The Outlaw Murray

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is derived, with trivial alterations, from Herd's MSS. In the first edition of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Scott says the principal copy he employed was one 'apparently of considerable antiquity' among the papers of Mrs. Cockburn; he also made use of Herd's MS. and the Glenriddell MS. In the second edition of the Minstrelsy he made further additions, including one of three stanzas between 52 and 58 of the present version, which makes reference to an earlier Sir Walter Scott.


The Story of this Scots outlaw makes tame reading after those which precede it in this volume. The ballad was inserted at the end of Child's collection only because he preferred 'to err by including rather than excluding.' He adds, 'I am convinced that it did not begin its existence as a popular ballad, and I am not convinced that (as Scott asserts) it has been for ages a popular song in Selkirkshire.' Nevertheless, it undoubtedly gained a place in popular tradition; and this, while entitling it to a place here, renders the elaborate historical investigation, to which it has been submitted since Child's edition, a waste of erudition and ingenuity.


THE OUTLAW MURRAY

1.
Ettrick Forest is a fair forest,
In it grows many a seemly tree;
The hart, the hynd, the doe, the roe,
And of a' wild beastis great plentie.

2.
There's a castell biggit with lime and stane;
O gin it stands not pleasantlie!
In the forefront o' that castell fair,
Twa unicorns are bra' to see.

3.
There's the picture of a knight, and a ladye bright,
And the grene hollin abune their bree;
There an Outlaw keeps five hundred men;
He keeps a royal companie.

4.
His merry men are in ae liverie clad,
Of the Lincoln grene sae fair to see;
He and his ladie in purple clad,
O gin they live not royallie!

5.
Word is gane to our noble king,
In Edinburgh, where that he lay,
That there was an Outlaw in Ettrick Forest
Counted him nought and all his courtrie gay.

6.
'I mak a vow,' then the gude king said,
'Unto the man that dear bought me,
I'se either be king of Ettrick Forest
Or king of Scotland that Outlaw's be.'

7.
Then spak the earl hight Hamilton,
And to the noble king said he,
'My sovereign prince, some counsel take,
First of your nobles, syne of me.

8.
'I redd ye, send yon bra' Outlaw till,
And see gif your man come will he:
Desire him come and be your man,
And hold of you yon forest free.

9.
'And gif he refuses to do that,
We'll conquer both his lands and he,
Or else we'll throw his castell down,
And mak a widow o' his gay ladye.'

10.
The king called on a gentleman,
James Boyd, Earl of Arran, his brother was he;
When James he came before the king,
He fell before him on his knee.

11.
'Welcome, James Boyd,' said our noble king;
'A message ye maun gang for me;
Ye maun hie to Ettrick Forest,
To yon Outlaw, where dwelleth he;

12.
'Ask him of whom he holds his lands,
Or, man, who may his master be,
Desire him come and be my man,
And hold of me yon forest free.

13.
'To Edinburgh to come and gang,
His safe-warrant I sall be;
And gif he refuses to do that,
We'll conquer baith his lands and he.

14.
'Thou may'st vow I'll cast his castell down,
And mak a widow o' his gay ladye;
I'll hang his merry men pair by pair
In ony frith where I may them see.'

15.
James Boyd took his leave of the noble king,
To Ettrick Forest fair cam he;
Down Birkendale Brae when that he cam,
He saw the fair forest with his ee.

16.
Baith doe and roe and hart and hind
And of a' wild beastis great plentie;
He heard the bows that bauldly ring,
And arrows whidderand near him by.

17.
Of that fair castell he got a sight;
The like he nere saw with his ee;
On the forefront o' that castell
Twa unicorns were bra' to see.

18.
The picture of a knight, and a lady bright,
And the green hollin abune their bree;
Thereat he spy'd five hundred men,
Shooting with bows upon the lee.

19.
They a' were in ae livery clad,
O' the Lincoln green sae fair to see;
The knight and his ladye in purple clad;
O gif they lived right royallie!
Therefore he kend he was master-man,
And served him in his ain degree.

20.
'God mot thee save, brave Outlaw Murray,
Thy ladye and a' thy chivalrie!'
'Marry, thou's welcome, gentleman,
Some king's-messenger thou seems to be.'

21.
'The King of Scotland sent me here,
And, gude Outlaw, I'm sent to thee;
I wad wot of whom ye hold your lands,
Or, man, wha may thy master be?'

22.
'Thir landis are mine,' the Outlaw said;
'I own na king in Christentie;
Frae Soudron I this forest wan,
Whan the king nor 's knights were not to see.'

23.
'He desires you'll come to Edinburgh,
And hold of him this forest free;
And gif you refuse to do this,
He'll conquer baith thy landis and thee;
He has vow'd to cast thy castell down,
And mak a widow o' thy gay ladye;

24.
'He'll hang thy merry men pair by pair
In ony frith where he may them find.'
'Aye, by my troth!' the Outlaw said,
'Than wad I think me far behind.

25.
'Ere the king my fair countrie get,
This land that 's nativest to me,
Mony o' his nobles sall be cauld,
Their ladyes sall be right wearie.'

26.
Then spak his ladye, fair of face,
She said, 'Without consent of me,
That an Outlaw shuld come before the king;
I am right rad of treasonrie.

27.
'Bid him be gude to his lordis at hame,
For Edinburgh my lord sail never see.'
James tuke his leave of the Outlaw keen,
To Edinburgh boun is he.

28.
And when he cam before the king,
He fell before him on his knee:
'Welcome, James Boyd!' said the noble king;
'What forest is Ettrick Forest free?'

29.
'Ettrick Forest is the fairest forest
That ever man saw with his ee;
There's the doe, the roe, the hart, the hynde,
And of a' wild beastis great plentie.

30.
'There's a pretty castell of lime and stane,
O gif it stands not pleasauntlie!
There's on the foreside of that castell
Twa unicorns sae bra' to see.

31.
'There's the picture of a knight, and a ladye bright,
And the green hollin abune their bree.
There the Outlaw keepis five hundred men,
O gif they live not royallie!

32.
'His merry men in ae livery clad,
O' the Lincoln green so fair to see;
He and his ladye in purple clad;
O! gif they live not royallie!

33.
'He says yon forest is his ain,
He wan it from the Soudronie;
Sae as he wan it, sae will he keep it,
Contrair all kings in Christentie.'

34.
'Gar ray my horse,' said the noble king,
'To Ettrick Forest hie will I me';
Then he gard graith five thousand men,
And sent them on for the forest free.

35.
Then word is gane the Outlaw till,
In Ettrick Forest, where dwelleth he,
That the king was coming to his cuntrie,
To conquer baith his lands and he.

36.
'I mak a vow,' the Outlaw said,
'I mak a vow, and that trulie,
Were there but three men to take my part
Yon king's coming full dear suld be.'

37.
Then messengers he called forth,
And bade them haste them speedilie:
'Ane of you go to Halliday,
The laird of the Covehead is he.

38.
'He certain is my sister's son;
Bid him come quick and succour me;
Tell Halliday with thee to come,
And show him a' the veritie.'

39.
'What news, what news?' said Halliday,
'Man, frae thy master unto me?'
'Not as ye wad; seeking your aid;
The king's his mortal enemie.'

40.
'Aye, by my troth,' quoth Halliday,
'Even for that it repenteth me;
For gif he lose fair Ettrick Forest,
He'll tak fair Moffatdale frae me.

41.
'I'll meet him wi' five hundred men,
And surely mae, if mae may be.'
The Outlaw call'd a messenger,
And bid him hie him speedily.

42.
'To Andrew Murray of Cockpool,
That man's a dear cousin to me;
Desire him come, and make me aid,
With all the power that he may be.

43.
'The king has vow'd to cast my castle down,
And mak a widow of my gay ladye;
He'll hang my merry men pair by pair
In ony place where he may them see.'

44.
'It stands me hard,' quoth Andrew Murray,
'Judge if it stands not hard with me;
To enter against a king with crown,
And put my lands in jeopardie!

45.
'Yet gif I come not on the day,
Surely at night he sall me see.'
To Sir James Murray, laird of Traquair,
A message came right speedilie.

46.
'What news, what news?' James Murray said,
'Man, frae thy master unto me?'
'What need I tell? for wel ye ken
The king's his mortal enemie.

47.
'He desires ye'll come and make him aid,
With all the powers that ye may be.'
'And, by my troth,' James Murray said,
'With that Outlaw will I live and die;

48.
'The king has gifted my lands lang syne,
It can not be nae war with me.'
... ... ...
... ... ...

49.
The king was coming thro' Caddon Ford,
And fifteen thousand men was he;
They saw the forest them before,
They thought it awsome for to see.

50.
Then spak the earl hight Hamilton,
And to the noble king said he,
'My sovereign prince, some counsel take,
First at your nobles, syne at me.

51.
'Desire him meet thee at Penman's Core,
And bring four in his companie;
Five earls sall gang yoursell before,
Gude cause that you suld honour'd be.

52.
'And, if he refuses to do that,
Wi' fire and sword we'll follow thee;
There sall never a Murray, after him,
Have land in Ettrick Forest free.'

53.
The king then call'd a gentleman,
Royal banner-bearer then was he;
James Hope Pringle of Torsonse, by name:
He came and knelit upon his knee.

54.
'Welcome, James Pringle of Torsonse!
Ye maun a message gae for me;
Ye maun gae to yon Outlaw Murray,
Surely where bauldly bideth he.

55.
'Bid him meet me at Penman's Core,
And bring four of his companie;
Five earls sall come wi' mysel,
Gude reason I suld honour'd be.

56.
'And if he refuses to do that,
Bid him look for nae good o' me;
There sall never a Murray after him
Have land in Ettrick Forest free.'

57.
James came before the Outlaw keen,
And served him in his ain degree;
'Welcome, James Pringle of Torsonse!
What tidings frae the king to me?'

58.
'He bids you meet him at Penman's Core,
And bring four of your companie;
Five earls will come with the king,
Mae mair in number will he be.

59.
'And gif you refuse to do that,
I freely here upgive wi' thee,
There will never a Murray after thee
Have land in Ettrick Forest free.

60.
'He'll cast your bonny castle down,
And make a widow of your gaye ladye,
He'll hang your merry men pair by pair
In ony place where he may them see.'

61.
'It stands me hard,' the Outlaw said;
'Judge if it stands not hard with me;
I reck not of losing of mysell,
But all my offspring after me.

62.
'Auld Halliday, young Halliday,
Ye sall be twa to gang wi' me;
Andrew Murray, and Sir James Murray,
We'll be nae mae in companie.'

63.
When that they came before the king,
They fell befor him on their knee;
'Grant mercy, mercy, royal king!
E'en for His sake who died on tree.'

64.
'Siecan like mercie sall ye have;
On gallows ye sall hangit be!'
'God forbid,' quo' the Outlaw then,
'I hope your grace will better be!'

65.
'These lands of Ettrick Forest fair,
I wan them frae the enemie;
Like as I wan them, sae will I keep them,
Contrair all kings in Christentie.'

66.
All the nobles said, the king about,
Pitie it were to see him die:
'Yet grant me mercy, sovereign prince,
Extend your favour unto me!

67.
'I'll give you the keys of my castell,
With the blessing o' my fair ladye,
Mak me the sheriff of the forest,
And all my offspring after me.'

68.
'Wilt thou give me the keys of thy castell,
With the blessing of thy fair ladye?
I'll mak thee sheriff of the Forest,
Surely while upwards grows the tree;
If you be not traitour to the king,
Forfaulted sall ye never be.'

69.
'But, prince, what sall come o' my men?
When I go back, traitour they'll ca' me.
I had rather lose my life and land,
Ere my merry men rebuk√ęd me.'

70.
'Will your merry men amend their lives?
And all their pardons I grant thee;
Now, name thy landes where'er they be,
And here I render them to thee.'

71.
'Fair Philiphaugh, prince, is my ain,
I biggit it wi' lime and stane;
The Tinnies and the Hangingshaw,
My liege, are native steads of mine.

72.
' ... ... ...
... ... ...
I have mony steads in the forest shaw,
But them by name I dinna knaw.'

73.
The keys of the castle he gave the king,
With the blessing of his fair ladye;
He was made sheriff of Ettrick Forest,
Surely while upward grows the tree;
And if he was not traitour to the king,
Forfaulted he suld never be.

74.
Wha ever heard, in ony times,
Siccan an outlaw in his degree
Sic favour get before a king
As did the Outlaw Murray of the forest free?

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