Windham Life and Times – June 11, 2015

Canobie, Canonbie, Cannobie

Part 2: Lochinvar

Lochinvar and "fair" Ellen

Lochinvar and “fair” Ellen

“Lochinvar” is a ballad with eight six-line stanzas. It tells the story of a Scottish knight, “young Lochinvar,” who is described as faithful and true but who arrives at the wedding of his romantic interest to steal her away for his own. Of course, our interest in the poem is that it is set in and around Canonbie Scotland. The brave knight swims across the River Esk, which runs though Canonbie.

Netherby Hall is a real place. “For four centuries the Graham family nurtured and developed Netherby and  its estates. Theirs is a tale of ‘rogues to riches’, steeped in the history of the Borders with its notorious Reivers and a unique part of the country that went by the forbidding name of the Debatable Land.” It appears the Netherby Grahams descended from nobility but sometime before 1492, the King of Scots, probably James III, got fed up of Lang Will’s business practices. “He was well known for his Reiver ways of extracting rents, mails, for land he did own but he went too far when he stole lands from the Earl of Morton. Put to the horn… he was eventually forced to flee with his family to the Debateable Land.” It was a British badlands of sorts, an area where any person who was out with the law could be killed without any redress on the killer,” a place for the Grahams to find refuge. “As such it was home to some of the most notorious Border Reivers, the Grahams among them. Lang Will’s family prospered. By the 1540s, made up of at least six sons,  they had half a dozen peel towers and the  eldest son, Richard, owned Netherby.  Lang Will’s rent collecting business… raised vast amounts of money, 100,000 merks according to one source. They were allies of the Armstrongs and linked by marriage to the Johnstones…”

Netherby Hall and Coop House

Netherby Hall and Coop House

O, Young Lochinvar is come out of the west;
Through all the wide border his steed was the best;
And save his good broad-sword he weapon had none;
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

He staid not for brake, and he stopped not for stone;
He swam the Eske river, where ford there was none;
But, ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall,
‘Mong bridesmen, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all;
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
( For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word, )
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”
 
“I long wooed your daughter, my suit you denied —
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide —
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine;
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”
 
The bride kissed the goblet — the knight took it up;
He quaffed off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She looked down to blush, and she looked up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar —
“Now, tread we a measure ! ”    said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whispered,  ” ‘T were better by far
To have matched our fair cousin with young Lochinvar. ”
 
One touch to her hand and one word in her ear,
When they reached the hall door, and the charger stood near
So light to the croup the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung !
“She is won !     we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar
 
There was mounting  ‘mong Græmes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lea,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar

Cannobie Lea on River Esk

Cannobie Lea on River Esk

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