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Sir Walter Scott
The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border
The Lament of the Border Widow


This fragment obtained from recitation in the Forest of Ettrick, is said to relate to the execution of Cockburne of Henderland, a Border freebooter, hanged over the gate of his own tower, by James V, in the course of that memorable expedition in 1529, which was fatal to Johnie Armstrang, Adam Scott of Tushielaw, and many other marauders. The vestiges of the castle of Henderland are still to be traced upon the farm of that name, belonging to Mr. Murray of Henderland. They are situated near the mouth of the river Meggat, which falls into the lake of St. Mary, in Selkirkshire. The adjacent country, which now hardy bears a single tree, is celebrated by Lesly, as, in his time, affording shelter to the largest stags in Scotland. A mountain torrent, called Henderland Burn, rushes impetuously from the hills, through a rocky chasm, named the Dowglen, and passes near the site of the tower. To the recesses of this glen, the wife of Cockburne is said to have retreated, during the execution of her husband; and a place, called the Lady's Seat, is still shown, where she is said to have striven to drown, amid the roar of a foaming cataract, the tumultuous noise, which announced the close of his existence. In a deserted burial-place, which once surrounded the chapel of the castle, the monument of Cockburne and his lady is still shown. It is a large stone broken in three parts; but some armorial bearings may yet be traced, and the following inscription is still legible, though defaced -

HERE LYES PERYS OF COKBURNE AND HIS
WIFE MARJORY

Tradition says, that Cockburne was surprised by the king, while sitting at dinner. After the execution, James marched rapidly forward, to surprise Adam Scott of Tushielaw, called the King of the Border, and sometimes the King of Thieves. A path through the mountains, which separate the vale of Ettrick from the head of Yarrow, is still called the King's Road, and seems to have been the route which he followed. The remains of the tower of Tushielaw are yet visible, overhanging the wild banks of the Ettrick; and are an object of terror to the benighted peasant, from an idea of their being haunted by spectres. From these heights, and through the adjacent county of Peebles, passes a wild path, called still the Thief's Road, from having been used chiefly by the marauders of the Border.

THE LAMENT OF THE BORDER WIDOW

My love he built me a bonny bower,
And clad it a' wi' lilye flour,
A brawer bower ye ne'er did see,
Than my true love built for me.

There came a man by middle day,
He spied his sport, and went away;
And brought the King that very night,
Who brake my bower, and slew my knight.

He slew my knight to me sae dear;
He slew my knight, and poin'd* his gear;
My servants all for life did flee,
And left me in extremitie.

I sew'd his sheet, making my mane;
I watch'd the corpse, myself alane;
I watch'd his body, night and day;
No living creature came that way.

I took his body on my back,
And whiles I gaed, and whiles I sat;
I digg'd a grave and laid him in,
And happ'd him with the sod sae green.

But think na ye my heart was sair,
When I laid the moul on his yellow hair;
O think na ye my heart was wae,
When I turn'd about, away to gae?

Nae living man I'll love again,
Since that my lovely knight was slain;
Wi' ae lock of his yellow hair
I'll chain my heart for evermair.

*Poin'd - poinded, attached by legal distress.


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