was won and lost,
      A’ in a far countrie.

   “This nicht the field was lost and won,
      A’ in a far countrie,
   And here am I within your bower,
      For nane will dance with thee.”

   “Put gold upon your head, Margaret,
      Put gold upon your hair,
   And gold upon your girdle-band,
      And on your breast so fair!”

   “Nay, nae gold for my breast, Willie,
      Nay, nae gold for my hair,
   It’s ashes o’ oak and dust o’ earth,
      That you and I maun wear!

   “I canna dance, I mauna dance,
      I daurna dance with thee.
   To dance atween the quick and the deid,
      Is nae good companie.”

                                    * * *

   The fire it took upon her cheek,
      It took upon her chin,
   Nae Mass was sung, nor bells was rung,
      For they twa died in deidly sin.


{0a}  Child, part vi. p. 513.

{0b}  Child, part x. p. 294.

{1a}  Hogg to Scott, 30th June 1802, given later in full.

{2a}  See _De Origine_, _Moribus_, _et Rebus Gestis Scotorum_, p. 60

{4a}  Lockhart, vol. ii. p. 60 (1839).

{8a}  Lockhart, vol. ii. pp. 130–135 (1839).

{10a}  _Minstrelsy_, iii. 186–198.

{15a}  Child, part ix., 187.

{17a}  _Further Essays_, p. 184.

{18a}  Child, vol. i. p. xxx.

{19a}  _Minstrelsy_, 2nd edition, vol iii. (1803).

{19b}  _Further Essays_, pp. 247, 248.

{21a}  Carruthers, “Abbotsford Notanda,” in R. Chambers’s _Life of
Scott_, pp. 115–117 (1891).

{21b}  _Ibid._, _p._ 118.

{23a}  Carruthers, “Abbotsford Notanda,” in R. Chambers’s _Life of
Scott_, pp. 115–117 (1891).

{23b}  Lockhart, vol. ii. p. 99.

{24a}  Lockhart, _Life of Sir Walter Scott_, _Bart._, vol. ii. pp. 99,
100 (1829).

{25}  Ritson of 10th April 1802, in his _Letters of Joseph Ritson_,
_Esq._, vol. ii. p. 218.  Letter of 10th June 1802, _Ibid._, p. 207.
Ritson returned the original manuscript of _Auld Maitland_ on 28th
February 1803, _Ibid._, p. 230.

{26a}  Carruthers, pp. 128, 131.

{30a}  _Sweet William’s Ghost_.

{31a}  _Further Essays_, pp. 225, 226.

{32a}  _Further Essays_, pp. 227–234.

{41a}  _Minstrelsy_, vol. iii. pp. 307–310 (1833).

{41b}  _Ibid._, vol. iii. p. 314.

{44a}  _Publications of the Modern Language Association of America_, xxi.
4, pp. 804–806.

{47a}  _Further Essays_, p. 237.

{47b}  Carruthers, p. 128.

{47c}  Lockhart, vol. ii. pp. 67, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 79.

{48a}  Craig Brown, _History of Selkirkshire_.

{49a}  Child, part ix. p. 185.

{51a}  Scott to Laidlaw, 21st January 1803; Carruthers, pp. 121, 122.

{53a}  _Further Essays_, p. 45.

{53b}  Child, part viii. pp. 499–502.

{53c}  _Further Essays_, p. 10, where only two references to sources are

{54a}  Child, part vi. p. 292.

{54b}  _Ibid._, part ix. p. 243.  Herd, 1776; also C. K. Sharpe’s MS.

{59a}  Bain, _Calendar_, vol. iv. pp. 87–93.

{62a}  This is scarcely accurate.  Hogg, in fact, made up one copy, in
two parts, from the recitation of two old persons, as we shall see.

{62b}  _Further Essays_, pp. 12–27.

{63a}  _Further Essays_, p. 37.

{67a}  Scott to Laidlaw, Carruthers, p. 129.

{69a}  English version, xi.–xv.

{70a}  _Further Essays_, p. 58.

{73a}  _Further Essays_, p. 31.

{75a}  Godscroft, ed. 1644, p. 100; Child, part vi. p. 295.

{79a}  _The Hunting of the Cheviot_, and Herd’s _Otterburn_.

{83a}  Herd, and _Complaynte of Scotland_, 1549.

{84a}  Child, part ix. p. 244, stanza xiii.

{84b}  _Further Essays_, p. 27.

{89}  _Further Essays on Border Ballads_, p. 184.  Andrew Elliot, 1910.
To be quoted as _F. E. B. B._  The other work on the subject is Colonel
Elliot’s _The Trustworthiness of the Border Ballads_.  Blackwoods, 1906.

{91a}  _F. E. B. B._, _p._ 199.

{91b}  _F. E. B. B._, _p._ 200.

{93a}  _Trustworthiness of the Border Ballads_, p. vi.

{95a}  Satchells, pp. 13, 14.  Edition of 1892.

{95b}  _Ibid._, p. 14.

{95c}  _Ibid._, part ii. pp. 35, 36.

{97a}  _F. E. B. B._, p. 200.

{98a}  Child, _English and Scottish Popular Ballads_, part viii. p. 518.
He refers to “Letters I.  No. 44” in MS.

{98b}  See Sargent and Kittredge’s reduced edition of Child, p. 467,
1905.  They publish this Elliot version only.  The version has modern
spelling.  On this version and its minor variations from Scott’s, I say
more later; Colonel Elliot gives no critical examination of the
variations which seem to me essential.

{99a}  _F. E. B. B._, p. 184.

{101a}  Robert Scott (the poet Satchells’s father) “had Southinrigg for
his service” to Buccleuch, says Sir William Fraser, in his _Memoirs of
the House of Buccleuch_.  (See Satchells, 1892, pp. vii., viii.)  But the
“fathers” of Satchells “having dilapidate and engaged their Estate by
Cautionary,” poor Satchells was brought up as a cowherd, till he went to
the wars, and never learned to write, or even, it seems, to read; as he
says in the Dedication of his book to Lord Yester.

{102a}  _The Trustworthiness of the Border Ballads_, opp. p. 36.

{103a}  _Border Papers_, vol. i. pp. 120–127.

{104a}  _Border Papers_, vol. i. p. 106.

{106a}  Scrope, in _Border Papers_, vol. ii. pp. 148–152.

{106b}  _Border Papers_, vol. ii. p. 307, No. 606.

{107a}  _Border Papers_, vol. ii. pp. 299–303

{108a}  _Border Papers_, vol. ii. p. 356.

{108b}  _F. E. B. B._, p. 161.

{110a}  See his _Border Minstrelsy_, vol. ii. p. 15.

{110b}  _F. E. B. B._, p. 156.

{111a}  _T. B. B._, p. 14.

{112a}  _T. B. B._, p. 12.

{112b}  _T. B. B._, p. 12.

{113a}  _Memoirs of Robert Carey_, p. 98, 1808.

{114a}  _T. B. B._, pp. 19, 20.

{115}  _T. B. B._, p. 20.

{120a}  Child, part vii. p. 5.

{120b}  Variant E is a patched-up thing from five or six MS. sources and
a printed “stall copy.”  Jamieson published it in 1817.  Motherwell had
heard a _cantefable_, or version in alternate prose and verse, which
contained the stanza.  It is not identical with stanza xxxii. in Scott’s
_Jamie Telfer_, but runs thus—

    My hounds they all go masterless,
    My hawks they fly from tree to tree,
    My younger brother will heir my lands,
    Fair England again I’ll never see.

Child, part ii. p. 454 _et seqq._  The speaker is young Beichan, a
prisoner in the dungeon of a professor of the Moslem faith.

{122a}  _F. E. B. B._, pp. 179–185.

{123a}  Child, part viii. p. 518.

{125a}  Aytoun, in _The Ballads of Scotland_ (vol. i. p. 211), says that
his copy of _Jamie Telfer_ “is almost _verbatim_ the same as that given
in the _Border Minstrelsy_.”  He does not tell us where he got his copy;
or why the Captain’s bride’s speech (Sharpe, stanza xxxvi.) differs from
the version in Scott and Sharpe.  He gives the stanza which comes last in
Scott’s copy, and is too bad and enfeebling to be attributed to Scott’s
pen.  He omits the stanza which has strayed in from other ballads,

    “My hounds may a’ rin masterless.”

But as Aytoun confessedly rejected such inappropriate stanzas, he may
have found it in his copy and excised it.

{129a}  _Minstrelsy_, vol. iii. p. 76, 1803.

{130a}  _Further Essays_, p. 112.

{131a}  _Further Essays_, p. 112.

{135a}  In _Minstrelsy_, vol. ii. p. 35 (1833).

{139a}  _Further Essays_, p. 124.

{139b}  _Border Papers_, vol. ii. p. 367.

{140a}  _Further Essays_, pp. 123, 124.

{140b}  _Border Papers_, vol. ii. p. 121.

{142a}  _Further Essays_, p. 125.

{142b}  Birrell’s _Diary_ vouches for the irons.

{142c}  _Further Essays_, p. 128.

{146a}  Sargent and Kittredge, pp. xxix., xxx.

{147a}  Hales and Furnivall, ii. pp. 205–207.

{148a}  _Further Essays_, p. 45.

{150a}  _Ballads_, p. xxix.

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Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.