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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
 
84. The Outlaw Murray
 
 
I

ETTRICK Forest is a fair forest,
  In it grows many a seemly tree;
There’s hart and hind, and dae and rae,
  And of a’ wild beasts great plentie.
 
II

There’s a castle, bigg’d wi’ lime and stane;
        5
  O gif it stands not pleasantlie!
In the fore-front o’ that castle fair,
  Twa unicorns are bra’ to see;
There’s the picture of a knight, and a lady bright,
  And the green hollìn abune their bree.        10
 
III

There an Outlaw keeps five hundred men,
  He keeps a royal companie;
His merry men are a’ in ae livery clad,
  O’ the Lincoln green sae gay to see;
He and his lady in purple clad,        15
  O gin they live not royallie!
 
IV

Word is gane to our noble King,
  In Edinburgh where that he lay,
That there was an Outlaw in Ettrick Forest,
  Counted him nought, nor his courtrie gay.        20
 
V

‘I make 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!’
 
VI

Then spake the Earl hight Hamilton,
        25
  And to the noble King said he,
‘My sovereign prince, some counsel take,
  First at your nobles, syne at me.
 
VII

‘I rede ye, send yon braw Outlaw till,
  And see gif your man come will he:        30
Desire him come and be your man,
  And hold of you yon forest free.
 
VIII

‘Gif he refuses to do that,
  We’ll conquess baith his lands and he!
Or else we’ll throw his castle down,        35
  And mak’ a widow o’ his gay ladye.’
 
IX

The King call’d on a gentleman,
  James Boyd (the Earl of Arran his brother was he);
When James he came before the King,
  He kneel’d before him on his knee.        40
 
X

‘Welcome, James Boyd!’ said our noble King,
  ‘A message ye maun gang for me:
Ye maun hie to Ettrick Forest,
  To yon Outlàw, where dwelleth he.
 
XI

‘Ask him of whom he holds his lands,
        45
  Or man wha may his master be,
And desire him come and be my man,
  And hold of me yon forest free.
 
XII

‘To Edinburgh to come and gang,
  A safe warrànt I sall him gie;        50
And gif he refuses to do that,
  We’ll conquess baith his lands and he.
 
XIII

‘Thou mayst vow I’ll cast his castle down,
  And mak’ a widow o’ his gay ladye;
I’ll hang his merry men, pair by pair,        55
  In ony frith where I may them see.’
 
XIV

James Boyd took his leave o’ the noble King,
  To Ettrick Forest fair cam’ he;
Down Birkendale Brae when that he cam’,
  He saw the fair forest wi’ his e’e.        60
 
XV

Baith dae and rae, and hart and hin’,
  And of a’ wild beasts great plentie;
He heard the bows that boldly ring,
  And arrows whidderand him near by.
 
XVI

Of that fair castle he got a sight;
        65
  The like he ne’er saw wi’ his e’e!
On the fore-front o’ that castle fair,
  Twa unicorns were bra’ to see;
The picture of a knight, and lady bright,
  And the green hollìn abune their bree.        70
 
XVII

Thereat he spyed five hundred men,
  Shooting with bows on Newark Lee;
They were a’ in ae livery clad,
  O’ the Lincoln green sae gay to see.
 
XVIII

His men were a’ clad in the green,
        75
  The knight was armèd cap-a-pie,
With a bended bow, on a milkwhite steed;
  And I wot they rank’d right bonnilie.
 
XIX

Thereby Boyd kend he was master man,
  And servèd him in his ain degree:        80
‘God mote thee save, brave Outlaw Murray!
  Thy ladye, and all thy chivalrie!’—
‘Marry, thou’s welcome, gentleman,
  Some king’s messenger thou seems to be.’—
 
XX

‘The King of Scotland sent me here,
        85
  And, gude Outlaw, I am sent to thee;
I wad wot of whom ye hold your lands,
  Or man wha may thy master be?’—
 
XXI

‘Thir lands are mine,’ the Outlaw said;
  ‘I own nae king in Christentie;        90
Frae Soudron I this forest wan,
  When the King nor his knights were not to see.’—
 
XXII

‘He desires you’ll come to Edinburgh,
  And hauld of him this forest free;
And, gif ye refuse to do this thing,        95
  He’ll conquess baith thy lands and thee.
He hath vow’d to cast thy castle down,
  And mak’ a widow o’ thy gay ladye;
 
XXIII

‘He’ll hang thy merry men, pair by pair,
  In ony frith where he may them find.’—        100
‘Ay, by my troth!’ the Outlaw said,
  ‘Than wad I think me far behind.
 
XXIV

‘Ere the King my fair country get,
  This land that’s nativest to me,
Mony o’ his nobles sall be cauld,        105
  Their ladies sall be right wearie.’
 
XXV

Then spak’ his lady, fair of face:
  She said, ‘’Twere without consent of me,
That an outlaw suld come before a King;
  I am right rad of treasonrie.        110
Bid him be gude to his lords at hame,
  For Edinburgh my lord sall never see.’
 
XXVI

James Boyd took his leave o’ the Outlaw keen,
  To Edinboro’ boun’ is he;
When James he cam’ before the King,        115
  He kneelèd lowly on his knee.
 
XXVII

‘Welcome, James Boyd!’ said our noble King,
  ‘What forest is Ettrick Forest free?’—
‘Ettrick Forest is the fairest forest
  That ever man saw wi’ his e’e.        120
 
XXVIII

‘There’s the dae, the rae, the hart, the hin’,
  And of a’ wild beasts great plentie;
There’s a pretty castle of lime and stane,
  O gif it stands not pleasantlie!
 
XXIX

‘There’s in the fore-front o’ that castle
        125
  Twa unicorns, sae bra’ to see;
There’s the picture of a knight, and a lady bright,
  Wi’ the green hollìn abune their bree.
 
XXX

‘There the Outlaw keeps five hundred men,
  He keeps a royal companie;        130
His merry men in ae livery clad,
  O’ the Lincoln green sae gay to see:
He and his lady in purple clad;
  O gin they live not royallie!
 
XXXI

‘He says, yon forest is his ain;
        135
  He wan it frae the Soudronie;
Sae as he wan it, sae will he keep it,
  Contrair all kings in Christentie.’—
 
XXXII

‘Gar warn me Perthshire, and Angus baith,
  Fife, up and down, and Lothians three,        140
And graith my horse!’ said our noble King,
  ‘For to Ettrick Forest hie will I me.’
 
XXXIII

Then word is gane the Outlaw till,
  In Ettrick Forest, where dwelleth he,
That the King was comand to Ettrick Forest,        145
  To conquess baith his lands and he.
 
XXXIV

‘I mak’ a vow,’ the Outlaw said,
  ‘I mak’ a vow, and that trulie:
Were there but three men to tak’ my part,
  Yon King’s coming full dear suld be!’        150
 
XXXV

Then messengers he callèd forth,
  And bade them hie them speedilye:
‘Ane of ye gae to Halliday,
  The Laird of the Corehead is he.
 
XXXVI

‘He certain is my sister’s son;
        155
  Bid him come quick and succour me;
The King comes on for Ettrick Forest,
  And landless men we a’ will be.’—
 
XXXVII

‘What news? what news?’ said Halliday,
  ‘Man, frae thy master unto me?’—        160
‘Not as ye would; seeking your aid;
  The King’s his mortal enemie.’—
 
XXXVIII

‘Ay, by my troth!’ said Halliday,
  ‘Even for that it repenteth me;
For gif he lose fair Ettrick Forest,        165
  He’ll tak’ fair Moffatdale frae me.
 
XXXIX

‘I’ll meet him wi’ five hundred men,
  And surely mair, if mae may be;
And before he gets the forest fair,
  We a’ will die on Newark Lee!’        170
 
XL

The Outlaw call’d a messenger,
  And bid him hie him speedilye
To Andrew Murray of Cockpool:
  ‘That man’s a dear cousin to me;
Desire him come and mak’ me aid        175
  With a’ the power that he may be.’
 
XLI

‘It stands me hard,’ Andrew Murray said,
  ‘Judge gif it stand na hard wi’ me;
To enter against a king wi’ crown,
  And set my lands in jeopardie!        180
Yet, if I come not on the day,
  Surely at night he sall me see.’
 
XLII

To Sir James Murray of Traquair,
  A message came right speedilie:
‘What news? what news?’ James Murray said,        185
  ‘Man, frae thy master unto me?’—
 
XLIII

‘What needs I tell? for weel ye ken
  The King’s his mortal enemie;
And now he is coming to Ettrick Forest,
  And landless men ye a’ will be.’        190
 
XLIV

‘And, by my troth,’ James Murray said,
  ‘Wi’ that Outlaw will I live and dee;
The King has gifted my lands lang syne—
  It cannot be nae warse wi’ me.’
 
XLV

The King was comand thro’ Cadden Ford,
        195
  And full five thousand men was he;
They saw the dark forest them before,
  They thought it awsome for to see.
 
XLVI

Then spak’ the Earl hight Hamilton,
  And to the noble King said he,        200
‘My sovereign prince, some counsel tak’,
  First at your nobles, syne at me.
 
XLVII

‘Desire him meet thee at Permanscore,
  And bring four in his companie;
Five earls sall gang yoursell before,        205
  Gude cause that you suld honour’d be.
 
XLVIII

‘And, gif he refuses to do that,
  With fire and sword we’ll follow thee;
There sall never a Murray, after him,
  Hold land in Ettrick Forest free.’        210
 
XLIX

The King then call’d a gentleman,
  Royal banner-bearer there was he,
James Hope Pringle of Torsonse by name;
  He cam’ and kneel’d upon his knee.
 
L

‘Welcome, James Pringle of Torsonse!
        215
  A message ye maun gae for me:
Ye maun gae to yon Outlaw Murray,
  Surely where boldly bideth he.
 
LI

‘Bid him meet me at Permanscore,
  And bring four in his companie;        220
Five earls sall come mysell before,
  Gude reason I suld honour’d be.
 
LII

‘And gif he refuses to do that,
  Bid him look for nae good o’ me;
There sall never a Murray, after him,        225
  Have land in Ettrick Forest free.’
 
LIII

James cam’ before the Outlaw keen,
  And servèd him in his ain degree.—
‘Welcome, James Pringle of Torsonse!
  What message frae the King to me?’—        230
 
LIV

‘He bids ye meet him at Permanscore,
  And bring four in your company;
Five earls sall gang himsell before,
  Nae mair in number will he be.
 
LV

‘And gif you refuse to do that,
        235
  (I freely here upgive wi’ thee,)
He’ll cast your bonny castle down,
  And mak’ a widow o’ your gay ladye.
There will never a Murray, after thysell,
  Have land in Ettrick Forest free.’—        240
 
LVI

‘It stands me hard,’ the Outlaw said,
  ‘Judge gif it stands na hard wi’ me:
What reck o’ the losing of mysell?—
  But a’ my offspring after me!
 
LVII

‘Auld Halliday, young Halliday,
        245
  Ye sall be twa to gang wi’ me;
Andrew Murray, and Sir James Murray,
  We’ll be nae mae in companie.’
 
LVIII

When that they cam’ before the King,
  They fell before him on their knee:        250
‘Grant mercy, mercy, noble King!
  E’en for his sake that dyed on tree.’
 
LIX

‘Siccan like mercy sall ye have;
  On gallows ye sall hangit be!’—
‘Over God’s forbode,’ quoth the Outlaw then,        255
  ‘I hope your grace will better be!
Else, ere you come to Edinburgh port,
  I trow thin guarded sall ye be.
 
LX

Thir lands of Ettrick Forest fair,
  I wan them from the enemie;        260
Like as I wan them, sae will I keep them,
  Contrair a’ kings in Christentie.’
 
LXI

All the nobles the King about,
  Said pity it were to see him dee.
‘Yet grant me mercy, sovereign prince,        265
  Extend your favour unto me!
 
LXII

‘I’ll give thee the keys of my castell,
  Wi’ the blessing o’ my gay ladye,
Gin thou’lt make me sheriff of this forest,
  And a’ my offspring after me.’—        270
 
LXIII

‘Wilt thou give me the keys of thy castell,
  Wi’ the blessing of thy gay ladye?
I’se make thee sheriff of Ettrick Forest,
  Surely while upward grows the tree;
If you be not traitor to the King,        275
  Forfaulted sall thou never be.’
 
LXIV

‘But, Prince, what sall come o’ my men?
  When I gae back, traitor they’ll ca’ me.
I had rather lose my life and land,
  Ere my merry men rebukèd me.’—        280
 
LXV

‘Will your merry men amend their lives,
  An’ a’ their pardons I grant thee?
Now, name thy lands where’er they lie,
  And here I render them to thee.’—
 
LXVI

‘Fair Philiphaugh is mine by right,
        285
  And Lewinshope still mine shall be;
Newark, Foulshiells, and Tinnès baith,
  My bow and arrow purchased me.
 
LXVII

‘And I have native steads to me,
  The Newark Lee and Hanginshaw;        290
I have mony steads in Ettrick Forest,
  But them by name I dinna knaw.’
 
LXVIII

The keys of the castle he gave the King,
  Wi’ the blessing o’ his fair ladye;
He was made sheriff of Ettrick Forest,        295
  Surely while upward grows the tree;
And if he was na traitor to the King,
  Forfaulted he suld never be.
 
LXIX

Wha ever heard, in ony times,
  Siccan an outlaw in his degree        300
Sic favour get before a King,
  As did Outlaw Murray of the forest free?
 
GLOSS:  bigg’d] built.  hollìn holly.  bree] brow.  courtrie] courtiers.  rede] advise.  frith] wood.  whidderand] whizzing.  Soudron] Southron, English.  rad] afraid.  graith] harness.  siccan] such.  Forfaulted] forfeited.
 

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