S. C. (Samuel Carter) Hall.

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For, oh ! my heart was light as ony bird that flew,
And, wae as a' thing was, it had a kindly hue.

But sweeter shines the sun than e'er he shone before,
For now I 'm Jamie's wife, and what need I say more?
We hae a wee bit bairn the auld folks by the fire
And Jamie, oh ! he loo's me up to my heart's desire.



Erl William hasmuntit his gudegrai stede.

(Merrie lemis munelicht on the sea )
And graithit him in ane cumli weid.

(Swa bonnilie blumis the hawthorn tree.)

See Appendix.



Erl William rade, Erl William ran
(Fast they ryde quha luve trewlie,)

Quhyll the Elfinland wud that gude Erl wan
(Blink ower the burn, sweit may, to mee.)

Elfinland wud is dern and dreir,
(Merrie is the grai goukis sang,)

Bot ilk ane leafis quhyt as silver cleir,
(Licht makis schoirt the road swa lang.)

It is undirneth ane braid aik tree,
(Hey and a lo, as the leavis grow grein,)

Thair is kythit ane bricht ladie,
(Manie flowris blume quhilk ar nocht seen.)

Around hir slepis the quhyte muneschyne,

(Meik is mayden undir kell,)
Her lips bin lyke the blude reid wyne ;

(The rois of flowris hes sweitest smell.)

It was al bricht quhare that ladie stude,

(Far my luve, fure ower the sea.)
Bot dern is the lave of Elfinland wud,
(The knicht pruvit false that ance luvit me.)

The ladie's handis were quhyte als milk,
(Ringis my luve wore mair nor ane.)

Her skin was safter nor the silk ;
(Lilly bricht schinis my luvis halse bane.)

Save you, save you, fayr ladie,
(Gentil hert schawis gentil deed.)

Standand alane undir this auld tree ;
(Deir till knicht is nobil steid.)

Burdalane, if ye dwall here,
(My hert is layed upon this land.)

I wuld like to live your fere ;
(The shippis cum sailin to the strand.)

33 6

Nevir ane word that ladie sayd ;

(Schortest rede hes least to mend.)
Bot on hir harp she evir playd ;
(Thare nevir was mirth that had nocht end.)

Gang ye eist, or fare ye wast,
(Ilka stern blinkis blythe for thee,)

Or tak ye the road that ye like best,
(Al trew feeris ryde in cumpanie.)

Erl William loutit doun full lowe ;

(L,uvis first seid bin curtesie.)
And swung hir owir his saddil bow,

(Ryde quha listis, ye '11 link with mee.)

Scho flang her harp on that auld tree,
(The wynd pruvis aye ane harpir gude.)

And it gave out its music free ;
(Birdis sing bl}*the in gay grein wud.)

The harp playde on its leeful lane,

(Lang is my luvis yellow hair.)
Quhill it has charmit stock and stane,

(Furth by firth, deir lady fare.)

Quhan sho was muntit him behynd,
(Blyth be hertis quhilkis luve ilk uthir.)

Awa thai flew lyke flaucht of wind ;

(Kin kens kin, and bairnis thair mither.)

Nevir ane word that ladie spak ;

(Mim be maydins men besyde.)
Bot that stout steid did nicher and schaik ;

(Smal thingis humbil hertis of pryde.)

About his breist scho plet her handis ;

(I^uvand be maydins quhan thai lyke.)
Bot thay were cauld as yron bandis ;

(The winter bauldbindissheuch and syke.)


Your handis ar cauld, fayr ladie, sayd hee,
(The caulder hand the trewer hairt.)

I trembil als the leif on the tree ;
(Ivicht caussis muve aid friendis to pairt.)

I^ap your mantil owir your heid,
(My luve was clad in the reid Scarlett,)

And spredd your kirtil owir my stede ;
(Thair nevir was joie that had nae lett.)

The ladie sho wald nocht dispute ;

(Nocht woman is scho that laikis ane tung.)
But caulder hir fingeris about him cruik.

(Sum sangis ar writ, bot nevir sung.)

This Klfinland Wud will neir haif end ;

(Hunt quha listis, daylicht for mee.)
I wuld I culd ane strang bow bend,

(Al undirneth the grein wud tree.)

Thai rade up, and they rade doun,
(Wearilie wearis wan nicht away.)

Erl William's heart mair cauld is grown ;
(Hey, luve mine, quhan dawis the day?)

Your hand lies cauld on my briest-bane,

(Smal hand hes my ladie fair,)
My horss he can nocht stand his lane,

(For cauldness of this midnicht air.)

E|rl William turnit his heid about ;

(The braid mune schinis in lift richt cleir.)
Twa Klfin een are glentin owt,

(My luvis een like twa sternis appere.)

Twa brennand eyen, sua bricht and full

(Bonnilie blinkis my ladies ee.)
Flang fire flauchtis fra ane peelit skull ;

(Sum sichts ar ugsomlyk to see.)


Twa rawis of quhyt teeth then did say,
(Cauld the boysteous windis sal blaw,)

Oh, lang and weary is our waj-,
(And donkir yet the dew maun fa'.)

Far owir mure, and far owir fell,

(Hark the sounding huntsmen thrang ;)

Thorow dingle, and thorow dell,
(L,uve, come, list the merlis sang .)*

GLOSSARY -MunM, mounted. Gude.^W. Lemis,
gleams, scintillates. Graithit, dressed. Dern, hidden,
secret, dark. Swa, so. Quha, -who. Quhyll, while. Grai
goukis sang, song of the "cuckoo-gray. Ilk ane, each,
iic. llkahasthesamesignification. Quhyt, wAttet
Schoirt, lang, short, long. Braid aik tree, bruad oak tree.
Kythit, discovered. Quhilk.nocht, -which, not. Kell, a
n' s head-dress. Therois, therose. Stude, stood.
Pure, fared. Botdern is the lave, but dark, or hidden.
is the remainder. Als,<*j. Mair nor ane, mo re than
one". Schiius, halse bane, shines, cottar bone. Hert
sthawis, heart sho-^s. Standnndalane, standing alone.
Till, to. Burdalane, a term used to denote one who is the
only child left in a family ; bird alone, or sohta>
" lay " means basis, or foundation, and the signification
of " layed, ' here. \<,Jtxcd, 1 think, or set. Fere, a com-
panion. Schortest rede has least to mend, shortest
counsel has least to expiate. Nocht, not. Gang.eist,
wast, go, east, -west. Stern, star. Loutit, stooped. Seid
bin, offspring is. Scho, she . Its leeful lane, by itself
alone. Furlh by firth, forth, abroad by frith. Blytli be
hertes quhilkisluve ilkutlur, blithe be heart > u-h:
each other. Flaucht, gust, and also flake. Bairnis,
mither, children, mother. Mini, affectedly modest or
coy, prim. Nicher, neigh. Qulian thai l>ke. when they
choose. Bauld, shcuth, bold, a furrow or ditih. Syke.
a rill, or mulet, usually dry in summer. Hairt, heart.
AM, pairt, old, part. Nae lett, no obstruction, no hin-
derance, Nocht w oman is scho that laikis ane tung, she
ii'ho lacks a- tongue, is not a- 7a.'>nan. Sangis, Sengs.
Haif, hare. Quhan claw is the day, ~u -hen breaks the day.
Braid mune, broad moon. Lift, the firmament. Glentin,
glancing, gleaming. Brennand, burning. Fta ane
peelitskull,yrt)/ a peeled skull. Ugsomlyk, very loath-
some, disgusting. Rawis, runs. Boysteous, boisterous,
blustering. Donkir, damper, danker. Maun fa', must
fall. The merlis sang, the blackbird's song. Flude,
flood. Mudy, *M0<r. Blude. blood. Aseamlessshrowd
weird schaipis for me! a seamless shroud fate, or des-
tiny, prepares for me. To rede aright my spell, to ex-
plain aright my tale. Eerilie, au-fuily, drearily. Sal,
shall. Quhill "rleand Hevm and raikand Hell, -while
avoiding Heaven and ranging Hell. Ghaist, ghost.
Luvand, loving, affectionate.



Thorow fire, and thorow flude,

(Mudy mindis rage lyk a sea ;)
Thorow slauchtir, thorow blude,

(A seamless shrowd weird schaipis for me ')

And to rede aricht my spell,

ICerilie sal nicht wyndis moan,
Quhill fleand Kevin and raikand Hell,

Ghaist with ghaist maun wandir on.



A f I was walking all alane,

I heard twa corbies making a mane .

The tane unto the t'other say

Where sail we gang and dine to-day? '
" In behint yon auld fail dyke
I wot there lies a new-slain knight

* See Appendix.

a y kens th ^t he lies there
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair



" His hound is to the hunting gane.
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame.

" Ye '11 sit on his white hause-bane.
And I '11 pick out his bonny blue een :
Wi' ae lock o' his gowden hair,
We '11 theek our nest when it grows bare.

O'er his white banes, when they are' bare,
The wind sail blaw for evermair."

His lady "s ta'en another mate,
So we may make our dinner sweet.

Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sail ken where he is gane ;


Dentist an&




In ancient days, when Arthur reigned,

Sir Blmer had no peer ;
j~j And no young knight in all the land
The ladies loved so dear.

His sister, Mey, the fairest maid

Of all the virgin train,
Won every heart at Arthur's court ;

But all their love was vain.

Sec Appendix.

foengfet anD


In vain they loved, in vain they vowed ;

Her heart they could not move :
Yet, at the evening hour of prayer,

Her mind was lost in love.

The abbess saw the abbess knew,

And urged her to explain :
" O name the gentle youth to me,

And his consent I '11 gain."

L,ong urged, long tried, fair Mey replied,

" His name how can I say ?
An angel from the fields above

Has 'rapt my heart away.

" But once, alas ! and never more,

His lovely form I 'spied ;
One evening, by the sounding shore,

All by the green-wood side.

" His eyes to mine the love confest,
That glowed with mildest grace ;

His courtly mien and purple vest
Bespoke his princely race.

" But when he heard my brother's horn,

Fast to his ships he fled ;
Yet, while I sleep, his graceful form

Still hovers round my bed.

" Sometimes, all clad in armour bright,

He shakes a warlike lance ;
And now, in courtly garments dight,

He leads the sprightly dance.

" His hair, as black as raven's wing ;

His skin as Christmas snow ;
His cheeks outvie the blush of morn,

His lips like rose-buds glow.


fcengist anfc Obey

" His limbs, his arms, his stature shaped

By nature's finest hand ;
His sparkling eyes declare him born

To love, and to command."

The live-long year, fair Mey bemoaned

Her hopeless, pining love :
But when the balmy spring returned,

And summer clothed the grove,

All round by pleasant Humber side,

The Saxon banners flew,
And to Sir Elmer's castle gates

The spearmen came in view.

Fair blushed the morn, when Mey looked
The castle walls so sheen ; [o'er

And lo ! the warlike Saxon youth
Were sporting on the green.

There Hengist, Ofla's eldest son,
Leaned on his burnished lance,

And all the armed youth around
Obeyed his manly glance.

His locks, as black as raven's wing,

Adown his shoulders flowed ;
His cheeks outvied the blush of morn,

His lips like rose-buds glowed.

And soon, the lovely form of Mey

Has caught his piercing eyes ;
He gives the sign, the bands retire,

While big with love he sighs.

" Oh, thou ! for whom I dared the seas,

And came with peace or war ;
Oh ! by that cross that veils thy breast,

Relieve thy lover's care !



" For thee, I '11 quit my father's throne ;

With thee, the wilds explore ;
Or with thee share the British crown ;

With thee, the Cross adore."

Beneath the timorous virgin blush,

With love's soft warmth she glows ;
So, blushing through the dews of morn,
f Appears the opening rose.

[\ J'T was now the hour of morning prayer,

1 -Jtf whetl men tneir sins bewail,
f | And Elmer heard King Arthur's horn,
I Shrill sounding through the dale.

| The pearly tears from Mey's bright eyes,

Ivike April dew-drops fell,
When, with a parting, dear embrace,
Her brother bade farewell.

The cross with sparkling diamonds bright,
That veiled the snowy breast,

With prayers to Heaven her lily hands
Have fixed on Klmer's vest.

Now, with five hundred bowmen true,
He 's marched across the plain ;

Till with his gallant yeomandrie,
Rejoined King Arthur's train.

Full forty thousand Saxon spears
Came glittering down the hill,

And with their shouts and clang of arms
The distant valleys fill.

Old Offa, dressed in Odin's garb,

Assumed the hoary god ;
And Hengist, like the warlike Thor,

Before the horsemen rode.


fbengist anD

With dreadful rage the combat burns,

The captains shout amain ;
And Elmer's tall victorious spear

Far glances o'er the plain.

To stop its course young Hengist flew,

Like lightning o'er the field ;
And soon his eyes the well-known cross

On Elmer's vest beheld.

The slighted lover swelled his breast,

His eyes shot living fire !
And all his martial heat before,

To this was mild desire.

On his imagined rival's front,
With whirlwind speed he pressed,

And glancing to the sun, his sword
Resounds on Elmer's crest.

The foe gave way ; the princely youth

With heedless rage pursued,
Till trembling in his cloven helm

Sir Elmer s javelin stood.

He bowed his head slow dropped his spear ;

The reins slipped through his hand ;
And, stained with blood his stately corse

~L,ay breathless on the strand.

" O bear me off (Sir Elmer cried) ;

Before my painful sight
The combat swims yet Hengist's vest

I claim as victor's right."

Brave Hengist's fall the Saxons saw,

And all in terror fled ;
The bowmen to his castle gates

The brave Sir Elmer led.

Ibengist an>


" O, wash my wounds, my sister dear ;

O, pull this Saxon dart,
That, whizzing from young Hengist's arm,

Has almost pierced my heart.

" Yet in my hall his vest shall hang ;

And Britons yet unborn,
Shall with the trophies of to-day

Their solemn feasts adorn."

All trembling, Mey beheld the vest ;

" O, Merlin ! " loud she cried ;
" Thy words are true my slaughtered love

Shall have a breathless bride !

" Oh ! Klmer, Earner, boast no more

That low my Hengist lies !
Oh ! Hengist, cruel was thine arm !

My brother bleeds and dies ! "

She spake, the roses left her cheeks,

And life's warm spirit fled :
So, nipt by winter's withering blasts,

The snow-drop bows its head !

Yet parting life one struggle gave,

She lifts her languid eyes ;
" Return, my Hengist ! oh, return,

My slaughtered love ! " she cries.

" Oh still he lives he smiles again,

With all his grace he moves :
I come I come, where bow nor spear

Shall more disturb our loves ! "

She spake she died ! The Saxon dart
Was drawn from Klmer 's side ;

And thrice he called his sister Mey,
And thrice he groaned, and died !


and they

Where in the dale a moss-grown Cross

O'ershades an aged thorn,
Sir Elmer's and young Hengist's corse

Were by the spearmen borne.

And there, all clad in robes of white,
With many a sigh and tear,

The village maids to Hengist's grave
Did Mey's fair body bear.

And there, at dawn and fall of day,
All from the neighbouring groves

The turtles wail, in widowed notes,
And sing their hapless loves.



There are two versions of this ballad, the more modern of which
is here given, as it is more intelligible to the general reader.
The earlier one, which was first published by Percy, is more vigor-
ous, if also rugged and uncouth. Nothing authentic can fix the pre-
cise date of the poem, which is known to have been popular in the
time of Elizabeth. The mention of the battle of Humbledoun
(September, 1402) proves that the action took place prior to that
date. An Earl of Douglas is known to have been slain by a Percy
in the battle of Otterbourne (1388), and it may be that that was the
foundation of this ballad, although there are several others which
have that battle as their theme.

Douglas had captured the pennon of Percy during an incursion of
the Scots into the English marches, and the fight at Otterbourne
was the result of an attempt to regain this.


Ritson says that this ballad appears to have been written in 1595,
as it was entered in that year on the Stationers' books, but there is
some doubt as to the date of its original composition. Dr. Percy
credits it to an old play, the scene of which is laid in Padua. It is,
however, too English to make an Italian source probable, and the
ballad may be regarded as a model of the pure old English style.
It was very popular, and was sung to the tune of Rogero.

350 BppcnMj


The fate of Fair Rosamund was a favorite theme with the early
minstrels, and historians have not disdained to preserve the mem-
ory of her beauty and sad story.

According to Stowe, who follows Higden, the monk of Chester,
she was the daughter of Walter, Lord Clifford, and became the
favorite of Henry II., and mother of two sons, William Longsword,
Earl of Salisbury, and Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln. Her royal lover
made her a house at Woodstock, so cunningly hidden in a labyrinth
that none could come to it. Queen Eleanor, prompted by jealousy,
discovered the secret, penetrated to her rival, and so "dealt with
her that she lived not long." This was in 1177 A. D. It was be-
lieved that she was poisoned, but the fact is not proven. Rosamund
was buried at Godstow, " in a house of nunnes besides Oxford."

This version of the ballad appears to have been published in 1612.
Percy gives another called " Queen Eleanor's Confession, "and there
were several others current varying only in details.


This ballad first appeared in the ' Minstrelsy of the Scottish
Border.'' Sir Walter Scott received it from Sir William Laidlaw, by
whom it was " taken down in recitation.''

Sir Walter Scott says the legend here given is "in various shapes
current in Scotland," and mentions another song in which a fiend
is disconcerted by holy herbs in the bosom of a maiden. Here, un-
luckily, the lady had no such protection.

The same power of keeping away evil spirits is attributed to the
vervain in Ireland.


The remote antiquity of this beautiful composition is unquestion-
able. There are, indeed, good reasons for placing it as early as
1400. In the sixteenth century it was so popular that it was paro-
died, and Prior wrote a poem, " Henry and Emma," taking it as a



This ballad is taken from the " Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,"
where it is given " chiefly " from Mrs. Brown's MS., "with correc-
tions from a recited fragment." The date of composition is un-
known. Sir Walter Scott says it was probably an old metrical
romance degraded into a ballad by the lapse of time and the corrup-
tion of reciters.

Many tales of fabulous snakes being slain by brave knights are
current throughout the British Isles and Denmark, whence they
may have been exported by the sea-kings.


Percy was the first to publish this ballad, which he probably
emended greatly from the MS. in his possession. It is unquestion-
ably Scotch in origin, as many other Scotch poems relate a similar

" Child" is used for knight.


This ballad is copied from Motherwell's " Minstrelsy, Ancient and
Modern." The editor is inclined to trace it to an event which
occurred in the family of the Somervilles in 1589 A. D. The master
of Somerville and John, his brother, were lying on the grass where
their horses were grazing. The master, after sleeping, found that
one of his pistols was wet with dew. In rubbing this to dry it, it
went off accidentally, and John was killed without having a chance
to speak again. In this, or some similar incident, the ballad origi-
nated undoubtedly. Other versions are also in existence.


The ballad, as given here, is Percy's version. Percy places its
composition in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, because there is men-
tion of "the Queene's Armes," and also because of the "tune's
being" quoted in other old pieces written in her time."

352 Bppenfcfr

History informs us that at the decisive battle of Eversham (August
4, 1265), when Simon de Montfort, the great Earl of Leicester, was
slain at the head of his barons, his eldest son Henry fell by his side,
and the whole family perished forever, their possessions being be-
stowed upon Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, second son of the king.
There is no date from which to tell whether the story of the blind
beggar is pure fiction or founded on fact.

The " angell " mentioned was a gold coin, value about ten shil-
lings. It bore a figure of St. Michael on one side, a ship on the
other, and was first coined by Edward IV. in 1466.


This is printed from a black-letter copy in the British Museum.
Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, was a "shrewd and knavish sprite,''
and his tricks and pranks were described by many of the old poets.
He has been traced back to the thirteenth century, and may have
existed earlier. He is never represented as malicious. Though he
leads people into trouble, he gets them out again, and is always
generous to those who please him.

The Puck or Chooka of Ireland is a more evil-minded imp, and
many stories are related by the peasantry of his merciless cruelties
and malicious pranks.

This version of the ballad is attributed to Ben Jonson (1574-1637),
probably without sufficient authoritj', as it is not included in his
works. Undoubtedly it was written for some masque in which the
character of Robin Goodfellow was assumed by an actor, who de-
scribes himself to the audience as being sent by Oberon to
" See the night-sport here."


This ballad, in several versions, lays claim to a "high and remote
antiquity." It was undoubtedly founded on some actual occur-
rence, but the earlier annotators were unable to establish the fact.

Mr. Motherwell, from whose collection this is taken, hovever, con-


siders that it records the fate of the band who escorted Margaret,
daughter of Alexander III. of Scotland (1249), when she espoused the
Fife of Norway, as many of her escort are said to have perished on
their return trip. Sir Walter Scott thinks that the expedition was de-
spatched to bring home Margaret's infant daughter, when she
became heir to the Scotch throne on the death (or the approaching
death) of Alexander III.

The objection of the " skeely " skipper to sail at " this time of the
year " is thus accounted for : It was deemed imprudent to navigate
in winter. Two hundred years after the date assigned to this poem,
an act of Parliament forbade navigation " frae the feast of St. Simon
and St. Jude to Candlemas."


This is taken, in part, from Percy, but it had already been printed
communicated, it is said, to the printers by a lady who took it
down from "the mouths of old women and nurses."

The word " Gil " is now considered to be a corruption of " child,"
which is so frequently used as "knight."

There can be no doubt of the antiquity of the poem, but it has
probably undergone many modern improvements. Many of the
places referred to can be localized.

The " majer dish " mentioned with the "siller cup " is probably
the dish on which the cup stood.


This ballad is taken from Percy. The only information given 13
that the author seems to have had in his eye the story of Gunhilda,
sometimes called Eleanor, married to the Emperor Henry. Sir
Walter Scott says the tradition upon which it is founded is " uni-
versally current among the Mearns," and he was informed that
"until very lately the sword with which Sir Hugh le Blond was be-
lieved to have defended the honor of the queen was carefully pre-
served by his descendants, the Viscounts cf Arbuthnot." This Sir


Hugh lived in the thirteenth century, but there is no instance in
history in which the good name of a queen of Scotland was com-
mitted to the chance of a duel.


Printed from a black-letter copy in the British Museum, purer
than Percy's version. It is mainly indebted to its celebrity from the
fact that Shakespeare mentions it.

The subject is taken from the ancient romance of Morte d' Arthur.
Sir Lancelot was one of the most renowned among the twenty-four
knights cf Arthur's Round Table. This famed table originated
with Uther Pendra^on, Arthur's father, for whom it was made in
token cf the roundness of the world. The knights were bound by
oath to assist each other and help the distressed. The mirror of all
was Arthur. Lancelot's history is the perfection of romance. His
father, " King Ban," attacked by his enemy, King Claudas, escaped
with queen and child to solicit aid of Arthur, but died of grief on the
way. His queen left the infant a moment to attend to her dying
husband, and when she returned she found the child in the arms of
a nymph, who sprang with him into a lake. She was Vivian, mis-
tress of the enchanter, Merlin, and she brought up the boy in her
home beneath the water. When he was eighteen she took him to
Arthur's court and obtained knighthood for him. Throughout
Lancelot's after-life this lady of the lake continued tobe his guardian.
In the chapel of Winchester Castle is preserved what is affirmed to
be the original round table. It is, however, not considered earlier

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Online LibraryS. C. (Samuel Carter) HallThe book of British ballads → online text (page 14 of 15)