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of distinct families, inhabited dwellings upon a still smaller scale, called Peels, or Bastle-houses. They were surrounded by an inclosure, or barnkin, the wall whereof was, according to statute, a yard thick, surrounding a space of at least sixty feet square. Within this outer work the laird built his tower, with its projecting battlements, and usually secured the entrance by two doors; the outer of grated iron, the innermost of oak clenched with nails. The apartments were placed directly above each other, accessible only by a narrow "turnpike" stair, easily blocked up or defended. Sometimes, and in the more ancient buildings, the construction was still more rude. There was no stair at all; and the inhabitants ascended by a ladder from one story to another.'
In the hostile inroads on a large scale, these strengths' were not, nor indeed were they expected to be, of any avail beyond aslight temporary check, to favour the retreat of the inhabitants. The devastations committed in these invasions were frightful. A brief narrative (inserted in the Appendix) of the military operations in Tiviotdale, in 1570, of the forces under the Earl of Essex, Elizabeth's commander in the north, in chastisement and revenge of some insults, spoliations, and cruelties committed by the Scottish barons, makes it a matter of wonder how a tract subjected to a repetition of such ravages could maintain its existence as an inhabited country, with considerable towns and villages. This inroad, and that of the Earl of Hertford, in the end of Henry the Eighth's reign, are stated to be the two 'most dreadful invasions commemorated in Scottish annals.'
The extreme border on the English side, corresponded to the opposite one in the rudeness of its defences and the utter lawlessness of its inhabitants. But a little further to the south, the country assumed a widely different aspect, in the comparatively flourishing and strongly defended possessions of the high nobility, and the chains of their magnificent castles, of great extent, ' and fortified with all the art of the age.' Mr. Scott names a number of these structures, and remarks ;
"All these, and many others might be mentioned, are so superior to edifices of the same kind in Scotland, as to verify the boast, that there was many a dog-kennel in England to which the tower of a Scottish Borderer was not to be compared. Yet when Naworth and Brongham castles are compared with the magnificence of Warwick and of Kenilworth, their savage strength, their triple rows of dungeons, the few and small windows which open to the outside, the length and complication of secret and subterranean passages, shew that they are rather to be held limitary fortresses, for curbing the doubtful allegiance of the Borders, and the incursions of the Scottish, than the abodes of feudal hospitality and baronial splendour.'
The English towns also were much better fortified. Yet all this array of superior strength, though of great efficacy against invasion in a formal and extensive shape, could not guard the
country against the desultory war carried on by small parties, 'who made sudden irruptions into particular districts, laid all 'waste, and returned loaded with spoil. If the waste committed by 'the English armies was more widely extended and more generally 'inflicted, the continual and unceasing raids of the Scottish Bor'derers were scarcely less destructive.' The greater wealth of the country, also, was a stronger incitement to the Scottish freebooters, than revenge was to their southern adversaries. These plundering parties were so secret and so active in their movements, and so perfectly acquainted with all local facilities for passage or concealment, in a rough and diversified country, as to render in a great measure unavailing the special and elaborate defensive arrangements of the English warden of the marches, Lord Wharton, who,
' established a line of communication along the whole line of the Border, from Berwick to Carlisle, from east to west, with setters and searchers, sleuth-hounds, and watchers by day and night. Such fords as could not be conveniently guarded, were, to the number of thirty-nine, directed to be stopped and destroyed, meadows and pastures were ordered to be inclosed, that their fences might oppose some obstacle to the passage of the marauders, and narrow passes by land were appointed to be blocked up, or rendered impassable.'
Mr. Scott gives an ample and spirited delineation of the character, and the economy, if it may be so called, of these border barbarians, with a variety of curious anecdotes.
'Contrary to the custom of the rest of Scotland, they almost always acted as light-horsemen, and used small active horses accustomed to traverse morasses, in which other cavalry would have been swallowed up. Their hardy mode of life made them indifferent to danger, and careless about the ordinary accommodations of life. The uncertainty of reaping the fruits of their labour, deterred them from all the labours of cultivation; their mountains and glens afforded pasturage for their cattle and horses, and when these were driven off by the enemy they supplied the loss by reciprocal depredation. Living under chiefs by whom this predatory warfare was countenanced, and sometimes headed, they appear to have had little knowledge of the light in which their actions were regarded by the legislature; and the various statutes and regulations made against their incursions, remained in most cases a dead letter. It did indeed frequently happen that the kings, or governors of Scotland, when the disorders upon the border reached to a certain height, marched against these districts with an overpowering force, seized on the persons of the chiefs, and sent them to distant prisons in the centre of the kingdom, and executed, without mercy, the inferior captains and leaders.'
Such acts of justice, however, tended to alienate the attachment, and the services for national war and defence, of a race as brave as they were lawless; and contributed to confirm them in that anomalous political state in which, on both sides of the
Border, they were come to regard the whole system of warfare and depredation as a business of their own, and independent of the interests of the two kingdoms and the wars between them, in which they no longer took any patriotic share. Under this annibilation of allegiance and national interest, the trade or possession of plunder acquired, by a kind of tacit convention between the respective borderers, a certain regulation of form and principle, according to which they were to avoid as much as possible all personal violence, and confine themselves, in their inroads, to the honourable business of marauding. Another feature of the system, and which shews how completely it had taken place of all national feeling, was, that they made no scruple, on either side, of exercising their vocation upon the goods and chattels of any separate district of their own country.
The men of Tynedale and Reedsdale, in particular, appear to have been more frequently tempted by the rich vales of the Bishopric of Durham, and other districts which lay to the southward, than by the rude desolation of the Scottish hills.'
And more than even this, the bands of both Borders would combine in plans of rapine against either country, indifferently, on the occasion of any strong irruption of the national force, which offered an advantage for their predatory enterprises; and would at the next turn conjointly accompany for the same purpose, the opposite national force, if it succeeded in repelling and retaliating the invasion. It was no uncommon thing for women to share, and signalize themselves in, the daring exploits of these worthy freemen. And the Borderers,' says our Author, merited the devoted attachment of their wives, if, as we learn, one principal use of the wealth they obtained by plunder, was to bestow it in ornamenting the persons of their partners.' Every thing in the human shape appears to have been kept in willing preparation to kill and slay on all fitting occasions; to avoid it, in any instance, was matter of policy rather than of taste. It was an especial dictate of this policy, to make prisoners rather than victims. These, when they were persons of any account, were worth money, and they were sure to bring it. Nor was it, beyond this consideration of expense, any great calamity to be captured. If the prisoner was taken away, he was treated with civility till ransomed. But he was often set at large immediately, on giving his word to be a true prisoner, with an engagement to appear at a certain time and place, to treat of his
If they were able to agree, a term was usually assigned for the payment, and security given; if not, the prisoner surrendered himself to the discretion of his captor. But where the interest of both parties pointed so strongly to the necessity of mutual accommodation, it rarely happened that they did not agree upon terms. Thus, even
in the encounters of these rude warriors on either side, the nations maintained the character of honour, courage, and generosity, assigned to them by Froissart. "Englishmen on the one party, and Scotchmen on the other party, are good men of war; for when they meet then is a hard fight without sparing; there is no hoo (i. e. cessation for parley) between them, as long as spears, swords, axes, or daggers, will endure; but they lay on each upon other, and when they be well beaten, and that the one party hath obtained the victory, they then glorify so in their deeds of arms, and are so joyful, that such as be taken they shall be ransomed ere they go out of the field; so that shortly each of them is so content with other, that at their departing courteously, they will say, 'God thank you.' But in fighting one with another, there is no play nor sparing."
That there should be poetry and legends among such people is not wonderful; but then, for religion! That, too, was sure to have a place among their notions and observances; and it was in a form not much out of harmony with the feeling which could invoke God' to 'thank' men for their gallantry and exultation among swords, daggers, axes, and dead bodies. They never,' says our Author, told their beads, according to Lesley, with such devotion as when they were setting out upon a marauding party, and expected a good booty as the recompense of their devotions.' In several Scottish districts which he names, he says there were no resident ecclesiastics to celebrate the rites of the Church. A monk from Melrose, called, from 'the porteous or breviary which he wore in his breast, a booka-bosom, visited these forlorn regions once a year, and solemnized marriages and baptisms.' It was no question for the monk how they came by the means of paying for his services; nor would he have hesitated to visit them at shorter intervals, if their spoils and wills had allowed an adequate remuneration. Uncanonical customs, some of which are noticed, could not fail to arise, and to acquire an appearance of sanction, under this infrequency of the regular offices of the Church. Parts of the English Border were better supplied with really authorized, or self-appointed churchmen, many of whom attending the freebooters as Friar Tuck is said to have done upon Robin Hood, partook in their spoils, and mingled with the reliques of barbarism the rites and ceremonies of the Christian Church.' These ghostly abettors' of theft and rapine are exposed, with emphatic censure, in a pastoral admonition of Fox, Bishop of Durham, dated about the end of the fifteenth century, and cited by our Author, as descriptive also of the general savage mode of life, which it is charged upon the nobles, and even the king's 'officers,' that they likewise patronized and participated. The barbarous customs were found remaining in full prevalence, by the venerable Bernard Gilpin, some of the remarkable and romantic anecdotes of whose life are here very properly repeated.
Mr. Scott seems to admit, not without some reluctance, that non-conforming presbyterian preachers were the first who brought this rude generation to any sense of the benefits of religion.' To this sentence he subjoins, in a note, as a quotation from a history of Scottish Worthies,' a curious passage in the life of Richard Cameron, who gave name to the sect of 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. He went, and the first day he preached upon that text, How shall I put thee among the children, &c.? In the application he said, Put you among the children! the offspring of robbers and thieves. Many have heard of Annandale thieves. Some of them got a merciful cast 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.'
The remainder of this historical Introduction consists of a statement, considerably at large, and containing a variety of curious details and anecdotes, of the measures of government adopted by the two States, for keeping the Borders in some degree of order. The predominant comprehensive institution was, the appointment and residence of officers of high rank, holding special commissions from the crown of either country, and en<titled wardens, or guardians of the marches,' sometimes two, often three, on each side of the boundary, with sometimes a lord-warden-general to superintend their conduct.
The duties committed to the charge of the wardens were of a two-fold nature, as they regarded the maintenance of law and good order amongst the inhabitants of their jurisdiction themselves, and as they concerned the exterior relations betwixt them and the opposite frontier.
The abodes of the Scottish wardens were generally their own castles on the frontiers, such as we have described them to be; and the large trees, which are still to be seen in the neighbourhood of these baronial strong-holds, served for the ready execution of justice or revenge on such malefactors as they chose to doom to death.'
The mention of revenge' as a principle operating and so promptly gratified in the administration of these guardians, may suggest how very imperfectly the institution could have answered its proper end. In truth, though it did prevent an entire anarchy, it not only often failed in the repression and redress of wrong, but was sometimes directly perverted to the perpetration of it. The Scottish monarchs were not sufficiently powerful in their southern territories, to dare confer the office on any but the proud nobles who were already, in virtue of their