Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
138. Jock o’ the Side

NOW Liddesdale has ridden a raid,
  But I wat they had better hae staid at hame;
For Michael o’ Winfield he is dead,
  And Jock o’ the Side is prisoner ta’en.

To Sybill o’ the Side the tidings came;
  By the waterside there as she ran
She took her kirtle by the hem
  And fast to Mangerton she ’s gane.

Then up and spoke her Lord Mangerton—
  ‘What news, what news, my sister to me?’—        10
‘Bad news, bad news! My Michael is slain;
  And they ha’e taken my son Johnie.’

The lords they wrang their fingers white,
  Ladyes did pull themsells by the hair,
Crying ‘Alas and well-a-day!        15
  For Jock o’ the Side we’ll never see mair!’

—‘Ne’er fear, sister Sybill,’ quo’ Mangerton;
  ‘I have yokes of ousen, eighty and three;
My barns, my byres, and my faulds, a’ weil fill’d,
  I’ll part wi’ them a’ ere Johnie shall dee.        20

‘Three men I’ll send to set him free,
  Well harness’d a’ wi’ the best o’ steel;
The English louns may hear, and drie
  The weight o’ their braid-swords to feel.

‘The Laird’s Jock ane, the Laird’s Wat twa,
  O Hobbie Noble, thou ane maun be!
Thy coat is blue, thou hast been true,
  Since England banish’d thee, to me.’

Now Hobbie was an English man,
  In Bewcastle dale was bred and born;        30
But his misdeeds they were sae great,
  They banish’d him ne’er to return.

Lord Mangerton them orders gave,
  ‘Your horses the wrang way maun be shod,
Like gentlemen ye mauna seem,        35
  But look like corn-caugers ga’en the road.

‘Your armour gude ye mauna shaw,
  Nor yet appear like men o’ war;
As country lads be a’ array’d,
  Wi’ branks and brecham on each mare.’        40

Their horses are the wrang way shod,
  And Hobbie has mounted his grey sae fine;
Wat on his auld horse, Jock on his bey,
  And on they rode for the water of Tyne.

But when they came to Cholerton ford
  They lighted down by the light o’ the moon,
And a tree they cut, wi’ nogs on each side,
  To climb up the wa’ of Newcastle toun.

But when they cam to Newcastle toun,
  And down were alighted at the wa’,        50
They fand thair tree three ells ower laigh,
  They fand their stick baith short and sma.’

Then up spake the Laird’s ain Jock:
  ‘There’s naething for’t; the gates we maun force.’—
But when they cam the gate until,        55
  The porter withstood baith men and horse.

His neck in twa the Armstrangs wrang;
  Wi’ fute or hand he ne’er play’d pa!
His life and his keys at anes they hae ta’en,
  And cast the body ahint the wa’.        60

Now sune they reach Newcastle jail,
  And to the prisoner thus they call:
‘Sleeps thou, wakes thou, Jock o’ the Side,
  Or art thou weary of thy thrall?’

Jock answers thus, wi’ dolefu’ tone:
  ‘Aft, aft I wake—I seldom sleep:
But whae’s this kens my name sae weel,
  And thus to mese my waes does seek?’

Then out and spak the gude Laird’s Jock,
  ‘Now fear ye na, my billie,’ quo’ he;        70
‘For here are the Laird’s Jock, the Laird’s Wat,
  And Hobbie Noble to set thee free.’—

‘Now haud thy tongue, my gude Laird’s Jock,
  For ever, alas! this canna be;
For if a’ Liddesdale were here the night,        75
  The morn ’s the day that I maun dee.

‘Full fifteen stane o’ Spanish iron,
  They hae laid a’ right sair on me;
Wi’ locks and keys I am fast bound
  In this dungeon dark and dreirie.’        80

‘Fear ye na that,’ quo’ the Laird’s Jock;
  ‘A faint heart ne’er wan a fair ladie;
Work thou within, we’ll work without,
  And I’ll be sworn we’ll set thee free.’

The first strong door that they cam at,
  They loosèd it without a key;
The next chain’d door that they cam at,
  They garr’d it a’ to flinders flee.

The prisoner now upon his back
  The Laird’s Jock has gotten up fu’ hie;        90
And, airns and a’, down the tolbooth stair,
  Wi’ nae sma’ speed and joy brings he.

‘Now, Jock, my man,’ quo’ Hobbie Noble,
  ‘Some o’ his weight ye may lay on me.’—
‘I wat weel no!’ quo’ the Laird’s ain Jock,        95
  ‘I count him lighter than a flee.’

Sae out at the gates they a’ are gane,
  The prisoner ’s set on horseback hie;
And now wi’ speed they’ve ta’en the gate,
  While ilk ane jokes fu’ wantonlie:        100

‘O Jock! sae winsomely ye sit,
  Wi’ baith your feet upon ae side;
Sae weel ye’re harneist, and sae trig,
  In troth ye sit like ony bride!’

The night, tho’ wat, they did na mind,
  But hied them on fu’ merrilie,
Until they cam to Cholerton brae,
  Where the water ran like mountains hie.

But when they cam to Cholerton ford,
  There they met with an auld man;        110
Says—‘Honest man, will the water ride?
  Tell us in haste, if that ye can.’—

‘I wat weel no,’ quo’ the gude auld man;
  ‘I hae lived here thretty years and three;
Nor man nor horse can go ower Tyne,        115
  Except it were a horse of tree.’—

Then out and spoke the Laird’s saft Wat,
  The greatest coward in the companie:
‘Now halt, now halt! we need na try’t;
  The day is come we a’ maun die!’—        120

‘Puir faint-hearted thief!’ cried the Laird’s ain Jock,
  ‘There’ll nae man die but him that ’s fie;
I’ll guide ye a’ right safely thro’;
  Lift ye the pris’ner on ahint me.’

Wi’ that the water they hae ta’en,
  By ane’s and twa’s they a’ swam thro’;
‘Here are we a’ safe,’ quo’ the Laird’s Jock,
  ‘And, puir faint Wat, what think ye now?

They scarce the other brae had won,
  When twenty men they saw pursue;        130
Frae Newcastle toun they had been sent,
  A’ English lads baith stout and true.

But when the Land-sergeant the water saw,
  ‘It winna ride, my lads,’ says he;
Then cried aloud—‘The prisoner take,        135
  But leave the fetters, I pray, to me!’

‘I wat weel no,’ quo’ the Laird’s ain Jock,
  ‘I’ll keep them, shoon to my mare to be:
My gude bay mare—for I am sure,
  She has bought them a’ right dear frae thee.’—        140

Sae now they are on to Liddesdale,
  E’en as fast as they could them hie;
The prisoner is brought to his ain fireside,
  And there o’ his airns they mak him free.

‘Now, Jock, my billie,’ quo’ a’ the three,
  ‘The day is comed thou was to die;
But thou ’s as weel at thy ain ingle-side,
  Now sitting, I think, ’twixt thee and me.’
GLOSS:  corn-caugers] corn hucksters.  branks] wooden halter.  brecham] straw collar.  laigh] low.  pa] paw.  mese] soothe.  billie] comrade.  tolbooth] gaol.  fie] fey, doomed.


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.