Lord Maxwell's Last Goodnight

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is from the Glenriddell MSS., and is the one on which Sir Walter Scott based the version given in the Border Minstrelsy. Byron notes in the preface to Childe Harold that 'the good-night in the beginning of the first canto was suggested by Lord Maxwell's Goodnight in the Border Minstrelsy.'


The Story.--John, ninth Lord Maxwell, killed Sir James Johnstone in 1608; the feud between the families was of long standing (see 3.4), beginning in 1585. Lord Maxwell fled the country, and was sentenced to death in his absence. On his return in 1612 he was betrayed by a kinsman, and beheaded at Edinburgh on May 21, 1613. This was the end of the feud, which contained cases of treachery and perfidy on both sides.

'Robert of Oarchyardtoun' was Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardton, Lord Maxwell's cousin.

'Drumlanrig,' 'Cloesburn,' and 'the laird of Lagg' were respectively named Douglas, Kirkpatrick, and Grierson.

The Maxwells had houses, or custody of houses at Dumfries, Lochmaben, Langholm, and Thrieve; and Carlaverock Castle is still theirs.

As for Lord Maxwell's 'lady and only joy,' the ballad neglects the fact that he instituted a process of divorce against her, and that she died, while it was pending, in 1608, five years before the date of the 'Goodnight.'


LORD MAXWELL'S LAST GOODNIGHT

1.
'Adiew, madam my mother dear,
But and my sisters two!
Adiew, fair Robert of Oarchyardtoun
For thee my heart is woe.

2.
'Adiew, the lilly and the rose,
The primrose, sweet to see!
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
For I manna stay with thee.

3.
'Tho' I have killed the laird Johnston,
What care I for his feed?
My noble mind dis still incline;
He was my father's dead.

4.
'Both night and day I laboured oft
Of him revenged to be,
And now I've got what I long sought;
But I manna stay with thee.

5.
'Adiew, Drumlanrig! false was ay,
And Cloesburn! in a band,
Where the laird of Lagg fra my father fled
When the Johnston struck off his hand.

6.
'They were three brethren in a band;
Joy may they never see!
But now I've got what I long sought,
And I maunna stay with thee.

7.
'Adiew, Dumfries, my proper place,
But and Carlaverock fair!
Adiew, the castle of the Thrieve,
And all my buildings there!

8.
'Adiew, Lochmaben's gates so fair,
The Langholm shank, where birks they be!
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
And, trust me, I maunna stay with thee.

9.
'Adiew, fair Eskdale, up and down,
Where my poor friends do dwell!
The bangisters will ding them down,
And will them sore compel.

10.
'But I'll revenge that feed mysell
When I come ou'r the sea;
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
For I maunna stay with thee.'

11.
'Lord of the land, will you go then
Unto my father's place,
And walk into their gardens green,
And I will you embrace.

12.
'Ten thousand times I'll kiss your face,
And sport, and make you merry.'
'I thank thee, my lady, for thy kindness,
But, trust me, I maunna stay with thee.'

13.
Then he took off a great gold ring,
Whereat hang signets three;
'Hae, take thee that, my ain dear thing,
And still hae mind of me;

14.
'But if thow marry another lord
Ere I come ou'r the sea;
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
For I maunna stay with thee.'

15.
The wind was fair, the ship was close,
That good lord went away,
And most part of his friends were there,
To give him a fair convay.

16.
They drank thair wine, they did not spare,
Even in the good lord's sight;
Now he is o'er the floods so gray,
And Lord Maxwell has ta'en his goodnight.

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