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by rapinė. This, with his herds of cattle and of sheep, and with the black-mail which he exacted from his neighbours, constituted the revenue of the chieftain ; and from funds so precarious he could rarely spare sums to expend in strengthening or decorating his habitation. Another reason is found in the Scottish mode of warfare. It was early discovered that the English surpassed their neighbours in the arts of assaulting and defending fortified places. The policy of the Scottish, therefore, deterred them from erecting upon the Borders buildings of such extent and strength as, being once taken by the foe, would have been capable of receiving a permanent garrison. To themselves the woods and hills of their country were pointed out by the great Bruce as their safest bulwarks; and the maxim of the Douglases, that it was better to hear the lark sing than the mouse cheep,” was adopted by every Border chief. For these combined reasons the residence of the chieftain was commonly a large square battlemented tower, called a keep or peel, placed on a precipice or on the banks of a torrent, and, if the ground would permit, surrounded by a moat. In short, the situation of a Border house, encompassed by woods, and rendered almost inaccessible by torrents, by rocks, or by morasses, sufficiently indicated the pursuits and apprehensions of its inhabitants. No wonder, therefore, that James V., on approaching the castle of Lockwood, the ancient seat of the Johnstones, is said to have exclaimed, “ that he who built it must have been a knave in his heart." An outer wall, with some light fortifications, served as a protection for the cattle at night. The walls of these fortresses were of an immense thickness, and they could easily be defended against any small force; more especially as the rooms being vaulted each story formed a separate lodgement, capable of being held out for a considerable time. On such occasions the usual mode adopted by the assailants was to expel the defenders, by setting fire to wet straw in the lower apartments. But the Border chieftains seldom chose to abide in person a siege of this nature; and I have scarce observed a single instance of a dis. tinguished baron made prisoner in his own house. The common people resided in paltry huts, about the safety of which they were little anxious, as they contained nothing of value. On the approach of a superior force they unthatched them, to prevent their being burned, and then abandoned them to the foe. Their only treasures were a fleet and active horse, with the ornaments which their rapine had procured for the females of their family, of whose gay appearance they were vain.
Some rude monuments occur upon the Borders, the memorials of ancient valour. Such is the cross at Milholm, on the banks of the Liddle, said to have been erected in memory of the chief of the Arm: strongs, murdered treacherously by Lord Soulis, while feasting in Hermitage Castle. Such also is that rude stone, now broken, and very much defaced, placed upon a mount on the lands of Haughhead, near the junction of the Kale and the Teviot. The inscription records the defence made by Hobbie Hall, a man of great strength and courage, against an attempt of the powerful family of Ker to possess themselves of his small estate.
The same simplicity marked their dress and arms. Patten observes, that in battle the laird could not be distinguished from the serf, all wearing the same coat-armour, called a jack, and the baron being only distinguished by his sleeves of mail and his head-piece. The Borderers, in general, acted as light cavalry, riding horses of a small size, but astonishingly nimble, and trained to move, by short bounds, through the morasses with which Scotland abounds. . Their offensive weapons were, a lance of uncommon length; a sword, either two-handed or of the modern light size; sometimes a species of battle-axe, called a Jedburgh staff; and, latterly, dags or pistols. Although so much accustomed to move on horseback, that they held it even mean to appear otherwise, the Marchmen occasionally acted as infantry; nor were they inferior to the rest of Scotland in forming that impenetrable phalanx of spears, whereof it is said, by an English historian, that
sooner shall a bare finger pierce through the skin of an angry hedge-hog, than any one encounter the brunt of their pikes.” At the battle of Melrose, for example, Buccleuch's army fought on foot. But the habits of the Borderers fitted them particularly to distinguish themselves as light cavalry; and hence the name of prickers and hoby. lers, so frequently applied to them. At the blaze of their beacon fires they were wont to assemble ten thousand horsemen in the course of a single day. Thus rapid in their warlike preparations, they were alike ready for attack and defence. Each individual carried his own provisions, consisting of a small bag of oatmeal, and trusted to plunder or the chase for eking out his precarious repast. Beaugué remarks, that nothing surprised the Scottish cavalry so much as to see their French
auxiliaries encumbered with baggage-waggons, and attended by commissaries. Before joining battle, it seems to have been the Scottish practice to set fire to the litter of their camp, while, under cover of the smoke, the hobylers, or Border cavalry; executed their manæuvres.
- There is a curious account of the battle of Mitton, fought in the year 1319, in a valuable MS. Chronicle of England, in the collection of the Marquis of Douglas, from which this stratagem seems to have decided the engagement.
For smaller predatory expeditions the Borderers had signals and places of rendezvous peculiar to each tribe. If the party set forward before all the members had joined, a mark, cut in the turf or on the bark of a tree, pointed out to the stragglers the direction which the main body had pursued. Their warlike convocations were also frequently disguised under pretence of meetings for the purpose of sport. The game of foot-ball, in particular, which was anciently, and still continues to be, a favourite Border sport, was the means of collecting together large bodies of moss-troopers previous to any military exploit. When Sir Robert Carey was Warden of the East Marches, the knowledge that there was a great match at foot-ball at Kelso, to be frequented by the principal Scottish riders, was sufficient to excite his vigilance and his apprehension. Previous also to the murder of Sir John Carmichael, it appeared at the trial of the perpetrators that they had assisted at a grand foot-ball meeting, where the crime was concerted.
Upon the religion of the Borderers there can very little be said. They remained attached to the Roman Catholic faith rather longer than the rest of Scotland. This probably arose from a total indifference upon the subject; for we nowhere find in their character the respect for the church which is a marked feature of that religion. The abbeys which were planted upon the Border neither seem to have been much respected by the English, nor by the Scottish barons. They were repeatedly burned by the former in the course of the Border wars, and by the latter they seem to have been regarded chiefly as the means of endowing a needy relation, or the subject of occasional plunder. The Reformation was late of finding its way into the Border wilds; for, while the religious and civil dissensions were at the height, in 1568, Drury writes to Cecil—“Our trusty neighbours of Tevigtdale are holden occupied only to attend to the pleasure and
calling of their own heads, to make some diversion in the matter." The influence of the reformed preachers, among the Borderers, seems also to have been but small; for, upon all occasions of dispute with the kirk, James VI. was wont to call in their assistance.
But, though the church, in these frontier counties, attracted little veneration, no part of Scotland teemed with superstitious fears and observances more than they did. “ The Daleşmen,” says Lesley, count their beads with such earnestness as when they set out upon a predatory expedition.” Penances, the composition betwixt guilt and conscience, were also frequent upon the Borders. These were superstitions, flowing immediately from the nature of the Catholic religion ; but there was, upon the Border, no lack of others of a more general nature. Such was the universal belief in spells, of which some traces may yet remain in the wild parts of the country. The idea, that the spirits of the deceased return to haunt the place where on earth they have suffered or have rejoiced, is, as Dr. Johnson has observed, common to the popular creed of all nations. The just and noble sentiments implanted in our bosoms by the Deity, teaches us that we shall not slumber for ever as the beasts that perish. Human vanity, or credulity, chequers, with its own inferior and baser colours, the noble prospect, which is alike held out to us by philosophy and by religion. We feel, according to the ardent expression of the poet, that we shall not wholly die; but from hence we vainly and weakly argue, that the same scenes, the same passions, shall delight and actuate the disembodied spirit which affected it while in its tenement of clay. Hence the popular belief that the soul haunts the spot where the murdered body is interred; that its appearances are directed to bring down vengeance on its murderers; or that, having left its terrestrial form in a distant clime, it glides before its former friends, a pale spectre, to warn them of its decease. Such tales, the foundation of which is an argument from our present feelings to those of the spiritual world, form the broad and universal basis of the popular superstition regarding departed spirits; against which reason has striven in vain, and universal experience has offered a disregarded testimony. These legends are peculiarly acceptable to barbarous tribes; and on the Borders they were received with most unbounded faith. It is true that these super natural adversaries were no longer opposed by the sword and battle. axe, as among the unconverted Scandinavians. Prayers, spells, and exorcisms, particularly in the Greek and Hebrew languages, were the weapons of the Borderers, or rather of their priests and cunning men, against their aerial enemy. The belief in ghosts, which has been well termed the last lingering phantom of superstition, still maintains its ground upon the Borders.
It is unnecessary to mention the superstitious belief in witchcraft, which gave rise to so much cruelty and persecution during the seventeenth century. There were several executions upon the Borders for this imaginary crime, which was usually tried, not by the ordinary judges, but by a set of country gentlemen, acting under commission from the Privy Council.
Besides these grand articles of superstitious belief, the creed of the Borderers admitted the existence of sundry classes of subordinate spirits, to whom were assigned peculiar employments.
The domestic economy of the Borderers next engages our attention! That the revenues of the chieftain should be expended in rude hospitality was the natural result of his situation. His wealth consisted chiefly in herds of cattle, which were consumed by the kinsmen, vassals, and followers, who aided him to acquire and to protect them.
We learn from Lesley, that the Borderers were temperate in their use of intoxicating liquors, and we are therefore left to conjecture how they occupied the time, when winter, or when accident, confined them to their habitations. The little learning which existed in the middle ages glimmered, a dim and dying flame, in the religious houses; and even in the sixteenth century, when its beams became more widely diffused, they were far from penetrating the recesses of the Border mountains. The tales of tradition, the song, with the pipe or harp of the midstrel, were probably the sole resources against ennui during the short intervals of repose from military adventure.
The more rude and wild the state of society, the more general and violent is the impulse received from poetry and music. The muse, whose effusions are the amusement of a very small part of a polished nation, records, in the lays of inspiration, the history, the laws, the very religion of savages. Where the pen and the press are wanting, the flow of numbers impressed upon the memory of posterity the deeds and sentiments of their forefathers. Verse is naturally connected with music; and, among a rude people, the union is seldom broken. By this natural alliance, the lays, “steeped in the stream of harmony,"