*Hobbie Noble

Ballads: Scottish and English. With illustr. by J. Lawson
By Ballads

Halbert, or Hobeie Noble, was an English outlaw

and freebooter, who had taken refuge on the Scottish border. He was

Halbert, or Hobeie Noble, was an English outlaw and freebooter, who had taken refuge on the Scottish border. He was

“the English man
In Bewcastle was bred and born,”

who aided so materially in the escape of “Jock o* the Syde.” The English authorities were anxious to secure the person of Hobbie, and fair means having been unsuccessful in this object, recourse was had to those of a sinister

nature. Five of the Armstrongs, with Sim o’ the Mains at their head, undertook to betray him into the hands of the English. They effected their purpose during a pretended hostile raid across the Border, and the unsuspecting freebooter fell into the snare prepared for him, and was immediately afterwards executed at Carlisle.

Hobbie Noble, on account of the service which he had rendered the clan in securing the liberty of ” Jock o’ the Syde,” was high in favour with its chief the Laird of Mangertoun ; and the latter was so incensed at the traitorous perfidy of Sim o’ the Mains and his followers, that he determined on summary revenge. Sim, to escape, fled into England, and for some crime committed there, he was executed at Carlisle shortly after.

FOUL fa’ the breast first treason bred in!

That Liddesdale may safely say:
For in it there was baith meat and drink,

And corn unto our geldings gay.

And we were a’ stout-hearted men,

As England she might often say;
But now we may turn our backs and flee,

Since brave Noble is sold away.

Now Hobbie was an English man,

And born into Bewcastle dale;”
But his misdeeds they were so great,

They banish’d him to Liddesdale.

At Kershope foot the tryst was set,

Kershope of the lilye lee;
And there was traitor Sim o’ the Mains,

And with him a private companie.

Then Hobbie has graithed1 his body fair

Baith wi’ the iron and wi’ the steil;
And he has ta’en out his fringed grey,

And there, brave Hobbie, he rade him weel.

Then Hobbie is down the water gane,

E’en as fast as he could hie;
Tho’ a’ should ha’e bursten and broken their hearts,

Frae that riding tryst he wad

“Weel be ye met, my feres1 five!

And now, what is your will wi’ me?”

Then they cried a’, wi’ ae consent,

* Thou ‘rt welcome here, brave Noble, to me.

“Wilt thou with us into England ride,
And thy safe warrand we will be?

If we get a horse, worth a hundred pound,
Upon his back thou sune sall be.”

“I daurna by day into England ride;

The land-serjeant has me at feid; 

And I know not what evil may betide,

For Peter of Whitfield, his brother, is dead.

“And Anton Shiel he loves not me,

For I gat twa drifts o’ his sheep;
The great earl of Whitfield3 loves me not,

For nae geer frae me he e’er could keep.

“But will ye stay till the day gae down,
Until the night come o’er the grund,

And I ’11 be a guide worth ony twa,
That may in Liddesdale be found?

“Though the night be black as pick and tar,

I’11 guide ye o’er yon hill sae hie,

And bring ye a’ in safety back,
If ye’11 be true, and follow me.”

He has guided them o’er moss and muir,
O’er hill and hope, and mony a down;

Until they came to the Foulbogshiel,
And there, brave Noble, he lighted down.

But word is gane to the land-serjeant,

In Askerton where that he lay—

“The deer, that ye ha’e hunted sae lang,

Is seen into the Waste this day.”

Then Hobbie Noble is that deer!

I wat he carries the style fu’ hie;
Aft has he driven our bluidhounds back,

And set ourselves at little lee.

“Gar warn the bows of Hartlie burn;

See they sharp their arrows on the wa’:
Warn Willeva and Speir Edom,

And see the morn they meet me a’.

“Gar meet me on the Rodric-haugh,

And see it be by break o’ day;
And we will on to Conscouthart-green,

For there, I think, we ‘ll get our prey.”

Then Hobbie Noble has dreimit a dreim,
In the Foulbogshiel, where that he lay;

He dreimit his horse was aneith him shot,
And he himself got hard away.

The cocks could craw, the day could daw,
And I wot sae even fell down the rain;
. Had Hobbie na waken’d at that time,

In the Foulbogshiel he had been ta’en or slain.

“Get up, get up, my feres five!

I trow here makes a fu’ ill day;
Yet the worst cloak o’ this company,

I hope, shall cross the Waste this day,”

1 ” The russet bloodhound, wont, near Annand’s stream.
To trace the sly thief with avenging foot.
Close as an evil conscience still at hand.’

Our ancient statutes inform us, that the bloodhound, or sluith-hound, fso called From its quality of tracing the slot, or track, of men and animals,) was early used in the pursuit and detection of marauders. Nullus perturbet, aut impediat canem trassantem, aut hominestrassantes cum ipso, ad sequendum latroncs.— Regium Majestatetn, lib. 4tus, cap. 32. And, so late as 1616, there was an order from the king’s commissioners of the northern counties, that a certain number of slough-hounds should be maintained in every district of Cumberland, bordering upon Scotland. They were of great value, being sometimes sold for a hundred crowns.—Exposition of Bleau’sAtlas, voce Nithsdale._ The bread of this sagacious animal, which could trace the human footstep with the most unerring accuracy, is now nearly extinct.—Scott.


Now Hobbie thought the gates were clear

But, ever alas! it was na sae:
They were beset by cruel men and keen,

That away brave Hobbie might na gae.

“Yet follow me, my feres five,

And see ye keip of me guid ray;

And the worst cloak o’ this company

Even yet may cross the Waste this day.”

But the land-serjeant’s men came Hobbie before,
The traitor Sim came Hobbie behin’,

So had noble been wight as Wallace was,
Away, alas! he might na win.

Then Hobbie had but a laddie’s sword;

But he did mair than a laddie’s deed;

For that sword had clearM Conscouthart-green,

Had it not broke o’er Jerswigham’s head.

Then they ha’e ta’en brave Hobbie Noble,
Wi ‘s ain bowstring they band him sae;

But his gentle heart was ne’er sae sair,
As when his ain five bound him on the brae.

They ha’e ta’en him on for west Carlisle;

They asked him, if he kend the way?

Tho’ much he thought, yet little he said;

He knew the gate as weel as they.

They ha’e ta’en him up the Ricker-gate ;
The wives they cast their windows wide;

And every wife to another can say,
“That’s the man loosed Jock o’ the Syde!”

“Fy on ye, women! why ca’ ye me man?

For it s nae man that I ‘m used like;

I am but like a forfoughen 2 hound,

Has been fighting in a dirty syke.”

They ha’e had him up thro’ Carlisle town, 

And set him by the chimney fire;

They gave brave Noble a loaf to eat,
And that was little his desire.

They gave him a wheaten loaf to eat,

And after that a can of beer;
And they a’ cried, with one consent,

“Eat, brave Noble, and mak gude cheir!

“Confess my lord’s horse, Hobbie,” they said.

“And to-morrow in Carlisle thou ‘s na die.

“How can I confess them,” Hobbie says,

“When I never saw them with my e’e?”

Then Hobbie has sworn a fu’ great aith,
By the day that he was gotten and born,

He never had ony thing o’ my lord’s,
That either eat him grass or corn.

“Now fare thee weel, sweet Mangertoun!

For I think again I ‘ll ne’er thee see:

I wad ha’e betray’d nae lad alive,

For a’ the gowd o’ Christentie.

“And fare thee weel, sweet Liddesdale!

Baith the hie land and the law;

Keep ye weel frae the traitor Mains!

For goud and gear he’ll sell ye a’.

“Yet wad I rather be ca’d Hobbie Noble,
In Carlisle, where he suffers for his fau’t,

Than I ‘d be ca’d the traitor Mains,

Submitted by Mark Elliott  6/16/2013

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