THE FEAST OF SPURS
By the Rev. John Marriott, A.M. *
In the account of Walter Scott of Harden's way of living, it is mentioned, that, "When the last bullock was killed and devoured, it was the lady's custom to place on the table a dish, which, on being uncovered, was found to contain a pair of clean spurs; a hint to the Riders that they must shift for their next meal."
The speakers in the following stanzas are Walter Scott of Harden and his wife, Mary Scott, the Flower of Yarrow.
"Haste, ho! My dame, what cheer the night?
I look to see your table dight,
For I hae been up since peep o' light,
Driving the dun deer merrilie.
"Wow! but the bonny harts and raes
Are fleet o' foot on Erricke braes;
My gude dogs ne'er in a' their days,
Forfoughten were sae wearily.
"Frae Shaws to Rankelburn we ran
A score, that neither stint nor blan;
And now abint the breckans stan'
And laugh at a' our company.
"We've pass'd through monie a tangled cleugh,
We've rade fu' fast o'er haugh and heugh;
I trust ye've got gude cheer enough
To feast as a' right lustilie?" -
"Are ye sae keen-set, Wat? 'tis weel;
Ye winna find a dainty meal;
It's a' o' the gude Rippon steel,
Ye maun digest it manfullie.
"Nae kye are left in Harden Glen; **
Ye maun be stirring wi' your men;
Gin ye soud bring me less than ten,
I winna roose *** your braverie.
"Are ye sae modest ten to name?
Syne, and I bring na twenty hame,
I'll freely gie ye leave to blame
Baith me and a' my chyvalrie
"I could hae relish'd better cheer,
After the chase o' sic-like deer;
But, trust me, rowth o'Soathern gear
Shall dock your lard'ner speedilie.
"When Stanegirthside I last came by,
A bassen'd bull allured my eye,
Feeding amang a herd of kye;
O gin I look'd na wistfullie!
"To horse! young Jock shall lead the way;
And soud the Warden tak the fray
To mar our riding, I winna say,
But he mote be in jeopardie.
"The siller moon now glimmers pale;
But ere we've cross'd fair Liddesdale,
She'll shine as brightlie as the bale +
That warns the water hastilie. ++
"O leeze me on her bonny light!
There's nought sae dear to Harden's sigh;
Troth, gin she shone but ilka night,
Our clan might live right royallie.
"Haste, bring your nagies frae the sta',
And lightlie louping, ane and a',
Intull your saddles, scour awa,
And ranshakle +++ the Southronie.
"Let ilka ane his knapscap *+ lace;
Let ilka ane his steil-jack brace;
And deil bless him that sall disgrace
Walter o' Harden's liverie!"
* This gentleman was tutor to George Henry, Lord Scott, son of Charles, Earl of Dalkeith, afterwards fourth Duke of Buccleuch, and sixth of Queensbury - who died young, in 1808. One of the introductory Epistles of Marmion is addressed to Mr. Marriott. - ED.
** Harden's castle was situated upon the very brink of a dark and precipitous dell, through which a scanty rivulet steals to meet the Borthwick. In the recess of this glen he is said to have kept his spoil, which served for the daily maintenance of his retainers.
*** Roose - praise
+ Bale - beacon-fire
++ This expression signified formerly the giving the alarm to the inhabitants of a district; each district taking the name from the river that flowed through it.
+++ Ranshakle - plunder
*+ Knapscap - helmet