Sir Walter Scott The Minstrelsy of
the Scottish Border Hobbie Noble
We have seen the hero of this ballad act a distinguished part in the deliverance of Jock o' the Side, and are now to learn the ungrateful return which the Armstrongs made him for his faithful services. Halbert, or Hobbie Noble, appears to have been one of those numerous English outlaws, who, being forced to fly their own country, had established themselves on the Scottish Borders. As Hobbie continued his depredations upon the English, they bribe some of his hosts, the Armstrongs, to decoy him into England under pretence of a predatory expedition. He was there delivered, by his treacherous companions, into the hands of the officers of justice, by whom he was conducted to Carlisle, and executed next morning. The Laird of Mangertoun, with whom Hobbie was in high favor, is said to have taken a severe revenge upon the traitors who betrayed him. The principal contriver of the scheme, called here Sim o' the Maynes, fled into England from the resentment of his chief; but experiences there the common fate of a traitor, being himself executed at Carlisle, about two months after Hobbie's death. Sim o' the Maynes appears among the Armstrongs of Whitauch, in Liddesdale, in the list of Clans so often alluded to.
Foul fa' the breast first Treason bred in!
That Liddesdale may safely say;
For in it there was baith meat and drink,
And corn unto our geldings gay.
And we were a' stout-hearted men,
As England she might often say;
But now we may turn our backs and flee,
Since brave Noble is sold away.
Now Hobbie was an English man,
And born into Bewcastle dale;
But his misdeeds they were so great.
They banish'd him to Liddesdale.
At Kershope foot the tryste was set,
Kershope of the lilye lee;*
And there was traitour Sim o' the Mains.
And with him a private companie.
The Hobbie has graithed ** his body fair,
Baith wi' the iron and wi' the steel;
And he has ta'en out his fringed grey,
And there, brave Hobbie, he rade him weel.
Then Hobbie is down the water gane,
E'en as fast as he could hie;
Tho' a' should bae bursten and broken their hearts,
Frae that riding-tryst he wad na be.
"Well be ye met, my ferres *** five!
And now, what is your will wi' me?" -
Then they cried a', wi' ae consent,
"Thou 'rt welcome here, brave Noble, to me.
"Wilt thou with us into England ride,
And they safe warrand we will be?
If we get a horse worth a hundred pound,
Upon his back thou sune sall be." -
"I dare not by day into England ride;
The Land-Sargeant has me at feid;
And I know not what evil may betide,
For Peter of Whitfield, his brother, is dead.
"And Anton Shiel he loves not me,
For I gat twa drifts o' his sheep;
The great Earl of Whitfield + loves me not,
For nae gear frae me he e'er could keep.
"But will ye stay till the day gae down,
Until the night come o'er the grund,
And I'll be a guide worth ony twa
That may in Liddesdale be found?
"Though the night be black as pick and tar,
I'll guide ye o'er yon hill sae hie;
And bring ye a' in safety back,
If ye'll be true and follow me." -
He has guided them o'er moss and muir,
O'er hill and hope, and mony a down;
Until they came to the Foulbogshiel ,
And there, brave Noble, he lighted down.
But word is gane to the Land-Sargeant,
In Askerton where that he lay -
"The deer, that ye hae hunted sae lang,
Is seen into the Waste this day." -
"The Hobbie Noble is that deer!
I wat he carries the style fu' hie;
Aft has he driven our bluidhounds back,
And set ourselves a little lee.
"Gar meet me on the Rodrie-haugh ++
And see it be by break o' day;
And we will on to Conscouthart-green,
For there, I think, we'll get our prey." -
Then Hobbie Noble has dreimit a dreim,
In the Foulbogshiel where that he lay,
He dreimit his horse was aneath him shot,
And he himself got hard away.
The cocks' goud craw, the day 'gound daw,
And I wot sae even fell down the rain;
Had Hobbie na wakened at that time,
In the Foulbogshiel, he had been ta'en or slain.
"Awake, awake, my feres five!
I trow here makes a fu' ill day;
Yet the worst cloak o' this company,
I hope shall cross the Waste this day." -
Now Hobbie thought the gates were clear;
But, ever alas! it was na sae;
They were beset by cruel men and keen,
That away brave Hobbie might na gae.
"Yet follow me, my feres five,
And ye keep of me gude ray;
And the worst cloak o' this company
Even yet may cross the Waste this day." -
But the Land-Sargeant's men cam Hobbie before,
The traitor Sim cam Hobbie behin',
So had Noble been wight as Wallace was,
Away, alas! he might na win.
Then Hobbie had but a laddie's sword;
But he did mair than a laddie's deed;
For that sword had clear'd Conscouthart-green,
Had it not broke o'er Jerswigham's head.
Then they ae ta'en Hobbie Noble,
Wi's ain bowstring they band him sae;
But his gentle heart was ne'er sae sair,
As when his ain five bound him on the brae.
They hae ta'en him on for west Carlisle;
They ask'd him, if he kend the way?
Though much he thought, yet little he said
He knew the gate as weel as they.
They hae ta'en him up the Ricker-gate;
The wives they cast their windows wide;
And every wife to another can say,
"That's the man loosed Jock o' the Side!"
"Fy on ye, women! why ca' ye me man?
For it's nae man that I'm used like;
I am but like a forfoughen hound,+++
Has been fighting in a dirty skye."
They hae had him up through Carlisle town,
And set him by the chimney fire;
They gave brave Noble a loaf to eat,
And that was little his desire.
They gave him a wheaten loaf to eat,
And after that a can of beer;
And they a' cried, with one consent,
"Eat, brave Noble, and make gude cheir.
"Confess my lord's horse, Hobbie," they said,
"And to-morrow in Carlisle thou's na dee." -
"How can I confess them," Hobbie says,
"When I never saw them with my ee?" -
Then Hobbie has sworn a fu' great aith,
By the day that he was gotten and born,
He never had onything o' my lord's,
That either eat him grass or corn.
"Now fare thee weel, sweet Mangerton! *+
For I think again I'll ne'er thee see;
I wad hae betray'd nae lad alive,
For a' the gowd o' Christentie.
"Now fare thee weel, sweet Liddesdale!
Baith the hie land and the law;
Keep ye weel frae the traitor Mains!
For goud and gear he'll sell ye a'.
"Yet wad I rather be ca'd Hobbie Noble,
In Carlisle, where he suffers for his fau't,
Than I'd be ca'd the traitor Mains
That eats and drinks o' the meat and maut."
*Kershope-burn, where Hobbie met his treacherous companions, falls into the Liddel, from the English side, at a place called Turnersholm, where, according to tradition, games and tourneys of chivalry were often solemnized.
** Graithed - clad
*** Ferres - companions
+ Whitfield is explained by Mr. Ellis of Otterbourne to be a large and rather wild manorial district in the extreme southwest part of Northumberland; the proprietor of which might naturally be called the Lord, though not Earl of Whitfield. I suspect, however, that the reciters may have corrupted the great Ralph of Whitfield into the Earl of Whitfield. Sir Matthew Whitfield, of Whitfield, was Sheriff of Northumberland in 1433, and the estate continued in the family from the reign of Richard II till about fifty years.
++ Conscouthart-Green, and Rodrie-haugh, and the Foulbogshiel, are the names of places in the same wilds which the Scottish plunderers generally made their raids on England.
+++ Quite fatigued
*+ Of the Castle of Mangertoun, so often mentioned in these ballads, there are very few vestiges. It was situated on the banks of the Liddell, below Castletoun. In the wall of a neighboring mill, which has been entirely built from the ruins of the tower, there is a remarkable stone, bearing the arms of the Lairds of Mangertoun, and a long broadsword, with the figures 1583; probably the date of building, or repairing, the castle. On each side of the shield are the letters S. A. and E.E., standing probably for Symon Armstrong and Elizabeth Elliott. Such is the only memorial of the Lairds of Mangertoun, except those rude ballads which the Editor now offers to the public.
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