The Ballad of Hobie Noble

From F.J. Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads [189]

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.

We were stout-hearted men and true,
   As England it did often say;
But now we may turn our backs and fly,
   Since brave Noble is seld away.

Now Hobie he was an English man,
   And born into Bewcastle dale,
But his misdeeds they were sae great,
   They banished him to Liddesdale.

At Kershope-foot the tryst was set,
    Kershope of the lily lee;
And there was traitor Sim o' the Mains,
    With him a private companie.

Then Hobie has graithed his body weel,
    I wat it was wi' baith good iron and steel;
And he has pulled out his fringed grey,
    And there, brave Noble, he rade him weel.

Then Hobie is down the water gane,
    E'en as fast as he may drie;
Tho' they should a' brusten and broken their hearts,
    Frae that tryst Noble he would not be.

'Well may ye be, my feiries five!
    And aye, what is your wills wi' me?'
Then they cryed a' wi' ae consent,
    Thou'rt welcome here, brave Noble, to me.

Wilt thou with us in England ride?
    And thy safe-warrand we will be,
If we get a horse worth a hundred punds
    Upon his back that thou shalt be.

'I dare not with you into England ride,
    The land-sergeant has me at feid;
I know not what evil may betide
    For Peter of Whitfield his brother's dead.

'And Anton Shiel, he loves not me,
    For I gat twa drifts of his sheep;
The great Earl of Whitfield loves me not
    For nae gear 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'll be a guide worth ony twa
    That may in Liddesdale be fund.

Tho' dark the night as pick and tar,
    I'll guide ye o'er yon hills fu' hie,
And bring ye a' in safety back
    If you'll be true and follow me.'

He's guided them o'er moss and muir,
    O'er hill and houp, and mony ae down,
Till they came to the Foulbogshiel,
    And there brave Noble he lighted down.

Then word is gane to the land-sergeant,
    At Askerton where that he lay:
'The deer that ye hae hunted lang
    Is seen into the Waste this day.'

'Then Hobie Noble is that deer:
    I wat he carries the style fu' hie!
Aft has he beat your slough-hounds back,
    And set yourselves at little ee.

'Gar warn the bows of Hartlie-burn,
    See they shaft their arrows on the wa'!
Warn Willeva and Spear Edom,
    And see the morn they meet me a'.

'Gar meet me on the Rodrie-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 Hobie Noble has dreamed a dream,
    In the Foulbogshiel where that he lay;
He thought his horse was 'neath him shot,
    And he himself got hard away.

The cocks could crow, and the day could dawn,
    And I wat so even fell down the rain;
If Hobie had no wakened at that time,
    In the Foulbogshiel he had been ta'en or slain.

'Get up, get up, my feiries five -
    For I wat here makes a fu' ill day -
And the warst clock of this companie
    I hope shall cross the Waste this day.'

Now Hobie thought the gates were clear,
    But, ever alas! it was not sae;
They were beset wi' cruel men and keen,
    That away brave Noble could not gae.

'Yet follow me, my feiries five,
    And see of me ye keep good ray,
And the worst clock of this companie
    I hope shall cross the Waste this day.'

There was heaps of men now Hobie before,
    And other heaps was him behind,
That had he been as Wight as Wallace was
    Away brave Noble he could not win.

Then Hobie had but a laddie's sword,
    But he did more than a laddie's deed;
In the midst of Conscouthart Green,
    He brake it offer Jers a Wigham's head.

Now they have taten brave Hobie Noble,
    Wi' his ain bowstring they band him sae;
And I wat his heart was ne'er sae sair
    As when his ain five hand him an the hrn

They have ta'en him on for West Carlisle;
    They asked him if he knew the way;
Whate'er he thought, yet little he said;
    He knew the way as well as they.

They hae ta'en him up the Ricker-gate;
    The wives they cast their windows wide,
And ilka wife to anither can say,
    That's the man loosed Jock o' the Side!

'Fy on ye, women! why ca' ye me man?
    For it's nae man that I'm used like;
I'm but like a forfoughen hound,
    Has been fighting in a dirty syke.'

Then they hae ta'en him up thro' Carlisle town,
    And set him by the chimney-fire;
They gave brave Noble a wheat loaf to eat,
    And that was little his desire

Then they gave him a wheat loaf to eat
    And after that a can o' beer;
Then they cried a', wi' ae consent,
    Eat, brave Noble, and make good cheer!

Confess my lord's horse, Hobie, they say,
    And the morn in Carlisle thou 's no die;
'How shall I confess them?' Hobie says,
    'For I never saw them with mine eye.'

Then Hobie has sworn a fu' great aith,
    By the day that he was gotten or born,
He never had onything o' my lord's
    That either eat him grass or corn.

'Now fare thee weel, sweet Mangerton!
    For I think again I'll ne'er thee see;
I wad betray nae lad alive,
    For a' the goud in Christentie.

'And fare thee weel now, Liddesdale,
    Baith the hie land and the law! 
Keep ye weel frae traitor Mains!
    For goud and gear he'll sell ye a'.

'I'd rather be ca'd Hobie Noble,
    In Carlisle where he suffers for his faut, 
Before I were ca'd traitor Mains,
    That eats and drinks of meal and maut.'

Hobie is a diminutive of Halbert. The action centres on Bewcastle Waste, a stretch of fell between Liddesdale and N. Tynedale.

(Keep good ray: keep close to me.)

(At little ee: little in awe.)

Kate's Page

Peggy's Page

The Clan MacKintosh.

Kirsty Noble