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Their burial place, in the vicinity of the bower which they
built, is still visible, in the romantic vicinity of Lord Lyn. THE BATTLE OF HARLAW.-P. 544.
doch's mansion, and prolongs the memory of female friend
ship, which even rivalry could not dissolve. Tw stanzas of That there was such an ancient ballad is certain, and the the original ballad alone survive :tune, adapted to the bagpipes, was long extremely popular, and, within the remembrance of man, the first which was
“ Bessie Bell and Mary Gray, played at kirns and other rustic festivals. But there is a sus
They were twa bonnie lasses ; picious phrase in the ballad as it is published by Allan Ram
They bigged a bower on yon burn brae, way. When describing the national confusion, the bard says,
And theekit it ower wi'rashes. “Sen the days of auld King Marie,
They wadna rest in Methrin kirk,
Among their gentle kin;
But they wad lie in Lednoch braes, Query, Who was the “auld King Harie here meant? If
To beck against the sun." Henry VIII. be intended, as is most likely, it must bring the date of the poem, at least of that verse, as low as Queen There is, to a Scottish ear, so much tenderness and simplicity Mary's time. The ballad is said to have been printed in 1668. in these verses, as must induce us to regret that the rest should A copy of that edition would be a great curiosity.
have been superseded by a pedantic modern song, turning See the preface to the reprint of this ballad, in the volume upon the most unpoetic part of the legend, the hesitation, of " Early Metrical Tales," ante referred to.
namely, of the lover, which of the ladies to prefer. One of the most touching expressions in the song is the following exclamation :
“Oh, Jore! she's like thy Pallas."
Another song, of which Ramsay chose a few words for the Note B.
theme of a rifacimento, seems to have been a curious specimen of minstrel recitation. It was partly verse, partly narra
tive, and was alternately sung and repeated. The story was ALLAN RAMSAY'S “ EVERGREEN."--P. 544.
the escape of a young gentleman, pursued by a cruel uncle, desirous of his estate; or a bloody rival, greedy of his life; or
the relentless father of his lady-love, or some such remorseGreen be the pillow of honest Allan, at whose lamp Burns less character, having sinister intentions on the person of tho lighted his brilliant torch! It is without enmity to his me- fugitive. The object of his rapacity or vengeance being nearly mory that we record his mistake in this matter. But it is im- overtaken, a shepherd undertakes to mislead the pursuer, possible not to regret that such an affecting tale as that of who comes in sight just as the object of his pursuit disappears, Bessie Bell and Mary Gray should have fallen into his hands. and greets the shepherd thus :The southern reader must learn, (for what northern reader is ignorant ?) that these two beautiful women were kinsfolk, and
“ PURSUER. 80 strictly united in friendship, that even personal jealousy Good morrow, shepherd, and my friend, could not interrupt their union. They were visited by a hand
Saw you a young man this way riding: some and agreeable young man, who was acceptable to them
With long black hair, on a bob-tail'd mare, both, but so captivated with their charms, that, while confi
And I know that I cannot be far behind him? dent of a preference on the part of both, he was unable to make a choice between them. While this singular situation of the three persons of the tale continued, the breaking out
Yes, I did see him this way riding, of the plague forced the two ladies to take refuge in the beau
And what did much surprise my wit, tiful valley of Lynedoch, where they built themselves a bower, The man and the mare flew up in the air, in order to avoid human intercourse and the danger of infection. And I see, and I see, and I see her yet. The lover was not included in their renunciation of society. He
Behind yon white cloud I see her tail wave, visited their retirement, brought with him the fatal disease, And I see, and I see, and I see her yet." and unable to return to Perth, which was his usual residence, was nursed by the fair friends with all the tenderness of affec- The tune of these verses is an extremely good one, and tion. He died, however, having first communicated the in- Allan Ramsay has adapted a bacchanalian song to it with fection to his lovely attendants. They followed him to the some success; but we should have thanked him much had ho grave, lovely in their lives, and undirided in their death. taken the trouble to preservo the original legend of the old
minstrel. The valuable and learned friend I to whom we the Rev. Mr. Coneybeare, in his Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon owe this mutilated account of it, has often heard it sung Poetry (1826,1 furnishes a most curious picture of the life of among the High Jinks of Scottish lawyers of the last genera- the Northern Scald, or Minstrel, in the high and palmy state
of the profession. The reverend editor thus translates the closing lines :
« Ille est carissimus Terræ incolis NOTE C.
Cui Deus addidit Hominum imperium gerendum,
Quum ille eos (bardos] habeat caros.
Ita comeantes cum cantilenis feruntur
Bardi hominum per terras multas; Neglecting, in literary debate, the courtesies of ordinary socicty."--P. 544.
Simul eos remuneratur ob cantilenas pulchras,
Muneribus immensis, ille qui ante nobiles For example, in quoting a popular song, well known by the Vult judicium suum extollere, dignitatem sustinere came of Maggie Lauder, the editor of the Reliques had given
Habet ille sub cælo stabilem famam."--P. 22. a line of the Dame's address to the merry midstrel, thus :
Mr. Coney beare contrasts this “flattering picture" with the “ Gin ye be Rob, I've heard of you,
following “ melancholy specimen" of the Minstrel life of later You dwell upon the Border."
times-contained in some verses by Richard Sheale (the alRitson insisted the genuine reading was,
leged author of the old Chevy Chase,) which are preserved in
one of the Aslımolean MSS. “Come ye frae the Border?"
“ Now for the good cheere that I have had here, And he expatiates with great keenness on the crime of the Bishop's having sophisticated the text, (of which he produces
I give you hearty thanks with bowing of my shankes, no evidence,) to favour his opinion, that the Borders were a
Desiring you by petition to grant me such commissionfavourite abode of the minstrels of both kingdoms. The fact,
Because my name is Sheale, that both for meat and meale, it is believed, is undoubted, and the one reading seems to
To you I may resort sum tyme for my comforte.
I support it as well as the other.-[Joseph Ritson died in 1803.)
For I perceive here at all tymes is good cheere,
A piece of beefe to take my honger to aslake,
Both mutton and veale is goode for Rycharde Sheale;
Though I looke so grave, I were a veri knave,
Beyng in honger, of frosshe samon or kongar,
I can fynde in my hearte, with my frendis to take a parte In Fletcher's comedy of “ Monsieur Thomas," such a fiddler Of such as Godde shal sende, and thus I make an ende. is questioned as to the ballads he is best versed in, and replies, Now farewel, good myn Hoste, I thank youe for youre coste
Untyl another tyme, and thus do I ende my ryme.”—P. 28 Under your mastership's correction I can sing, * The Duke of Norfolk,' or the merry ballad Of · Divius and Lazarus ;' * The Rose of England;'
In Crete, where Dedimus first began;' • Jonas his crying out against Coventry.'
WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.--P, 547.
Iu evidence of what is stated in the text, the author wonla
quote the introductory stanza to a forgotten poem of Mickle, The poor minstrel is described as accompanying the young originally published under the injudicious and equivocal title rake in his revels. Launcelot describes
of “ The Concubine," but in subsequent editions called, “Sir
Martyn, or The Progress of Dissipation." "The gentleman himself, young Monsieur Thomas, Errant with his furious myrmidons ;
“ Awake, ye west winds, through the lonely dale,
And, Fancy, to thy facry bower betake;
Dimpling with downy wing the stilly lake;
And evening comes with locks bedropp'd with dew; NOTE E.
On Desmond's mouldering turrets slowly shake
The wither'd ryegrass, and the hairbell blue,
And ever and anon sweet Mulla's plaints renew."
The “Song of the Traveller," an ancient piece lately disco
Mickle's facility of versification was so great, that, being a vered in the Cathedral Library of Exeter. and published by printer by profession, he frequently put his lines into types
without taking the trouble previously to put them into writ• The late Righ: Honourable William Adam, Lord Chief ing; thus uniting the composition of the author with the meCommissioner of the Scotch Jury Court. -ED.
chanical operation which typographers call by the same name
Xmitations of the Ancient Ballad.'
The invention of printing necessarily occasioned the tion had been originally abandoned. The monotony downfall of the Order of Minstrels, already reduced to of the ancient recitals was, for the same causes, altered contempt by their own bad habits, by the disrepute and improved upon. The eternal descriptions of attached to their profession, and by the laws calcu- battles, and of love dilemmas, which, to satiety, filled lated to repress their license. When the Metrical the old romances with trivial repetition, was reRomances were very many of them in the hands of trenched. If any one wishes to compare the two eras every one, the occupation of those who made their of lyrical poetry, a few verses taken from one of the living by reciting them was in some degree abolished, latest minstrel ballads, and one of the earliest that and the minstrels either disappeared altogether, or were written for the press, will afford him, in some sunk into mere musicians, whose utmost acquaintance degree, the power of doing so. with poetry was being able to sing a ballad. Perhaps The rude lines from Anthony Now Now, which we old Anthony, who acquired, from the song which he have just quoted, may, for example, be compared, as accounted his masterpiece, the name of Anthony Now Ritson requests, with the ornamented commencement Now, was one of the last of this class in the capital; of the ballad of Fair Rosamond nor does the tenor of his poetry evince whether it was
“When as King Henry ruled this land, his own composition or that of some other.2
The second of that name, But the taste for popular poetry did not decay with
Besides his queen he dearly loved the class of men by whom it had been for some genera
A fair and comely dame. tions practised and preserved. Not only did the simple old ballads retain their ground, though circulated by
“Most peerless was her beauty found,
Her favour, and her face ; the new art of printing, instead of being preserved by
A sweeter creature in the world recitation; but in the Garlands, and similar collec
Could never prince embrace. tions for general sale, the authors aimed at a more ornamental and regular style of poetry than had been
“ Her crisped locks, like threads of gold attempted by the old minstrels, whose composition, if
Appear'd to each man's sight;
Her sparkling eyes, like orient pearls, not extemporaneous, was seldom committed to writing,
Did cast a heavenly light. and was not, therefore, susceptible of accurate revision. This was the more necessary, as even the popular
“The blood within her crystal cheeks poetry was now feeling the effects arising from the
Did such a colour drive,
As though the lily and the rose advance of knowledge, and the revival of the study of
For mastership did strive." 3 the learned languages, with all the elegance and refinement which it induced.
It may be rash to affirm, that those who lived by In short, the general progress of the country led to singing this more refined poetry, were a class of men an improvement in the department of popular poetry, different from the ancient minstrels; but it appears, tending both to soften and melodise the language that both the name of the professors, and the character employed, and to ornament the diction beyond that of of the Minstrel poetry, had sunk in reputation. the rude minstrels, to whom such topics of composi- The facility of versification, and of poetical diction,
This essay was written in April 1830, and forms a continuation of the “ Remarks on Popular Poetry."-ED.
* He might be supposed a contemporary of Henry VIII., if the greeting which he pretends to have given to that monarch is of his own composition, and spoken in his own person.
“Good morrow to our noble king, quoth I;
Good morrow, quoth he, to thou:
O Anthony now now now."
is decidedly in favour of the moderns, as might reason- | be entitled, with the ordinary, and especially the ear. ably be expected from the improved taste, and en- lier popular poetry, I cannot help thinking that a larged knowledge, of an age which abounded to such great difference will be observed in the structure of a degree in poetry, and of a character so imaginative the verse, the character of the sentiments, the ornaas was the Elizabethan era. The poetry addressed to ments and refinement of the language. Neither inthe populace, and enjoyed by them alone, was animated deed, as might be expected from the progress of huoy the spirit that was breathed around. We may man affairs, was the change in the popular style of cite Shakspeare's unquestionable and decisive evi- poetry achieved without some disadvantages, which dence in this respect. In Twelfth Night he describes counterbalanced, in a certain degree, the superior art a popular ballad, with a beauty and precision which and exercise of fancy which had been introduced of no one but himself could have affixed to its character; late times, and the whole constitutes the strongest appeal in The expressions of Sir Philip Sidney, an unquesfavour of that species of poetry which is written to suit tionable judge of poetry, flourishing in Elizabeth's the taste of the public in general, and is most natu- golden reign, and drawing around him, like a magnet, rally preserved by oral tradition. But the remarkable the most distinguished poets of the age, amongst part of the circumstance is, that when the song is whom we need only name Shakspeare and Spenser, actually sung by Festé the clown, it differs in almost still show something to regret when he compared the all particulars from what we might have been justified highly wrought and richly ornamented poetry of his in considering as attributes of a popular ballad of that own time, with the ruder but more energetic diction early period. It is simple, doubtless, both in structure of Chevy Chase. His words, often quoted, cannot yet and phraseology, but is rather a love song than a be dispensed with on the present occasion. They are minstrel ballad—a love song, also, which, though its a chapter in the history of ancient poetry. “ Certainimaginative figures of speech are of a very simple and ly,” says the brave knight, “ I must confess my own intelligible character, may nevertheless be compared barbarousness; I never heard the old song of Percy to any thing rather than the boldness of the preceding and Douglas, that I found not my heart more moved age, and resembles nothing less than the ordinary than with a trumpet. And yet it is sung by some minstrel ballad. The original, though so well known, blind crowder, with no rougher voice than rude style, may be here quoted, for the purpose of showing what which being so evil apparelled in the dust and cobwas, in Shakspeare's time, regarded as the poetry of webs of that uncivil age, what would it work, trimmed “ the old age.” Almost every one has the passage by in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar.” 2 heart, yet I must quote it, because there seems a If we inquire more particularly what were the pe marked difference between the species of poem which culiar charms by which the old minstrel ballad prois described, and that which is sung :
duced an effect like a trumpet-sound upon the bosom
of a real son of chivalry, we may not be wrong in as“ Mark it, Cæsario; it is old and plain : The spinsters and the knitters in the sun,
cribing it to the extreme simplicity with which the narAnd the free maids, that weave their thread with bones,
rative moves forward, neglecting all the more minute Do use to chant it; it is silly sooth,
ornaments of speech and diction, to the grand object And dallies with the innocence of love,
of enforcing on the hearer a striking and affecting Like the old age."
catastrophe. The author seems too serious in his The song, thus beautifully prefaced, is as follows:
wish to affect the audience, to allow himself to be
drawn aside by any thing which can, either by its te“Come away, come away, death,
nor, or the manner in which it is spoken, have the And in sad cypress let me be laid ;
perverse effect of distracting attention from the catasFly away, fly away, breath;
Such grand and serious beauties, however, occurred
yew, 0, prepare it;
but rarely to the old minstrels; and in order to find My part of death no one so true
them, it became necessary to struggle through long Did share it.
passages of monotony, languor, and inanity. Unfor
tunately it also happened, that those who, like Sidney, “Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
could ascertain, feel, and do full justice to the beauOn my black coffin let there be strown; Not a friend, not a friend greet
ties of the heroic ballad, were few, compared to the My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown: numbers who could be sensible of the trite verbiage of A thousand, thousand sighs to save,
a bald passage, or the ludicrous effect of an absurd Lay me, 0, where
rhyme. In England, accordingly, the popular ballad Sad true lover never find my grave,
fell into contempt during the seventeenth century; 10 weep there." I
and although in remote counties 3 its inspiration was On comparing this love elegy, or whatever it may occasionally the source of a few verses, it seems to
1 Twelfth Night, Act ii. Scene 4th.
3 A curious and spirited specimen occurs in Cornwall, as late as the trial of the Bishops before the Revolution. The
Or more deserved renown.
have become almost entirely obsolete in the capital.tempt to emulate the merits and avoid the errors Even the Civil Wars, which gave so much occasion with which the old ballad was encumbered ; and in for poetry, produced rather song and satire, than the the effort to accomplish this, a species of composition ballad or popular epic. The curious reader may satis- was discovered, which is capable of being subjected fy himself on this point, should he wish to ascertain to peculiar rules of criticism, and of exhibiting excelthe truth of the allegation, by looking through D'Ur- lences of its own. fey's large and curious collection, when he will be In writing for the use of the general reader, rather aware that the few ballads which it contains are the than the poetical antiquary, I shall be readily excused most ancient productions in the book, and very sel- from entering into any inquiry respecting the authors dom take their date after the commencement of the who first showed the way in this peculiar department seventeenth century.
of modern poetry, which I may term the imitation of In Scotland, on the contrary, the old minstrel bal- the old ballad, especially that of the latter or Elizalad long continued to preserve its popularity. Even bethan era. One of the oldest, according to my the last contests of Jacobitism were recited with great recollection, which pretends to engraft modern refinevigour in ballads of the time, the authors of some of ment upon ancient simplicity, is extremely beautiful, which are known and remembered ; nor is there a more both from the words, and the simple and affecting spirited ballad preserved than that of Mr. Skirving, melody to which they are usually sung. The title is, (father of Skirving the artist,) upon the battle of Pres- “ Lord Henry and Fair Catherine.” It begins thus : tonpans, so late as 1745. But this was owing to circumstances connected with the habits of the people in " In ancient days, in Britain's isle, a remote and rude country, which could not exist in
Lord Henry well was known; the richer and wealthier provinces of England.
No knight in all the land more famed, On the whole, however, the ancient Heroic ballad, as it was called, seemed to be fast declining among
“ His thoughts were all on honour bent, the more enlightened and literary part of both coun
He ne'er would stoop to love : tries; and if retained by the lower classes in Scotland,
No lady in the land had power it had in England ceased to exist, or degenerated into
His frozen heart to move." doggerel of the last degree of vileness.
Subjects the most interesting were abandoned to Early in the eighteenth century, this peculiar species the poorest rhymers, and one would have thought of composition became popular. We find Tickell, the that, as in an ass-race, the prize had been destined to friend of Addison, who produced the beautiful ballad, the slowest of those who competed for the prize. The “Of Leinster famed for maidens fair," Mallet, Goldmelancholy fate of Miss Ray,, who fell by the hands smith, Shenstone, Percy, and many others, followed. of a frantic lover, could only inspire the Grub Street an example which had much to recommend it, espemuse with such verses as these,—that is, if I remember cially as it presented considerable facilities to those them correctly :
who wished, at as little exertion of trouble as possible,
to attain for themselves a certain degree of literary "A Sandwich favourite was this fair,
Before, however, treating of the professed imitators
of Ancient Ballad Poetry, I ought to say a word upon
those who have written their imitations with the pre“A clergyman, O wicked one,
conceived purpose of passing them for ancient. In Covent Garden shot her;
There is no small degree of cant in the violent inNo time to cry upon her God,
vectives with which impostors of this nature have It's hoped He's not forgot her."
been assailed. In fact, the case of each is special, If it be true, as in other cases, that when things are and ought to be separately considered, according to at the worst they must mend, it was certainly time to its own circumstances. If a young, perhaps a female expect an amelioration in the department in which author, chooses to circulate a beautiful poem, we will such doggerel passed current.
suppose that of Hardyknute, under the disguise of Accordingly, previous to this time, a new species of antiquity, the public is surely more enriched by the poetry seems to have arisen, which, in some cases, contribution than injured by the deception. It is endeavoured to pass itself as the production of genu- hardly possible, indeed, without a power of poetical ine antiquity, and, in others, honestly avowed an at- genius, and acquaintance with ancient language and
President of the Royal Society of London (Mr. Davies Gil. then First Lord of the Admiralty, was assassinated by Mr bert) has not disdained the trouble of preserving it from obli- Hackman, “in a fit of frantic jealous love," as Boswell exvion.
presses it, in 1779. See Croker's Boswell, vol. iv. p. 251.-ED. 1 Pills to Purge Melancholy.
4 "Hardyknute was the first poem that I ever learnt-the 2 See Hogg's Jacobite Relica, vol. i.-ED.
last that I shall forget."-MS. note of Sir Walter Scott on a $ Miss Ray, the beautiful mistress of the Earl of Sandwich, leaf of Allan Ramsay's Tea table Miscellany.