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Project Gutenberg's English and Scottish Ballads, Volume I (of 8), by Various

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Title: English and Scottish Ballads, Volume I (of 8)

Author: Various

Editor: Francis James Child

Release Date: August 11, 2011 [EBook #37031]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Simon Gardner, Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was made using scans of
public domain works from the University of Michigan Digital

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Footnotes have been relocated following the paragraph or section where the anchor occurs.

2. Linenotes have been grouped at the end of each ballad. Ballad line numbers have been regularised to multiples of five and re-positioned or added where necessary.

3. Modern Greek text in "Constantine and Arete" has been transliterated using the same scheme as for ancient Greek.

4. Archaic, unusual and inconsistent spelling or punctuation has generally been retained as in the original. Where changes have been made to the text these are listed in Transcriber's Notes at the end of the book.



Sum bethe of wer, and sum of wo,

Sum of joie and mirthe also;

And sum of trecherie and of gile,

Of old aventours that fel while;

And sum of bourdes and ribaudy;

And many ther beth of fairy;

Of all thinges that men seth;—

Maist o love forsothe thai beth.

Lay le Freine.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


[Pg v]


    PREFACE vii
    List of Collections of Ballads and Songs xiii
    BOOK I.  
1.   The Boy and the Mantle 3
2.   The Horn of King Arthur 17
3.   The Marriage of Sir Gawaine 28
4.   King Arthur's Death 40
5.   The Legend of King Arthur 50
6.   Sir Lancelot du Lake 55
7.   The Legend of Sir Guy 61
8.   St. George and the Dragon 69
9.   The Seven Champions of Christendom 83
10. a Thomas of Ersseldoune 95
10. b Thomas the Rhymer 109
11.   The Young Tamlane 114
12.   The Wee Wee Man 126
13.   The Elfin Knight 128
14. a The Broomfield Hill 131
14. b Lord John 134
15. a Kempion 137
15. b Kemp Owyne 143
16.   King Henry 147
17. a Cospatrick 152
17. b Bothwell 158
18.   Willie's Ladye 162[Pg vi]
19.   Alison Gross 168
20.   The Earl of Mar's Daughter 171
21. a Young Akin 179
21. b Young Hastings the Groom 189
22.   Clerk Colvill, or, The Mermaid 192
23. a Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight 195
23. b The Water O'Wearie's Well 198
24. a The Dæmon Lover 201
24. b James Herries 205
25.   The Knight's Ghost 210
26.   The Wife of Usher's Well 213
27.   The Suffolk Miracle 217
28.   Sir Roland 223
    Fragment of the Ballad of King Arthur and the King of Cornwall 231
    Fragment of Child Rowland and Burd Ellen 245
    Rosmer Hafmand, or, The Merman Rosmer 253
    Tam-a-Line 258
    Tom Linn 267
    Burd Ellen and Young Tamlane 271
    Als Y yod on ay Mounday 273
    The Elphin Knight 277
    The Laidley Worm of Spindlestonheugh 281
    Lord Dingwall 288
    Fragment of Hynde Etin 294
    Sir Oluf and the Elf-King's Daughter 298
    Fragment of the Dæmon Lover 302
    Constantine and Arete 304
    Translation of the Same 307
    The Hawthorn Tree 311
    St. Stephen and Herod 315
    GLOSSARY 319

[Pg vii]


These volumes have been compiled from the numerous collections of Ballads printed since the beginning of the last century. They contain all but two or three of the ancient ballads of England and Scotland, and nearly all those ballads which, in either country, have been gathered from oral tradition,—whether ancient or not. Widely different from the true popular ballads, the spontaneous products of nature, are the works of the professional ballad-maker, which make up the bulk of Garlands and Broadsides. These, though sometimes not without grace, more frequently not lacking in humor, belong to artificial literature,—of course to an humble department.[1] As many[Pg viii] ballads of this second class have been admitted as it was thought might be wished for, perhaps I should say tolerated, by the "benevolent reader." No words could express the dulness and inutility of a collection which should embrace all the Roxburghe and Pepys broadsides—a scope with which this publication was most undeservedly credited by an English journal. But while the broadside ballads have been and must have been gleaned, the popular ballads demand much more liberal treatment. Many of the older ones are mutilated, many more are miserably corrupted, but as long as any traces of their originals are left, they are worthy of attention and have received it. When a ballad is extant in a variety of forms, all the most important versions are given.—Less than this would have seemed insufficient for a collection intended as a complement to an extensive series of the British Poets. To meet the objections of readers for pleasure, all those pieces which are wanting in general interest are in each volume inserted in an appendix.

The ballads are grouped in eight Books, nearly corresponding to the division of volumes. The arrangement in the several Books may be called chronological, by which is meant, an arrangement [Pg ix]according to the probable antiquity of the story, not the age of the actual form or language. Exceptions to this rule will be observed, partly the result of oversight, partly of fluctuating views; the most noticeable case is in the First Book, where the ballads that stand at the beginning are certainly not so old as some that follow. Again, it is very possible that some pieces might with advantage be transferred to different Books, but it is believed that the general disposition will be found practically convenient. It is as follows:—

BOOK I. contains Ballads involving Superstitions of various kinds,—as of Fairies, Elves, Water-spirits, Enchantment, and Ghostly Apparitions; and also some Legends of Popular Heroes.

BOOK II. Tragic Love-ballads.

BOOK III. Other Tragic Ballads.

BOOK IV. Love-ballads not Tragic.

BOOK V. Ballads of Robin Hood, his followers, and compeers.

BOOK VI. Ballads of other Outlaws, especially Border Outlaws, of Border Forays, Feuds, &c.

BOOK VII. Historical Ballads, or those relating to public characters or events.

BOOK VIII. Miscellaneous Ballads, especially Humorous, Satirical, Burlesque; also some specimens of the Moral and Scriptural, and all such pieces as had been overlooked in arranging the earlier volumes.

[Pg x]For the Texts, the rule has been to select the most authentic copies, and to reprint them as they stand in the collections, restoring readings that had been changed without grounds, and noting all deviations from the originals, whether those of previous editors or of this edition, in the margin. Interpolations acknowledged by the editors have generally been dropped. In two instances only have previously printed texts been superseded or greatly improved: the text of The Horn of King Arthur, in the first volume, was furnished from the manuscript, by J.O. Halliwell, Esq., and Adam Bel, in the fifth volume, has been amended by a recently discovered fragment of an excellent edition, kindly communicated by J.P. Collier, Esq.

The Introductory Notices prefixed to the several ballads may seem dry and somewhat meagre. They will be found, it is believed, to comprise what is most essential even for the less cursory reader to know. These prefaces are intended to give an account of all the printed forms of each ballad, and references to the books in which they were first published. In many cases also, the corresponding ballads in other languages, especially in Danish, Swedish, and German, are briefly pointed out. But these last notices are very imperfect. Fascinating as such investigations are, they could not be allowed to interfere with the progress of the series of Poets of which this collection of[Pg xi] Ballads forms a part, nor were the necessary books immediately at hand. At a more favorable time the whole subject may be resumed, unless some person better qualified shall take it up in the interim.

While upon this point let me make the warmest acknowledgments for the help received from Grundtvig's Ancient Popular Ballads of Denmark (Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser), a work which has no equal in its line, and which may in every way serve as a model for collections of National Ballads. Such a work as Grundtvig's can only be imitated by an English editor, never equalled, for the material is not at hand. All Denmark seems to have combined to help on his labors; schoolmasters and clergymen, in those retired nooks where tradition longest lingers, have been very active in taking down ballads from the mouths of the people, and a large number of old manuscripts have been placed at his disposal.—We have not even the Percy Manuscript at our command, and must be content to take the ballads as they are printed in the Reliques, with all the editor's changes. This manuscript is understood to be in the hands of a dealer who is keeping it from the public in order to enhance its value. The greatest service that can now be done to English Ballad-literature is to publish this precious document. Civilization has made too great strides in the island of Great [Pg xii]Britain for us to expect much more from tradition.

Certain short romances which formerly stood in the First Book, have been dropped from this second Edition, in order to give the collection a homogeneous character. One or two ballads have been added, and some of the prefaces considerably enlarged.
May, 1860.

[1] This distinction is not absolute, for several of the ancient ballads have a sort of literary character, and many broadsides were printed from oral tradition. The only popular ballads excluded from this selection that require mention, are The Bonny Hynd, The Jolly Beggar, The Baffled Knight, The Keach in the Creel, and The Earl of Errol. These ballads, in all their varieties, may be found by referring to the general Index at the end of the eighth volume. To extend the utility of this index, references are also given to many other ballads which, though not worth reprinting, may occasionally be inquired for.

[Pg xiii]

of english and scottish ballads and songs.

[This list does not include (excepting a few reprints) the collections of Songs, Madrigals, "Ballets," &c., published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,—the titles of most of which are to be seen in Rimbault's Bibliotheca Madrigaliana. On the other hand, it does include a few useful books connected with ballad-poetry which would not properly come into a list of collections. The relative importance of the works in this list is partially indicated by difference of type. When two or more editions are mentioned, those used in this collection are distinguished by brackets. A few books which we have not succeeded in finding—all of slight or no importance—are marked with a star.]

"A Choise Collection of Comic and Serious Scots Poems. Both Ancient and Modern. By several Hands. Edinburgh. Printed by James Watson." Three Parts, 1706, 1709, 1710. [1713, 1709, 1711.]

"Miscellany Poems, containing a variety of new Translations of the Ancient Poets, together with several original poems. By the most eminent hands." Ed. by Dryden. 6 vols. 1st ed. 1684-1708. Ed. of 1716* contains ballads not in the earlier ones.

"Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy; being a Collection of the best Merry Ballads and Songs, Old and New. Fitted to all Humours, having each their proper Tune for either Voice or Instrument: most of the Songs being new set." By Thomas D'Urfey. 6 vols. London. 1719-20.

"A Collection of Old Ballads. Corrected from the best and most ancient Copies extant. With Introductions Historical, Critical, or Humorous." 3 vols. London. 1st and 2d vol. 1723, 3d vol. 1725.

[Pg xiv]"The Evergreen. Being a Collection of Scots Poems, Wrote by the Ingenious before 1600. Published by Allan Ramsay." 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1724. [Edinburgh. Printed for Alex. Donaldson, 1761.]

"The Tea-Table Miscellany: A Collection of Choice Songs, Scots and English." Edinburgh. 1724. 4 vols. [Glasgow, R. & A. Foulis. 1768. 2 vols.]

"Orpheus Caledonius, or a Collection of Scots Songs, Set to Musick by W. Thomson." London, 1725, fol. [1733, 2 vols. 8vo.]

"The Hive. A Collection of the most celebrated Songs." In Four Volumes. 4th ed. London. 1732.

"The British Musical Miscellany, or The Delightful Grove, being a collection of celebrated English and Scottish Songs." London. 1733-36.

"Reliques of Ancient English Poetry: Consisting of Old Heroic Ballads, Songs, and other Pieces of our Earlier Poets; together with some few of later date. By Thomas Percy, Lord Bishop of Dromore." 3 vols. 1st ed. London, 1765. [4th ed. (improved) 1794.—London, L.A. Lewis, 1839.]

"Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, &c." By David Herd. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1769. 2d ed. 1776. [3d ed. Printed for Lawrie and Symington, 1791.]

"Ancient Scottish Poems. Published from the MS. of George Bannatyne, MDLXVIII." By Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes. Edinburgh, 1770.

[Pg xv]"The Choice Spirit's Chaplet: or a Poesy from Parnassus, being a Select Collection of Songs from the most approved authors: many of them written and the whole compiled by George Alexander Slovens, Esq." Whitehaven, 1771.

"A Collection of English Songs in score for three or four Voices. Composed about the year 1500. Taken from MSS. of the same age. Revised and digested by John Stafford Smith." London, 1779.

"Scottish Tragic Ballads." John Pinkerton. London, 1781.

"Two Ancient Scottish Poems; The Gaberlunzie-Man and Christ's Kirk on the Green. With Notes and Observations. By John Callender, Esq. of Craigforth." Edinburgh, 1782.

"The Charmer: A Collection of Songs, chiefly such as are eminent for poetical merit; among which are many originals, and others that were never before printed in a songbook." 2 vols. 4th ed. Edinburgh, 1782.

"Select Scottish Ballads." 2 vols. John Pinkerton. London, 1783. Vol. I. Tragic Ballads, Vol. II. Comic Ballads.

"A Select Collection of English Songs, with their Original Airs, and an Historical Essay on the Origin and Progress of National Song." By J. Ritson. 1788. 2d ed. with Additional Songs and Occasional Notes, by Thomas Park. London, 1813. 3 vols.

"The Poetical Museum. Containing Songs and Poems on almost every subject. Mostly from Periodical Publications." George Caw. Hawick, 1784.

"The Bishopric Garland or Durham Minstrel." Edited by Ritson. Stockton, 1784. Newcastle, 1792. [London, 1809.] See "Northern Garlands," p. xix.

*"The New British Songster. A Collection of Songs, Scots and English, with Toasts and Sentiments for the Bottle." Falkirk, 1785.

[Pg xvi]"Ancient Scottish Poems, never before in print, but now published from the MS. collections of Sir Richard Maitland," &c. John Pinkerton. 2 vols. London, 1786.

"The Works of James I., King of Scotland." To which are added "Two Ancient Scotish Poems, commonly ascribed to King James V." (The Gaberlunzie-Man and the Jollie Beggar.) Morrison's Scotish Poets. Poets. Perth, 1786.

"The Scots Musical Museum. In six volumes. Consisting of Six Hundred Scots Songs, with proper Basses for the Piano Forte," &c. By James Johnson. Edinburgh, 1787-1803. [3d ed. "with copious Notes and Illustrations of the Lyric Poetry and Music of Scotland, by the late Wiliam Stenhouse," and "with additional Notes and Illustrations," by David Laing. 4 vols. Edinburgh and London, 1853.]

"The Yorkshire Garland." Edited by Ritson. York, 1788. See "Northern Garlands," p. xix.

*"A Select Collection of Favourite Scottish Ballads." 6 vols. R. Morison & Son. Perth, 1790.

"Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry: From Authentic Manuscripts and Old Printed Copies. By Joseph Ritson, Esq." London, 1791. [Second Edition, London, 1833.]

"Ancient Songs and Ballads, from the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Collected by Joseph Ritson, Esq." 2 vols. Printed 1787, dated 1790, published 1792. [London, 1829.]

"Scottish Poems, reprinted from scarce editions, with three pieces before unpublished." Collected by John Pinkerton. 8 vols. London, 1792.

[Pg xvii]*"The Melodies of Scotland, &c. The Poetry chiefly by Burns. The whole collected by George Thomson." Lond. & Edin. 6 vols. 1793-1841. See p. xx., last title but one.

"The Northumberland Garland." Edited by Ritson. Newcastle, 1793. [London, 1809.] See "Northern Garlands," p. xix.

"Scotish Song. In two volumes." Joseph Ritson. London, 1794.

"Robin Hood: A Collection of all the Ancient Poems, Songs and Ballads, now extant, relative to that celebrated English Outlaw. To which are prefixed Historical Anecdotes of his Life, By Joseph Ritson. Esq." 2 vols. 1795. [Second Edition, London, 1832.]

"A Collection of English Songs, with an Appendix of Original Pieces." London, 1798. Lord Hailes.

*"An Introduction to the History of Poetry in Scotland, &c., by Alexander Campbell, to which are subjoined Songs of the Lowlands of Scotland, carefully compared with the original editions." Edinburgh, 1798. 4to.

"Tales of Wonder; Written and collected by M.G. Lewis, Esq., M.P." 2 vols. London, 1800. [New-York, 1801.]

"Scottish Poems of the Sixteenth Century." Ed. by J.G. Dalzell. Edinburgh, 1801. 2 vols. (Contains "Ane Compendious Booke of Godly and Spirituall Songs, collectit out of sundrie Partes of the Scripture, with sundrie of other Ballates, changed out of Prophaine Sanges for avoyding of Sinne and Harlotrie, with Augmentation of sundrie Gude and Godly Ballates, not contained in the first Edition. Newlie corrected and amended by the first Originall Copie. Edinburgh, printed by Andro Hart.")

[Pg xviii]"The Complaynt of Scotland. Written in 1548. With a Preliminary Dissertation and Glossary." By John Leyden. Edinburgh, 1801.

"Chronicle of Scottish Poetry; from the Thirteenth Century to the Union of the Crowns." By J. Sibbald. 4 vols. Edinburgh, 1802.

"The North-Country Chorister." Edited by J. Ritson. Durham, 1802. [London, 1809.] See "Northern Garlands," p. xix.

"Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border: Consisting of Historical and Romantic Ballads, collected in the Southern Counties of Scotland; with a few of modern date founded upon local tradition." 1st and 2d vols. 1802, 3d 1803. [Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, vols. 1-4. Cadell, Edinburgh, 1851.]

"The Wife of Auchtermuchty. An ancient Scottish Poem, with a translation into Latin Rhyme." Edinburgh, 1803.

"A Collection of Songs, Moral, Sentimental, Instructive, and Amusing." By James Plumtre. 4to. Cambridge, 1805. London, 1824. 3 vols.

"Popular Ballads And Songs, from Tradition, Manuscripts, and scarce Editions; with translations of similar pieces from the ancient Danish language, and a few originals by the Editor. By Robert Jamieson." 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1806.

"Ancient (!) Historic Ballads." Newcastle, 1807.

"Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads, chiefly ancient." By John Finlay. 2 vols. Edinburgh 1808.

[Pg xix]"Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song," &c. By R.H. Cromek. London, 1810.

"Old Ballads, Historical and Narrative, with some of modern date: collected from Rare Copies and MSS." By Thomas Evans. 2 vols. 1777. 4 vols. 1784. [New edition, revised and enlarged by R.H. Evans. 4 vols. London, 1810.]

"Select Scottish Songs, Ancient and Modern, with Critical and Biographical Notices, by Robert Burns. Edited by R.H. Cromek." London. 1810. 2 vols.

"Essay on Song-Writing; with a Selection of such English Songs as are most eminent for poetical merit. By John Aiken. A new edition, with Additions and Corrections, and a Supplement by R.H Evans." London, 1810.

"Northern Garlands." London, 1810. (Contains The Bishopric, Yorkshire, and Northumberland Garlands, and The North-Country Chorister, before mentioned.)

"Bibliographical Miscellanies, being a Collection of Curious Pieces in Verse and Prose." By Dr. Bliss. Oxford, 1813.

"Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, from the earlier Teutonic and Scandinavian Romances, &c., with translations of Metrical Tales from the Old German, Danish, Swedish, and Icelandic Languages." 4to. By Weber, Scott, and Jamieson. Edinburgh, 1814.

"Pieces of ancient Poetry, from unpublished Manuscripts and scarce Books." Fry. Bristol, 1814.

"A Collection of Ancient and Modern Scottish Ballads, Tales, and Songs: with explanatory Notes and Observations." By John Gilchrist. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1815.

"Heliconia. Comprising a Selection of the Poetry of the Elizabethan age, written or published between 1575 and 1604." Edited by T. Park. 3 vols. London, 1815.

[Pg xx]*"Albyn's Anthology." By Alexander Campbell. Edinburgh, 1816.

"The Pocket Encyclopedia of Song." 2 vols. Glasgow, 1816.

"Calliope: A Selection of Ballads, Legendary and Pathetic." London, 1816.

Facetiæ. Musarum Deliciæ (1656), Wit Restor'd (1658), and Wits Recreations (1640). 2 vols. London, 1817.

"The Suffolk Garland: or a Collection of Poems, Songs, Tales, Ballads, Sonnets, and Elegies, relative to that county." Ipswich, 1818.

"The Jacobite Relics of Scotland: being the Songs, Airs, and Legends of the adherents to the House of Stuart. Collected and illustrated by James Hogg." 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1819 and 1821.

"The Harp of Caledonia: A Collection of Songs, Ancient and Modern, chiefly Scottish," &c. By John Struthers. 3 vols. Glasgow, 1819.

"The New Notborune Mayd." Roxburghe Club. London, 1820.

"The Scottish Minstrel, a Selection from the Vocal Melodies of Scotland, Ancient and Modern, arranged for the Piano-Forte by R.A. Smith." 6 vols. 1820-24.

*"The British Minstrel, a Selection of Ballads, Ancient and Modern; with Notes, Biographical and Critical. By John Struthers." Glasgow, 1821.

"Scarce Ancient Ballads, many never before published." Aberdeen. Alex. Laing, 1822.

"The Select Melodies of Scotland, interspersed with those of Ireland and Wales," &c. By George Thomson. London. 6 vols. 1822-25.

"Select Remains of the Ancient Popular Poetry of Scotland." By David Laing. Edinburgh, 1822.

"The Beauties of English Poetry." London, 1823.

[Pg xxi]"The Thistle of Scotland; a Selection of Ancient Ballads, with Notes. By Alexander Laing." Aberdeen, 1823.

"Some ancient Christmas Carols, with the tunes to which they were formerly sung in the West of England; together with two ancient Ballads, a Dialogue, &c. Collected by Davies Gilbert." The Second Edition. London, 1823.

"A Collection of Curious Old Ballads and Miscellaneous Poetry." David Webster. Edinburgh, 1824.

"A Ballad Book." By Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. 1824. (30 copies printed.)

"A North Countrie Garland." By James Maidment. Edinburgh, 1824. (30 copies printed.)

"The Common-Place Book of Ancient and Modern Ballad and Metrical Legendary Tales. An Original Selection, including many never before published." Edinburgh, 1824.

*"The Scottish Caledonian Encyclopædia; or, the Original, Antiquated, and Natural Curiosities of the South of Scotland, interspersed with Scottish Poetry." By John Mactaggart. London, 1824.

"Gleanings of Scotch, English, and Irish scarce Old Ballads, chiefly Tragical and Historical." By Peter Buchan. Peterhead, 1825.

"The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern; with an Introduction and Notes," &c. By Allan Cunningham. 4 vols. London, 1825.

"Early Metrical Tales." By David Laing. Edinburgh, 1826.

"Ancient Scottish Ballads, recovered from Tradition, and never before published: with Notes, Historical and Explanatory, and an Appendix, containing the Airs of several of the Ballads." By George R. Kinloch. Edinburgh, 1827.

[Pg xxii]"Minstrelsy, Ancient and Modern, with an Historical Introduction and Notes. By William Motherwell." Glasgow, 1827.

"The Ballad-Book." By George R. Kinloch. Edinburgh, 1827. (30 copies printed.)

"Ancient Ballads and Songs, chiefly from Tradition, Manuscripts, and Scarce Works," &c. By Thomas Lyle. London, 1827.

"The Knightly Tale of Golagrus and Gawane, and other Ancient Poems. Printed at Edinburgh, by W. Chepman and A. Myllar in the year M.D.VIII. Reprinted MD.CCC.XXVII."

"Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, hitherto unpublished." By Peter Buchan. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1828.

"Jacobite Minstrelsy, with Notes illustrative of the Text, and containing Historical Details in Relation to the House of Stuart from 1640 to 1784." Glasgow, 1829.

"The Scottish Ballads; Collected and Illustrated by Robert Chambers." Edinburgh, 1829.

"The Scottish Songs; Collected and Illustrated by Robert Chambers." 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1829.

"Ancient Metrical Tales: printed chiefly from Original Sources." By C.H. Hartshorne. London, 1829.

"Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern, including the most popular in the West of England, and the airs to which they were sung," &c. By W. Sandys. London, 1833.

"The Bishoprick Garland, or a collection of Legends, Songs, Ballads, &c., belonging to the County of Durham." By Sir Cuthbert Sharp. London, 1834.

"The Universal Songster, or Museum of Mirth, forming the most complete, extensive, and valuable collection of Ancient and Modern Songs in the English language." 3 vols. London. 1834.

[Pg xxiii]"Hugues de Lincoln, Recueil de Ballades, Anglo-Normande et Ecossoises, relatives an meurtre de cet enfant," &c. Francisque Michel. Paris, 1834.

"Ballads and other Fugitive Poetical Pieces, chiefly Scottish; from the collections of Sir James Balfour." Edinburgh, 1834. Ed. by James Maidment.

"Lays and Legends of Varions Nations." By W.J. Thoms. London, 1834. 5 parts.

"The Songs of England and Scotland." By Peter Cunningham. 2 vols. London, 1835.

"Songs and Carols. Printed from a Manuscript in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum." By T. Wright. London, 1836.

"The Nutbrown Maid. From the earliest edition of Arnold's Chronicle." By T. Wright, London, 1836.

"The Turnament of Totenham, and The Feest. Two early Ballads, printed from a Manuscript preserved in the Public Library of the University of Cambridge." By T. Wright. London, 1836.

"A Little Book of Ballads." Newport, 1836. Printed by E.V. Utterson for the Roxburghe Club.

"Ancient Scotish Melodies, from a Manuscript of the Reign of King James VI., with an Introductory Enquiry illustrative of the History of Music in Scotland." By William Dauncy. Edinburgh, 1838.

"Syr Gawayne; a collection of Ancient Romance-Poems, by Scotish and English authors, relating to that celebrated Knight of the Round Table, with an Introduction, Notes, and a Glossary." By Sir Fred. Madden. Bannatyne Club. London, 1839.

[Pg xxiv]*"Frühlingsgabe für Freunde älterer Literatur." By Th. G. v. Karajan. Vienna, 1839. (Contains English ballads.)

"The Political Songs of England, from the Reign of John to that of Edward II. Edited and translated by Thomas Wright." London, 1839. Camden Society.

"A Collection of National English Airs, consisting of Ancient Song, Ballad, and Dance Tunes, interspersed with Remarks and Anecdote, and preceded by an Essay on English Minstrelsy." By W. Chappell. 2 vols. London, 1838-1840. (see post.)

"The Latin Poems commonly attributed to Walter Mapes, collected and edited by Thomas Wright." London, 1841. Camden Society.

Publications of the Percy Society, (1840-1852.)

Vol. I. "Old Ballads, from Early Printed Copies of the Utmost Rarity." By J. Payne Collier. 1840.

"A Collection of Songs and Ballads relative to the London Prentices and Trades, and to the Affairs of London generally, during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries." By Charles Mackay. 1841.

"The Historical Songs of Ireland: illustrative of the Revolutionary Struggle between James II. and William III. By T. Crofton Croker. 1841.

"The King and a Poor Northern Man. From the edition of 1640." 1841.

Vol. II. "The Early Naval Ballads of England. Collected and edited by J.O. Halliwell." 1841.

"The Mad Pranks and Merry Jests of Robin Goodfellow. Reprinted from the edition of 1628." By J. Payne Collier. 1841.

[Pg xxv]Vol. III. "Political Ballads published in England during the Commonwealth." By Thomas Wright. 1841.

"Strange Histories: consisting of Ballads and other Poems, principally by Thomas Deloney. From the edition of 1607." 1841.

"The History of Patient Grisel. Two early Tracts in Black-letter." 1842.

Vol. IV. "The Nursery Rhymes of England, collected principally from oral Tradition." By J.O. Halliwell. 1842.

Vol. VI. "Ancient Poetical Tracts of the Sixteenth Century." Reprinted from unique Copies. By E.F. Rimbault 1842.

"The Crown Garland of Golden Roses: Consisting of Ballads and Songs. By Richard Johnson." Part I. From the edition of 1612. 1842. [Part II., from the edition of 1659, in vol. xv.]

Vol. IX. "Old Ballads illustrating the great Frost of 1683-4, and the Fair on the Thames." Collected and edited by E.F. Rimbault. 1844.

Vol. XIII. "Six Ballads with Burdens." By James Goodwin. 1844.

"Lyrical Poems selected from Musical Publications between the years 1589 and 1600." By J.P. Collier. 1844.

Vol. XV. "The Crown Garland of Golden Roses. Part II. From the edition of 1659." 1845.

Vol. XVII. "Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads." [From a MS. of Buchan's.] Edited by James Henry Dixon. 1845.

"Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England, taken down from oral recitation, and transcribed from private manuscripts, rare broadsides, and scarce publications. Collected and edited by James Henry Dixon." 1846.

[Pg xxvi]Vol. XIX. "The Civic Garland. A Collection of Songs from London Pageants." By F.W. Fairholt. 1845.

Vol. XXI. "Popular Songs illustrative of the French Invasions of Ireland." By T. Crofton Croker. 1845.

Vol. XXIII. "Songs and Carols, now first printed from a manuscript of the Fifteenth Century." By Thomas Wright, 1847.

"Festive Songs, principally of the 16th and 17th centuries: with an Introduction." By William Sandys. 1848.

Vol. XXVII. "Satirical Songs and Poems on Costume: from the 13th to the 19th century." By F.W. Fairholt. 1848.

Vol. XXIX. "The Loyal Garland: a Collection of Songs of the 17th century. Reprinted from a black-letter copy supposed to be unique." By J.O. Halliwell. 1850.

"Poems and Songs relating to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and his assassination by John Felton." By F.W. Fairholt.

Vol. XXX. "The Garland of Goodwill, by Thomas Deloney." From the edition of 1678. By J.H. Dixon. 1852.

"Popular Rhymes, Fireside Stories, and Amusements of Scotland." By Robert Chambers, Edinburgh. 1842. [Earlier edition in 1826.]

"Selections from the Early Ballad Poetry of England and Scotland. Edited by Richard John King." London, 1842.

"The Book of British Ballads." By S.C. Hall. 2 vols. 1842. 1844.

"The Book of Scottish Song: collected and illustrated with Historical and Critical Notices, and an Essay on the Song-Writers of Scotland." By Alex. Whitelaw. 1843. [Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, 1855.]

[Pg xxvii]"A New Book of Old Ballads." By James Maidment. Edinburgh, 1844. [60 copies printed.]

*Twelve Romantic Scottish Ballads, with Music. Chambers, 1844.

Publications of the Shakespeare Society:

"The Shakespeare Society Papers." Vol. I. 1844. Vol. IV. 1849.

"Illustrations of the Fairy Mythology of A Midsummer Night's Dream." By J.O. Halliwell. 1845.

"The Moral Play of Wit and Science, and Early Poetical Miscellanies from an Unpublished Manuscript." By J.O. Halliwell. 1848.

"Extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company, of Works entered for publication between the years 1557 and 1570. With Notes and Illustrations by J. Payne Collier." 1848. Vol. II. [1570-1587.] 1849.

"The Book of Scottish Ballads; collected and illustrated with Historical and Critical Notices. By Alex. Whitelaw." Glasgow, Edinburgh & London. 1845.

"Reliquiæ Antiquæ." Wright & Halliwell. 2 vols. London, 1845.

"Essays on Subjects connected with the Literature, Popular Superstitions, and History of England in the Middle Ages." By Thomas Wright. 2 vols. London, 1846.

"The Borderer's Table Book: or Gatherings of the Local History and Romance of the English and Scottish Border. By M.A. Richardson." 8 vols. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1846.

[Pg xxviii]"The Ballads and Songs of Ayrshire," &c. By James Paterson and Captain Charles Gray. 2 vols. Ayr, 1846-1847.

"The Minstrelsy of the English Border. Being a Collection of Ballads, Ancient, Remodelled, and Original, founded on well-known Border Legends. With Illustrative Notes." By Frederick Sheldon. London, 1847.

"A Book of Roxburghe Ballads. Edited by John Payne Collier." London, 1847.

"Bibliotheca Madrigaliana. A Bibliographical Account of the Musical and Poetical Works published in England during the 16th and 17th centuries, under the titles of Madrigals, Ballots, Ayres, Canzonets," &c. By E.F. Rimbault. 1847.

"A Lytell Geste of Robin Hode, with other Ancient and Modern Ballads and Songs relating to this celebrated Yeoman," &c. By John Mathew Gutch. 2 vols. London. 1847.

"Sir Hugh of Lincoln: or an Examination of a curious tradition respecting the Jews, with a Notice of the Popular Poetry connected with it. By the Rev. Abraham Hume." London, 1849.

"Ballads and Poems respecting Hugh of Lincoln." J.O. Halliwell. Brixton Hill, 1849.

"The Ballad of Edwin and Emma. By David Mallet." With Notes and Illustrations by Frederick T. Dinsdale. London, 1849.

"Musical Illustrations of Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. A Collection of Old Ballad Tunes, etc. chiefly from rare MSS. and early Printed Books," &c. By Edward F. Rimbault. London, 1850.

[Pg xxix]"The Fairy Mythology. Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of various Countries." By Thomas Keightley. London, 1850.

"Palatine Anthology. A Collection of ancient Poems and Ballads relating to Lancashire and Cheshire. The Palatine Garland. Being a Selection of Ballads and Fragments supplementary to the Palatine Anthology." By J.O. Halliwell. 1850. [Privately printed.]

"A New Boke about Shakespeare and Stratford-on-Avon." By J.O. Halliwell. 1850. [Privately printed.]

"A Little Book of Songs and Ballads, gathered from Ancient Musick Books, MS. and Printed." By E.F. Rimbault. London, 1851.

"The Sussex Garland. A collection of Ballads, Sonnets, Tales, Elegies, Songs, Epitaphs, &c. illustrative of the County of Sussex." By James Taylor. Newick, 1851.

"The Yorkshire Anthology. A Collection of Ancient and Modern Ballads, Poems and Songs, relating to the County of Yorkshire. Collected by J.O. Halliwell." London, 1851. [Privately printed.]

"The Norfolk Anthology. A Collection of Poems, Ballads, and Rare Tracts, relating to the County of Norfolk." Collected by J.O. Halliwell. 1852. [Privately printed.]

"The Illustrated Book of English Songs. From the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century." Illustrated London Library. London, (about) 1852.

"The Illustrated Book of Scottish Songs. From the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century." Illustrated London Library. London, (about) 1852.

[Pg xxx]"The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood," &c. By Joseph Hunter. London, 1852.

"The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe, &c.; with copious specimens of the most celebrated Histories, Romances, Popular Legends and Tales, old Chivalrous Ballads," &c. By William & Mary Howitt. 2 vols. London, 1852.

"The Pictorial Book of Ancient Ballad Poetry of Great Britain, Historical, Traditional, and Romantic: to which are added a Selection of Modern Imitations, and some Translations." By J.S. Moore. London, 1853.

"The Songs of Scotland adapted to their appropriate Melodies," &c. Illustrated with Historical, Biographical, and Critical Notices. By George Farquhar Graham. 8 vols. Edinburgh, 1854-6.

"Songs from the Dramatists." Edited by Robert Bell. Annotated Edition of the English Poets. London, 1854.

"Popular Music of the Olden Time; a Collection of Ancient Songs, Ballads, and Dance Tunes, illustrative of the National Music of England. With short introductions to the different reigns, and notices of the airs from writers of the 16th and 17th centuries. Also a short account of the Minstrels." By W. Chappell. London. Begun, 1855. Complete in 2 vols.

"Reliques of Ancient Poetry, &c. (Percy's.) To which is now added a Supplement of many curious Historical and Narrative Ballads, reprinted from Rare Copies." Philadelphia, 1855.

"Early Ballads illustrative of History, Traditions and Customs." By R. Bell. Annotated Edition of the English Poets. London, 1856.

"Ballads and Songs. By David Mallet. A new Edition, with Notes and Illustrations and a Memoir of the Author." By Frederick Dinsdale. London, 1857.

[Pg xxxi]"Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England. Edited by Robert Bell." London, 1857.

"The Ballads of Scotland. Edited by William Edmondstoune Aytoun." 2 vols. Edinburgh and London, 1858. 2d ed., 1859.

"The Romantic Scottish Ballads: Their Epoch and Authorship. Edinburgh Papers. By Robert Chambers." Lond. &. Ed. 1859.

"The Romantic Scottish Ballads and the Lady Wardlaw Heresy. By Norval Clyne." Aberdeen, 1859.

"Political Poems and Songs relating to English History, composed during the Period from the Accession of Edward III. to that of Richard III." By Thomas Wright. Vol. I. London, 1869. (Published by the British Government.)

The Ballads and Songs of Yorkshire. By C.J.D. Ingledew. (Announced.)

The Jacobite Minstrelsy of Scotland. By Charles Mackay (Announced.)

The Gentleman's Magazine, *The Scots Magazine, The Retrospective Review, The British Bibliographer, Censura Literara, Restituta, Notes and Queries, &c.

The full titles of the principal collections of ballad-poetry in other languages, referred to in these volumes, are as follows:—

"Udvalgte Danske Viser fra Middelalderen; efter A.S. Vedels og P. Syvs trykte Udgaver og efter haandskrevne Samlinger udgivne paa ny af Abrahamson, Nyerup, og Rahbek." Copenhagen, 1812-1814. 5 vols.

Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, udgivne af Svend Grundtvig. 2 vols., and the first part of the third. Copenhagen, 1853-58.

[Pg xxxii]"Svenska Folk-Visor fran Forntiden, samlade och utgifne af Er. Gust. Geijer och Arv. Aug. Afzelius." Stockholm, 1814-1816. 3 vols.

"Svenska Fornsånger. En Samling af Kämpavisor, Folk-Visor, Lekar och Dansar, samt Barn- och Vall-Sånger. Utgifne af Adolf Iwar Arwidsson." Stockholm, 1834-1842. 3 vols.

"Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen, und Mährchen, übersetzt von Wilhelm Carl Grimm." Heidelberg, 1811.

"Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Alte dentsche Lieder." Arnim & Brentano. 3 vols. Heidelberg, 1806-8. 2d ed. of first part in 1819.

"Die Volkslieder der Deutschen, etc. Herausgegeben durch Friedrich Karl Freiherrn von Erlach." Mannheim, 1834-36. 5 vols.

"Versuch einer geschichtlichen Charakteristik der Volkslieder Germanischer Nationen, mit einer Uebersicht der Lieder aussereuropäischer Völkerschaften." Von Talvj. Leipzig, 1840.

"Schlesische Volkslieder mit Melodien. Aus dem Munde des Volks gesammelt und herausgegeben von Hoffmann von Fallersleben und Ernst Richter." Leipzig, 1842.

"Alte hoch- und niederdeutsche Volkslieder, in Fünf Büchern, herausgegeben von Ludwig Uhland." 2 vols. Stuttgart, 1844-5.

"Deutscher Liederhort. Auswahl der vorzüglichern deutschen Volkslieder aus der Vorzeit und der Gegenwart mit ihren eigenthümlichen Melodien." Von Ludwig Erk. Berlin, 1856.

"Niederländische Volkslieder. Gesammelt und erläutert von Hoffmann von Fallersleben." 2d ed. Hannover, 1856.

[Pg 1]


[Pg 3]


No incident is more common in romantic fiction, than the employment of some magical contrivance as a test of conjugal fidelity, or of constancy in love. In some romances of the Round Table, and tales founded upon them, this experiment is performed by means either of an enchanted horn, of such properties that no dishonoured husband or unfaithful wife can drink from it without spilling, or of a mantle which will fit none but chaste women. The earliest known instances of the use of these ordeals are afforded by the Lai du Corn, by Robert Bikez, a French minstrel of the twelfth or thirteenth century, and the Fabliau du Mantel Mautaillé, which, in the opinion of a competent critic, dates from the second half of the thirteenth century, and is only the older lay worked up into a new shape. (Wolf, Ueber die Lais, 327, sq., 342, sq.) We are not to suppose, however, that either of these pieces presents us with the primitive form of this humorous invention. Robert Bikez tells us that he learned his story from an abbot, and that "noble ecclesiast" stood [Pg 4]but one further back in a line of tradition which curiosity will never follow to its source. We shall content ourselves with noticing the most remarkable cases of the use of these and similar talismans in imaginative literature.

In the Roman de Tristan, a composition of unknown antiquity, the frailty of nearly all the ladies at the court of King Marc is exposed by their essaying a draught from the marvellous horn, (see the English Morte Arthur, Southey's ed. i. 297.) In the Roman de Perceval, the knights, as well as the ladies, undergo this probation. From some one of the chivalrous romances Ariosto adopted the wonderful vessel into his Orlando, (xlii. 102, sq., xliii. 31, sq.,) and upon his narrative La Fontaine founded the tale and the comedy of La Coupe Enchantée. In German, we have two versions of the same story,—one, an episode in the Krone of Heinrich vom Türlein, thought to have been borrowed from the Perceval of Chrétien de Troyes, (Die Sage vom Zauberbecher, in Wolf, Ueber die Lais, 378,) and another, which we have not seen, in Bruns, Beiträge zur kritischen Bearbeitung alter Handschriften, ii. 139; while in English, it is represented by the highly amusing "bowrd," which we are about to print, and which we have called The Horn of King Arthur. The forms of the tale of the Mantle are not so numerous. The fabliau already mentioned was reduced to prose in the sixteenth century, and published at Lyons, (in 1577,) as Le Manteau mal taillé, (Legrand's Fabliaux, 3d ed., i. 126,) and under this title, or that of Le Court Mantel, is very well known. An old fragment (Der Mantel) is given in Haupt and Hoffmann's Altdeutsche Blätter, ii. 217, and the story is also in Bruns Beiträge. [Pg 5]Lastly, we find the legends of the horn and the mantle united, as in the German ballad Die Ausgleichung, (Des Knaben Wunderhorn, i. 389,) and in the English ballad of The Boy and The Mantle, where a magical knife is added to the other curiosities. All three of these, by the way, are claimed by the Welsh as a part of the insignia of Ancient Britain, and the special property of Tegau Eurvron, the wife of Caradog with the strong arm. (Jones, Bardic Museum, p. 49.)

In other departments of romance, many other objects are endowed with the same or an analogous virtue. In Indian and Persian story, the test of innocence is a red lotus-flower; in Amadis, a garland, which fades on the brow of the unfaithful; in Perceforest, a rose. The Lay of the Rose in Perceforest, is the original (according to Schmidt) of the much-praised tale of Senecé, Camille, ou la Manière de filer le parfait Amour, (1695,)—in which a magician presents a jealous husband with a portrait in wax, that will indicate by change of color the infidelity of his wife,—and suggested the same device in the twenty-first novel of Bandello, (Part First,) on the translation of which in Painter's Palace of Pleasure, (vol. ii. No. 28,) Massinger founded his play of The Picture. Again, in the tale of Zeyn Alasman and the King of the Genii, in the Arabian Nights, the means of proof is a mirror, that reflects only the image of a spotless maiden; in that of the carpenter and the king's daughter, in the Gesta Romanorum, (c. 69,) a shirt, which remains clean and whole as long as both parties are true; in Palmerin of England, a cup of tears, which becomes dark in the hands of an inconstant lover; in the Fairy Queen, the famous girdle of Florimel; in [Pg 6]Horn and Rimnild (Ritson, Metrical Romances, iii. 301,) as well as in one or two ballads in this collection, the stone of a ring; in a German ballad, Die Krone der Königin von Afion, (Erlach, Volkslieder der Deutschen, i. 132,) a golden crown, that will fit the head of no incontinent husband. Without pretending to exhaust the subject, we may add three instances of a different kind: the Valley in the romance of Lancelot, which being entered by a faithless lover would hold him imprisoned forever; the Cave in Amadis of Gaul, from which the disloyal were driven by torrents of flame; and the Well in Horn and Rimnild, (ibid.) which was to show the shadow of Horn, if he proved false.

In conclusion, we will barely allude to the singular anecdote related by Herodotus, (ii. 111,) of Phero, the son of Sesostris, in which the experience of King Marc and King Arthur is so curiously anticipated. In the early ages, as Dunlop has remarked, some experiment for ascertaining the fidelity of women, in defect of evidence, seems really to have been resorted to. "By the Levitical law," (Numbers v. 11-31,) continues that accurate writer, "there was prescribed a mode of trial, which consisted in the suspected person drinking water in the tabernacle. The mythological fable of the trial by the Stygian fountain, which disgraced the guilty by the waters rising so as to cover the laurel wreath of the unchaste female who dared the examination, probably had its origin in some of the early institutions of Greece or Egypt. Hence the notion was adopted in the Greek romances, the heroines of which were invariably subjected to a magical test of this nature, which is one of the few particulars in which any similarity of incident can be traced between the Greek [Pg 7]novels and the romances of chivalry." See DUNLOP, History of Fiction, London, 1814, i. 239, sq.; LEGRAND, Fabliaux, 3d ed., i. 149, sq., 161; SCHMIDT, Jahrbücher der Literatur, xxix. 121; WOLF, Ueber die Lais, 174-177; and, above all, GRAESSE'S Sagenkreise des Mittelalters, 185, sq.

The Boy and the Mantle was "printed verbatim" from the Percy MS., in the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, iii. 38.

In the third day of May,[Pg 8]

To Carleile did come

A kind curteous child,

That cold much of wisdome.


A kirtle and a mantle 

This child had uppon,

With brouches and ringes

Full richelye bedone.

He had a sute of silke


About his middle drawne;

Without he cold of curtesye,

He thought itt much shame.

"God speed thee, King Arthur,

Sitting at thy meate:


And the goodly Queene Guéver

I cannott her forgett,

"I tell you, lords, in this hall,

I hett you all to heede,

Except you be the more surer,


Is you for to dread."

He plucked out of his poterner,

And longer wold not dwell;[Pg 9]

He pulled forth a pretty mantle,

Betweene two nut-shells.


"Have thou here, King Arthur,

Have thou heere of mee;

Give itt to thy comely queene,

Shapen as itt is alreadye.

Itt shall never become that wiffe,


That hath once done amisse:

Then every knight in the kings court

Began to care for his.

Forth came dame Guénever;

To the mantle shee her hied;


The ladye shee was newfangle,

But yett shee was affrayd.

When shee had taken the mantle,

She stoode as shee had beene madd:

It was from the top to the toe,


As sheeres had itt shread.

One while was it gule,

Another while was itt greene;

Another while was it wadded;

Ill itt did her beseeme.


Another while was it blacke,[Pg 10]

And bore the worst hue:

"By my troth," quoth King Arthur,

"I think thou be not true."

She threw down the mantle,


That bright was of blee;

Fast, with a rudd redd,

To her chamber can shee flee.

She curst the weaver and the walker

That clothe that had wrought,

And bade a vengeance on his crowne


That hither hath itt brought.

"I had rather be in a wood,

Under a greene tree,

Then in King Arthurs court


Shamed for to bee."

Kay called forth his ladye,

And bade her come neere;

Saies, "Madam, and thou be guiltye,

I pray thee hold thee there."


Forth came his ladye,

Shortlye and anon;

Boldlye to the mantle

Then is shee gone.

When she had tane the mantle,


And cast it her about,

Then was shee bare[Pg 11]

'Before all the rout.'

Then every knight,

That was in the kings court,


Talked, laughed, and showted

Full oft att that sport.

Shee threw downe the mantle,

That bright was of blee;

Fast, with a red rudd,


To her chamber can shee flee.

Forth came an old knight,

Pattering ore a creede,

And he proferred to this litle boy

Twenty markes to his meede,

And all the time of the Christmasse,


Willinglye to ffeede;

For why, this mantle might

Doe his wiffe some need.

When she had tane the mantle,


Of cloth that was made,

Shee had no more left on her,

But a tassell and a threed:

Then every knight in the kings court

Bade evill might shee speed.


Shee threw downe the mantle,[Pg 12]

That bright was of blee;

And fast, with a redd rudd,

To her chamber can shee flee.


Craddocke called forth his ladye,

And bade her come in;

Saith, "Winne this mantle, ladye,

With a little dinne.

Winne this mantle, ladye,

And it shal be thine,


If thou never did amisse

Since thou wast mine."

Forth came Craddockes ladye,

Shortlye and anon;

But boldlye to the mantle


Then is shee gone.

When she had tane the mantle,

And cast it her about,

Upp at her great toe

It began to crinkle and crowt:


Shee said, "Bowe downe, mantle,

And shame me not for nought.

Once I did amisse,

I tell you certainlye,

When I kist Craddockes mouth[Pg 13]


Under a greene tree;

Before he marryed mee."

When shee had her shreeven,

And her sines shee had tolde,


The mantle stoode about her

Right as shee wold,

Seemelye of coulour,

Glittering like gold:

Then every knight in Arthurs court


Did her behold.

Then spake dame Guénever

To Arthur our king;

"She hath tane yonder mantle

Not with right, but with wronge.


See you not yonder woman,

That maketh her self soe 'cleane'?

I have seene tane out of her bedd

Of men fiveteene;

Priests, clarkes, and wedded men


From her, bydeene:

Yett shee taketh the mantle,

And maketh her self cleane."

Then spake the little boy,[Pg 14]

That kept the mantle in hold;


Sayes, "King, chasten thy wiffe,

Of her words shee is to bold:

Shee is a bitch and a witch,

And a whore bold:

King, in thine owne hall


Thou art a cuckold."

The little boy stoode

Looking out a dore;

'And there as he was lookinge

He was ware of a wyld bore.'


He was ware of a wyld bore,

Wold have werryed a man:

He pulld forth a wood kniffe,

Fast thither that he ran:

He brought in the bores head,


And quitted him like a man.

He brought in the bores head,

And was wonderous bold:

He said there was never a cuckolds kniffe

Carve itt that cold.

Some rubbed their knives

Uppon a whetstone:

Some threw them under the table,[Pg 15]

And said they had none.

King Arthur and the child


Stood looking them upon;

All their knives edges

Turned backe againe.

Craddocke had a little knive

Of iron and of steele;


He britled the bores head

Wonderous weele,

That every knight in the kings court

Had a morssell.

The little boy had a horne,


Of red gold that ronge:

He said there was "noe cuckolde

Shall drinke of my horne,

But he shold it sheede,

Either behind or beforne."


Some shedd on their shoulder,

And some on their knee;

He that cold not hitt his mouthe,

Put it in his eye:

And he that was a cuckold


Every man might him see.

Craddocke wan the horne,[Pg 16]

And the bores head:

His ladie wan the mantle

Unto her meede.


Everye such a lovely ladye

God send her well to speede.

MS. Ver. 7, branches.

V. 18, heate.

V. 21, poterver.

MS. V. 32, his wiffe.

V. 34, bided.

V. 41, gaule.

MS. Ver. 75, lauged.

MS. Ver. 134, wright.

V. 136, cleare.

MS. V. 175, Or birtled.

[Pg 17]


MS. Ashmole, 61, fol. 59 to 62.

This amusing piece was first published entire in Hartshorne's Ancient Metrical Tales, p. 209, but with great inaccuracies. It is there called The Cokwolds Daunce. A few extracts had previously been given from the MS., in the Notes to Orfeo and Heurodis, in Laing's Early Popular Poetry of Scotland. Mr. Wright contributed a corrected edition to Karajan's Frühlingsgabe für Freunde älterer Literatur. That work not being at the moment obtainable, the Editor was saved from the necessity of reprinting or amending a faulty text, by the kindness of J.O. Halliwell, Esq., who sent him a collation of Hartshorne's copy with the Oxford manuscript.

All that wyll of solas lere,

Herkyns now, and ȝe schall here,

And ȝe kane vnderstond;

Off a bowrd I wyll ȝou schew,


That ys full gode and trew,

That fell some tyme in Ynglond.

Kynge Arthour was off grete honour,[Pg 18]

Off castellis and of many a toure,

And full wyde iknow;


A gode ensample I wyll ȝou sey,

What chanse befell hym one a dey;

Herkyn to my saw!

Cokwoldes he louyd, as I ȝou plyȝt;

He honouryd them, both dey and nyght,


In all maner of thyng;

And as I rede in story,

He was kokwold sykerly;

Ffor sothê it is no lesyng.

Herkyne, seres, what I sey;

Her may ȝe here solas and pley,


Iff ȝe wyll take gode hede;

Kyng Arthour had a bugyll horn,

That ever mour stod hym be forn,

Were so that ever he ȝede.


Ffor when he was at the bord sete,

Anon the horne schuld be fette,

Ther off that he myght drynk;

Ffor myche crafte he couth thereby,

And ofte tymes the treuth he sey;


Non other couth he thynke.

Iff any cokwold drynke of it,

Spyll he schuld, withouten lette;

Therfor thei wer not glade;[Pg 19]

Gret dispyte thei had therby,


Because it dyde them vilony,

And made them oft tymes sade.

When the kyng wold hafe solas,

The bugyll was fett into the plas,

To make solas and game;


And then changyd the cokwoldes chere;

The kyng them callyd ferre and nere,

Lordynges, by ther name.

Than men myght se game inowȝe,

When every cokwold on other leuȝe,


And ȝit thei schamyd sore:

Where euer the cokwoldes wer sought,

Befor the kyng thei were brought,

Both lesse and more.

Kyng Arthour than, verament,


Ordeynd, throw hys awne assent,

Ssoth as I ȝow sey,

The tabull dormounte withouten lette;

Ther at the cokwoldes wer sette,

To have solas and pley.


Ffor at the bord schuld be non other

Bot euery cokwold and his brother;

To tell treuth I must nedes;

And when the cokwoldes wer sette,[Pg 20]

Garlandes of wylos sculd be fette,


And sett vpon ther hedes.

Off the best mete, withoute lesyng,

That stode on bord befor the kyng,

Both ferr and nere,

To the cokwoldes he sente anon,


And bad them be glad euerychon,

Ffor his sake make gode chere.

And seyd, "Lordyngs, for ȝour lyues,

Be neuer the wrother with ȝour wyues,

Ffor no manner of nede:


Off women com duke and kyng;

I ȝow tell without lesyng,

Of them com owre manhed.

So it befell sertenly,

The duke off Glosseter com in hyȝe,


To the courte with full gret myȝht;

He was reseyued at the kyngs palys,

With mych honour and grete solas,

With lords that were well dygȝht.

With the kyng ther dyde he dwell,


Bot how long I can not tell,

Therof knaw I non name;

Off kyng Arthour a wonder case,

Frendes, herkyns how it was,

Ffor now begynes game.


Vppon a dey, withouten lette,[Pg 21]

The duke with the kyng was sette,

At mete with mykill pride;

He lukyd abowte wonder faste,

Hys syght on euery syde he caste


To them that sate besyde.

The kyng aspyed the erle anon,

And fast he lowȝhe the erle vpon,

And bad he schuld be glad;

And yet, for all hys grete honour,


Cokwold was Kyng Arthour,

Ne galle non he had.

So at the last, the duke he brayd,

And to the kyng thes wordes sayd;

He myght no longer forbere;


"Syr, what hath thes men don,

That syche garlondes thei were vpon?

That skyll wold I lere."

The kyng seyd the erle to,

"Syr, non hurte they haue do,


Ffor this was thruȝh a chans.

Sertes thei be fre men all,

Ffor non of them hath no gall;

Therfor this is ther penans.

"Ther wyves hath ben merchandabull,


And of ther ware compenabull;

Methinke it is non herme;[Pg 22]

A man of lufe that wold them craue,

Hastely he schuld it haue,

Ffor thei couth not hym wern.


"All theyr wyves, sykerlyke,

Hath vsyd the backefysyke,

Whyll thes men were oute;

And ofte they haue draw that draught,

To vse well the lechers craft,


With rubyng of ther toute.

"Syr," he seyd, "now haue I redd;

Ete we now, and make vs glad,

And euery man fle care;"

The duke seyd to hym anon,


"Than be thei cokwoldes, everychon;"

The kyng seyd, "hold the there."

The kyng than, after the erlys word,

Send to the cokwolds bord,

To make them mery among,


All manner of mynstralsy,

To glad the cokwolds by and by

With herpe, fydell, and song:

And bad them take no greffe,

Bot all with loue and with leffe,


Euery man ... with other;

Ffor after mete, without distans,[Pg 23]

The cockwolds schuld together danse,

Euery man with hys brother.

Than began a nobull game:


The cockwolds together came

Befor the erle and the kyng;

In skerlet kyrtells over one,

The cokwoldes stodyn euerychon,

Redy vnto the dansyng.


Than seyd the kyng in hye,

"Go fyll my bugyll hastely,

And bryng it to my hond.

I wyll asey with a gyne

All the cokwolds that her is in;


To know them wyll I fond."

Than seyd the erle, "for charyte,

In what skyll, tell me,

A cokwold may I know?"

To the erle the kyng ansuerd,


"Syr, be myn hore berd,

Thou schall se within a throw."

The bugyll was brought the kyng to hond.

Then seyd the kyng, "I vnderstond,

Thys horne that ȝe here se,


Ther is no cockwold, fer ne nere,

Here of to drynke hath no power,

As wyde as Crystiante,

"Bot he schall spyll on euery syde;[Pg 24]

Ffor any cas that may betyde,


Schall non therof avanse."

And ȝit, for all hys grete honour,

Hymselfe, noble kyng Arthour,

Hath forteynd syche a chans.

"Syr erle," he seyd, "take and begyn."


He seyd; "nay, be seynt Austyn,

That wer to me vylony;

Not for all a reme to wyn,

Befor you I schuld begyn,

Ffor honour off my curtassy."


Kyng Arthour ther he toke the horn,

And dyde as he was wont beforn,

Bot ther was ȝit gon a gyle:

He wend to haue dronke of the best,

Bot sone he spyllyd on hys brest,


Within a lytell whyle.

The cokwoldes lokyd iche on other,

And thought the kyng was their own brother,

And glad thei wer of that:

"He hath vs scornyd many a tyme,


And now he is a cokwold fyne,

To were a cokwoldes hate."

The quene was therof schamyd sore;

Sche changyd hyr colour lesse and more,

And wold haue ben a wey.[Pg 25]


Therwith the kyng gan hyr behold,

And seyd he schuld neuer be so bold,

The soth agene to sey.

"Cokwoldes no mour I wyll repreue,

Ffor I ame ane, and aske no leue,


Ffor all my rentes and londys.

Lordyngs, all now may ȝe know

That I may dance in the cokwold row,

And take ȝou by the handes."

Than seyd thei all at a word,


That cokwoldes schuld begynne the bord,

And sytt hyest in the halle.

"Go we, lordyngs, all [and] same,

And dance to make vs gle and game,

Ffor cokwolds have no galle."


And after that sone anon,

The kyng causyd the cokwolds ychon

To wesch withouten les;

Ffor ought that euer may betyde,

He sett them by hys awne syde,


Vp at the hyȝe dese.

The kyng hymselff a gurlond fette;

Uppon hys hede he it sette,

Ffor it myght be non other,

And seyd, "Lordyngs, sykerly,


We be all off a freyry;[Pg 26]

I ame ȝour awne brother.

"Be Jhesu Cryst that is aboffe,

That man aught me gode loffe

That ley by my quene:


I wer worthy hym to honour,

Both in castell and in towre,

With rede, skerlet and grene.

"Ffor him he helpyd, when I was forth,

To cher my wyfe and make her myrth;


Ffor women louys wele pley;

And therfor, serys, have ȝe no dowte

Bot many schall dance in the cokwoldes rowte,

Both by nyght and dey.

"And therefor, lordyngs, take no care;


Make we mery; for nothing spare;

All brether in one rowte."

Than the cokwoldes wer full blythe,

And thankyd God a hundred syth,

Ffor soth withouten dowte.


Every cokwold seyd to other,

"Kyng Arthour is our awne brother,

Therfor we may be blyth:"

The erle off Glowsytur verament,

Toke hys leve, and home he wente,


And thankyd the kyng fele sythe.

Kyng Arthour lived at Karlyon,[Pg 27]

With hys cokwolds euerychon,

And made both gam and gle:

*    *    *    *    *

*    *    *    *    *

*    *    *    *    *

A knyght ther was withouten les,


That seruyd at the kyngs des,

Syr Corneus hyght he;

He made this gest in hys gam,

And named it after hys awne name,

In herpyng or other gle.


And after, nobull kyng Arthour

Lyued and dyed with honour,

As many hath don senne,

Both cokwoldes and other mo:

God gyff vs grace that we may go

To heuyn! Amen, Amen.

26, sette. See 59, 211.

38, sett.

56, brothers.

98, MS. spake.

115, MS. baskefysyke.

135, word wanting.

178, Bot he.

241, left at Skarlyon.

243, Three lines omitted in MS.

[Pg 28]


From Percy's Reliques, iii. 403.

This is one of the few ballads contained in the Percy MS., which we have the pleasure of possessing as it is there written. Having first submitted an improved copy, "with large conjectural supplements and corrections," Percy added this old fragment at the end of the volume: "literally and exactly printed, with all its defects, inaccuracies, and errata," in order, as he triumphantly remarks, "that such austere antiquaries as complain that the ancient copies have not been always rigidly adhered to, may see how unfit for publication many of the pieces would have been, if all the blunders, corruptions, and nonsense of illiterate reciters and transcribers had been superstitiously retained, without some attempt to correct and amend them."

"This ballad," the Editor of the Reliques goes on to say, "has most unfortunately suffered by having half of every leaf in this part of the MS. torn away; and, as about nine stanzas generally occur in the half-page now remaining, it is concluded that the [Pg 29]other half contained nearly the same number of stanzas." The story may be seen, unmutilated and in an older form, in Madden's Syr Gawayne, p. 298, The Weddynge of Syr Gawen and Dame Ragnell.

The transformation on which the story turns is found also in Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale, in Gower's tale of Florent and the King of Sicily's Daughter; (Confessio Amantis, Book I.) in the ballad of King Henry (page 147 of this volume); and in an Icelandic saga of the Danish king Helgius, quoted by Scott in his illustrations to King Henry, Minstrelsy, iii. 274.

Voltaire has employed the same idea in his Ce qui plaît aux Dames, but whence he borrowed it we are unable to say.

Worked over by some ballad-monger of the sixteenth century, and of course reduced to dish-water, this tale has found its way into The Crown Garland of Golden Roses, Part I. p. 68 (Percy Society, vol. vi.), Of a Knight and a Faire Virgin.

Kinge Arthur liues in merry Carleile,

And seemely is to see;

And there he hath with him Queene Genever,

That bride so bright of blee.

And there he hath with him Queene Genever,


That bride soe bright in bower;

And all his barons about him stoode,

That were both stiffe and stowre.

The King kept a royall Christmasse,[Pg 30]


Of mirth & great honor;


[About nine stanzas wanting.]

"And bring me word what thing it is

That women most desire;

This shalbe thy ransome, Arthur," he sayes,


"For Ile haue no other hier."

King Arthur then held vp his hand,

According thene as was the law;

He tooke his leaue of the baron there,

And homword can he draw.


And when he came to merry Carlile,

To his chamber he is gone;

And ther came to him his cozen, Sir Gawaine,

As he did make his mone.

And there came to him his cozen, Sir Gawaine,


That was a curteous knight;

"Why sigh you soe sore, vnckle Arthur," he said,

"Or who hath done thee vnright?"

"O peace! o peace! thou gentle Gawaine,

That faire may thee beffall;


For if thou knew my sighing soe deepe,

Thou wold not meruaile att all.

"Ffor when I came to Tearne-wadling,[Pg 31]

A bold barron there I fand;

With a great club vpon his backe,


Standing stiffe & strong.

"And he asked me wether I wold fight

Or from him I shold be gone;

Or else I must him a ransome pay,

And soe depart him from.


"To fight with him I saw noe cause,

Me thought it was not meet;

For he was stiffe and strong with all;

His strokes were nothing sweete.

"Therefor this is my ransome, Gawaine,


I ought to him to pay;

I must come againe, as I am sworne,

Vpon the Newyeers day.

"And I must bring him word what thing it is

[About nine stanzas wanting.]

Then King Arthur drest him for to ryde,


In one soe riche array,

Towards the foresaid Tearne-wadling,

That he might keepe his day.

And as he rode over a more,

Hee see a lady, where shee sate,


Betwixt an oke and a greene hollen;[Pg 32]

She was clad in red scarlett.

Then there as shold have stood her mouth,

Then there was sett her eye;

The other was in her forhead fast,


The way that she might see.

Her nose was crooked, & turnd outward,

Her mouth stood foule a-wry;

A worse formed lady then shee was,

Neuer man saw with his eye.


To halch vpon him, King Arthur,

This lady was full faine;

But King Arthur had forgott his lesson,

What he shold say againe.

"What knight art thou," the lady sayd,


"That wilt not speake to me?

Of me [be] thou nothing dismayd,

Tho I be vgly to see.

"For I haue halched you curteouslye,

And you will not me againe;


Yett I may happen, Sir knight," shee said,

"To ease thee of thy paine."

"Giue thou ease me, lady," he said,

"Or helpe me any thing,

Thou shalt haue gentle Gawaine, my cozen,[Pg 33]


And marry him with a ring."

"Why if I helpe thee not, thou noble King Arthur,

Of thy owne hearts desiringe,

Of gentle Gawaine....

[About nine stanzas wanting.]

And when he came to the Tearne-wadling,


The baron there cold he finde;

With a great weapon on his backe,

Standinge stiffe and stronge.

And then he tooke King Arthurs letters in his hands,

And away he cold them fling;


And then he puld out a good browne sword,

And cryd himselfe a king.

And he sayd, "I haue thee, & thy land, Arthur,

To doe as it pleaseth me;

For this is not thy ransome sure,


Therfore yeeld thee to me."

And then bespoke him noble Arthur,

And bade him hold his hand;

"And give me leave to speake my mind,[Pg 34]

In defence of all my land."


He said, "as I came over a more,

I see a lady, where shee sate,

Betweene an oke & a green hollen;

Shee was clad in red scarlette.

"And she says a woman will haue her will,


And this is all her cheef desire;

Doe me right, as thou art a baron of sckill,

This is thy ransome, & all thy hyer."

He sayes, "an early vengeance light on her!

She walkes on yonder more;


It was my sister, that told thee this,

She is a misshapen hore.

"But heer Ile make mine avow to God,

To do her an euill turne;

For an euer I may thate fowle theefe get,


In a fyer I will her burne."

[About nine stanzas wanting.]


Sir Lancelott, & Sir Steven, bold,

They rode with them that day;

And the formost of the company,[Pg 35]

There rode the steward Kay.


Soe did Sir Banier, & Sir Bore,

Sir Garrett with them, soe gay;

Soe did Sir Tristeram, that gentle knight,

To the forrest, fresh & gay.

And when he came to the greene forrest,


Vnderneath a greene holly tree,

Their sate that lady in red scarlet,

That vnseemly was to see.

Sir Kay beheld this ladys face,

And looked vppon her suire,—


"Whosoeuer kisses this lady," he sayes,

"Of his kisse he stands in feare!"

Sir Kay beheld the lady againe,

And looked vpon her snout;

"Whosoeuer kisses this lady," he saies,


"Of his kisse he stands in doubt!"

"Peace, cozen Kay," then said Sir Gawaine,

"Amend thee of thy life;

For there is a knight amongst us all,

That must marry her to his wife."


"What! wedd her to wiffe," then said Sir Kay,

"In the diuells name anon,

Get me a wiffe whereere I may,[Pg 36]

For I had rather be slaine!"

Then some tooke vp their hawkes in hast,


And some tooke vp their hounds;

And some sware they wold not marry her,

For citty nor for towne.

And then bespake him noble King Arthur,

And sware there, "by this day,


For a litle foule sight & misliking,

[About nine stanzas wanting.]

Then shee said, "choose thee, gentle Gawaine,

Truth as I doe say;

Wether thou wilt haue me in this liknesse,

In the night, or else in the day."


And then bespake him gentle Gawaine,

With one soe mild of moode;

Sayes, "well I know what I wold say,

God grant it may be good!

"To haue thee fowle in the night,


When I with thee shold play—

Yet I had rather, if I might,

Haue thee fowle in the day."

"What, when lords goe with ther feires," shee said,

"Both to the ale and wine;[Pg 37]


Alas! then I must hyde my selfe,

I must not goe withinne."

And then bespake him gentle Gawaine,

Said, "Lady, thats but a skill;

And because thou art my owne lady,


Thou shall haue all thy will."

Then she said, "blessed be thou, gentle Gawaine,

This day that I thee see;

For as thou see me att this time,

From hencforth I wil be.


"My father was an old knight,

And yett it chanced soe,

That he married a younge lady,

That brought me to this woe.

"Shee witched me, being a faire young lady,


To the greene forrest to dwell;

And there I must walke in womans liknesse,

Most like a feeind of hell.

"She witched my brother to a carlist b....

[About nine stanzas wanting.]

That looked soe foule, and that was wont


On the wild more to goe.

"Come kisse her, brother Kay," then said Sir Gawaine,[Pg 38]

"And amend the of thy liffe;

I sweare this is the same lady

That I marryed to my wiffe."


Sir Kay kissed that lady bright,

Standing vpon his ffeete;

He swore, as he was trew knight,

The spice was neuer soe sweete.

"Well, cozen Gawaine," sayes Sir Kay,


"Thy chance is fallen arright;

For thou hast gotten one of the fairest maids,

I euer saw with my sight."

"It is my fortune," said Sir Gawaine;

"For my vnckle Arthurs sake,


I am glad as grasse wold be of raine,

Great joy that I may take."

Sir Gawaine tooke the lady by the one arme,

Sir Kay tooke her by the tother;

They led her straight to King Arthur,


As they were brother and brother.

King Arthur welcomed them there all,

And soe did lady Geneuer, his queene;

With all the knights of the Round Table,

Most seemly to be seene.


King Arthur beheld that lady faire,[Pg 39]

That was soe faire & bright;

He thanked Christ in Trinity

For Sir Gawaine, that gentle knight.


Soe did the knights, both more and lesse,

Rejoyced all that day,

For the good chance that hapened was

To Sir Gawaine and his lady gay.

13, Ye a woman.

24, Cawaine.

38, O else.

85, srinde.

97, hands.

100, The.

144, soome.

163, seires.

[Pg 40]



Reliques of English Poetry, iii, 67.

"The subject of this ballad is evidently taken from the old romance Morte Arthur, but with some variations, especially in the concluding stanzas; in which the author seems rather to follow the traditions of the old Welsh Bards, who 'believed that King Arthur was not dead, but conveied awaie by the Fairies into some pleasant place, where he should remaine for a time, and then returne againe and reign in as great authority as ever.' (Holinshed, B. 5, c. 14.) Or, as it is expressed in an old chronicle printed at Antwerp, 1493, by Ger. de Leew: 'The Bretons supposen, that he [King Arthur] shall come yet and conquere all Bretaigne, for certes this is the prophicye of Merlyn, He sayd, that his deth shall be doubteous; and sayd soth, for men thereof yet have doubte, and shullen for ever more,—for men wyt not whether that he lyveth or is dede.' See more ancient testimonies in Selden's Notes on Polyolbion, Song 3.

"This fragment, being very incorrect and imperfect [Pg 41]in the original MS., hath received some conjectural emendations, and even a supplement of three or four stanzas composed from the romance of Morte Arthur." PERCY.

On Trinitye Mondaye in the morne,

This sore battayle was doom'd to bee,

Where manye a knighte cry'd, Well-awaye!

Alacke, it was the more pittìe.


Ere the first crowinge of the cocke,

When as the kinge in his bed laye,

He thoughte Sir Gawaine to him came,

And there to him these wordes did saye.

"Nowe, as you are mine unkle deare,


And as you prize your life, this daye

O meet not with your foe in fighte;

Putt off the battayle, if yee maye.

"For Sir Launcelot is nowe in Fraunce,

And with him many an hardye knighte:


Who will within this moneth be backe,

And will assiste yee in the fighte."

The kinge then call'd his nobles all,[Pg 42]

Before the breakinge of the daye;

And tolde them howe Sir Gawaine came,


And there to him these wordes did saye.

His nobles all this counsayle gave,

That earlye in the morning, hee

Shold send awaye an herauld at armes,

To aske a parley faire and free.

Then twelve good knightes King Arthur chose,


The best of all that with him were,

To parley with the foe in field,

And make with him agreement faire.

The king he charged all his hoste,


In readinesse there for to bee;

But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre,

Unlesse a sword drawne they shold see.

And Mordred, on the other parte,

Twelve of his knights did likewise bringe,


The beste of all his companye,

To holde the parley with the kinge.

Sir Mordred alsoe charged his hoste,

In readinesse there for to bee;

But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre,


But if a sworde drawne they shold see.

For he durste not his unkle truste,[Pg 43]

Nor he his nephewe, sothe to tell;

Alacke! it was a woefulle case,

As ere in Christentye befelle.


But when they were together mette,

And both to faire accordance broughte,

And a month's league betweene them sette,

Before the battayle sholde be foughte,

An addere crept forth of a bushe,


Stunge one o' the king's knightes on the knee;

Alacke! it was a woefulle chance,

As ever was in Christentìe.

When the knighte found him wounded sore,

And sawe the wild-worme hanginge there,


His sworde he from his scabberde drewe;

A piteous case, as ye shall heare.

For when the two hostes sawe the sworde,

They joyned battayle instantlye;

Till of so manye noble knightes,


On one side there were left but three.

For all were slaine that durst abide,

And but some fewe that fled awaye:

Ah mee! it was a bloodye fielde,[Pg 44]

As ere was foughte on summer's daye.


Upon King Arthur's own partyè,

Onlye himselfe escaped there,

And Lukyn Duke of Gloster free,

And the king's butler Bedevere.

And when the king beheld his knightes


All dead and scattered on the molde,

The teares fast trickled downe his face;

That manlye face in fight so bolde.

"Nowe reste yee all, brave knights," he said,

"Soe true and faithful to your trust:


And must yee then, yee valiant hearts,

Be lefte to moulder into dust!

"Most loyal have yee been to mee,

Most true and faithful unto deathe:

And, oh! to rayse yee up againe,


How freelye could I yield my breathe!

"But see, the traitor's yet alive!

Lo where hee stalkes among the deade!

Nowe bitterlye he shall abye,

And vengeance fall upon his head."


"O staye, my liege," then sayd the duke;

"O staye for love and charitìe;

Remember what the vision spake,[Pg 45]

Nor meete your foe, if it may bee."

"O staye mee not, thou worthye wight,


This debt my loyal knights I owe:

Betide me life, betide me death,

I will avenge them of their foe."

Then straite he grasp'd his trustye speare,

And on his horse then mounted hee:


As his butler holpe him to his horse,

His bowels gushed to his knee.

"Alas!" then sayd the noble king,

"That I should live this sight to see!

To see this good knight here be slaine,


All for his love in helping mee!"

He put his speare into his reste,

And to Sir Mordred loud gan crye;

"Nowe sette thyself upon thy guarde,

For, traitor, nowe thy death is nye."


Sir Mordred lifted up his sworde,

And fierce to meet the king ran hee:

The king his speare he through him thrust,

A fathom thorow his bodìe.

When Mordred felt the stroke of death,


And found that he was wounded soe,

He thruste himselfe upon the speare,[Pg 46]

And strucke the king a deadlye blowe.

Then grimmlye dyed Sir Mordered,

Presentlye upon that tree:


And bloody streames ranne from the kinge,

Ere to the duke returned hee.

Sir Lukyn then he thus bespake:

"Sir knighte, thou hast been faithfulle tryde;

Nowe take my sword Excalibar,


That hangs so freelye by my syde,

"O take my sword Excalibar,

And there into the river throwe:

For here, henceforth, benethe this tree,

All use of weapons I foregoe.


"And fare thee well, thou trustye sword,

A better neer had valiant knighte;

With thee full ofte, and many a daye

Have I withstood my foe in fighte.

"With this good fauchion in my hande,


Oft have I reapd the bloody feelde:

But nowe the fatalle houre is come,

That never more I may thee weelde."

The duke to the river side he went,[Pg 47]

And there his owne sword in threwe he;


But he kept back Excalibar,

He kept it back in privitie.

For all of coleyne was the blade,

And all the hilte of precious stone:


"And ever alacke!" then sayd the knighte,

"Must such a sword awaye be throwne?"

Then backe he came unto the kinge,

Who sayd, "Sir Lukyn, what did yee see?"

"Nothing, my liege, save that the winde

Blewe oer the waters faire and free."


"O goe againe," then said the kinge,

"O good Sir Lukyn, goe againe:

Into the rivere throwe my sword,

Nor keepe me lingering here in paine."

The duke then to the river went,


And the kings scabbard in threwe hee;

But hee kept backe Excalibar,

And hid it undernethe a tree.

Then backe he came to tell the kinge,

Who sayde, "Sir Lukyn, sawe ye oughte?"


"Nothinge, my liege, save that the winde

Nowe with the angrye waters fought."

"O Lukyn, Lukyn," said the kinge,[Pg 48]

"Twice haste thou dealt deceytfullye:

Alacke, whom may wee ever truste,


When suche a knighte soe false can bee!

"Saye, wouldst thou have thy master dead,

All for a sword that wins thine eye?

Now goe againe, and throwe it in,

Or here the one of us shall dye."


The duke, all shent with this rebuke,

No aunswere made unto the kinge;

But to the rivere tooke the sworde,

And threwe it far as he coulde flinge.

A hande and an arme did meete the sworde,


And flourishd three times in the air;

Then sunke benethe the renninge streme,

And of the duke was seene noe mair.

All sore astonied stood the duke,

He stood as still, as still mote bee;


Then hastend backe to tell the kinge,

But he was gone from under the tree.

But to what place, he cold not tell,

For never after hee did him see;

But hee sawe a barge goe from the land,


And hee heard ladyes howle and crye.

And whether the kinge were there, or not,[Pg 49]

Hee never knewe, nor ever colde;

For from that sad and direfulle daye,

Hee never more was seene on molde.

7. Sir Gawaine had been killed at Arthur's landing on his return from abroad. See the next ballad, ver. 73. P.

41, 42, the folio MS. reads father ... sonne.

119. More commonly called Caliburn. In the folio MS. Escalberd. P.

[Pg 50]


Reliques of English Poetry, iii. 76.

"We have here a short summary of King Arthur's History as given by Jeff. of Monmouth and the old Chronicles, with the addition of a few circumstances from the romance Morte Arthur.—The ancient chronicle of Ger. de Leew (quoted above in p. 40,) seems to have been chiefly followed: upon the authority of which we have restored some of the names which were corrupted in the MS., and have transposed one stanza, which appeared to be misplaced: viz., that beginning at v. 49, which in the MS. followed v. 36.

"Printed from the Editor's ancient folio MS."

Of Brutus' blood, in Brittaine borne,

King Arthur I am to name;

Through Christendome and Heathynesse

Well knowne is my worthy fame.


In Jesus Christ I doe beleeve;

I am a Christyan bore;

The Father, Sone, and Holy Gost,

One God, I doe adore.

In the four hundred ninetieth yeere,[Pg 51]


Oer Brittaine I did rayne,

After my Savior Christ his byrth,

What time I did maintaine

The fellowshipp of the Table Round,

Soe famous in those dayes;


Whereatt a hundred noble knights

And thirty sat alwayes:

Who for their deeds and and martiall feates,

As bookes done yett record,

Amongst all other nations


Wer feared through the world.

And in the castle off Tyntagill

King Uther mee begate,

Of Agyana, a bewtyous ladye,

And come of 'hie' estate.


And when I was fifteen yeere old,

Then was I crowned kinge:

All Brittaine, that was att an upròre,

I did to quiett bringe;

And drove the Saxons from the realme,


Who had opprest this land;

All Scotland then, throughe manly feates,[Pg 52]

I conquered with my hand.

Ireland, Denmarke, Norwaye,

These countryes wan I all;


Iseland, Gotheland, and Swetheland;

And made their kings my thrall.

I conquered all Gallya,

That now is called France;

And slew the hardye Froll in feild,


My honor to advance.

And the ugly gyant Dynabus,

Soe terrible to vewe,

That in Saint Barnards mount did lye,

By force of armes I slew.


And Lucyus, the emperour of Rome,

I brought to deadly wracke;

And a thousand more of noble knightes

For feare did turne their backe.

Five kinges of Pavye I did kill


Amidst that bloody strife;

Besides the Grecian emperour,

Who alsoe lost his liffe.

Whose carcasse I did send to Rome,[Pg 53]

Cladd poorlye on a beere;


And afterward I past Mount-Joye

The next approaching yeere.

Then I came to Rome, where I was mett

Right as a conquerour,

And by all the cardinalls solempnelye


I was crowned an emperour.

One winter there I made abode,

Then word to mee was brought,

Howe Mordred had oppressed the crowne,

What treason he had wrought


Att home in Brittaine with my queene:

Therfore I came with speede

To Brittaine backe, with all my power,

To quitt that traitorous deede;

And soone at Sandwiche I arrivde,


Where Mordred me withstoode:

But yett at last I landed there,

With effusion of much blood.

For there my nephew Sir Gawaine dyed,

Being wounded in that sore


The whiche Sir Lancelot in fight

Had given him before.

Thence chased I Mordered away,[Pg 54]

Who fledd to London right,

From London to Winchester, and


To Cornewalle tooke his flyght.

And still I him pursued with speed,

Till at last wee mett;

Wherby an appointed day of fight

Was there agreed and sett:


Where we did fight, of mortal life

Eche other to deprive,

Till of a hundred thousand men

Scarce one was left alive.

There all the noble chivalrye


Of Brittaine tooke their end:

O see how fickle is their state

That doe on fates depend!

There all the traiterous men were slaine,

Not one escapte away;


And there dyed all my vallyant knightes

Alas! that woefull day!

Two and twenty yeere I ware the crowne

In honor and great fame,

And thus by death was suddenlye


Deprived of the same.

1. MS., Bruitehis.

9, He began his reign A.D. 515, according to the Chronicles.

23, She is named Igerna in the old Chronicles.

24, his, MS.

39, Froland field, MS. Froll, according to the Chronicles, was a Roman knight, governor of Gaul.

41, Danibus, MS. 49, see p. 134, v. 55.

49, feates, MS.

[Pg 55]


This ballad first occurs in the Garland of Good Will, and is attributed to Thomas Deloney, whose career as a song-writer extends from about 1586 to 1600. It is merely a rhymed version of a passage in the Morte D'Arthur, (Book vi. ch. 7, 8, 9, of Southey's ed.) The first two lines are quoted in the Second Part of Henry IV., A. ii. sc. 4.

The present text is nearly that of the Garland of Good Will (Percy Society, vol. xxx. p. 38), and differs considerably from that of Percy, (Reliques, i. 215.) The same, with very trifling variations, is found in Old Ballads, (1723,) ii. 21; Ritson's Ancient Songs, ii. 188; Evans's Old Ballads, ii. 5.

When Arthur first in court began,

And was approvèd king,

By force of arms great victories won,

And conquests home did bring;


Then into Britain straight he came,

Where fifty good and able

Knights then repairèd unto him,

Which were of the Round Table;

And many justs and tournaments[Pg 56]


Before them there were drest,

Where valiant knights did then excel,

And far surmount the rest.

But one Sir Lancelot du Lake,

Who was approvèd well,


He in his fights and deeds of arms,

All others did excel.

When he had rested him a while,

To play, to game, and sport,

He thought he would go try himself,


In some adventurous sort.

He armèd rode in forest wide,

And met a damsel fair,

Who told him of adventures great,

Whereto he gave good ear.


"Why should I not?" quoth Lancelot tho,

"For that cause I came hither."

"Thou seem'st," quoth she, "a goodly knight,

And I will bring thee thither

"Whereas a mighty knight doth dwell,


That now is of great fame;

Therefore tell me what knight thou art,

And then what is your name."

"My name is Lancelot du Lake."[Pg 57]

Quoth she, "it likes me than;


Here dwells a knight that never was

O'ermatch'd with any man;

"Who has in prison threescore knights
And four, that he has bound;
Knights of King Arthur's court they be,
40 And of his Table Round."
She brought him to a river side,
And also to a tree,
Whereon a copper bason hung,
His fellows shields to see.
45 He struck so hard, the bason broke:
When Tarquin heard the sound,
He drove a horse before him straight,
Whereon a knight lay bound.
"Sir knight," then said Sir Lancelot,
50 "Bring me that horse-load hither,
And lay him down, and let him rest;
We'll try our force together.
"And as I understand, thou hast,
So far as thou art able,
55 Done great despite and shame unto
The knights of the Round Table."
"If thou be of the Table Round"[Pg 58]
(Quoth Tarquin, speedilye),
"Both thee and all thy fellowship
60 I utterly defie."
"That's overmuch," quoth Lancelot tho;
"Defend thee by and by."
They put their spurs unto their steeds,
And each at other fly.
65 They coucht their spears, and horses ran
As though there had been thunder;
And each struck them amidst the shield,
Wherewith they broke in sunder.
Their horses backs brake under them.
70 The knights were both astound;
To void their horses they made great haste,
To light upon the ground.
They took them to their shields full fast,
Their swords they drew out than;
75 With mighty strokes most eagerly
Each one at other ran.
They wounded were, and bled full sore,
For breath they both did stand,
And leaning on their swords awhile,
80 Quoth Tarquin, "Hold thy hand,
"And tell to me what I shall ask;"[Pg 59]
"Say on," quoth Lancelot tho;
"Thou art," quoth Tarquin, "the best knight
That ever I did know;
85 "And like a knight that I did hate;
So that thou be not he,
I will deliver all the rest,
And eke accord with thee."
"That is well said," quoth Lancelot then;
90 "But sith it must be so,
What is the knight thou hatest thus?
I pray thee to me show."
"His name is Lancelot du Lake,
He slew my brother dear;
95 Him I suspect of all the rest;
I would I had him here."
"Thy wish thou hast, but yet unknown;
I am Lancelot du Lake!
Now knight of Arthur's Table Round,
100 King Ban's son of Benwake;
"And I desire thee do thy worst."
"Ho! ho!" quoth Tarquin tho,
"One of us two shall end our lives,
Before that we do go.
105 "If thou be Lancelot du Lake,[Pg 60]
Then welcome shalt thou be;
Wherefore see thou thyself defend,
For now defie I thee."
They buckled then together so,
110 Like two wild boars rashing,
And with their swords and shields they ran
At one another slashing.
The ground besprinkled was with blood,
Tarquin began to faint;
115 For he gave back, and bore his shield
So low, he did repent.
This soon espied Sir Lancelot tho;
He leapt upon him then,
He pull'd him down upon his knee,
120 And rushed off his helm.
And then he struck his neck in two;
And when he had done so,
From prison, threescore knights and four
Lancelot delivered tho.

29, the.

36, E'er match'd.

44, fellow.

91, so.

100, Kind Haud's son of Seuwake.

112, flashing.

117, 'spied.

120, rushing.

[Pg 61]


(Percy's Reliques, iii. 143.)

"Published from an ancient MS. copy in the Editor's old folio volume, collated with two printed ones, one of which is in black-letter in the Pepys collection." PERCY.

An inferior copy is printed in Ritson's Ancient Songs and Ballads, ii. 193.

From an essay on the romance of Sir Guy, read by Mr. Wright before the British Archæological Association during its meeting at Warwick, we extract the following remarks in illustration of the history of the present ballad, and other similar popular heroic traditions.

"As the Teutonic tribes progressed in their migrations, and settled in new lands—and especially when they received a new faith, and made advances in civilization,—the mythic romances of their forefathers underwent remarkable modifications to adapt them to new sentiments and new manners. Among people who had forgotten the localities to which they referred, they received a new location and became identified with places and objects with which people were better acquainted, and in this manner they underwent [Pg 62]a new historical interpretation. It would be no uninteresting task to point out how many romantic tales that are soberly related of individuals of comparatively modern history, are merely new applications of these early myths.

"Among the romances of the Anglo-Danish cycle by no means the least celebrated is that of GUY OF WARWICK. It is one, of the few, which has been preserved in its Anglo-Norman form, since which it has gone through an extraordinary number of versions, and Chaucer enumerated it among the romances of pris, or those which in the fourteenth century were held in the highest estimation. It is doubtless one of those stories in which an ancient mythic romance has undergone the series of modifications I have been describing; a legend which had become located by popular traditions in the neighbourhood we are now visiting, in which the contests between northern chieftains are changed into tilts and tournaments, but in which the combats with dragons and giants are still preserved. Whatever may have been the name of the original hero, that which he now bears, Guy, is a French name, and could not have been given till Norman times.

"From the Anglo-Norman poem, so great was its popularity, two or three different English metrical versions were made, which are still found in manuscripts, and the earliest of which, that of the well-known Auchinlech manuscript, has been printed in a very expensive form by one of the Scottish Antiquarian clubs. It was next transformed into French prose, and in that form was popular in the fifteenth century, and was printed by some of the earlier printers. It was finally reduced to a popular chap-book in prose and a [Pg 63]broadside ballad in verse, and in these forms was hawked about the streets until a very recent period. Such has in general been the fate of the romantic literature of the middle ages; a remarkable proof of the tenacity with which it has kept its hold on the popular mind." Gentleman's Magazine, Sept. 1847, p. 300.

Was ever knight for ladyes sake
Soe tost in love, as I, Sir Guy,
For Phelis fayre, that lady bright
As ever man beheld with eye?
5 She gave me leave myself to try,
The valiant knight with sheeld and speare,
Ere that her love she would grant me;
Which made mee venture far and neare.
Then proved I a baron bold,
10 In deeds of armes the doughtyest knight
That in those dayes in England was,
With sworde and speare in feild to fight.
An English man I was by birthe:
In faith of Christ a christyan true:
15 The wicked lawes of infidells
I sought by prowesse to subdue.
'Nine' hundred twenty yeere and odde[Pg 64]
After our Saviour Christ his birth,
When King Athelstone wore the crowne,
20 I lived heere upon the earth.
Sometime I was of Warwicke erle,
And, as I sayd, of very truth
A ladyes love did me constraine
To seeke strange ventures in my youth;
25 To win me fame by feates of armes
In strange and sundry heathen lands;
Where I atchieved for her sake
Right dangerous conquests with my hands.
For first I sayled to Normandye,
30 And there I stoutlye wan in fight
The emperours daughter of Almaine,
From manye a vallyant worthye knight.
Then passed I the seas to Greece,
To helpe the emperour in his right,
35 Against the mightye souldans hoaste
Of puissant Persians for to fight:
Where I did slay of Sarazens,
And heathen pagans, manye a man;
And slew the souldans cozen deere,
40 Who had to name doughtye Coldràn.
Eskeldered, a famous knight,[Pg 65]
To death likewise I did pursue:
And Elmayne, King of Tyre, alsoe,
Most terrible in fight to viewe.
45 I went into the souldans hoast,5
Being thither on embassage sent,
And brought his head awaye with mee;
I having slaine him in his tent.
There was a dragon in that land
50 Most fiercelye mett me by the waye,
As hee a lyon did pursue,
Which I myself did alsoe slay.
Then soon I past the seas from Greece,
And came to Pavye land aright;
55 Where I the duke of Pavye killed,
His hainous treason to requite.
To England then I came with speede,
To wedd faire Phelis, lady bright;
For love of whome I travelled farr
60 To try my manhood and my might.
But when I had espoused her,
I stayd with her but fortye dayes,
Ere that I left this ladye faire,
And went, from her beyond the seas.
65 All cladd in gray, in pilgrim sort,[Pg 66]
My voyage from her I did take
Unto the blessed Holy-Land,
For Jesus Christ my Saviours sake.
Where I Erle Jonas did redeeme,
70 And all his sonnes, which were fifteene,
Who with the cruell Sarazens
In prison for long time had beene.
I slew the gyant Amarant
In battel fiercelye hand to hand,
75 And doughty Barknard killed I,
A treacherous knight of Pavye land.
Then I to England came againe,
And here with Colbronde fell I fought;
An ugly gyant, which the Danes
80 Had for their champion hither brought.
I overcame him in the feild,
And slewe him soone right valliantlye;
Wherebye this land I did redeeme
From Danish tribute utterlye.
85 And afterwards I offered upp
The use of weapons solemnlye
At Winchester, whereas I fought,
In sight of manye farr and nye.
'But first,' neare Winsor, I did slaye[Pg 67]
90 A bore of passing might and strength;
Whose like in England never was
For hugenesse both in bredth and length.
Some of his bones in Warwicke yett
Within the castle there doth lye;
95 One of his sheeld-bones to this day
Hangs in the citye of Coventrye.
On Dunsmore heath I alsoe slewe
A monstrous wyld and cruell beast,
Calld the Dun-cow of Dunsmore heath;
100 Which manye people had opprest.
Some of her bones in Warwicke yett
Still for a monument doth lye,
And there exposed to lookers viewe,
As wondrous strange, they may espye.
105 A dragon in Northumberland
I alsoe did in fight destroye,
Which did bothe man and beast oppresse,
And all the countrye sore annoye.
At length to Warwicke I did come,
110 Like pilgrim poore, and was not knowne;
And there I lived a hermitts life
A mile and more out of the towne.
Where with my hands I hewed a house[Pg 68]
Out of a craggy rocke of stone,
115 And lived like a palmer poore
Within that cave myself alone:
And daylye came to begg my bread
Of Phelis att my cattle gate;
Not knowne unto my loved wiffe,
120 Who dailye mourned for her mate.
Till att the last I fell sore sicke,
Yea, sicke soe sore that I must dye;
I sent to her a ring of golde,
By which shee knew me presentlye.
125 Then shee repairing to the cave,
Before that I gave up the ghost,
Herself closd up my dying eyes;
My Phelis faire, whom I lovd most.
Thus dreadful death did me arrest,
130 To bring my corpes unto the grave,
And like a palmer dyed I,
Wherby I sought my soule to save.
My body that endured this toyle,
Though now it be consumed to mold,
135 My statue, faire engraven in stone,
In Warwicke still you may behold.

9, The proud Sir Guy, PC.

17, Two hundred, MS. and PC.

[Pg 69]


(From Percy's Reliques, iii. 278.)

The following rhymed legend, which, like several other pieces in this Book, can be called a ballad only by an objectionable, though common, extension of the term, was printed by Percy (with some alterations) from two "ancient" black-letter copies in the Pepys collection.

Real popular ballads on St. George's victory over the Dragon exist in several languages, though not in English. [2] Such a ballad is known to have been sung by the Swedes at the battle of Brunkeberg in 1471, and one is still sung by the people both of Denmark and Sweden. Grundtvig gives three copies of the Danish ballad, two of the 16th and 17th centuries, and one of the present. Four versions of the Swedish have been published, of various ages (e.g. Svenska Folkvisor, ii. 252). A German ballad is given by Meinert, Altdeutsche Volkslieder, p. 254; after him by Erlach, iv. 258; and Haupt and Schmaler [Pg 70]have printed two widely different versions of the ballad in Wendish, Volkslieder der Wenden, vol. i. No. 285, ii. No. 195. These are all the proper traditional ballads upon this subject which are known to be preserved, unless we include a piece called Jürg Drachentödter in Zuccalmaglio's Deutsche Volkslieder, No. 37, which is of suspicious authenticity. The piece called Ritter St. Georg, in Des Knaben Wunderhorn, i. 151, is not a proper ballad, but a rhymed legend, like the one here printed, though intended to be sung.

The hero of these ballads, St. George of Cappadocia, is said to have suffered martyrdom during the persecution in Syria, in the year 303. In the 6th century he was a recognized saint both in the western and the eastern churches, and his reputation was limited to this character until the 13th. Reinbot von Dorn, (1231-53,) in his poem Der Heilige Georg, (Von der Hagen and Büsching's Deutsche Gedichte des Mittelalters,) and Vincent de Beauvais (died 1262) in his Speculum Historiale (XII. 131-32), content themselves with recounting his martyrdom, and appear to know nothing about his fight with the Dragon. The first known writer who attributes this exploit to St. George is Jacobus a Voragine (died 1298), in the Golden Legend. Of course it does not follow that the story originated there. It is probable that the legend of the Dragon arose at the time of the Crusades, and indeed was partly occasioned by them, though we ought not hastily to admit, what has been suggested, that it was founded upon some tradition which the Crusaders heard in Syria.

The Byzantians had long before ascribed various miracles to St. George, but it was the Normans, who, so to say, first pressed him into active military service. [Pg 71]It was he that commanded the heavenly host that came to the help of the Crusaders against the Turks, under the walls of Antioch, in the year 1098, on which occasion he was seen on his white horse, bearing the white banner with the red cross. He manifested himself again at the storming of Jerusalem in the following year, and a hundred years later was seen to fight in the front rank against the Moors in Spain, and for Frederic Barbarossa, in his crusade in 1190. But though he had entered into the service of the German emperor, this did not prevent his aiding the orthodox William of Holland in taking Aix-la-Chapelle from the excommunicated Emperor Frederic in 1248.—The most various races have contended for his protection. His feast was in 1222 ordered to be kept as a holiday throughout all England: from the beginning of the 14th century, or since the Mongol dominion was shaken off, he has been one of the guardian saints of Russia: in 1468, the Emperor Frederic III. founded the Austrian Order of St. George for the protection of the Empire against the Turks, and a few years later, in 1471, at the momentous battle of Brunkeberg, his name was the war-cry of both parties, Swedes and Danes.

That the subjugation of the Dragon (a symbolical mode of representing the extinction of Evil common to all times and peoples) should be attributed to St. George, would seem to be sufficiently explained by his having become the Christian Hero of the Middle Ages. A special reason may, however, be alleged for his connection with such a legend. Long before the Crusades, he was depicted by the artists of the Oriental Church as the Great Martyr, with the Dragon (Anti-Christ or the Devil) at his feet, and a crowned virgin (the Church) at his side. In like manner had Constantine [Pg 72]the Great had himself drawn, and many other saints are represented in the same way, as Theodore, Victor, and Margaret. This symbolic representation would naturally lead to the Crusaders making St. George the hero in an achievement which was well known in connection with other names: and it would then not be too much to assume that the Normans (who, as already said, were the first to recognize his presence in battle),—the same Normans who were properly the creators of the romantic poetry of the Middle Ages,—were also the first to connect St. George with the conquest of the Dragon.

But however we may account for St. George's being introduced into such a legend, so much is sure; that from the 14th century on, the story and the hero have been inseparable: all the legendaries and all the pictures of him exhibit him as the conqueror of the Dragon: his martyrdom is nearly lost sight of, and in ballads is entirely forgotten.—As to the place which was the scene of the fight, there are many opinions. Some have fixed it in Cappadocia, others in Lybia, others in Syria, and some European nations have assigned the adventure to a locality within their own bounds. Thus the Wallachians lay the scene at Orwoza, one of the Wendish ballads at Berlin, the Germans at Leipsic, the Dutch at Oudenarde, and—the people of the island of Funen at Svendborg!

[2] What follows is abridged from Grundtvig, Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, ii. 554.

Of Hector's deeds did Homer sing,
And of the sack of stately Troy,
What griefs fair Helena did bring,
Which was Sir Paris' only joy:
5 And by my pen I will recite[Pg 73]
St. George's deeds, an English knight.
Against the Sarazens so rude
Fought he full long and many a day,
Where many gyaunts he subdu'd,
10 In honour of the Christian way;
And after many adventures past,
To Egypt land he came at last.
Now, as the story plain doth tell,
Within that countrey there did rest
15 A dreadful dragon, fierce and fell,
Whereby they were full sore opprest:
Who by his poisonous breath each day
Did many of the city slay.
The grief whereof did grow so great
20 Throughout the limits of the land,
That they their wise men did intreat
To shew their cunning out of hand;
What way they might this fiend destroy,
That did the countrey thus annoy.
25 The wise men all before the king,
This answer fram'd incontinent:
The dragon none to death might bring
By any means they could invent;
His skin more hard than brass was found,
That sword nor spear could pierce nor wound.
30 When this the people understood,[Pg 74]
They cryed out most piteouslye,
The dragon's breath infects their blood,
That every day in heaps they dye;
35 Among them such a plague is bred,
The living scarce could bury the dead.
No means there were, as they could hear,
For to appease the dragon's rage,
But to present some virgin clear,
40 Whose blood his fury might asswage;
Each day he would a maiden eat,
For to allay his hunger great.
This thing by art the wise men found,
Which truly must observed be;
45 Wherefore, throughout the city round,
A virgin pure of good degree
Was, by the king's commission, still
Taken up to serve the dragon's will.
Thus did the dragon every day
50 Untimely crop some virgin flowr,
Till all the maids were worn away,
And none were left him to devour;
Saving the king's fair daughter bright,
Her father's only heart's delight.
55 Then came the officers to the king,
That heavy message to declare,
Which did his heart with sorrow sting;[Pg 75]
"She is," quoth he, "my kingdom's heir:
O let us all be poisoned here,
60 Ere she should die, that is my dear."
Then rose the people presently,
And to the king in rage they went;
They said his daughter dear should dye,
The dragon's fury to prevent:
65 "Our daughters all are dead," quoth they,
"And have been made the dragon's prey;
"And by their blood we rescued were,
And thou hast sav'd thy life thereby;
And now in sooth it is but faire,
70 For us thy daughter so should die."
"O save my daughter," said the king,
"And let ME feel the dragon's sting."
Then fell fair Sabra on her knee,
And to her father dear did say,
75 "O father, strive not thus for me,
But let me be the dragon's prey;
It may be, for my sake alone
This plague upon the land was thrown.
"'Tis better I should dye," she said,
80 "Than all your subjects perish quite;
Perhaps the dragon here was laid,
For my offence to work his spite,
And after he hath suckt my gore,[Pg 76]
Your land shall feel the grief no more."
85 "What hast thou done, my daughter dear,
For to deserve this heavy scourge?
It is my fault, as may appear,
Which makes the gods our state to purge;
Then ought I die, to stint the strife,
90 And to preserve thy happy life."
Like mad-men, all the people cried,
"Thy death to us can do no good;
Our safely only doth abide
In making her the dragon's food."
95 "Lo! here I am, I come," quoth she,
"Therefore do what you will with me."
"Nay stay, dear daughter," quoth the queen,
"And as thou art a virgin bright,
That hast for vertue famous been,
100 So let me cloath thee all in white;
And crown thy head with flowers sweet,
An ornament for virgins meet."
And when she was attired so,
According to her mother's mind,
105 Unto the stake then did she go,
To which her tender limbs they bind;
And being bound to stake a thrall,
She bade farewell unto them all.
"Farewell, my father dear," quoth she,[Pg 77]
110 "And my sweet mother, meek and mild;
Take you no thought nor weep for me,
For you may have another child;
Since for my country's good I dye,
Death I receive most willinglye."
115 The king and queen and all their train
With weeping eyes went then their way,
And let their daughter there remain,
To be the hungry dragon's prey:
But as she did there weeping lye,
120 Behold St. George came riding by.
And seeing there a lady bright
So rudely tyed unto a stake,
As well became a valiant knight,
He straight to her his way did take:
125 "Tell me, sweet maiden," then quoth he,
"What caitif thus abuseth thee?
"And, lo! by Christ his cross I vow,
Which here is figured on my breast,
I will revenge it on his brow,
130 And break my lance upon his chest:"
And speaking thus whereas he stood,
The dragon issued from the wood.
The lady, that did first espy
The dreadful dragon coming so,
135 Unto St. George aloud did cry,[Pg 78]
And willed him away to go;
"Here comes that cursed fiend," quoth she,
"That soon will make an end of me."
St. George then looking round about,
140 The fiery dragon soon espy'd,
And like a knight of courage stout,
Against him did most fiercely ride;
And with such blows he did him greet,
He fell beneath his horse's feet.
145 For with his launce, that was so strong,
As he came gaping in his face,
In at his mouth he thrust along;
For he could pierce no other place:
And thus within the lady's view
150 This mighty dragon straight he slew.
The savour of his poisoned breath
Could do this holy knight no harm;
Thus he the lady sav'd from death,
And home he led her by the arm;
155 Which when King Ptolemy did see,
There was great mirth and melody.
When as that valiant champion there
Had slain the dragon in the field,
To court he brought the lady fair,
160 Which to their hearts much joy did yield,
He in the court of Egypt staid[Pg 79]
Till he most falsely was betray'd.
That lady dearly lov'd the knight,
He counted her his only joy;
165 But when their love was brought to light,
It turn'd unto their great annoy.
Th' Morocco king was in the court,
Who to the orchard did resort;
Dayly, to take the pleasant air;
170 For pleasure sake he us'd to walk;
Under a wall he oft did hear
St. George with Lady Sabra talk;
Their love he shew'd unto the king,
Which to St. George great woe did bring.
175 Those kings together did devise
To make the Christian knight away:
With letters him in curteous wise
They straightway sent to Persia,
But wrote to the sophy him to kill,
180 And treacherously his blood to spill.
Thus they for good did him reward
With evil, and most subtilly,
By such vile meanes, they had regard
To work his death most cruelly;
185 Who, as through Persia land he rode,
With zeal destroy'd each idol god.
For which offence he straight was thrown[Pg 80]
Into a dungeon dark and deep;
Where, when he thought his wrongs upon,
190 He bitterly did wail and weep:
Yet like a knight of courage stout,
At length his way he digged out.
Three grooms of the King of Persia
By night this valiant champion slew,
195 Though he had fasted many a day,
And then away from thence he flew
On the best steed the sophy had;
Which when he knew he was full mad.
v Towards Christendom he made his flight,
200 But met a gyant by the way,
With whom in combat he did fight
Most valiantly a summer's day:
Who yet, for all his bats of steel,
Was forc'd the sting of death to feel.
205 Back o'er the seas, with many bands
Of warlike souldiers soon he past,
Vowing upon those heathen lands
To work revenge; which at the last,
Ere thrice three years were gone and spent,
210 He wrought unto his heart's content.
Save onely Egypt land he spar'd,
For Sabra bright her only sake,
And, ere for her he had regard,[Pg 81]
He meant a tryal kind to make:
215 Meanwhile the king, o'ercome in field,
Unto Saint George did quickly yield.
Then straight Morocco's king he slew,
And took fair Sabra to his wife,
But meant to try if she were true,
220 Ere with her he would lead his life;
And, tho' he had her in his train,
She did a virgin pure remain.
Toward England then that lovely dame
The brave St. George conducted strait,
225 An eunuch also with them came,
Who did upon the lady wait.
These three from Egypt went alone:
Now mark St. George's valour shown.
When as they in a forest were,
230 The lady did desire to rest:
Meanwhile St. George to kill a deer
For their repast did think it best:
Leaving her with the eunuch there,
Whilst he did go to kill the deer.
235 But lo! all in his absence came
Two hungry lyons, fierce and fell,
And tore the eunuch on the same
In pieces small, the truth to tell;
Down by the lady then they laid,[Pg 82]
240 Whereby they shew'd she was a maid.
But when he came from hunting back,
And did behold this heavy chance,
Then for his lovely virgin's sake
His courage strait he did advance,
245 And came into the lions sight,
Who ran at him with all their might.
Their rage did him no whit dismay,
Who, like a stout and valiant knight,
Did both the hungry lyons slay
250 Within the Lady Sabra's sight:
Who all this while, sad and demure,
There stood most like a virgin pure.
Now when St. George did surely know
This lady was a virgin true,
255 His heart was glad, that erst was woe,
And all his love did soon renew:
He set her on a palfrey steed,
And towards England came with speed.
Where being in short space arriv'd
260 Unto his native dwelling place,
Therein with his dear love he liv'd,
And fortune did his nuptials grace:
They many years of joy did see,
And led their lives at Coventry.

[Pg 83]


The Famous Historie of the Seven Champions of Christendom, is the work of Richard Johnson, a ballad maker of some note at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century. All that is known of him may be seen in Chappel's Introduction to the Crown Garland of Golden Roses, of which Johnson was the compiler or the author. (Percy Society, vol. vi.) "The Story of St. George and the Fair Sabra," says Percy, "is taken almost verbatim from the old poetical legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton."

The Seven Champions is twice entered on the Stationers' Registers in the year 1596. It is here reprinted from A Collection of Old Ballads, 1723, vol. i. 28. The same copy is in Evans's collection, i. 372.

Now of the Seven Champions here
My purpose is to write,
To show how they with sword and spear
Put many foes to flight;
5 Distressed ladies to release,
And captives bound in chains,
That Christian glory to increase
Which evermore remains.
First, I give you to understand[Pg 84]
10 That great Saint George by name,
Was the true champion of our land;
And of his birth and fame,
And of his noble mother's dream,
Before that he was born,
15 The which to her did clearly seem
Her days would be forlorn.
This was her dream; that she did bear
A dragon in her womb;
Which griev'd this noble lady fair,
20 'Cause death must be her doom.
This sorrow she could not conceal,
So dismal was her fear,
So that she did the same reveal
Unto her husband dear;
25 Who went for to inquire straight
Of an enchanteress;
When, knocking at her iron gate,
Her answer it was this:
"The lady shall bring forth a son,
30 By whom, in tract of time,
Great noble actions shall be done;
He will to honour climb.
"For he shall be in banners wore;
This truth I will maintain;
35 Your lady, she shall die before
[Pg 85] You see her face again."
His leave he took, and home he went;
His wife departed lay;
But that which did his grief augment,
40 The child was stole away.
Then did he travel in despair,
Where soon with grief he died;
While the young child, his son and heir,
Did constantly abide
45 With the wise lady of the grove,
In her enchanted cell;
Amongst the woods he oft did rove,
His beauty pleased her well.
Blinded with love, she did impart,
50 Upon a certain day,
To him her cunning magic art,
And where six Champions lay
Within a brazen castle strong,
By an enchanted sleep,
55 And where they had continued long;
She did the castle keep.
She taught and show'd him every thing
Through being free and fond;
Which did her fatal ruin bring;
60 For with a silver wand
He clos'd her up into a rock,
By giving one small stroke;
So took possession of her stock,[Pg 86]
And the enchantment broke.
65 Those Christian Champions being freed
From their enchanted state,
Each mounted on his prancing steed,
And took to travel straight;
Where we will leave them to pursue
70 Kind fortune's favours still,
To treat of our own champion, who
Did courts with wonders fill.
For as he came to understand,
At an old hermit's cell,
75 How, in the vast Egyptian land,
A dragon fierce and fell
Threatened the ruin of them all,
By his devouring jaws,
His sword releas'd them from that thrall,
80 And soon remov'd the cause.
This dreadful dragon must destroy
A virgin every day,
Or else with stinks he'll them annoy,
And many thousands slay.
85 At length the king's own daughter dear,
For whom the court did mourn,
Was brought to be devoured here,
For she must take her turn.
The king by proclamation said,[Pg 87]
90 If any hardy knight
Could free this fair young royal maid,
And slay the dragon quite,
Then should he have her for his bride,
And, after death, likewise
95 His crown and kingdom too beside:
Saint George he won the prize.
When many hardy strokes he'd dealt,
And could not pierce his hide,
He run his sword up to the hilt
100 In at the dragon's side;
By which he did his life destroy,
Which cheer'd the drooping king;
This caused an universal joy,
Sweet peals of bells did ring.
105 The daughter of a king, for pride
Transformed into a tree
Of mulberries, Saint Denis spied,
And being hungery,
Of that fair fruit he ate a part,
110 And was transformed likewise
Into the fashion of a hart,
For seven years precise.
At which he long bewail'd the loss
Of manly shape: then goes
115 To him his true and trusty horse,
And brings a blushing rose,[Pg 88]
By which the magic spell was broke,
And both were fairly freed
From the enchanted heavy yoke:
120 They then in love agreed.
Now we come to Saint James of Spain,
Who slew a mighty boar,
In hopes that he might honour gain,
But he must die therefore:
125 Who was allow'd his death to choose,
Which was by virgins' darts,
But they the same did all refuse,
So tender were their hearts.
The king's daughter at length, by lot,
130 Was doomed to work his woe;
From her fair hands a fatal shot,
Out of a golden bow,
Must put a period to the strife;
At which grief did her seize.
135 She of her father begg'd his life
Upon her bended knees;
Saying, "my gracious sovereign Lord,
And honoured father dear,
He well deserves a large reward;
140 Then be not so severe.
Give me his life!" He grants the boon,
And then without delay,
This Spanish champion, ere 'twas noon,[Pg 89]
Rid with her quite away.
145 Now come we to Saint Anthony,
A man with valour fraught,
The champion of fair Italy,
Who many wonders wrought.
First, he a mighty giant slew,
150 The terror of mankind:
Young ladies fair, pure virgins too,
This giant kept confined
Within his castle walls of stone,
And gates of solid brass,
155 Where seven ladies made their moan,
But out they could not pass.
Many brave lords, and knights likewise,
To free them did engage,
Who fell a bleeding sacrifice
160 To this fierce giant's rage.
Fair daughters to a royal king!
Yet fortune, after all,
Did our renowned champion bring
To free them from their thrall.
165 Assisted by the hand of heaven,
He ventured life and limb:
Behold the fairest of the seven,
She fell in love with him.
That champion good, bold Saint Andrew,[Pg 90]
170 The famous Scottish knight,
Dark gloomy deserts travelled through,
Where Phoebus gave no light.
Haunted with spirits, for a while
His weary course he steers,
175 Till fortune blessed him with a smile,
And shook off all his fears.
This Christian champion travell'd long,
Till at the length he came
Unto the giant's castle strong,
180 Great Blanderon by name,
Where the king's daughters were transform'd
Into the shape of swans:
Though them he freed, their father storm'd,
But he his malice shuns.
185 For though five hundred armed knights
Did straight beset him round,
Our Christian champion with them fights,
Till on the heathen ground
Most of those Pagans bleeding lay;
190 Which much perplexed the king;
The Scottish champion clears the way,
Which was a glorious thing.
Saint Patrick too, of Ireland,
That noble knight of fame,
195 He travelled, as we understand,
Till at the length he came[Pg 91]
Into a grove where satyrs dwelt,
Where ladies he beheld,
Who had their raged fury felt,
200 And were with sorrow fill'd.
He drew his sword, and did maintain
A sharp and bloody fray,
Till the ring-leader he had slain;
The rest soon fled away.
205 This done, he asked the ladies fair,
Who were in silks array'd,
From whence they came, and who they were.
They answered him and said:
"We are all daughters to a king,
210 Whom a brave Scottish knight
Did out of tribulation bring:
He having took his flight,
Now after him we are in quest."
Saint Patrick then replies,
215 "He is my friend, I cannot rest
Till I find him likewise.
"So, ladies, if you do intend
To take your lot with me,
This sword of mine shall you defend
220 From savage cruelty."
The ladies freely gave consent
To travel many miles;
Through shady groves and woods they went,[Pg 92]
In search of fortune's smiles.
225 The Christian champion David, went
To the Tartarian court,
Where at their tilt and tournament,
And such like royal sport,
He overthrew the only son
230 Of the Count Palatine;
This noble action being done
His fame began to shine.
The young Count's sad and sudden death
Turn'd all their joys to grief;
235 He bleeding lay, bereaved of breath,
The father's son in chief;
But lords and ladies blazed the fame
Of our brave champion bold;
Saying, they ought to write his name
240 In characters of gold.
Here have I writ a fair account
Of each heroic deed,
Done by these knights, which will surmount
All those that shall succeed.
245 The ancient chronicles of kings,
Ere since the world begun,
Can't boast of such renowned things
As these brave knights have done.
Saint George he was for England,[Pg 93]
250 Saint Dennis was for France,
Saint James for Spain, whose valiant hand
Did Christian fame advance:
Saint Anthony for Italy,
Andrew for Scots ne'er fails,
255 Patrick too stands for Ireland,
Saint David was for Wales.
Thus have you those stout champions names
In this renowned song:
Young captive ladies bound in chains,
260 Confined in castles strong,
They did by knightly prowess free,
True honour to maintain:
Then let their lasting memory
From age to age remain.

107, which Dennis.

[Pg 95]


This beautiful tale is transferred to these pages from Mr. Laing's Select Remains of the Ancient Popular Poetry of Scotland. The two "fytts" of prophecies which accompany it in the manuscripts, are omitted here, as being probably the work of another, and an inferior, hand. From the exordium by which the story is introduced, it might be concluded that the author was an Englishman. Indeed, all the poems and prophecies attributed to Thomas the Rhimer which remain to us, are preserved in English manuscripts and an English dress; but, in the judgment of Mr. Jamieson, the internal evidence still almost amounts to proof that the romance itself was of Scottish origin, although no indubitably Scottish copy is now known to be in existence.

The hero of this legend is believed to have lived through nearly the whole of the 13th century. He derived his territorial appellation from the village of Erceldoune, in the county of Berwick, lying on the river Leader, about two miles above its junction with the Tweed. The Huntly bank on which the meeting of Thomas with the Queen of Fairy took place, is situated, according to Mr. Laing, on one of the Eldoun hills, but the same distinction is claimed for another place of like name, which, together with an adjoining ravine, called from time immemorial the Rymer's Glen, [Pg 96]was included in the domain of Abbotsford. (See Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, iv. 110. v. 1.)

"During the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, to get up a prophecy in the name of Thomas the Rhymer appears to have been found a good stroke of policy on many occasions. Thus was his authority employed to countenance the views of Edward III. against Scottish independence, to favor the ambitious views of the Duke of Albany in the minority of James V., and to sustain the spirits of the nation under the harassing invasions of Henry VIII. A small volume containing a collection of the rhymes thus put into circulation was published by Andro Hart in Edinburgh, in 1615."—CHAMBERS, Pop. Rhymes of Scotland, p. 6.

"This poem," says Mr. Laing, "is preserved in three ancient manuscripts, each of them in a state more or less mutilated, and varying in no inconsiderable degree from the others. A portion of it was first printed in the Border Minstrelsy, [iv. 122,] from the fragment in the British Museum, among the Cotton MSS.; and the one which Mr. Jamieson adopted in his collection of Popular Ballads and Songs [ii. 11,] was carefully deciphered from a volume of no ordinary curiosity, in the University Library, Cambridge, written in a very illegible hand, about the middle of the 15th century. It is now printed from the other copy, as it occurs in a volume, compiled at a still earlier period, which is preserved in the Cathedral Library of Lincoln. On comparison, it will be readily perceived, that the text is in every respect preferable to that of either of the other manuscripts.... An endeavor has been made to fill up the defective parts from the Cambridge copy, though in some instances, as will be seen, without [Pg 97]success."—Mr. Halliwell has republished the Cambridge text in his Fairy Mythology, (p. 58,) and he cites a fourth manuscript, which, however, appears to be of slight importance.


Lystnys, lordyngs, bothe grete and smale,
And takis gude tente what I will say:
I sall yow telle als trewe a tale,
Als euer was herde by nyghte or daye:
5 And the maste meruelle fforowttyn naye,
That euer was herde byfore or syen,
And therfore pristly I yow praye,
That ye will of youre talkyng blyn.
It es an harde thyng for to saye,
10 Of doghety dedis that hase bene done;
Of felle feghtyngs and batells sere;
And how that knyghtis hase wonne thair schone.
Bot Jhesu Christ, that syttis in trone,
Safe Ynglysche men bothe ferre and nere;
15 And I sall telle yow tyte and sone,
Of battells done sythen many a yere;
And of batells that done sall bee;
In whate place, and howe and whare;
And wha sall hafe the heghere gree;
20 And whethir partye sall hafe the werre;

[Transcriber's note: there appears to be a stanza missing here, lines 21-24. A line note refers to the missing line 22.]

25 [Pg 98] Wha sall take the flyghte and flee;
And wha sall dye and byleue thare:
Bot Jhesu Christ, that dyed on tre,
Saue Inglysche men whare so thay fare.

Als I me wente this endres-daye,
Full faste in mynd makane my mone,
In a mery mornynge of May,
By Huntle bankkes my selfe allone,
5 I herde the jaye, and the 'throstelle,'
The mawys menyde of hir songe,
The wodewale beryde als a belle,
That all the wode abowte me ronge.
Allone in longynge, thus als I laye,
10 Vndre nethe a semely tre,
'Saw I' whare a lady gaye,
'Came ridand' ouer a longe lee.
If I suld sytt to Domesdaye,
With my tonge, to wrebbe and wrye,
15 Certanely that lady gaye,
Neuer bese scho askryede for mee.
Hir palfraye was a dappill graye;
Swilke one I saghe ne neuer none:
Als dose the sonne, on someres daye,
20 That faire lady hir selfe scho schone.

[Pg 99]

Hir selle it was of reele bone,
Full semely was that syghte to see!
Stefly sett with precyous stones,
And compaste all with crapotee,
25 Stones of Oryence, grete plente.
Hir hare abowte hir hede it hange;
Scho rode ouer that lange lee;
A whylle scho blewe, a nother scho sange.
Hir garthes of nobyll sylke they were;
30 The bukylls were of berelle stone;
Hir steraps were of crystalle clere,
And all with perelle ouer bygone.
Hir payetrelle was of iralle fyne;
Hir cropoure was of orfaré;
35 And als clere golde hir brydill it schone;
One aythir syde hange bellys three.
'Scho led seuen grew houndis in a leeshe;'
And seuen raches by hir they rone;
Scho bare a horne abowte hir halse;
40 And vnder hir belte full many a flone.
Thomas laye and sawe that syghte,
Vnder nethe ane semly tree;
He sayd, "yone es Marye most of myghte,
That bare that childe that dyede for mee.

[Pg 100]

"But if I speke with yone lady bryghte,
I hope myn herte will bryste in three;
Now sall I go with all my myghte,
Hir for to mete at Eldoun tree."
Thomas rathely vpe he rase,
50 And he rane ouer that mountayne hye;
Gyff it be als the storye sayes,
He hir mette at Eldone tree.
He knelyde down appon his knee,
Vndir nethe that grenwode spraye:—
55 And sayd, "lufly ladye! rewe one mee;
Qwene of heuen, als thu wele maye!"
Then spake that lady milde of thoghte:—
"Thomas, late swylke wordes bee;
Qwene of heuenne, am I noghte,
60 For I tuke neuer so heghe degre.
"Bot I ame of ane other contree,
If I be payrelde moste of prysse;
I ryde aftyre this wylde fee;
My raches rynnys at my devyse."
65 "If thu be parelde moste of prysse,
And here rydis thus in thy folye,
Of lufe, lady, als thu art wysse,
Thou gyffe me leue to lye the bye."

[Pg 101]

Scho sayde, "thu man, that ware folye;
70 I praye the, Thomas, thu lat me bee;
Ffor I saye the full sekirlye,
That syne will fordoo all my beaute."
"Now lufly ladye rewe on mee,
And I will euer more with the duelle;
75 Here my trouthe I 'plyghte to thee,'
Wethir thu will in heuen or helle."
"Mane of molde, thu will me marre,
But yitt thu sall hafe all thy will;
And trowe it wele, thu chewys the werre,
80 Ffor alle my beaute will thu spylle."
Down than lyghte that lady bryghte,
Vndir nethe that grene wode spraye;
And, als the storye tellis full ryghte,
Seuen sythis by hir he laye.
85 Scho sayd, "man, the lykes thi playe:
What byrde in boure maye delle with the?
Thou merrys me all this longe daye;
I pray the, Thomas, late me bee."
Thomas stode wpe in that stede,
90 And he byhelde that lady gaye;
Hir hare it hange all ouer hir hede,
Hir eghne semede owte, that are were graye.
And all the riche clothynge was awaye,[Pg 102]
That he byfore sawe in that stede;
95 Hir a schanke blake, hir other graye,
And all hir body lyke the lede;
Thomas laye, and sawe that syghte,
Vndir nethe that grenewod tree.
Than sayd Thomas, "allas! allas!
100 In faythe this es a dullfull syghte;
How arte thu fadyde thus in the face,

That schane byfore als the sonne so bryght!"
Scho sayd, "Thomas, take leve at sone and mone,
And als at lefe that grewes on tree;
105 This twelmoneth sall thu with me gone,
And medill-erthe thu sall non see."
He knelyd downe appon his knee,
Vndir nethe that grenewod spraye;
And sayd, "Lufly lady! rewe on mee,
110 Mylde qwene of heuen, als thu beste maye."
"Allas!" he sayd, "and wa es mee,
I trewe my dedis will wirke me care;
My saulle, Jhesu, byteche I the,
Whedir come that euer my banes sall fare."
115 [Pg 103] Scho ledde hym in at Eldone hill,
Vndir nethe a derne lee;
Whare it was dirk as mydnyght myrke,
And euer the water till his knee.
The montenans of dayes three,
120 He herd bot swoghyne of the flode;
At the laste, he sayde, "full wa es mee!
Almaste I dye, for fawte of fude."
Scho lede hym in till a faire herbere,
Whare frwte was 'growyng in gret plentee;'
125 Pers and appill, bothe rype thay were,
The date, and als the damasee;
The fygge, and als so the wyne-berye;
The nyghtyngales lyggande on thair neste;
The papeioyes faste abowte gan flye;
130 And throstylls sange, wolde hafe no reste.
He pressede to pulle frowte with his hande,
Als man for fude that was nere faynt;
Scho sayd, "Thomas, thu late tham stande,
Or ells the fende the will atteynt.
135 "If thu it plokk, sothely to say,
Thi saule gose to the fyre of helle;
It comes neuer owte or Domesdaye,
Bot ther in payne ay for to duelle.
[Pg 104] "Thomas, sothely, I the hyghte,
140 Come lygge thyn hede down on my knee,
And 'thou' sall se the fayreste syghte,
That euer sawe man of thi contree."
He did in hye als scho hym badde;
Appone hir knee his hede he layde,
145 Ffor hir to paye he was full glade,
And than that lady to him sayde—
"Seese thu nowe yone faire waye,
That lyggis ouer yone heghe montayne?—
Yone es the waye to heuen for aye,
150 When synfull sawles are passed ther payne.
"Seese thu nowe yone other waye,
That lygges lawe by nethe yone rysse?
Yone es the waye, the sothe to saye,
Vnto the joye of paradyse.
155 "Seese thu yitt yone third waye,
That ligges vnder yone grene playne?
Yone es the waye, with tene and traye,
Whare synfull saulis suffiris thare payne.
"Bot seese thu nowe yone forthe waye,
160 That lygges ouer yone depe delle?
Yone es the way, so waylawaye,
Vnto the byrnande fyre of hell.
[Pg 105] "Seese thu yitt yone faire castelle,
That standes vpone yone heghe hill?
165 Of towne and towre, it beris the belle;
In erthe es none lyk it vntill.
"Ffor sothe, Thomas, yone es myn awenn,
And the kynges of this countree;
Bot me ware leuer hanged and drawen,
170 Or that he wyste thou laye me by.
"When thu commes to yone castelle gay,
I pray the curtase man to bee;
And whate so any man to the saye,
Luke thu answere none bott mee.
175 "My lorde es seruede at ylk a mese,
With thritty knyghttis faire and free;
I sail saye, syttande at the dasse,
I tuke thi speche byyonde the see."
Thomas still als stane he stude.
180 And he byhelde that lady gaye;
Scho come agayne als faire and gude,
And al so ryche one hir palfraye.
Hir grewe hundis fillide with dere blode;
Hir rachis couplede, by my faye;
185 Scho blewe hir home with mayne and mode,
Vnto the castelle scho tuk the waye.
[Pg 106] In to the haulle sothely scho went;
Thomas foloued at hir hande;
Than ladyes come, bothe faire and gent,
190 With curtassye to hit knelande.
Harpe and fethill bothe thay fande,
Getterne, and als so the sawtrye;
Lutte and rybybe, bothe gangande,
And all manere of mynstralsye.
195 The most meruelle that Thomas thoghte,
When that he stode appon the flore;
Ffor feftty hertes in were broghte,
That were bothe 'largely' grete and store.
Raches laye lapande in the blode,
200 Cokes come with dryssynge knyfe;
They brittened tham als thay were wode;
Reuelle amanges thame was full ryfe.
Knyghtis dawnsede by three and three,
Thare was revelle, gamen, and playe,
205 Lufly ladyes, faire and free,
That satte and sange one riche araye.
Thomas duellide in that solace
More than I yowe save, perde;
Till one a daye, so hafe I grace,
210 My lufly lady sayde to mee:
[Pg 107] "Do busk the, Thomas,—the busk agayne,
Ffor thu may here no lengare be;
Hye the faste, with myghte and mayne;
I sall the brynge till Eldone tree."
215 Thomas sayde than with heuy chere;
"Lufly lady, nowe late me bee;
Ffor certis, lady, I hafe bene here
Noghte bot the space of dayes three.
"Ffor sothe, Thomas, als I the telle,
220 Thou hase bene here thre yere and more;
Bot langere here thu may noghte dwelle;
The skylle I sall the telle wherefore.
"To morne, of helle the foulle fende
Amange this folke will feche his fee;
225 And thu arte mekill man and hende,
I trowe full wele he wolde chese the.
"Ffor all the gold that euer may bee,
Ffro hethyn unto the worldis ende,
Thou bese neuer betrayede for mee;
230 Therefore with me I rede thou wende."
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.
[Pg 108] 235 "Fferre owtt in yone mountane graye,
Thomas, my fawkon byggis a neste;—
A fawcoun is an eglis praye;

Fforthi in na place may he reste.
"Ffare well, Thomas; I wend my waye;
240 Ffor me byhouys ouer thir benttis brown."
—Loo here a fytt: more es to saye,
All of Thomas of Erselldown.—

22, Laing, by tene.[refers to line 22, missing]

5, Linc. MS. throstylle cokke.

21, sette, Laing.

109, Lufly lady, i.e. Mary.

211, buse agayne.

[Pg 109]



Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, (iv. 117.) "Given from a copy obtained from a lady residing not far from Ercildoune, corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs. Brown's MSS."

True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
A ferlie he spied wi' his ee;
And there he saw a ladye bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.
5 Her shirt was o' the grass-green silk,
Her mantle o' the velvet fyne;
At ilka tett of her horse's mane,
Hung fifty siller bells and nine.
True Thomas, he pull'd aff his cap,
10 And louted low down to his knee:
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For thy peer on earth I never did see."—
[Pg 110] "O no, O no, Thomas," she said,
"That name does not belang to me;
15 I am but the Queen of fair Elfland,
That am hither come to visit thee.
"Harp and carp, Thomas," she said;
"Harp and carp along wi' me;
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
20 Sure of your bodie I will be."
"Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird shall never daunton me."—
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree.
25 "Now, ye maun go wi' me," she said;
"True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me;
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro' weal or woe as may chance to be."
She mounted on her milk-white steed;
30 She's ta'en true Thomas up behind:
And aye, whene'er her bridle rung,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.
O they rade on, and farther on;
The steed gaed swifter than the wind;
35 Until they reach'd a desert wide,
And living land was left behind.
[Pg 111] "Light down, light down, now, true Thomas,
And lean your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
40 And I will shew you ferlies three.
"O see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few enquires.
45 "And see ye not that braid braid road,
That lies across that lily leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to heaven.
"And see not ye that bonny road,
50 That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
"But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see;
55 For, if you speak word in Elfyn land,
Ye'll ne'er get back to your ain countrie."
O they rade on, and farther on,
And they waded through rivers aboon the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon,
60 But they heard the roaring of the sea.
[Pg 112] It was mirk mirk night, and there was nae stern light,
And they waded through red blude to the knee;
For a' the blude that's shed on earth
Rins through the springs o' that countrie.
65 Syne they came on to a garden green,
And she pu'd an apple frae a tree—
"Take this for thy wages, true Thomas;
It will give thee the tongue that can never lie."—
"My tongue is mine ain," true Thomas said;
70 "A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!
I neither dought to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.
"I dought neither speak to prince or peer,
Nor ask of grace from fair ladye."—
75 "Now hold thy peace!" the lady said,
"For as I say, so must it be."—
[Pg 113] He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green;
And till seven years were gane and past,
80 True Thomas on earth was never seen.

70. The traditional commentary upon this ballad informs us, that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of Knowledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The repugnance of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood, when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect. SCOTT.

[Pg 114]


The Tayl of the Yong Tamlene is mentioned in the Complaynt of Scotland, (1548,) and the dance of Thom of Lyn is noticed in the same work. A considerable fragment of this ballad was printed by Herd, (vol. i. 215,) under the title of Kertonha', a corruption of Carterhaugh; another is furnished in Maidment's New Book of Old Ballads, (p. 54,) and a nearly complete version in Johnson's Museum, (p. 423,) which, with some alterations, was inserted in the Tales of Wonder, (No. 58.) The present edition, prepared by Sir Walter Scott from a collation of various copies, is longer than any other, but was originally disfigured by several supposititious stanzas here omitted. Another version, with Maidment's fragment, will be found in the Appendix to this volume.

"Carterhaugh is a plain, at the conflux of the Ettrick and Yarrow in Selkirkshire, about a mile above Selkirk, and two miles below Newark Castle; a romantic ruin which overhangs the Yarrow, and which is said to have been the habitation of our heroine's father, though others place his residence in the tower of Oakwood. The peasants point out, upon the plain, those electrical rings, which vulgar credulity supposes to be traces of the Fairy revels. Here, they say, were placed [Pg 115]the stands of milk, and of water, in which Tamlane was dipped, in order to effect the disenchantment; and upon these spots, according to their mode of expressing themselves, the grass will never grow. Miles Cross, (perhaps a corruption of Mary's Cross,) where fair Janet awaited the arrival of the Fairy train, is said to have stood near the Duke of Buccleuch's seat of Bow-hill, about half a mile from Carterhaugh."—(SCOTT'S Minstrelsy, ii. 334, at the end of a most interesting essay, introductory to this tale, on the Fairies of Popular Superstition.)

"O I forbid ye, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tamlane is there.
5 "There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh,
But maun leave him a wad,
Either gowd rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenheid.
"Now gowd rings ye may buy, maidens,
10 Green mantles ye may spin;
But, gin ye lose your maidenheid,
Ye'll ne'er get that agen."—
But up then spak her, fair Janet,
The fairest o' a' her kin;
15 "I'll cum and gang to Carterhaugh;
And ask nae leave o' him."—
[Pg 116] Janet has kilted her green kirtle,
A little abune her knee;
And she has braided her yellow hair,
20 A little abune her bree.
And when she came to Carterhaugh,
She gaed beside the well;
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsell.
25 She hadna pu'd a red red rose,
A rose but barely three;
Till up and starts a wee wee man,
At lady Janet's knee.
Says—"Why pu' ye the rose, Janet?
30 What gars ye break the tree?
Or why come ye to Carterhaugh,
Withouten leave o' me?"—
Says—"Carterhaugh it is mine ain;
My daddie gave it me;
35 I'll come and gang to Carterhaugh,
And ask nae leave o' thee."
He's ta'en her by the milk-white hand,
Among the leaves sae green;
And what they did, I cannot tell—
40 The green leaves were between.
[Pg 117] He's ta'en her by the milk-white hand,
Among the roses red;
And what they did, I cannot say—
She ne'er return'd a maid.
45 When she cam to her father's ha',
She looked pale and wan;
They thought she'd dreed some sair sickness,
Or been with some leman.
She didna comb her yellow hair,
50 Nor make meikle o'er her head;
And ilka thing that lady took,
Was like to be her deid.
It's four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba';
55 Janet, the wightest of them anes,
Was faintest o' them a'.
Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess;
And out there came the fair Janet,
60 As green as any grass.
Out and spak an auld grey-headed knight,
Lay o'er the castle wa',—
"And ever, alas! for thee, Janet,
But we'll be blamed a'!"—
[Pg 118] 65 "Now haud your tongue, ye auld grey knight!
And an ill deid may ye die;
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I'll father nane on thee."—
Out then spak her father dear,
70 And he spak meik and mild—
"And ever, alas! my sweet Janet,
I fear ye gae with child."—
"And if I be with child, father,
Mysell maun bear the blame;
75 There's ne'er a knight about your ha'
Shall hae the bairnie's name.
"And if I be with child, father,
'Twill prove a wondrous birth;
For weel I swear I'm not wi' bairn
80 To any man on earth.
"If my love were an earthly knight,
As he's an elfin grey,
I wadna gie my ain true love
For nae lord that ye hae."
85 She prink'd hersell and prinn'd hersell,
By the ae light of the moon,
And she's away to Carterhaugh,
To speak wi' young Tamlane.
[Pg 119] And when she came to Carterhaugh,
90 She gaed beside the well;
And there she saw the steed standing,
But away was himsell.
She hadna pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twae,
95 When up and started young Tamlane,
Says—"Lady, thou pu's nae mae!
"Why pu' ye the rose, Janet,
Within this garden grene,
And a' to kill the bonny babe,
100 That we got us between?"
"The truth ye'll tell to me, Tamlane;
A word ye mauna lie;
Gin e'er ye was in haly chapel,
Or sained in Christentie?"
105 "The truth I'll tell to thee, Janet,
A word I winna lie;
A knight me got, and a lady me bore,
As well as they did thee.
"Randolph, Earl Murray, was my sire,
110 Dunbar, Earl March, is thine;
We loved when we were children small,
Which yet you well may mind.
[Pg 120] "When I was a boy just turn'd of nine,
My uncle sent for me,
115 To hunt, and hawk, and ride with him,
And keep him companie.
"There came a wind out of the north,
A sharp wind and a snell;
And a deep sleep came over me,
120 And frae my horse I fell.
"The Queen of Fairies keppit me,
In yon green hill to dwell;
And I'm a fairy, lyth and limb;
Fair ladye, view me well.
125 "Then would I never tire, Janet,
In Elfish land to dwell;
But aye, at every seven years,
They pay the teind to hell;
And I am sae fat and fair of flesh,
130 I fear 'twill be mysell.
"This night is Hallowe'en, Janet,
The morn is Hollowday;
And, gin ye dare your true love win,
Ye hae nae time to stay.
135 "The night it is good Hallowe'en,
When fairy folk will ride;
And they that wad their true-love win,[Pg 121]
At Miles Cross they maun bide."
"But how shall I thee ken, Tamlane?
140 Or how shall I thee knaw,
Amang so many unearthly knights,
The like I never saw?"
"The first company that passes by,
Say na, and let them gae;
145 The next company that passes by,
Sae na, and do right sae;
The third company that passes by,
Then I'll be ane o' thae.
"First let pass the black, Janet,
150 And syne let pass the brown;
But grip ye to the milk-white steed,
And pu' the rider down.
"For I ride on the milk-white steed,
And aye nearest the town;
155 Because I was a christen'd knight,
They gave me that renown.
[Pg 122] "My right hand will be gloved, Janet,
My left hand will be bare;
And these the tokens I gie thee,
160 Nae doubt I will be there.
"They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
An adder and a snake;
But had me fast, let me not pass,
Gin ye wad buy me maik.
165 "They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
An adder and an ask;
They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
A bale that burns fast.
"They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
170 A red-hot gad o' airn;
But haud me fast, let me not pass,
For I'll do you no harm.
"First dip me in a stand o' milk,
And then in a stand o' water;
175 But had me fast, let me not pass—
I'll be your bairn's father.
"And, next, they'll shape me in your arms,
A tod, but and an eel;
But had me fast, nor let me gang,
180 As you do love me weel.
"They'll shape me in your arms, Janet,
A dove, but and a swan;
And, last, they'll shape me in your arms
A mother-naked man:
185 Cast your green mantle over me—[Pg 123]
I'll be myself again."—
Gloomy, gloomy, was the night,
And eiry was the way,
As fair Janet, in her green mantle,
190 To Miles Cross she did gae.
Betwixt the hours of twelve and one,
A north wind tore the bent;
And straight she heard strange elritch sounds
Upon that wind which went.
195 About the dead hour o' the night,
She heard the bridles ring;
And Janet was as glad o' that
As any earthly thing.
Will o' Wisp before them went,
200 Sent forth a twinkling light;
And soon she saw the Fairy bands
All riding in her sight.
And first gaed by the black black steed,
And then gaed by the brown;
205 But fast she gript the milk-white steed,
And pu'd the rider down.
She pu'd him frae the milk-white steed,
And loot the bridle fa';
And up there raise an erlish cry—[Pg 124]
210 "He's won amang us a'!"—
They shaped him in fair Janet's arms,
An esk, but and an adder;
She held him fast in every shape—
To be her bairn's father.
215 They shaped him in her arms at last,
A mother-naked man:
She wrapt him in her green mantle,
And sae her true love wan!
Up then spake the Queen o' Fairies,
220 Out o' a bush o' broom—
"She that has borrow'd young Tamlane,
Has gotten a stately groom."—
Up then spake the Queen o' Fairies,
Out o' a bush o' rye—
225 "She's ta'en awa the bonniest knight
In a' my cumpanie.
"But had I kenn'd, Tamlane," she says,
"A lady wad borrow'd thee—
I wad ta'en out thy twa grey een,
230 Put in twa een o' tree.
"Had I but kenn'd, Tamlane," she says,
"Before ye came frae hame—
I wad ta'en out your heart o' flesh,[Pg 125]
Put in a heart o' stane.
235 "Had I but had the wit yestreen
That I hae coft the day—
I'd paid my kane seven times to hell
Ere you'd been won away!"

130. See Thomas of Ersseldoune, (p. 107,) v. 225, 226.

V. 157-168, v. 208-214. The same process of disenchantment is found in the Danish ballad Nattergalen, st. 20-22, Grundtvig, No. 57 (also Svenska Folk-visor, No. 41). The comparison with the transformations of Proteus is curious.

ἀμφὶ δὲ χεῖρας
βάλλομεν· οὐδ' ὁ γέρων δολίης ἐπελήθετο τέχνης·
ἀλλ' ἤτοι πρώτιστα λέων γένετ' ἠϋγένειος,
αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα δράκων καὶ πόρδαλις ἠδὲ μέγας σῦς·
γίγνετο δ' ὑγρὸν ὕδωρ καὶ δένδρεον ὑψιπέτηλον.
ἡμεῖς δ' ἀστεμφέως ἔχομεν τετληότι θυμῷ.

Odyssey, iv. 454-59.

Verum ubi correptum manibus vinclisque tenebis,
Tum variæ eludent species atque ora ferarum:
Fiet enim subito sus horridus atraque tigris,
Squamosusque draco, et fulva cervice leæna,
Aut acrem flammæ sonitum dabit, atque ita vinclis
Excidet, aut in aquas tenues dilapsus abibit.
Sed quanto ille magis formas se vertet in omnes,
Tanto, nate, magis contende tenacia vincla.

Georgics, iv. 405-12.

[Pg 126]


This ballad will be found, in forms slightly varying, in Herd, (i. 156;) Caw's Poetical Museum, (p. 348;) Motherwell's Minstrelsy, (p. 343;) and Buchan's Ancient Ballads, (i. 263.) It bears some resemblance to the beginning of the remarkable poem, Als Y Yod on ay Mounday, (see Appendix). The present version is from the Poetical Museum.

As I was walking by my lane,
Atween a water and a wa,
There sune I spied a wee wee man,
He was the least that eir I saw.
5 His legs were scant a shathmont's length,
And sma and limber was his thie;
Atween his shoulders was ae span,
About his middle war but three.
He has tane up a meikle stane,
10 And flang't as far as I cold see;
Ein thouch I had been Wallace wicht,
I dought na lift it to my knie.
[Pg 127] "O wee wee man, but ye be strang!
Tell me whar may thy dwelling be?"
15 "I dwell beneth that bonnie bouir,
O will ye gae wi me and see?"
On we lap, and awa we rade,
Till we cam to a bonny green;
We lichted syne to bait our steid,
20 And out there cam a lady sheen;
Wi four and twentie at her back,
A' comely cled in glistering green;
Thouch there the King of Scots had stude,
The warst micht weil hae been his queen.
25 On syne we past wi wondering cheir,
Till we cam to a bonny ha;
The roof was o the beaten gowd,
The flure was o the crystal a.
When we cam there, wi wee wee knichts
30 War ladies dancing, jimp and sma;
But in the twinkling of an eie,
Baith green and ha war clein awa.

7. Much better in Motherwell.
Between his een there was a span
Betwixt his shoulders there were ells three

There were pipers playing in every neuk,
And ladies dancing, jimp and sma';
And aye the owreturn o' their tune
Was, "Our wee wee man has been lang awa!"—

[Pg 128]


Reprinted from A Collection of Curious Old Ballads and Miscellaneous Poetry, Edinburgh. David Webster, 1824.

Other versions are given in Motherwell's Minstrelsy, (see the Appendix to this volume;) Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, (p.145;) Buchan's Ancient Ballads, (ii. 296.)

Similar collections of impossibilities in The Trooper and Fair Maid, Buchan, i. 230; Robin's Tesment, id., i. 273, or Aytoun, 2d ed. ii. 197; As I was walking under a grove, Pills to purge Melancholy, v. 370. See also post, vol. ii. 224, 352, vol. iv. 132, 287; and in German, Von eitel unmöglichen Dingen, Erk's Liederhort, p. 334-37; Uhland, Eitle Dinge, No. 4, A, B; Wunderhorn, ii. 410.

The Elfin knight sits on yon hill,
Ba, ba, ba, lillie ba.
He blaws his horn baith loud and shrill.
The wind hath blawn my plaid awa.
He blaws it east, he blaws it west,
He blaws it where he liketh best.
5 "I wish that horn were in my kist,
Yea, and the knight in my arms niest."
She had no sooner these words said,
Than the knight came to her bed.
[Pg 129] "Thou art o'er young a maid," quoth he,
10 "Married with me, that thou would'st be."
"I have a sister, younger than I,
And she was married yesterday."
"Married with me if thou would'st be,
A curtisie thou must do to me.
15 "It's ye maun mak a sark to me,
Without any cut or seam," quoth he;
"And ye maun shape it, knife-, sheerless,
And also sew it needle-, threedless."
"If that piece of courtisie I do to thee,
20 Another thou must do to me.
"I have an aiker of good ley land,
Which lyeth low by yon sea strand;
"It's ye maun till't wi' your touting horn,
And ye maun saw't wi' the pepper corn;
25 "And ye maun harrow't wi' a thorn,
And hae your wark done ere the morn;
"And ye maun shear it wi' your knife,
And no lose a stack o't for your life;
[Pg 130] "And ye maun stack it in a mouse hole,
30 And ye maun thrash it in your shoe sole;
"And ye maun dight it in your loof,
And also sack it in your glove;
"And ye maun bring it over the sea,
Fair, and clean, and dry to me;
35 "And when that ye have done your wark,
Come back to me, and ye'll get your sark."
"I'll not quite my plaid for my life;
It haps my seven bairnes and my wife."
"My maidenhead I'll then keep still,
40 Let the Elfin knight do what he will.
"My plaid awa, my plaid away,
And owre the hills and far awa,
And far awa to Norowa',
My plaid shall not be blawn awa."

33, thou must.

[Pg 131]


A fragment of this ballad was printed in Herd's Collection, ("I'll wager, I'll wager," i. 226.) The present version is from the Border Minstrelsy, (iii. 28,) and we have added another from Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads. A somewhat longer copy is given in Buchan's Ballads, (ii. 291,) and a modernized English one, of no value, (The West Country Wager,) in Ancient Poems, &c., Percy Society, vol. xvii. p. 116.

Brume, brume on hil, is mentioned in the Complaynt of Scotland, and formed part of Captain Cox's well-known collection.

A Danish ballad exhibits the same theme, though differently treated: Sövnerunerne, Grundtvig, No. 81.

There was a knight and a lady bright,
Had a true tryst at the broom;
The ane ga'ed early in the morning,
The other in the afternoon.
5 And aye she sat in her mother's bower door,
And aye she made her mane,
"O whether should I gang to the Broomfield hill,
Or should I stay at hame?
[Pg 132] "For if I gang to the Broomfield hill,
10 My maidenhead is gone;
And if I chance to stay at hame,
My love will ca' me mansworn."—
Up then spake a witch woman,
Aye from the room aboon;
15 "O, ye may gang to Broomfield hill,
And yet come maiden hame.
"For when ye come to the Broomfield hill,
Ye'll find your love asleep,
With a silver belt about his head,
20 And a broom-cow at his feet.
"Take ye the blossom of the broom,
The blossom it smells sweet,
And strew it at your true love's head,
And likewise at his feet.
25 "Take ye the rings off your fingers,
Put them on his right hand,
To let him know, when he doth awake,
His love was at his command."—
She pu'd the broom flower on Hive-hill,
30 And strew'd on's white hals bane,
And that was to be wittering true,
That maiden she had gane.
[Pg 133] "O where were ye, my milk-white steed,
That I hae coft sae dear,
35 That wadna watch and waken me,
When there was maiden here?"—
"I stamped wi' my foot, master,
And gar'd my bridle ring;
But nae kin' thing wald waken ye,
40 Till she was past and gane."—
"And wae betide ye, my gay goss hawk,
That I did love sae dear,
That wadna watch and waken me,
When there was maiden here."—
45 "I clapped wi' my wings, master,
And aye my bells I rang,
And aye cry'd, Waken, waken, master,
Before the ladye gang."—
"But haste and haste, my gude white steed,
50 To come the maiden till,
Or a' the birds of gude green wood
Of your flesh shall have their fill."—
"Ye needna burst your gude white steed,
Wi' racing o'er the howm;
55 Nae bird flies faster through the wood,
Than she fled through the broom."

[Pg 134]


From Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, (p. 195.)

"I'll wager, I'll wager," says Lord John,
"A hundred merks and ten,
That ye winna gae to the bonnie broom-fields,
And a maid return again."—
5 "But I'll lay a wager wi' you, Lord John,
A' your merks oure again,
That I'll gae alane to the bonnie broom-fields,
And a maid return again."
Then Lord John mounted his grey steed,
10 And his hound wi' his bells sae bricht,
And swiftly he rade to the bonny broom-fields,
Wi' his hawks, like a lord or knicht.
"Now rest, now rest, my bonnie grey steed,
My lady will soon be here;
15 And I'll lay my head aneath this rose sae red,
And the bonnie burn sae near."
But sound, sound, was the sleep he took,
For he slept till it was noon;
And his lady cam at day, left a taiken and away,[Pg 135]
20 Gaed as licht as a glint o' the moon.
She strawed the roses on the ground,
Threw her mantle on the brier,
And the belt around her middle sae jimp,
As a taiken that she'd been there.
25 The rustling leaves flew round his head,
And rous'd him frae his dream;
He saw by the roses, and mantle sae green,
That his love had been there and was gane.
"O whare was ye, my gude grey steed,
30 That I coft ye sae dear;
That ye didna waken your master,
Whan ye ken'd that his love was here."—
"I pautit wi' my foot, master,
Garr'd a' my bridles ring;
35 And still I cried, Waken, gude master,
For now is the hour and time."—
"Then whare was ye, my bonnie grey hound,
That I coft ye sae dear,
That ye didna waken your master,
40 Whan ye kend that his love was here."—
"I pautit wi' my foot, master,
Garr'd a' my bells to ring;
[Pg 136] And still I cried, Waken, gude master,
For now is the hour and time."—
45 "But whare was ye, my hawks, my hawks,
That I coft ye sae dear,
That ye didna waken your master,
Whan ye ken'd that his love was here."—
"O wyte na me, now, my master dear,
50 I garr'd a' my young hawks sing,
And still I cried, Waken, gude master,
For now is the hour and time."—
"Then be it sae, my wager gane!
'T will skaith frae meikle ill;
55 For gif I had found her in bonnie broom-fields,
O' her heart's blude ye'd drunken your fill."

The stanzas below are from an American version of this ballad called The Green Broomfield, printed in a cheap song-book. (Graham's Illustrated Magazine, Sept. 1858.)

"Then when she went to the green broom field,
Where her love was fast asleep,
With a gray goose-hawk and a green laurel bough,
And a green broom under his feet.
"And when he awoke from out his sleep,
An angry man was he;
He looked to the East, and he looked to the West,
And he wept for his sweetheart to see.
"Oh! where was you, my gray goose-hawk,
The hawk that I loved so dear,
That you did not awake me from out my sleep,
When my sweetheart was so near!"

[Pg 137]


This ballad was first printed in the Border Minstrelsy, (vol. iii. p. 230,) "chiefly from Mrs. Brown's MS. with corrections from a recited fragment." Motherwell furnishes a different version, from recitation, (Minstrelsy, p. 374,) which is subjoined to the present, and the well-known ditty of the Laidley Worm of Spindleston-Heugh, upon the same theme, will be found in the Appendix to this volume.

"Such transformations as the song narrates," remarks Sir Walter Scott, "are common in the annals of chivalry. In the 25th and 26th cantos of the second book of the Orlando Inamorato, the Paladin, Brandimarte, after surmounting many obstacles, penetrates into the recesses of an enchanted palace. Here he finds a fair damsel, seated upon a tomb, who announces to him, that, in order to achieve her deliverance, he must raise the lid of the sepulchre, and kiss whatever being should issue forth. The knight, having pledged his faith, proceeds to open the tomb, out of which a monstrous snake issues forth, with a tremendous hiss. Brandimarte, with much reluctance, fulfils the bizarre conditions of the adventure; and the monster is instantly changed into a beautiful Fairy, who loads her deliverer with benefits."

[Pg 138]Jomfruen i Ormeham, in Grundtvig's Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, ii. 177, is essentially the same ballad as Kempion. The characteristic incident of the story (a maiden who has been transformed by her step-mother into a snake or other monster, being restored to her proper shape by the kiss of a knight) is as common in the popular fiction of the North as Scott asserts it to be in chivalrous romance. For instances, see Grundtvig, l.l., and under the closely related Lindormen, ii. 211.

The name Kempion is itself a monument of the relation of our ballads to the Kæmpeviser. Pollard of Pollard Hall, who slew "a venomous serpent which did much harm to man and beast," is called in the modern legend a Champion Knight.

"Cum heir, cum heir, ye freely feed,
And lay your head low on my knee;
The heaviest weird I will you read,
That ever was read to gay ladye.
5 "O meikle dolour sall ye dree,
And aye the salt seas o'er ye'se swim;
And far mair dolour sall ye dree
On Estmere crags, when ye them climb.
[Pg 139] "I weird ye to a fiery beast,
10 And relieved sall ye never be,
Till Kempion, the kingis son,
Cum to the crag, and thrice kiss thee."—
O meikle dolour did she dree,
And aye the salt seas o'er she swam;
15 And far mair dolour did she dree
On Estmere crag, when she them clamb.
And aye she cried for Kempion,
Gin he would but come to her hand:
Now word has gane to Kempion,
20 That sicken a beast was in his land.
"Now, by my sooth," said Kempion,
"This fiery beast I'll gang and see."—
"And by my sooth," said Segramour,
"My ae brother, I'll gang wi' thee."
25 Then bigged hae they a bonny boat,
And they hae set her to the sea;
But a mile before they reach'd the shore,
Around them she gar'd the red fire flee.
[Pg 140] "O Segramour, keep the boat afloat,
30 And let her na the land o'er near;
For this wicked beast will sure gae mad,
And set fire to a' the land and mair."—
Syne has he bent an arblast bow,
And aim'd an arrow at her head;
35 And swore if she didna quit the land,
Wi' that same shaft to shoot her dead.
"O out of my stythe I winna rise,
(And it is not for the awe o' thee,)
Till Kempion, the kingis son,
40 Cum to the crag, and thrice kiss me."—
He has louted him o'er the dizzy crag,
And gien the monster kisses ane;
Awa she gaed, and again she cam.
The fieryest beast that ever was seen.
45 "O out o' my stythe I winna rise,
(And not for a' thy bow nor thee,)
Till Kempion, the kingis son,
Cum to the crag, and thrice kiss me."—
He's louted him o'er the Estmere crags,
50 And he has gi'en her kisses twa:
Awa she gaed, and again she cam,
The fieryest beast that ever you saw.
[Pg 141] "O out of my den I winna rise,
Nor flee it for the fear o' thee,
55 Till Kempion, that courteous knight,
Cum to the crag, and thrice kiss me."—
He's louted him o'er the lofty crag,
And he has gi'en her kisses three:
Awa she gaed, and again she cam,
60 The loveliest ladye e'er could be!
"And by my sooth," says Kempion,
"My ain true love, (for this is she,)
They surely had a heart o' stane,
Could put thee to such misery.
65 "O was it warwolf in the wood?
Or was it mermaid in the sea?
Or was it man or vile woman,
My ain true love, that mis-shaped thee?"—
"It wasna warwolf in the wood,
70 Nor was it mermaid in the sea:
But it was my wicked step-mother,
And wae and weary may she be!"—
"O, a heavier weird shall light her on,
Than ever fell on vile woman;
75 Her hair shall grow rough, and her teeth grow lang,
And on her four feet shall she gang.
"None shall take pity her upon;[Pg 142]
In Wormeswood she aye shall won;
And relieved shall she never be,
80 Till St. Mungo come over the sea."—
And sighing said that weary wight,
"I doubt that day I'll never see!"

8. If by Estmere Crags we are to understand the rocky cliffs of Northumberland, in opposition to Westmoreland, we may bring our scene of action near Bamborough, and thereby almost identify the tale of Kempion with that of the Laidley Worm of Spindleston, to which it bears so strong a resemblance.—SCOTT. But why should we seek to do this?

[Pg 143]


Kemp Owyne, says Motherwell, "was, no doubt, the same Ewein or Owain, ap Urien the king of Reged, who is celebrated by the bards, Taliessin and Llywarch-Hen, as well as in the Welsh historical Triads. In a poem of Gruffyd Llwyd, A.D. 1400, addressed to Owain Glyndwr, is the following allusion to this warrior. 'Thou hast travelled by land and by sea in the conduct of thine affairs, like Owain ap Urien in days of yore, when with activity he encountered the black knight of the water.' [3] His mistress had a ring esteemed one of the thirteen rarities of Britain, which, (like the wondrous ring of Gyges) would render the wearer invisible." Minstrelsy, p. lxxxiii.

"On sea, on land, thou still didst brave
The dangerous cliff and rapid wave;
Like Urien, who subdued the knight,
And the fell dragon put to flight,
Yon moss-grown fount beside;
The grim, black warrior of the flood,
The dragon, gorged with human blood,
The waters' scaly pride."
Jones's Welsh Bards, i. 41.

The copy of Kemp Owyne printed in Buchan's Ancient Ballads, (ii. 78,) is the same as the following.

Her mother died when she was young,
Which gave her cause to make great moan;
Her father married the warst woman[Pg 144]
That ever lived in Christendom.
5 She served her with foot and hand,
In every thing that she could dee;
Till once, in an unlucky time,
She threw her in ower Craigy's sea.
Says, "Lie you there, dove Isabel,
10 And all my sorrows lie with thee;
Till Kemp Owyne come ower the sea,
And borrow you with kisses three,
Let all the warld do what they will,
Oh borrowed shall you never be."
15 Her breath grew strang, her hair grew lang,
And twisted thrice about the tree,
And all the people, far and near,
Thought that a savage beast was she;
This news did come to Kemp Owyne,
20 Where he lived far beyond the sea.
He hasted him to Craigy's sea,
And on the savage beast look'd he;
Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted was about the tree,
25 And with a swing she came about:
"Come to Craigy's sea, and kiss with me.
"Here is a royal belt," she cried,
"That I have found in the green sea;
And while your body it is on,[Pg 145]
30 Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
I vow my belt your death shall be."
He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
The royal belt he brought him wi';
35 Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted twice about the tree,
And with a swing she came about:
"Come to Craigy's sea, and kiss with me.
"Here is a royal ring," she said,
40 "That I have found in the green sea;
And while your finger it is on,
Drawn shall your blood never be;
But if you touch me, tail or fin,
I swear my ring your death shall be."
45 He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
The royal ring he brought him wi';
Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted ance around the tree,
And with a swing she came about:
50 "Come to Craigy's sea, and kiss with me.
"Here is a royal brand," she said,
"That I have found in the green sea;
And while your body it is on,
Drawn shall your blood never be;
55 But if you touch me, tail or fin,[Pg 146]
I swear my brand your death shall be."
He stepped in, gave her a kiss,
The royal brand he brought him wi';
Her breath was sweet, her hair grew short,
60 And twisted nane about the tree;0
And smilingly she came about,
As fair a woman as fair could be.

[Pg 147]


A modernized copy of King Henry was published in the Tales of Wonder, (No 57,) under the title of Courteous King Jamie. It first appeared in an ancient dress in the Border Minstrelsy, (iii. 274,} but a version preferable in some respects was given by Jamieson in his Popular Ballads, (ii. 194,) which is here printed, without the editor's interpolations. For a notice of similar legends, see the Marriage of Sir Gawaine, at page 28 of this volume.

Lat never a man a wooing wend,
That lacketh thingis three;
A routh o' gould, an open heart,
Ay fu' o' charity.
5 As this I speak of King Henry,
For he lay burd-alane;
And he's doen him to a jelly hunt's ha',
Was far frae ony town.
He chas'd the deer now him before,
10 And the roe down by the den,
Till the fattest buck in a' the flock
King Henry he has slain.
[Pg 148] O he has doen him to his ha',
To mak him bierly cheer;
15 And in it cam a grisly ghost,
Staed stappin' i' the fleer.
Her head hat the roof-tree o' the house,
Her middle ye mat weel span;—
He's thrown to her his gay mantle;
20 Says,—"Ladie, hap your lingcan."
Her teeth was a' like leather stakes,
Her nose like club or mell;
And I ken nae thing she 'pear'd to be,
But the fiend that wons in hell.
25 "Some meat, some meat, ye King Henry;
Some meat ye gie to me."
"And what meat's in this house, Ladie?
And what ha'e I to gi'e?"
"Its ye do kill your berry-brown steed,
30 And ye bring him here to me."
O whan he slew his berry-brown steed,
Wow but his heart was sair!
She ate him a' up, flesh and bane,
Left naething but hide and hair.
35 "Mair meat, mair meat, ye King Henry,
Mair meat ye bring to me."
"And what meat's in this house, Ladie?
And what hae I to gi'e?"[Pg 149]
"O ye do kill your good grey hounds,
40 And ye bring them in to me."
O whan he killed his good grey hounds,
Wow but his heart was sair!
She ate them a' up, flesh and bane,
Left naething but hide and hair.
45 "Mair meat, mair meat, ye King Henry,
Mair meat ye bring to me."
"And what meat's in this house, Ladie?
And what hae I to gi'e?"
"O ye do kill your gay goss hawks,
50 And ye bring them here to me."
O whan he kill'd his gay goss hawks,
Wow but his heart was sair!
She ate them a' up, skin and bane,
Left naething but feathers bare.
55 "Some drink, some drink, now, King Henry;
Some drink ye bring to me."
"O what drink's in this house, Ladie,
That ye're nae welcome tee?"
"O ye sew up your horse's hide,
60 And bring in a drink to me."
And he's sew'd up the bloody hide,
A puncheon o' wine put in;
She drank it a' up at a waught,[Pg 150]
Left na ae drap ahin'.
65 "A bed, a bed, now, King Henry,
A bed ye mak to me;
For ye maun pu' the heather green,
And mak a bed to me."
And pu'd has he the heather green,
70 And made to her a bed;
And up he's ta'en his gay mantle,
And o'er it has he spread.
"Tak aff your claiths, now, King Henry,
And lye down by my side;"
75 "O God forbid," says King Henry,
"That ever the like betide;
That ever the fiend that wons in hell,
Should streek down by my side."

Whan nicht was gane, and day was come,
80 And the sun shone thro' the ha',
The fairest lady that ever was seen
Lay atween him and the wa'.
"O weel is me!" says King Henry;
"How lang'll this last wi' me?"
85 Then out it spake that fair lady,—
"E'en till the day you die.
"For I've met wi' mony a gentle knicht,[Pg 151]
That gae me sic a fill;
But never before wi' a curteis knicht,
90 That gae me a' my will."

[Pg 152]


(Border Minstrelsy, iii. 263.)

This ballad, which is still very popular, is known under various other names, as Bothwell, Child Brenton, Lord Dingwall, We were Sisters, We were Seven, &c. Scott's version was derived principally from recitation, but some of the concluding stanzas were taken from Herd's. Herd's copy, which must be regarded as a fragment, is given in connection with the present, and Buchan's in the Appendix to this volume. Another edition, of a suspicious character, may be seen in Cromek's Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, (p. 205.) All the principal incidents of the story are found in Ingefred og Gudrune, Danske Viser, No. 194, translated by Jamieson, Illustrations p. 340. More or less imperfect versions of the same are Riddar Olle, Svenska Folk-Visor, ii. p. 217, 59, 56, 215, and Herr Äster och Fröken Sissa, p. 50. The substitution of the maid-servant for the bride, occurs also in Torkild Trundesön, Danske V., No. 200, or Thorkil Troneson, Arwidsson, No. 36. This idea was perhaps derived from Tristan and Isold: see Scott's Sir Tristrem, II. 54, 55.

Cospatrick has sent o'er the faem;
Cospatrick brought his ladye hame;
And fourscore ships have come her wi',
The ladye by the grene-wood tree.
5 There were twal' and twal' wi' baken bread,
And twal' and twal' wi' gowd sae reid,
And twal' and twal' wi' bouted flour,
And twal' and twal' wi' the paramour.
Sweet Willy was a widow's son,[Pg 153]
10 And at her stirrup he did run;
And she was clad in the finest pall,
But aye she let the tears down fall.
"O is your saddle set awrye?
Or rides your steed for you ower high?
15 Or are you mourning, in your tide,
That you suld be Cospatrick's bride?"
"I am not mourning, at this tide,
That I suld be Cospatrick's bride;
But I am sorrowing in my mood,
29 That I suld leave my mother good.
"But, gentle boy, come tell to me,
What is the custom of thy countrie?"—
"The custom thereof, my dame," he says,
"Will ill a gentle laydye please.
25 "Seven king's daughters has our lord wedded,
And seven king's daughters has our lord bedded;
But he's cutted their breasts frae their breast-bane,
And sent them mourning hame again.
"Yet, gin you're sure that you're a maid,
30 Ye may gae safely to his bed;
But gif o' that ye be na sure,[Pg 154]
Then hire some damsell o' your bour."—
The ladye's call'd her bour maiden,
That waiting was into her train;
35 "Five thousand merks I'll gie to thee,
To sleep this night with my lord for me."—
When bells were rang, and mass was sayne,
And a' men unto bed were gane,
Cospatrick and the bonny maid,
40 Into a chamber they were laid.
"Now, speak to me, blankets, and speak to me, bed,
And speak, thou sheet, enchanted web;
And speak up, my bonny brown sword, that winna lie,
Is this a true maiden that lies by me?"—
45 "It is not a maid that you hae wedded,
But it is a maid that you hae bedded;
It is a leal maiden that lies by thee,
But not the maiden that it should be."—
O wrathfully he left the bed,
50 And wrathfully his claes on did;
And he has ta'en him through the ha',
And on his mother he did ca'.
[Pg 155] "I am the most unhappy man,
That ever was in Christen land!
55 I courted a maiden, meik and mild,
And I hae gotten naething but a woman wi' child."—
"O stay, my son, into this ha',
And sport ye wi' your merry men a';
And I will to the secret bour,
60 To see how it fares wi' your paramour."—
The carline she was stark and sture,
She aff the hinges dang the dure;
"O is your bairn to laird or loun,
Or is it to your father's groom?"—
65 "O hear me, mother, on my knee,
Till my sad story I tell to thee:
O we were sisters, sisters seven,
We were the fairest under heaven.
"It fell on a summer's afternoon,
70 When a' our toilsome task was done,
We cast the kevils us amang,
To see which suld to the grene-wood gang.
"Ohon! alas, for I was youngest,
And aye my wierd it was the hardest!
75 The kevil it on me did fa',
Whilk was the cause of a' my woe.
"For to the grene-wood I maun gae,[Pg 156]
To pu' the red rose and the slae;
To pu' the red rose and the thyme,
80 To deck my mother's bour and mine.
"I hadna pu'd a flower but ane,
When by there came a gallant hende,
Wi' high-coll'd hose and laigh-coll'd shoon,
And he seem'd to be sum kingis son.
85 "And be I a maid, or be I nae,
He kept me there till the close o' day;
And be I a maid, or be I nane,
He kept me there till the day was done.
"He gae me a lock o' his yellow hair,
90 And bade me keep it ever mair;
He gae me a carknet o' bonny beads,
And bade me keep it against my needs.
"He gae to me a gay gold ring,
And bade me keep it abune a' thing."—
95 "What did ye wi' the tokens rare,
That ye gat frae that gallant there?"—
"O bring that coffer unto me,
And a' the tokens ye sall see."—
"Now stay, daughter, your bour within,
100 While I gae parley wi' my son."—
O she has ta'en her thro' the ha',[Pg 157]
And on her son began to ca';
"What did ye wi' the bonny beads
I bade you keep against your needs?
105 "What did you wi' the gay gold ring
I bade you keep abune a' thing?"—
"I gae them to a ladye gay,
I met on grene-wood on a day.
"But I wad gie a' my halls and tours,
110 I had that ladye within my bours;
But I wad gie my very life,
I had that ladye to my wife."—
"Now keep, my son, your ha's and tours,
Ye have the bright burd in your bours;
115 And keep, my son, your very life,
Ye have that ladye to your wife."—
Now, or a month was come and gane,
The ladye bare a bonny son;
And 'twas weel written on his breast-bane,
120 "Cospatrick is my father's name."
120 "O row my lady in satin and silk,
And wash my son in the morning milk."

120, Cospatrick, Comes Patricius, was the designation of the Earl of Dunbar, in the days of Wallace and Bruce.—SCOTT.

[Pg 158]


From Herd's Scottish Songs, (i. 143.)

As Bothwell was walking in the lowlands alane,
Hey down, and a down,
He met six ladies sae gallant and fine,
Hey down, and a down.
5 He cast his lot amang them a',
And on the youngest his lot did fa'.
He's brought her frae her mother's bower,
Unto his strongest castle and tower.
But ay she cry'd and made great moan,
10 And ay the tear came trickling down.
"Come up, come up," said the foremost man,
"I think our bride comes slowly on."
"O lady, sits your saddle awry,
Or is your steed for you owre high?"
15 "My saddle is not set awry,
Nor carries me my steed owre high;
"But I am weary of my life,[Pg 159]
Since I maun be Lord Bothwell's wife."
He's blawn his horn sae sharp and shrill,
20 Up start the deer on every hill;
He's blawn his horn sae lang and loud,
Up start the deer in gude green wood.
His lady mother lookit owre the castle wa',
And she saw them riding ane and a'.
25 She's called upon her maids by seven,
To mak his bed baith saft and even:
She's called upon her cooks by nine,
To make their dinner fair and fine.
When day was gane and night was come,
30 "What ails my love on me to frown?
"Or does the wind blow in your glove,
Or runs your mind on another love?"
"Nor blows the wind within my glove,
Nor runs my mind on another love;"
35 "But I not maid nor maiden am,
For I'm wi' bairn to another man."
"I thought I'd a maiden sae meek and sae mild,[Pg 160]
But I've nought but a woman wi' child."
His mother's taen her up to a tower,
40 And lockit her in her secret bower:
"Now doughter mine, come tell to me,
Wha's bairn this is that you are wi'."
"O mother dear, I canna learn
Wha is the father of my bairn.
45 "But as I walk'd in the lowlands my lane,
I met a gentleman gallant and fine;
"He keepit me there sae late and sae lang,
Frae the ev'ning late till the morning dawn;
"And a' that he gied me to my propine,
50 Was a pair of green gloves, and a gay gold ring,
"Three lauchters of his yellow hair,
In case that we shou'd meet nae mair."
His lady mother went down the stair:
"Now son, now son, come tell to me,
55 Where's the green gloves I gave to thee?"
"I gied to a lady sae fair and so fine,
The green gloves and a gay gold ring:
"But I wad gie my castles and towers,[Pg 161]
I had that lady within my bowers:
60 "But I wad gie my very life,
I had that lady to be my wife."
"Now keep, now keep your castles and towers,
You have that lady within your bowers:
"Now keep, now keep your very life,
65 You have that lady to be your wife."
"O row my lady in sattin and silk,
And wash my son in the morning milk."

[Pg 162]


Printed from Mrs. Brown's MS., in the Border Minstrelsy, vol. iii. p. 170. Another copy is given in Jamieson's Popular Ballads, (ii. 367,) and versions, enlarged and altered from the ancient, in the same work, (ii. 179,) and in Tales of Wonder, No. 56. This ballad bears a striking resemblance to Sir Stig and Lady Torelild, translated from the Danish by Jamieson, Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 344. This is the eighth (marked H) of nine Danish ballads given by Grundtvig, under the title Hustru og Mands Moder, vol. ii. 404. Three Swedish versions have been printed: two in Arwidsson's Fornsånger, Liten Kerstins Förtrollning, ii. 252, and another (Grundtvig) in Cavallius and Stephens's Svenska Folksagor.

"Those who wish to know how an incantation, or charm, of the distressing nature here described, was performed in classic days, may consult the story of Galanthis's Metamorphosis, in Ovid, or the following passage in Apuleius: 'Eadem (saga, scilicet, quædam) amatoris uxorem, quod in eam dicacule probrum dixerat, jam in sarcinam prægnationis, obsepto utero, et repigrato fœtu, perpetua prægnatione damnavit. Et ut cuncti numerant, octo annorum onere, misella illa, velut elephantum paritura, distenditur.' APUL. Metam. lib. i.

"There is a curious tale about a Count of Westeravia, whom a deserted concubine bewitched upon his marriage, so as to preclude all hopes of his becoming a father. The spell continued to operate for three years, till one day, the Count happening to meet with [Pg 163]his former mistress, she maliciously asked him about the increase of his family. The Count, conceiving some suspicion from her manner, craftily answered, that God had blessed him with three fine children; on which she exclaimed, like Willie's mother in the ballad, "May heaven confound the old hag, by whose counsel I threw an enchanted pitcher into the draw-well of your palace!" The spell being found, and destroyed, the Count became the father of a numerous family. Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels, p. 474." SCOTT.

Willie's ta'en him o'er the faem,
He's wooed a wife, and brought her hame;
He's wooed her for her yellow hair,
But his mother wrought her meikle care;
5 And meikle dolour gar'd her dree,
For lighter she can never be;
But in her bower she sits wi' pain,
And Willie mourns o'er her in vain.
And to his mother he has gane,
10 That vile rank witch, o' vilest kind!
He says—"My ladie has a cup,
Wi' gowd and silver set about;
This gudely gift sall be your ain,
And let her be lighter o' her young bairn."—
15 "Of her young bairn she's never be lighter,
Nor in her bour to shine the brighter:
But she sall die, and turn to clay,
And you sall wed another may."—
"Another may I'll never wed,[Pg 164]
20 Another may I'll never bring hame:"—
But, sighing, said that weary wight—
"I wish my life were at an end!
"Yet gae ye to your mother again,
That vile rank witch, o' vilest kind!
25 And say, your ladye has a steed,
The like o' him's no in the land o' Leed.
"For he is silver shod before,
And he is gowden shod behind;
At every tuft of that horse mane,
30 There's a golden chess, and a bell to ring.
This gudely gift sall be her ain,
And let me be lighter o' my young bairn."—
"Of her young bairn she's ne'er be lighter,
Nor in her bour to shine the brighter;
35 But she sall die, and turn to clay,
And ye sall wed another may."—
"Another may I'll never wed,
Another may I'll never bring hame:"—
But, sighing, said that weary wight—
40 "I wish my life were at an end!—
"Yet gae ye to your mother again,
That vile rank witch, o' rankest kind!
And say your ladye has a girdle,
It's a' red gowd to the middle;
45 "And aye, at ilka siller hem[Pg 165]
Hang fifty siller bells and ten;
This gudely gift sall be her ain,
And let me be lighter o' my young bairn."—
"Of her young bairn she's ne'er be lighter,
50 Nor in your bour to shine the brighter;
For she sall die, and turn to clay,
And thou sall wed another may."—
"Another may I'll never wed,
Another may I'll never bring hame;"—
55 But, sighing, said that weary wight—
"I wish my days were at an end!"—
Then out and spak the
Billy Blind, (He spak aye in good time:)
"Yet gae ye to the market-place,
60 And there do buy a loaf of wace;
Do shape it bairn and bairnly like,
And in it twa glassen een you'll put;
"And bid her your boy's christening to,
Then notice weel what she shall do;
65 And do you stand a little away,
To notice weel what she may say."
He did him to the market-place,
[Pg 166] And there he bought a loaf o' wax;
He shaped it bairn and bairnly like,
70 And in twa glazen een he pat;
He did him till his mither then,
And bade her to his boy's christnin;
And he did stand a little forbye,
And noticed well what she did say.
75 "O wha has loosed the nine witch knots,
That were amang that ladye's locks?
And wha's ta'en out the kaims o' care,
That were amang that ladye's hair?
"And wha has ta'en down that bush o' woodbine,
80 That hung between her bour and mine?
And wha has kill'd
the master kid, That ran beneath that ladye's bed?
And wha has loosed her left foot shee,
And let that ladye lighter be?"
85 Syne, Willy's loosed the nine witch knots,
That were amang that ladye's locks;
And Willie's ta'en out the kaims o' care,
That were into that ladye's hair;
And he's ta'en down the bush o' woodbine,[Pg 167]
90 Hung atween her bour and the witch carline;
And he has kill'd the master kid,
That ran beneath that ladye's bed;
And he has loosed her left foot shee,
And latten that ladye lighter be;
95 And now he has gotten a bonny son,
And meikle grace be him upon.

57. Billy Blind—A familiar genius, or propitious spirit, somewhat similar to the Brownie.

67-74. Inserted from Jamieson's copy.

68, leaf, Jamieson.

81. The witch's chief familiar, placed in the chamber of the sick woman in the form of a kid.

[Pg 168]


Jamieson's Popular Ballads, ii. 187.


The beginning is to be compared with Lindormen, the whole ballad with Jomfruen i Ormeham, Grundtvig's Folkeviser, ii. 213, 177.

O Alison Gross, that lives in yon tower,
The ugliest witch in the north countrie,
Has trysted me ae day up till her bower,
And mony fair speech she made to me.
5 She straiked my head, and she kembed my hair,
And she set me down saftly on her knee,
Says,—"Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
Sae mony braw things as I would you gi'e."
She shaw'd me a mantle o' red scarlet,
10 Wi' gouden flowers and fringes fine,
Says "Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
This goodly gift it sall be thine."
"Awa, awa, ye ugly witch,
Haud far awa, and lat me be;
15 I never will be your lemman sae true,
And I wish I were out of your company."
She neist brocht a sark o' the saftest silk,[Pg 169]
Weel wrought wi' pearls about the band;
Says,—"Gin ye will be my ain true love,
20 This goodly gift ye sall command."
She shaw'd me a cup o' the good red goud,
Weel set wi' jewels sae fair to see;
Says,—"Gin ye will be my lemman sae true,
This goodly gift I will you gie."
25 "Awa, awa, ye ugly witch!
Haud far awa, and lat me be;
For I wadna ance kiss your ugly mouth
For a' the gifts that ye cou'd gie."
She's turned her richt and round about,
30 And thrice she blew on a grass-green horn;
And she sware by the moon and the stars aboon,
That she'd gar me rue the day I was born.
Then out has she ta'en a silver wand,
And she's turned her three times round and round;
35 She's mutter'd sic words, that my strength it fail'd,
And I fell down senseless on the ground.
She's turn'd me into an ugly worm,
And gar'd me toddle about the tree;
And ay, on ilka Saturday's night,[Pg 170]
40 My sister Maisry came to me,
Wi' silver bason, and silver kemb,
To kemb my headie upon her knee;
But or I had kiss'd her ugly mouth,
I'd rather hae toddled about the tree.
45 But as it fell out on last Hallowe'en,
When the Seely Court was ridin' by,
The queen lighted down on a gowan bank,
Nae far frae the tree whare I wont to lye.
She took me up in her milk-white hand,
50 And she straiked me three times o'er her knee;
She changed me again to my ain proper shape,
And I nae mair maun toddle about the tree.

46. Seely Court, i.e. "pleasant or happy court," or "court of the pleasant and happy people." This agrees with the ancient and more legitimate idea of Fairies. JAMIESON. See p. 120, v. 131, et seq.

[Pg 171]


From Buchan's Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, (i. 49.)

It is much to be regretted that this piece has not come down to us in a purer and more ancient form. Similar ballads are found in Danish, Swedish, and Faroish. Several forms of the Danish are given by Grundtvig (Ridderen i Fugleham, No. 68), who also cites many popular tales which have the same basis, e.g. the Countess d'Aulnoy's fairy story of The Blue Bird.

It was intill a pleasant time,
Upon a simmer's day;
The noble Earl of Mar's daughter
Went forth to sport and play.
5 As thus she did amuse hersell,
Below a green aik tree,
There she saw a sprightly doo
Set on a tower sae hie.
"O Cow-me-doo, my love sae true,
10 If ye'll come down to me,
Ye'se hae a cage o' guid red gowd
Instead o' simple tree:
"I'll put gowd hingers roun' your cage,
And siller roun' your wa';
15 I'll gar ye shine as fair a bird
As ony o' them a'."
But she had nae these words well spoke,[Pg 172]
Nor yet these words well said,
Till Cow-me-doo flew frae the tower,
20 And lighted on her head.
Then she has brought this pretty bird
Hame to her bowers and ha';
And made him shine as fair a bird
As ony o' them a'.
25 When day was gane, and night was come,5
About the evening tide,
This lady spied a sprightly youth
Stand straight up by her side.
"From whence came ye, young man?" she said,
30 "That does surprise me sair;
My door was bolted right secure;
What way ha'e ye come here?"
"O had your tongue, ye lady fair,
Lat a' your folly be;
35 Mind ye not on your turtle doo
Last day ye brought wi' thee?"
"O tell me mair, young man," she said,
"This does surprise me now;
What country ha'e ye come frae?
40 What pedigree are you?"
"My mither lives on foreign isles,[Pg 173]
She has nae mair but me;
She is a queen o' wealth and state,
And birth and high degree;
45 "Likewise well skill'd in magic spells,
As ye may plainly see;
And she transform'd me to yon shape,
To charm such maids as thee.
"I am a doo the live lang day,
50 A sprightly youth at night;
This aye gars me appear mair fair
In a fair maiden's sight.
"And it was but this verra day
That I came ower the sea;
55 Your lovely face did me enchant,—
I'll live and dee wi' thee."
"O Cow-me-doo, my luve sae true,
Nae mair frae me ye'se gae."
"That's never my intent, my luve,
60 As ye said, it shall be sae."
"O Cow-me-doo, my luve sae true,
It's time to gae to bed."
"Wi' a' my heart, my dear marrow,
It's be as ye ha'e said."
65 Then he has staid in bower wi' her[Pg 174]
For sax lang years and ane,
Till sax young sons to him she bare,
And the seventh she's brought hame.
But aye as ever a child was born,
70 He carried them away,
And brought them to his mither's care,
As fast as he cou'd fly.
Thus he has staid in bower wi' her
For twenty years and three;
75 There came a lord o' high renown
To court this fair ladie.
But still his proffer she refused,
And a' his presents too;
Says, "I'm content to live alane
80 Wi' my bird, Cow-me-doo."
Her father sware a solemn oath
Amang the nobles all,
"The morn, or ere I eat or drink,
This bird I will gar kill."
85 The bird was sitting in his cage,
And heard what they did say;
And when he found they were dismist,
Says, "Waes me for this day!
[Pg 175] "Before that I do langer stay,
90 And thus to be forlorn,
I'll gang unto my mither's bower,
Where I was bred and born."
Then Cow-me-doo took flight and flew
Beyond the raging sea;
95 And lighted near his mither's castle
On a tower o' gowd sae hie.
As his mither was wauking out,
To see what she coud see,
And there she saw her little son
100 Set on the tower sae hie.
"Get dancer here to dance," she said,
"And minstrells for to play;
For here's my young son, Florentine,
Come here wi' me to stay."
105 "Get nae dancers to dance, mither,
Nor minstrells for to play;
For the mither o' my seven sons,
The morn's her wedding-day."
"O tell me, tell me, Florentine,
110 Tell me, and tell me true,
Tell me this day without a flaw,
What I will do for you."
[Pg 176] "Instead of dancers to dance, mither,
Or minstrells for to play,
115 Turn four-and-twenty wall-wight men,
Like storks, in feathers gray;
v "My seven sons in seven swans,
Aboon their heads to flee;
And I, mysell, a gay gos-hawk,
120 A bird o' high degree."
Then sichin' said the queen hersell,
"That thing's too high for me;"
But she applied to an auld woman,
Who had mair skill than she.
125 Instead o' dancers to dance a dance,
Or minstrells for to play,
Four-and-twenty wall-wight men
Turn'd birds o' feathers gray;
Her seven sons in seven swans,
130 Aboon their heads to flee;
And he, himsell, a gay gos-hawk,
A bird o' high degree.
This flock o' birds took flight and flew
Beyond the raging sea;
135 And landed near the Earl Mar's castle,
Took shelter in every tree.
They were a flock o' pretty birds,[Pg 177]
Right comely to be seen;
The people view'd them wi' surprise,
140 As they danc'd on the green.
These birds ascended frae the tree,
And lighted on the ha';
And at the last wi' force did flee
Among the nobles a'.
145 The storks there seized some o' the men,
They cou'd neither fight nor flee;
The swans they bound the bride's best man,
Below a green aik tree.
They lighted next on maidens fair,
150 Then on the bride's own head;
And wi' the twinkling o' an e'e,
The bride and them were fled.
There's ancient men at weddings been,
For sixty years or more;
155 But sic a curious wedding-day
They never saw before.
For naething cou'd the companie do,
Nor naething cou'd they say;
But they saw a flock o' pretty birds
160 That took their bride away.
When that Earl Mar he came to know[Pg 178]
Where his dochter did stay,
He sign'd a bond o' unity,
And visits now they pay.

[Pg 179]


Mr. Kinloch printed a fragment of this ballad under the title of Hynde Etin. (See Appendix.) The story was afterwards given complete by Buchan, (Ballads of the North of Scotland, i. 6,) as here follows. Buchan had previously communicated to Motherwell a modernized version of the same tale, in which the Etin is changed to a Groom. (See post.)

This ancient ballad has suffered severely in the course of its transmission to our times. Still there can be no doubt that it was originally the same as The Maid and the Dwarf King, which is still sung in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Faroe Islands. Numerous copies of the Scandinavian ballad have been given to the world: seven Danish versions, more or less complete, four Norse, nine Swedish, one Faroish, and some other fragments (Grundtvig, ii. 37, and note, p. 655). One of the Swedish ballads (Bergkonungen, Afzelius, No. 35) is translated in Keightley's Fairy Mythology, 103, under the title of Proud Margaret. Closely related is Agnete og Havmanden, Grundtvig, ii. 48, 656, which is found in several forms in German (e.g. Die schöne Hannele in Hoffmann von Fallersleben's Schlesische Volkslieder, No. 1), and two in Slavic.

Lady Margaret sits in her bower door,
Sewing at her silken seam;
She heard a note in Elmond's-wood,
And wish'd she there had been.
5 She loot the seam fa' frae her side,
And the needle to her tae;
And she is on to Elmond-wood
As fast as she coud gae.
[Pg 180] She hadna pu'd a nut, a nut,
10 Nor broken a branch but ane,
Till by it came a young hind chiel,
Says, "Lady, lat alane.
"O why pu' ye the nut, the nut,
Or why brake ye the tree?
15 For I am forester o' this wood:
Ye shou'd spier leave at me."
"I'll ask leave at no living man,
Nor yet will I at thee;
My father is king o'er a' this realm,
20 This wood belongs to me."
She hadna pu'd a nut, a nut,
Nor broken a branch but three,
Till by it came him Young Akin,
And gar'd her lat them be.
25 The highest tree in Elmond's-wood,
He's pu'd it by the reet;
And he has built for her a bower
Near by a hallow seat.
He's built a bower, made it secure
30 Wi' carbuncle and stane;
Tho' travellers were never sae nigh,
Appearance it had nane.
He's kept her there in Elmond's-wood,[Pg 181]
For six lang years and one;
35 Till six pretty sons to him she bear,
And the seventh she's brought home.
It fell ance upon a day,
This guid lord went from home;
And he is to the hunting gane,
40 Took wi' him his eldest son.0
And when they were on a guid way,
Wi' slowly pace did walk,
The boy's heart being something wae,
He thus began to talk:—
45 "A question I wou'd ask, father,
Gin ye wou'dna angry be?"
"Say on, say on, my bonny boy,
Ye'se nae be quarrell'd by me."
"I see my mither's cheeks aye weet,
50 I never can see them dry;
And I wonder what aileth my mither,
To mourn continually."
"Your mither was a king's daughter,
Sprung frae a high degree;
55 And she might hae wed some worthy prince,
Had she nae been stown by me.
"I was her father's cup-bearer,[Pg 182]
Just at that fatal time;
I catch'd her on a misty night,
60 Whan summer was in prime.
"My luve to her was most sincere,
Her luve was great for me;
But when she hardships doth endure,
Her folly she does see."
65 "I'll shoot the buntin' o' the bush,
The linnet o' the tree,
And bring them to my dear mither,
See if she'll merrier be."
It fell upo' another day,
70 This guid lord he thought lang,
And he is to the hunting gane,
Took wi' him his dog and gun.
Wi' bow and arrow by his side,
He's aff, single, alane;
75 And left his seven children to stay
Wi' their mither at hame.
"O, I will tell to you, mither,
Gin ye wadna angry be:"
"Speak on, speak on, my little wee boy,
80 Ye'se nae be quarrell'd by me."
[Pg 183] "As we came frae the hynd hunting,
We heard fine music ring:"
"My blessings on you, my bonny boy,
I wish I'd been there my lane."
85 He's ta'en his mither by the hand,
His six brithers also,
And they are on thro' Elmond's-wood,
As fast as they coud go.
They wistna weel where they were gaen,
90 Wi' the stratlins o' their feet;
They wistna weel where they were gaen,
Till at her father's yate.
"I hae nae money in my pocket,
But royal rings hae three;
95 I'll gie them you, my little young son,
And ye'll walk there for me.
"Ye'll gi'e the first to the proud porter,
And he will lat you in;
Ye'll gi'e the next to the butler boy,
100 And he will show you ben;
"Ye'll gi'e the third to the minstrel[Pg 184]
That plays before the king;
He'll play success to the bonny boy
Came thro' the wood him lane."
105 He ga'e the first to the proud porter,
And he open'd an' let him in;
He ga'e the next to the butler boy,
And he has shown him ben;
He ga'e the third to the minstrel
110 That play'd before the king;
And he play'd success to the bonny boy
Came thro' the wood him lane.
Now when he came before the king,
Fell low down on his knee:
115 The king he turned round about,
And the saut tear blinded his ee.
"Win up, win up, my bonny boy,
Gang frae my companie;
Ye look sae like my dear daughter,
120 My heart will birst in three."
"If I look like your dear daughter,
A wonder it is none;
If I look like your dear daughter,
I am her eldest son."
125 "Will ye tell me, ye little wee boy,[Pg 185]
Where may my Margaret be?"
"She's just now standing at your yates,
And my six brithers her wi'."
"O where are all my porter boys
130 That I pay meat and fee,
To open my yates baith wide and braid?
Let her come in to me."
When she came in before the king,
Fell low down on her knee:
135 "Win up, win up, my daughter dear,
This day ye'll dine wi me."
"Ae bit I canno' eat, father,
Nor ae drop can I drink,
Till I see my mither and sister dear,
140 For lang for them I think."
When she came before the queen,
Fell low down on her knee:
"Win up, win up, my daughter dear,
This day ye'se dine wi' me."
145 "Ae bit I canno' eat, mither,
Nor ae drop can I drink,
Until I see my dear sister,
For lang for her I think."
[Pg 186] "When that these two sisters met,
150 She hail'd her courteouslie:
"Come ben, come ben, my sister dear,
This day ye'se dine wi' me."
"Ae bit I canno' eat, sister,
Nor ae drop can I drink,
155 Until I see my dear husband,
For lang for him I think."
"O where are all my rangers bold
That I pay meat and fee,
To search the forest far an' wide,
160 And bring Akin to me?"
Out it speaks the wee little boy,—
"Na, na, this maunna be;
Without ye grant a free pardon,
I hope ye'll nae him see."
165 "O here I grant a free pardon,
Well seal'd by my own han';
Ye may make search for young Akin,
As soon as ever you can."
They search'd the country wide and braid,
170 The forests far and near,
And found him into Elmond's-wood,
Tearing his yellow hair.
[Pg 187] "Win up, win up, now young Akin.
Win up, and boun wi' me;
175 We're messengers come from the court;
The king wants you to see."
"O lat him take frae me my head,
Or hang me on a tree;
For since I've lost my dear lady,
180 Life's no pleasure to me."
"Your head will nae be touch'd, Akin,
Nor hang'd upon a tree:
Your lady's in her father's court,
And all he wants is thee."
185 When he came in before the king,
Fell low down on his knee:
"Win up, win up now, young Akin,
This day ye'se dine wi' me."
But as they were at dinner set,
190 The boy asked a boun;
"I wish we were in the good church,
For to get christendoun.
"We ha'e lived in guid green wood
This seven years and ane;
195 But a' this time since e'er I mind,
Was never a church within."
"Your asking 's nae sae great, my boy,[Pg 188]
But granted it shall be;
This day to guid church ye shall gang,
200 And your mither shall gang you wi'."
When unto the guid church she came,
She at the door did stan';
She was sae sair sunk down wi' shame,
She coudna come farer ben.
205 Then out it speaks the parish priest,
And a sweet smile gae he;—-
"Come ben, come ben, my lily flower,
Present your babes to me."
Charles, Vincent, Sam, and Dick,
210 And likewise James and John;
They call'd the eldest Young Akin,
Which was his father's name.
Then they staid in the royal court,
And liv'd wi' mirth and glee;
215 And when her father was deceas'd,
Heir of the crown was she.

97. The regular propitiation for the "proud porter" of ballad poetry. See, e.g. King Arthur and the King of Cornwall, in the Appendix, v. 49: also the note to King Estmere, vol. iii. p. 172.

[Pg 189]


(Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 287.)

"O well love I to ride in a mist,
And shoot in a northern wind;
And far better a lady to steal,
That's come of a noble kind."
5 Four-and-twenty fair ladies
Put on that lady's sheen;
And as many young gentlemen
Did lead her o'er the green.
Yet she preferred before them all
10 Him, young Hastings the Groom;
He's coosten a mist before them all,
And away this lady has ta'en.
He's taken the lady on him behind,
Spared neither the grass nor corn,
15 Till they came to the wood of Amonshaw,
Where again their loves were sworn.
And they have lived in that wood[Pg 190]
Full many a year and day,
And were supported from time to time,
20 By what he made of prey.
And seven bairns, fair and fine,
There she has born to him,
And never was in good church door,
Nor never gat good kirking.
25 Once she took harp into her hand,
And harped them asleep;
Then she sat down at their couch side,
And bitterly did weep.
Said, "Seven bairns have I born now
30 To my lord in the ha';
I wish they were seven greedy rats,
To run upon the wa',
And I mysel' a great grey cat,
To eat them ane an' a'.
35 "For ten long years now I have lived
Within this cave of stane,
And never was at good church door,
Nor got no good churching."
O then outspak her eldest child,
40 And a fine boy was he,—
"O hold your tongue, my mother dear;[Pg 191]
I'll tell you what to dee.
"Take you the youngest in your lap,
The next youngest by the hand;
45 Put all the rest of us you before,
As you learnt us to gang.
"And go with us into some good kirk,—
You say they are built of stane,—
And let us all be christened,
50 And you get good kirking."
She took the youngest in her lap,
The next youngest by the hand;
Set all the rest of them her before,
As she learnt them to gang.
55 And she has left the wood with them,
And to a kirk has gane;
Where the good priest them christened,
And gave her good kirking.

[Pg 192]


This ballad exemplifies a superstition deeply rooted in the belief of all the northern nations,—the desire of the Elves and Water-spirits for the love of Christians, and the danger of being exposed to their fascination. The object of their fatal passion is generally a bridegroom, or a bride, on the eve of marriage. See, in the Appendix, Sir Oluf and the Elf-King's Daughter, for further illustrations; also the two succeeding pieces.

Clerk Colvill was first printed in Herd's Scottish Songs, (i. 217,) and was inserted, in an altered shape, in Lewis's Tales of Wonder, (No. 56.)

Clerk Colvill and his lusty dame
Were walking in the garden green;
The belt around her stately waist
Cost Clerk Colvill of pounds fifteen.
5 "O promise me now, Clerk Colvill,
Or it will cost ye muckle strife,
Ride never by the wells of Slane,
If ye wad live and brook your life."
[Pg 193] "Now speak nae mair, my lusty dame,
10 Now speak nae mair of that to me:
Did I ne'er see a fair woman,
But I wad sin with her fair body?"
He's ta'en leave o' his gay lady,
Nought minding what his lady said,
15 And he's rode by the wells of Slane,
Where washing was a bonny maid.
"Wash on, wash on, my bonny maid,
That wash sae clean your sark of silk;"
"And weel fa' you, fair gentleman,
20 Your body's whiter than the milk."

Then loud, loud cry'd the Clerk Colvill,
"O my head it pains me sair;"
"Then take, then take," the maiden said,
25 "And frae my sark you'll cut a gare."
Then she's gi'ed him a little bane-knife,
And frae her sark he cut a share;
She's ty'd it round his whey-white face,
But ay his head it aked mair.
30 Then louder cry'd the Clerk Colvill,
"O sairer, sairer akes my head;"
"And sairer, sairer ever will,"
The maiden crys, "till you be dead."
Out then he drew his shining blade,[Pg 194]
35 Thinking to stick her where she stood;
But she was vanish'd to a fish,
And swam far off, a fair mermaid.
"O mother, mother, braid my hair;
My lusty lady, make my bed;
40 O brother, take my sword and spear,
For I have seen the false mermaid."

27, his sark.

[Pg 195]


From Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, i. 22, where it
is entitled The Gowans sae gay, from the burden.

The hero of the first of the two following ballads would seem to be an Elf, that of the second a Nix, or Merman, though the punishment awarded to each of them in the catastrophe, as the ballads now exist, is not consistent with their supernatural character. It is possible that in both instances two independent stories have been blended: but it is curious that the same intermixture should occur in Norse and German also. See Grundtvig's preface to Noekkens Svig, ii. p. 57. The conclusion in all these cases is derived from a ballad resembling May Colvin, vol. ii. p. 272.

We have had the Elf-Knight introduced under the same circumstances at page 128; indeed, the first three or four stanzas are common to both pieces.

Fair lady Isabel sits in her bower sewing,
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
There she heard an elf-knight blawing his horn,
The first morning in May.
5 "If I had yon horn that I hear blawing,"[Pg 196]
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
"And yon elf-knight to sleep in my bosom,"
The first morning in May.
This maiden had scarcely these words spoken,
10 Aye as the gowans grow gay;
Till in at her window the elf-knight has luppen,
The first morning in May.
"Its a very strange matter, fair maiden," said he,
Aye as the gowans grow gay,
15 "I canna' blaw my horn, but ye call on me,"
The first morning in May.
"But will ye go to yon greenwood side,"
Aye as the gowans grow gay?
"If ye canna' gang, I will cause you to ride,"
20 The first morning in May.
He leapt on a horse, and she on another,
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
And they rode on to the greenwood together,
The first morning in May.
25 "Light down, light down, lady Isabel," said he,
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
"We are come to the place where ye are to die,"
The first morning in May.
"Ha'e mercy, ha'e mercy, kind sir, on me,"[Pg 197]
30 Aye as the gowans grow gay;
"Till ance my dear father and mother I see,"
The first morning in May.
"Seven king's-daughters here hae I slain,"
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
35 "And ye shall be the eight o' them,"
The first morning in May.
"O sit down a while, lay your head on my knee,"
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
"That we may hae some rest before that I die,"
40 The first morning in May.
She stroak'd him sae fast, the nearer he did creep,
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
Wi' a sma' charm she lull'd him fast asleep,
The first morning in May.
45 "Wi' his ain sword belt sae fast as she ban' him,
Aye as the gowans grow gay;
With his ain dag-durk sae sair as she dang him,
The first morning in May.
"If seven kings' daughters here ye ha'e slain,"
50 Aye as the gowans grow gay,
"Lye ye here, a husband to them a',"
The first morning in May.

[Pg 198]


From Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, ii. 201. Repeated in Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, Percy Society, xvii. 63.

The three ballads which follow, diverse as they may now appear, after undergoing successive corruptions, were primarily of the same type. In the first (which may be a compound of two ballads, like the preceding, the conclusion being taken from a story of the character of May Colvin in the next volume) the Merman or Nix may be easily recognized: in the second he is metamorphosed into the Devil; and in the third, into a ghost. Full details upon the corresponding Scandinavian, German, and Slavic legends, are given by Grundtvig, in the preface to Noekkens Svig, Danmarks G. Folkeviser, ii. 57: translated by Jamieson, i. 210, and by Monk Lewis, Tales of Wonder, No. 11.

There came a bird out o' a bush,
On water for to dine;
And sighing sair, says the king's daughter,
"O waes this heart o' mine!"
5 He's taen a harp into his hand,
He's harped them all asleep;
Except it was the king's daughter,
Who ae wink cou'dna get.
[Pg 199] He's luppen on his berry-brown steed,
10 Taen her on behind himsell;
Then baith rade down to that water,
That they ca' Wearie's well.
"Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
Nae harm shall thee befall;
15 Aft times hae I water'd my steed,
Wi' the water o' Wearie's well."
The first step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the knee;
And sighing sair, says this lady fair,
20 "This water's nae for me."
"Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
Nae harm shall thee befall;
Aft times hae I water'd my steed,
Wi' the water o' Wearie's well."
25 The next step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the middle;
And sighing, says, this lady fair,
"I've wat my gowden girdle."
"Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
30 Nae harm shall thee befall;
Aft times hae I water'd my steed,
Wi' the water o' Wearie's well."
The niest step that she stepped in,[Pg 200]
She stepped to the chin;
35 And sighing, says, this lady fair,
"They shou'd gar twa loves twine."
"Seven king's-daughters I've drown'd there,
In the water o' Wearie's well;
And I'll make you the eight o' them,
40 And ring the common bell."
"Sin' I am standing here," she says,
"This dowie death to die;
Ae kiss o' your comely mouth
I'm sure wou'd comfort me."
45 He louted him ower his saddle bow,
To kiss her cheek and chin;
She's taen him in her arms twa,
And thrown him headlang in.
"Sin' seven king's daughters ye've drown'd there,
50 In the water o' Wearie's well,
I'll make you bridegroom to them a',
An' ring the bell mysell."
And aye she warsled, and aye she swam,
Till she swam to dry land;
55 Then thanked God most cheerfully,
The dangers she'd ower came.

[Pg 201]


This ballad was communicated to Sir Walter Scott, (Minstrelsy, iii. 195,) by Mr. William Laidlaw, who took it down from recitation. A fragment of the same legend, recovered by Motherwell, is given in the Appendix to this volume, and another version, in which the hero is not a dæmon, but the ghost of an injured lover, is placed directly after the present.

The Devil (Auld Nick) here takes the place of the Merman (Nix) of the ancient ballad. See p. 198, and the same natural substitution noted in K.u.H.Märchen, 3d ed. iii. 253.

"O where have you been, my long, long love,
This long seven years and more?"—
"O I'm come to seek my former vows
Ye granted me before."—
5 "O hold your tongue of your former vows,
For they will breed sad strife;
O hold your tongue of your former vows,
For I am become a wife."
He turn'd him right and round about,
10 And the tear blinded his ee;
"I wad never hae trodden on Irish ground,
If it had not been for thee.
"I might hae had a king's daughter,[Pg 202]
Far, far beyond the sea;
15 I might have had a king's daughter,
Had it not been for love o' thee."—
"If ye might have had a king's daughter,
Yer sell ye had to blame;
Ye might have taken the king's daughter,
20 For ye kend that I was nane."—
"O faulse are the vows of womankind,
But fair is their faulse bodie;
I never wad hae trodden on Irish ground,
Had it not been for love o' thee."—
25 "If I was to leave my husband dear,
And my two babes also,
O what have you to take me to,
If with you I should go?"—
"I hae seven ships upon the sea,
30 The eighth brought me to land;
With four-and-twenty bold mariners,
And music on every hand."
She has taken up her two little babes,
Kiss'd them baith cheek and chin;
35 "O fair ye weel, my ain two babes,
For I'll never see you again."
She set her foot upon the ship,[Pg 203]
No mariners could she behold;
But the sails were o' the taffetie,
40 And the masts o' the beaten gold.
She had not sail'd a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When dismal grew his countenance,
And drumlie grew his ee.
45 The masts that were like the beaten gold,
Bent not on the heaving seas;
But the sails, that were o' the taffetie,
Fill'd not in the east land breeze.—
They had not sailed a league, a league,
50 A league but barely three,
Until she espied his cloven foot,
And she wept right bitterlie.
"O hold your tongue of your weeping," says he,
"Of your weeping now let me be;
55 I will show you how the lilies grow
On the banks of Italy."—
"O what hills are yon, yon pleasant hills,
That the sun shines sweetly on?"—
"O yon are the hills of heaven," he said,
60 "Where you will never win."—
"O whaten a mountain is yon," she said,[Pg 204]
"All so dreary wi' frost and snow?"—
"O yon is the mountain of hell," he cried,
"Where you and I will go."
65 And aye when she turn'd her round about,
Aye taller he seem'd for to be;
Until that the tops o' that gallant ship
Nae taller were than he.
The clouds grew dark, and the wind grew loud,
70 And the levin fill'd her ee;
And waesome wail'd the snaw-white sprites
Upon the gurlie sea.
He strack the tap-mast wi' his hand,
The fore-mast wi' his knee;
75 And he brake that gallant ship in twain,
And sank her in the sea.

[Pg 205]


From Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, (i. 214.)

(See the preface to the last ballad but one.)

"O are ye my father, or are ye my mother?
Or are ye my brother John?
Or are ye James Herries, my first true love,
Come back to Scotland again?"
5 "I am not your father, I am not your mother,
Nor am I your brother John;
But I'm James Herries, your first true love,
Come back to Scotland again."
"Awa', awa', ye former lovers,
10 Had far awa' frae me;
For now I am another man's wife,
Ye'll ne'er see joy o' me."
"Had I kent that ere I came here,
I ne'er had come to thee;
15 For I might hae married the king's daughter,
Sae fain she wou'd had me.
"I despised the crown o' gold,[Pg 206]
The yellow silk also;
And I am come to my true love,
20 But with me she'll not go."
"My husband he is a carpenter,
Makes his bread on dry land,
And I hae born him a young son,—
Wi' you I will not gang."
25 "You must forsake your dear husband,
Your little young son also,
Wi' me to sail the raging seas,
Where the stormy winds do blow."
"O what hae you to keep me wi',
30 If I should with you go?
If I'd forsake my dear husband,
My little young son also?"
"See ye not yon seven pretty ships,
The eighth brought me to land;
35 With merchandize and mariners,
And wealth in every hand?"
She turn'd her round upon the shore,
Her love's ships to behold;
Their topmasts and their mainyards
40 Were cover'd o'er wi' gold.
Then she's gane to her little young son,[Pg 207]
And kiss'd him cheek and chin;
Sae has she to her sleeping husband,
And dune the same to him.
45 "O sleep ye, wake ye, my husband,
I wish ye wake in time;
I woudna for ten thousand pounds,
This night ye knew my mind."
She's drawn the slippers on her feet,
50 Were cover'd o'er wi' gold;
Well lined within wi' velvet fine,
To had her frae the cold.
She hadna sailed upon the sea
A league but barely three,
55 Till she minded on her dear husband,
Her little young son tee.
"O gin I were at land again,
At land where I wou'd be,
The woman ne'er shou'd bear the son,
60 Shou'd gar me sail the sea."
"O hold your tongue, my sprightly flower,
Let a' your mourning be;
I'll show you how the lilies grow
On the banks o' Italy."
65 [Pg 208] She hadna sailed on the sea
A day but barely ane,
Till the thoughts o' grief came in her mind,
And she lang'd for to be hame.
"O gentle death, come cut my breath,
70 I may be dead ere morn;
I may be buried in Scottish ground,
Where I was bred and born."
"O hold your tongue, my lily leesome thing,
Let a' your mourning be;
75 But for a while we'll stay at Rose Isle,
Then see a far countrie.
"Ye'se ne'er be buried in Scottish ground,
Nor land ye's nae mair see;
I brought you away to punish you,
80 For the breaking your vows to me.
"I said ye shou'd see the lilies grow
On the banks o' Italy;
But I'll let you see the fishes swim,
In the bottom o' the sea."
85 He reached his band to the topmast,
Made a' the sails gae down;
And in the twinkling o' an e'e,
Baith ship and crew did drown.
The fatal flight o' this wretched maid[Pg 209]
90 Did reach her ain countrie;
Her husband then distracted ran,
And this lament made he:—
"O wae be to the ship, the ship,
And wae be to the sea,
95 And wae be to the mariners,
Took Jeanie Douglas frae me!
"O bonny, bonny was my love,
A pleasure to behold;
The very hair o' my love's head
100 Was like the threads o' gold.
"O bonny was her cheek, her cheek,
And bonny was her chin;
And bonny was the bride she was,
The day she was made mine!"

*** The following stanzas from a version of this ballad printed at Philadelphia (and called The House Carpenter) are given in Graham's Illustrated Magazine, Sept. 1858.

"I might have married the king's daughter dear;"
"You might have married her," cried she,
"For I am married to a House Carpenter,
And a fine young man is he."
"Oh dry up your tears, my own true love,
And cease your weeping," cried he;
"For soon you'll see your own happy home,
On the banks of old Tennessee."

[Pg 210]


From Buchan's ballads of the North of Scotland, (i. 227.)

"There is a fashion in this land,
And even come to this country,
That every lady should meet her lord,
When he is newly come frae sea:
5 "Some wi' hawks, and some wi' hounds,
And other some wi' gay monie;
But I will gae myself alone,
And set his young son on his knee."
She's ta'en her young son in her arms,
10 And nimbly walk'd by yon sea strand;
And there she spy'd her father's ship,
As she was sailing to dry land.
"Where hae ye put my ain gude lord,
This day he stays sae far frae me?"
15 "If ye be wanting your ain gude lord,
A sight o' him ye'll never see."
[Pg 211] "Was he brunt, or was he shot?
Or was he drowned in the sea?
Or what's become o' my ain gude lord,
20 That he will ne'er appear to me?"
"He wasna brunt, nor was he shot,
Nor was he drowned in the sea;
He was slain in Dumfermling,
A fatal day to you and me."
25 "Come in, come in, my merry young men,
Come in and drink the wine wi' me;
And a' the better ye shall fare,
For this gude news ye tell to me."
She's brought them down to yon cellar,
30 She brought them fifty steps and three;
She birled wi' them the beer and wine,
Till they were as drunk as drunk could be.
Then she has lock'd her cellar door,
For there were fifty steps and three;
35 "Lie there wi' my sad malison,
For this bad news ye've tauld to me."
She's ta'en the keys intill her hand,
And threw them deep, deep in the sea;
"Lie there wi' my sad malison,
40 Till my gude lord return to me."
[Pg 212] Then she sat down in her own room,
And sorrow lull'd her fast asleep;
And up it starts her own gude lord,
And even at that lady's feet.
45 "Take here the keys, Janet," he says,
"That ye threw deep, deep in the sea;
And ye'll relieve my merry young men,
For they've nane o' the swick o' me.
"They shot the shot, and drew the stroke,
50 And wad in red bluid to the knee;
Nae sailors mair for their lord coud do,
Nor my young men they did for me."
"I hae a question at you to ask,
Before that ye depart frae me;
55 You'll tell to me what day I'll die,
And what day will my burial be?"
"I hae nae mair o' God's power
Than he has granted unto me;
But come to heaven when ye will,
60 There porter to you I will be.
"But ye'll be wed to a finer knight
Than ever was in my degree;
Unto him ye'll hae children nine,
And six o' them will be ladies free.
65 "The other three will be bold young men,[Pg 213]
To fight for king and countrie;
The ane a duke, the second a knight,
And third a laird o' lands sae free."


Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, iii. 258.

That the repose of the dead is disturbed by the immoderate grief of those they have left behind them, is a belief which finds frequent expression in popular ballads. Obstinate sorrow rouses them from their grateful slumber; every tear that is shed for them wets their shroud; they can get no rest, and are compelled to revisit the world they would fain forget, to rebuke and forbid the mourning that destroys their peace.

"Ice-cold and bloody, a lead-weight of sorrow, falls on my breast each tear that you shed,"

says the ghost of Helgi in the Edda to his lamenting wife (Helgak. Hundingsb. II.) The same idea is found in the German ballad, Der Vorwirth, Erk's Liederhort, No. 46, 46 a, and in various tales, as Das Todtenhemdchen, (K.u.H. Märchen, No. 109, and note), etc. In like manner Sir Aage, in a well-known Danish ballad (Grundtvig, No. 90), and the corresponding Sorgens Magt, Svenska F.V., No. 6.

[Pg 214] "Every time thou weepest for me,
Thy heart makest sad,
Then all within, my coffin stands full
Of clotted blood."

Rarely is the silence of the grave broken for purposes of consolation. Yet some cases there are, as in a Lithuanian ballad cited by Wackernagel, Altd. Blätter, i. 176, and a Spanish ballad noticed by Talvj, Versuch, p. 141. The present ballad seems to belong to the latter class rather than the former, but it is so imperfect that its true character cannot be determined.

Chambers maintains, we think erroneously, that this ballad is a fragment of The Clerk's Twa Sons o' Owsenford. See the second volume of this collection, page 63.

There lived a wife at Usher's Well,
And a wealthy wife was she,
She had three stout and stalwart sons,
And sent them o'er the sea.
5 They hadna been a week from her,
A week but barely ane,
When word came to the carline wife,
That her three sons were gane.
They hadna been a week from her,
10 A week but barely three,
When word came to the carline wife,
That her sons she'd never see.
"I wish the wind may never cease,[Pg 215]
Nor fishes in the flood,
15 Till my three sons come hame to me,
In earthly flesh and blood."—
It fell about the Martinmas,
When nights are lang and mirk,
The carline wife's three sons came hame,
20 And their hats were o' the birk.
It neither grew in syke nor ditch,
Nor yet in ony sheugh;
But at the gates o' Paradise,
That birk grew fair eneugh.

25 "Blow up the fire, my maidens!
Bring water from the well!
For a' my house shall feast this night,
Since my three sons are well."—
And she has made to them a bed,
30 She's made it large and wide;
And she's ta'en her mantle her about,
Sat down at the bed-side.

[Pg 216]

35 Up then crew the red red cock,
And up and crew the gray;
The eldest to the youngest said,
"'Tis time we were away."—
The cock he hadna craw'd but once,
40 And clapp'd his wings at a',
Whan the youngest to the eldest said,
"Brother, we must awa.—
"The cock doth craw, the day doth daw,
The channerin' worm doth chide;
45 Gin we be mist out o' our place,
A sair pain we maun bide.
"Fare ye weel, my mother dear!
Fareweel to barn and byre!
And fare ye weel, the bonny lass,
50 That kindles my mother's fire."

14. Should we not read, for fishes here, fashes— i. e. troubles?—Lockhart.

[Pg 217]


Or, a relation of a young man, who, a month after his death, appeared to his sweetheart, and carried her on horseback behind him for forty miles in two hours, and was never seen after but in his grave.

From A Collection of Old Ballads, i. 266. In Moore's Pictorial Book of Ancient Ballad Poetry (p. 463) is a copy from a broadside in the Roxburghe collection.

The Suffolk Miracle has an external resemblance to several noble ballads, but the likeness does not extend below the surface. It is possible that we have here the residuum of an old poem, from which all the beauty and spirit have been exhaled in the course of tradition; but as the ballad now exists, it is a vulgar ghost-story, without any motive. Regarding the external form alone, we may place by its side the Breton ballad, Le Frère de Lait, in Villemarqué's Chants Populaires de la Bretagne, vol. i. No. 22 (translated by Miss Costello, Quart. Review, vol. 68, p. 75), the Romaic ballad of Constantine and Arete, in Fauriel's Chants Populaires de la Grèce Moderne, p. 406 (see Appendix), and the Servian ballad (related to the Romaic, and perhaps derived from it), Jelitza and her Brothers, Talvj, Volkslieder der Serben, i. 160, all of them among the most beautiful specimens in this kind of literature; and also Bürger's Lenore. It has been [Pg 218]once or twice most absurdly suggested that Lenore owed its existence to this Suffolk Miracle. The difference, indeed, is not greater than between a "Chronicle History" and Macbeth; it is however certain that Bürger's ballad is all his own, except the hint of the ghostly horseman and one or two phrases, which he took from the description of a Low German ballad. The editors of the Wunderhorn claim to give this ballad, vol. ii. p. 19. An equivalent prose tradition is well known in Germany. Most of the ballads relating to the return of departed spirits are brought together in an excellent article by Wackernagel in the Altdeutsche Blätter, i. 174.

A wonder stranger ne'er was known
Than what I now shall treat upon.
In Suffolk there did lately dwell
A farmer rich and known full well.
5 He had a daughter fair and bright,
On whom he placed his chief delight;
Her beauty was beyond compare,
She was both virtuous and fair.
There was a young man living by,
10 Who was so charmed with her eye,
That he could never be at rest;
He was by love so much possest.
He made address to her, and she
Did grant him love immediately;
15 But when her father came to hear,
He parted her and her poor dear.
Forty miles distant was she sent,[Pg 219]
Unto his brother's, with intent
That she should there so long remain,
20 Till she had changed her mind again.
Hereat this young man sadly grieved,
But knew not how to be relieved;
He sighed and sobbed continually
That his true love he could not see.
25 She by no means could to him send,
Who was her heart's espoused friend;
He sighed, he grieved, but all in vain,
For she confined must still remain.
He mourned so much, that doctor's art
30 Could give no ease unto his heart,
Who was so strangely terrified,
That in short time for love he died.
She that from him was sent away
Knew nothing of his dying day,
35 But constant still she did remain,
And loved the dead, although in vain.
After he had in grave been laid
A month or more, unto this maid
He came in middle of the night,
40 Who joyed to see her heart's delight.
Her father's horse, which well she knew,[Pg 220]
Her mother's hood and safe-guard too,
He brought with him to testify
Her parents order he came by.
45 Which when her uncle understood,
He hoped it would be for her good,
And gave consent to her straightway,
That with him she should come away.
When she was got her love behind,
50 They passed as swift as any wind,
That in two hours, or little more,
He brought her to her father's door.
But as they did this great haste make,
He did complain his head did ake;
55 Her handkerchief she then took out,
And tied the same his head about.
And unto him she thus did say:
"Thou art as cold as any clay;
When we come home a fire we'll have;"
60 But little dreamed he went to grave.
Soon were they at her father's door,
And after she ne'er saw him more;
"I'll set the horse up," then he said,
And there he left this harmless maid.
65 She knocked, and straight a man he cried,[Pg 221]
"Who's there?" "'Tis I," she then replied;
Who wondred much her voice to hear,
And was possessed with dread and fear.
Her father he did tell, and then
70 He stared like an affrighted man:
Down stairs he ran, and when he see her,
Cried out, "My child, how cam'st thou here?"
"Pray, sir, did you not send for me,
By such a messenger?" said she:
75 Which made his hair stare on his head,
As knowing well that he was dead.
"Where is he?" then to her he said;
"He's in the stable," quoth the maid.
"Go in," said he, "and go to bed;
80 I'll see the horse well littered."
He stared about, and there could he
No shape of any mankind see,
But found his horse all on a sweat;
Which made him in a deadly fret.
85 His daughter he said nothing to,
Nor none else, (though full well they knew
That he was dead a month before,)
For fear of grieving her full sore.
Her father to the father went[Pg 222]
90 Of the deceased, with full intent
To tell him what his daughter said;
So both came back unto this maid.
They ask'd her, and she still did say
'Twas he that then brought her away;
95 Which when they heard they were amazed,
And on each other strangely gazed.
A handkerchief she said she tied
About his head, and that they tried;
The sexton they did speak unto,
100 That he the grave would then undo.
Affrighted then they did behold
His body turning into mould,
And though he had a month been dead,
This handkerchief was about his head.
105 This thing unto her then they told,
And the whole truth they did unfold;
She was thereat so terrified
And grieved, that she quickly died.
Part not true love, you rich men, then;
110 But, if they be right honest men
Your daughters love, give them their way,
For force oft breeds their lives decay.

[Pg 223]


From Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 124.

This fragment, Motherwell tells us, was communicated to him by an ingenious friend, who remembered having heard it sung in his youth. He does not vouch for its antiquity, and we have little or no hesitation in pronouncing it a modern composition.

Whan he cam to his ain luve's bouir,
He tirled at the pin,
And sae ready was his fair fause luve
To rise and let him in.
5 "O welcome, welcome, Sir Roland," she says,
"Thrice welcome thou art to me;
For this night thou wilt feast in my secret bouir,
And to-morrow we'll wedded be."
"This night is hallow-eve," he said,[Pg 224]
10 "And to-morrow is hallow-day;
And I dreamed a drearie dream yestreen,
That has made my heart fu' wae.
"I dreamed a drearie dream yestreen,
And I wish it may cum to gude:
15 I dreamed that ye slew my best grew hound,
And gied me his lappered blude."

"Unbuckle your belt, Sir Roland," she said,
"And set you safely down."
"O your chamber is very dark, fair maid,
20 And the night is wondrous lown."
"Yes, dark, dark is my secret bowir,
And lown the midnight may be;
For there is none waking in a' this tower,
But thou, my true love, and me."

25 She has mounted on her true love's steed,
By the ae light o' the moon;
She has whipped him and spurred him,
And roundly she rade frae the toun.
[Pg 225] She hadna ridden a mile o' gate,
30 Never a mile but ane,
Whan she was aware of a tall young man,
Slow riding o'er the plain.
She turned her to the right about,
Then to the left turn'd she;
35 But aye, 'tween her and the wan moonlight,
That tall knight did she see.
And he was riding burd alane,
On a horse as black as jet;
But tho' she followed him fast and fell,
40 No nearer could she get.
"O stop! O stop! young man," she said,
"For I in dule am dight;
O stop, and win a fair lady's luve,
If you be a leal true knight."
45 But nothing did the tall knight say,
And nothing did he blin;
Still slowly rode he on before,
And fast she rade behind.
She whipped her steed, she spurred her steed,
50 Till his breast was all a foam;
But nearer unto that tall young knight,
By Our Ladye, she could not come.
"O if you be a gay young knight,[Pg 226]
As well I trow you be,
55 Pull tight your bridle reins, and stay
Till I come up to thee."
But nothing did that tall knight say,
And no whit did he blin,
Until he reached a broad river's side,
60 And there he drew his rein.
"O is this water deep," he said,
"As it is wondrous dun?
Or it is sic as a saikless maid
And a leal true knight may swim?"
65 "The water it is deep," she said,
"As it is wondrous dun;
But it is sic as a saikless maid
And a leal true knight may swim."
The knight spurred on his tall black steed,
70 The lady spurred on her brown;
And fast they rade unto the flood,
And fast they baith swam down.
"The water weets my tae," she said,
"The water weets my knee;
75 And hold up my bridle reins, sir knight,
For the sake of Our Ladye."
[Pg 227] "If I would help thee now," he said,
"It were a deadly sin;
For I've sworn neir to trust a fair may's word,
80 Till the water weets her chin."
"O the water weets my waist," she said,
"Sae does it weet my skin;
And my aching heart rins round about,
The burn maks sic a din.
85 "The water is waxing deeper still,
Sae does it wax mair wide;
And aye the farther that we ride on,
Farther off is the other side.
"O help me now, thou false, false knight,
90 Have pity on my youth;
For now the water jawes owre my head,
And it gurgles in my mouth."
The knight turned right and round about,
All in the middle stream,
95 And he stretched out his head to that lady,
But loudly she did scream.
"O this is hallow-morn," he said,
"And it is your bridal day;
But sad would be that gay wedding,
100 If bridegroom and bride were away.
"And ride on, ride on, proud Margaret![Pg 228]
Till the water comes o'er your bree;
For the bride maun ride deep, and deeper yet,
Wha rides this ford wi' me.
105 "Turn round, turn round, proud Margaret!
Turn ye round, and look on me;
Thou hast killed a true knight under trust,
And his ghost now links on with thee."

[Pg 229]


[Pg 231]


Printed from the celebrated Percy MS. in Madden's Syr Gawayne, p. 275.

The editor has added the following note.

"It has no title, and the first line has been cut away by the ignorant binder to whom the volume was intrusted, but both are supplied from the notice given of the ballad in the Dissertation prefixed to vol. iii. of the Reliques, p. xxxvii. Dr. Percy has added in the margin of the MS. these words: "To the best of my remembrance, this was the first line, before the binder cut it." The poem is very imperfect, owing to the leaves having been half torn away to light fires (!) as the Bishop tells us, but I am bound to add, previous to its coming into his possession. The story is so singular, that it is to be hoped an earlier and complete copy of it may yet be recovered. On no account perhaps is it more remarkable, than the fact of its close imitation of the famous gabs made by Charlemagne and his companions at the court of King Hugon, which are first met with in a romance of the twelfth century, published by M. Michel from a MS. in the British Museum, 12mo., London, 1836, and transferred at a later period to the prose romance of Galien Rethoré, printed by Verard, fol., 1500, and often afterwards. In the [Pg 232]absence of other evidence, it is to be presumed that the author of the ballad borrowed from the printed work, substituting Arthur for Charlemagne, Gawayne for Oliver, Tristram for Roland, etc., and embellishing his story by converting King Hugon's spy into a "lodly feend," by whose agency the gabs are accomplished. It is further worthy of notice, that the writer seems to regard Arthur as the sovereign of Little Britain, and alludes to an intrigue between the King of Cornwall and Queen Guenever, which is nowhere, as far as I recollect, hinted at in the romances of the Round Table."

"Come here my cozen, Gawain, so gay;
My sisters sonne be yee;
For you shall see one of the fairest Round Tables,
That ever you see with your eye."
5 Then bespake [the] Lady Queen Guenever,
And these were the words said shee:
"I know where a Round Table is, thou noble king,
Is worth thy Round Table and other such three.
"The trestle that stands under this Round Table," she said,
10 "Lowe downe to the mould,
It is worth thy Round Table, thou worthy king,
Thy halls, and all thy gold.
"The place where this Round Table stands in,
It is worth thy castle, thy gold, thy fee;
15 And all good Litle Britaine,"—
"Where may that table be, lady?" quoth hee,
[Pg 233] "Or where may all that goodly building be?"
"You shall it seeke," shee sayd, "till you it find,
For you shall never gett more of me."
20 Then bespake him noble King Arthur,
These were the words said hee;
"Ile make mine avow to God,
And alsoe to the Trinity,
"Ile never sleepe one night, there as I doe another,
25 Till that Round Table I see;
Sir Marramiles and Sir Tristeram,
Fellowes that ye shall bee.
"Weele be clad in palmers weede,
Five palmers we will bee;
30 There is noe outlandish man will us abide,
Nor will us come nye."
Then they rived east and they rived west,
In many a strange country.
Then they travelled a litle further,
35 They saw a battle new sett;
"Now, by my faith," saies noble King Arthur,

[Half a page is here torn away.]

But when he came that castle to,
And to the palace gate,
Soe ready was ther a proud porter,
40 And met him soone therat.
[Pg 234] Shooes of gold the porter had on,
And all his other rayment was unto the same;
"Now, by my faith," saies noble King Arthur,
"Yonder is a minion swaine."
45 Then bespake noble King Arthur,
These were the words says hee:
"Come hither, thou proud porter,
I pray thee come hither to me.
"I have two poor rings of my finger,
50 The better of them Ile give to thee;
[To] tell who may be lord of this castle," he saies,
"Or who is lord in this cuntry?"
"Cornewall King," the porter sayes,
"There is none soe rich as hee;
55 Neither in Christendome, nor yet in heathennest,
None hath soe much gold as he."
And then bespake him noble King Arthur,
These were the words sayes hee:
"I have two poore rings of my finger,
60 The better of them Ile give thee,
If thou wilt greete him well, Cornewall King,
And greete him well from me.
"Pray him for one nights lodging, and two meales meate,
For his love that dyed uppon a tree;
65 A bue ghesting, and two meales meate,
65 For his love that dyed uppon a tree.
[Pg 235] "A bue ghesting, and two meales meate,
For his love that was of virgin borne,
And in the morning that we may scape away,
70 Either without scath or scorne."
Then forth is gone this proud porter,
As fast as he cold hye;
And when he came befor Cornewall King,
He kneeled downe on his knee.
75 Sayes, "I have beene porter, man, at thy gate,

[Half a page is wanting.]

....our Lady was borne,
Then thought Cornewall King these palmers had beene in Britt.
Then bespake him Cornewall King,
These were the words he said there:
80 "Did you ever know a comely King,
His name was King Arthur?"
And then bespake him noble King Arthur,
These were the words said hee:
"I doe not know that comly King,
85 But once my selfe I did him see."
Then bespake Cornwall King againe,
These were the words said he.
[Pg 236] Sayes, "Seven yeere I was clad and fed,
In Litle Brittaine, in a bower;
90 I had a daughter by King Arthurs wife,
It now is called my flower;
For King Arthur, that kindly cockward,
Hath none such in his bower.
"For I durst sweare, and save my othe,
95 That same lady soe bright,
That a man that were laid on his death-bed
Wold open his eyes on her to have sight."
"Now, by my faith," sayes noble King Arthur,
"And thats a full faire wight!"
100 And then bespoke Cornewall [King] againe,
And these were the words he said:
"Come hither, five or three of my knights,
And feitch me downe my steed;
King Arthur, that foule cockeward,
105 Hath none such, if he had need.
"For I can ryde him as far on a day,
As King Arthur can doe any of his on three.
And is it not a pleasure for a King,
When he shall ryde forth on his journey?
110 "For the eyes that beene in his head,
They glister as doth the gleed;"—
"Now, by my faith," says noble King Arthur,

[Half a page is wanting.]

[Pg 237] No body....
But one thats learned to speake.
115 Then King Arthur to his bed was brought,
A greeived man was hee;
And soe were all his fellowes with him
From him they thought never to flee.
Then take they did that lodly boome,
120 And under thrubchandler closed was hee;
And he was set by King Arthurs bed-side,
To heere theire talke, and theire com'nye;
That he might come forth, and make proclamation,
Long before it was day;
125 It was more for King Cornwalls pleasure,
Then it was for King Arthurs pay.
And when King Arthur on his bed was laid,
These were the words said hee:
"Ile make mine avow to God,
130 And alsoe to the Trinity,
That Ile be the bane of Cornwall Kinge
Litle Brittaine or ever I see!"
"It is an unadvised vow," saies Gawaine the gay,
"As ever king hard make I;
135 But wee that beene five christian men,
Of the christen faith are wee;
And we shall fight against anoynted King,
And all his armorie."
[Pg 238] And then he spake him noble Arthur,
140 And these were the words said he:
"Why, if thou be afraid, Sir Gawaine the gay,
Goe home, and drinke wine in thine owne country."

32, the rived west.

34, tranckled.

50, They better.

65, bue, sic.

67, bue, sic; of two.

71, his gone.

101, said he.

111, The.

118, the.

119, goome?

120, thrubchadler.


And then bespake Sir Gawaine the gay,
And these were the words said hee:
145 "Nay, seeing you have made such a hearty vow,
Here another vow make will I.
"Ile make mine avow to God,
And alsoe to the Trinity,
That I will have yonder faire lady
150 To Litle Brittaine with mee.
"Ile hose her hourly to my hart,
And with her Ile worke my will;

[Half a page is wanting.]

These were the words sayd hee:
"Befor I wold wrestle with yonder feend,
155 It is better be drowned in the sea."
And then bespake Sir Bredbeddle,
And these were the words said he:
"Why, I will wrestle with yon lodly feend,
God! my governor thou shalt bee."
160 [Pg 239] Then bespake him noble Arthur,
And these were the words said he:
"What weapons wilt thou have, thou gentle knight?
I pray thee tell to me."
He sayes, "Collen brand Ile have in my hand,
165 And a Millaine knife fast be my knee;
And a Danish axe fast in my hands,
That a sure weapon I thinke wilbe."
Then with his Collen brand, that he had in his hand,
The bunge of the trubchandler he burst in three.
170 What that start out a lodly feend,
With seven heads, and one body.
The fyer towards the element flew,
Out of his mouth, where was great plentie;
The knight stoode in the middle, and fought,
175 That it was great joy to see.
Till his Collaine brand brake in his hand,
And his Millaine knife burst on his knee;
And then the Danish axe burst in his hand first,
That a sur weapon he thought shold be.
180 But now is the knight left without any weapone,
And alacke! it was the more pitty;
But a surer weapon then had he one,
Had never Lord in Christentye:
And all was but one litle booke,
185 He found it by the side of the sea.
[Pg 240] He found it at the sea-side,
Wrucked upp in a floode;
Our Lord had written it with his hands,
And sealed it with his bloode.

[Half a page is wanting.]

190 "That thou doe....
But ly still in that wall of stone;
Till I have beene with noble King Arthur,
And told him what I have done."
And when he came to the King's chamber,
195 He cold of his curtesie
Saye, "Sleep you, wake you, noble King Arthur?
And ever Jesus watch yee!"
"Nay, I am not sleeping, I am waking,"
These were the words said hee:
200 "For thee I have car'd; how hast thou fared?
O gentle knight, let me see."
The knight wrought the King his booke,
Bad him behold, reede, and see;
And ever he found it on the backside of the leafe,
205 As noble Arthur wold wish it to be.
And then bespake him King Arthur,
"Alas! thou gentle knight, how may this be,
That I might see him in the same licknesse,
That he stood unto thee?"
210 [Pg 241] And then bespake him the Greene Knight,
These were the words said hee:
"If youle stand stifly in the battell stronge,
For I have won all the victory."
Then bespake him the King againe,
215 And these were the words said hee:
"If we stand not stifly in this battell strong,
Wee are worthy to be hanged all on a tree."
Then bespake him the Greene Knight,
These were the words said hee:
220 Saies, "I doe coniure thee, thou fowle feend,
In the same licknesse thou stood unto me."
With that start out a lodly feend,
With seven heads, and one body;
The fier towarde the element flaugh,
225 Out of his mouth, where was great plenty.
The knight stood in the middle....

[Half a page is wanting.]

... the space of an houre,
I know not what they did.
And then bespake him the Greene Knight,
230 And these were the words said he:
Saith, "I coniure thee, thou fowle feend,
That thou feitch downe the steed that we see."
And then forth is gone Burlow-beanie,
As fast as he cold hie;
235 [Pg 242] And feitch he did that faire steed,
And came againe by and by.
Then bespake him Sir Marramile,
And these were the words said hee:
"Riding of this steed, brother Bredbeddle,
240 The mastery belongs to me."
Marramiles tooke the steed to his hand,
To ryd him he was full bold;
He cold noe more make him goe,
Then a child of three yeere old.
245 He laid uppon him with heele and hand,
With yard that was soe fell;
"Helpe! brother Bredbeddle," says Marramile,
"For I thinke he be the devill of hell.
"Helpe! brother Bredbeddle," says Marramile.
250 "Helpe! for Christs pittye;
For without thy help, brother Bredbeddle,
He will never be rydden " for me.
Then bespake him Sir Bredbeddle,
These were the words said he:
255 "I coniure thee, thou Burlow-beane,
Thou tell me how this steed was riddin in his country."
He saith, "There is a gold wand,
Stands in King Cornwalls study windowe.
"Let him take that wand in that window,[Pg 243]
260 And strike three strokes on that steed;
And then he will spring forth of his hand,
As sparke doth out of gleede."
Then bespake him the Greene Knight,

[Half a page is wanting.]

A lowd blast....
And then bespake Sir Bredbeddle,
265 To the feend these words said hee:
Says, "I coniure thee, thou Burlow-beanie,
The powder-box thou feitch me."
Then forth is gone Burlow-beanie,
270 As fast as he cold hie;
And feich he did the powder-box,
And came againe by and by.
Then Sir Tristeram tooke powder forth of that box,
And blent it with warme sweet milke;
275 And there put it unto the horne,
And swilled it about in that ilke.
Then he tooke the horne in his hand,
And a lowd blast he blew;
He rent the horne up to the midst,
280 All his fellowes this they knew.
Then bespake him the Greene Knight,[Pg 244]
These were the words said he:
Saies. "I coniure thee, thou Burlow-beanie,
That thou feitch me the sword that I see."
285 Then forth is gone Burlow-beanie,
As fast as he cold hie;
And feitch he did that faire sword,
And came againe by and by.
Then bespake him Sir Bredbeddle,
290 To the king these words said he:
"Take this sword in thy hand, thou noble King,
For the vowes sake that thou made Ile give it thee;
And goe strike off King Cornewalls head,
In bed where he doth lye."
295 Then forth is gone noble King Arthur,
As fast as he cold hye;
And strucken he hath King Cornwalls head,
And came againe by and by.
He put the head upon a swords point,

[The poem terminates here abruptly.]

151, hurt.

161, they words.

210, The Greene Knight is Sir Bredbeddle.

245, sayed.

252, p' me, i.e. pro or per.

255, Burlow-leane.

280, the knew.

294, were.

[Pg 245]


It is not impossible that this ballad should be the one quoted by Edgar in King Lear, (Act iii. sc. 4:)

"Child Rowland to the dark tower came."

We have extracted the fragment given by Jamieson, with the breaks in the story filled out, from Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 397; and we have added his translation of the Danish ballad of Rosmer Hafmand, which exhibits a striking similarity to Child Rowland, from Popular Ballads and Songs, ii. 202. The tale of the Red Etin, as given in Chamber's Pop. Rhymes of Scotland, p. 56, has much resemblance to Jamieson's story, and, like it, is interspersed with verse.

The occurrence of the name Merlin is by no means a sufficient ground for connecting this tale, as Jamieson would do, with the cycle of King Arthur. For Merlin, as Grundtvig has remarked (Folkeviser, ii. 79), did not originally belong to that cycle, and again, his name seems to have been given in Scotland to any sort of wizard or prophet.

["King Arthur's sons o' merry Carlisle]
Were playing at the ba';
And there was their sister Burd Ellen,
I' the mids amang them a'.
5 "Child Rowland kick'd it wi' his foot,
And keppit it wi' his knee;
And ay, as he play'd out o'er them a',
O'er the kirk he gar'd it flee.
"Burd Ellen round about the isle[Pg 246]
10 To seek the ba' is gane;
But they bade lang and ay langer,
And she camena back again.
"They sought her east, they sought her west,
They sought her up and down;
15 And wae were the hearts [in merry Carlisle,]
For she was nae gait found!"

At last her eldest brother went to the Warluck Merlin, (Myrddin Wyldt,) and asked if he knew where his sister, the fair Burd Ellen, was. "The fair Burd Ellen," said the Warluck Merlin, "is carried away by the fairies, and is now in the castle of the king of Elfland; and it were too bold an undertaking for the stoutest knight in Christendom to bring her back." "Is it possible to bring her back?" said her brother, "and I will do it, or perish in the attempt." "Possible indeed it is," said the Warluck Merlin; "but woe to the man or mother's son who attempts it, if he is not well instructed beforehand of what he is to do."

Influenced no less by the glory of such an enterprise, than by the desire of rescuing his sister, the brother of the fair Burd Ellen resolved to undertake the adventure; and after proper instructions from Merlin, (which he failed in observing,) he set out on his perilous expedition.

"But they bade lang and ay langer,
Wi' dout and mickle maen;
And wae were the hearts [in merry Carlisle,]
20 For he camena back again."

[Pg 247]The second brother in like manner set out; but failed in observing the instructions of the Warluck Merlin; and

"They bade lang and ay langer,
Wi' mickle dout and maen;
And wae were the hearts [in merry Carlisle,]
For he camena back again."

Child Rowland, the youngest brother of the fair Burd Ellen, then resolved to go; but was strenuously opposed by the good queen, [Gwenevra,] who was afraid of losing all her children.

At last the good queen [Gwenevra] gave him her consent and her blessing; he girt on (in great form, and with all due solemnity of sacerdotal consecration,) his father's good claymore, [Excalibar,] that never struck in vain, and repaired to the cave of the Warluck Merlin. The Warluck Merlin gave him all necessary instructions for his journey and conduct, the most important of which were, that he should kill every person he met with after entering the land of Fairy, and should neither eat nor drink of what was offered him in that country, whatever his hunger or thirst might be; for if he tasted or touched in Elfland, he must remain in the power of the Elves, and never see middle eard again.

So Child Rowland set out on his journey, and travelled "on and ay farther on," till he came to where (as he had been forewarned by the Warluck Merlin,) he found the king of Elfland's horse-herd feeding his horses.

"Canst thou tell me," said Child Rowland to the [Pg 248]horse-herd, "where the king of Elfland's castle is?"—"I cannot tell thee," said the horse-herd; "but go on a little farther, and thou wilt come to the cow-herd, and he, perhaps, may tell thee." So Child Rowland drew the good claymore, [Excalibar,] that never struck in vain, and hewed off the head of the horse-herd. Child Rowland then went on a little farther, till he came to the king of Elfland's cow-herd, who was feeding his cows. "Canst thou tell me," said Child Rowland to the cow-herd, "where the king of Elfland's castle is?"—"I cannot tell thee," said the cow-herd; "but go on a little farther, and thou wilt come to the sheep-herd, and he perhaps may tell thee." So Child Rowland drew the good claymore, [Excalibar,] that never struck in vain, and hewed off the head of the cow-herd. He then went on a little farther, till he came to the sheep-herd. * * * * [The sheep-herd, goat-herd, and swine-herd are all, each in his turn, served in the same manner; and lastly he is referred to the hen-wife.]

"Go on yet a little farther," said the hen-wife, "till thou come to a round green hill surrounded with rings (terraces) from the bottom to the top; go round it three times widershins, and every time say, "Open, door! open, door! and let me come in; and the third time the door will open, and you may go in." So Child Rowland drew the good claymore, [Excalibar,] that never struck in vain, and hewed off the head of the hen-wife. Then went he three times widershins round the green hill, crying, "Open, door! open, door! and let me come in;" and the third time the door opened, and he went in.

It immediately closed behind him; and he proceeded through a long passage, where the air was soft and [Pg 249]agreeably warm like a May evening, as is all the air of Elfland. The light was a sort of twilight or gloaming; but there were neither windows nor candles, and he knew not whence it came, if it was not from the walls and roof, which were rough, and arched like a grotto, and composed of a clear transparent rock, incrusted with sheeps-silver and spar, and various bright stones. At last he came to two wide and lofty folding-doors, which stood a-jar. He opened them, and entered a large and spacious hall, whose richness and brilliance no tongue can tell. It seemed to extend the whole length and height of the hill. The superb Gothic pillars by which the roof was supported, were so large and so lofty, (said my seannachy,) that the pillars of the Chanry Kirk, [4] or of Pluscardin Abbey, are no more to be compared to them, than the Knock of Alves is to be compared to Balrinnes or Ben-a-chi. They were of gold and silver, and were fretted like the west window of the Chanry Kirk, with wreaths of flowers composed of diamonds and precious stones of all manner of beautiful colors. The key-stones of the arches above, instead of coats of arms and other devices, were ornamented with clusters of diamonds in the same manner. And from the middle of the roof, where the principal arches met, was hung by a gold chain, an immense lamp of one hollowed pearl, perfectly transparent, in the midst of which was suspended a large carbuncle, that by the power of magic continually turned round, and shed over all the hall a clear and mild light like the setting sun; but the hall was so large, and these dazzling objects so far removed, [Pg 250]that their blended radiance cast no more than a pleasing lustre, and excited no more than agreeable sensations in the eyes of Child Rowland.

The furniture of the hall was suitable to its architecture; and at the farther end, under a splendid canopy, seated on a gorgeous sofa of velvet, silk, and gold, and "kembing her yellow hair wi' a silver kemb,"

25 "There was his sister burd Ellen;
She stood up him before."


"'God rue on thee, poor luckless fode!
What has thou to do here?
"'And hear ye this, my youngest brither,
30 Why badena ye at hame?
Had ye a hundur and thousand lives,
Ye canna brook ane o' them.
"'And sit thou down; and wae, O wae
That ever thou was born;
35 For come the King o' Elfland in,
Thy leccam is forlorn!'"

A long conversation then takes place; Child Rowland tells her the news [of merry Carlisle,] and of his own expedition; and concludes with the observation, that, after this long and fatiguing journey to the castle of the king of Elfland, he is very hungry.

Burd Ellen looked wistfully and mournfully at him, and shook her head, but said nothing. Acting under the influence of a magic which she could not resist, she arose, and brought him a golden bowl full of bread and milk, which she presented to him with the same timid, tender, and anxious expression of solicitude.

[Pg 251]Remembering the instructions of the Warluck Merlin, "Burd Ellen," said Child Rowland, "I will neither taste nor touch till I have set thee free!" Immediately the folding-doors burst open with tremendous violence, and in came the king of Elfland,

"With 'fi, fi, fo, and fum!
I smell the blood of a Christian man!
Be he dead, be he living, wi' my brand
40 I'll clash his harns frae his harn-pan!'"

"Strike, then, Bogle of Hell, if thou darest!" exclaimed the undaunted Child Rowland, starting up, and drawing the good claymore, [Excalibar,] that never struck in vain.

A furious combat ensued, and the king of Elfland was felled to the ground; but Child Rowland spared him on condition that he should restore to him his two brothers, who lay in a trance in a corner of the hall, and his sister, the fair burd Ellen. The king of Elfland then produced a small crystal phial, containing a bright red liquor, with which he anointed the lips, nostrils, eye-lids, ears, and finger-ends of the two young men, who immediately awoke as from a profound sleep, during which their souls had quitted their bodies, and they had seen, &c., &c., &c. So they all four returned in triumph to [merry Carlisle.]

Such was the rude outline of the romance of Child Rowland, as it was told to me when I was about seven or eight years old, by a country tailor then at work in my father's house. He was an ignorant and dull good sort of honest man, who seemed never to have questioned the truth of what he related. Where the et cæteras[Pg 252] are put down, many curious particulars have been omitted, because I was afraid of being deceived by my memory, and substituting one thing for another. It is right also to admonish the reader, that the Warluck Merlin, Child Rowland, and Burd Ellen, were the only names introduced in his recitation; and that the others, inclosed within brackets, are assumed upon the authority of the locality given to the story by the mention of Merlin. In every other respect I have been as faithful as possible.

[4] The cathedral of Elgin naturally enough furnished similes to a man who had never in his life been twenty miles distant from it.

[Pg 253]




The ballad of Rosmer is found in Danish, Swedish, Faroish, and Norse. All the questions bearing upon its origin, and the relations of the various forms in which the story exists, are amply discussed by Grundtvig, vol. ii. p. 72. Three versions of the Danish ballad are given by Vedel, all of which Jamieson has translated. The following is No. 31 in Abrahamson.

There dwalls a lady in Danmarck,
Lady Hillers lyle men her ca';
And she's gar'd bigg a new castell,
That shines o'er Danmarck a'.
5 Her dochter was stown awa frae her;
She sought for her wide-whare;
But the mair she sought, and the less she fand,—
That wirks her sorrow and care.
And she's gar'd bigg a new ship,
10 Wi' vanes o' flaming goud,
Wi' mony a knight and mariner,
Sae stark in need bestow'd.
She's followed her sons down to the strand,
That chaste and noble fre;
15 And wull and waif for eight lang years
They sail'd upon the sea.
[Pg 254] And eight years wull and waif they sail'd,
O' months that seem'd sae lang;
Syne they sail'd afore a high castell,
20 And to the land can gang.
And the young lady Svanè lyle,
In the bower that was the best,
Says, "Wharfrae cam thir frem swains,
Wi' us this night to guest?"
25 Then up and spak her youngest brither,
Sae wisely ay spak he;
"We are a widow's three poor sons,
Lang wilder'd on the sea.
"In Danmarck were we born and bred,
30 Lady Hillers lyle was our mither;
Our sister frae us was stown awa,
We findna whare or whither."
"In Danmarck were ye born and bred?
Was Lady Hillers your mither?
35 I can nae langer heal frae thee,
Thou art my youngest brither.
"And hear ye this, my youngest brither:
Why bade na ye at hame?
Had ye a hunder and thousand lives,
40 Ye canna brook ane o' them."
She's set him in the weiest nook
She in the house can meet;
She's bidden him for the high God's sake
Nouther to laugh ne greet.
45 [Pg 255] Rosmer hame frae Zealand came,
And he took on to bann:
"I smell fu' weel, by my right hand,
That here is a Christian man."
"There flew a bird out o'er the house,
50 Wi' a man's bane in his mouth;
He coost it in, and I cast it out,
As fast as e'er I couth."
But wilyly she can Rosmer win;
And clapping him tenderly,
55 "It's here is come my sister-son;—
Gin I lose him, I'll die.
"It's here is come, my sister-son,
Frae baith our fathers' land;
And I ha'e pledged him faith and troth,
60 That ye will not him bann."
"And is he come, thy sister-son,
Frae thy father's land to thee?
Then I will swear my highest aith,
He's dree nae skaith frae me."
65 "'Twas then the high king Rosmer,
He ca'd on younkers twae:
"Ye bid proud Svanè lyle's sister-son
To the chalmer afore me gae."
It was Svanè lyle's sister-son,
70 Whan afore Rosmer he wan,
His heart it quook, and his body shook,
Sae fley'd, he scarce dow stand.
Sae Rosmer took her sister-son,[Pg 256]
Set him upon his knee;
75 He clappit him sae luifsomely,
He turned baith blue and blae.
And up and spak she, Svanè lyle;
"Sir Rosmer, ye're nae to learn
That your ten fingers arena sma,
80 To clap sae little a bairn."
There was he till, the fifthen year,
He green'd for hame and land:
"Help me now, sister Svanè lyle,
To be set on the white sand."
85 It was proud Lady Svanè lyle,
Afore Rosmer can stand:
"This younker sae lang in the sea has been,
He greens for hame and land."
"Gin the younker sae lang in the sea has been,
90 And greens for hame and land,
Then I'll gie him a kist wi' goud,
Sae fitting till his hand."
"And will ye gi'e him a kist wi' goud,
Sae fitting till his hand?
95 Then hear ye, my noble heartis dear,
Ye bear them baith to land."
Then wrought proud Lady Svanè lyle
What Rosmer little wist;
For she's tane out the goud sae red,
100 And laid hersel i' the kist.
[Pg 257] He's ta'en the man upon his back;
The kist in his mouth took he;
And he has gane the lang way up
Frae the bottom o' the sea.
105 "Now I ha'e borne thee to the land;
Thou seest baith sun and moon;
Namena Lady Svanè for thy highest God,
I beg thee as a boon."
Rosmer sprang i' the saut sea out,
110 And jawp'd it up i' the sky;
But whan he cam till the castell in,
Nae Svanè lyle could he spy.
Whan he came till the castell in,
His dearest awa was gane;
115 Like wood he sprang the castell about,
On the rock o' the black flintstane.
Glad they were in proud Hillers lyle's house,
Wi' welcome joy and glee;
Hame to their friends her bairns were come,
120 That had lang been in the sea.

[Pg 258]


(See page 114.)

From Scottish Traditionary Versions of Ancient Ballads, Percy Society, xvii. p. 11.

Take warnin', a' ye ladyes fair,
That wear gowd on your hair;
Come never unto Charter-woods,
For Tam-a-line he's there.
5 Even about that knicht's middle
O' siller bells are nine;
Nae ane comes to Charter-woods,
And a may returns agen.
Ladye Margaret sits in her bouir door,
10 Sewing at her silken seam;
And she lang'd to gang to Charter woods,
To pou the roses green.
She hadna pou'd a rose, a rose,
Nor braken a branch but ane,
15 Till by it came him true Tam-a-line,
Says, "Layde, lat alane.
"O why pou ye the rose, the rose?
Or why brake ye the tree?
Or why come ye to Charter-woods,
20 Without leave ask'd of me?"
[Pg 259] "I will pou the rose, the rose,
And I will brake the tree;
Charter-woods are a' my ain,
I'll ask nae leave o' thee."
25 He's taen her by the milk-white hand,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
And laid her low on gude green wood,
At her he spier'd nae leave.
When he had got his will o' her,
30 His will as he had ta'en,
He's ta'en her by the middle sma',
Set her to feet again.
She turn'd her richt and round about,
To spier her true love's name,
35 But naething heard she, nor naething saw,
As a' the woods grew dim.
Seven days she tarried there,
Saw neither sun nor muin;
At length, by a sma' glimmerin' licht,
40 Came thro' the wood her lane.
When she came to her father's court,
Was fine as ony queen;
But when eight months were past and gane,
Got on the gown o' green.
45 Then out it speaks an eldren knicht,
As he stood at the yett;
"Our king's dochter, she gaes wi' bairn,
And we'll get a' the wyte."
[Pg 260] "O haud your tongue, ye eldren man,
50 And bring me not to shame;
Although that I do gang wi' bairn,
Yese naeways get the blame.
"Were my love but an earthly man,
As he's an elfin knicht,
55 I wadna gie my ain true luve,
For a' that's in my sicht."
Then out it speaks her brither dear,
He meant to do her harm,
"There is an herb in Charter-woods
60 Will twine you an' the bairn."
She's taen her mantle her about,
Her coiffer by the band;
And she is on to Charter-woods,
As fast as she coud gang.
65 She hadna poud a rose, a rose,
Nor braken a branch but ane,
Till by it came him, Tam-a-Line,
Says, "Ladye, lat alane."
"O! why pou ye the pile, Margaret,
70 The pile o' the gravil green,
For to destroy the bonny bairn
That we got us between?
"O! why pou ye the pile, Margaret,
The pile o' the gravil gray,
75 For to destroy the bonny bairn
That we got in our play?
"For if it be a knave bairn,[Pg 261]
He's heir o' a' my land;
But if it be a lass bairn,
80 In red gowd she shall gang."
"If my luve were an earthly man,
As he's an elfin grey,
I coud gang bound, luve, for your sake,
A twalmonth and a day."
85 "Indeed your luve's an earthly man,
The same as well as thee;
And lang I've haunted Charter-woods,
A' for your fair bodie."
"O! tell me, tell me, Tam-a-Line,
90 O! tell, an' tell me true;
Tell me this nicht, an' mak' nae lee,
What pedigree are you?"
"O! I hae been at gude church-door,
An' I've got christendom;
95 I'm the Earl o' Forbes' eldest son,
An' heir ower a' his land.
"When I was young, o' three years old,
Muckle was made o' me;
My stepmither put on my claithes,
100 An' ill, ill, sained she me.
"Ae fatal morning I gaed out,
Dreading nae injurie;
And thinking lang, fell soun asleep,
Beneath an apple tree.
105 [Pg 262] "Then by it came the Elfin Queen,
And laid her hand on me;
And from that time since e'er I mind,
I've been in her companie.
"O Elfin it's a bonny place,
110 In it fain wad I dwell;
But aye at ilka seven years' end,
They pay a tiend to hell,
And I'm sae fou o' flesh an blude,
I'm sair fear'd for mysell."
115 "O tell me, tell me, Tam-a-Line,
O tell, an' tell me true;
Tell me this nicht, an' mak' nae lee,
What way I'll borrow you?"
"The morn is Hallowe'en nicht,
120 The Elfin court will ride,
Through England, and thro' a' Scotland,
And through the warld wide.
"O they begin at sky sett in,
Ride a' the evenin' tide;
125 And she that will her true love borrow,
At Miles-cross will him bide.
"Ye'll do ye down to Miles-cross,
Between twall hours and ane;
And full your hands o' holie water,
130 And cast your compass roun'.
"Then the first ane court that comes you till,
Is published king and queen;
The neist ane court that comes you till,[Pg 263]
It is maidens mony ane.
135 "The neist ane court that comes you till,
Is footmen, grooms, and squires;
The neist ane court that comes you till,
Is knichts; and I'll be there.
"I Tam-a-Line, on milk-white steed,
140 A gowd star on my crown;
Because I was an earthly knicht,
Got that for a renown.
"And out at my steed's right nostril,
He'll breathe a fiery flame;
145 Ye'll loot you low, and sain yoursel,
And ye'll be busy then.
"Ye'll tak' my horse then by the head,
And lat the bridal fa';
The Queen o' Elfin she'll cry out,
150 'True Tam-a-Line's awa'.
"Then I'll appear into your arms
Like the wolf that ne'er wad tame;
Ye'll haud me fast, lat me not gae,
Case we ne'er meet again.
155 "Then I'll appear into your arms
Like fire that burns sae bauld;
Ye'll haud me fast, lat me not gae,
I'll be as iron cauld.
"Then I'll appear into your arms
160 Like the adder an' the snake;
[Pg 264] Ye'll haud me fast, lat me not gae,
I am your warld's maike.
"Then I'll appear into your arms
Like to the deer sae wild;
165 Ye'll haud me fast, lat me not gae,
And I'll father your child.
"And I'll appear into your arms
Like to a silken string;
Ye'll haud me fast, lat me not gae,
170 Till ye see the fair mornin'.
"And I'll appear into your arms
Like to a naked man;
Ye'll haud me fast, lat me not gae,
And wi' you I'll gae hame."
175 Then she has done her to Miles-cross,
Between twal hours an' ane;
And filled her hands o' holie water,
And kiest her compass roun'.
The first ane court that came her till,
180 Was published king and queen;
The niest ane court that came her till,
Was maidens mony ane.
The niest ane court that came her till,
Was footmen, grooms, and squires;
185 The niest ane court that came her till,
Was knichts; and he was there!
True Tam-a-Line, on milk-white steed,
A gowd star on his crown;
Because he was an earthly man,[Pg 265]
190 Got that for a renown.
And out at the steed's right nostril,
He breath'd a fiery flame;
She loots her low, an' sains hersel,
And she was busy then.
195 She's taen the horse then by the head,
And loot the bridle fa';
The Queen o' Elfin she cried out,—
"True Tam-a-Line's awa'."
"Stay still, true Tam-a-Line," she says,
200 "Till I pay you your fee;"
"His father wants not lands nor rents,
He'll ask nae fee frae thee."
"Gin I had kent yestreen, yestreen,
What I ken weel the day,
205 I shou'd hae taen your fu' fause heart,
Gien you a heart o' clay."
Then he appeared into her arms
Like the wolf that ne'er wad tame;
She held him fast, lat him not gae,
210 Case they ne'er met again.
Then he appeared into her arms
Like the fire burning bauld;
She held him fast, lat him not gae,
He was as iron cauld.
215 And he appeared into her arms
Like the adder an' the snake;
She held him fast, lat him not gae,[Pg 266]
He was her warld's maike.
And he appeared into her arms
220 Like to the deer sae wild;
She held him fast, lat him not gae,
He's father o' her child.
And he appeared into her arms
Like to a silken string;
225 She held him fast, lat him not gae,
Till she saw fair mornin'.
And he appeared into her arms
Like to a naked man;
She held him fast, lat him not gae,
230 And wi' her he's gane hame.
These news hae reach'd thro' a' Scotland,
And far ayont the Tay,
That ladye Margaret, our king's dochter,
That nicht had gain'd her prey.
235 She borrowed her love at mirk midnicht,
Bare her young son ere day;
And though ye'd search the warld wide,
Ye'll nae find sic a may.

[Pg 267]


(See p. 114.)

This fragment was taken down from the recitation
of an old woman. Maidment's New Book of Old Ballads, p. 54.

O all you ladies young and gay,
Who are so sweet and fair,
Do not go into Chaster's wood,
For Tomlinn will be there.

*    *    *    *    *

5 Fair Margaret sat in her bonny bower,
Sewing her silken seam,
And wished to be in Chaster's wood,
Among the leaves so green.
She let the seam fall to her foot,
10 The needle to her toe,
And she has gone to Chaster's wood,
As fast as she could go.
When she began to pull the flowers;[Pg 268]
She pull'd both red and green;
15 Then by did come, and by did go,
Said, "Fair maid, let abene!
"O why pluck you the flowers, lady,
Or why climb you the tree?
Or why come ye to Chaster's wood,
20 Without the leave of me?"
"O I will pull the flowers," she said,
"Or I will break the tree;
For Chaster's wood it is my own,
I'll ask no leave at thee."
25 He took her by the milk-white hand,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
And laid her down upon the flowers,
At her he ask'd no leave.
The lady blush'd and sourly frown'd,
30 And she did think great shame;
Says, "If you are a gentleman,
You will tell me your name."
"First they call me Jack," he said,
"And then they call'd me John;
35 But since I liv'd in the Fairy court,
Tomlinn has always been my name.
"So do not pluck that flower, lady,
That has these pimples gray;
They would destroy the bonny babe
40 That we've gotten in our play."
"O tell to me, Tomlinn," she said,[Pg 269]
"And tell it to me soon;
Was you ever at a good church door,
Or got you christendom?"
45 "O I have been at good church door,
And oft her yetts within;
I was the Laird of Foulis's son,
The heir of all his land.
"But it fell once upon a day,
50 As hunting I did ride,
As I rode east and west yon hill,
Then woe did me betide.
"O drowsy, drowsy as I was,
Dead sleep upon me fell;
55 The Queen of Fairies she was there,
And took me to hersel.
"The morn at even is Hallowe'en,
Our Fairy court will ride,
Through England and through Scotland both,
60 Through all the world wide;
And if that ye would me borrow,
At Rides Cross ye may bide.
"You may go into the Miles Moss,
Between twelve hours and one;
65 Take holy water in your hand,
And cast a compass round.
"The first court that comes along,
You'll let them all pass by;
The next court that comes along,[Pg 270]
70 Salute them reverently.
"The next court that comes along,
Is clad in robes of green;
And it's the head court of them all,
For in it rides the Queen.
75 "And I upon a milk-white steed,
With a gold star in my crown;
Because I am an earthly man,
I'm next the Queen in renown.
"Then seize upon me with a spring,
80 Then to the ground I'll fa';
And then you'll hear a rueful cry,
That Tomlinn is awa'.
"Then I'll grow in your arms two,
Like to a savage wild;
85 But hold me fast, let me not go,
I'm father of your child.
"I'll grow into your arms two
Like an adder, or a snake;
But hold me fast, let me not go,
90 I'll be your earthly maik.
"I'll grow into your arms two
Like ice on frozen lake;
But hold me fast, let me not go,
Or from your goupen break.
95 "I'll grow into your arms two,[Pg 271]
Like iron in strong fire;
But hold me fast, let me not go,
Then you'll have your desire."
And its next night into Miles Moss,
100 Fair Margaret has gone;
When lo she stands beside Rides Cross,
Between twelve hours and one.
There's holy water in her hand,
She casts a compass round;
105 And presently a Fairy band
Comes riding o'er the mound.

This seems to be the most appropriate connection for a short fragment from Maidment's North Countrie Garland, (p. 21.) It was taken down from the recitation of a lady who had heard it sung in her childhood.


Burd Ellen sits in the bower windowe,
With a double laddy double, and for the double dow,
Twisting the red silk and the blue,
With the double rose and the May-hay.
5 And whiles she twisted, and whiles she twan,[Pg 272]
With a double, &c.
And whiles the tears fell down amang,
With the double, &c.
10 Till once there by cam young Tamlane,
With a double, &c.
"Come light, oh light, and rock your young son!"
With the double, &c.
"If you winna rock him, you may let him rair,
With a double, &c.
15 For I hae rockit my share and mair."
With the double, &c.

Young Tamlane to the seas he's gane,
With a double laddy double, and for the double dow,
And a' women's curse in his company's gane,
20 With the double rose and the May-hay.

[Pg 273]


(See p. 126.)

In the manuscript from which these verses are taken, they form the preface to a long strain of incomprehensible prophecies of the same description as those which are appended to Thomas of Ersyldoune. Whether the two portions belong together, or not, (and it will be seen that they are ill enough joined,) the first alone requires to be cited here for the purpose of comparison with the Wee Wee Man. The whole piece has been twice printed, first by Finlay, in his Scottish Ballads, (ii. 163,) and afterwards, by a person who was not aware that he had been anticipated, in the Retrospective Review, Second Series, vol. ii. p. 326. Both texts are in places nearly unintelligible, and are evidently full of errors, part of which we must ascribe to the incompetency of the editors. Finlay's is here adopted as on the whole the best, but it has received a few corrections from the other, and one or two conjectural emendations.

Als y yod on ay Mounday
Bytwene Wyltinden and Wall,
The ane after brade way,
Ay litel man y mette with alle,
5 The leste yat ever y, sathe to say,
Oither in bowr, oither in halle;
His robe was noither grene na gray,
Bot alle yt was of riche palle.
[Pg 274] On me he cald, and bad me bide;
10 Well stille y stode ay litel space;
Fra Lanchestre the parke syde
Yeen he come, wel fair his pase.
He hailsed me with mikel pride;
Ic haved wel mykel ferly wat he was;
15 I saide,—"Wel mote the betyde,
That litel man with large face."
I beheld that litel man
Bi the strete als we gon gae;
His berd was syde ay large span,
20 And glided als the fether of pae;
His heved was wyte als ony swan,
His hegehen was gret and grai als so;
Brues lange, wel I the can
Merk it to fize inches and mae.
25 Armes scort, for sothe I saye,
Ay span seemed thaem to bee:
Handes brade vytouten nay,
And fingeres lange, he scheued me.
Ay stane he tok op thar it lay,
30 And castit forth that I moth see;
Ay merk-soot of large way
Bifore me strides he castit three.
Wel stille I stod als did the stane,
To loke him on thouth me nouth lang;
35 His robe was alle gold begane,
Wel craftelike maked, I understande;
[Pg 275] Botones asurd, everlk ane,
Fra his elbouthe ontil his hande;
Erdelik man was he nane;
40 That in myn hert ich onderstande.
Til him I sayde ful sone on ane,
For forthirmar I wald him fraine,
"Gladli wald I wit thi name,
And I wist wat me mouthe gaine;
45 Thou ert so litel of fleshe and bane,
And so mikel of mith and mayne,
War vones thou, litel man, at hame?
Wit of thee I wald ful faine."
"Thoth I be litel and lith,
50 Am y noth wytouten wane;
Ferli frained thou wat hi hith,
That thou salt noth wit my name;
My wonige stede ful wel es dyght,
Nou sone thou salt se at hame."
55 Til him I sayde, "For Godes mith,
Let me forth myn erand gane."
"The thar noth of thin erand lette,
Thouth thou come ay stonde wit me,
Forther salt thou noth bi sette,
60 Bi miles twa noyther bi three."
Na linger durst I for him lette,
But forth y funded wyt that free;
Stintid vs brok no beck;
Ferlich me thouth hu so mouth bee.
65 [Pg 276] He vent forth, als y you say,
In at ay yate, y vnderstande;
In til ay yate wvndouten nay;
It to se thouth me nouth lang.
The bankers on the binkes lay,
70 And fair lordes sett y fonde;
In ilka ay hirn y herd ay lay,
And leuedys soth meloude sange.

[Here there seems to be a break, and a new start made, with a tale told not on a Monday, but on a Wednesday.]

Lithe, bothe zonge and alde:
Of ay worde y will you saye,
Ay litel tale that me was tald
Erli on ay Wedenesdaye.
A mody barn, that was ful bald,
My friend that y frained aye,
Al my gesing he me tald,
And galid me als we went bi waye.
"Miri man, that es so wyth,
Of ay thing gif me answere:
For him that mensked man wyt mith,
Wat sal worth of this were?" &c.

Finlay, 36, crustlike.

39, Clidelik.

43, Glalli wild.

52, That, qy. Yat?; with.

53, dygh.

68, south.

[Pg 277]


(See p. 128.)

"The following transcript is a literal copy from the original in the Pepysian library, Cambridge." Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. i.

"A Proper New Ballad, entituled, The Wind hath blown my Plaid away, or, A Discourse betwixt a young Maid and the Elphin-Knight; To be sung with its own pleasant New Tune."

The Elphin Knight site on yon hill,
Ba, ba, ba, lilli ba,
He blowes his horn both loud and shril,
The wind hath blown my plaid awa.
5 He blowes it East, he blowes it West,
Ba, ba, &c.
He blowes it where he lyketh best.
The wind, &c.
"I wish that horn were in my kist,
10 Ba, ba, &c.
Yea, and the knight in my armes two."
The wind, &c.
She had no sooner these words said,[Pg 278]
Ba, ba, &c.
15 When that the knight came to her bed.
The wind, &c.
"Thou art over young a maid," quoth he,
Ba, ba, &c.
"Married with me thou il wouldst be."
20 The wind, &c.
"I have a sister younger than I,
Ba, ba, &c.
And she was married yesterday."
The wind, &c.
25 "Married with me if thou wouldst be,
Ba, ba, &c.
A courtesie thou must do to me.
The wind, &c.
"For thou must shape a sark to me,
30 Ba, ba, &c.
Without any cut or heme," quoth he. The wind, &c.
"Thou must shape it needle- and sheerlesse,
Ba, ba, &c.
35 And also sue it needle-threedlesse."
The wind, &c.
"If that piece of courtesie I do to thee,
Ba, ba, &c.
Another thou must do to me.
40 The wind, &c.
[Pg 279] "I have an aiker of good ley-land,
Ba, ba, &c.
Which lyeth low by yon sea-strand.
The wind, &c.
45 "For thou must cure it with thy horn,
Ba, ba, &c.
So thou must sow it with thy corn.
The wind, &c.
"And bigg a cart of stone and lyme,
50 Ba, ba, &c.
Robin Redbreast he must trail it hame.
The wind, &c.
"Thou must barn it in a mouse-holl,
Ba, ba, &c.
55 And thrash it into thy shoes' soll.
The wind, &c.
"And thou must winnow it in thy looff,
Ba, ba, &c.
And also seck it in thy glove.
60 The wind, &c.
"For thou must bring it over the sea,
Ba, ba, &c.
And thou must bring it dry home to me.
The wind, &c.
65 "When thou hast gotten thy turns well done,
Ba, ba, &c.
Then come to me and get thy sark then.
The wind, &c."
[Pg 280] "I'l not quite my plaid for my life,
70 Ba, ba, &c.
It haps my seven bairns and my wife.
The wind shall not blow my plaid awa."
"My maidenhead I'l then keep still,
Ba, ba, &c.
75 Let the Elphin Knight do what he will.
The wind's not blown my plaid awa."
"My plaid awa, my plaid awa,
And o'er the hill and far awa,
And far awa, to Norrowa,
My plaid shall not be blown awa."

[Pg 281]


See p. 137.

"A song above 500 years old, made by the old mountain-bard, Duncan Frasier, living on Cheviot, A.D. 1270."

This ballad, first published in Hutchinson's History of Northumberland, was the composition of Mr. Robert Lambe, vicar of Norham. Several stanzas are, however, adopted from some ancient tale. It has been often printed, and is now taken from Ritson's Northumberland Garland.

The similar story of The Worme of Lambton, versified by the Rev. J. Watson (compare Ormekampen and the cognate legends, Grundtvig, i. 343, also vol. viii. p. 128, of this collection), may be seen in Richardson's Borderer's Table-Book, viii. 129, or in Moore's Pictorial Book of Ancient Ballad Poetry, page 784. With the tale of the Lambton Worm of Durham agrees in many particulars that of the Worm of Linton in Roxburghshire. (See Scott's introduction to Kempion, and Sir C. Sharpe's Bishopric Garland, p. 21.) It is highly probable that the mere coincidence of sound with Linden-Worm caused this last place to be selected as the scene of such a story.

The king is gone from Bambrough Castle,
Long may the princess mourn;
Long may she stand on the castle wall,
Looking for his return.
[Pg 282] 5 She has knotted the keys upon a string,
And with her she has them ta'en,
She has cast them o'er her left shoulder,
And to the gate she is gane.
She tripped out, she tripped in,
10 She tript into the yard;
But it was more for the king's sake,
Than for the queen's regard.
It fell out on a day, the king
Brought the queen with him home;
15 And all the lords in our country
To welcome them did come.
"O welcome father!" the lady cries,
"Unto your halls and bowers;
And so are you, my step-mother,
20 For all that's here is yours."
A lord said, wondering while she spake, [98]
"This princess of the North
Surpasses all of female kind
In beauty, and in worth."
25 The envious queen replied, "At least,
You might have excepted me;
In a few hours, I will her bring
Down to a low degree.
"I will her liken to a laidley worm,
30 That warps about the stone,
And not till Childy Wynd comes back,[Pg 283]
Shall she again be won."
The princess stood at the bower door
Laughing, who could her blame?
35 But e'er the next day's sun went down,
A long worm she became.
For seven miles east, and seven miles west,
And seven miles north, and south,
No blade of grass or corn could grow,
40 So venomous was her mouth.
The milk of seven stately cows
(It was costly her to keep)
Was brought her daily, which she drank
Before she went to sleep.
45 At this day may be seen the cave
Which held her folded up,
And the stone trough, the very same
Out of which she did sup.
Word went east, and word went west,
50 And word is gone over the sea,
That a laidley worm in Spindleston-Heughs
Would ruin the North Country.
Word went east, and word went west,
And over the sea did go;
55 The Child of Wynd got wit of it,
Which filled his heart with woe.
He called straight his merry men all,[Pg 284]
They thirty were and three:
"I wish I were at Spindleston,
60 This desperate worm to see.
"We have no time now here to waste,
Hence quickly let us sail:
My only sister Margaret,
Something, I fear, doth ail."
65 They built a ship without delay,
With masts of the rown tree,
With flutring sails of silk so fine,
And set her on the sea.
They went on board; the wind with speed,
70 Blew them along the deep;
At length they spied an huge square tower
On a rock high and steep.
The sea was smooth, the weather clear;
When they approached nigher,
75 King Ida's castle they well knew,
And the banks of Bambroughshire.
The queen look'd out at her bower window,
To see what she could see;
There she espied a gallant ship
80 Sailing upon the sea.
When she beheld the silken sails,
Full glancing in the sun,
To sink the ship she sent away
Her witch wives every one.
85 The spells were vain; the hags returned[Pg 285]
To the queen in sorrowful mood,
Crying that witches have no power
Where there is rown-tree wood.
Her last effort, she sent a boat,
90 Which in the haven lay,
With armed men to board the ship,
But they were driven away.
The worm lept out, the worm lept down,
She plaited round the stone;
95 And ay as the ship came to the land
She banged it off again.
The Child then ran out of her reach
The ship on Budley-sand,
And jumping into the shallow sea,
100 Securely got to land.
And now he drew his berry-brown sword,
And laid it on her head;
And swore, if she did harm to him,
That he would strike her dead.
105 "O quit thy sword, and bend thy bow,
And give me kisses three;
For though I am a poisonous worm,
No hurt I'll do to thee.
"O quit thy sword, and bend thy bow,
110 And give me kisses three;
If I'm not won e'er the sun go down,
Won I shall never be."
He quitted his sword, and bent his bow,[Pg 286]
He gave her kisses three;
115 She crept into a hole a worm,
But out stept a lady.
No clothing had this lady fine,
To keep her from the cold;
He took his mantle from him about,
120 And round her did it fold.
He has taken his mantle from him about,
And in it he wrapt her in,
And they are up to Bambrough castle,
As fast as they can win.
125 His absence, and her serpent shape,
The king had long deplored;
He now rejoyced to see them both
Again to him restored.
The queen they wanted, whom they found
130 All pale, and sore afraid,
Because she knew her power must yield
To Childy Wynd's, who said,
"Woe be to thee, thou wicked witch;
An ill death mayest thou dee;
135 As thou my sister hast lik'ned,
So lik'ned shalt thou be.
"I will turn you into a toad,
That on the ground doth wend;
And won, won shalt thou never be,
140 Till this world hath an end."
[Pg 287] Now on the sand near Ida's tower,
She crawls a loathsome toad,
And venom spits on every maid
She meets upon her road.
145 The virgins all of Bambrough town
Will swear that they have seen
This spiteful toad, of monstrous size,
Whilst walking they have been.
All folks believe within the shire
150 This story to be true,
And they all run to Spindleston,
The cave and trough to view.
This fact now Duncan Frasier,
Of Cheviot, sings in rhime,
155 Lest Bambroughshire men should forget
Some part of it in time.

v. 21-28. Compare Young Waters, (iii. 90,) v. 21-28, and Young Beichan and Susie Pye, (iv. 7,) v. 118-124.

v. 31. Childy Wynd is obviously a corruption of Child Owain.

83, went.

101, berry-broad.

[Pg 288]


(See p. 152.)

From Buchan's Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland. (i. 204.)

We were sisters, sisters seven,
Bowing down, bowing down;
The fairest women under heaven.
And aye the birks a-bowing.
They kiest kevels them amang,
Wha wou'd to the grenewood gang.
5 The kevels they gied thro' the ha',
And on the youngest it did fa'.
Now she must to the grenewood gang,
To pu' the nuts in grenewood hang.
She hadna tarried an hour but ane,
10 Till she met wi' a highlan' groom.
He keeped her sae late and lang,
Till the evening set, and birds they sang.
He ga'e to her at their parting,
A chain o' gold, and gay gold ring:
15 [Pg 289] And three locks o' his yellow hair:
Bade her keep them for evermair.
When six lang months were come and gane,
A courtier to this lady came.
Lord Dingwall courted this lady gay,
20 And so he set their wedding-day.
A little boy to the ha' was sent,
To bring her horse was his intent.
As she was riding the way along,
She began to make a heavy moan.
25 "What ails you, lady," the boy said,
"That ye seem sae dissatisfied?
"Are the bridle reins for you too strong?
Or the stirrups for you too long?"
"But, little boy, will ye tell me,
30 The fashions that are in your countrie?"
"The fashions in our ha' I'll tell,
And o' them a' I'll warn you well.
"When ye come in upon the floor,
His mither will meet you wi' a golden chair.
35 "But be ye maid, or be ye nane,
Unto the high seat make ye boun.
"Lord Dingwall aft has been beguil'd,
By girls whom young men hae defiled.
"He's cutted the paps frae their breast bane,[Pg 290]
40 And sent them back to their ain hame."
When she came in upon the floor,
His mother met her wi' a golden chair.
But to the high seat she made her boun':
She knew that maiden she was nane.
45 When night was come, they went to bed,
And ower her breast his arm he laid.
He quickly jumped upon the floor,
And said, "I've got a vile rank whore."
Unto his mother he made his moan,
50 Says, "Mother dear, I am undone.
"Ye've aft tald, when I brought them hame,
Whether they were maid or nane.
"I thought I'd gotten a maiden bright,
I've gotten but a waefu' wight.
55 "I thought I'd gotten a maiden clear,
But gotten but a vile rank whore."
"When she came in upon the floor,
I met her wi' a golden chair.
"But to the high seat she made her boun',
60 Because a maiden she was nane."
"I wonder wha's tauld that gay ladie,
The fashion into our countrie."
"It is your little boy I blame,[Pg 291]
Whom ye did send to bring her hame."
65 Then to the lady she did go,
And said, "O Lady, let me know
"Who has defiled your fair bodie?
Ye're the first that has beguiled me."
"O we were sisters, sisters seven,
70 The fairest women under heaven;
"And we kiest kevels us amang,
Wha wou'd to the grenewood gang;
"For to pu' the finest flowers,
To put around our summer bowers.
75 "I was the youngest o' them a',
The hardest fortune did me befa'.
"Unto the grenewood I did gang,
And pu'd the nuts as they down hang.
"I hadna stay'd an hour but ane,
80 Till I met wi' a highlan' groom.
"He keeped me sae late and lang,
Till the evening set, and birds they sang.
"He gae to me at our parting,
A chain of gold, and gay gold ring:
85 "And three locks o' his yellow hair:[Pg 292]
Bade me keep them for evermair.
"Then for to show I make nae lie,
Look ye my trunk, and ye will see."
Unto the trunk then she did go,
90 To see if that were true or no.
And aye she sought, and aye she flang,
Till these four things came to her hand.
Then she did to her ain son go,
And said, "My son, ye'll let me know.
95 "Ye will tell to me this thing:—
What did yo wi' my wedding-ring?"
"Mother dear, I'll tell nae lie:
I gave it to a gay ladie.
"I would gie a' my ha's and towers,
100 I had this bird within my bowers."
"Keep well, keep well, your lands and strands,
Ye hae that bird within your hands.
"Now, my son, to your bower ye'll go:
Comfort your ladie, she's full o' woe."
105 Now when nine months were come and gane,
The lady she brought hame a son.
It was written on his breast-bane,[Pg 293]
Lord Dingwall was his father's name.
He's ta'en his young son in his arms,
110 And aye he prais'd his lovely charms.
And he has gi'em him kisses three,
And doubled them ower to his ladie.

[Pg 294]


(See p. 179.)

From Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 228.

May Marg'ret stood in her bouer door,
Kaiming doun her yellow hair;
She spied some nuts growin in the wud,
And wish'd that she was there.
5 She has plaited her yellow locks
A little abune her bree;
And she has kilted her petticoats
A little below her knee;
And she's aff to Mulberry wud,
10 As fast as she could gae.
She had na pu'd a nut, a nut,
A nut but barely ane,
Till up started the Hynde Etin,
Says, "Lady! let thae alane."
15 "Mulberry wuds are a' my ain;
My father gied them me,
To sport and play when I thought lang;
And they sall na be tane by thee."
And ae she pu'd the tither berrie,[Pg 295]
20 Na thinking o' the skaith;
And said, "To wrang ye, Hynde Etin,
I wad be unco laith."
But he has tane her by the yellow locks,
And tied her till a tree,
25 And said, "For slichting my commands,
An ill death shall ye dree."
He pu'd a tree out o' the wud,
The biggest that was there;
And he howkit a cave monie fathoms deep,
30 And put May Marg'ret there.
"Now rest ye there, ye saucie may;
My wuds are free for thee;
And gif I tak ye to mysell,
The better ye'll like me."
35 Na rest, na rest May Marg'ret took,
Sleep she got never nane;
Her back lay on the cauld, cauld floor,
Her head upon a stane.
"O tak me out," May Marg'ret cried,
40 "O tak me hame to thee;
And I sall be your bounden page
Until the day I dee."
He took her out o' the dungeon deep,
And awa wi' him she's gane;
45 But sad was the day an earl's dochter
Gaed hame wi' Hynde Etin.

[Pg 296]

It fell out ance upon a day,
Hynde Etin's to the hunting gane;
And he has tane wi' him his eldest son,
50 For to carry his game.
"O I wad ask you something, father,
An ye wadna angry be;"—
"Ask on, ask on, my eldest son,
Ask onie thing at me."
55 "My mother's cheeks are aft times weet,
Alas! they are seldom dry;"—
"Na wonder, na wonder, my eldest son,
Tho' she should brast and die.
"For your mother was an earl's dochter,
60 Of noble birth and fame;
And now she's wife o' Hynde Etin,
Wha ne'er got christendame.
"But we'll shoot the laverock in the lift,
The buntlin on the tree;
65 And ye'll tak them hame to your mother,
And see if she'll comforted be."

"I wad ask ye something, mother,
An' ye wadna angry be;"—
"Ask on, ask on, my eldest son,
70 Ask onie thing at me."
"Your cheeks they are aft times weet,[Pg 297]
Alas! they're seldom dry;"—
"Na wonder, na wonder, my eldest son,
Tho' I should brast and die.
75 "For I was ance an earl's dochter,
Of noble birth and fame;
And now I am the wife of Hynde Etin,
Wha ne'er got christendame."

[Pg 298]


(See p. 192.)

This is a translation by Jamieson (Popular Ballads and Songs, i. 219), of the Danish Elveskud (Abrahamson, i. 237). Lewis has given a version of the same in the Tales of Wonder, (No. 10.) The corresponding Swedish ballad, The Elf-Woman and Sir Olof (Afzelius, iii. 165) is translated by Keightley, Fairy Mythology, p. 84. This ballad occurs also in Norse, Faroish, and Icelandic.

Of the same class are Elfer Hill, (from the Danish, Jamieson, i. 225; from the Swedish, Keightley, 86; through the German, Tales of Wonder, No. 6:) Sir Olof in the Elve-Dance, (Keightley, 82; Literature and Romance of Northern Europe, by William and Mary Howitt, i. 269:) The Merman and Marstig's Daughter, (from the Danish, Jamieson, i. 210; Tales of Wonder, No. 11:) the Breton tale of Lord Nann and the Korrigan, (Keightley, 433:) three Slavic ballads referred to by Grundtvig, (Elveskud, ii. 111:) Sir Peter of Stauffenbergh and the Mermaid, (from the German, Jamieson, Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, 257,) and the well-known Fischer of Goethe.

[Pg 299] Sir Oluf the hend has ridden sae wide,
All unto his bridal feast to bid.
And lightly the elves, sae feat and free,
They dance all under the greenwood tree!
5 And there danced four, and there danced five;
The Elf-King's daughter she reekit bilive.
Her hand to Sir Oluf sae fair and free:
"O welcome, Sir Oluf, come dance wi' me!
"O welcome, Sir Oluf! now lat thy love gae,
10 And tread wi' me in the dance sae gay."
"To dance wi' thee ne dare I, ne may;
The morn it is my bridal day."
"O come, Sir Oluf, and dance wi' me;
Twa buckskin boots I'll give to thee;
15 "Twa buckskin boots, that sit sae fair,
Wi' gilded spurs sae rich and rare.
"And hear ye, Sir Oluf! come dance wi' me;
And a silken sark I'll give to thee;
"A silken sark sae white and fine,
20 That my mother bleached in the moonshine."
"I darena, I maunna come dance wi' thee;[Pg 300]
For the morn my bridal day maun be."
"O hear ye, Sir Oluf! come dance wi' me,
And a helmet o' goud I'll give to thee."
25 "A helmet o' goud I well may ha'e;
But dance wi' thee ne dare I, ne may."
"And winna thou dance, Sir Oluf, wi' me?
Then sickness and pain shall follow thee!"
She's smitten Sir Oluf—it strak to his heart;
30 He never before had kent sic a smart;
Then lifted him up on his ambler red;
"And now, Sir Oluf, ride hame to thy bride."
And whan he came till the castell yett,
His mither she stood and leant thereat.
35 "O hear ye, Sir Oluf, my ain dear son,
Whareto is your lire sae blae and wan?"
"O well may my lire be wan and blae,
For I ha'e been in the elf-womens' play."
"O hear ye, Sir Oluf, my son, my pride,
40 And what shall I say to thy young bride?"
"Ye'll say, that I've ridden but into the wood,
To prieve gin my horse and hounds are good."
Ear on the morn, whan night was gane,[Pg 301]
The bride she cam wi' the bridal train.
45 They skinked the mead, and they skinked the wine:
"O whare is Sir Oluf, bridegroom mine?"
"Sir Oluf has ridden but into the wood,
To prieve gin his horse and hounds are good."
And she took up the scarlet red,
50 And there lay Sir Oluf, and he was dead!
Ear on the morn, whan it was day,
Three likes were ta'en frae the castle away;
Sir Oluf the leal, and his bride sae fair,
And his mither, that died wi' sorrow and care.
55 And lightly the elves sae feat and free,
They dance all under the greenwood tree!

[Pg 302]


(See p. 201.)

(Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 92.)

"I have seven ships upon the sea,
Laden with the finest gold,
And mariners to wait us upon;—
All these you may behold.
5 "And I have shoes for my love's feet,
Beaten of the purest gold,
And lined wi' the velvet soft,
To keep my love's feet from the cold.
"O how do you love the ship," he said,
10 "Or how do you love the sea?
And how do you love the bold mariners
That wait upon thee and me?"
"O I do love the ship," she said,
"And I do love the sea;
15 But woe be to the dim mariners,
That nowhere I can see."
They had not sailed a mile awa',
Never a mile but one,
When she began to weep and mourn,
20 And to think on her little wee son.
"O hold your tongue, my dear," he said,[Pg 303]
"And let all your weeping abee,
For I'll soon show to you how the lilies grow
On the banks of Italy."
25 They had not sailed a mile awa',
Never a mile but two,
Until she espied his cloven foot,
From his gay robes sticking thro'.
They had not sailed a mile awa',
30 Never a mile but three,
When dark, dark, grew his eerie looks,
And raging grew the sea.
They had not sailed a mile awa',
Never a mile but four,
35 When the little wee ship ran round about,
And never was seen more!

[Pg 304]


See p. 217.

We are indebted for the following recension of Constantine and Areté to Mr. Sophocles of Harvard College. It is constructed from Fauriel's text, combined with a copy in Zambelios's Ἄισματα Δημοτικά, and with a version taken down from the recitation of a Cretan woman. The translation is by the skilful hand of Professor Felton.

We may notice by the way that several versions of this piece are given by Tommaseo, in his Canti Popolari Toscani, etc. iii. 341.

Μάννα μὲ τοὺς ἐννιά σου υἱοὺς καὶ μὲ τὴ μιά σου κόρη,
Τὴν κόρη τὴ μονάκριβη τὴν πολυαγαπημένη,
Τὴν εἶχες δώδεκα χρονῶν κ' ἥλιος δὲν σοῦ τὴν εἶδε,
'Σ τὰ σκοτεινὰ τὴν ἤλουγες, 'ς τ' ἄφεγγα τὴν ἐπλέκες,
5 'Σ τ' ἄστρη καὶ 'ς τὸν αὐγερινὸ τσ' ἔφκειανες τὰ σγουρα της.
Ἡ γειτονιὰ δὲν ἤξερε πῶς εἶχες θυγατέρα,
Καὶ προξενιὰ σοῦ φέρανε ἀπὸ τὴ Βαβυλώνη.
Οἱ ὀκτὼ ἀδερφοὶ δὲν θέλουνε, καὶ ὁ Κωσταντῖνος θέλει·
Δός τηνε, μάννα, δός τηνε τὴν Ἀρετὴ 'ς τὰ ξένα,
10 Νά 'χω κ' ἐγὼ παρηγοριὰ 'ς τὴ στράτα ποῦ διαβαίνω."
"Φρένιμος εἶσαι, Κωσταντῆ, μ' ἄσχημ' ἀπιλογήθης·
Ἂν τύχῃ πίκρα γὴ χαρὰ, ποιὸς θὰ μοῦ τὴνε φέρῃ;"
Τὸ θεὸ τῆς βάνει ἐγγυτὴ καὶ τοὺς ἁγιοὺς μαρτύρους,
Ἂν τύχῃ πίκρα γὴ χαρὰ νὰ πάῃ νὰ τῆς τὴν φέρῃ·
15[Pg 305] Καὶ σάν τὴν ἐπαντρέψανε τὴν Ἀρετὴ 'ς τὰ ξένα,
Ἔρχεται χρόνος δίσεφτος καὶ οἱ ἐννιὰ πεθάναν.
Ἔμεινε ἡ μάννα μοναχὴ σὰν καλαμιὰ 'ς τὸν κάμπο.
'Σ τὰ ὀχτὼ μνήματα δέρνεται, 'ς τὰ ὀχτὼ μυρολογάει,
'Σ τοῦ Κωσταντίνου τὸ θαφτιὸ ἀνέσπα τὰ μαλλιά της·
20 "Σήκου, Κωσταντινάκη μου, τὴν Ἀρετή μου θέλω·
Τὸ θεὸ μοῦ 'βάλες ἐγγυτὴ καὶ τοὺς ἁγιοὺς μαρτύρους,
Ἂν τύχῃ πίκρα γὴ χαρὰ νὰ πᾷς νὰ μοῦ τὴν φέρῃς."
Καὶ μέσα 'ς τὰ μεσάνυχτα ἀπ' τὸ κιβούρι βγαίνει.
Κάνει τὸ σύγνεφο ἄλογο, καὶ τ' ἄστρο σαλιβάρι,
25 Καὶ τὸ φεγγάρι συντροφιὰ καὶ πάει νὰ τὴνε φέρῃ.
Βρίσκει την καὶ χτενίζουνται ὄξου 'ς τὸ φεγγαράκι.
Ἀπομακριὰ τὴν χαιρετάει καὶ ἀπομακριὰ τῆς λέγει.
"Γιὰ ἔλα, Ἀρετούλα μου, κυράνα μας σὲ θέλει."
"Ἀλίμονο, ἀδερφάκι μου, καὶ τί 'νε τούτ' ἡ ὥρα!
30 Ἂν ἦν' χαρὰ 'ς τὸ σπίτι μας, νὰ βάλω τὰ χρυσά μου,
Καὶ ἂν πίκρα, ἀδερφάκι μου, νά 'ρθω ὡς καθὼς εἶμαι.""
"Μηδὲ πίκρα μηδὲ χαρὰ· ἔλα ὡς καθὼς εἶσαι."
'Σ τὴ στράτα ποῦ διαβαίνανε, 'ς τὴ στράτα ποῦ παγαῖναν,
Ἀκοῦν πουλιὰ καὶ κιλαδοῦν, ἀκοῦν πουλιὰ καὶ λένε·
35 "Γιὰ δὲς κοπέλα ὄμορφη νὰ σέρνῃ ἀπεθαμένος!"
"Ἄκουσες, Κωσταντάκη μου, τί λένε τὰ πουλάκια;"
"Πουλάκια 'νε καὶ ἂς κιλαδοῦν, πουλάκια 'νε καὶ ἂς λένε."
Καὶ παρακεῖ ποῦ πάγαιναν καὶ ἄλλα πουλιὰ τοὺς λέγαν·
"Τί βλέπουμε τὰ θλιβερὰ τὰ παραπονεμένα;
40 Νὰ περπατοῦν οἱ ζωντανοὶ μὲ τοὺς ἀπεθαμένους;"
"Ἄκουσες, Κωσταντάκη μου, τί λένε τὰ πουλάκια;"
"Πουλάκια 'νε καὶ ἂς κιλαδοῦν, πουλάκια 'νε καὶ ἂς λένε."
"Φοβοῦμαί σ' ἀδερφάκι μου, καὶ λιβανιὲς μυρίζεις."
"Ἐχτὲς βραδὺς ἐπήγαμε κάτω 'ς τὸν Ἁϊγιάννη,
45 Κ' ἐθύμιασέ μας ὁ παπᾶς μὲ τὸ πολὺ λιβάνι."
Καὶ παρεμπρὸς ποῦ πήγανε, καὶ ἄλλα πουλιὰ τοὺς λένε·;
"Ὦ θὲ μεγαλοδύναμε, μεγάλο θάμα κάνεις!
Τέτοια πανώρηα λυγερὴ νὰ σέρνῃ ἀπεθαμένος!"
Τ' ἄκουσε πάλε ἡ Ἀρετὴ κ' ἐρράγισ' ἡ καρδιά της·
50[Pg 306] "Ἄκουσες, Κωσταντάκη μου, τί λένε τὰ πουλάκια;
Πές μου ποῦ 'ν' τὰ μαλλάκια σου, τὸ πηγουρὸ μουστάκι;"
"Μεγάλη ἀρρώστια μ' εὕρηκε, μ' ἔρρηξε τοῦ θανάτου."
Βρίσκουν τὸ σπίτι κλειδωτὸ κλειδομανταλωμένο,
Καὶ τὰ σπιτοπαράθυρα ποῦ 'ταν ἀραχνιασμένα·
55 "Ἄνοιξε, μάννα μ', ἄνοιξε, καὶ νὰ τὴν Ἀρετή σου."
"Ἂν ἦσαι Χάρος, διάβαινε, καὶ ἄλλα παιδιὰ δὲν ἔχω·
Ἡ δόληα Ἀρετούλα μου λείπει μακριὰ 'ς τὰ ξένα."
"Ἄνοιξε, μάννα μ', ἄνοιξε, κ' ἐγώ' μαι ὁ Κωσταντῆς σου.
Τὸ θιὸ σοῦ 'βάλα ἐγγυτὴ καὶ τοὺς ἁγιοὺς μαρτύρους,
60 Ἂν τύχῃ πίκρα γὴ χαρὰ νὰ πάω νὰ σοῦ τὴν φέρω."
Καὶ ὥστε νὰ 'βγῇ 'ς τὴν πόρτα της, ἐβγῆκε ἡ ψυχή της.

[Pg 307]

CONSTANTINE AND ARETE (English Translation).

O mother, thou with thy nine sons, and with one only daughter,
Thine only daughter, well beloved, the dearest of thy children,
For twelve years thou didst keep the maid, the sun did not behold her,
Whom in the darkness thou didst bathe, in secret braid her tresses,
And by the starlight and the dawn, didst wind her curling ringlets,
Nor knew the neighborhood that thou didst have so fair a daughter,—
When came to thee from Babylon a woer's soft entreaty:
Eight of the brothers yielded not, but Constantine consented.
"O mother give thine Arete, bestow her on the stranger,
That I may have her solace dear when far away I wander."
"Though thou art wise, my Constantine, thou hast unwisely spoken:
Be woe my lot or be it joy, who will restore my daughter?"
[Pg 308] He calls to witness God above, he calls the holy martyrs,
Be woe her lot, or be it joy, he would restore her daughter:
And when they wedded Arete, in that far distant country,
Then comes the year of sorrowing, and all the nine did perish.
All lonely was the mother left, like a reed alone in the meadow;
O'er the eight graves she beats her breast, o'er eight is heard her wailing,
And at the tomb of Constantine, she rends her hair in anguish.
"Arise, my Constantine, arise, for Arete I languish:
On God to witness thou didst call, didst call the holy martyrs,
Be woe my lot or be it joy, thou wouldst restore my daughter."
And forth at midnight hour he fares, the silent tomb deserting,
He makes the cloud his flying steed, he makes the star his bridle,
And by the silver moon convoyed, to bring her home he journeys:
And finds her combing down her locks, abroad by silvery moonlight,
And greets the maiden from afar, and from afar bespeaks her.
"Arise, my Aretula dear, for thee our mother longeth."
"Alas! my brother, what is this? what wouldst at such an hour?
[Pg 309] If joy betide our distant home, I wear my golden raiment,
If woe betide, dear brother mine, I go as now I'm standing."
"Think not of joy, think not of woe—return as here thou standest."
And while they journey on the way, all on the way returning,
They hear the Birds, and what they sing, and what the Birds are saying.
"Ho! see the maiden all so fair, a Ghost it is that bears her."
"Didst hear the Birds, my Constantine, didst list to what they're saying?"
"Yes: they are Birds, and let them sing, they're Birds, and let them chatter:"
And yonder, as they journey on, still other Birds salute them.
"What do we see, unhappy ones, ah! woe is fallen on us;—
Lo! there the living sweep along, and with the dead they travel."
"Didst hear, my brother Constantine, what yonder Birds are saying?"
"Yes! Birds are they, and let them sing, they're Birds, and let them chatter."
"I fear for thee, my Brother dear, for thou dost breathe of incense."
"Last evening late we visited the church of Saint Johannes,
And there the priest perfumed me o'er with clouds of fragrant incense."
And onward as they hold their way, still other Birds bespeak them:
[Pg 310] "O God, how wondrous is thy power, what miracles thou workest!
A maid so gracious and so fair, a Ghost it is that bears her:"
'Twas heard again by Arete, and now her heart was breaking;
"Didst hearken, brother Constantine, to what the Birds are saying?
Say where are now thy waving locks, thy strong thick beard, where is it?"
"A sickness sore has me befallen, and brought me near to dying."
They find the house all locked and barred, they find it barred and bolted,
And all the windows of the house with cobwebs covered over.
"Unlock, O mother mine, unlock, thine Arete thou seest."
"If thou art Charon, get thee gone—I have no other children:
My hapless Arete afar, in stranger lands is dwelling."
"Unlock, O mother mine, unlock, thy Constantine entreats thee.
I called to witness God above, I called the holy martyrs,
Were woe thy lot, or were it joy, I would restore thy daughter."
And when unto the door she came, her soul from her departed.

[Pg 311]


Ritson's Ancient Songs, ii. 44.

A Mery Ballet of the Hathorne Tre, from a MS. in the Cotton Library, Vespasian, A. xxv. The MS. has "G. Peele" appended to it, but in a hand more modern than the ballad. Mr. Dyce, with very good reason, "doubts" whether Peele is the author of the ballad, but has printed it, Peele's Works, ii. 256. It is given also by Evans, i. 342, and partly in Chappell's Popular Music, i. 64.

The true character of this piece would never be suspected by one reading it in English. The same is true of the German, where the ballad is very common, and much prettier than in English, e.g. Das Mädchen und die Hasel, Das Mädchen und der Sagebaum, Erk's Liederhort, No. 33, five copies; Hoffmann, Schlesische Volkslieder, No. 100, three copies, etc. In Danish and Swedish we find a circumstantial story: Jomfruen i Linden, Grundtvig, No. 66; Linden, Svenska Folkvisor, No. 87. The tree is an enchanted damsel, one of eleven children transformed by a step-mother into various less troublesome things, and the spell can be removed only by a kiss from the king's son. By the intervention of the maiden, this rite is performed, and the beautiful linden is changed to as beautiful a young woman, who of course becomes the [Pg 312]prince's bride. A Wendish ballad resembling the German is given by Haupt and Schmaler, and ballads akin to the Danish, are found in Slovensk and Lithuanian (see Grundtvig).

It was a maide of my countrè,
As she came by a hathorne-tre,
As full of flowers as might be seen,
'She' merveld to se the tree so grene.
5 At last she asked of this tre,
"Howe came this freshness unto the,
And every branche so faire and cleane?
I mervaile that you growe so grene."
The tre 'made' answere by and by:
10 "I have good causse to growe triumphantly;
The swetest dewe that ever be sene
Doth fall on me to kepe me grene."
"Yea," quoth the maid, "but where you growe,
You stande at hande for every blowe;
15 Of every man for to be seen;
I mervaile that you growe so grene."
"Though many one take flowers from me,
And manye a branche out of my tre,
I have suche store they wyll not be sene,
20 For more and more my 'twegges' growe grene."
"But howe and they chaunce to cut the downe,[Pg 313]
And carry thie braunches into the towne?
Then will they never no more be sene
To growe againe so freshe and grene."
25 "Though that you do, yt ys no boote;
Althoughe they cut me to the roote,
Next yere againe I will be sene
To bude my branches freshe and grene.
"And you, faire maide, canne not do so;
30 For yf you let youre maid-hode goe,
Then will yt never no more be sene,
As I with my braunches can growe grene."
The maide wyth that beganne to blushe,
And turned her from the hathorne-bushe;
35 She though[t]e herselffe so faire and clene,
Her bewtie styll would ever growe grene.
Whan that she harde this marvelous dowbte,
She wandered styll then all aboute,
Suspecting still what she would wene,
40 Her maid-heade lost would never be seen.
Wyth many a sighe, she went her waye,
To se howe she made herselff so gay,
To walke, to se, and to be sene,
And so out-faced the hathorne grene.
45 Besides all that, yt put her in feare[Pg 314]
To talke with companye anye where,
For feare to losse the thinge that shuld be sene
To growe as were the hathorne grene.
But after this never could I here
50 Of this faire mayden any where,
That ever she was in forest sene
To talke againe of the hathorne grene.

20. twedges.

[Pg 315]


Ritson's Ancient Songs, i. 141, Sandys's Christmas Carols,
p. 4: from the Sloane MS., No. 2593 (temp. Hen. VI.)

This curious little ballad was sung as a carol for St. Stephen's Day. Its counterpart is found in Danish (though not in an ancient form), printed in Erik Pontoppidan's book on the relics of Heathenism and Papistry in Denmark, 1736 (Jesusbarnet, Stefan, og Herodes Grundtvig, No. 96). There is also a similar ballad in Faroish. Only a slight trace of the story is now left in the Swedish Staffans Visa (Svenska F.V., No. 99), which is sung as a carol on St. Stephen's Day, as may very well have been the case with the Danish and Faroish ballads too.

The miracle of the roasted cock occurs in many other legends. The earliest mention of it is in Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum Historiale, L. xxv. c. 64. It is commonly ascribed to St. James, sometimes to the Virgin. (See the preface to the ballad in Grundtvig, and to Southey's Pilgrim to Compostella.) We meet with it in another English carol called The Carnal [5] and the Crane, printed in Sandys's collection, p. 152, from a broadside copy, corrupt and almost unintelligible [Pg 316]in places. The stanzas which contain the miracle are the following:

There was a star in the West land,
So bright it did appear
Into King Herod's chamber,
And where King Herod were.
The Wise Men soon espied it,
And told the king on high,
A princely babe was born that night
No king could e'er destroy.
"If this be true," King Herod said,
"As thou tellest unto me,
This roasted cock that lies in the dish
Shall crow full fences [6] three."
The cock soon freshly feather'd was,
By the work of God's own hand,
And then three fences crowed he,
In the dish where he did stand.
"Rise up, rise up, you merry men all,
See that you ready be;
All children under two years old
Now slain they all shall be."

[5] crow?

[6] rounds?

Seynt Stevene was a clerk in kyng Herowdes halle,
And servyd him of bred and cloth, as ever kyng befalle.
Stevyn out of kechon cam, wyth boris hed on honde;
He saw a sterr was fayr and bryght over Bedlem stonde.
[Pg 317] 5 He kyst adoun the bores hed, and went into the halle:
"I forsake the, kyng Herowdes, and thi werkes alle.
"I forsak the, kyng Herowdes, and thi werkes alle:
Ther is a chyld in Bedlem born is beter than we alle."
"Quhat eylyt the, Stevene? quhat is the befalle?
10 Lakkyt the eyther mete or drynk in kyng Herowdes halle?"
"Lakit me neyther mete ne drynk in kyng Herowdes halle:
Ther is a chyld in Bedlem born is beter than we alle."
"Quhat eylyt the, Stevyn? art thu wod, or thu gynnyst to brede?
Lakkyt the eythar gold or fe, or ony ryche wede?"
15 "Lakyt 'me' neyther gold ne fe, ne non ryche wede;
Ther is a chyld in Bedlem born xal helpen us at our nede."
"That is al so soth, Stevyn, al so soth, i-wys,
As this capon crowe xal that lyth her in myn dysh."
[Pg 318] That word was not so sone seyd, that word in that halle,
20 The capon crew, CHRISTUS NATUS EST! among the lordes alle.
"Rysyt up, myn turmentowres, be to and al be on,
And ledyt Stevyn out of this town, and stonyt hym wyth ston."
Tokyn he Stevene, and stonyd hym in the way;
And therefor is his evyn on Crystes owyn day.

2. befalle, befell.

5. kyst, cast.

9. eylyt, aileth.

13. wod, mad: gynnyst to brede, beginnest to entertain capricious fancies, like a woman, &c.

14. fe, wages: wede, clothes.

15. ne, nor.

16. xall, shall.

17. soth, true: i-wys, for a certainty.

21. be to, by two.

23. he, they.

[Pg 319]


N.B. Figures placed after words denote the pages in which they occur.

Transcriber's Notes

page 47 (line 148) added missing close quotation mark:

Nor keepe me lingering here in paine."

page 221 (lines 73, 74) moved close quotation mark:

"Pray, sir, did you not send for me, By such a messenger?" said she:

page 221 (line 80) deleted extraneous open quotation mark:

"Go in," said he, "and go to bed; I'll see the horse well littered."

page 248: added missing open quotation mark ("Go on yet a little farther," said the hen-wife, "till thou come to a round green hill ...")

page 250 (line 33) added missing single quotation mark:

"'And sit thou down; and wae, O wae That ever thou was born;

page 259 (lines 47, 48) added missing open quotation mark:

"Our king's dochter, she gaes wi' bairn, And we'll get a' the wyte."

page 263 (line 150) added missing closing single quotation mark:

The Queen o' Elfin she'll cry out, 'True Tam-a-Line's awa'.'

page 276 added missing closing quotation mark:

For him that mensked man wyt mith, Wat sal worth of this were?" &c.

page 288: the line numbering in Lord Dingwall is in error, but has been retained as per the original.

page 295 (line 40) added missing open quotation mark:

"O tak me out," May Marg'ret cried, "O tak me hame to thee;

Page 304, line 5: suspected typo "σγουρα" should read "σγουρά".

Page 304, line 13: suspected typo "βάνει" should read "βάζει" according to Fauriel's text (one source of this poem referred to in the introduction).

Page 305, line 15: suspected typo "σάν" should read "σὰν"

Page 305, line 22: changed "Αν" to "Ἂν"

Page 306, line 59: suspected typo "θιὸ" should read "θεὸ".

Page 306, line 59: changed "ἀγιοὺς" to "ἁγιοὺς".

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of English and Scottish Ballads, Volume I
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