Peaee between James IV. of Scotland and Henry VII. of England.—Minority of
James V.—His Adventures in disguise.—The Gaberlunzie Man.
the Fifth in Scotland reign'd
Like many other kings;
He did some common-place affairs,
And divers curious things.
the fall of the House of Douglas, no one chieftain seems to have been
especially potent on the Borders until some time further, when the sixth
Earl of Angus, ycleped
Bell-the-Cat, made rapid strides to power. He was
Warden of the east and middle marches, Lord of Liddesdale and Jedwood
forest, and possessed of the strong castles of Tantallon, Douglas, and
more for his lineage than for his virtues, he found a large body of the
nobility of the land, who thought more of lineage than virtue, ready so far
to obey his treasonable behests as to assail, with him, the foundations of
the throne, on which sat James III: and, in fine, matters came to such a
pass, that the disaffected assembled an army with which they attacked and
slew the king, near the village of Bannockburn, where Bruce, in aforetime
had achieved worthier things. James's army was composed of Highlanders, who
could in no wise resist the men of Annandale and Liddesdale, who carried
spears two ells longer than those used by the rest of their countrymen.
was a vigorous, energetic, and active prince, but head-strong and self-opiniated—failings
which at last proved his ruin. A treaty of perpetual peace was concluded
between him and Henry VII. of England in 1503, and by way of cementing the
good understanding, he wedded at Edinburgh (not at Gretna) Margaret the
eldest daughter of this king. In the subsequent reign of Henry VIII., a
series of complaints were brought against some Scots abroad, who were
blowing upon the embers of an ancient quarrel they had had with the
Portuguese, and which had nearly died out. With this the English had had
nothing to do ; but as its reviviscence now clashed with English interests,
it-brought about a rupture, which was never thoroughly made up.
invaded England in 1513, and was defeated : and on the 9th of September in
the same year, contrary to the advice of all his councillors of war, he
encountered his newly declared enemies at Flodden Field, where he was slain.
the minority of James V., Scottish affairs were in a most troublous and
disordered state: the nobles were ignobly plotting against each other and
the regency: the Queen mother was counterplotting against them; the
chieftains on the borders were devouring each other by rapine and violence ;
and the English of Cumberland and Northumberland, not unassisted sometimes
by the government, were cruelly ^ravaging the Merse, the Debateable Land,
and all the parts adjacent, so that, as Cardinal Wolsey observed, " There
was left neither house, fortress, village, tree, cattle, corn, or other
succour for man."
piratical system of moss-trooping was now in its meridian; as regularly as
the sun set, parties of marauders set out to plunder their neighbours of
their beeves and sheep, which parties, if pursued, fled to the fastnesses of
Tarras Moss, or the Debateable Land ; the dislocated government had no
power, or no inclination to check this state of things; and by this time,
the thieves of Annan-dale and Liddesdale had become notorious.
like the eastern king in the Arabian Nights, took much pleasure in paying
visits to his unsuspecting subjects muffled up in the dark features of
disguise. He would habit himself in the vesture of a country loon, and enter
the kitchen of the farmer's gudewife, with whom he would hold discourse on
the prospects of the coming harvest, the treatment of landlords, and the
government of the king; or he would assume the tatters of a gaberlunzie man,
and try the courtesy and alms-giving of the noble, gentle, and simple, as
his fantasy directed.
appear to have been two motives for the adoption of this practice : in the
first place, he was naturally enamoured of romance, sport, and adventure ;
and in the second place, such was the inefficiency of deputies in the
correction of abuses, such the feebleness of the administrators of justice,
as compared with the power of the turbulent, such the intrigues of the
barons in plotting and counterplotting against himself and each other, and
such the difficulty in coming at the real truth in regard to the condition
of his people in distant parts of his kingdom, that he resolved personally
to visit such places as he was desirous of gaining knowledge about, and to
see into the actual amount of existing grievances with his own eyes.
amusing prosecution of these adventures, he unreservedly went into either
the hall of the castle, pertaining to any of his noble retainers, or into
the hut of the cotter who dwelt on the moor. To these last, his
peregrinations were most especially directed, so that at last he was styled,
"The king of the poor."
royal author of the
Gaberlunzie Man was also the hero of the exploit
therein so blithely chanted, is a point on which antiquaries are pretty well
agreed. If he has not received conviction of its paternity. from
circumstantial evidence, at all events, sentence has been unanimously passed
on him from " habit and repute," as the Scottish men of law say.
night during the inclement season of the year, as the gudewife of a certain
cotter was busied about her domestic matters, assisted by a comely maiden,
her daughter, there came to the door an ancient-looking man dressed in
beggar's weeds. After bidding her many good den good e'ens, he besought her
of her courtesy to give him lodging, until he could again proceed on his
of hospitality were such, that she needed no second request, but
incontinently granted to him her welcome, her vivers,—those indeed that
might be found in her scantily furnished cupboard,—and also a resting-place
for the night.
received, he sat down by the fire with hearty good will, for he was wet with
the recent shower; his spirits rose, he brightened up at the thought of his
comfortable quarters; and by way of making acquaintance with the daughter,
he patted her on the shoulder—a liberty in so old a man that was readily
pardoned. So high indeed did the ebullition of his gaiety effervesce, that
he irresistibly burst forth in melody, and joyously vociferated divers
It is not
the cassock nor the hood that will make the holy monk, nor the veil that
will make the unspotted vestal, nor the superfine coat that will make the
modern gentleman, nor the tattered weeds that will make the penniless
mind; here was a supposed old gaberlunzie that needed victuals and shelter;
and for these necessaries he, in return, did all he could to amuse his
his merry sayings, or his pleasant tales of adventure, so divertingly
narrated to the maiden, or else the discovery that she might have made, of
his not being the uncomely wight he had represented, or else, in addition to
this, the few sweet words which he slily poured into her ears when the
mother was at the further end of the kitchen; these, some or all of them, so
wrought upon the ardency of her youthful heart, that his society and his
converse had now become intensely agreeable to her, so that she did not know
how she should ever again be able to do without them.
easy mother little suspected the change that had suddenly come o'er the
spirit of her daughter, and dreamt not of the nature of the turn their
dialogue had taken.
declared to her that he would willingly go with her to the world's end,
whithersoever the fates should direct: and she, having been absolutely
poisoned by the delicious venom of his protestations, confessed that she was
dead to every care but love, and would blindly follow him, even where, when,
and how he should choose to lead.
had now arrived at a somewhat critical position.
these two a plot was concocted; the purpose of which was, that they should
both elope and escape away together in the middle of the night.
love! it is a glorious passion when it is wise and well directed ; but if it
is suffered to run wild, it will ofttimes lead its slaves into sore
arose a short time before the cock crew; they carefully lifted the latch of
the door, and then, finding themselves withoutside, they closed it behind
them, and fled away into the wilderness.
unbounded liberty of the wilderness ! Ye may wander north, south, east,
west, up and down, right and left, free, unfettered, unimpeded ; ye may also
knaw roots and grubs, if bakers shops fail; or ye may starve upon nothing,
and die in a quagmire,—and nobody know anything about it.
bright eye of the sun opened upon the hills in the morning, then did the
gudewife open her eyes also ; leisurely she lifted herself from her pallet,
and leisurely, says the chronicle, did she put her vestments about her.
hospitable solicitude was to know how the gaberlunzie had slept; wherefore
she took her course toward the servant's room which had been given up to
him. On entering therein, she found it empty; she proceeded further with a
sentiment of astonishment springing up within her; she went to the bed where
he had lain ; the straw was cold —the beggar had vanished.
her hands, she raved, she filled the house with lamentations loud and deep;
every one was in a stir, and troubled with a thousand conjectures.
affright, ran to the coffers to see whether anything had been stolen; others
ran to the cupboards and chests, in order to assure themselves of the extent
of the robbery that had been committed on them. Nothing, howbeit, was
missing. Everything was safe, perfect, and in its place as afore.
relieved in apprehension, though still perplexed with the greatest
wonderment, the mother returned in some degree to her" senses. She breathed
freer, she ceased her sorrowings, and she assuaged her tears.
nothing is missing as we can see," said she to her servant maid, "since the
churn in the dairy is safe, and the milk untouched, go now and awaken my
daughter, and bid her come hither."
then, if it must be so; now the real amount of her affliction must be
servant went to the maiden's room, but had not one half crossed the floor,
ere she was stricken with as much amazement as ever had troubled the whole
household just before.
sheets were cold and she was away," says the ancient and royal
historiographer: and the servant came screaming back to her mistress,
declaring that, forsooth, she was off with the Gaberlunzie man!
did a thousand distracting passions cruelly torture every dweller in that
habitation. The old woman well nigh went out of her wits; she hastily
resolved on divers plans for pursuing the fugitives, sometimes this way,
sometimes the other, in any or every likely direction in which they may have
fled; but so sorely racked was she with fears and vexations, that although
she. formed these plans of pursuit, and although she desired eagerly to
undertake them herself, still, as she could not guess as to which way they
might have gone, and as she wished every known road explored, and as she
could not take every one of them her single self, she became at last so
confused, so anxious, and so bewildered, that she could do nothing at all in
hurried some on horseback to ride the country over, and some she despatched
to run off through by-roads and crooked paths, to look, to search, to hunt,
thought of despatching any one to Gretna; but Gretna was nothing then. No
matter, they had not gone to Gretna—at least, we do not know for certain
whether they had or not; at all events, they had not gone to the village of
Springfield, for as we said before, they had fled into the wilderness.
says the chronicle, she never ceased to curse and to ban : and according to
her commandments, seconded by the anxiety of the whole establishment, her
vassals never ceased to ride and to run.
however, will at last prevail; and mystery, deception, mistake, and
ignorance, will have an end.
In a most
secluded and retired glen, "where none could see," the ancient gaberlunzie-man
and the young maiden were at last discovered, comfortably enjoying the
solace of a country life : they were sporting away the time in loving
discourse, and, at the moment of discovery, were discussing their vivers,
for we are told that they were cutting a slice from a new cheese.
content were they with the issue of the exploit and with each other's
society, that he vowed to love her for aye with words most ardent; and she
positively declared that certainly and truly, she should be very loth to
leave him : she confessed it honestly—she would not conceal it—she did
allow, most sincerely, that she should be much grieved to leave him.
added she with some apprehension, "if my mother knew that I were now with
you' greatly would she indeed be troubled."
dear," quoth he in return, "harbour no fears and no misgivings on her
account. You have not yet learnt the beggar's dialect, such as will enable
you to accompany me from town to town, and pleasantly to carry on the
gaberlunzie traffic. Mislike me not for what I have done. I will earn thee
bread by my industry and the sale of my wares: my spinnels and quhorles, and
other matters of merchandise, together with the love we bear each other,
will carry us to the world's end—and back again if we list. I will bow my
leg, and crook my knee, and draw a black patch over my eye, so that folks
shall say I be crippled and blind: and this disguisement, shown up to the
inspection of the King's lieges (who, in his chevisance, will be blinder
than we), shall be a rare subject for merriment with us. Whilst pity and
alms be the meed that they will plentifully shower upon the old gaberlunzie-man,
we will sing in the security of our secret, and be blithesome."
could she do? how could she help it?
had been reluctant to comply, she could not have refrained; but not being
one whit reluctant, she did not even try to refrain.
are the words of those who urge us to do the very thing we desire!
facetious monarch honestly restored the gudewife to her peace, and the
maiden to her home, after he had satisfied his liking for adventure, he made
her taste happiness indeed, after the anxiety whereinto he had at first
plunged her: and if tricks and practical jokes be unwise to play, the least
that can be afterwards done is, to make an ample amends. But it is dangerous
to play with young ladies' hearts. Some fancy that their hearts are very
tough, and will bear a deal of pulling about: this is a mistake : they are
made of egg-shell, and are easily crushed.