Katherine Lee Bates (ed.)
Part 4 out of 4
Never was such a burial
Sin' Adam's days begun.
* * * * *
Learn to mak' your bed, Annie,
And learn to lie your lane;
For I am going ayont the sea,
A braw bride to bring hame.
"Wi' her I'll get baith gowd and gear,
Wi' thee I ne'er gat nane;
I got thee as a waif woman,
I'll leave thee as the same.
"But wha will bake my bridal bread,
And brew my bridal ale,
And wha will welcome my bright bride,
That I bring owre the dale?"
"It's I will bake your bridal bread,
And brew your bridal ale;
And I will welcome your bright bride,
When she comes owre the dale."
He set his foot into the stirrup,
His hand upon the mane;
Says, "It will be a year and a day,
Ere ye see me again."
Fair Annie stood in her bower door,
And looked out o'er the lan',
And there she saw her ain gude lord
Leading his bride by the han'.
She's drest her sons i' the scarlet red,
Hersel i' the dainty green;
And tho' her cheek look'd pale and wan,
She weel might hae been a queen.
She called upon her eldest son;
"Look yonder what ye see,
For yonder comes your father dear,
Your stepmither him wi'.
"Ye're welcome hame, my ain gude lord,
To your halls but and your bowers;
Ye're welcome hame, my ain gude lord,
To your castles and your towers;
Sae is your bright bride you beside,
She's fairer than the flowers!"
"I thank ye, I thank ye, fair maiden,
That speaks sae courteouslie;
If I be lang about this house,
Rewarded ye sall be.
"O what'n a maiden's that," she says,
"That welcomes you and me?
She is sae like my sister Annie,
Was stown i' the bower frae me."
O she has served the lang tables,
Wi' the white bread and the wine;
But ay she drank the wan water,
To keep her colour fine.
And as she gaed by the first table,
She leugh amang them a';
But ere she reach'd the second table,
She loot the tears doun fa'.
She's ta'en a napkin lang and white,
And hung it on a pin;
And it was a' to dry her e'en,
As she ga'ed out and in.
When bells were rung, and mass was sung,
And a' men boun to bed,
The bride but and the bonny bridegroom,
In ae chamber were laid.
She's ta'en her harp intill her hand,
To harp this twa asleep;
And ay as she harped and as she sang,
Full sairly did she weep.
"O seven full fair sons hae I born,
To the gude lord o' this place;
And O that they were seven young hares,
And them to rin a race,
And I mysel a gude greyhound,
And I wad gie them chase!
"O seven full fair sons hae I born
To the gude lord o' this ha';
And O that they were seven rattons
To rin frae wa' to wa',
And I mysel a gude grey cat,
And I wad worry them a'!"
"My goun is on," said the new-come bride,
"My shoon are on my feet;
And I will to fair Annie's chamber,
And see what gars her greet.
"O wha was't was your father, Annie,
And wha was't was your mither?
And had ye ony sister, Annie,
Or had ye ony brither?"
"The Earl o' Richmond was my father,
His lady was my mither,
And a' the bairns beside mysel,
Was a sister and a brither."
"O weel befa' your sang, Annie,
I wat ye hae sung in time;
Gin the Earl o' Richmond was your father,
I wat sae was he mine.
"O keep your lord, my sister dear,
Ye never were wranged by me;
I had but ae kiss o' his merry mouth,
As we cam' owre the sea.
There were five ships o' gude red gold
Cam' owre the seas wi' me,
It's twa o' them will tak' me home,
And three I'll leave wi' thee."
* * * * *
THE LAIRD O' DRUM.
The Laird o' Drum is a-hunting gane,
All in a morning early,
And he has spied a weel-faur'd May,
A-shearing at her barley.
"My bonny May, my weel-faur'd May,
O will ye fancy me, O?
Wilt gae and be the Leddy o' Drum,
And let your shearing a-be, O?"
"It's I winna fancy you, kind sir,
Nor let my shearing a-be, O;
For I'm ower low to be Leddy Drum,
And your light love I'll never be, O."
"Gin ye'll cast aff that goun o' gray,
Put on the silk for me, O,
I'll mak' a vow, and keep it true,
A light love you'll never be, O."
"My father lie is a shepherd mean,
Keeps sheep on yonder hill, O,
And ye may gae and speer at him,
For I am at his will, O."
Drum is to her father gane,
Keeping his sheep on yon hill, O:
"I am come to marry your ae daughter,
If ye'll gie me your good-will, O."
"My dochter can naether read nor write,
She ne'er was brocht up at scheel, O;
But weel can she milk baith cow and ewe,
And mak' a kebbuck weel, O.
"She'll shake your barn, and win your corn,
And gang to kiln and mill, O;
She'll saddle your steed in time o' need,
And draw aff your boots hersell, O."
"I'll learn your lassie to read and write,
And I'll put her to the scheel, O;
She shall neither need to saddle my steed,
Nor draw aff my boots hersell, O.
"But wha will bake my bridal bread,
Or brew my bridal ale, O;
And wha will welcome my bonnie bride
Is mair than I can tell, O."
Gaed in at the yetts of Drum, O:
But no a man has lifted his hat,
When the Leddy o' Drum cam' in, O.
"Peggy Coutts is a very bonny bride,
And Drum is big and gawsy;
But he might hae chosen a higher match
Than ony shepherd's lassie!"
Then up bespak his brither John,
Says, "Ye've done us meikle wrang, O;
Ye've married ane far below our degree,
A mock to a' our kin, O."
"Now haud your tongue, my brither John;
What needs it thee offend, O?
I've married a wife to work and win,
And ye've married ane to spend, O.
"The first time that I married a wife,
She was far abune my degree, O;
She wadna hae walked thro' the yetts o' Drum,
But the pearlin' abune her bree, O,
And I durstna gang in the room where she was,
But my hat below my knee, O!"
He has ta'en her by the milk-white hand,
And led her in himsell, O;
And in through ha's and in through bowers,--
"And ye're welcome, Leddy Drum, O."
When they had eaten and well drunken,
And a' men boun for bed, O,
The Laird of Drum and his Leddy fair,
In ae bed they were laid, O.
"Gin ye had been o' high renown,
As ye're o' low degree, O,
We might hae baith gane doun the street
Amang gude companie, O."
"I tauld ye weel ere we were wed,
Ye were far abune my degree, O;
But now I'm married, in your bed laid,
And just as gude as ye, O.
"For an I were dead, and ye were dead,
And baith in ae grave had lain, O;
Ere seven years were come and gane,
They'd no ken your dust frae mine, O."
* * * * *
"Will ye gae to the Hielands, Lizie Lindsay,
Will ye gae to the Hielands wi' me?
Will ye gae to the Hielands, Lizie Lindsay,
And dine on fresh curds and green whey?"
Then out it spak' Lizie's mither,
An' a gude auld leddy was she:
"Gin ye say sic a word to my daughter,
I'll gar ye be hangit hie!"
"Keep weel your daughter for me, madam;
Keep weel your daughter for me.
I care as leetle for your daughter
As ye can care for me!"
Then out spak' Lizie's ain maiden,
An' a bonnie young lassie was she;
"Now gin I were heir to a kingdom,
Awa' wi' young Donald I'd be."
"O say ye sae to me, Nelly?
And does my Nelly say sae?
Maun I leave my father and mither,
Awa' wi' young Donald to gae?"
And Lizie's ta'en till her her stockings,
And Lizie's taen till her her shoon,
And kilted up her green claithing,
And awa' wi' young Donald she's gane.
The road it was lang and was weary;
The braes they were ill for to climb;
Bonnie Lizie was weary wi' travelling,
A fit further couldna she win.
"O are we near hame yet, dear Donald?
O are we near hame yet, I pray?"
"We're naething near hame, bonnie Lizie,
Nor yet the half o' the way."
Sair, O sair was she sighing,
And the saut tear blindit her e'e:
"Gin this be the pleasures o' luving,
They never will do wi' me!"
"Now haud your tongue, bonnie Lizie;
Ye never sall rue for me;
Gie me but your luve for my ain luve,
It is a' that your tocher will be.
"O haud your tongue, bonnie Lizie,
Altho' that the gait seem lang;
And you's hae the wale o' gude living
When to Kincaussie we gang.
"My father he is an auld shepherd,
My mither she is an auld dey;
And we'll sleep on a bed o' green rashes,
And dine on fresh curds and green whey."
They cam' to a hamely puir cottage;
The auld woman 'gan for to say:
"O ye're welcome hame, Sir Donald,
It's yoursell has been lang away."
"Ye mustna ca' me Sir Donald,
But ca' me young Donald your son;
For I hae a bonnie young leddy
Behind me, that's coming alang.
"Come in, come in, bonnie Lizie,
Come hither, come hither," said he;
"Altho' that our cottage be leetle,
I hope we'll the better agree.
"O mak' us a supper, dear mither,
And mak' it o' curds and green whey;
And mak' us a bed o' green rashes,
And cover it o'er wi' fresh hay."
She's made them a bed o' green rashes,
And covered it o'er wi' fresh hay.
Bonnie Lizie was weary wi' travelling,
And lay till 'twas lang o' the day.
"The sun looks in o'er the hill-head,
An' the laverock is liltin' sae gay;
Get up, get up, bonnie Lizie,
Ye've lain till it's lang o' the day.
"Ye might hae been out at the shealin',
Instead o' sae lang to lie;
And up and helping my mither
To milk her gaits and her kye."
Then sadly spak' out Lizie Lindsay,
She spak' it wi' mony a sigh:
"The leddies o' Edinbro' city
They milk neither gaits nor kye."
"Rise up, rise up, bonnie Lizie,
Rise up and mak' yoursel' fine;
For we maun be at Kincaussie,
Before that the clock strikes nine."
But when they cam' to Kincaussie,
The porter he loudly doth say,
"O ye're welcome hame, Sir Donald;
It's yoursell has been lang away!"
It's doun then cam' his auld mither,
Wi' a' the keys in her han';
Saying, "Tak' ye these, bonnie Lizie,
For a' is at your comman'."
* * * * *
There was a may, and a weel-faur'd may.
Lived high up in yon glen:
Her name was Katharine Janfarie,
She was courted by mony men.
Doun cam' the Laird o' Lamington,
Doun frae the South Countrie;
And he is for this bonny lass,
Her bridegroom for to be.
He asked na her father, he asked na her mither,
He asked na ane o' her kin;
But he whispered the bonny lassie hersel',
And did her favor win.
Doun cam' an English gentleman,
Doun frae the English border;
And he is for this bonnie lass,
To keep his house in order.
He asked her father, he asked her mither,
And a' the lave o' her kin;
But he never asked the lassie hersel'
Till on her wedding-e'en.
But she has wrote a lang letter,
And sealed it wi' her han';
And sent it away to Lamington,
To gar him understan'.
The first line o' the letter he read,
He was baith fain and glad;
But or he has read the letter o'er,
He's turned baith wan and sad.
Then he has sent a messenger,
To rin through a' his land;
And four and twenty armed men
Were sune at his command.
But he has left his merry men all,
Left them on the lee;
And he's awa' to the wedding-house,
To see what he could see.
They all rase up to honor him,
For he was of high renown;
They all rase up to welcome him,
And bade him to sit down.
O meikle was the gude red wine
In silver cups did flow;
But aye she drank to Lamington,
And fain with him wad go.
"O come ye here to fight, young lord?
Or come ye here to play?
Or come ye here to drink gude wine
Upon the wedding-day?"
"I come na here to fight," he said,
"I come na here to play;
I'll but lead a dance wi' the bonny bride,
And mount and go my way."
He's caught her by the milk-white hand,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
He's mounted her hie behind himsel',
At her kinsfolk spier'd na leave.
It's up, it's up the Couden bank,
It's doun the Couden brae;
And aye they made the trumpet soun,
"It's a' fair play!"
Now a' ye lords and gentlemen
That be of England born,
Come ye na doun to Scotland thus,
For fear ye get the scorn!
They'll feed ye up wi' flattering words,
And play ye foul play;
They'll dress you frogs instead of fish
Upon your wedding-day!
* * * * *
Threescore o' nobles rade to the king's ha',
But bonnie Glenlogie's the flower o' them a';
Wi' his milk-white steed and his bonny black e'e,
"Glenlogie, dear mither, Glenlogie for me!"
"O haud your tongue, dochter, ye'll get better than he."
"O say na sae, mither, for that canna be;
Though Drumlie is richer, and greater than he,
Yet if I maun lo'e him, I'll certainly dee.
"Where will I get a bonny boy, to win hose and shoon,
Will gae to Glenlogie, and come again soon?"
"O here am I, a bonny boy, to win hose and shoon,
Will gae to Glenlogie, and come again soon."
When he gaed to Glenlogie, 'twas "Wash and go dine,"
'Twas "Wash ye, my pretty boy, wash and go dine."
"O 'twas ne'er my father's fashion, and it ne'er shall be mine,
To gar a lady's errand wait till I dine.
"But there is, Glenlogie, a letter for thee."
The first line he read, a low smile ga'e he;
The next line he read, the tear blindit his e'e;
But the last line he read, he gart the table flee.
"Gar saddle the black horse, gar saddle the brown;
Gar saddle the swiftest steed e'er rade frae the town;"
But lang ere the horse was brought round to the green,
O bonnie Glenlogie was twa mile his lane.
When he cam' to Glenfeldy's door, sma' mirth was there;
Bonnie Jean's mother was tearing her hair;
"Ye're welcome, Glenlogie, ye're welcome," said she
"Ye're welcome, Glenlogie, your Jeanie to see."
Pale and wan was she, when Glenlogie gaed ben,
But red rosy grew she whene'er he sat down;
She turned awa' her head, but the smile was in her e'e;
"O binna feared, mither, I'll maybe no dee."
* * * * *
GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR
It fell about the Martinmas time,
And a gay time it was than,
That our gudewife had puddings to mak'
And she boil'd them in the pan.
The wind blew cauld frae east and north,
And blew intil the floor;
Quoth our gudeman to our gudewife,
"Get up and bar the door."
"My hand is in my hussyskep,
Gudeman, as ye may see;
An it shou'dna be barr'd this hunder year,
It's ne'er be barr'd by me."
They made a paction 'tween them twa,
They made it firm and sure,
That the first word whaever spak,
Should rise and bar the door.
Than by there came twa gentlemen,
At twelve o'clock at night,
Whan they can see na ither house,
And at the door they light.
"Now whether is this a rich man's house,
Or whether is it a poor?"
But ne'er a word wad ane o' them speak,
For barring of the door.
And first they ate the white puddings,
And syne they ate the black:
Muckle thought the gudewife to hersell,
Yet ne'er a word she spak.
Then ane unto the ither said,
"Here, man, tak ye my knife;
Do ye tak aff the auld man's beard,
And I'll kiss the gudewife."
"But there's na water in the house,
And what shall we do than?"
"What ails ye at the pudding bree
That boils into the pan?"
O up then started our gudeman,
An angry man was he;
"Will ye kiss my wife before my een,
And scaud me wi' pudding bree?"
O up then started our gudewife,
Gied three skips on the floor;
"Gudeman, ye've spak the foremost word;
Get up and bar the door."
* * * * *
THE LAWLANDS O' HOLLAND.
"The luve that I hae chosen,
I'll therewith be content;
The saut sea sail be frozen
Before that I repent.
Repent it sall I never
Until the day I dee;
But the Lawlands o' Holland
Hae twinned my luve and me.
"My luve he built a bonny ship,
And set her to the main,
Wi' twenty-four brave mariners
To sail her out and hame.
But the weary wind began to rise,
The sea began to rout,
And my luve and his bonny ship
Turned withershins about.
"There sall nae mantle cross my back,
No kaim gae in my hair,
Sall neither coal nor candle-light
Shine in my bower mair;
Nor sall I choose anither luve
Until the day I dee,
Sin' the Lawlands o' Holland
Hae twinned my luve and me."
"Noo haud your tongue, my daughter dear,
Be still, and bide content;
There are mair lads in Galloway;
Ye needna sair lament."
"O there is nane in Galloway,
There's nane at a' for me.
I never lo'ed a lad but ane,
And he's drowned i' the sea."
* * * * *
THE TWA CORBIES.
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a maen;
The tane into the t'ither did say,
"Whaur shall we gang and dine the day?"
"O doun beside yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
Nae living kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair,
"His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wildfowl hame,
His lady's ta'en another mate,
Sae we may mak' our dinner sweet.
"O we'll sit on his white hause bane,
And I'll pyke out his bonny blue e'en,
Wi' ae lock o' his gowden hair,
We'll theek our nest when it blaws bare.
"Mony a ane for him makes maen,
But nane shall ken whaur he is gane;
Over his banes when they are bare,
The wind shall blaw for evermair."
* * * * *
HELEN OF KIRCONNELL.
I wad I were where Helen lies;
Night and day on me she cries;
O that I were where Helen lies
On fair Kirconnell lea!
Curst be the heart that thought the thought,
And curst the hand that fired the shot,
When in my arms burd Helen dropt,
And died to succor me!
O think na but my heart was sair
When my Love dropt down and spak nae mair!
I laid her down wi' meikle care
On fair Kirconnell lea.
As I went down the water-side,
Nane but my foe to be my guide,
Nane but my foe to be my guide,
On fair Kirconnell lea;
I lighted down my sword to draw,
I hackA(d him in pieces sma',
I hackA(d him in pieces sma',
For her sake that died for me.
O Helen fair, beyond compare!
I'll make a garland of thy hair
Shall bind my heart for evermair
Until the day I dee.
O that I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
Out of my bed she bids me rise,
Says, "Haste and come to me!"
O Helen fair! O Helen chaste!
If I were with thee, I were blest,
Where thou lies low and takes thy rest
On fair Kirconnell lea.
I wad my grave were growing green,
A winding-sheet drawn ower my een,
And I in Helen's arms lying,
On fair Kirconnell lea.
I wad I were where Helen lies;
Night and day on me she cries;
And I am weary of the skies,
Since my Love died for me.
* * * * *
O waly waly up the bank,
And waly waly down the brae,
And waly waly yon burn-side
Where I and my Love wont to gae!
I leant my back unto an aik,
I thought it was a trusty tree;
But first it bow'd, and syne it brak,
Sae my true Love did lichtly me.
O waly waly, but love be bonny
A little time while it is new;
But when 'tis auld, it waxeth cauld
And fades awa' like morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my head?
Or wherefore should I kame my hair?
For my true Love has me forsook,
And says he'll never loe me mair.
Now Arthur-seat sall be my bed;
The sheets sall ne'er be prest by me:
Saint Anton's well sall be my drink,
Since my true Love has forsaken me.
Marti'mas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green leaves aff the tree?
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I am wearie.
'Tis not the frost, that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaw's inclemencie;
'Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
But my Love's heart grown cauld to me.
When we came in by Glasgow town
We were a comely sight to see;
My Love was clad in black velvet,
And I mysell in cramasie.
But had I wist, before I kist,
That love had been sae ill to win;
I had lockt my heart in a case of gowd
And pinn'd it with a siller pin.
And, O! that my young babe were born,
And set upon, the nurse's knee,
And I mysell were dead and gane,
And the green grass growing over me!
* * * * *
"O where hae ye been, Lord Ronald, my son,
O where hae ye been, my handsome young man?"
"I hae been to the wild wood; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."
"Where gat ye your dinner, Lord Ronald, my son?
Where gat ye your dinner, my handsome young man?"
"I dined wi' my true-love; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."
"What gat ye to your dinner, Lord Ronald, my son?
What gat ye to your dinner, my handsome young man?"
"I gat eels boil'd in broo'; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."
"What became of your bloodhounds, Lord Ronald, my son?
What became of your bloodhounds, my handsome young man?"
"O they swell'd and they died; mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."
"O I fear ye are poison'd, Lord Ronald, my son!
O I fear ye are poison'd, my handsome young man!"
"O yes! I am poison'd! mother, make my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wald lie down."
* * * * *
'Why dois your brand sae drap wi bluid,
Why dois your brand sae drap wi bluid,
And why sae sad gang yee O?'
'O I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
O I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
And I had nae mair bot hee O.'
'Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
My deir son, I tell thee O.'
'O I hae killed my reid-roan steid,
O I hae killed my reid-roan steid,
That erst was sae fair and frie O.'
'Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
Sum other dule ye drie O.'
'O I hae killed my fadir deir,
O I hae killed my fadir deir,
Alas, and wae is mee O!'
'And whatten penance wul ye drie for that,
'And whatten penance wul ye drie for that?
My deir son, now tell me O.'
'He set my feit in yonder boat,
He set my feit in yonder boat,
And He fare ovir the sea O.'
'And what wul ye doe wi your towirs and your ha,
And what wul ye doe wi your towirs and your ha,
That were sae fair to see O?'
'Ile let thame stand tul they doun fa,
Ile let thame stand tul they doun fa,
For here nevir mair maun I bee O.'
'And what wul ye leive to your bairns and your wife,
And what wul ye leive to your bairns and your wife,
When ye gang ovir the sea O?'
'The warldis room, late them beg thrae life,
The warldis room, late them beg thrae life,
For thame nevir mair wul I see O.'
'And what wul ye leive to your ain mither deir,
And what wul ye leive to your ain mither deir,
My deir son, now tell me O.'
'The curse of hell frae me sall ye beir,
The curse of hell frae me sall ye beir,
Sic counseils ye gave to me O.'
* * * * *
THE WEE WEE MAN. Mainly after Herd. Given also by Motherwell, Buchan,
and Kinloch, and in Caw's "Poetical Museum." _Shathmont_, a six inch
measure. _Lap_, leaped. _Jimp_, neat.
TAMLANE. Mainly after Aytoun's collated version. Stanzas 16-19,
obtained by Scott "from a gentleman residing near Langholm," are too
modern in diction to harmonize well with the rest, but are retained
here because of their fidelity to the ancient beliefs of the country
folk about fairies. Widely varying versions are given in Johnson's
"Museum," communicated by Burns, under title of _Tam Lin_; in the
Glenriddell MS. under title of _Young Tom Line_; by Herd, under title
of _Kertonha_, corruption of Carterhaugh; by Motherwell, under titles
of _Young Tamlin_ and _Tomaline_; by Buchan, under titles of
_Tam-a-line_ and _Tam a-Lin_; and in the Campbell MS. under title of
_Young Tam Lane_. There are humorous Scottish songs, too, of _Tam o
Lin_, _Tam o the Linn_, _Tom a Lin_, and _Tommy Linn_. The ballad is
of respectable antiquity, the _Tayl of the Yong Tamlene_ and the dance
of _Thom of Lyn_ being noticed in a work as old as the "Complaynt of
Scotland" (1548); yet it seems to have no Continental cousins, but to
be strictly of Scottish origin. It belongs to Selkirkshire, whose
peasants still point out upon the plain of Carterhaugh, about a mile
above Selkirk, the fairy rings in the grass. _Preen'd_, decked.
_Gars_, makes. _Bree_, brow, _Sained_, baptized, _Snell_, keen.
_Teind_, tithe. _Borrow_, ransom. _Cast a compass_, draw a circle.
_Elrish_, elvish. _Gin_, if. _Maik_, mate. _Aske_, lizard. _Bale_,
fire. _But and_, and also. _Tree_, wood. _Coft_, bought.
TRUE THOMAS. Mainly after Scott. This is one of the ballads written
down from the recital of the "good Mrs. Brown," to whose admirable
memory ballad-lovers are so deeply indebted. It is given in the Brown
MS. as _Thomas Rymer and Queen of Elfland_; in the Campbell MS. as
_Thomas the Rhymer_. Scott obtained his excellent version from "a lady
residing not far from Ercildoune." This Thomas the Rhymer, or True
Thomas, or Thomas of Ercildoune, was a veritable personage, who dwelt
in the village of Ercildoune situate by "Leader's silver tide" some
two miles above its junction with the Tweed. Tradition has it that
his date was the thirteenth century and his full name Thomas Learmont.
He was celebrated as poet and prophet, the rustics believing that his
gift of soothsaying was imparted by the Fairy Queen, who kept him with
her in Elfland for seven years, permitting him then to return to the
upper world for a season and utter his oracles, but presently
recalling him to her mysterious court. A fragmentary old poem, showing
probable traces, as Jamieson suggests, of the Rhymer's own authorship,
tells this famous adventure in language whose antiquated form cannot
disguise its sweetness. The melancholy likelihood seems to be that
True Thomas was a fibbing Thomas, after all, and invented this story
of his sojourn in Elfland to gain credit for his poetical prophecies,
which claim to have first proceeded from the mouth of the Fairy Queen,
"Scho broghte hym agayne to Eldone tree,
Vndir nethe that grenewode spraye;
In Huntlee bannkes es mery to bee,
Whare fowles synges bothe nyght and daye."
_Ferlie_, wonder. _Ilka tett_, each lock (of hair). _Louted_, bowed.
_Harp and carp_, play and talk. _Leven_, lawn. _Stern-light_,
star-light. _Dought_, could.
THE ELFIN KNIGHT. After Aytoun's version framed by collation from
copies given by Motherwell, Kinloch, and Buchan. These were in the
main recovered by recitation, although there is a broadside copy of
the ballad in the Pepysian collection at Cambridge. Fragments of the
story have been handed down in tavern-songs and nursery-rhymes, and it
is to be found, more or less disguised, in the literatures of many
countries, European and Asiatic. It is only in our own versions,
however, that the outwitted knight is a supernatural being, usually an
elf, though sometimes degenerating into "the Deil." Nowhere out of
canny Scotland does his ungallantry debar him from the human ranks.
_Sark_, shirt. _Gin_, if. _Tyne_, prong. _Shear_, reap. _Bigg_,
build. _Loof_, hollow of the hand. _But_ (candle, etc.), without
LADY ISOBEL AND THE ELF-KNIGHT. Mainly after Buchan's version entitled
_The Water o' Wearie's Well_, although it is in another version given
by Buchan, under title of _The Gowans sae Gay_, that the name of the
lady is disclosed, and the elfin nature of the eccentric lover
revealed. In that ballad Lady Isobel falls in love with the elf-knight
on hearing him
"blawing his horn,
The first morning in May,"
and this more tuneful version retains in the first two stanzas a
fading trace of the fairy element and the magic music, the bird, whose
song may be supposed to have caused the lady's heartache, being
possibly the harper in elfin disguise. In most of the versions,
however, the knight is merely a human knave, usually designated as
Fause Sir John, and the lady is frequently introduced as May Colven or
Colvin or Collin or Collean, though also as Pretty Polly. The story is
widely circulated, appearing in the folk-songs of nearly all the
nations of northern and southern Europe. It has been suggested that
the popular legend may be "a wild shoot from the story of Judith and
Holofernes." _Dowie_, doleful.
TOM THUMBE. After Ritson, with omissions. Ritson prints from a
manuscript dated 1630, the oldest copy known to be extant, but the
story itself can be traced much further back and was evidently a prime
favorite with the English rustics. The plain, often doggerel verse,
and the rough, often coarse humor of this ballad make it appear at
striking disadvantage among the Scottish folk-songs, essentially
poetic as even the rudest of them are. Tom Thumbe, it must be
confessed, is but a clumsy sort of elf, and the ballad as a whole can
hardly be said to have a fairy atmosphere. Yet it is of value as
adding to the data for a comparison between the English and the
Scottish peasantry, as throwing light on the fun-loving spirit, the
sports and practical joking of Merrie England, as showing the tenacity
of the Arthurian tradition, together with the confusion of chivalric
memories, as displaying the ignorant credulity of the popular mind
toward science no less than toward history, and as illustrating, by
giving us in all this bald, sing-song run of verses, here and there a
sweet or dainty fancy and at least one stanza of exquisite tenderness
and grace, the significant fact that in the genuine old English
ballads beauty is not the rule, but the surprise. _Counters_,
coin-shaped pieces of metal, ivory, or wood, used in reckoning.
_Points_, here probably the bits of tin plate used to tag the strands
of cotton yarn with which, in lieu of buttons, the common folk
fastened their garments. The points worn by the nobles were laces or
silken strands ornamented with aiglets of gold or silver.
KEMPION. After Allingham's version collated from copies given by
Scott, Buchan, and Motherwell, with a touch or two from the kindred
ballad _The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heugh._ Buchan and Motherwell
make the name of the hero Kemp Owyne. Similar ballads are known in
Iceland and Denmark, and the main features of the story appear in both
the classic and romantic literatures. _Weird_, destiny. _Dree_,
suffer. _Borrowed_, ransomed. _Arblast bow_, cross-bow. _Stythe_,
place. _Louted_, bowed.
ALISON GROSS. After Jamieson's version taken from the recitation of
Mrs. Brown. Child claims that this tale is a variety of _Beauty and
the Beast. Lemman_, lover. _Gar_, make. _Toddle_, twine. _Seely
Court_, Happy Court or Fairy Court. See English Dictionary for changes
of meaning in _silly_.
THE WIFE OF USHER'S WELL. After Scott, with a stanza or two from
Chambers, both versions being recovered by recitation. Although this
is scarcely more than a fragment, it is well-nigh unsurpassed for
genuine ballad beauty, the mere touches of narrative suggesting far
deeper things than they actually relate. _Martinmas_, the eleventh of
November. _Carline wife_, old peasant-woman. _Fashes_, troubles.
_Birk_, birch. _Syke_, marsh. _Sheugh_, trench. _Channerin'_,
fretting. _Gin_, if. _Byre_, cow-house.
A LYKE-WAKE DIRGE. After Scott. This dirge belongs to the north of
England and is said to have been chanted, in Yorkshire, over the dead,
down to about 1624. _Lyke-Wake_, dead-watch. _Sleete_, salt, it being
the old peasant custom to place a quantity of this on the breast of
the dead. _Whinny-muir_, Furze-moor. A manuscript found by Ritson in
the Cotton Library states: "When any dieth, certaine women sing a song
to the dead bodie, recyting the journey that the partye deceased must
goe; and they are of beliefe (such is their fondnesse) that once in
their lives, it is good to give a pair of new shoes to a poor man, for
as much as, after this life, they are to pass barefoote through a
great launde, full of thornes and furzen, except by the meryte of the
almes aforesaid they have redemed the forfeyte; for, at the edge of
the launde, an oulde man shall meet them with the same shoes that were
given by the partie when he was lyving; and, after he hath shodde
them, dismisseth them to go through thick and thin, without scratch or
scalle." _Brigg o' Dread_, Bridge of Dread. Descriptions of this
Bridge of Dread are found in various Scottish poems, the most minute
being given in the legend of _Sir Owain_. Compare the belief of the
Mahometan that in his approach to the judgment-seat, he must traverse
a bar of red-hot iron, stretched across a bottomless abyss, true
believers being upheld by their good works, while the wicked fall
headlong into the gulf.
PROUD LADY MARGARET. After Aytoun. The original versions of this
ballad, as given by Scott, Buchan, Dixon, and Laing, differ widely. It
is known under various titles, _The Courteous Knight_, _The Jolly Hind
Squire_, _The Knicht o Archerdale_, _Fair Margret_, and _Jolly
Janet_. Similar ballads are rife in France, although in these it is
more frequently the ghost of a dead lady who admonishes her living
lover. _Wale_, choose. _Ill-washen feet_, etc., in allusion to the
custom of washing and dressing the dead for burial. _Feckless_,
worthless. _Pirie's chair_ remains an unsolved riddle of the ballad,
editors and commentators not being as good at guessing as the ghost.
THE TWA SISTERS O' BINNORIE. Mainly after Aytoun. There are many
versions of this ballad in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland,
varying widely in titles, refrains, and indeed in everything save the
main events of the story. A broadside copy appeared as early as
1656. Ballads on the same subject are very popular among the
Scandinavian peoples, and traces of the story are found as far away as
China and South Africa. _Twined_, parted. _Make_, mate. _Gar'd_,
made. Although Lockhart would have the burden pronounced
BinnoI†rie, a more musical effect is secured by following
Jamieson and pronouncing BinnoI"rie.
THE DEMON LOVER. After Scott. Buchan has a version under title of
_James Herries_, the demon being here transformed into a lover who has
died abroad and comes in spirit guise to punish his "Jeanie Douglas"
for her broken vows. Motherwell gives a graphic fragment. _Ilka_,
every, _Drumly_, dark. _Won_, dwell.
RIDDLES WISELY EXPOUNDED. Mainly after Motherwell. There are several
broadsides, differing slightly, of this ballad. Riddling folk-songs
similar to this in general features have been found among the Germans
and Russians and in Gaelic literature. _Speird_, asked. Unco, uncanny.
Gin, if. Pies, magpies. Clootie, see Burus's Address to the Deil.
"O thou! whatever title suit thee,
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie," etc.
SIR PATRICK SPENS. After Scott. There are many versions of
"The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,"
as Coleridge so justly terms it, the fragment in the Reliques being
un-surpassed among them all for poetic beauty. Herd's longer copy,
like several of the others, runs song-fashion:
"They had not saild upon the sea
A league but merely nine, O,
When wind and weit and snaw and sleit
Cam' blawin' them behin', O."
Motherwell gives the ballad in four forms, in one of them the skipper
being dubbed Sir Patrick, in another Earl Patrick, in another Young
Patrick, and in yet another Sir Andrew Wood. Jamieson's version puts
into Sir Patrick's mouth an exclamation that reflects little credit
upon his sailor character:
"O wha is this, or wha is that,
Has tald the king o' me?
For I was never a gude seaman,
Nor ever intend to be."
But with a few such trifling exceptions, the tone toward the skipper
is universally one of earnest respect and sympathy, the keynote of
every ballad being the frank, unconscious heroism of this "gude Sir
Patrick Spens." In regard to the foundation for the story, Scott
maintains that "the king's daughter of Noroway" was Margaret, known to
history as the Maid of Norway, daughter of Eric, king of Norway, and
of Margaret, daughter of Alexander III. of Scotland. This last-named
monarch died in 1285, the Maid of Norway, his yellow-haired little
granddaughter, being the heiress to his crown. The Maid of Norway
died, however, before she was of age to assume control of her
turbulent Scottish kingdom. Scott surmises, on the authority of the
ballad, that Alexander, desiring to have the little princess reared in
the country she was to rule, sent this expedition for her during his
life-time. No record of such a voyage is extant, although possibly the
presence of the king is a bold example of poetic license, and the
reference is to an earlier and more disastrous embassy than that
finally sent by the Regency of Scotland, after Alexander's death, to
their young queen, Sir Michael Scott of wizard fame being at that time
one of the ambassadors. Finlay, on the other hand, places this ballad
in the days of James III., who married Margaret of Denmark. Here we
have historic testimony of the voyage, but none of the shipwreck,--yet
against any one of these theories the natural objection is brought
that so lamentable a disaster, involving so many nobles of the realm,
would hardly be suffered to escape the pen of the chronicler.
Motherwell, Maidment, and Aytoun, relying on a corroborative passage
in Fordun's _Scotichronicon_, hold with good appearance of reason that
the ballad pictures what is known as an actual shipwreck, on the
return from Norway of those Scottish lords who had escorted thither
the bride of Eric, the elder Margaret, afterward mother of the little
Maid of Norway. The ballad itself well bears out this theory,
especially in the taunt flung at the Scottish gallants for lingering
too long in nuptial festivities on the inhospitable Norwegian coast.
The date of this marriage was 1281. _Skeely_, skilful. _Gane_,
sufficed. _Half-fou_, half-bushel. _Gurly_, stormy.
THE BATTE OF OTTERBURNE. After Scott. There are several Scottish
versions of this spirit-stirring ballad, and also an English version,
first printed in the fourth edition of the _Reliques_. The English
ballad, naturally enough, dwells more on the prowess of Percy and his
countrymen in the combat than on their final discomfiture. A vivid
account of the battle of Otterburne may be found in Froissart's
_Chronicles_. In brief, it was a terrible slaughter brought about by
the eager pride and ambition of those two hot-blooded young
chieftains, James, Earl of Douglas, and the redoubtable Harry Percy.
Yet the generosity of the leaders and the devoted loyalty of their men
throw a moral splendor over the scene of bloodshed. In the year 1388
Douglas, at the head of three thousand Scottish spears, made a raid
into Northumberland and, before the walls of Newcastle, engaged Percy
in single combat, capturing his lance with the attached pennon.
Douglas retired in triumph, brandishing his trophy, but Hotspur,
burning with shame, hurriedly mustered the full force of the Marches
and, following hard upon the Scottish rear, made a night attack upon
the camp of Douglas at Otterbnrne, about twenty miles from the
frontier. Then ensued a moonlight battle, gallant and desperate,
fought on either side with unflinching bravery, and ending in the
defeat of the English, Percy being taken prisoner. But the Scots
bought their glory dear by the loss of their noble leader, who, when
the English troops, superior in number, were gaining ground, dashed
forward with impetuous courage, cheering on his men, and cleared a way
with his swinging battle-axe into the heart of the enemy's ranks.
Struck down by three mortal wounds, he died in the midst of the fray,
urging with his failing breath these last requests upon the little
guard of kinsmen who pressed about him: "First, that yee keep my death
close both from our owne folke and from the enemy; then, that ye
suffer not my standard to be lost or cast downe; and last, that ye
avenge my death, and bury me at Melrosse with my father. If I could
hope for these things," he added, "I should die with the greater
contentment; for long since I heard a prophesie that a dead man should
winne a field, and I hope in God it shall be I." Lammas-tide, the
first of August. Muirmen, moorinen. Harried, plundered. The tane, the
one. Fell, skin. (The inference is that Percy was rescued by his men.)
_Gin_, if. _Burn_, brook. _Kale_, broth. _Fend_, sustain. _Bent_, open
field. _Petitions_, tents (pavilions). _Branking_, prancing.
_Wargangs_, wagons. _Ayont_, beyond. _Hewmont_, helmet. _Smakkit_,
smote. _Bracken_, fern.
THE HUNTING OF THE CHEVIOT. After Hearne, who first printed it from a
manuscript in the Ashmolean collection at Oxford. It was next printed
in the Reliques, under title of Chevy-Chase,--a title now reserved for
the later and inferior broadside version which was singularly popular
throughout the seventeenth century and is still better known than this
far more spirited original. "With regard to the subject of this
ballad,"--to quote from Bishop Percy,--"although it has no countenance
from history, there is room to think it had originally some foundation
in fact. It was one of the laws of the Marches, frequently renewed
between the nations, that neither party should hunt in the other's
borders, without leave from the proprietors or their deputies. There
had long been a rivalship between the two martial families of Percy
and Douglas, which, heightened by the national quarrel, must have
produced frequent challenges and struggles for superiority, petty
invasions of their respective domains, and sharp contests for the
point of honour; which would not always be recorded in history.
Something of this kind, we may suppose, gave rise to the ancient
ballad of the Hunting o' the Cheviat. Percy, Earl of Northumberland,
had vowed to hunt for three days in the Scottish border, without
condescending to ask leave from Earl Douglas, who was either lord of
the soil, or lord warden of the Marches. Douglas would not fail to
resent the insult, and endeavour to repel the intruders by force; this
would naturally produce a sharp conflict between the two parties;
something of which, it is probable, did really happen, though not
attended with the tragical circumstances recorded in the ballad: for
these are evidently borrowed from the Battle of Otterbourn, a very
different event, but which aftertimes would easily confound with it."
The date of the ballad cannot, of course, be strictly ascertained. It
was considered old in the middle of the sixteenth century, being
mentioned in _The Complaynt of Scotland_ (1548) among the "sangis of
natural music of the antiquite." Not much can be said for its
"natural music," yet despite its roughness of form and enviable
inconsistencies of spelling, it has always found grace with the poets.
Rare Ben Jonson used to say that he would rather have been the author
of _Chevy Chase_ than of all his works; Addison honored the broadside
version with two critiques in the _Spectator_; and Sir Philip Sidney,
though lamenting that the ballad should be "so evil apparrelled in the
dust and cobwebs of that uncivill age," breaks out with the ingenuous
confession: "I never heard the olde song of Percy and Duglas that I
found not my heart mooved more then with a trumpet, and yet is it sung
but by some blinde crouder, with no rougher voice then rude stile."
Mauger, despite. _Let_, hinder. _Meany_, company. _Shyars_,
shires. _Bomen_, bowmen. _Byckarte_, moved quickly, rattling their
weapons. _Bent_, open field. _Aras_, arrows. _Wyld_, wild creatures,
as deer. _Shear_, swiftly. _Grevis_, groves. _Glent_, glanced, flashed
by. _Oware off none_, hour of noon. _Mart_, death-signal (as used in
hunting.) _Quyrry_, quarry, slaughtered game. _Bryttlynge_, cutting
up. _Wyste_, knew. _Byll and brande_, axe and sword. _Glede_, live
coal. _The ton_, the one. _Yerle_, earl. _Cars_, curse. _Nam_, name.
_Wat_, wot, know. _Sloughe_, slew. _Byddys_, abides. _Wouche_, injury.
_Ost_, host. _Suar_, sure. _Many a doughete the garde to dy_, many a
doughty (knight) they caused to die. _Basnites_, small helmets.
_Myneyeple_, maniple (of many folds), a coat worn under the armor.
_Freyke_, warrior. _Swapte_, smote. _Myllan_, Milan. _Hight_,
promise. _Spendyd_, grasped (spanned). _Corsiare_, courser. _Blane_,
halted. _Dynte_, stroke. _Halyde_, hauled. _Stour_, press of battle.
_Dre_, endure. _Hinde_, gentle. _Hewyne in to_, hewn in two. _The
mayde them byears_, they made them biers. _Makys_, mates. _Carpe off
care_, tell of sorrow. _March perti_, the Border district.
_Lyff-tenant_, lieutenant. _Weal_, clasp. _Brook_, enjoy. _Quyte_,
avenged. _That tear begane this spurn_, that wrong caused this
retaliation. _Reane_, rain. _Ballys bete_, sorrows amend.
EDOM O' GORDON. After Aytoun. This ballad was first printed at
Glasgow, 1755, as taken down by Sir David Dalrymple "from the
recitation of a lady," and was afterwards inserted--"interpolated and
corrupted," says the unappeasable Ritson--in Percy's _Reliques_.
Ritson himself published a genuine and ancient copy from a manuscript
belonging apparently to the last quarter of the sixteenth century and
preserved in the Cotton Library. The ballad is known under two other
titles, _Captain Car_ and _The Burning o' London Castle._
Notwithstanding this inexactitude in names, the ballad has an
historical basis. In 1571 Adam Gordon, deputy-lieutenant of the North
of Scotland for Queen Mary, was engaged in a struggle against the clan
Forbes, who upheld the Reformed Faith and the King's party. Gordon was
successful in two sharp encounters, but "what glory and renown he
obtained of these two victories," says the contemporary History of
King James the Sixth, "was all cast down by the infamy of his next
attempt; for immediately after this last conflict he directed his
soldiers to the castle of Towie, desiring the house to be rendered to
him in the Queen's name; which was obstinately refused by the lady,
and she burst forth with certain injurious words. And the soldiers
being impatient, by command of their leader, Captain Ker, fire was put
to the house, wherein she and the number of twenty-seven persons were
cruelly burnt to the death."
_Martinmas_, the eleventh of November. _Hauld_, stronghold. _Toun_,
enclosed place. _Buskit_, made ready. _Light_, alighted. _But and_,
and also. _Dree_, suffer. _But an_, unless. _Wude_, mad. _Dule_,
pain. _Reek_, smoke. _Nourice_, nurse. _Jimp_, slender. _Row_,
roll. _Tow_, throw. _Busk and boun_, up and away. _Freits_, ill
omens. _Lowe_, blaze. _Wichty_, sturdy. _Bent_, field. _Teenfu'_,
sorrowful. _Wroken_, avenged.
KINMONT WILLIE. After Scott. This dashing ballad appeared for the
first time in the Border Minstrelsy, having been "preserved by
tradition," says Scott, "on the West Borders, but much mangled by
reciters, so that some conjectural emendations have been absolutely
necessary to render it intelligible." The facts in the case seem to be
that in 1596 Salkeld, deputy of Lord Scroope, English Warden of the
West Marches, and Robert Scott, for the Laird of Buccleuch, Keeper of
Liddesdale, met on the border line for conference in the interest of
the public weal. The truce, that on such occasions extended from the
day of the meeting to the next day at sunset, was this time violated
by a party of English soldiers, who seized upon William Armstrong of
Kinmonth, a notorious freebooter, as he, attended by but three or four
men, was returning from the conference; and lodged him in Carlisle
Castle. The Laird of Buccleuch, after treating in vain for his
release, raised two hundred horse, surprised the castle and carried
off the prisoner without further ceremony. This exploit the haughty
Queen of England "esteemed a great affront" and "stormed not a little"
against the "bauld Buccleuch." _Haribee_, the place of execution at
Carlisle. _Liddel-rack_, a ford on the Liddel. _Reiver_, robber.
_Hostelrie_, inn. _Lawing_, reckoning. _Garr'd_, made. _Basnet_,
helmet. _Curch_, cap. _Lightly_, set light by. _Low_, blaze. _Splent
on spauld_, armor on shoulder. _Woodhouselee_, a house belonging to
Buccleuch, on the Border. _Herry_, harry, spoil. _Corbie_, crow.
_Wons_, dwells. _Lear_, lore. _Row-footed_, rough-footed(?). _Spait_,
flood. _Garr'd_, made. _Stear_, stir. _Coulters_, ploughshares.
_Forehammers_, the large hammers that strike before the small,
sledgehammers. _Fley'd_, frightened. _Spier_, inquire. _Hente_,
caught. _Maill_, rent. _Airns_, irons. _Wood_, mad. _Furs_,
furrows. _Trew_, trust.
KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY. After Percy, who printed from
an ancient black-letter copy. There are three other broadside versions
of this popular ballad extant, and at least one older version has been
lost. Similar riddle-stories are to be found in almost all European
literatures. There is nothing in this ballad save the name of King
John, with his reputation for unjust and high-handed dealing, that can
be called traditional. _Deere_, harm. _Stead_, place. _St. Bittel_,
ROBIN HOOD RESCUING THE WIDOW'S THREE SONS. After Ritson, who has
collected in two volumes the ballads of Robin Hood. This is believed
to be one of the oldest of them all. A concise introduction to the
Robin Hood ballads is given by Mr. Hales in the _Percy Folio MS_.
vol. i. This legendary king of Sherwood Forest is more rightfully the
hero of English song than his splendid rival, the Keltic King Arthur,
"whose name, a ghost,
Streams like a cloud, man-shaped, from mountain peak,
And cleaves to cairn and cromlech still."
Yet there is scarcely less doubt as to the actual existence of a
flesh-and-blood Robin Hood than there is as to the actual existence of
a flesh-and-blood King Arthur. But let History look to her own;
Literature need have no scruple in claiming both the archer-prince of
outlaws and the blameless king of the Table Bound. Kobber chieftain or
democratic agitator, romantic invention or Odin-myth, it is certain
that by the fourteenth century Robin Hood was a familiar figure in
English balladry. We have our first reference to this generous-hearted
rogue of the greenwood, who is supposed by Ritson to have lived from
1160 to 1247, in Langlande's _Piers Ploughman_ (1362). There are
brief notices of the popular bandit in Wyntoun's _Scottish Chronicle_
(1420), Fordun's _Scotichronicon_ (1450), and Mair's _Historia Majoris
Brittaniae_ (1521). Famous literary allusions occur in Latimer's
_Sixth Sermon before Edward VI_. (1548), in Drayton's _Polyolbion
(1613), and Fuller's _Worthies of England_ (1662). The Robin Hood
ballads illustrate to the full the rough and heavy qualities, both of
form and thought, that characterize all our English folk-songs as
opposed to the Scottish. We feel the difference instantly when a
minstrel from over the Border catches up the strain:
"There's mony ane sings o'grass, o'grass,
And mony ane sings o'corn;
And mony ane sings o'Robin Hood,
Kens little whar' he was born.
"It was na' in the ha', the ha',
Nor in the painted bower;
But it was in the gude greenwood,
Amang the lily flower."
Yet these rude English ballads have just claims on our regard. They
stand our feet squarely upon the basal rock of Saxon ethics, they
breathe a spirit of the sturdiest independence, and they draw, in a
few strong strokes, so fresh a picture of the joyous, fearless life
led under the green shadows of the deer-haunted forest by that
memorable band, bold Robin and Little John, Friar Tuck and George a
Green, Will Scarlett, Midge the Miller's Son, Maid Marian and the
rest, that we gladly succumb to a charm recognized by Shakespeare
himself: "They say he is already in the forest of Arden, and a many
merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of
England; they say many young gentlemen flock to him every day, and
fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world."--_As You
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLIN A DALE. After Ritson. This ballad is first found
in broadside copies of the latter half of the seventeenth
century. _Lin._, pause.
ROBIN HOOD'S DEATH AND BURIAL. After Ritson, who made his version from
a collation of two copies given in a York garland.
ANNIE OF LOCHROYAN. After Aytoun, who improves on Jamieson's
version. This beautiful ballad is given in varying forms by Herd,
Scott, Buchan, and others. Lochroyan, or Loch Ryan, is a bay on the
south-west coast of Scotland. _Jimp_, slender. _Gin_, if. _Greet_,
cry. _Tirl'd_, rattled. _But and_, and also. _Warlock_, wizard.
_Sinsyne_, since then. _Hooly_, slowly. _Deid_, death. _Syne_, then.
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET. After Aytoun, who adds to the first
twenty-four stanzas of the copy given in the _Reliques_ a concluding
fourteen taken from Jamieson's _Sweet Willie and Fair Annie_. The
unfortunate lady elsewhere figures as _The Nut-Brown Bride_ and _Fair
Ellinor_. There are Norse ballads which relate something akin to the
same story. _Gif_, if. _Rede_, counsel. _Owsen_, oxen. _Billie_, an
affectionate term for brother. _Byre_, cow-house. _Fadge_, clumsy
woman. _Sheen_, shoes. _Tift_, whiff. _Gin_, if. _Cleiding_,
clothing. _Bruik_, enjoy. _Kist_, chest. _Lee_, lonesome. _Till_,
to. _Dowie_, doleful. _Sark_, shroud. _But and_, and also. _Birk_,
THE BANKS OF YARROW. After Allingham's collated version. There are
many renderings of this ballad, which Scott declares to be a great
favorite among the peasantry of the Ettrick forest, who firmly believe
it founded on fact. The river Yarrow, so favored of the poets, flows
through a valley in Selkirkshire and joins the Tweed above the town of
Selkirk. The _Tennies_ is a farm below the Yarrow kirk. _Lawing_,
reckoning. _Dawing,_, dawn. _Marrow_, mate. _Dowie_, doleful.
_Leafu', _lawful. _Binna_, be not.
THE DOUGLAS TRAGEDY. After Scott. This ballad is likewise known under
titles of _Earl Brand, Lady Margaret _and _The Child of Ell_. Danish,
Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic ballads relate a kindred story, and
the incident of the intertwining plants that spring from the graves of
hapless lovers, occurs in the folk-lore of almost all peoples.
_Bugelet_, a small bugle. _Dighted_, strove to stanch. _Plat_,
PINE FLOWERS I' THE VALLEY. After Aytoun, his version, though taken
down from recitation, being in reality a compound of Herd's and
Jamieson's. Aytoun claims that "this is perhaps the most popular of
all the Scottish ballads, being commonly recited and sung even at the
present day." Different refrains are often employed, and the ballad is
frequently given under title of _The Cruel Brother_. Stories similar
to this are found in the balladry of both northern and southern
Europe. Marrow, mate. Close, avenue leading from the door to the
street. Loutiny, bowing. Its lane, alone.
THE GAY GOSS-HAWK. Mainly after Motherwell, although his version is
entitled _The Jolly Goshawk_. The epithet Gay has the sanction of
Scott and Jamieson. Buchan gives a rendering of this ballad under
title of The Scottish Squire. Whin, furze. Bigly, spacious. Sark,
shroud. Claith, cloth. Steeking, stitching. Gar'd, made. Chive,
morsel. Skaith, harm.
YOUNG REDIN. After Allingham's collated copy. There are many versions
of this ballad, the hero being variously known as Young Hunting, Earl
Richard, Lord William, Lord John and Young Redin. Birl'd, plied. Douk,
dive. Weil-head, eddy. Linn, the pool beneath a cataract. Brin, burn.
WILLIE AND MAY MARGARET. After Allingham's copy framed by collating
Jamieson's fragmentary version with Buchan's ballad of _The Drowned
Lovers_. Stour, wild. Pot, a pool in a river. Dowie den, doleful
hollow. Tirled, rattled. Sleeked, fastened. Brae, hillside. Sowm,
swim. Minnie, affectionate term for mother.
YOUNG BEICHAN. Mainly after Jamieson, his version being based upon a
copy taken down from the recitation of the indefatigable Mrs. Brown
and collated with a manuscript and stall copy, both from Scotland, a
recited copy from the North of England, and a short version "picked
off an old wall in Piccadilly." Of this ballad of _Young Beichan_
there are numerous renderings, the name of the hero undergoing many
variations,--Bicham, Brechin, Beachen, Bekie, Bateman, Bondwell--and
the heroine, although Susie Pye or Susan Pye in ten of the fourteen
versions, figuring also as Isbel, Essels, and Sophia. It was probably
an English ballad at the start, but bears the traces of the Scottish
minstrels who were doubtless prompt to borrow it. There is likelihood
enough that the ballad was originally suggested by the legend of
Gilbert Becket, father of the great archbishop; the story running that
Becket, while a captive in Holy Land, plighted his troth to the
daughter of a Saracenic prince. When the crusader had made good his
escape, the lady followed him, inquiring her way to "England" and to
"London," where she wandered up and down the streets, constantly
repeating her lover's name, "Gilbert," the third and last word of
English that she knew, until finally she found him, and all her woes
were put to flight by the peal of wedding bells. _Termagant_, the name
given in the old romances to the God of the Saracens. _Pine_, pain.
_Sheave_, slice. _But and_, and also. _Dreed_, endured.
GILDEROY. After the current version adapted from the original by Sir
Alexander Halket or his sister, Lady Elizabeth Wardlaw, the composer
of _Hardyknute_. There is extant a black-letter broadside printed in
England as early as 1650, and the ballad appears in several
miscellanies of later date. The reviser added the sixth, seventh, and
eighth stanzas. It is mortifying to learn that this "winsome Gilderoy
"--the name, properly Gillie roy, signifying in Gaelic "the red-haired
lad"--was in reality one Patrick Mac-Gregor, who was hanged at the
cross of Edinburgh, 1638, as a common cateran or free-booter. That the
romantic element in the ballad so outweighs the historical, must
account for its classification here. _Soy_, silk. _Cess_,
black-mail. _Gear_, property.
BONNY BARBARA ALLAN. After the version given in Ramsay's _Tea-Table
Miscellany_ and followed by Herd, Ritson, and others. Percy prints
with this in the _Reliques_ a longer, but poorer copy. In Pepys's
_Diary_, Jan. 2,1666, occurs an allusion to the "little Scotch song of
Barbary Alien." _Gin_, if. _Hooly_, slowly. _Jow_, knell.
THE GARDENER. After Kinloch. Buchan gives a longer, but less valuable
version. _Jimp_, slender. _Weed_, dress. _Camorine_, camomile.
_Kail-blade_, cabbage-leaf. _Cute_, ankle. _Brawn_, calf.
_Blaewort_, witch bells.
ETIN THE FORESTER. Collated. No single version of this ballad is
satisfactory, not Kinloch's fine fragment, _Hynde Etin_, nor Buchan's
complete but inferior version, _Young Akin_, nor the modernized copy,
_Young Hastings_, communicated by Buchan to Motherwell. Earlier and
better renderings of the ballad have doubtless been lost. In the old
Scottish speech, an Etin signified an ogre or giant, and although the
existing versions show but faint traces of a supernatural element, it
is probable that the original character of the story has been changed
by the accidents of tradition, and that the Etin was at the outset in
line with such personages as Arnold's Forsaken Merman. In the
beautiful kindred ballads which abound in the Norse and German
literatures, the Etin is sometimes represented by a merman, though
usually by an elf-king, dwarf-king, or hill-king. _Hind chiel_, young
stripling. _Spier_, ask. _Bigg_, build. _Their lane_, alone. _Brae_,
hillside. _Gars_, makes. _Greet_, weep. _Stown_, stolen. _Laverock_,
lark. _Lift_, air. _Buntin'_, blackbird. _Christendame_, christening.
_Ben_, in. _Shaw_, forest. _Louted_, bowed. _Boun'_, go.
LAMKIN. After Jamieson. The many versions of this ballad show an
unusually small number of variations. The name, though occurring in
the several forms of Lambert Linkin, Lamerlinkin, Rankin, Belinkin,
Lankyn, Lonkin, Balcanqual, most often appears as Lamkin or Lammikin
or Lambkin, being perhaps a nick-name given to the mason for the
meekness with which he had borne his injuries. This would explain the
resentful tone of his inquiries on entering the house. _Nourice_,
nurse. _Limmer_, wretch. _Shot-window_, projecting window. _Gaire_,
edge of frock. _Ilka_, each. _Bore_, crevice. _Greeting_, crying.
_Dowie_, doleful. _Chamer_, chamber. _Lamer_, amber. _Ava'_, of all.
HUGH OF LINCOLN. Mainly after Jamieson. Percy gives a version of this
famous ballad under title of _The Jew's Daughter_, and Herd and
Motherwell, as well as Jamieson, have secured copies from recitation.
The general view that this ballad rests upon an historical basis has
but slender authority behind it. Matthew Paris, never too reliable as
a chronicler, says that in 1255 the Jews of Lincoln, after their
yearly custom, stole a little Christian boy, tortured and crucified
him, and flung him into a pit, where his mother found the body. This
is in all probability one of the many cruel slanders circulated
against the Jews during the Middle Ages, to reconcile the Christian
conscience to the Christian maltreatment of that long-suffering
race. Such stories are related of various mediaeval innocents, in
various lands and centuries, and may be classed together, until better
evidence to the contrary presents itself, as malicious falsehood. This
ballad should be compared, of course, with Chaucer's _Prioresses
Tale_. _Keppit_, caught. _Gart_, made. _Twinn'd_, deprived. _Row'd_,
rolled. _Ilka_, each. _Gin_, it.
FAIR ANNIE. Mainly after Jamieson's version entitled _Lady Jane_.
Jamieson gives another copy, where the heroic lady is known as _Burd
Helen_, but Scott, Motherwell, Kinloch, Buchan, and others agree on
the name _Fair Annie_. The pathetic beauty of the ballad has secured
it a wide popularity. There are Danish, Swedish, Dutch, and German
versions. "But Fair Annie's fortunes have not only been charmingly
sung," says Professor Child. "They have also been exquisitely _told_
in a favorite lay of Marie de France, 'Le Lai del Freisne.' This tale
of Breton origin is three hundred years older than any manuscript of
the ballad. Comparison will, however, quickly show that it is not the
source either of the English or of the Low German and Scandinavian
ballad. The tale and the ballads have a common source, which lies
further back, and too far for us to find." _Your lane_, alone. _Braw_,
finely dressed. _Gear_, goods. _But and_, and also. _Stown_, stolen.
_Leugh_, laughed. _Loot_, let. _Gars_, makes. _Greet_, weep.
THE LAIRD O' DRUM. After Aytoun's collated version. Copies obtained
from recitation are given by Kinloch and Buchan. The eccentric Laird
o' Drum was an actual personage, who, in the seventeenth century,
mortified his aristocratic relatives and delighted the commons by
marrying a certain Margaret Coutts, a woman of lowly rank, his first
wife having been a daughter of the Marquis of Huntly. The old shepherd
speaks in the Aberdeen dialect. _Weel-faur'd_, well-favored. _Gin_,
if. _Speer_, ask. _Kebbuck_, cheese. _Yetts_, gates. _Gawsy_, portly.
_But the pearlin' abune her bree_, without the lace above her brow.
LIZIE LINDSAY. After Jamieson. Complete copies are given by Buchan and
Whitelaw, also. _Till_, to. _Braes_, hills. _Fit_, foot. _Gin_, if.
_Tocher_, dowry. _Gait_, way. _Wale_, choice. _Dey_, dairy-woman.
_Laverock_, lark. _Liltin'_, carolling. _Shealin'_, sheep-shed. _Gaits
and kye_, goats and cows.
KATHARINE JANFARIE. Mainly after Motherwell's version entitled
_Catherine Johnstone_. Other renderings are given by Scott, Maidment,
and Buchan. In Scott's version the name of the English suitor is Lord
Lochinvar, and both name and story the thieving poet has turned, as
everybody knows, to excellent account. The two closing stanzas here
seem to betray the hand of an English balladist. _Weel-faur'd_,
well-favored. _Lave_, rest. _Spier'd_, asked. _Brae_, hill.
GLENLOGIE. After Smith's version in the _Scottish Minstrel_,--a book
wherein "great liberties," Motherwell claims, have been taken with
ancient lays. A rough but spirited version is given by Sharpe, and a
third by Buchan. _Gar_, make. _His lane_, alone.
GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR. After Herd. This ballad appears, too, in
Johnson's _Museum_ and Ritson's _Scottish Songs_. _Martinmas_, the
eleventh of November. _Intil_, into. _Hussyskep_, house-keeping.
_Bree_, broth. _Scaud_, scald.
THE LAWLANDS O' HOLLAND. After Herd. Another version, longer and
poorer, occurs in Johnson's _Museum_. _Withershins_, the wrong
way. _Twinned_, parted.
THE TWA CORBIES. After Scott, who received it from Mr. C. K. Sharpe,
"as written down, from tradition, by a lady." This seems to be the
Scottish equivalent of an old English poem, _The Three Ravens_, given
by Ritson in his _Ancient Songs_. _Corbies_, ravens. _Fail_, turf.
_Kens_, knows. _Hause_, neck. _Pyke_, pick. _Theek_, thatch.
HELEN OF KIRCONNEL. After Scott. Other versions are given by Herd,
Ritson, and Jamieson. There is said to be a traditional basis for the
ballad, and the grave of the lovers, Adam Fleming and Helen Irving (or
Helen Bell), is still pointed out in the churchyard of Kirconnell,
near Springkell. _Burd_, lady.
WALY WALY. After Ramsay, being first published in the _Tea-Table
Miscellany_. These touching and tender stanzas have been pieced by
Chambers into the patchwork ballad, _Lord Jamie Douglas_, but
evidently it is not there that they belong. _Waly_, a cry of
lamentation. _Brae_, hillside. _Burn_, brook. _Syne_, then. _Lichtly_,
slight. _Busk_, adorn. _Marti'mas_, November. _Fell_, bitterly.
LORD RONALD. After Scott's version entitled _Lord Randal_. Scott
adopts this name because he thinks the ballad may originally have had
reference to the death of Thomas Randolph, or Randal, Earl of
Murray,--a theory which Allingham, with more justice than mercy,
briefly disposes of as "mere antiquarian moonshine." In point of fact
the ballad recounts an old, old story, told in many literatures,
Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Magyar, Wendish, Bohemian,
Catalan. The English offshoot takes on a bewildering variety of
forms. (See Introduction, pp. xiii, xiv.) _Broo'_, broth.
EDWARD, EDWARD. After Percy, the ballad having made its first
appearance in the _Reliques_. Motherwell gives an interesting version,
in which the murderer, who in this case has slain his brother, is
addressed as _Son Davie_. There are German, Swedish, Danish and Finish
equivalents. The old orthography, which is retained here for its
literary interest, cannot obscure the tragic power of the ballad.
_Frie_, free. _Dule ye drie_, grief ye suffer. _Tul_, till.
Back to Full Books