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in number, and large and valuable additions made part to the noble ballad of Hardyknute, which has to the ancient part of the collection. Being in some good verses. It labors, however, under this some measure a supplement to the Reliques of great defect, that, in order to append his own conAncient Poetry, this miscellany cannot be dis- clusion to the original tale, Mr. Pinkerton found pensed with on the shelves of any bibliomaniac himself under the necessity of altering a leading who may choose to emulate Captain Cox of Co-circumstance in the old ballad, which would have ventry, the prototype of all collectors of popular rendered his catastrophe inapplicable. With such poetry.
license, to write continuations and conclusions While Dr. Percy was setting the example of a would be no difficult task. In the second volume classical publication of ancient English poetry, the of the Select Ballads, consisting of comic pieces, a late David Herd was, in modest retirement, com- list of fifty-two articles contained nine written enpiling a collection of Scottish Songs, which ho has tirely by the editor himself. Of the manner in happily described as “ the poetry and music of the which these supposititious compositions are exeheart." The first part of his Miscellany contains cuted, it may be briefly stated, that they are the heroic and historical ballads, of which there is a work of a scholar much better acquainted with anrespectable and well-chosen selection. Mr. Herd," cient books and manuscripts, than with oral tradian accountant, as the profession is called in Edin- tion and popular legends. The poetry smells of burgh, was known and generally esteemed for his the lamp; and it may be truly said, that if ever a shrewd, manly common sense and antiquarian sci- ballad had existed in such quaint language as the ence, mixed with much good nature and great author employs, it could never have been so popumodesty. His hardy and antique mould of counte- lar as to be preserved by oral tradition. The nance, and his venerable grizzled locks, procured glossary displays a much greater acquaintance him, amongst his acquaintance, the name of Gray- with learned lexicons than with the familiar diasteil. His original collection of songs, in one vollect still spoken by the Lowland Scottish, and it ume, appeared in 1769; an enlarged one, in two is, of course, full of errors. Neither was Mr. volumes, came out in 1776. A publication of the Pinkerton more happy in the way of conjectural same kind, being Herd's book still more enlarged, illustration. He chose to fix on Sir John Bruce of was printed for Lawrie and Symington in 1791. Kinross the paternity of the ballad of Hardyknute, Some modern additions occur in this latter work, and of the fine poem called the Vision. The first of which by far the most valuable were two fine is due to Mrs. Halket of Wardlaw, the second to imitations of the Scottish ballad by the gifted au- Allan Ramsay, although, it must be owned, it is of thor of the “ Man of Feeling,"—(now, alas! no a character superior to his ordinary poetry. Sir more,)-called “ Duncan” and “ Kenneth.”
John Bruce was a brave, blunt soldier, who made John Pinkerton, a man of considerable learning, no pretence whatever to literature, though his and some severity as well as acuteness of disposi- daughter, Mrs. Bruce of Arnot, had much talent, tion, was now endeavoring to force himself into a circumstance which may perhaps have misled public attention; and his collection of Select Bal- | the antiquary. lads, London, 1783, contains sufficient evidence Mr. Pinkerton read a sort of recantation, in a that he understood, in an extensive sense, Horace's List of Scottish Poets, prefixed to a Selection of maxim, quidlibet audendi. As he was possessed of Poems from the Maitland, Manuscript, vol. i. 1786, considerable powers of poetry, though not equal in which he acknowledges, as his own composition, to what he was willing to take credit for, he was the pieces of spurious antiquity included in his resolved to enrich his collection with all the nov- “Select Ballads," with a coolness which, when his elty and interest which it could derive from a subsequent invectives against others who had taken liberal insertion of pieces dressed in the garb of similar liberties is considered, infers as much auantiquity, but equipped from the wardrobe of the dacity as the studied and labored defence of obeditor's imagination. With a boldness, suggested scenity with which he disgraced the same pages. perhaps by the success of Mr. Macpherson, he in- In the mean time, Joseph Ritson, a man of dilicluded, within a collection amounting to only gence and acumen equal to those of Pinkerton, but twenty-one tragic ballads, no less than five, of of the most laudable accuracy and fidelity as an which he afterwards owned himself to have been editor, was engaged in various publications realtogether, or in great part, the author. The most specting poetical antiquities, in which he employed remarkable article in this Miscellany was, a second profound research. A select collection of English
acter given him by Pinkerton, of an illiterate and injudicious compiler."--ED.
1 David Herd was a native of St. Cyrus, in Kincardineshire, and though often termed a writer, he was only a clerk in the office of Mr. David Russell, accountant in Edinburgh. He died, aged 78, in 1810, and left a very curious library, which vas dispersed by auction. Herd by no means merited the char
2 Bansters, for example, a word generally applied to the men, on a harvest field, who bind the sheaves, is derived from ban, to curse, and explained to mean, “ blustering, swearing fellows."
Songs was compiled by him, with great care and posed probably about the age of James I. of Eng considerable taste, and published at London, 1783. land. By adopting this spurious trash as part of A new edition of this has appeared since Ritson's Robin Hood's history, he is represented as the best death, sanctioned by the name of the learned and cudgelled hero, Don Quixote excepted, that ever indefatigable antiquary, Thomas Park, and aug- was celebrated in prose or rhyme. Ritson also mented with many original pieces, and some which published several garlands of North Country songs Ritson had prepared for publication.
Looking on this eminent antiquary's labors in a Ritson's Collection of Songs was followed by a general point of view, we may deprecate the eagercurious volume, entitled, “ Ancient Songs from the ness and severity of his prejudices, and feel surtime of Henry III. to the Revolution," 1790; prise that he should have shown so much irritabil" Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry," 1792; and ity of disposition on such a topic as a collection of “ A collection of Scottish Songs, with the genuine old ballads, which certainly have little in them to music,” London, 1794. This last is a genuine, but affect the passions; and we may be sometimes pro rather meagre collection of Caledonian popular voked at the pertinacity with which he has pre songs. Next year Mr. Ritson published Robin ferred bad readings to good. But while industry, Hood,” 2 vols., 1795, being “ A Collection of all the research, and antiquarian learning, are recommesAncient Poems, Songs, and Ballads now extant, dations to works of this nature, few editors will relative to that celebrated Outlaw.” This work is ever be found so competent to the task as Joseph a notable illustration of the excellencies and de- Ritson. It must also be added to his praise, that fects of Mr. Ritson's system. It is almost impossi- although not willing to yield his opinion rashly, ble to conceive so much zeal, research, and indus- yet if he saw reason to believe that he had been try bestowed on a subject of antiquity. There mistaken in any fact or argument, he resigned his scarcely occurs a phrase or word relating to Robin own opinion with a candor equal to the warmth Hood, whether in history or poetry, in law books, with which he defended himself while confident in ancient proverbs, or common parlance, but it is he was in the right. Many of his works are now here collected and explained. At the same time, almost out of print, and an edition of them in comthe extreme fidelity of the editor seems driven to mon orthography, and altering the bizarre spelling excess, when we find him pertinaciously retaining and character which his prejudices induced the auall the numerous and gross errors which repeated thor to adopt, would be, to antiquaries, an acceptrecitations have introduced into the text, and re- able present. garding it as a sacred duty to prefer the worst to We have now given a hasty account of various the better readings, as if their inferiority was a se- collections of popular poetry during the eighteenth curity for their being genuine. In short, when century; we have only further to observe, that, in Ritson copied from rare books, or ancient manu- the present century, this species of lore has been scripts, there could not be a more accurate editor ; sedulously cultivated. The “Minstrelsy of the when taking his authority from oral tradition, and Scottish Border" first appeared in 1802, in two judging between two recited copies, he was apt to volumes; and what may appear a singular coinciconsider the worst as most genuine, as if a poem dence, it was the first work printed by Mr. James was not more likely to be deteriorated than im- Ballantyne (then residing at Kelso), as it was the proved by passing through the mouths of many re- first serious demand which the present author citers. In the Ballads of Robin Hood, this super- made on the patience of the public. The Border stitious scrupulosity was especially to be regretted, Minstrelsy, augmented by a third volume, came to as it tended to enlarge the collection with a great a second edition in 1803. In 1803, Mr., now Sir number of doggerel compositions, which are all John Grahame Dalzell, to whom his country is copies of each other, turning on the same idea of obliged for his antiquarian labors, published “ScotBold Robin meeting with a shepherd, a tinker, a tish Poems of the Sixteenth Century," which, among mendicant, a tanner, &c. &c., by each and all of other subjects of interest, contains a curious conwhom he is soundly thrashed, and all of whom he temporary ballad of Belrinnes, which has some receives into his band. The tradition, which avers stanzas of considerable merit." that it was the brave outlaw's custom to try a bout The year 1806 was distinguished by the appearat quarter-staff with his young recruits, might in- ance of “ Popular Ballads and Songs, from Tradideed have authorized one or two such tales, but tions, Manuscripts, and Scarce Editions, with Transthe greater part ought to have been rejected as lations of Similar Pieces from the Ancient Danish modern imitations of the most paltry kind, com- Language, and a few Originals by the Editor, Rob
r The first opening of the ballad has much of the martial “MacCallanmore came from the west strain with which a pibroch commences. Properat in medias
With many a bow and brand ; res-according to the classical admonition.
To waste the Rinnes he thought it best,
The Earl of Huntly's land.”
ert Jamieson, A. M., and F. A. S.”! This work, which which indicates, by a few notes only, the capacity was not greeted by the public with the attention which the editor possesses for supplying the most it deserved, opened a new discovery respecting extensive and ingenious illustrations upon antiquathe original source of the Scottish ballads. Mr. rian subjects. Most of the ballads are of a comic Jamieson's extensive acquaintance with the Scan- character, and some of them admirable specimens dinavian literature, enabled him to detect not only of Scottish dry humor. Another collection, which a general similarity betwixt these and the Danish calls for particular distinction, is in the same size, ballads preserved in the “ Kiempe Viser,” an early or nearly so, and bears the same title with the collection of heroic ballads in that language, but preceding one, the date being, Edinburgh, 1827. to demonstrate that, in many cases, the stories and But the contents are announced as containing the songs were distinctly the same, a circumstance budget, or stock-in-trade, of an old Aberdeenshire which no antiquary bad hitherto so much as sus- minstrel, the very last, probably, of the race, who, pected. Mr. Jamieson's annotations are also very according to Percy's definition of the profession, valuable, and preserve some curious illustrations sung his own compositions, and those of others, of the old poets. His imitations, though he is not through the capital of the county, and other towns entirely free from the affectation of using rather in that country of gentlemen. This man's name too many obsolete words, are generally highly in- was Charles Leslie, but he was known more geneteresting. The work fills an important place in rally by the nickname of Mussel-mou'd Charlie, the collection of those who are addicted to this from a singular projection of his under lip. His branch of antiquarian study.
death was thus announced in the newspapers for Mr. John Finlay, a poet whose career was cut October, 1792 :-“Died at Old Rain, in Aberdeenshort by a premature death,” published a short col- shire, aged one hundred and four years, Charles lection of “ Scottish Historical and Romantic Bal- Leslie, a hawker, or ballad-singer, well known in lads," in 1808. The beauty of some imitations of that country by the name of Mussel-mou'd Charlie. the old Scottish ballad, with the good sense, learn- He followed his occupation till within a few weeks ing, and modesty of the preliminary dissertations, of his death.” Charlie was a devoted Jacobite, must make all admirers of ancient lore regret the and so popular in Aberdeen, that he enjoyed in early loss of this accomplished young man. that city a sort of monopoly of the minstrel call
Various valuable collections of ancient ballad- ing, no other person being allowed, under any prepoetry have appeared of late.years, some of which tence, chant ballads on the causeway, or plainare illustrated with learning and acuteness, as those stanes, of “ the brave burgh.” Like the former colof Mr. Motherwell' and of Mr. Kinloch intimate lection, most of Mussel-mou'd Charlie's songs were much taste and feeling for this species of litera- of a jocose character. ture. Nor is there any want of editions of ballads, But the most extensive and valuable additions less designed for public sale, than to preserve float- which have been of late made to this branch of ing pieces of minstrelsy which are in immediate ancient literature, are the collections of Mr. Peter danger of perishing. Several of those, edited, as Buchan of Peterhead, a person of indefatigable rewe have occasion to know, by men of distinguished search in that department, and whose industry has talent, have appeared in a smaller form and more been crowned with the most successful results. limited edition, and must soon be among the in- This is partly owing to the country where Mr. trouvables of Scottish typography. We would par-Buchan resides, which, full as it is of minstrel relticularize a duodecimo, under the modest title of ics, has been but little ransacked by any former a “ Ballad Book,” without place or date annexed, collectors; so that, while it is a very rare event
1 After the completion of the Border Minstrelsy, and nearly ble matter is still left for me by Mr. Scott, to whom I am much three years previous to the publication of his own Collection, indebted for many acts of friendship, and much liberality and Mr. Jamieson printed in the Scots Magazine (October, 1803) a good will shown towards me and my undertaking."-ED. List of desiderata in Scottish Song. His communication to 2 Mr. Finlay, best known by his " Wallace, or The Vale of the Editor of that work contains the following paragraph :- Ellerslie," died in 1810, in his twenty-eighth year. An affec *I am now writing out for the press a Collection of Popular tionate and elegant tribute to his memory, from the pen of Pro Ballads and Songs from tradition, MSS., and scarce publica- fessor Wilson, appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, November, tions, with a few of modern date, which have been written for, 1817.-ED. and are exclusively dedicated to my collection. As many of 3 Minstrelsy; Ancient and Modern, with an Historical Inthe pieces were common property, I have heretofore waited for troduction aild Notes. By William Motherwell. 4to. Glasg. the completion of Mr. Walter Scott's Work, with more anx- 1827. iety for the cause in general, than for any particular and selfish 4 Ancient Scottish Ballads, recovered from Tradition, and interest of my own; as I was sure of having the satisfaction of never before published ; with Notes, Historical and Explanaseeing such pieces as that gentleman might choose to adopt, tory, and an Appendix, containing the Airs of several of the appear with every advantage which I, partial as I was, could ballads. 8vo. Edin. 1827. wish them. The most sanguine expectations of the public 6 This is Mr. C. K. Sharpe's Work, already alluded to.have now been amply gratified ; and much curious and valua- Ep.
south of the Tay, to recover any ballad having a still more recent events; as the marriage of the claim to antiquity, which has not been examined mother of the late illustrious Byron, and a cata. and republished in some one or other of our collec- trophe of still later occurrence, “The Death tions of ancient poetry, those of Aberdeenshire Leith-hall.” have been comparatively little attended to. The As we wish to interest the admirers of ancient present Editor was the first to solicit attention to minstrel lore in this curious collection, we shall these northern songs, in consequence of a collection only add, that, on occasion of a new edition, te of ballads communicated to him by his late re- would recommend to Mr. Buchan to leave out a spected friend, Lord Woodhouslee. Mr. Jamieson, number of songs which he has only inserted be in his collections of “Songs and Ballads," being cause they are varied, sometimes for the worse, himself a native of Mor&yshire, was able to push from sets which have appeared in other publicathis inquiry much farther, and at the same time, tions. This restriction would make considerable by doing so, to illustrate his theory of the connec- room for such as, old though they be, possess to tion between the ancient Scottish and Danish bal- this age all the grace of novelty. lads, upon which the publication of Mr. Buchan To these notices of late collections of Scottish throws much light. It is, indeed, the most com- Ballads, we ought to add some remarks on the plete collection of the kind which has yet appeared.' very curious “ Ancient Legendary Tales, printed
Of the originality of the ballads in Mr. Buchan's chiefly from Original Sources, edited by the Rev. collection we do not entertain the slightest doubt. Charles Henry Hartshorne, M. A. 1829." The Several (we may instance the curious tale of editor of this unostentatious work has done his “The Two Magicians") are translated from the duty to the public with much labor and care, and Norse, and Mr. Buchan is probably unacquainted made the admirers of this species of poetry acwith the originals. Others refer to points of quainted with very many ancient legendary poems, history, with which the editor does not seem to which were hitherto unpublished and very little be familiar. It is out of no disrespect to this known. It increases the value of the collection, laborious and useful antiquary, that we observe that many of them are of a comic turn, a species his prose composition is rather florid, and forms, of composition more rare, and, from its necessary in this respect, a strong contrast to the extreme allusion to domestic manners, more curious and simplicity of the ballads, which gives us the most interesting, than the serious class of Romances. distinct assurance that he has delivered the latter to the public in the shape in which he found them. Accordingly, we have never seen any collection of Scottish poetry appearing, from internal evidence, so decidedly and indubitably We have thus, in a cursory manner, gone original. It is perhaps a pity that Mr. Buchan through the history of English and Scottish popudid not remove some obvious errors and cor- lar poetry, and noticed the principal collections ruptions; but, in truth, though their remaining which have been formed from time to time of such on record is an injury to the effect of the ballads, compositions, and the principles on which the in point of composition, it is, in some degree, a editors have proceeded. It is manifest that, of proof of their authenticity. Besides, although late, the public attention has been so much turned the exertion of this editorial privilege, of select- to the subject by men of research and talent, that ing readings, is an advantage to the ballads them- we may well hope to retrieve from oblivion as selves, we are contented rather to take the whole much of our ancient poetry as there is now any in their present, though imperfect state, than possibility of recovering. that the least doubt should be thrown upon them, Another important part of our task consists in by amendments or alterations, which might render giving some account of the modern imitation of their authenticity doubtful. The historical poems, the English Ballad, a species of literary labor we observe, are few and of no remote date. which the author has himself pursued with some That of the “ Bridge of Dee,” is among the oldest, and there are others referring to the times of the Covenanters. Some, indeed, are composed on ABBOTSFORD, 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.
? This song is quoted in Moore's Life of Byron, vol. 1 Ep.
· Bessie Bell and Mary Gray,
They were twa bonnie lasses ;
They bigged a bower on yon burn brae,
And theekit it ower wi' rashes. That there was such an ancient ballad is certain, and the tane, adapted to the bagpipe, was long extremely popular,
“They wadna rest in Methvin kirk, and, within the remembrance of man, the first which was
Among their gentle kin; played at kirns and other rustic festivals. But there is a
But they wad lie in Lednoch braes, suspicious phrase in the ballad as it is published by Allan
To beek against the sun." Ramsay. When describing the national confusion, the bard says,
There is, to a Scottish ear, so much tenderness and simplicity
in these verses, as must induce us to regret that the rest should “ Sen the days of auld King Harie,
have been superseded by a pedantic modern song, turning Such slauchter was heard or seen."
upon the most unpoetic part of the legend, the hesitation,
namely, of the lover, which of the ladies to prefer. One of Query, Who was the “auld King Harie” here meant ? If the most touching expressions in the song is the following exHenry VIII. be intended, as is most likely, it must bring the clamation : date of the poem, at least of that verse, as low as Queen Mary's time. The ballad is said to have been printed in 1668. A copy
“Oh, Jove! she's like thy Pallas.” of that edition would be a great curio
See the preface to the reprint of this ballad, in the volume Another song, of which Ramsay chose a few words for the of “ Early Metrical Tales," ante referred to.
theme of a rifacimento, seems to have been a curious specimen of minstrel recitation. It was partly verse, partly narrative, and was alternately sung and repeated. The story was 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 remorseless NOTE B.
character, having sinister intentions on the person of the fugitive.
The object of his rapacity or vengeance being nearly overtaken, ALLAN RAMSAY'S " EVERGREEN."-P. 544.
a shepherd undertakes to mislead the pursuer, who comes in Green be the pillow of honest Allan, at whose lamp Burns sight just as the object of his pursuit disappears, and greets the
shepherd thus :lighted his brilliant torch! It is without enmity to his memory that we record his mistake in this matter. But it is impossible not to regret that such an affecting tale as that of
“ PURSUER. Bessie Bell and Mary Gray should have fallen into his hands. Good morrow, shepherd, and my friend, The southern reader must learn (for what northern reader is
Saw you a young man this way riding; ignorant ?) that these two beautiful women were kinsfolk, and
With long black hair, on a bob-tail'd mare, so strietly united in friendship, that even personal jealousy
And I know that I cannot be far behind him? could not interrupt their union. They were visited by a handsome and agreeable young man, who was acceptable to them both, but so captivated with their charms, that, while confi
THE SHEPHERD. dent of a preference on the part of both, he was unable to Yes, I did see him this way riding, make a choice between them. While this singular situation
And what did much surprise my wit, of the three persons of the tale continued, the breaking out The man and the mare flew up in the air, of the plague forced the two ladies to take refuge in the beau
And I see, and I see, and I see her yet. tiful valley of Lynedoch, where they built themselves a Behind yon white cloud I see her tail wave, bower, in order to avoid human intercourse and the danger of
And I see, and I see, and I see her yet.” infection. The lover was not included in their renunciation of society. He visited their retirement, brought with him The tune of these verses is an extremely good one, and the fatal disease, and unable to return to Perth, which was Allan Ramsay has adapted a bacchanalian song to it with his usual residence, was nursed by the fair friends with all some success; but we should bave thanked him much had he the tenderness of affection. He died, however, having first taken the trouble to preserve the original legend of the old communicated the infection to his lovely attendants. They minstrel. The valuable and learned friendi to whom we followed him to the grave, lovely in their lives, and undivided owe this mutilated account of it, has often heard it sung in their death. Their burial-place, in the vicinity of the among the High Jinks of Scottish lawyers of the last generabower which they built, is still visible, in the romantic tion. vicinity of Lord Lyndoch's mansion, and prolongs the memory of female friendship, which even rivalry could not dissolve. 1 The late Right Honorable William Adam, Lord Chief Commissioner of Two stanzas of the original ballad alone survive :
the Scotch Jury Court.-ED.