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indeed, the most complete collection of the kind which which he has only inserted because they are varied, has yet appeared.
sometimes for the worse, from sets which have apOf the originality of the ballads in Mr. Buchan's peared in other publications. This restriction would collection we do not entertain the slightest doubt. make considerable room for such as, old though they Several (we may instance the curious tale of “ The be, possess to this age all the grace of novelty. Two Magicians”) are translated from the Norse, and To these notices of late collections of Scottish BalMr. Buchan is probably unacquainted with the origi- lads, we ought to add some remarks on the very cunals. Others refer to points of history, with which rious “ Ancient Legendary Tales, printed chiefly from the editor does not seem to be familiar. It is out of Original Sources, edited by the Rev. Charles Henry no disrespect to this laborious and useful antiquary, Hartshorne, M.A. 1829.” The editor of this unostenthat we observe his prose composition is rather florid, tatious work has done his duty to the public with and forms, in this respect, a strong contrast to the much labour and care, and made the admirers of this extreme simplicity of the ballads, which gives us the species of poetry acquainted with very many ancient most distinct assurance that he has delivered the lat- legendary poems, which were hitherto unpublished ter to the public in the shape in which he found them. and very little known. It increases the value of the Accordingly, we have never seen any collection of collection, that many of them are of a comic turn, a Scottish poetry appearing, from internal evidence, so species of composition more rare, and, from its necesdecidedly and indubitably original. It is perhaps a sary allusion to domestic manners, more curious and pity that Mr. Buchan did not remove some obvious interesting, than the serious class of Romances. errors and corruptions ; but, in truth, though their remaining on record is an injury to the effect of the ballads, in point of composition, it is, in some degree, a proof of their authenticity. Besides, although the exertion of this editorial privilege, of selecting read- We have thus, in a cursory manner, gone through ings, is an advantage to the ballads themselves, we the history of English and Scottish popular poetry, are contented rather to take the whole in their pre- and noticed the principal collections which have been sent, though imperfect state, than that the least doubt formed from time to time of such compositions, and should be thrown upon them, by amendments or al- the principles on which the editors have proceeded. terations, which might render their authenticity It is manifest that, of late, the public attention has doubtful. The historical poems, we observe, are few been so much turned to the subject by men of research and of no remote date. That of the “ Bridge of Dee,” and talent, that we may well hope to retrieve from is among the oldest, and there are others referring to oblivion as much of our ancient poetry as there is now the times of the Covenanters. Some, indeed, are any possibility of recovering. composed on still more recent events; as the mar- Another important part of our task consists in givriage of the mother of the late illustrious Byron, and ing some account of the modern imitation of the Enga catastrophe of still later occurrence, "The Death of lish Ballad, a species of literary labour which the auLeith-hall."
thor has himself pursued with some success. As we wish to interest the admirers of ancient minstrel lore in this curious collection, we shall only add, that, on occasion of a new edition, we would recom- ABBOTSFORD, mend to Mr. Buchan to leave out a number of songs 1st March, 1830.
1 Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, hitherto unpublished; with Explanatory Notes. By P. B. 2 vols. 8vo. Edin. 1828.
2 This song is quoted in Moore's Life of Byron, rol. 1.ED.
Their burial place, in the vicinity of the bower which they
built, is still visible, in the romantic vicinity of Lord L17THE BATTLE OF HARLAW.P. 544.
doch's mansion, and prolongs the memory of female friend.
ship, which even rivalry could not dissolve. Two stanzas of That there was such an ancient ballad is certain, and the
the original ballad alone survive :une, adapted to the bagpipes, was long extremely popular, nd, within the remembrance of man, the first which was
“ Bessie Bell and Mary Gray, layed at kirns and other rustic festivals. But there is a sus
They were twa bonnie lasses ; icious phrase in the ballad as it is published by Allan Ram
They bigged a bower on yon burn brae, ay. When describing the national confusion, the bard says,
And theekit it ower wi' rashes. “Sen the days of auld King Harie,
“ They wadna rest in Methvin kirk, Such slauchter was not heard or scen.
Among their gentle kin;
But they wad lie in Lednoch braes, Query, Who was the “auld King Harie here meant? If
To beek 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 Tary'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 | 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 er. clamation :
“Oh, Jove! 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 the 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, & snepherd 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 mara, 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
THE SHEPHERD. 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 ware, 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 be grave, lovely in their lives, and undivided in their death. taken the trouble to preserve the original legend of the old
ainstrel. 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,) 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 stato
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; nary society."-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 minstrel, thus :
Mr. Coneybeare 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 al. Ritson insisted the genuine reading was,
leged author of the old Chevy Chase,) which are preserved in
one of the Ashmolean MSS. “ Come ye frae the Border ?" And he expatiates with great keenness on the crime of the
“Now for the good cheere that I have had here, 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 Shcale, 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. 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 fresshe 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
WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.—P. 547.
In evidence of what is stated in the text, the author woula
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 titlo 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, Now beating at the doors," &c.
And, Fancy, to thy faery bower betake;
Dimpling with downy wing the stilly lake;
And evening comes with locks bedropp'd with dew;
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 write • 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 nanie
#mitations 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 commencemect 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 his own composition or that of some other.
“When as King Henry ruled this land,
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, the new art of printing, instead of being preserved by
Her favour, and her face ;
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 checks
Did such a colour drive, poetry was now feeling the effects arising from the
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 clegance 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 1834), and forms a continuation of the “ Remarks on Popular Poetry."
."-ED. 2 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 bythem alone, was animated deed, as might be expected from the progress of huby 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 Tuelfth 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 unques. favour 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 sonrething 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;
trophe. I am slain by a fair cruel maid. My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
Such grand and serious beauties, however, occurred O, 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 ; To weep there."1
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