Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Kinmont Willie
Anonymous
 
O HAVE 1 ye na heard o’ the fause Sakelde?
  O have ye na heard o’ the keen Lord Scroope
How they hae taen bauld Kinmont Willie,
  On Hairibee 2 to hang him up?
 
Had Willie had but twenty men,        5
  But twenty men as stout as he,
Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont taen
  Wi’ eight score in his companie.
 
They band his legs beneath the steed,
  They tied his hands behind his back;        10
They guarded him, fivesome on each side,
  And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack.
 
They led him thro’ the Liddel-rack,
  And also thro’ the Carlisle sands;
They brought him to Carlisle castell,        15
  To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.
 
‘My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,
  And whae will dare this deed avow?
Or answer by the border law?
  Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch?’        20
 
‘Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver!
  There’s never a Scot shall set ye free:
Before ye cross my castle-yate,
  I trow ye shall take farewell o’ me.’
 
‘Fear na ye that, my lord,’ quo Willie:        25
  ‘By the faith o’ my body, Lord Scroope,’ he said,
‘I never yet lodged in a hostelrie—
  But I paid my lawing before I gaed.’
 
Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper,
  In Branksome Ha’ where that he lay,        30
That Lord Scroope has taen the Kinmont Willie,
  Between the hours of night and day.
 
He has taen the table wi’ his hand,
  He garrd the red wine spring on hie;
‘Now Christ’s curse on my head,’ he said,        35
  ‘But avengèd of Lord Scroope I’ll be!
 
‘O is my basnet a widow’s curch?
  Or my lance a wand of the willow-tree?
Or my arm a lady’s lilye hand,
  That an English lord should lightly me?        40
 
‘And have they taen him, Kinmont Willie,
  Against the truce of Border tide?
And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch
  Is keeper here on the Scottish side?
 
‘And have they een taen him, Kinmont Willie,        45
  Withouten either dread or fear,
And forgotten that the bauld Bacleuch
  Can back a steed, or shake a spear?
 
‘O were there war between the lands,
  As well I wot that there is none,        50
I would slight Carlisle castell high,
  Tho’ it were builded of marble stone.
 
‘I would set that castell in a low,
  And sloken it with English blood;
There’s nevir a man in Cumberland        55
  Should ken where Carlisle castell stood.
 
‘But since nae war’s between the lands,
  And there is peace, and peace should be;
I’ll neither harm English lad or lass,
  And yet the Kinmont freed shall be!’        60
 
He has calld him forty marchmen bauld,
  I trow they were of his ain name,
Except Sir Gilbert Elliot, calld
  The Laird of Stobs, I mean the same.
 
He has calld him forty marchmen bauld,        65
  Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch,
With spur on heel, and splent on spauld,
  And gleuves of green, and feathers blue.
 
There were five and five before them a’,
  Wi’ hunting-horns and bugles bright;        70
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; 3        75
  And so they reached the Woodhouselee.
 
And as we cross’d the Bateable Land,
  When to the English side we held,
The first o’ men that we met wi’,
  Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde!        80
 
‘Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen?’
  Quo fause Sakelde; ‘come tell to me!’
‘We go to hunt an English stag,
  Has trespassd on the Scots countrie.’
 
‘Where be ye gaun, ye marshal-men?’        85
  Quo fause Sakelde; ‘come tell me true!’
‘We go to catch a rank reiver,
  Has broken faith wi’ the bauld Buccleuch.’
 
‘Where are ye gaun, ye mason-lads,
  Wi’ a’ your ladders lang and hie?’        90
‘We gang to herry a corbie’s nest,
  That wons not far frae Woodhouselee.’
 
‘Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?’
  Quo fause Sakelde: ‘come tell to me?’
Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band,        95
  And the nevir a word o’ lear had he.
 
‘Why trepass ye on the English side?
  Row-footed outlaws, stand!’ quo he;
The neer a word had Dickie to say,
  Sae he thrust the lance thro’ his fause bodie.        100
 
Then on we held for Carlisle toun,
  And at Staneshaw-bank the Eden we crosd;
The water was great and meikle of spait,
  But the nevir a horse nor man we lost.
 
And when we reach’d the Staneshaw-bank,        105
  The wind was rising loud and hie;
And there the laird garrd leave our steeds,
  For fear that they should stamp and nie.
 
And when we left the Staneshaw-bank,
  The wind began full loud to blaw;        110
But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,
  When we came beneath the castel-wa’.
 
We crept on knees, and held our breath,
  Till we placed the ladders against the wa’;
And sae ready was Buccleuch himsell        115
  To mount the first before us a’.
 
He has taen the watchman by the throat,
  He flung him down upon the lead;
‘Had there not been peace between our lands,
  Upon the other side thou hadst gaed.        120
 
‘Now sound out, trumpets!’ quo Buccleuch;
  ‘Let’s waken Lord Scroope right merrilie!’
Then loud the warden’s trumpet blew
  ‘O whae dare meddle wi’ me?’
 
Then speedilie to wark we gaed,        125
  And raised the slogan ane and a’,
And cut a hole through a sheet of lead,
  And so we wan to the castel-ha’.
 
They thought King James and a’ his men
  Had won the house wi’ bow and speir;        130
It was but twenty Scots and ten
  That put a thousand in sic a stear!
 
Wi’ coulter and wi’ fore-hammers,
  We garrd the bars bang merrilie,
Untill we came to the inner prison,        135
  Where Willie o’ Kinmont he did lie.
 
And when we came to the lower prison,
  Where Willie o’ Kinmont he did lie,
‘O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,
  Upon the morn that thou’s to die?’        140
 
‘O I sleep saft, and I wake aft,
  It’s lang since sleeping was fley’d frae me;
Gie my service back to my wyfe and bairns
  And a’ gude fellows that speer for me.’
 
Then Red Rowan has hente him up,        145
  The starkest man in Teviotdale:
‘Abide, abide now, Red Rowan,
  Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell.
 
‘Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope!
  My gude Lord Scroope, farewell!’ he cried;        150
‘I’ll pay you for my lodging-maill,
  When first we meet on the border-side.’
 
Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
  We bore him down the ladder lang;
At every stride Red Rowan made,        155
  I wot the Kinmont’s airns playd clang!
 
‘O mony a time,’ quo Kinmont Willie,
  ‘I have ridden horse baith wild and wood;
But a rougher beast than Red Rowan,
  I ween my legs have neer bestrode.        160
 
‘And mony a time,’ quo Kinmont Willie,
  ‘I’ve pricked a horse out oure the furs;
But since the day I backed a steed
  I nevir wore sic cumbrous spurs!’
 
We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank,        165
  When a’ the Carlisle bells were rung,
And a thousand men, in horse and foot,
  Cam wi’ the keen Lord Scroope along.
 
Buccleuch has turned to Eden Water,
  Even where it flowed frae bank to brim,        170
And he has plunged in wi’ a’ his band,
  And saftly swam them thro’ the stream.
 
He turned him on the other side,
  And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he:
‘If ye like na my visit in merry England,        175
  In fair Scotland come visit me!’
 
All sore astonished stood Lord Scroope,
  He stood as still as rock of stane;
He scarcely dared to trew his eyes,
  When thro’ the water they had gane.        180
 
‘He is either himsell a devil frae hell,
  Or else his mother a witch maun be;
I wad na have ridden that wan water
  For a’ the gowd in Christentie.’
 
Note 1. First printed in Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1802. The ballad is founded upon a traditional border incident, celebrating the exploits of Sir Walter Scott of Branxholm, Laird of Buccleuch, which occurred in April, 1596. William Armstrong, commonly known as Will of Kinmont or Kinmont Willie, a “nortorious plunderer” accompanied Robert Scott, deputy of the Laird of Beccleuch, across the border to hold a conference with Mr. Selkeld, deputy of Lord Scroop. English Warden of the West Marches. The English, breaking the truce in operation at such times, captured Kinmont Willie on his return, and refused to give him up after repeated demands, whereupon Beccleuch, taking the law in his own hands, rescued him after the manner described in the ballad. [back]
Note 2. Hairibee: “place of execution at Carlisle.” [back]
Note 3. Broken men: outlaws. [back]
 
 
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