Jock O' the Side

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A Liddesdale chant, from Child, Part 6

Now Liddisdale has ridden a raid,
But I wat they had better staid at hame;
For Mitchell o Winfield he is dead,
And my son Johnie is prisner tane?
With my fa ding diddle, la la dew diddle.

2. For Mangerton house auld Downie is gane,
Her coats she has kilted up to her knee;
And down the water wi speed she rins,
While tears in spaits fa fast frae her eie.

3. Then up and bespake the lord Mangerton:
"What news, what news, sister Downie, to me?"
"Bad news, bad news, my lord Mangerton;
Mitchel is killd, and tane they hae my son Johnie."

4. "Neer fear, sister Downie," quo Mangerton;
"I hae yokes of oxen, four-and-twentie,
My barns, my byres, and my faulds, a' weel filld,
And I'll part wi them a' ere Johnie shall die.

5. "Three men I'll take to set him free,
Weel harnessd a' wi best of steel;
The English rogues may hear, and drie
The weight o their braid swords to feel.

6. "The Laird's Jock ane, the Laird's Wat twa,
O Hobie Noble, thou ane maun be!
Thy coat is blue, thou has been true,
Since England banishd thee, to me."

7. Now, Hobie was an English man,
In Bewcastle-dale was bred and born;
But his misdeeds they were sae great,
They banished him neer to return.

8. Lord Mangerton then orders gave, -
"Your horses the wrang way maun a' be shod;
Like gentlemen ye must not seem,
But look like corn-caugers gawn ae road.

9. "Your armour gude ye maunna shaw,
Nor ance appear like men o weir;
As country lads be all arrayd,
Wi branks and brecham on ilk mare."

10. Sae now a' their horses are shod the wrang way,
And Hobie has mounted his grey sae fine,
Jock his lively bay, Wat's on his white horse behind,
And on they rode for the water o Tyne.

11. At the Cholerford they a' light down,
And there, wi the help o the light o the moon,
A tree they cut, wi fifteen naggs upon each side,
To climb up the wall of Newcastle toun.

12. But when they came to Newcastle toun,
And were alighted at the wa,
They fand their tree three ells oer laigh,
They fand their stick baith short aid sma.

13. Then up and spake the Laird's ain Jock,
"There's naething for't; the gates we maun force."
But when they cam the gate unto,
A proud porter withstood baith men and horse.

14. His neck in twa I wat they hae wrung;
Wi foot or hand he neer play'd paw;
His life and his keys at anes they hae taen,
And cast his body ahind the wa.

15. Now soon they reached Newcastle jail,
And to the prisner thus they call:
"Sleips thou, wakes thou, Jock o the Side,
Or is thou wearied o thy thrall?"

16. Jock answers thus, wi dolefu tone:
"Aft, aft I wake, I seldom sleip;
But wha's this kens my name sae weel,
And thus to hear my waes does seek?"

17. Then up and spake the good Laird's Jock:
"Neer fear ye now, my billie," quo he;
"For here's the Laird's Jock, the Laird's Wat,
And Hobie Noble, come to set thee free."

18. "Oh, had thy tongue, and speak nae mair,
And o thy talk now let me be!
For if a' Liddesdale were here the night,
The morn's the day that I maun die.

19. "Full fifteen stane o Spanish iron,
They hae laid a' right sair on me;
Wi locks and keys I am fast bound
Into this dungeon mirk and drearie."

20. "Fear ye no that," quo the Laird's Jock;
"A faint heart neer wan a fair ladie;
Work thou within, we'll work without,
And I'll be sworn we set thee free."

21. The first strong dore that they came at,
They loosed it without a key;
The next chaind dore that they cam at,
They gard it a' in flinders flee.

22. The prisner now, upo his back,
The Laird's Jock's gotten up fu hie;
And down the stair him, irons and a',
Wi nae sma speed and joy brings he.

23. "Now, Jock, I wat," quo Hobie Noble,
"Part o the weight ye may lay on me,"
"I wat weel no," quo the Laird's Jock
"I count him lighter than a flee."

24. Sae out at the gates they a' are gane,
The prisner's set on horseback hie;
And now wi speed they've tane the gate;
While ilk ane jokes fu wantonlie.

25. "O Jock, sae winsomely's ye ride,
Wi baith your feet upo ae side!
Sae weel's ye're harnessd, and sae trig!
In troth ye sit like ony bride."

26. The night, tho wat, they didna mind,
But hied them on fu mirrilie,
Until they cam to Cholerford brae,
Where the water ran like mountains hie.

27. But when they came to Cholerford,
There they met with an auld man;
Says, "Honest man, will the water ride?
Tell us in haste, if that ye can."

28. "I wat weel no," quo the good auld man;
"Here I hae livd this threty yeirs and three,
And I neer yet saw the Tyne sae big,
Nor rinning ance sae like a sea."

29. Then up and spake the Laird's saft Wat,
The greatest coward in the company;
"Now halt, now halt, we needna try't;
The day is comd we a' maun die!"

30. "Poor faint-hearted thief!" quo the Laird's Jock,
"There'll nae man die but he that's fie;
I'll lead ye a' right safely through;
Lift ye the prisner on ahint me.

31. Sae now the water they a' hae tane,
By anes and twas they a' swam through
"Here are we a' safe," says the Laird's Jock,
"And, poor faint Wat, what think ye now?"

32. They scarce the ither side had won,
When twenty men they saw pursue;
Frae Newcastle town they had been sent,
A' English lads right good and true.

33. But when the land-sergeant the water saw,
"It winna ride, my lads," quo he;
Then out he cries, "Ye the prisner may take,
But leave the irons, I pray, to me."

34. "I wat weel no," cryd the Laird's Jock,
"I'll keep them a'; shoon to my mare they'll be;
My good grey mare; for I am sure,
She's bought them a' fu dear frae thee."

35. Sae now they're away for Liddisdale,
Een as fast as they coud them hie;
The prisner's brought to his ain fireside,
And there o's airns they make him free.

36. "Now, Jock, my billie," quo a' the three,
"The day was comd thou was to die;
But thou's as weel at thy ain fireside,
Now sitting, I think, 'tween thee and me."

37. They hae gard fill up ae punch-bowl,
And after it they maun hae anither,
And thus the night they a' hae spent,
Just as they had been brither and brither.


Jock flourished about 1550-1570, and is commemorated as a receiver by Sir Richard Maitland in a poem often quoted. The analogies of this ballad with that of "Kinmont Willie" are very close. The reference to a punch-bowl sounds modern, and the tale is much less plausible than that of "Kinmont Willie," which, however, bears a few obvious marks of Sir Walter's own hand. A sceptical editor must choose between two theories: either Scott of Satchells founded his account of the affair of "Kinmont Willie" on a pre-existing ballad of that name, or the ballad printed by Scott is based on the prose narrative of Scott of Satchells. The former hypothesis, everything considered, is the more probable. - A Collection of Ballads by Andrew Lang

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