Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 6 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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218
AULD MAITLAND.
hero of the poem, seems to have been in possession of his estate about 1250 ; so that, as he survived the commencement of the wars betwixt England and Scotland, in 1296, his prowess against the English, in defence of his castle of Lauder or Thirlestane, must have been exerted during his extreme old age.
"The castle of Thirlestane is situated upon the Leader, near the town of Lauder. Whether the present building, which was erected by Chancellor Maitland, and improved by the duke of Lauderdale, occupies the site of the ancient castle, I do not know; but it still merits the epithet of a " darksome house." I find no notice of the siege in history; but there is nothing improbable in supposing, that the castle, dur­ing the stormy period of the Baliol wars, may have held out against the English. The creation of a nephew of Edward I., for the pleasure of slaying him by the hand of young Maitland, is a poetical license; * and may induce us to place the date of the composi­tion about the reign of David II., or of his successor, when the real exploits of Maitland and his sons were in some degree obscured, as well as magnified, by the lapse of time. The inveterate hatred against the English, founded upon the usurpation of Edward I., glows in every line of the ballad.
"Auld Maitland is placed, by Gawain Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, among the popular heroes of romance, in his allegorical Palice of Honour.
* Such liberties with the genealogy of monarchs were common to romancers. Henry the Minstrel makes Wallace slay more than one of King Edward's nephews; and Johnie Armstrong claims the merit of slaying a sister's son of Henry VIII___S. (See p. 49.)