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The Death Of Parcy Reed Post by :2workathome2 Category :Poems Author :Frank Sidgwick Date :September 2011 Read :3102

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The Death Of Parcy Reed

The Text.--There are two texts available for this ballad, of which the second one, here given, was said to have been taken down from the singing of an old woman by James Telfer of Liddesdale, and was so printed in Richardson's Borderers' Table Book (1846). It preserves almost the whole of the other version, taken from Robert White's papers, who recorded it in 1829; but it obviously bears marks of having been tampered with by Telfer. However, it contains certain stanzas which Child says may be regarded as traditional, and it is therefore preferred here.

The Story.--Percival or Parcy Reed was warden of the district round Troughend, a high tract of land in Redesdale. In the discharge of his duties he incurred the enmity of the family of Hall of Girsonsfield (two miles east of Troughend) and of some moss-troopers named Crosier. As the ballad shows, the treachery of the Halls delivered Parcy Reed into the Crosiers' hands at a hut in Batinghope, a glen westward of the Whitelee stream. Local tradition adds to the details narrated in the ballad that Parcy's wife had been warned by a dream of her husband's danger, and that on the following morning his loaf of bread happened to be turned upside down--a very bad omen.

Further, we learn from the same source, the Crosiers' barbarous treatment of Parcy's corpse aroused the indignation of the neighbourhood, and they and the treacherous Halls were driven away.

Girsonsfield has belonged to no one of the name of Hall as far back as Elizabeth, whence it is argued that the ballad is not later than the sixteenth century.


God send the land deliverance
Frae every reaving, riding Scot!
We'll sune hae neither cow nor ewe,
We'll sune hae neither staig nor stot.

The outlaws come frae Liddesdale,
They herry Redesdale far and near;
The rich man's gelding it maun gang,
They canna pass the puir man's mear.

Sure it were weel, had ilka thief
Around his neck a halter strang;
And curses heavy may they light
On traitors vile oursels amang.

Now Parcy Reed has Crosier taen,
He has delivered him to the law;
But Crosier says he'll do waur than that,
He'll make the tower o' Troughend fa'.

And Crosier says he will do waur,
He will do waur if waur can be;
He'll make the bairns a' fatherless;
And then the land it may lie lee.

'To the hunting, ho!' cried Parcy Reed,
'The morning sun is on the dew;
The cauler breeze frae off the fells
Will lead the dogs to the quarry true.

'To the hunting, ho!' cried Parcy Reed,
And to the hunting he has gane;
And the three fause Ha's o' Girsonsfield
Alang wi' him he has them ta'en.

They hunted high, they hunted low,
By heathery hill and birken shaw;
They raised a buck on Rooken Edge,
And blew the mort at fair Ealylawe.

They hunted high, they hunted low,
They made the echoes ring amain;
With music sweet o' horn and hound,
They merry made fair Redesdale glen.

They hunted high, they hunted low,
They hunted up, they hunted down,
Until the day was past the prime,
And it grew late in the afternoon.

They hunted high in Batinghope,
When as the sun was sinking low.
Says Parcy then, 'Ca' off the dogs,
We'll bait our steeds and homeward go.'

They lighted high in Batinghope,
Atween the brown and benty ground;
They had but rested a little while,
Till Parcy Reed was sleeping sound.

There's nane may lean on a rotten staff,
But him that risks to get a fa';
There's nane may in a traitor trust,
And traitors black were every Ha'.

They've stown the bridle off his steed,
And they've put water in his lang gun;
They've fixed his sword within the sheath,
That out again it winna come.

'Awaken ye, waken ye, Parcy Reed,
Or by your enemies be taen;
For yonder are the five Crosiers
A-coming owre the Hingin-stane.'

'If they be five, and we be four,
Sae that ye stand alang wi' me,
Then every man ye will take one,
And only leave but two to me.
We will them meet as brave men ought,
And make them either fight or flee.'

'We mayna stand, we canna stand,
We daurna stand alang wi' thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and we.'

'O, turn thee, turn thee, Johnnie Ha',
O, turn thee, man, and fight wi' me;
When ye come to Troughend again,
My gude black naig I will gie thee;
He cost full twenty pound o' gowd,
Atween my brother John and me

'I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I daurna turn and fight wi' thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me.'

'O, turn thee, turn thee, Willie Ha',
O, turn thee, man, and fight wi' me;
When ye come to Troughend again,
A yoke o' owsen I'll gie thee.'

'I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I daurna turn and fight wi' thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me.'

'O, turn thee, turn thee, Tommy Ha',
O, turn now, man, and fight wi' me;
If ever we come to Troughend again,
My daughter Jean I'll gie to thee.'

'I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I daurna turn, and fight wi' thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me.'

'O, shame upon ye, traitors a'!
I wish your hames ye may never see;
Ye've stown the bridle off my naig,
And I can neither fight nor flee.

'Ye've stown the bridle off my naig,
And ye've put water i' my lang gun;
Ye've fixed my sword within the sheath,
That out again it winna come.'

He had but time to cross himsel',
A prayer he hadna time to say,
Till round him came the Crosiers keen,
All riding graithed, and in array.

'Weel met, weel met, now, Parcy Reed,
Thou art the very man we sought;
Owre lang hae we been in your debt,
Now will we pay you as we ought.

'We'll pay thee at the nearest tree,
Where we shall hang thee like a hound;'
Brave Parcy rais'd his fankit sword,
And fell'd the foremost to the ground.

Alake, and wae for Parcy Reed,
Alake, he was an unarmed man;
Four weapons pierced him all at once,
As they assailed him there and than.

They fell upon him all at once,
They mangled him most cruellie;
The slightest wound might caused his deid,
And they hae gi'en him thirty-three:
They hacket off his hands and feet,
And left him lying on the lee.

'Now, Parcy Reed, we've paid our debt,
Ye canna weel dispute the tale,'
The Crosiers said, and off they rade;
They rade the airt o' Liddesdale.

It was the hour o' gloaming gray,
When herds come in frae fauld and pen;
A herd he saw a huntsman lie,
Says he, 'Can this be Laird Troughen'?'

'There's some will ca' me Parcy Reed,
And some will ca' me Laird Troughen';
It's little matter what they ca' me,
My faes hae made me ill to ken.

'There's some will ca' me Parcy Reed,
And speak my praise in tower and town
It's little matter what they do now,
My life-blood rudds the heather brown.

'There's some will ca' me Parcy Reed,
And a' my virtues say and sing;
I would much rather have just now
A draught o' water frae the spring.'

The herd flung aff his clouted shoon,
And to the nearest fountain ran;
He made his bonnet serve a cup,
And wan the blessing o' the dying man.

'Now, honest herd, you maun do mair,--
Ye maun do mair as I you tell;
You maun bear tidings to Troughend,
And bear likewise my last farewell.

'A farewell to my wedded wife,
A farewell to my brother John,
Wha sits into the Troughend tower,
Wi' heart as black as any stone.

'A farewell to my daughter Jean,
A farewell to my young sons five;
Had they been at their father's hand,
I had this night been man alive.

'A farewell to my followers a',
And a' my neighbours gude at need;
Bid them think how the treacherous Ha's
Betrayed the life o' Parcy Reed.

'The laird o' Clennel bears my bow,
The laird o' Brandon bears my brand;
Whene'er they ride i' the Border side,
They'll mind the fate o' the laird Troughend.'

1.2: 'reaving,' robbing.
1.4: 'staig,' horse; 'stot,' ox.
26.4: 'graithed,' accoutred.
28.3: 'fankit,' entangled.
31.4: 'the airt o',' i.e. in the direction of.)

(The end)
Frank Sidgwick's poem: Death Of Parcy Reed

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