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Chronicles of Gretna Green
Chapter XIX


The Lord Scroop, and the Bold Buccleuch.—The false Sakelde —Willie o'Kinmont capturcd and rescued.

The Bold Buccleuch was bold forsooth—
Which if you do not crcdit,
Just read this chapter, and, in truth,
You will, when you have read it.

Spottiswood, one of the most especial historiographers of Scottish affairs in the sixteenth century, relates how a matter befel which well nigh put both kingdoms in a flame; but besides him, we have an old ballad on the subject, which has been sung by glee-man and minstrel ever since, not only on the hills of Gretna, but in distant regions also; —and again, besides these authorities, we have still another far more authentic, in a most unerring tradition, which so far supersedes all other that we cannot now do better than found this chapter mainly upon it.

The Lord Scroop, Warden of the Western Marches, and the great Laird of Buccleuch, keeper of Liddesdale, established a truce, for the purpose of arranging some trifling things between them in an amicable manner ; and to this end they met, or rather their agents met, at a place ycleped Dayholme of Kershop, where a small brook divided England from her northern sister, and more particularly the dale of Liddel from Bawcastle. The deputy for Queen Elizabeth's warden was Mr. Sakelde, or Salkeld, of a powerful family of Cumberland, possessing, amongst other manors, that of Corby, before it came into the possession of the Howards in the seventeenth century. When truce had been proclaimed by sound of trumpet, as the custom then was, the commissioners met in friendly sort, and arranged their grievance to satisfaction, after which they parted courteously.

Meanwhile, howbeit, it fortuned that William Armstrong, commonly called Willie of Kinmont, who had been in the company of the Scots1 negotiator, but against whom the English had a quarrel, as his good name had been sullied by sundry ancient depredations, was pursuing his way homeward alone, by the grassy margin of the river Liddel. The English party also wending homeward, as the conference was ended, espying Willie, gave hue-and-cry with loud voices, and, after chasing him for several miles, took him prisoner and bore him away to Carlisle. This deed was in direct violation of the existing truce, which would not be elapsed until sun-rising the next day. Wherefore Buccleuch, as guardian over Liddesdale, where this matter befel, wrote certain missives to Sakelde, complaining of injustice; he returned for answer, that forsooth he could do nothing, as the Lord Scroop had gone away for a short space: then Buccleuch sent to Scroop where he was, and craved that the prisoner might be enfranchised as he had been unlawfully taken ; and then the English warden replied that, verily he could not possibly enlarge the said prisoner without knowing the Queen's pleasure to that effect: then the Laird pf Buccleuch wrote advices to good Master Bowes, the resident ambassador from England, who wrote remonstrances to the Lord Scroop, who—took no notice of the letter. After that, King James was told of the transaction, who sent to Elizabeth, who promised fair, but who—performed nothing.

The Scottishmen, feeling their sacred honour wounded at these repeated slights and evasions, determined to brook them no longer; but boldly planned a measure to surprise Carlisle Castle and liberate their countryman.

We are told, that when "the false Sakelde" secured Kinmont, he tied his hands behind his back, and guarded him fivcsome on each side with hagbut-men, so that ho should not eschew their vigilance and escape away of their clutches. He also bound his ankles together with cords underneath the body of his horse, absolutely making saddle-girths of his legs, so that he not only could not elude his captors, but furthermore, he was totally unable to rise in his saddle when his beast trotted—a fact that gives one an idea of concussion of the brain when one thinks of it, or of a sore chafing of the seat, or peradventure, owing to the jerking and jolting, of biting the end of one's tongue off, unless it were carefully kept from getting between the teeth.

They then conducted him through the Liddel-rack, a ford on that river, over Solway Moss, the. Debateable Land, across the sands of Carlisle that then spread their marishlike and quaking expanse about the mouth of the Eden ; then over the Sacery, or plain beneath the castle walls, whereon Peredur, the Prince of Sunshine, so gallantly tilted with the discourteous knight, and lastly into the fortress, where he was delivered up to durance vile.

His friends, north of Hadrian's rampire, conceived infinite indignation at what they considered a piece of the greatest treachery ever practised; so they enterprised to achieve one • of the most daring and well-conducted exploits of that age. All the ancient chroniclers unite in lauding it in goodly terms. "Audax facinus cum modica manu, in urbe mcenibus et multitudine oppida-norum munita, et calidse audacise, vix ullo obsisti modo potuit."—[Johnstoni Historia.~\ And Birrel, in his Diary for April 6, 1596, says, the deed was done " with shouting and crying, and sounde of trumpet, puttand the said toun and countrie in sic ane fray, that the like of sic ane wassalage was nevir done since the memorie of man, no not in Wallace dayis."

Queen Elizabeth was not only much angered against her northern neighbours for their bearing in this affair, but she had been before exasperated with Buccleuch because he had retaliated against a party of English who had ravaged Liddesdale, by a counter raid into Cumberland, on which occasion he took six and thirty thieves, all of whom he did to death. Her resentment is well set forth in the preface of her epistle to her ambassador Bowes, where she says, speaking of king James,—" I wonder how base-minded that king thinks me, that, with patience, I can digest this dishonourable * * * *. Let him know, therefore, that I will have satisfaction, or else * * * *."" These broken words of ire, observes Sir Walter of Abbotsford, are inserted betwixt the subscription and the address of the letter.

So strong was the inveteracy of feeling toward Buccleuch, — an inveteracy perhaps engendered partly through jealousy of his bold exploits,—that his sordid foes, who were impotent to cope with him in direct fight, at one time appear to have formed the design of privily assassinating him ; a cowardly plan, which one would scarcely look for even in a barbarous age, when hardy courage was one of the chiefest virtues, and when instances of rude yet praiseworthy chivalry, or of savage yet honourable generosity, not infrequently occurred between hostile parties.

When Willie o' Kinmont found himself in the power and iron fetters of the Lord Warden, his doughty spirit, which had been a part of his nature from his cradle upwards, was nothing stricken in fear or dismay; and neither was he one whit cowed, though now in the presence of his very foe, who made no bones of death, dooming his flesh to the carrion crows.

"Albeit my arm is tied, yet is my tongue free," cried he, in answer to the taunts which they heaped upon him; "and who is there among ye that will avow this deed, or will endure the penalty of the Border Law now in the time of plighted truce ; or who among ye will dare answer to it in the face of my bold kinsman Buccleuch of Branksome?"

"Hold thy tongue, thou rank rover!" was the instant reply; "prate not of thy bold kinsman, for there is never a Scot in the land that shall set thee free.- Know, Sir Marchman, that ere ye cross the castle gate, ye shall take a lasting farewell of me." •

"Deal me death an ye will, my lord,''1 returned the prisoner, "and fear ye nothing for me; but by the faith o"' my body I say, that I never yet lodged in a hostelrie, but I paid my reckoning well to the contentment of mine host ere I departed away."

"Stint your misruled taunts here, slave ! What ho, guards! bear him away to the lower dungeon. We will see who is the true Lord of the castle!"

And Kinmont was hurried away in despite, and dismally encarcered in the dank and murky prison of the donjon, until such time as he should be brought out to the hairibee, and hung up by the bare neck.

But the issue of this misfare had been reported to Buccleuch of Branksome ; and there, as he sat at meat in his panneled hall, with his vassals about him and his villains below the salt, he seized hold of the table in his agony; he raised the cup, brimming with red wine, on high, and he swore by a terrible oath, that of a truth he would be avenged of the Lord Scroop for this deed.

"And is my basnet but a widow's curch," cried he; "or my lance but the wand of a willow-tree, or my arm but like the lilly hand of a lady, that the English Warden should thus set me at nought? And have they really taken Kinmont Willie, forgetting of the truce now betwixt us?

Buccleuch's rage and have they forgotten that the bold Buccleuch is keeper here on the Scottish side ? And. have they indeed taken him withouten dread of my puissance, and without remembering that Buccleuch truly can back a steed and shake a spear ? Were there but war between the two lands, as I wot well there is not, I would bring down the towering battlements of Carlisle, albeit they were builded of marble stone ! Yea, even so would I set those walls in a flame, and then cool them again in English blood ! There's never a man in Cumberland should ken where Carlisle Castle -stood!"

Such was the first burst of Buccleuch's rage; and he only regretted that there was no war between the kingdoms, because this amicable fact denied him the power of suffering his vengeance to run wild over the Border. We might suppose, however, that the unjust captivation of his friend, and the general practice of the Law of Talion, would have permitted him to give full liberty to his wrath and his drawn sword ; but, to his high praise be it spoken, he appears to have been a man of a better nature, and one who would not return wrong for wrong, absolutely for the sake of so doing, but only so far as to chastise his enemies as should seem due to them.

"Wherefore," continued he in a milder tone, "since there is no strife waging between my liege kinmont's rescue.

The exploit that he now undertook to achieve, is characterised as one of the last, and one of the most gallant that befel in these parts ; one of the last, because the most high, mighty, and magnificent empress, renowned for piety, virtue, and all gracious government, Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France, and Ireland, and of Virginia, Defender of the Faith, &e., was well stricken in years, and had not much longer to wear an earthly crown; and one of the most gallant, becausc the basement of the motive from which it sprung was not laid in the mire of an evil desire for outrage, but upon a philanthropic sympathy toward a kinsman, who, as he and they believed, had been foully dealt with.

He called about him forty stalwart marchmen, all of his own name, saving only the knight Sir Gilbert Elliot, Laird ofStobs; and these assembled in right order for the enterprise, bravely vestured with spur on heel and splcnt on spauld, with glaives of green, and with feathers o1 blue. He marshaled them by fives, that they might proceed with the greater discipline and surety; two com-kinmont's rescue.panies of five each led the van, bearing bright bugles and hunting-horns: then came Buccleuch himself, flanked by five and five on either hand, armed at all points like Warders1 men arrayed for fight; after that there were ten of them carrying ladders for the purpose of scaling the walls, all of them wearing the semblance of half a score working masons; and lastly, there came twice five, who, like broken men, or men of no consideration, dispersed themselves about to act as discoverers against ambush.

Thus they departed away from Branksome, and thus they attained to the Woodhouselee, a house on the border of Buccleuch's territory.

Nine-and-twenty knights of fame hung their shields in Branksome Hall; — nine-and-twenty squires of name brought them their steeds from bower to stall; — nine-and-twenty yeomen tall, waited duteous, on them all: they were all knights of mettle true—kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch. Thus the reader will easily conceive how puissant a chieftain lived in this castelet, and how strong a consanguineous force he could back an argument with against his foe.

Such was the disordered state of the times, that these warriors, for the most part, stood ready harnessed in steel, or else when they lay down to sleep they, pillowed their helmets (with their heads inside) upon their cold and hard blucklers. They sat down to the oaken table at banquet time with their gauntlets about their wrists; their horses stood ready caparisoned at need ; and a vigilant watch toward England was kept up at night,—such was the custom of Branksome Hall. But if ye be curious to learn more touching the customs of this great Bastle-house, we refer ye to the Lay that whilom was sung by the Last Minstrel of the clan. They then crossed the Debateable Land, and entered into England, when who should be the very first man they met, but the false Sakelde himself!— he forsooth, that had foully taken Willie of Kinmont ! Credat Lector !—but it is recorded true in history—and, what is better, in tradition too.

"Where are ye going ye keen hunters?" said he to the first ten, who he perceived were furnished with horns and bugles.

"We are going to hunt an English stag," was the ready answer/-"that has trespassed on the Scots1 country."

After that he perceived the next decade bearing Jedworth axes and smutty craekis of war. "And where are you going ?" cried he, "come, tell me true, ye marshalmen?"

"We are going to catch a rank rover," was their reply, "who has broken faith with the bold Buccleuch."

Then followed the pseudo-masons bearing the tall scaling ladders upon their shoulders ; and these might have readily excited his surprise. He accosted them incontinently with a similar demand, and they, too, were prepared for him:—

"Where are ye going, ye mason lads, with your long and high ladders?"

"Oh," returned they, "we are going to herry a corbie's nest, that rides in the wind high upon a tree-top not far from Woodhouselee."

This seemed all very good and very passable; and lastly, amongst the company, he eucountered the discoverers.

"And now, ye broken men, come tell me whither ye are going?"

But here the answer was not so mysterious or evasive; neither was it a blunt answer that was returned to him, but rather the contrary ; and if it were not a blunt answer, it was peradventure a short one.

The legend saith, that one Dickie of Deghope was the leader of this band; a man not given to words, and one who, nevertheless, could scarcely be called a peaceable man ; he was a plain blunt man, like Antony, having neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action nor utterance, nor the power of speech to stir men's blood with flossy declamation: he was no orator, as Brutus was, but only spoke right on;—and in this instance he used cutting words indeed. A sudden paroxysm of choler appears to have seized upon the false Sakelde against these borderers; for if his demeanour had hitherto been at all courteous, assuredly now, the spirit of his bearing had changed to rough.

"Why trespass ye," cried he, "on the English side, ye raw-footed outlaws?"

He had better have schooled his speech to a more gentle tenour ! but in a voice of thunder he added the single imperative word, "Stand! "

Now these "raw-footed outlaws," had no idea of listening unmoved to such terms; wherefore Dickie, without taxing his tongue to answer a syllable, forthwith ran his long lance into his body —aye, right through and through, in on one side and out at the other!

This chevisance having been accomplished, and the false Sakelde having been amply regnerdoned for his former misdeeds, the whole company held on their way for Carlisle, leaving him quiet on the moss, and "as dead as a nayle-doore."

They crossed the river Eden at Staneshaw bank ; but the waters were high and the fords were deep, and wonder it was that man and horse were not carried away to destruction ; but praised be Ourisk the Bogle of the muir, the flood Kelpie Gilpin Horner, and the rest of that fraternity, they landed safe on the opposite rivage, without any loss whatsoever. Here they took the precaution of leaving their steeds, and of proceeding on foot, lest they should stamp or neigh, and thereby betray them to the sentinels. The wind was blowing, and the surcharged clouds were weeping plenteously upon their heads; it was a wild and blustrous night; but the hardy Scots cared little for the elements, so they compassed their purpose.

When they came under the castle wall, they held their breath and crept stealthily upon their knees: they placed their ladders from the slope even up to the top of the battlements; and, so eager was Buccleuch himself, that he was the first to mount. On jumping upon the leads, the bold leader encountered the watchman: him he seized by the throat, and overcame with an iron-bound grasp, at the same time telling him that had there not been peace between the two kingdoms, it should have gone harder with him; but now, for the nonce, his life was still his own. Here have we another mention of his clemency in sparing this man's life; the Sotchman's aim not being murder and revengement, but the rescue of his countryman only.

"Now, sound our trumpet," cried he to his followers, who by this time were on the leads around him: "now let us waken up Lord Scroop right merrily," and the brazen blast tore along through the still passages of the fortress, and drummed upon the ears of the startled sleepers. This was speedily answered by the grating resonance of the warder's horn, a sound of alarum that roused every one from drowsy forgetfulnes to life, activity, and amazement. In a moment every couch was deserted—every wight used his legs to fetch his arms, hastily running he scarce knew whither, to meet he knew not what foe.

"Who is it that dares meddle with me?" roared the Lord Scroop at the top of his voice: but the forty marchmen raised the slogan one and all, and the terror-stricken English, hardly having yet shaken off the remembrance of their dreams, believed that King James and his whole Scottish army were amongst them.

Buccleuch and his men immediately cut a hole in the lead on the roof, and through this they let themselves down withinside: they first went to the hall bearing every obstacle before them ; and albeit there were a thousand warriors garrisoned there in the castle, such was their surprise, such the darkness, and such the panic, that their invaders were allowed to sweep forward like a torrent. With coultcrs taken from the plough, and with massy fore-hammers, they beat down doors, partitions, and stout bars, irresistibly breaking their way onward to the inner prison. When they had wrenched out the bolts and the beams that had so strongly sealed up this dismal dungeon, there of a truth they discovered the wretched prisoner who had been adjudged to die at daylight.

"Are you asleep, or are you awake, Willie o' Kinmont, now on the morning when you are doomed to die ?"

"Oh!" returned he resolutely, for he thought it was the executioner come to lead him forth ; " Oh ! I sleep softly, though I wake sometimes; it is a long while since my foes were able to scare sleep away from me. Give my service back to my wife and bairns in Scotland, and to all the good fellows that ask after me—and then you shall see how a brave man can die on the Hairibee."

But Willie was soon better instructed in the personage of his visitor, and cheerily enlightened as to the veritable state of the matter in his favour: the vision of the hangman dissolved away before his mind when the actual form of his ancient friend Red Rowan stood beside him, and with his eloquent tongue poured welcome news of his deliverance into his hungry ears.

This "starkest man in Teviotdale," as the ballad calls him, was then hoisted up from his noisome cell, and was being led away in triumph towards the scaling ladders still leaning against the embrasures of the battlements, that he might see the outside of the walls, whereon the sun would shine bright, as soon as the orb of day should climb over the eastern hill: but he cried out to his comrades to stint their haste for a space, saying, forsooth, that it would be an uncourteous thing not to bid the Lord Scroop good-night, before he departed from his lodgings.

This act of civility being well commended, he forthwith sought the presence; and when he stood fronting the blustrous warden, he exclaimed,— "Farewell, farewell! my gude Lord Scroop; we will now part company for this present if it consort with your liking; but believe me, I will bounteously pay you my rent here, the very first time that we meet on the other side of the border." And with these words he turned about and made for the leads.

But the irons that had been riveted on his legs so hindered his walking, that Red Rowan mounted him upon his shoulders, and with a shout of exultation, bore him down the ladder and along the flats, whilst the irons clanked loudly as Rowan ran.

"Many a time," quoth Kinmont Willie, "have I ridden a horse; but a rougher beast than this, I ween my legs never bestrode."

No matter—on they went joyously through brake and through dingle, through the sedges and reeds that covered the low grounds, and through the gullies and pools that lay in their rugged course:—"And many a time," said he again, "have I pricked a horse out over the furrows, but since the first day I backed a steed, 1 never yet wore such a cumbrous pair of spurs."

But the castellain, whom they had left behind, was not idle, nor did he purpose suffering him to escape scot-free in this fashion.

Scarcely had they attained to the Staneshaw bank, with the intention of recrossing the Eden, than they heard all the alarum bells of the cathedral and churches of Carlisle toll loudly to rouse the citizens to arms and pursuit. But, like Susannah, " they got the start and kept it," although their pursuers were close upon their dieels when they had proceeded thus far. On arriving at the margin of this stream, up came my Lord Scroop, backed with a thousand horse and foot, netted in chain mail, and tiled over with plates of steel, upon the polished faces of which the first rays of the nascent morning were begin-ing to fall. On moved the host over the heath, like a giant porcupine, whose prickly back was bristled with pikes, halberds, and spears, pointing to the sky. Yet the bold Buccleuch, still keeping what he had before got—that is the start,— plunged into the swollen river, now crowned to the brim by recent rains, and swam safely over in the face of this army, together with the whoie of his company. Being on the other side, he turned him round to his pursuer, and addressed to him these words

"If ye like my visit in merry England, in fair Scotland come visit me."

My Lord Scroop is represented as being not a little astonished at what he had conceived to have been an impossible feat in the then state of the torrent; for it was on the 13th of April, immediately after a vast fall of rain, such as sometimes comes down in the north during the early spring.

"He stood as still as a rock of stane," marveling at the hazardry of his foes; and then turning to one that stood beside him he observed—

"He is either himself a devil fra hell, or else his mother a witch maun be; I would na have ridden that wan water for all the gold in Chris-tentie."

Bishop Spottiswood, to whom we have alluded in the beginning of this chapter, says that the Scotts found their scaling ladders too short for mounting over the battlements; and that they, in consequence, effected an entry near the postern door by means of crowbars, wrenching-irons, and the like. He also says, that they amounted in all to two hundred horse, and not to merely forty diversely-attired men as above related. The bishop, howbeit, is only an authentic historian, and not deserving of any credit, whereas the other account is pure tradition, and poetry all written in verse. The courteous and most discerning reader may, therefore, easily judge of what is likely to be the real truth.

The historian proceeds to say that — "The Queen of England, having notice sent her of what was done, stormed not a little. One of her chief castles surprised, a prisoner carried away, so far within England, she esteemed a great affront. The lieger, Mr. Bowes, in a frequent convention kept at Edinburgh, the 22nd of May, (the same year, 1596,) did, as he was charged, in a long oration, aggravate the heinousness of the fact, concluding that peace could not longer continue betwixt the two realms, unless Buccleuch were delivered in England, to be punished at the queen's pleasure.

"Buccleuch compearing, and charged with the fact, made answere—' That he went not into Eng-lande with intention to assault any of the queen's houses, or to do wrong to any of her subjects, but only to relieve a subject of Scotland unlawfully taken, and more unlawfully detained; that, in the time of a general assurance, in a day of truce, he was taken prisoner against all order; neither did he attempt his reliefe till redresse was refused ; and that he had carried the business in such a moderate manner, as no hostilitye was committed, nor the least wrong offered to any within the castle. Yet was he content, accordinge to the ancient treaties observed between the two realms, when as mutual injuries were alleged, to be tried by the commissioners that it should please their majesties to appoint, and submit himself to that which they should decern."

This was considered quite satisfactory to all hut the haughty Elizabeth. The matter was again negociated—put off—the Laird amused himself with other raids pendente lite—commissioners were once more appointed—James was fidgety and testy — Elizabeth passionate — and finally Buccleuch rendered himself up at St. Andrews. He was afterwards conducted into England, where we conclude that the misunderstanding was adjusted without much difficulty; for we see him soon liberated from restraint, and free to return home. Wherefore he directed his course northward, re-crossed the border, and once again found himself the undisputed Laird of Branksome ; — and so ended this business.

Although the untractable spirit of the Dalesmen on the borders had given way in a slight degree to a more peaceable demeanour since James VI. had become James 1., they still, at times, as the politics, or state of affairs, or contentions, in either or both kingdoms allowed, were ever ready to fall to their old practices. As both sides of the frontier were inhabited by a population which acknowledged themselves as subjects to the same king, that principle of animosity which had whilome subsisted betwixt men of different interests, and differently-placed allegiance, was now in a material degree expunged ; and add to this, the articles which were agreed upon by the commissioners sent for the purpose, by which all persons who were not gentlemen of rank and repute, were obliged to surrender their offensive weapons and deadly missiles of war ; it was recommended that all feuds should in future be made up by mutual agreement and the arbitrement of friends, instead of resorting to fierce combat as of old ; that those who obstinately refused this counsel should be heavily mulcted; that all thieves and robbers should be punished with death ; and it was enacted, " that all inhabiting within Tindale and Riddesdale in Northumberland, Bewcastledale, Wilgavey, the north part of Gilsland, Esk and Leven in Cumberland, East and West Tevidale, Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ews-dale, and Annerdale, in Scotland, (saving noblemen and gentlemen unsuspected of felony or theft, and not being of broken clans,) and their household servants dwelling within those several places before recited, shall put away all armour and weapons, daggers, steel-caps, hagbuts, pistols, plate sleeves, and such like; and shall not keep any horse, gelding, or mare above the price of fifty shillings sterling, or thirty pounds Scots, upon like pain of imprisonment.

"Item,—That proclamation be made, that none of what calling soever, within the countries lately called the Borders of either of the kingdoms, shall wear, carry, or bear any pistols, hagbuts, or guns of any sort, but in his majesty's service, upon pain of imprisonment, according to the laws of either kingdom."

These were very precautionary and judicious enactments, but " the final Pacification of the Borders," as it was called, was not so "final," and immediate as was intended. Men, who all their lives had been brought up to hold law at defiance, and who had been nurtured on the proceeds of rapine, were not likely to respect it all at once: and thus we find, that, during the troublous reign of Charles I., even so long as forty years after these regulations had been made, the mosstroopers readily resumed their ancient pastime by making raids and forays over the frontier.

In the reign of Charles II., as also during the usurpation of Cromwell, we learn their existence still continued, by the statutes directed against them. In the Essay on Border Antiquities, a letter from Cromwell's head-quarters at Edinburgh is quoted, in which this is mentioned. "My last," says the writer, "told you of a letter to be sent to Colonels Kerr and Straughan, from hence. Satturday the 26th, the commissary-general tlis-patcht away a trumpet with that letter, as also gave another to the Sheriff of Cumberland, to be speeded away to M. John Scot, bailiff, and B., brother to the Lord of Buccliew, for his demanding restitution upon his tenants the moss-troopers, for the horses by them stolne the night we quartered in their country, since which, promises hath been made of restitution, and we doubt not to receive it very suddenly, or else to take satisfaction another way ourselves."

If it has ever taken three generations to make a gentleman, so also, it took quite as many to make an honest man out of a Liddesdale thief.

Charles II. found it necessary to proceed against them by divers legal enactments, the preambles of which all stated in substance — "Whereas, a great number of lewd,, disorderly, and lawless persons, being thieves and robbers, who are commonly called moss-troopers, have successively for many years past been bred, resided in, and frequented the borders of the two respective counties of Northumberland and Cumberland, and the most adjacent parts of Scotland; and they, taking the opportunity of the large waste ground, heaths, and mosses, and the many intricate dangerous ways and by-paths in those parts, do usually, after the most notorious crimes committed by them, escape over from the one kingdom to the other respectively, and so avoid the hand of justice, in regard the offences done and perpetrated in the one kingdom cannot be punished in the other.

"And whereas, since the time of the late unhappy distractions, such offences and offenders as aforesaid have exceedingly more increased and abounded; and the several inhabitants of the said respective counties have been, for divers years last past, necessitated, at their own free and voluntary charge, to maintain several parties of horse for the necessary defence of their persons, families, and goods, and for bringing the offenders to justice." Upon this preamble follow orders for assessing the inhabitants of these disturbed districts in the sums requisite for paying a body of men, which should be efficiently armed and appointed, to keep peace and safety throughout the frontier.

However fanatical and righteous-over-mueh the non-conformist preachers might have been, however ultra-vehement, and however unnecessarily enthusiastic they might have displayed themselves, certain it is, they were the first who worked a beneficial alteration in the morals of this misgoverned race of outlaws ; for such appears evident from a passage in the life of Richard Cameron, that same who gave name to the sect yeleped Cameronians.

"After he was licensed, they sent him at first to preach in Annandale. He .said, how could he go there ? He knew not what sort of people they were. But Mr. Welch said, ' Go your way, Ritchie, and set the fire of hell to their tails.1 He went, and the first day he preached upon the text, Ilow shall I put thee among the children, See. In the application he said, ' Put you among the children ! the offspring of robbers and thieve* Many have heard of Annandale thieves. Some of them got a merciful east that day, and told it afterwards, that it was the first field-meeting that ever they attended ; and that they went out of curiosity to see how a minister could preach in a tent, and people sit on the ground.' "

If we may believe Cleland, a Cameronian himself, we may, in the first place, conceive the depravity of these "Tacking Men," or arrant rogues, and afterwards their wholesome conversion. He says,—

"For instance, lately on the Borders, There was nought but theft and murders, Rapine, cheating, and resetting, Slight-of-hand—and fortunes getting: Their designation as ye ken, Was all along, the Tacking Men."

Further on he proceeds to notice the great change that had come over them, and how eagerly they sought after the itinerant preachers:

"Yea, those that were the greatest rogues,
Follow them over hills and bogues,
Crying for mercy and for preaching,
For they'll now hear no others' teaching."

Cleland's Poems, 1697, p. 30.


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