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And azure in a golden field,
The stars and crescent graced his shield,
Without the bend of Murdieston.*
Wide lay his lands round Oakwood tower,
And wide round haunted Castle-Ower;
High over Borthwick's mountain flood,
His wood-embosomed mansion stood;
In the dark glen, so deep below,
The herds of plundered England low;
His bold retainers' daily food,
And bought with danger, blows, and blood.
Marauding chief! his sole delight
The moonlight raid, the morning fight;
Not even the Flower of Yarrow's charms,
In youth, might tame his rage for arms;
And still, in age, he spurned at rest,
And still his brows the helmet pressed,
Albeit the blanched locks below
Where white as Dinlay's spotless snow:
Five stately warriors drew the sword
Before their father's band;
A braver knight than Harden's lord
Ne'er belted on a brand.
Whitslade the Hawk, and Headshaw came,
And warriors more than I may name;
From Yarrow-cleuch to Hindhaugh-swair,
From Woodhouselie to Chester-glen,
Trooped man and horse, and bow and spear;
Their gathering word was Bellenden.+
And better hearts o'er Border sod
To siege or rescue never rode.
Walter Scott of Harden. who flourished during the reign of Queen Mary, was a renowned Border freebooter, whose castle was situate upon the very brink of a dark and precipitous dell, through which a scanty rivulet stea's to meet the Borthwick. In the recess of this glen he is said to have kept his spoil, which served for the daily maintenance of his retainers, until the production of a pair of clean spurs in a covered dish, announced to the hungry band, that they must ride for a supply of provisions. He was married to Mary Scott, called in song the Flower of Yarrow.
+ Ballenden is situated near the head of Borthwick water, and, being in the centre of the possessions of the Scotts, was frequently used as their place of rendervous and gathering word.
The Ladye marked the aids come in,
And high her heart of pride arose;
She bade her youthful son attend,
That he might know his father's friend,
And learn to face his foes.
"The boy is ripe to look on war;
I saw him draw a cross-bow stiff,
And his true arrow struck afar
The raven's nest upon the cliff; The Red Cross, on a southern breast, Is broader than the raven's nest: Thou, Whitslade, shalt teach him his weapon to And o'er him hold his father's shield."
Well may you think, the wily Page
Cared not to face the Ladye sage.
He counterfeited childish fear,
And shrieked, and shed full many a tear,
And moaned and plained in manner wild.
The attendants to the Ladye told,
Some fairy, sure, had changed the child,
That wont to be so free and bold.
Then wrathful was the noble dame;
She blushed blood-red for very shame:-
"Hence! ere the clan his faintness view;
Hence with the weakling to Buccleuch!-
Watt Tinlinn, thou shalt be his guide
To Rangleburn's lonely side.---
Sure some fell fiend has cursed our line,
That coward should e'er be son of mine!"
A heavy task Watt Tinlinn had,
To guide the counterfeited lad.
Soon as his palfrey felt the weight
Of that ill-omen'd elvish freight,
He bolted, sprung, and reared amain,
Nor heeded bit, nor curb, nor rein.
It cost Watt Tinlinn mickle toil
To drive bim but a Scottish mile;
But, as a shallow brook they crossed,
The elf, amid the running stream,
His figure changed, like form in dream,
And fled, and shouted, "Lost! lost! lost !"
Full fast the urchin ran and laughed,
But faster still a cloth-yard shaft
Whistled from startled Tinlinn's yew,
And pierced his shoulder through and through.
Although the imp might not be slain,
And though the wound scon healed again,
Yet, as he ran, he yelled for pain;
And Watt of Tinlinn, much aghast,
Rode back to Branksome fiery fast.
Soon on the hill's steep verge he stood,
That looks o'er Branksome's towers and wood;
And martial murmurs, from below,
Proclaimed the approaching southern foe.
Through the dark wood, in mingled tone,
Were Border-pipes and bugles blown;
The coursers' neighing he could ken,
And measured tread of marching men;
While broke at times the solemn hum,
The Almayn's sullen kettle-drum;
And banners tall, of crimson sheen,
Above the copse appear;
And, glistening through the hawthorns green,
Shine helm, and shield, and spear.
Light forayers first, to view the ground,
Spurred their fleet coursers loosely round
Behind, in close array and fast,
The Kendal archers, all in green,
Obedient to the bugle blast,
Advancing from the wood are seen.
To back and guard the archer band,
Lord Dacre's bill-men were at hand;
A hardy race, on Irthing bred,
With kirtles white, and crosses red,
Arrayed beneath the banner tall,
That streamed o'er Acre's conquered wall;
And minstrels, as they marched in order,
Played, "Noble Lord Dacre, he dwells on the Bor-
Behind the English bill and bow,
The mercenaries, firm and slow,
Moved on to fight, in dark array,
By Conrad led of Wolfenstein,
Who brought the band from distant Rhine,
And sold their blood for foreign pay.
The camp their home, their law the sword,
They knew no country, owned no lord:*
They were not armed like England's sons,
But bore the levin-darting guns;
Buff-coats, all frounced and 'broidered o'er,
And morsing-hornst and scarfs they wore;
Each better knee was bared, to aid
The warriors in the escalade;
All, as they marched, in rugged tongue,
Songs of Teutonic feuds they sung.
But louder still the clamour grew,
And louder still the minstrels blew,
When, from beneath the greenwood tree,
Rode forth Lord Howard's chivalry;
His men at arms, with glaive and spear,
Brought up the battle's glittering rear.
There many a youthful knight, full keen
To gain his spurs, in arms was seen;
With favour in his crest, or glove,
Memorial of his ladye-love.
So rode they forth in fair array,
Till full their lengthened lines display;
Then called a halt, and made a stand,
And cried, "St George, for merry England!"
Such were the mercenary soldiers who figure in the middle ages under the names of Brabançons, Condottierri, and Free-Companions who farmed their services to the best bidders, and pro claimed themselves "the friends of God, and enemies of all the world."
+ Powder flasks.
Now every English eye, intent,
On Branksome's armed towers was bent;
So near they were, that they might know
The straining harsh of each cross-bow;
On battlement and bartizan
Gleamed axe, and spear, and partizan;
Falcon and culver, on each tower,
Stood prompt their deadly hail to shower;
And flashing armour frequent broke
From eddying whirls of sable smoke,
Where, upon tower and turret head,
The seething pitch and molten lead
Reeked, like a witch's cauldron red.
While yet they gaze, the bridges fall,
The wicket opes, and from the wall
Rides forth the hoary Seneschal.
Armed he rode, all save the head,
His white beard o'er his breast-plate spread;
Unbroke by age, erect his seat,
He ruled his eager courser's gait;
Forced him, with chastened fire, to prance,
And, high curvetting, slow advance:
In sign of truce, his better hand
Displayed a peeled willow wand;
His squire, attending in the rear,
Bore high a gauntlet on a spear.
When they espied him riding out,
Lord Howard and Lord Dacre stout
Sped to the front of their array,
To hear what this old knight should say.
"Ye English warden lords, of you Demands the Ladye of Buccleuch,
* Ancient pieces of artillery.
A glove upon a lance was the emblem of faith among the an cient Borderers, who were wont, when any one broke his word, to expose this emblem, and proclaim him a faithless villain at the Arst Border meeting.