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that he would come with his kin and friends, and all the force that he might be, and meet him at Melross, at his home-passing, and there to take him out of the Douglasses hands, and to put him to liberty, to use himself among the lave (rest) of his lords, as he thinks expedient.
"This letter was quietly directed, and sent by one of the king's own secret servants, which was received very thankfully by the laird of Buccleuch, who was very glad thereof, to be put to such charges and familiarity with his prince, and did great diligence to perform the king's writing, and to bring the matter to pass as the king desired: And, to that effect, convened all his kin and friends, and all that would do for him, to ride with him to Melross, when he knew of the king's homecoming. And so he brought with him six hundred speares, of Liddesdale, and Annandale, and countrymen, and clans thereabout, and held themselves quiet while that the king returned out of Jedburgh, and came to Melross, to remain there all that night.
"But when the Lord Hume, Cessfoord, and Fernyhirst, (the chiefs of the clan of Kerr,) took their leave of the king, and returned home, then appeared the Lord of Buckleuch in sight, and his company with him, in an arrayed battle, intending to have fulfilled the king's petition, and therefore came stoutly forward on the back side of Haliden hill. By that the Earl of Angus, with George Douglas, his brother, and sundry other of his friends, seeing this army coming, they marvelled what the matter meant; while at the last they knew the laird of Buccleuch, with a certain company of the thieves of Annandale. With him they were less affeared, and made them manfully to the field contrary them, and said to the king in this manner, 'Sir, yon is Buckleuch, and thieves of Annandale with him, to unbeset your Grace from the gate (i. e. interrupt your passage.) I vow to God .they shall either fight or flee; and ye shall tarry here on this know, and my brother George with you, with any other company you please; and I shall pass, and put yon thieves off the ground, and rid the gate unto your Grace, or else die for it.' The king tarried still, as was devised, and George Douglas with him, and sundry other lords, such as the Earl of Lennox, and the Lord Erskine, and some of the king's own servants; but all the lave (rest) past with the Earl of Angus to the field against the laird of Buccleuch, who joyned and countered cruelly both the said parties in the field of Darnelinver,* either against other, with uncertain victory. But at the last, the Lord Hume, hearing word of that matter how it stood, returned again to the king in all possible haste, with him the lairds of Cessfoord and Fairnyhirst, to the number of fourscore spears, and set freshly on the lap and wing of the laird of Buccleuch's field, and shortly bare them backward to the ground; which caused the laird of Buccleuch, and the rest of his friends, to go back and flee, whom they followed and chased j and especially the lairds of
* Darnwick, near Melrose. The place of conflict is still called Skinner's Field, from a corruption of Skirmish Field.
Cessfoord and Fairnyhirst followed furiouslie, till at the foot of a path the laird of Cessfoord was slain by the stroke of a spear by an Elliott, who was then servant to the laird of Buccleuch. But when the laird of Cessfoord was slain, the chase ceased. The Earl of Angus returned again with great merriness and victory, and thanked God that he saved him from that chance, and passed with the king to Melross, where they remained all that night. On the morn they past to Edinburgh with the king, who was very sad and dolorous of the slaughter of the laird of Cessfoord, and many other gentlemen and yeomen slain by the laird of Buccleuch, containing the number of fourscore and fifteen, which died in defence of the king, and at the command of his writing."
I am not the first who has attempted to celebrate in verse the renown of this ancient baron, and his hazardous attempt to procure his sovereign's freedom. In a Scottish Latin poet we find the following verses :—
Valterius Scotbs Balcluchivs.
Egregio suscepto facinore libertate Regis, ac aliis rebus gestis clarus, sub Jacobo V. A'. Christi, 1526.
Intentata aliis, nullique audita priorum
Audet, nee pavidum morsve, metusve qua tit,
Subreptam hanc Regi restituisse paras,
Sin victus, falsas spes jace, poue animam.
Atque decus. Vincet, Rege probante, fides.
Insita queis anlmis virtus, quosque acrior ardor
Heroes ex omni Historia Scoticae lectissimi, Auctore Joliait. Jonstonio Abredoncnse Scoto, 1603.
In consequence of the battle of Melrose, there ensued a deadly feud betwixt the names of Scott and Kerr, which, in spite of all means used to bring about an agreement, raged for many years upon the Borders. Buccleuch was imprisoned, and his estates forfeited, in the year 1535, for levying war against the Kerrs, and restored by act of parliament, dated 15th March, 1542, during the regency of Mary of Lorraine. But the most signal act of violence, to which this quarrel gave rise, was, the murder of Sir Walter himself, who was slain by the Kerrs in the streets of Edinburgh, in 1552. This is the event alluded to in Stanza VII.; and the poem is supposed to open shortly after it had taken place.
The feud between these two families was not reconciled in 1596, when both chieftains paraded the streets of Edinburgh with their followers, and it was expected their first meeting would decide their quarrel. But, on July 14th of the same year, Colvil, in a letter to Mr Bacon, informs him," that there was great trouble upon the Borders, which would continue till order should be taken by the queen of England and the king, by reason of the two young Scots chieftains, Cesford and Baclugh, and of the present necessity and scarcity of corn amongst the Scots Borderers and riders. That there had been a private quarrel betwixt those two lairds, on the Borders, which was like to have turned to blood; but the fear of the general trouble had reconciled them, and the injuries which they thought to have committed against each other, were now transferred upon England: not unlike that emulation in France between the Baron de Biron and Mons. Jeverie, who, being both ambitious of honour, undertook more hazardous enterprises against the enemy, than they would have done if they had been at concord together."—Birch's Memorials, vol. II. p. 67.
Note VI. No! vainly to each holy shrine, In mutual pilgrimage, they drew.—P. 21. Among other expedients resorted to for staunching the feud betwixt the Scotts and the Kern, there was a bond executed, in 1529, between the heads of each clan, binding themselves to perform reciprocally the four principal pilgrimages of Scotland, for the benefit of the souls of those of the opposite name who had fallen in the quarrel. This indenture is printed in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. I. But either it never took effect, or else the feud was renewed shortly afterwards.
Such pactions were not uncommon in feudal times; and, as might be expected, they were often, as in the present case, void of the effect desired. When Sir Walter Mauny, the renowned follower of Edward III., had taken the town of Ryoll, in Gascony, he remembered to have heard that his father lay P