« PreviousContinue »
Why, 'gainst the truce of Border-tide,
With Kendal bow, and Gilsland brand,
A wrathful man was Dacre's lord, But calmer Howard took the word:-"May't please thy Dame, Sir Seneschal, To seek the castle's outward wall; Our pursuivant-at-arms shall show, Both why we came, and when we go." The message sped, the noble Dame To the walls' outward circle came; Each chief around leaned on his spear, To see the pursuivant appear. All in Lord Howard's livery dressed, The lion argent decked his breast; He led a boy of blooming hueO sight to meet a mother's view! It was the heir of great Buccleuch. Obeisance meet the herald made, And thus his master's will he said.
"It irks, high Dame, my noble Lords,
• An asylum for outlaws,
We claim from thee William of Deloraine,
He ceased-and loud the boy did cry,
And thus replied, in dauntless mood.
"Say to your Lords of high emprize, Who war on woman and on boys,
That either William of Deloraine
Will cleanse him, by oath, of march-treason stain,§
Several species of offences, peculiar to the Border, constituted what was called march-treason. Among others, was the crime of riding, or causing to ride, agalast the opposite country during the time of truce.
: Note of assault.
In dubious cases, the innocence of Border-criminals was occasionally referred to their own oath,
Or else he will the combat take
'Gainst Musgrave, for his honour's sake.
No knight in Cumberland so good,
But William may count with him kin and blood.
When English blood swelled Ancram ford;*
Himself had seen him dubbed a knight.
Through me no friend shall meet his doom;
Proud she looked round, applause to claim-
"St Mary for the young Buccleuch !"
And drew the bow-string to his ear:
The dignity of knighthood, according to the original institution, had this peculiarity, that it did not flow from the monarch but could be conferred by one who himself possessed it, upon any squire who, after due probation, was found to merit the honour of chivalry. The battle of Aneram Moor, or Peniel-heuch, which was fought A. D. 15:5, was considered sufficient probation for that honour. The English, commanded by Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun, were totally routed, and both their leaders slain in the action The Scottish army was commanded by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, assisted by the laird of Buccleuch and Norman Lesley.
+ Lyke wake, the watching a corpse previous to interment.
"Ah! noble Lords!" he, breathless, said,
The Douglas holds his weapon-schaw:*
Clothe the dun heath like autumn grain;
Lord Maxwell ranks his merry-men good,
And Jedwood, Eske, and Teviotdale,
In Liddesdale I've wandered long;
But still my heart was with merry England, And cannot brook my country's wrong, And hard I've spurred all night, to show The mustering of the coming foe."
"And let them come!" fierce Dacre cried;
"For soon yon crest, my father's pride,
That swept the shores of Judah's sea,
And waved in gales of Galilee,
From Branksome's highest towers displayed,
Shall mock the rescue's lingering aid!—
Level each harquebuss on row;
Draw, merry archers, draw the bow;
Up, bill-men, to the walls, and cry,
Dacre for England, win or die!"
"Yet hear," quoth Howard, " calmly hear, Nor deem my words the words of fear:
• Weapon-schaw, the military array of a county.
For who in field or foray slack
Saw the blanche lion e'er fall back ?*
Nay, take the terms the Ladye made,
Ill could the haughty Dacre brook
The pursuivant-at-arms again
This was the cognisance of the noble house of Howard in all its branches. The crest, or bearing, of a warrior, was often used ta a nomme de guerre,
+ Trial by single combat, so peculiar to the feudal system, was common on the Borders