The Project Gutenberg EBook of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
(Volume I of 5), by Various

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Title: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Volume I of 5)

Author: Various

Editor: Francis James Child

Release Date: February 20, 2014 [EBook #44969]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Simon Gardner, Katherine Ward, Alicia Williams,
David T. Jones and the Online Distributed Proofreading
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Transcriber's Notes

This book contains material in multiple languages, and numerous examples of archaic, non-standard and dialect forms of English. Therefore no attempts to standardize spelling would be appropriate. The only changes made to the text are to correct typographical errors etc. which are listed at the end of the book. Minor corrections to format or punctuation have been made without comment.

Footnotes have been numbered sequentially throughout the book but are presented at the end of each section or ballad to which they refer.

Unicode characters have been used for special symbols and diacritics in the text. These should appear in the following table:

ă ĭbreve
ć ń ś ẃacute accent
Č č ĕ Ř ř š Š žcaron/hacek
łl with stroke (in Polish etc.)
Œ œoe-ligature
şs with cedilla
dagger used to represent upright cross symbol

Greek symbols are also rendered with Unicode characters, but a Latin transliteration is provided in the "hover-text".

Note that [a'] and ['s] denote editorial insertions of contracted forms: e.g. on page 299 [a'] is an editorial insertion of "a'" (for "all"); on page 309 ['s] is an editorial insertion of "'s" (for "has"?).

Link to Title Page.

Link to Table of Contents.


[Pg ii]

[Pg iii]





[Pg iv]

This Dover edition, first published in 1965, is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, as follows:

This edition also contains as an appendix to Part X an essay by Walter Morris Hart entitled "Professor Child and the Ballad," reprinted in toto from Vol. XXI, No. 4, 1906 [New Series Vol. XIV, No. 4] of the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 65-24347

Manufactured in the United States of America

Dover Publications, Inc. 180 Varick Street New York, N.Y. 10014

[Pg v]


My Dear Furnivall:

Without the Percy MS. no one would pretend to make a collection of the English Ballads, and but for you that manuscript would still, I think, be beyond reach of man, yet exposed to destructive chances. Through your exertions and personal sacrifices, directly, the famous and precious folio has been printed; and, indirectly, in consequence of the same, it has been transferred to a place where it is safe, and open to inspection. This is only one of a hundred reasons which I have for asking you to accept the dedication of this book from

Your grateful friend and fellow-student,

F. J. Child.

Cambridge, Mass., December 1, 1882.

[Pg vii]


It was my wish not to begin to print The English and Scottish Popular Ballads until this unrestricted title should be justified by my having at command every valuable copy of every known ballad. A continuous effort to accomplish this object has been making for some nine or ten years, and many have joined in it. By correspondence, and by an extensive diffusion of printed circulars, I have tried to stimulate collection from tradition in Scotland, Canada, and the United States, and no becoming means has been left unemployed to obtain possession of unsunned treasures locked up in writing. The gathering from tradition has been, as ought perhaps to have been foreseen at this late day, meagre, and generally of indifferent quality. Materials in the hands of former editors have, in some cases, been lost beyond recovery, and very probably have lighted fires, like that large cantle of the Percy manuscript, maxime deflendus! Access to several manuscript collections has not yet been secured. But what is still lacking is believed to bear no great proportion to what is in hand, and may soon come in, besides: meanwhile, the uncertainties of the world forbid a longer delay to publish so much as has been got together.

Of hitherto unused materials, much the most important is a large collection of ballads made by Motherwell. For leave to take a copy of this I am deeply indebted to the present possessor, Mr Malcolm Colquhoun Thomson, of Glasgow, who even allowed the manuscript to be sent to London, and to be retained several months, for my accommodation. Mr J. Wylie Guild, of Glasgow, also permitted the use of a note-book of Motherwell's which supplements the great manuscript, and this my unwearied friend, Mr James Barclay Murdoch, to whose solicitation I owe both, himself transcribed with the most scrupulous accuracy. No other good office, asked or unasked, has Mr Murdoch spared.

Next in extent to the Motherwell collections come those of the late Mr Kinloch. These he freely placed at my disposal, and Mr William Macmath, of Edinburgh, made during Mr Kinloch's life an exquisite copy of the larger part of them, enriched with notes from Mr Kinloch's papers, and sent it to me across the water. After Mr Kinloch's death his collections were acquired by Harvard College Library, still through the agency of Mr Macmath, who has from the beginning rendered a highly valued assistance, not less by his suggestions and communications than by his zealous mediation.

No Scottish ballads are superior in kind to those recited in the last century by Mrs Brown, of Falkland. Of these there are, or were, three sets. One formerly owned by Robert Jamieson, the fullest of the three, was lent me, to keep as long as I required, by my honored friend the late Mr David Laing, who also secured for me copies of several ballads of Mrs Brown which are found in an Abbotsford manuscript, and gave me a transcript of the Glenriddell manuscript. The two others were written down for William Tytler and[Pg viii] Alexander Fraser Tytler respectively, the former of these consisting of a portion of the Jamieson texts revised. These having for some time been lost sight of, Miss Mary Fraser Tytler, with a graciousness which I have reason to believe hereditary in the name, made search for them, recovered the one which had been obtained by Lord Woodhouselee, and copied it for me with her own hand. The same lady furnished me with another collection which had been made by a member of the family.

For later transcriptions from Scottish tradition I am indebted to Mr J. F. Campbell of Islay, whose edition and rendering of the racy West Highland Tales is marked by the rarest appreciation of the popular genius; to Mrs A. F. Murison, formerly of Old Deer, who undertook a quest for ballads in her native place on my behalf; to Mr Alexander Laing, of Newburgh-upon-Tay; to Mr James Gibb, of Joppa, who has given me a full score; to Mr David Louden, of Morham, Haddington; to the late Dr John Hill Burton and Miss Ella Burton; to Dr Thomas Davidson.

The late Mr Robert White, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, allowed me to look through his collections in 1873, and subsequently made me a copy of such things as I needed, and his ready kindness has been continued by Mrs Andrews, his sister, and by Miss Andrews, his niece, who has taken a great deal of trouble on my account.

In the south of the mother-island my reliance has, of necessity, been chiefly upon libraries. The British Museum possesses, besides early copies of some of the older ballads, the Percy MS., Herd's MSS and Buchan's, and the Roxburgh broadsides. The library of the University of Cambridge affords one or two things of first-rate importance, and for these I am beholden to the accomplished librarian, Mr Henry Bradshaw, and to Professor Skeat. I have also to thank the Rev. F. Gunton, Dean, and the other authorities of Magdalen College, Cambridge, for permitting collations of Pepys ballads, most obligingly made for me by Mr Arthur S. B. Miller. Many things were required from the Bodleian library, and these were looked out for me, and scrupulously copied or collated, by Mr George Parker.

Texts of traditional ballads have been communicated to me in America by Mr W. W. Newell, of New York, who is soon to give us an interesting collection of Children's Games traditional in America; by Dr Huntington, Bishop of Central New York; Mr G. C. Mahon, of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Miss Margaret Reburn, of New Albion, Iowa; Miss Perine, of Baltimore; Mrs Augustus Lowell, Mrs L. F. Wesselhoeft, Mrs. Edward Atkinson, of Boston; Mrs Cushing, of Cambridge; Miss Ellen Marston, of New Bedford; Mrs Moncrieff, of London, Ontario.

Acknowledgments not well despatched in a phrase are due to many others who have promoted my objects: to Mr Furnivall, for doing for me everything which I could have done for myself had I lived in England; to that master of old songs and music, Mr William Chappell, very specially; to Mr J. Payne Collier; Mr Norval Clyne, of Aberdeen; Mr Alexander Young, of Glasgow; Mr Arthur Laurenson, of Lerwick, Shetland; Mr J. Burrell Curtis, of Edinburgh; Dr Vigfusson, of Oxford; Professor Edward Arber, of Birmingham; the Rev. J. Percival, Mr Francis Fry, Mr J. F. Nicholls, of Bristol; Professor George Stephens, of Copenhagen; Mr R. Bergström, of the Royal Library, Stockholm; Mr W. R. S. Ralston, Mr William Henry Husk, Miss Lucy Toulmin Smith, Mr A. F. Murison, of London; Professor Sophocles; Mr W. G. Medlicott, of Longmeadow; to Mr M. Heilprin, of New York, Mme de Maltchycé, of Boston, and Rabbi Dr Cohn, for indispensable translations from Polish and Hungarian; to Mr James Russell Lowell, Minister of the United States at London; to Professor Charles Eliot Norton, for such "pains and benefits" as I could ask only of a life-long friend.

[Pg ix]

In the editing of these ballads I have closely followed the plan of Grundtvig's Old Popular Ballads of Denmark, a work which will be prized highest by those who have used it most, and which leaves nothing to be desired but its completion. The author is as much at home in English as in Danish tradition, and whenever he takes up a ballad which is common to both nations nothing remains to be done but to supply what has come to light since the time of his writing. But besides the assistance which I have derived from his book, I have enjoyed the advantage of Professor Grundtvig's criticism and advice, and have received from him unprinted Danish texts, and other aid in many ways.

Such further explanations as to the plan and conduct of the work as may be desirable can be more conveniently given by and by. I may say here that textual points which may seem to be neglected will be considered in an intended Glossary, with which will be given a full account of Sources, and such indexes of Titles and Matters as will make it easy to find everything that the book may contain.

With renewed thanks to all helpers, and helpers' helpers, I would invoke the largest coöperation for the correction of errors and the supplying of deficiencies. To forestall a misunderstanding which has often occurred, I beg to say that every traditional version of a popular ballad is desired, no matter how many texts of the same may have been printed already.

F. J. Child.

[December, 1882.]

[Pg x]


I have again to express my obligations and my gratitude to many who have aided in the collecting and editing of these Ballads.

To Sir Hugh Hume Campbell, for the use of two considerable manuscript volumes of Scottish Ballads.

To Mr Allardyce, of Edinburgh, for a copy of the Skene Ballads, and for a generous permission to print such as I required, in advance of a possible publication on his part.

To Mr Mansfield, of Edinburgh, for the use of the Pitcairn manuscripts.

To Mrs Robertson, for the use of Note-Books of the late Dr Joseph Robertson, and to Mr Murdoch, of Glasgow, Mr Lugton, of Kelso, Mrs Alexander Forbes, of Edinburgh, and Messrs G. L. Kittredge and G. M. Richardson, former students of Harvard College, for various communications.

To Dr Reinhold Köhler's unrivalled knowledge of popular fiction, and his equal liberality, I am indebted for valuable notes, which will be found in the Additions at the end of this volume.

The help of my friend Dr Theodor Vetter has enabled me to explore portions of the Slavic ballad-field which otherwise must have been neglected.

Professors D. Silvan Evans, John Rhys, Paul Meyer, and T. Frederick Crane have lent me a ready assistance in literary emergencies.

The interest and coöperation of Mr Furnivall and Mr Macmath have been continued to me without stint or weariness.

It is impossible, while recalling and acknowledging acts of courtesy, good will, and friendship, not to allude, with one word of deep personal grief, to the irreparable loss which all who are concerned with the study of popular tradition have experienced in the death of Svend Grundtvig.

F. J. C.

June, 1884.

[Pg xi]


Biographical Sketch of Professor Childxvii
1.Riddles Wisely Expounded1
(Additions and Corrections: I, 484; II, 495; III, 496; IV, 439; V, 205, 283.)
2.The Elfin Knight6
(Additions and Corrections: I, 484; II, 495; III, 496; IV, 439; V, 205, 284.)
3.The Fause Knight Upon the Road20
(Additions and Corrections: I, 485; II, 496; III, 496; IV, 440.)
4.Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight22
(Additions and Corrections: I, 485; II, 496; III, 496; IV, 440; V, 206, 285.)
5.Gil Brenton62
(Additions and Corrections: I, 489; II, 498; III, 497; IV, 442; V, 207, 285.)
6.Willie's Lady81
(Additions and Corrections: II, 498; III, 497; V, 207, 285.)
7.Earl Brand88
(Additions and Corrections: I, 489; II, 498; III, 497; IV, 443; V, 207, 285.)
(Additions and Corrections: III, 498; IV, 445.)
9.The Fair Flower of Northumberland111
(Additions and Corrections: I, 493; II, 498; III, 499; V, 207.)
10.The Twa Sisters118
(Additions and Corrections: I, 493; II, 498; III, 499; IV, 447; V, 208, 286.)
11.The Cruel Brother141
(Additions and Corrections: I, 496; II, 498; III, 499; IV, 449; V, 208, 286.)
12.Lord Randal151
(Additions and Corrections: I, 498; II, 498; III, 499; IV, 449; V, 208, 286.)
(Additions and Corrections: I, 501; II, 499; III, 499; V, 209, 287.)
14.Babylon; or, The Bonnie Banks o Fordie170
(Additions and Corrections: I, 501; II, 499; III, 499; IV, 450; V, 209, 287.)
15.Leesome Brand177
(Additions and Corrections: I, 501; II, 499; III, 500; IV, 450; V, 209, 287.)
16.Sheath and Knife185
(Additions and Corrections: II, 499; III, 500; IV, 450; V, 210.)
17.Hind Horn187
(Additions and Corrections: I, 502; II, 499; III, 501; IV, 450; V, 210, 287.)
18.Sir Lionel208
(Additions and Corrections: II, 500; IV, 451.)
19.King Orfeo215
(Additions and Corrections: II, 500; III, 502; IV, 451; V, 211.)
20.The Cruel Mother218
(Additions and Corrections: I, 504; II, 500; III, 502; IV, 451; V, 211, 287.)
21.The Maid and the Palmer (The Samaritan Woman)228[Pg xii]
(Additions and Corrections: II, 501; III, 502; IV, 451; V, 212, 288.)
22.St. Stephen and Herod233
(Additions and Corrections: I, 505; II, 501; III, 502; IV, 451; V, 212, 288.)
(Additions and Corrections: V, 288.)
24.Bonnie Annie244
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 452.)
25.Willie's Lyke-Wake247
(Additions and Corrections: I, 506; II, 502; III, 503; IV, 453; V, 212, 289.)
26.The Three Ravens253
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 454; V, 212.)
27.The Whummil Bore255
(Additions and Corrections: V, 212.)
28.Burd Ellen and Young Tamlane256
(Additions and Corrections: I, 507; III, 503.)
29.The Boy and the Mantle257
(Additions and Corrections: I, 507; II, 502; III, 503; IV, 454; V, 212, 289.)
30.King Arthur and King Cornwall274
(Additions and Corrections: I, 507; II, 502; III, 503; V, 289.)
31.The Marriage of Sir Gawain288
(Additions and Corrections: I, 507; II, 502; IV, 454; V, 213, 289.)
32.King Henry297
(Additions and Corrections: II, 502; IV, 454; V, 289.)
33.Kempy Kay300
(Additions and Corrections: V, 213, 289.)
34.Kemp Owyne306
(Additions and Corrections: II, 502; III, 504; IV, 454; V, 213, 290.)
35.Allison Gross313
(Additions and Corrections: III, 504; V, 214.)
36.The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea315
(Additions and Corrections: V, 214, 290.)
37.Thomas Rymer317
(Additions and Corrections: II, 505; III, 504; IV, 454, 290.)
38.The Wee Wee Man329
39.Tam Lin335
(Additions and Corrections: I, 507; II, 505; III, 504; IV, 455; V, 215, 290.)
40.The Queen of Elfan's Nourice358
(Additions and Corrections: II, 505; III, 505; IV, 459; V, 215, 290.)
41.Hind Etin360
(Additions and Corrections: I, 508; II, 506; III, 506; IV, 459; V, 215.)
42.Clerk Colvill371
(Additions and Corrections: II, 506; III, 506; IV, 459; V, 215, 290.)
43.The Broomfield Hill390
(Additions and Corrections: I, 508; II, 506; III, 506; IV, 459, 290.)
44.The Twa Magicians399
(Additions and Corrections: II, 506; III, 506; IV, 459; V, 216, 290.)
45.King John and the Bishop403
(Additions and Corrections: I, 508; II, 506; IV, 459; V, 216, 291.)
46.Captain Wedderburn's Courtship414[Pg xiii]
(Additions and Corrections: II, 507; III, 507; IV, 459; V, 216, 291.)
47.Proud Lady Margaret425
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 460; V, 291.)
48.Young Andrew432
49.The Twa Brothers435
(Additions and Corrections: II, 507; III, 507; IV, 460; V, 217, 291.)
50.The Bonny Hind444
(Additions and Corrections: V, 218.)
51.Lizie Wan447
52.The King's Dochter Lady Jean450
53.Young Beichan454
(Additions and Corrections: II, 508; III, 507; IV, 460; V, 218, 291.)
Additions and Corrections484
54.The Cherry-Tree Carol1
(Additions and Corrections: II, 509; V, 220.)
55.The Carnal and the Crane7
(Additions and Corrections: II, 509; III, 507; IV. 462; V, 220.)
56.Dives and Lazarus10
(Additions and Corrections: II, 510; III, 507; IV, 462; V, 220, 292.)
57.Brown Robyn's Confession13
(Additions and Corrections: II, 510; III, 508; IV, 462; V, 220, 292.)
58.Sir Patrick Spens17
(Additions and Corrections: II, 510; V, 220.)
59.Sir Aldingar33
(Additions and Corrections: II, 510; III, 508; IV, 463; V, 292.)
60.King Estmere49
(Additions and Corrections: II, 510; III, 508; IV, 463.)
61.Sir Cawline56
(Additions and Corrections: II, 511; III, 508; IV, 463.)
62.Fair Annie63
(Additions and Corrections: II, 511; IV, 463; V, 220.)
63.Child Waters83
(Additions and Corrections: II, 511; III, 508; IV, 463; V, 220.)
64.Fair Janet100
(Additions and Corrections: III, 508; IV, 464; V, 222, 292.)
65.Lady Maisry112
(Additions and Corrections: III, 508; IV, 466; V, 222, 292.)
66.Lord Ingram and Chiel Wyet126
(Additions and Corrections: II, 511; III, 508; V, 223, 292.)
(Additions and Corrections: II, 511; III, 509; IV, 468; V, 293.)
68.Young Hunting142
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; III, 509; IV, 468; V, 223.)
69.Clerk Saunders156
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; III, 509; IV, 468; V, 223, 293.)
70.Willie and Lady Maisry167
71.The Bent Sae Brown170[Pg xiv]
(Additions and Corrections: III, 509; IV, 469; V, 223.)
72.The Clerks's Twa Sons o Owsenford173
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; III, 509; IV, 469; V, 293.)
73.Lord Thomas and Fair Annet179
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; III, 509; IV, 469; V, 223, 293.)
74.Fair Margaret and Sweet William199
(Additions and Corrections: V, 224, 293.)
75.Lord Lovel204
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; III, 510; IV, 471; V, 225, 294.)
76.The Lass of Roch Royal213
(Additions and Corrections: III, 510; IV, 471; V, 225, 294.)
77.Sweet William's Ghost226
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; IV, 474; V, 225, 294.)
78.The Unquiet Grave234
(Additions and Corrections: II, 512; III, 512; IV, 474; V, 225, 294.)
79.The Wife of Usher's Well238
(Additions and Corrections: III, 513; V, 294.)
80.Old Robin of Portingale240
(Additions and Corrections: II, 513; III, 514; IV, 476; V, 225, 295.)
81.Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard242
(Additions and Corrections: II, 513; IV, 476; V, 225.)
82.The Bonny Birdy260
83.Child Maurice263
(Additions and Corrections: III, 514; IV, 478.)
84.Bonny Barbara Allan276
(Additions and Corrections: III, 514.)
85.Lady Alice279
(Additions and Corrections: III, 514; V, 225.)
86.Young Benjie281
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 478.)
87.Prince Robert284
(Additions and Corrections: V, 295.)
88.Young Johnstone288
89.Fause Foodrage296
(Additions and Corrections: II, 513; III, 515; IV, 479.)
90.Jellon Grame302
(Additions and Corrections: II, 513; III, 515; IV, 479; V, 226, 295.)
91.Fair Mary of Wallington309
(Additions and Corrections: II, 513; III, 515; IV, 479; V, 227.)
92.Bonny Bee Hom317
(Additions and Corrections: V, 229.)
(Additions and Corrections: II, 513; III, 515; IV, 480; V, 229, 295.)
94.Young Waters342
(Additions and Corrections: III, 516.)
95.The Maid Freed from the Gallows346
(Additions and Corrections: II, 514; III, 516; IV, 481; V, 231, 296.)
96.The Gay Goshawk355
(Additions and Corrections: III, 517; IV, 482; V, 234, 296.)
97.Brown Robin368[Pg xv]
98.Brown Adam373
99.Johnie Scot377
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 486; V, 234.)
100.Willie o Winsbury398
(Additions and Corrections: II, 514; III, 517; IV, 491; V, 296.)
101.Willie o Douglas Dale406
(Additions and Corrections: III, 517; V, 235.)
102.Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter412
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518.)
103.Rose the Red and White Lily415
104.Prince Heathen424
(Additions and Corrections: V, 296.)
105.The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington426
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518; V, 237.)
106.The Famous Flower of Serving-Men428
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518; IV, 492.)
107.Will Stewart and John432
(Additions and Corrections: V, 237.)
108.Christopher White439
109.Tom Potts441
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518.)
110.The Knight and Shepherd's Daughter457
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 492; V, 237.)
111.Crow and Pie478
112.The Baffled Knight479
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518; IV, 495; V, 239, 296.)
113.The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry494
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518; IV, 495.)
Additions and Corrections495
114.Johnie Cock1
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 495.)
115.Robyn and Gandeleyn12
116.Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly14
(Additions and Corrections: III, 518; IV, 496; V, 297.)
117.A Gest of Robyn Hode39
(Additions and Corrections: III, 519; IV, 496; V, 240, 297.)
118.Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne89
119.Robin Hood and the Monk94
120.Robin Hood's Death102
(Additions and Corrections: V, 240, 297.)
121.Robin Hood and the Potter108
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 497.)
122.Robin Hood and the Butcher115
123.Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar120
(Additions and Corrections: V, 297.)
124.The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield129[Pg xvi]
125.Robin Hood and Little John133
(Additions and Corrections: V, 297.)
126.Robin Hood and the Tanner137
127.Robin Hood and the Tinker140
128.Robin Hood newly Revived144
129.Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon147
130.Robin Hood and the Scotchman150
131.Robin Hood and the Ranger152
132.The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood154
(Additions and Corrections: V, 240.)
133.Robin Hood and the Beggar, I155
134.Robin Hood and the Beggar, II158
135.Robin Hood and the Shepherd165
136.Robin Hood's Delight168
137.Robin Hood and the Pedlars170
138.Robin Hood and Allen a Dale172
139.Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham175
140.Robin Hood rescuing Three Squires177
141.Robin Hood rescuing Will Stutly185
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 497.)
142.Little John a Begging188
143.Robin Hood and the Bishop191
144.Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford193
145.Robin Hood and Queen Katherine196
146.Robin Hood's Chase205
147.Robin Hood's Golden Prize208
(Additions and Corrections: III, 519.)
148.The Noble Fisherman, or, Robin Hood's Preferment211
149.Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage214
150.Robin Hood and Maid Marian218
(Additions and Corrections: III, 519.)
151.The King's Disguise, and Friendship with Robin Hood220
152.Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow223
(Additions and Corrections: V, 241.)
153.Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight225
154.A True Tale of Robin Hood227
155.Sir Hugh, or, The Jew's Daughter233
(Additions and Corrections: III, 519; IV, 497; V, 241, 297.)
156.Queen Eleanor's Confession257
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 498; V, 241, 297.)
157.Gude Wallace265
(Additions and Corrections: V, 242.)
158.Hugh Spencer's Feats in France275
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 499; V, 243.)
159.Durham Field282
(Additions and Corrections: V, 297.)[Pg xvii]
160.The Knight of Liddesdale288
161.The Battle of Otterburn289
(Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 499; V, 243, 297.)
162.The Hunting of the Cheviot303
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 502; V, 244, 297.)
163.The Battle of Harlaw316
(Additions and Corrections: V, 245.)
164.King Henry Fifth's Conquest of France320
(Additions and Corrections: V, 245.)
165.Sir John Butler327
166.The Rose of England331
167.Sir Andrew Barton334
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 502; V, 245.)
168.Flodden Field351
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 507; V, 298.)
169.Johnie Armstrong362
(Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 507; V, 298.)
170.The Death of Queen Jane372
(Additions and Corrections: V, 245, 298.)
171.Thomas Cromwell377
172.Musselburgh Field378
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 507.)
173.Mary Hamilton379
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 507; V, 246, 298.)
174.Earl Bothwell399
(Additions and Corrections: V, 247.)
175.The Rising in the North401
176.Northumberland betrayed by Douglas408
(Additions and Corrections: V, 299.)
177.The Earl of Westmoreland416
(Additions and Corrections: V, 299.)
178.Captain Car, or, Edom o Gordon423
(Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 513; V, 247, 299.)
179.Rookhope Ryde439
180.King James and Brown442
181.The Bonny Earl of Murray447
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 515.)
182.The Laird o Logie449
(Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 515; V, 299.)
183.Willie Macintosh456
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 516.)
184.The Lads of Wamphray458
(Additions and Corrections: III, 520.)
185.Dick o the Cow461
186.Kinmont Willie469
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 516.)
187.Jock o the Side475
188.Archie o Cawfield484
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 516.)
Additions and Corrections496
VOLUME IV[Pg xviii]
189.Hobie Noble1
190.Jamie Telfer of the Fair Dodhead4
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 518; V, 249, 300.)
191.Hughie Grame8
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 518; V, 300.)
192.The Lochmaben Harper16
(Additions and Corrections: V, 300.)
193.The Death of Parcy Reed24
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 520.)
194.The Laird of Wariston28
195.Lord Maxwell's Last Goodnight34
(Additions and Corrections: V, 251.)
196.The Fire of Frendraught39
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 521; V, 251, 301.)
197.James Grant49
(Additions and Corrections: V, 251.)
198.Bonny John Seton51
(Additions and Corrections: V, 251.)
199.The Bonnie House o Airlie54
(Additions and Corrections: V, 252.)
200.The Gypsy Laddie61
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 522; V, 252, 301.)
201.Bessy Bell and Mary Gray75
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 522; V, 253.)
202.The Battle of Philiphaugh77
203.The Baron of Brackley79
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 522; V, 253.)
204.Jamie Douglas90
205.Loudon Hill, or, Drumclog105
206.Bothwell Bridge108
207.Lord Delamere110
208.Lord Derwentwater115
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 522; V, 254.)
210.Bonnie James Campbell142
211.Bewick and Graham144
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 522.)
212.The Duke of Athole's Nurse150
213.Sir James the Rose155
214.The Braes o Yarrow160
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 522; V, 255.)
215.Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow, or, The Water o Gamrie178
(Additions and Corrections: V, 256.)
216.The Mother's Malison, or, Clyde's Water185
(Additions and Corrections: V, 256, 301.)
217.The Broom of Cowdenknows191
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 523; V, 257.)
218.The False Lover won back209
219.The Gardener212[Pg xix]
(Additions and Corrections: V, 258.)
220.The Bonny Lass of Anglesey214
221.Katharine Jaffray216
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 523; V, 260.)
222.Bonny Baby Livingston231
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 523; V, 261.)
223.Eppie Morrie239
(Additions and Corrections: V, 262.)
224.The Lady of Arngosk241
225.Rob Roy243
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 523; V, 262.)
226.Lizie Lindsay255
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 524; V, 264.)
227.Bonny Lizie Baillie266
(Additions and Corrections: V, 265.)
228.Glasgow Peggie270
(Additions and Corrections: V, 266.)
229.Earl Crawford276
(Additions and Corrections: V, 301.)
230.The Slaughter of the Laird of Mellerstain281
231.The Earl of Errol282
(Additions and Corrections: V, 267.)
232.Richie Story291
(Additions and Corrections: V, 270.)
233.Andrew Lammie300
234.Charlie MacPherson308
(Additions and Corrections: V, 301.)
235.The Earl of Aboyne311
(Additions and Corrections: V, 270, 301.)
236.The Laird o Drum322
(Additions and Corrections: V, 272.)
237.The Duke of Gordon's Daughter332
(Additions and Corrections: V, 273.)
238.Glenlogie, or, Jean o Bethelnie338
(Additions and Corrections: V, 273, 302.)
239.Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie347
(Additions and Corrections: V, 273.)
240.The Rantin Laddie351
(Additions and Corrections: V, 274.)
241.The Baron o Leys355
(Additions and Corrections: V, 275.)
242.The Coble o Cargill358
243.James Harris (The Dæmon Lover)360
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 524.)
244.James Hatley370
245.Young Allan375
(Additions and Corrections: V, 275.)
246.Redesdale and Wise William383
(Additions and Corrections: V, 276.)
247.Lady Elspat387[Pg xx]
248.The Grey Cock, or, Saw you my Father?389
(Additions and Corrections: V, 302.)
249.Auld Matrons391
250.Henry Martyn393
(Additions and Corrections: V, 302.)
251.Lang Johnny More396
(Additions and Corrections: IV, 524.)
252.The Kitchie-Boy400
(Additions and Corrections: V, 277.)
253.Thomas o Yonderdale409
254.Lord William, or, Lord Lundy411
255.Willie's Fatal Visit415
256.Alison and Willie416
257.Burd Isabel and Earl Patrick417
(Additions and Corrections: V, 278.)
258.Broughty Wa's423
259.Lord Thomas Stuart425
(Additions and Corrections: V, 279.)
260.Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret426
261.Lady Isabel429
262.Lord Livingston431
263.The New-Slain Knight434
(Additions and Corrections: V, 279.)
264.The White Fisher435
265.The Knight's Ghost437
Additions and Corrections439
266.John Thomson and the Turk1
(Additions and Corrections: V, 279.)
267.The Heir of Linne11
268.The Twa Knights21
269.Lady Diamond29
(Additions and Corrections: V, 303.)
270.The Earl of Mar's Daughter38
271.The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward42
(Additions and Corrections: V, 280.)
272.The Suffolk Miracle58
(Additions and Corrections: V, 303.)
273.King Edward the Fourth and a Tanner of Tamworth67
(Additions and Corrections: V, 303.)
274.Our Goodman88
(Additions and Corrections: V, 281, 303.)
275.Get up and bar the Door96
(Additions and Corrections: V, 281, 304.)
276.The Friar in the Well100
277.The Wife Wrapt in Wether's Skin104[Pg xxi]
(Additions and Corrections: V, 304.)
278.The Farmer's Curst Wife107
(Additions and Corrections: V, 305.)
279.The Jolly Beggar109
280.The Beggar-Laddie116
(Additions and Corrections: V, 305.)
281.The Keach I the Creel121
282.Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant126
283.The Crafty Farmer128
284.John Dory131
285.The George Aloe and the Sweepstake133
286.The Sweet Trinity (The Golden Vanity)135
(Additions and Corrections: V, 305.)
287.Captain Ward and the Rainbow143
(Additions and Corrections: V, 305.)
288.The Young Earl of Essex's Victory over the Emperor of Germany145
289.The Mermaid148
290.The Wylie Wife of the Hie Toun Hie153
291.Child Owlet156
(Additions and Corrections: V, 305.)
292.The West-Country Damosel's Complaint157
293.John of Hazelgreen159
294.Dugall Quin165
(Additions and Corrections: V, 305.)
295.The Brown Girl166
296.Walter Lesly168
297.Earl Rothes170
298.Young Peggy171
299.Trooper and Maid172
(Additions and Corrections: V, 306.)
300.Blancheflour and Jellyflorice175
301.The Queen of Scotland176
302.Young Bearwell178
303.The Holy Nunnery179
304.Young Ronald181
305.The Outlaw Murray185
(Additions and Corrections: V, 307.)
(Additions and Corrections: V, 307.)
Additions and Corrections205, 283
Sources of the Texts397
Index of Published Airs405
Ballad Airs from Manuscript:
3. The Fause Knight upon the Road411
9. The Fair Flower of Northumberland411
10. The Twa Sisters411
11. The Cruel Brother412[Pg xxii]
12. Lord Randal412
17. Hind Horn413
20. The Cruel Mother413
40. The Queen of Elfan's Nourice413
42. Clerk Colvill414
46. Captain Wedderburn's Courtship414
47. Proud Lady Margaret414
53. Young Beichan415
58. Sir Patrick Spens415
61. Sir Colin415
63. Child Waters415
68. Young Hunting416
75. Lord Lovel416
77. Sweet William's Ghost416
84. Bonny Barbara Allan416
89. Fause Foodrage416
95. The Maid freed from the Gallows417
97. Brown Robin417
98. Brown Adam417
99. Johnie Scot418
100. Willie o Winsbury418
106. The Famous Flower of Serving-Men418
144. Johnie Cock419
157. Gudo Wallace419
161. The Battle of Otterburn419
163. The Battle of Harlaw419
164. King Henry Fifth's Conquest of France420
169. Johnie Armstrong420
173. Mary Hamilton421
182. The Laird o Logie421
222. Bonny Baby Livingston421
226. Lizie Lindsay421
228. Glasgow Peggie422
235. The Earl of Aboyne422
247. Lady Elspat422
250. Andrew Bartin423
256. Alison and Willie423
258. Broughty Wa's423
278. The Farmer's Curst Wife423
281. The Keach i the Creel424
286. The Sweet Trinity424
299. Trooper and Maid424
Index of Ballad Titles425
Titles of Collections of Ballads, or Books containing Ballads, which are very briefly cited in this work455
Index of Matters and Literature469
Corrections to be made in the Print567
Appendix: Professor Child and the Ballad571

[Pg xxiii]


Francis James Child was born in Boston on the first day of February, 1825. He was the third in a family of eight children. His father was a sailmaker, "one of that class of intelligent and independent mechanics," writes Professor Norton, "which has had a large share in determining the character of our democratic community, as of old the same class had in Athens and in Florence." The boy attended the public schools, as a matter of course; and, his parents having no thought of sending him to college, he went, in due time, not to the Latin School, but to the English High School of his native town. At that time the head master of the Boston Latin School was Mr Epes Sargent Dixwell, who is still living, at a ripe old age, one of the most respected citizens of Cambridge. Mr Dixwell had a keen eye for scholarly possibilities in boys, and, falling in with young Francis Child, was immediately struck with his extraordinary mental ability. At his suggestion, the boy was transferred to the Latin School, where he entered upon the regular preparation for admission to Harvard College. His delight in his new studies was unbounded, and the freshness of it never faded from his memory. "He speedily caught up with the boys who had already made considerable progress in Greek and Latin, and soon took the first place here, as he had done in the schools which he had previously attended." Mr Dixwell strongly advised his father to permit him to continue his studies, and made arrangements by which his college expenses should be provided for. The money Professor Child repaid, with interest, as soon as his means allowed. His gratitude to Mr. Dixwell and the friendship between them lasted through his life.

In 1842 Mr Child entered Harvard College. The intellectual condition of the college at that time and the undergraduate career of Mr Child have been admirably described by his classmate and lifelong friend, Professor Norton, in a passage which must be quoted in full[1]:—

"Harvard was then still a comparatively small institution, with no claims to the title of University; but she had her traditions of good learning as an inspiration for the studious youth, and still better she had teachers who were examples of devotion to intellectual pursuits, and who cared for those ends the attainment of which makes life worth living. Josiah Quincy was approaching the close of his term of service as President of the College, and stood before the eyes of the students as the type of a great public servant, embodying the spirit of patriotism, of integrity, and of fidelity in the discharge of whatever duty he might be called to perform. Among the Professors were Walker, Felton, Peirce, Channing, Beck, and Longfellow, men of utmost variety of temperament, but each an instructor who secured the respect no less than the gratitude of his pupils.

"The class to which Child belonged numbered hardly over sixty. The prescribed course of study which was then the rule brought all the members of the class together in recitations and lectures, and every man soon knew the relative standing of each of his fellows. Child at once took the lead and kept it. His excellence was not confined to any[Pg xxiv] one special branch of study; he was equally superior in all. He was the best in the classics, he was Peirce's favorite in mathematics, he wrote better English than any of his classmates. His intellectual interests were wider than theirs, he was a great reader, and his tastes in reading were mature. He read for amusement as well as for learning, but he did not waste his time or dissipate his mental energies over worthless or pernicious books. He made good use of the social no less than of the intellectual opportunities which college life affords, and became as great a favorite with his classmates as he had been with his schoolfellows.

"The close of his college course was marked by the exceptional distinction of his being chosen by his classmates as their Orator, and by his having the first part at Commencement as the highest scholar in the class. His class oration was remarkable for its maturity of thought and of style. Its manliness of spirit, its simple directness of presentation of the true objects of life, and of the motives by which the educated man, whatever might be his chosen career, should be inspired, together with the serious and eloquent earnestness with which it was delivered, gave to his discourse peculiar impressiveness and effect."

Graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1846, Mr Child immediately entered the service of the college, in which he continued till the day of his death. From 1846 to 1848 he was tutor in mathematics. In 1848 he was transferred, at his own request, to a tutorship in history and political economy, to which were annexed certain duties of instruction in English. In 1849 he obtained leave of absence for travel and study in Europe. He remained in Europe for about two years, returning, late in 1851, to receive an appointment to the Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory, then falling vacant by the resignation of Professor Edward T. Channing.

The tutorships which Mr Child had held were not entirely in accordance with his tastes, which had always led him in the direction of literary and linguistic study. The faculty of the college was small, however, and it was not always possible to assign an instructor to the department that would have been most to his mind. But the governors of the institution were glad to secure the services of so promising a scholar; and Mr Child, whose preference for an academic career was decided, had felt that it was wise to accept such positions as the college could offer, leaving exacter adjustments to time and circumstances. Meantime he had devoted his whole leisure to the pursuit of his favorite studies. His first fruits were a volume entitled Four Old Plays[2] published in 1848, when he was but twenty-three years old. This was a remarkably competent performance. The texts are edited with judgment and accuracy; the introduction shows literary discrimination as well as sound scholarship, and the glossary and brief notes are thoroughly good. There are no signs of immaturity in the book, and it is still valued by students of our early drama.

The leave of absence granted to Mr Child in 1849 came at a most favorable moment. His health had suffered from close application to work, and a change of climate had been advised by his physicians. His intellectual and scholarly development, too, had reached that stage in which foreign study and travel were certain to be most stimulating and fruitful. He was amazingly apt, and two years of opportunity meant much more to him than to most men. He returned to take up the duties of his new office a trained and mature scholar, at home in the best methods and traditions of German universities, yet with no sacrifice of his individuality and intellectual independence.

While in Germany Mr Child studied at Berlin and Göttingen, giving his time mostly[Pg xxv] to Germanic philology, then cultivated with extraordinary vigor and success. The hour was singularly propitious. In the three or four decades preceding Mr Child's residence in Europe, Germanic philology (in the wider sense) had passed from the stage of "romantic" dilettantism into the condition of a well-organized and strenuous scientific discipline, but the freshness and vivacity of the first half of the century had not vanished. Scholars, however severe, looked through the form and strove to comprehend the spirit. The ideals of erudition and of a large humanity were not even suspected of incompatibility. The imagination was still invoked as the guide and illuminator of learning. The bond between antiquity and mediævalism and between the Middle Ages and our own century was never lost from sight. It was certainly fortunate for American scholarship that at precisely this juncture a young man of Mr Child's ardent love of learning, strong individuality, and broad intellectual sympathies was brought into close contact with all that was most quickening in German university life. He attended lectures on classical antiquity and philosophy, as well as on Germanic philology; but it was not so much by direct instruction that he profited as by the inspiration which he derived from the spirit and the ideals of foreign scholars, young and old. His own greatest contribution to learning, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, may even, in a very real sense, be regarded as the fruit of these years in Germany. Throughout his life he kept a picture of William and James Grimm on the mantel over his study fireplace.

Mr Child wrote no "dissertation," and returned to Cambridge without having attempted to secure a doctor's degree. Never eager for such distinctions, he had been unwilling to subject himself to the restrictions on his plan of study which candidacy for the doctorate would have imposed. Three years after, however, in 1854, he was surprised and gratified to receive from the University of Göttingen the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, accompanied by a special tribute of respect from that institution. Subsequently he received the degree of LL. D. from Harvard (in 1884) and that of L. H. D. from Columbia (in 1887); but the Göttingen Ph. D., coming as it did at the outset of his career, was in a high degree auspicious.

The Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory, to which, as has been already mentioned, Mr Child succeeded on his return to America toward the end of 1851, was no sinecure. In addition to academic instruction of the ordinary kind, the duties of the chair included the superintendence and criticism of a great quantity of written work, in the nature of essays and set compositions prepared by students of all degrees of ability. For twenty-five years Mr Child performed these duties with characteristic punctuality and devotion, though with increasing distaste for the drudgery which they involved. Meantime a great change had come over Harvard: it had developed from a provincial college into a national seminary of learning, and the introduction of the "elective system"—corresponding to the "Lernfreiheit" of Germany—had enabled it to become a university in the proper sense of the word. One result of the important reform just referred to was the establishment of a Professorship of English, entirely distinct from the old chair of Rhetoric. This took place on May 8, 1876, and on the 20th of the next month Mr Child was transferred to the new professorship. His duties as an instructor were now thoroughly congenial, and he continued to perform them with unabated vigor to the end. In the onerous details of administrative and advisory work, inseparable, according to our exacting American system, from the position of a university professor, he was equally faithful and untiring. For thirty years he acted as secretary of the Library Council, and in all that time he was absent from but three meetings. As chairman of the Department of English and of the Division of Modern Languages, and as a member of many important committees, he was ever prodigal of time and effort. How steadily he attended to the regular duties of the class-room, his pupils, for fifty years, are[Pg xxvi] the best witnesses. They, too, will best understand the satisfaction he felt that, in the fiftieth year of his teaching, he was not absent from a single lecture. No man was ever less a formalist; yet the most formal of natures could not, in the strictest observance of punctilio, have surpassed the regularity with which he discharged, as it were spontaneously, the multifarious duties of his position.

Throughout his service as professor of rhetoric, Mr Child, hampered though he was by the requirements of his laborious office, had pursued with unquenchable ardor the study of the English language and literature, particularly in their older forms, and in these subjects he had become an authority of the first rank long before the establishment of the English chair enabled him to arrange his university teaching in accordance with his tastes. Soon after he returned from Germany he undertook the general editorial supervision of a series of the 'British Poets,' published at Boston in 1853 and several following years, and extending to some hundred and fifty volumes. Out of this grew, in one way or another, his three most important contributions to learning: his edition of Spenser, his Observations on the Language of Chaucer and Gower, and his English and Scottish Popular Ballads.

Mr Child's Spenser appeared in 1855.[3] Originally intended, as he says in the preface, as little more than a reprint of the edition published in 1839 under the superintendence of Mr George Hillard, the book grew upon his hands until it had become something quite different from its predecessor. Securing access to old copies of most of Spenser's poems, Mr Child subjected the text to a careful revision, which left little to be done in this regard. His Life of Spenser was far better than any previous biography, and his notes, though brief, were marked by a philological exactness to which former editions could not pretend. Altogether, though meant for the general reader and therefore sparingly annotated, Mr Child's volumes remain, after forty years, the best edition of Spenser in existence.

The plan of the 'British Poets' originally contemplated an edition of Chaucer, which Mr Child was to prepare. Becoming convinced, however, that the time was not ripe for such a work, he abandoned this project, and to the end of his life he never found time to resume it. Thomas Wright's print of the Canterbury Tales[4] from the Harleian MS. 7334 had, however, put into his hands a reasonably faithful reproduction of an old text, and he turned his attention to a minute study of Chaucer's language. The outcome was the publication, in the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for 1863, of the great treatise to which Mr Child gave the modest title of Observations on the Language of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It is difficult, at the present day, to imagine the state of Chaucer philology at the moment when this paper appeared. Scarcely anything, we may say, was known of Chaucer's grammar and metre in a sure and scientific way. Indeed, the difficulties to be solved had not even been clearly formulated. Further, the accessible mass of evidence on Anglo-Saxon and Middle English was, in comparison with the stores now at the easy command of every tyro, almost insignificant. Yet, in this brief treatise, Mr Child not only defined the problems, but provided for most of them a solution which the researches of younger scholars have only served to substantiate. He also gave a perfect model of the method proper to such inquiries—a method simple, laborious, and exact. The Observations were subsequently rearranged and condensed, with Professor Child's permission, by Mr A. J. Ellis for his work On Early English Pronunciation; but only those who have studied them in their original form can appreciate their merit fully. "It ought never to be forgotten," writes Pro[Pg xxvii]fessor Skeat, "that the only full and almost complete solution of the question of the right scansion of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is due to what Mr Ellis rightly terms 'the wonderful industry, acuteness, and accuracy of Professor Child.'" Had he produced nothing else, this work, with its pendant, the Observations on Gower,[5] would have assured him a high place among those very few scholars who have permanently settled important problems of linguistic science.

Mr Child's crowning work, however, was the edition of the English and Scottish Popular Ballads, which the reader now has before him. The history of this is the history of more than half a lifetime.

The idea of the present work grew out of Mr Child's editorial labors on the series of the 'British Poets,' already referred to. For this he prepared a collection in eight small volumes (1857-58) called English and Scottish Ballads.[6] This was marked by the beginnings of that method of comparative study which is carried out to its ultimate issues in the volumes of the present collection. The book circulated widely, and was at once admitted to supersede all previous attempts in the same field. To Mr Child, however, it was but the starting-point for further researches. He soon formed the plan of a much more extensive collection on an altogether different model. This was to include every obtainable version of every extant English or Scottish ballad, with the fullest possible discussion of related songs or stories in the "popular" literature of all nations. To this enterprise he resolved, if need were, to devote the rest of his life. His first care was to secure trustworthy texts. In his earlier collection he had been forced to depend almost entirely on printed books. No progress, he was convinced, could be made till recourse could be had to manuscripts, and in particular to the Percy MS. Accordingly he directed his most earnest efforts to securing the publication of the entire contents of the famous folio. The Percy MS. was at Ecton Hall, in the possession of the Bishop's descendants, who would permit no one even to examine it. Two attempts were made by Dr Furnivall, at Mr Child's instance, to induce the owners to allow the manuscript to be printed,—one as early as 1860 or 1861, the other in 1864,—but without avail. A third attempt was more successful, and in 1867-68 the long-secluded folio was made the common property of scholars in an edition prepared by Professor Hales and Dr Furnivall.[7]

The publication of the Percy MS. not only put a large amount of trustworthy material at the disposal of Mr Child; it exposed the full enormity of Bishop Percy's sins against popular tradition. Some shadow of suspicion inevitably fell on all other ballad collections. It was more than ever clear to Mr Child that he could not safely take anything at second hand, and he determined not to print a line of his projected work till he had exhausted every effort to get hold of whatever manuscript material might be in existence. His efforts in this direction continued through many years. A number of manuscripts were in private hands; of some the whereabouts was not known; of others the existence was not suspected. But Mr Child was untiring. He was cordially assisted by various scholars, antiquaries, and private gentlemen, to whose coöperation ample testimony is borne in the Advertisements prefixed to the volumes in the present work. Some manuscripts were secured[Pg xxviii] for the Library of Harvard University—notably Bishop Percy's Papers, the Kinloch MSS, and the Harris MS.,[8]—and of others careful copies were made, which became the property of the same library. In all these operations the indispensable good offices of Mr William Macmath, of Edinburgh, deserve particular mention. For a long series of years his services were always at Mr Child's disposal. His self-sacrifice and generosity appear to have been equalled only by his perseverance and wonderful accuracy. But for him the manuscript basis of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads would have been far less strong than it is.

Gradually, then, the manuscript materials came in, until at last, in 1882, Mr Child felt justified in beginning to print. Other important documents were, however, discovered or made accessible as time went on. Especially noteworthy was the great find at Abbotsford (see the Advertisement to Part VIII). In 1877 Dr David Laing procured, "not without difficulty," leave to prepare for Mr Child a copy of the single manuscript of ballads then known to remain in the library at Abbotsford. This MS., entitled "Scottish Songs," was so inconsiderable, in proportion to the accumulations which Sir Walter Scott had made in preparing his Border Minstrelsy, that further search seemed to be imperatively necessary. In 1890 permission to make such a search, and to use the results, was given by the Honorable Mrs Maxwell-Scott. The investigation, made by Mr Macmath, yielded a rich harvest of ballads, which were utilized in Parts VII-IX. To dwell upon the details would be endless. The reader may see a list of the manuscript sources at pp. 397 ff. of the fifth volume; and, if he will observe how scattered they were, he will have no difficulty in believing that it required years, labor, and much delicate negotiation to bring them all together. One manuscript remained undiscoverable, William Tytler's Brown MS., but there is no reason to believe that this contained anything of consequence that is not otherwise known.[9]

Meanwhile, concurrently with the toil of amassing, collating, and arranging texts, went on the far more arduous labor of comparative study of the ballads of all nations; for, in accordance with Mr Child's plan it was requisite to determine, in the fullest manner, the history and foreign relations of every piece included in his collection. To this end he devoted much time and unwearied diligence to forming, in the Library of the University, a special collection of "Folk-lore," particularly of ballads, romances, and Märchen. This priceless collection, the formation of which must be looked on as one of Mr Child's most striking services to the university, numbers some 7000 volumes. But these figures by no means represent the richness of the Library in the departments concerned, or the services of Mr Child in this particular. Mediæval literature in all its phases was his province, and thousands of volumes classified in other departments of the University Library bear testimony to his vigilance in ordering books, and his astonishing bibliographical knowledge. Very few books are cited in the present collection which are not to be found on the shelves of this Library.

In addition, Mr Child made an effort to stimulate the collection of such remains of the traditional ballad as still live on the lips of the people in this country and in the British Islands. The harvest was, in his opinion, rather scanty; yet, if all the versions thus recovered from tradition were enumerated, the number would not be found inconsiderable. Enough was done, at all events, to make it clear that little or nothing of value remains to be recovered in this way.

To readers familiar with such studies, no comment is necessary, and to those who are unfamiliar with them, no form of statement can convey even a faint impression of the industry, the learning, the acumen, and the literary skill which these processes required. In writing the history of a single ballad, Mr Child was sometimes forced to examine[Pg xxix] hundreds of books in perhaps a dozen different languages. But his industry was unflagging, his sagacity was scarcely ever at fault, and his linguistic and literary knowledge seemed to have no bounds. He spared no pains to perfect his work in every detail, and his success was commensurate with his efforts. In the Advertisement to the Ninth Part (1894), he was able to report that the three hundred and five numbers of his collection comprised the whole extant mass of this traditional material, with the possible exception of a single ballad.[10]

In June, 1896, Mr Child concluded his fiftieth year of service as a teacher in Harvard College. He was at this time hard at work on the Tenth and final Part, which was to contain a glossary, various indexes, a bibliography, and an elaborate introduction on the general subject. For years he had allowed himself scarcely any respite from work, and, in spite of the uncertain condition of his health,—or perhaps in consequence of it,—he continued to work at high pressure throughout the summer. At the end of August he discovered that he was seriously ill. He died at Boston on the 11th day of September. He had finished his great work except for the introduction and the general bibliography. The bibliography was in preparation by another hand and has since been completed. The introduction, however, no other scholar had the hardihood to undertake. A few pages of manuscript,—the last thing written by his pen,—almost illegible, were found among his papers to show that he had actually begun the composition of this essay, and many sheets of excerpts testified to the time he had spent in refreshing his memory as to the opinions of his predecessors, but he had left no collectanea that could be utilized in supplying the Introduction itself. He was accustomed to carry much of his material in his memory till the moment of composition arrived, and this habit accounts for the fact that there are no jottings of opinions and no sketch of precisely what line of argument he intended to take.

Mr Child's sudden death was felt as a bitter personal loss, not only by an unusually large circle of attached friends in both hemispheres, but by very many scholars who knew him through his works alone. He was one of the few learned men to whom the old title of "Master" was justly due and freely accorded. With astonishing erudition, which nothing seemed to have escaped, he united an infectious enthusiasm and a power of lucid and fruitful exposition that made him one of the greatest of teachers, and a warmth and openness of heart that won the affection of all who knew him. In most men, however complex their characters, one can distinguish the qualities of the heart, in some degree, from the qualities of the head. In Professor Child no such distinction was possible, for all the elements of his many-sided nature were fused in his marked and powerful individuality. In his case, the scholar and the man cannot be separated. His life and his learning were one; his work was the expression of himself.

As an investigator Professor Child was at once the inspiration and the despair of his disciples. Nothing could surpass the scientific exactness of his methods and the unwearied diligence with which he conducted his researches. No possible source of information could elude him; no book or manuscript was too voluminous or too unpromising for him to examine on the chance of its containing some fact that might correct or supplement his material, even in the minutest point. Yet these qualities of enthusiastic accuracy and thoroughness, admirable as they undoubtedly were, by no means dominated him. They were always at the command of the higher qualities of his genius,—sagacity, acumen, and a kind of sympathetic and imaginative power in which he stood almost alone among recent scholars. No detail of language or tradition or archæology was to him a mere lifeless fact; it was transmuted into something vital, and became a part of that universal humanity which always moved him wherever he found it, whether in the pages of a mediæval[Pg xxx] chronicle, or in the stammering accents of a late and vulgarly distorted ballad, or in the faces of the street boys who begged roses from his garden. No man ever felt a keener interest in his kind, and no scholar ever brought this interest into more vivifying contact with the technicalities of his special studies. The exuberance of this large humanity pervades his edition of the English and Scottish ballads. Even in his last years, when the languor of uncertain health sometimes got the better, for a season, of the spirit with which he commonly worked, some fresh bit of genuine poetry in a ballad, some fine trait of pure nature in a stray folk-tale, would, in an instant, bring back the full flush of that enthusiasm which he must have felt when the possibilities of his achievement first presented themselves to his mind in early manhood. For such a nature there was no old age.

From this ready sympathy came that rare faculty—seldom possessed by scholars—which made Professor Child peculiarly fit for his greatest task. Few persons understand the difficulties of ballad investigation. In no field of literature have the forger and the manipulator worked with greater vigor and success. From Percy's day to our own it has been thought an innocent device to publish a bit of one's own versifying, now and then, as an "old ballad" or an "ancient song." Often, too, a late stall-copy of a ballad, getting into oral circulation, has been innocently furnished to collectors as traditional matter. Mere learning will not guide an editor through these perplexities. What is needed is, in addition, a complete understanding of the "popular" genius, a sympathetic recognition of the traits that characterize oral literature wherever and in whatever degree they exist. This faculty, which even the folk has not retained, and which collectors living in ballad-singing and tale-telling times have often failed to acquire, was vouchsafed by nature herself to this sedentary scholar. In reality a kind of instinct, it had been so cultivated by long and loving study of the traditional literature of all nations that it had become wonderfully swift in its operations and almost infallible. A forged or retouched piece could not deceive him for a moment; he detected the slightest jar in the genuine ballad tone. He speaks in one place of certain writers "who would have been all the better historians for a little reading of romances." He was himself the better interpreter of the poetry of art for this keen sympathy with the poetry of nature.

Constant association with the spirit of the folk did its part in maintaining, under the stress of unremitting study and research, that freshness and buoyancy of mind which was the wonder of all who met Professor Child for the first time, and the perpetual delight of his friends and associates. It is impossible to describe the charm of his familiar conversation. There was endless variety without effort. His peculiar humor, taking shape in a thousand felicities of thought and phrase that fell casually and as it were inevitably from his lips, exhilarated without reaction or fatigue. His lightest words were full of fruitful suggestion. Sudden strains of melancholy or high seriousness were followed, in a moment, by flashes of gaiety almost boyish. And pervading it all one felt the attraction of his personality and the goodness of his heart.

Professor Child's humor was not only one of his most striking characteristics as a man; it was of constant service to his scholarly researches. Keenly alive to any incongruity in thought or fact, and the least self-conscious of men, he scrutinized his own nascent theories with the same humorous shrewdness with which he looked at the ideas of others. It is impossible to think of him as the sponsor of some hypotheses which men of equal eminence have advanced and defended with passion; and, even if his goodness of nature had not prevented it, his sense of the ridiculous would not have suffered him to engage in the absurdities of philological polemics. In the interpretation of literature, his humor stood him in good stead, keeping his native sensibility under due control, so that it never degenerated into sentimentalism. It made him a marvelous interpreter of Chaucer, whose spirit he had caught to a degree attained by no other scholar or critic.

[Pg xxxi]

To younger scholars Professor Child was an influence at once stimulating and benignant. To confer with him was always to be stirred to greater effort, but, at the same time, the serenity of his devotion to learning chastened the petulance of immature ambition in others. The talk might be quite concrete, even definitely practical,—it might deal with indifferent matters; but, in some way, there was an irradiation of the master's nature that dispelled all unworthy feelings. In the presence of his noble modesty the bustle of self-assertion was quieted and the petty spirit of pedantic wrangling could not assert itself. However severe his criticism, there were no personalities in it. He could not be other than outspoken,—concealment and shuffling were abhorrent to him,—yet such was his kindliness that his frankest judgments never wounded; even his reproofs left no sting. With his large charity was associated, as its necessary complement in a strong character, a capacity for righteous indignation. "He is almost the only man I know," said one in his lifetime, "who thinks no evil." There could be no truer word. Yet when he was confronted with injury or oppression, none could stand against the anger of this just man. His unselfishness did not suffer him to see offences against himself, but wrong done to another roused him in an instant to protesting action.

Professor Child's publications, despite their magnitude and importance, are no adequate measure either of his acquirements or of his influence. He printed nothing about Shakspere, for example, yet he was the peer of any Shaksperian, past or present, in knowledge and interpretative power. As a Chaucer scholar he had no superior, in this country or in Europe: his published work was confined, as we have seen, to questions of language, but no one had a wider or closer acquaintance with the whole subject. An edition of Chaucer from his hand would have been priceless. His acquaintance with letters was not confined to special authors or centuries. He was at home in modern European literature and profoundly versed in that of the Middle Ages. In his immediate territory,—English,—his knowledge, linguistic and literary, covered all periods, and was alike exact and thorough. His taste and judgment were exquisite, and he enlightened every subject which he touched. As a writer, he was master of a singularly felicitous style, full of individuality and charm. Had his time not been occupied in other ways, he would have made the most delightful of essayists.

Fortunately, Professor Child's courses of instruction in the university—particularly those on Chaucer and Shakspere—gave him an opportunity to impart to a constantly increasing circle of pupils the choicest fruits of his life of thought and study. In his later years he had the satisfaction to see grow up about him a school of young specialists who can have no higher ambition than to be worthy of their master. But his teaching was not limited to these,—it included all sorts and conditions of college students; and none, not even the idle and incompetent, could fail to catch something of his spirit. One thing may be safely asserted: no university teacher was ever more beloved.

And with this may fitly close too slight a tribute to the memory of a great scholar and a good man. Many things remain unsaid. His gracious family life, his civic virtues, his patriotism, his bounty to the poor,—all must be passed by with a bare mention, which yet will signify much to those who knew him. In all ways he lived worthily, and he died having attained worthy ends.

G. L. Kittredge.


[1] C. E. Norton, 'Francis James Child,' in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, XXXII, 334, 335; reprinted, with some additions, in the Harvard Graduates' Magazine, VI, 161-169 (Boston, 1897). I have used this biographical sketch freely in my brief account of Professor Child's boyhood.

[2] Four Old Plays | Three Interludes: Thersytes Jack Jugler | and Heywoods Pardoner and Frere: | and Jocasta a Tragedy | by Gascoigne and | Kinwelmarsh | with an | Introduction and Notes | Cambridge | George Nichols | MDCCCXLVIII. The editor's name does not appear in the title-page, but the Preface is signed with the initials F. J. C. Jocasta was printed from Steevens's copy of the first edition of Garcoigne's Posies, which had come into Mr Child's possession.

[3] The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser. The text carefully revised, and illustrated with notes, original and selected, by Francis J. Child. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company. 1855. 5 vols.

[4] The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer. A new text, with illustrative notes. Edited by Thomas Wright. London, printed for the Percy Society, 1847-51. 3 vols.

[5] The paper entitled Observations on the Language of Chaucer was laid before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on June 3, 1862, and was published in the Memoirs of the Academy, Vol. VIII, pt. ii, 445-502 (Boston, 1863). The second paper, entitled Observations on the Language of Gower's Confessio Amantis, was laid before the Academy on January 9, 1866, and appeared in Memoirs, IX, ii, 265-315 (Boston, 1873). A few copies of each paper were struck off separately, but these are now very hard to find. Mr Ellis's rearrangement and amalgamation of the two papers, which is by no means a good substitute for the papers themselves, may be found in Part I of his Early English Pronunciation, London, 1869, pp. 343-97.

[6] English and Scottish Ballads. Selected and edited by Francis James Child. Boston, 1857-58.

[7] How inseparable were the services of Dr Furnivall and those of Professor Child in securing this devoutly wished consummation may be seen by comparing Dr Furnivall's Forewords (I, ix, x), in which he gives much of the credit to Mr Child, with Mr Child's Dedication (in vol. I of the present collection), in which he gives the credit to Dr Furnivall.

[8] Since Mr Child's death the important "Buchan original MS" has been secured for the Child Memorial Library of the University,—a collection endowed by friends and pupils of the dead master.

[9] See V, 397 b.

[10] This is 'Young Betrice,' No 5 in William Tytler's lost Brown MS. (V, 397), which "may possibly be a version of 'Hugh Spencer's Feats in France'" (see II, 377; III, 275).

[Pg 1]


A. a. 'A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded; or, The Maid's Answer to the Knight's Three Questions,' 4to, Rawlinson, 566, fol. 193, Bodleian Library; Wood, E. 25, fol. 15, Bod. Lib. b. Pepys, III, 19, No 17, Magdalen College, Cambridge. c. Douce, II, fol. 168 b, Bod. Lib. d. 'A Riddle Wittily Expounded,' Pills to Purge Melancholy, IV, 129, ed. 1719. "II, 129, ed. 1712."

B. 'The Three Sisters.' Some Ancient Christmas Carols ... together with two Ancient Ballads, etc. By Davies Gilbert, 2d ed., p. 65.

C. 'The Unco Knicht's Wowing,' Motherwell's MS., p. 647.

D. Motherwell's MS., p. 142.

The four copies of A differ but very slightly: a, b, c are broadsides, and d is evidently of that derivation, a and b are of the 17th century. There is another broadside in the Euing collection, formerly Halliwell's, No 253. The version in The Borderer's Table Book, VII, 83, was compounded by Dixon from others previously printed.

Riddles, as is well known, play an important part in popular story, and that from very remote times. No one needs to be reminded of Samson, Œdipus, Apollonius of Tyre. Riddle-tales, which, if not so old as the oldest of these, may be carried in all likelihood some centuries beyond our era, still live in Asiatic and European tradition, and have their representatives in popular ballads. The largest class of these tales is that in which one party has to guess another's riddles, or two rivals compete in giving or guessing, under penalty in either instance of forfeiting life or some other heavy wager; an example of which is the English ballad, modern in form, of 'King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.' In a second class, a suitor can win a lady's hand only by guessing riddles, as in our 'Captain Wedderburn's Courtship' and 'Proud Lady Margaret.' There is sometimes a penalty of loss of life for the unsuccessful, but not in these ballads. Thirdly, there is the tale (perhaps an offshoot of an early form of the first) of The Clever Lass, who wins a husband, and sometimes a crown, by guessing riddles, solving difficult but practicable problems, or matching and evading impossibilities; and of this class versions A and B of the present ballad and A-H of the following are specimens.

Ballads like our 1, A, B, 2, A-H, are very common in German. Of the former variety are the following:

A. 'Räthsellied,' Büsching, Wöchentliche Nachrichten, I, 65, from the neighborhood of Stuttgart. The same, Erlach, III, 37; Wunderhorn, IV, 139; Liederhort, p. 338, No 153; Erk u. Irmer, H. 5, p. 32, No 29; Mittler, No 1307 (omits the last stanza); Zuccalmaglio, II, 574, No 317 [with change in st. 11]. A knight meets a maid on the road, dismounts, and says, "I will ask you a riddle; if you guess it, you shall be my wife." She answers, "Your riddle shall soon be guessed; I will do my best to be your wife;" guesses eight pairs of riddles, is taken up behind him, and they ride off. B. 'Räthsel um Räthsel,' Wunderhorn, II, 407 [429, 418] == Erlach, I, 439. Zuccalmaglio, II, 572, No 316, rearranges, but adds nothing. Mittler, No 1306, inserts three stanzas (7, 9, 10). This version begins: "Maid, I will give you some riddles, and if you guess them will marry you." There are seven pairs, and, these guessed, the man says, "I can't give you riddles; let's marry;" to[Pg 2] which she gives no coy assent: but this conclusion is said not to be genuine (Liederhort, p. 341, note). C. 'Räthsellied,' Erk, Neue Sammlung, Heft 3, p. 64, No 57, and Liederhort, 340, No 153a two Brandenburg versions, nearly agreeing, one with six, the other with five, pairs of riddles. A proper conclusion not having been obtained, the former was completed by the two last stanzas of B, which are suspicious. C begins like B. D. 'Räthselfragen,' Peter, Volksthümliches aus Österreichisch-Schlesien, I, 272, No 83. A knight rides by where two maids are sitting, one of whom salutes him, the other not. He says to the former, "I will put you three questions, and if you can answer them will marry you." He asks three, then six more, then three, and then two, and, all being answered, bids her, since she is so witty, build a house on a needle's point, and put in as many windows as there are stars in the sky; which she parries with, "When all streams flow together, and all trees shall fruit, and all thorns bear roses, then come for your answer." E. 'Räthsellied,' Tschischka u. Schottky, Oesterreichische Volkslieder, 2d ed., p. 28, begins like B, C, has only three pairs of riddles, and ends with the same task of building a house on a needle's point. F. 'Räthsellied,' Hocker, Volkslieder von der Mosel, in Wolf's Zeits. für deutsche Myth., I, 251, from Trier, begins with the usual promise, has five pairs of riddles, and no conclusion. G. 'Räthsel,' Ditfurth, Fränkische V. L., II, 110, No 146, has the same beginning, six pairs of riddles, and no conclusion.

Some of the riddles occur in nearly all the versions, some in only one or two, and there is now and then a variation also in the answers. Those which are most frequent are:

Which is the maid without a tress? A-D, G.
And which is the tower without a crest? A-D, F, G.
(Maid-child in the cradle; tower of Babel.)
Which is the water without any sand? A, B, C, F, G.
And which is the king without any land? A, B, C, F, G.
(Water in the eyes; king in cards.)
Where is no dust in all the road? A-G.
Where is no leaf in all the wood? A-G.
(The milky way, or a river; a fir-wood.)
Which is the fire that never burnt? A, C-G.
And which is the sword without a point? C-G.
(A painted fire; a broken sword.)
Which is the house without a mouse? C-G.
Which is the beggar without a louse? C-G.
(A snail's house; a painted beggar.)[11]

A ballad translated in Ralston's Songs of the Russian People, p. 356, from Buslaef's Historical Sketches of National Literature and Art, I, 31, resembles very closely German A. A merchant's son drives by a garden where a girl is gathering flowers. He salutes her; she returns her thanks. Then the ballad proceeds:

'Shall I ask thee riddles, beauteous maiden?
Six wise riddles shall I ask thee?'
'Ask them, ask them, merchant's son,
Prithee ask the six wise riddles.'
'Well then, maiden, what is higher than the forest?
Also, what is brighter than the light?
[Pg 3] Also, maiden, what is thicker than the forest?
Also, maiden, what is there that's rootless?
Also, maiden, what is never silent?
Also, what is there past finding out?'
'I will answer, merchant's son, will answer,
All the six wise riddles will I answer.
Higher than the forest is the moon;
Brighter than the light the ruddy sun;
Thicker than the forest are the stars;
Rootless is, O merchant's son, a stone;
Never silent, merchant's son, the sea;
And God's will is past all finding out.'
'Thou hast guessed, O maiden fair, guessed rightly,
All the six wise riddles hast thou answered;
Therefore now to me shalt thou be wedded,
Therefore, maiden, shalt thou be the merchant's wife.'[12]

Among the Gaels, both Scotch and Irish, a ballad of the same description is extremely well known. Apparently only the questions are preserved in verse, and the connection with the story made by a prose comment. Of these questions there is an Irish form, dated 1738, which purports to be copied from a manuscript of the twelfth century. Fionn would marry no lady whom he could pose. Graidhne, "daughter of the king of the fifth of Ullin," answered everything he asked, and became his wife. Altogether there are thirty-two questions in the several versions. Among them are: What is blacker than the raven? (There is death.) What is whiter than the snow? (There is the truth.) 'Fionn's Questions,' Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands, III, 36; 'Fionn's Conversation with Ailbhe,'Heroic Gaelic Ballads, by the same, pp. 150, 151.

The familiar ballad-knight of A, B is converted in C into an "unco knicht," who is the devil, a departure from the proper story which is found also in 2 J. The conclusion of C,

As soon as she the fiend did name,
He flew awa in a blazing flame,

reminds us of the behavior of trolls and nixes under like circumstances, but here the naming amounts to a detection of the Unco Knicht's quiddity, acts as an exorcism, and simply obliges the fiend to go off in his real character. D belongs with C: it was given by the reciter as a colloquy between the devil and a maiden.

The earlier affinities of this ballad can be better shown in connection with No 2.

Translated, after B and A, in Grundtvig's Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 181: Herder, Volkslieder, I, 95, after A d.


a. Broadside in the Rawlinson collection, 4to, 566, fol. 193, Wood, E. 25, fol. 15. b. Pepys, III, 19, No 17. c. Douce, II, fol. 168 b. d. Pills to Purge Melancholy, IV, 130, ed. 1719.

There was a lady of the North Country,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom
And she had lovely daughters three.
Fa la la la, fa la la la ra re
There was a knight of noble worth
Which also lived in the North.
The knight, of courage stout and brave,
A wife he did desire to have.
He knocked at the ladie's gate
One evening when it was late.
The eldest sister let him in,
And pin'd the door with a silver pin.
The second sister she made his bed,
And laid soft pillows under his head.
The youngest daughter that same night,
She went to bed to this young knight.
And in the morning, when it was day,
These words unto him she did say:
'Now you have had your will,' quoth she,
'I pray, sir knight, will you marry me?'
The young brave knight to her replyed,
'Thy suit, fair maid, shall not be deny'd.
[Pg 4]
'If thou canst answer me questions three,
This very day will I marry thee.'
'Kind sir, in love, O then,' quoth she,
'Tell me what your [three] questions be.'
'O what is longer than the way,
Or what is deeper than the sea?
'Or what is louder than the horn,
Or what is sharper than a thorn?
'Or what is greener than the grass,
Or what is worse then a woman was?'
'O love is longer than the way,
And hell is deeper than the sea.
'And thunder is louder than the horn,
And hunger is sharper than a thorn.
'And poyson is greener than the grass,
And the Devil is worse than woman was.'
When she these questions answered had,
The knight became exceeding glad.
And having [truly] try'd her wit,
He much commended her for it.
And after, as it is verifi'd,
He made of her his lovely bride.
So now, fair maidens all, adieu,
This song I dedicate to you.
I wish that you may constant prove
Vnto the man that you do love.


Gilbert's Christmas Carols, 2d ed., p. 65, from the editor's recollection. West of England.

There were three sisters fair and bright,
Jennifer gentle and rosemaree
And they three loved one valiant knight.
As the dew flies over the mulberry tree
The eldest sister let him in,
And barred the door with a silver pin.
The second sister made his bed,
And placed soft pillows under his head.
The youngest sister, fair and bright,
Was resolved for to wed with this valiant knight.
'And if you can answer questions three,
O then, fair maid, I will marry with thee.
'What is louder than an horn,
And what is sharper than a thorn?'
'Thunder is louder than an horn,
And hunger is sharper than a thorn.'
'What is broader than the way,
And what is deeper than the sea?'
'Love is broader than the way,
And hell is deeper than the sea.'
  *   *   *   *   *
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'And now, fair maid, I will marry with thee.'


Motherwell's MS., p. 647. From the recitation of Mrs Storie.

There was a knicht riding frae the east,
Sing the Cather banks, the bonnie brume
Wha had been wooing at monie a place.
And ye may beguile a young thing sune
He came unto a widow's door
And speird whare her three dochters were.
The auldest ane's to a washing gane,
The second's to a baking gane.
The youngest ane's to a wedding gane,
And it will be nicht or she be hame.
[Pg 5]
He sat him doun upon a stane,
Till thir three lasses came tripping hame.
The auldest ane's to the bed making,
And the second ane's to the sheet spreading.
The youngest ane was bauld and bricht,
And she was to lye with this unco knicht.
'Gin ye will answer me questions ten,
The morn ye sall be made my ain.
'O what is heigher nor the tree?
And what is deeper nor the sea?
'Or what is heavier nor the lead?
And what is better nor the breid?
'O what is whiter nor the milk?
Or what is safter nor the silk?
'Or what is sharper nor a thorn?
Or what is louder nor a horn?
'Or what is greener nor the grass?
Or what is waur nor a woman was?'
'O heaven is higher nor the tree,
And hell is deeper nor the sea.
'O sin is heavier nor the lead,
The blessing's better nor the bread.
'The snaw is whiter nor the milk,
And the down is safter nor the silk.
'Hunger is sharper nor a thorn,
And shame is louder nor a horn.
'The pies are greener nor the grass,
And Clootie's waur nor a woman was.'
As sune as she the fiend did name,
He flew awa in a blazing flame.


Motherwell's MS., p. 142.

'O what is higher than the trees?
Gar lay the bent to the bonny broom
And what is deeper than the seas?
And you may beguile a fair maid soon
'O what is whiter than the milk?
Or what is softer than the silk?
'O what is sharper than the thorn?
O what is louder than the horn?
'O what is longer than the way?
And what is colder than the clay?
'O what is greener than the grass?
And what is worse than woman was?'
'O heaven's higher than the trees,
And hell is deeper than the seas.
'And snow is whiter than the milk,
And love is softer than the silk.
'O hunger's sharper than the thorn,
And thunder's louder than the horn.
'O wind is longer than the way,
And death is colder than the clay.
'O poison's greener than the grass,
And the Devil's worse than eer woman was.'

A. a.

Title. A Noble Riddle wisely Expounded: or, The Maids answer to the Knights Three Questions.

She with her excellent wit and civil carriage,
Won a young Knight to joyn with him in marriage;
This gallant couple now is man and wife,
And she with him doth lead a pleasant Life.

Tune of Lay the bent to the bonny broom.


c. Knights questions. Wed a knight ... with her in marriage.

[Pg 6]

a. Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, I. Wright, and I. Clarke.

b. Printed for W. Thackeray, E.M. and A.M.

c. Licens'd according to Order. London. Printed by Tho. Norris, at the L[o]oking glass on London-bridge. And sold by J. Walter, in High Holborn.

In Rawlinson and Wood the first seven lines are in Roman and Italic type; the remainder being in black letter and Roman. The Pepys copy has one line of the ballad in black letter and one line in Roman type. The Douce edition is in Roman and Italic.


11, c, i' th' North: d, in the.

31. c, This knight.

51. a, b, c, d, The youngest sister.

71. b, d, The youngest that same. c, that very same.

72. a, with this young knight.

92. d, sir knight, you marry me.

After 10, there is a wood-cut of the knight and the maid in a; in b two cuts of the knight.

112. c, I'll marry. d, I will.

121. c omits in love.

122. b, c, d, three questions.

141. d, a horn.

After 15: a, Here follows the Damosel's answer to the Knight's Three Questions: c, The Damsel's Answers To The Knight's Questions: d, The Damsel's Answer to the Three Questions.

17, 18. b, c, d, thunder's, hunger's, poyson's, devil's.

182. d, the woman.

191. c, those.

20. a, b omit truly.

211. b, c, d, as 't is.


The burden is printed by Gilbert, in the text, "Jennifer gentle and Rosemaree." He appears to take Jennifer and Rosemaree to be names of the sisters. As printed under the music, the burden runs,

Juniper, Gentle and Rosemary.

No doubt, juniper and rosemary, simply, are meant; Gentle might possibly be for gentian. In 2 H the burden is,

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme:

curiously varied in I thus:

Every rose grows merry wi thyme:

and in G,

Sober and grave grows merry in time.


18. "Vergris in another set." M.


MS. before st. 1, "The Devil speaks;" before st. 6, "The maiden speaks."


[11] D 4, What is green as clover? What is white as milk? comes near to English A 15, C 13, D 5, What is greener than grass? C 11, D 2, What is whiter than milk? We have again, What is greener than grass? in 'Capt. Wedderburn's Courtship,' A 12; What is whiter than snow? What is greener than clover? in 'Räthselfragen,' Firmenich, Germaniens Völkerstimmen, III, 634; in 'Kranzsingen,' Erk's Liederhort, p. 342, 3; 'Traugemundslied,' 11; 'Ein Spiel von den Freiheit,' Fastnachtspiele aus dem 15n Jahrhundert, II, 555; Altdeutsche Wälder, III, 138. So, What is whiter than a swan? in many of the versions of Svend Vonved, Grundtvig, III, 786; IV, 742-3-7-8; Afzelius, II, 139, etc.; and Sin is blacker than a sloe, or coal (cf. C 15, Sin is heavier nor the lead), Grundtvig, I, 240, 247; IV, 748, 9; Afzelius, II, 139. The road without dust and the tree without leaves are in 'Ein Spiel von den Freiheit,' p. 557; and in Meier, Deutsche Kinderreime, p. 84, no doubt a fragment of a ballad, as also the verses in Firmenich. The question in German, A 4, Welches ist das trefflichste Holz? (die Rebe) is in the Anglo-Saxon prose Salomon and Saturn: Kemble, Sal. and Sat. 188, No 40; 204; see also 287, 10. Riddle verses with little or no story (sometimes fragments of ballads like D) are frequent. The Traugemundslied, Uhland, I, 3, and the Spiel von den Freiheit, Fastnachtspiele, II, 553, have only as much story as will serve as an excuse for long strings of riddles. Shorter pieces of the kind are (Italian) Kaden, Italiens Wunderhern, p. 14; (Servian) 'The Maid and the Fish,' Vuk, I, 196, No 285, Talvj, II, 176, Goetze, Serbische V. L., p. 75, Bowring, Servian Popular Poetry, p. 184; (Polish) Wojcicki, I, 203; (Wendish) Haupt and Schmaler, I, 177, No 150, II, 69, No 74; (Russian) Wenzig, Bibliothek Slav. Poesie, p. 174; (Esthonian) Neus, Ehstnische V. L., 390 ff, and Fosterländskt Album, I, 13, Prior, Ancient Danish Ballads, II, 341.

[12] 'Capt. Wedderburn's Courtship,' 12: What's higher than the tree? (heaven). Wojcicki, Pieśni, I, 203, l. 11, 206, l. 3; What grows without a root? (a stone).


A. 'A proper new ballad entituled The Wind hath blown my Plaid away, or, A Discourse betwixt a young [Wo]man and the Elphin Knight;' a broadside in black letter in the Pepysian library, bound up at the end of a copy of Blind Harry's 'Wallace,' Edin. 1673.

B. 'A proper new ballad entitled The Wind hath blawn my Plaid awa,' etc. Webster, A Collection of Curious Old Ballads, p. 3.

C. 'The Elfin Knicht,' Kinloch's Anc. Scott. Ballads, p. 145.

D. 'The Fairy Knight,' Buchan, II, 296.

E. Motherwell's MS., p. 492.

F. 'Lord John,' Kinloch MSS, I, 75.

G. 'The Cambrick Shirt,' Gammer Gorton's Garland, p. 3, ed. 1810.

H. 'The Deil's Courtship,' Motherwell's MS., p. 92.

I. 'The Deil's Courting,' Motherwell's MS., p. 103.

J. Communicated by Rev. Dr Huntington, Bishop of Western New York, as sung at Hadley, Mass.

K. Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England, p. 109, No 171, 6th ed.

L. Notes and Queries, 1st S., VII, 8.

[Pg 7]

Pinkerton gave the first information concerning A, in Ancient Scotish Poems ... from the MS. collections of Sir Richard Maitland, etc., II, 496, and he there printed the first and last stanzas of the broadside. Motherwell printed the whole in the appendix to his Minstrelsy, No I. What stands as the last stanza in the broadside is now prefixed to the ballad, as having been the original burden. It is the only example, so far as I remember, which our ballads afford of a burden of this kind, one that is of greater extent than the stanza with which it was sung, though this kind of burden seems to have been common enough with old songs and carols.[13]

The "old copy in black letter" used for B was close to A, if not identical, and has the burden-stem at the end like A. 'The Jockey's Lamentation,' Pills to Purge Melancholy, v, 317, has the burden,

'Tis oer the hills and far away [thrice],
The wind hath blown my plaid away.

The 'Bridal Sark,' Cromek's Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, p. 108, and 'The Bridegroom Darg,' p. 113, are of modern manufacture and impostures; at least, they seem to have imposed upon Cromek.

A like ballad is very common in German. A man would take, or keep, a woman for his love or his wife [servant, in one case], if she would spin brown silk from oaten straw. She will do this if he will make clothes for her of the linden-leaf. Then she must bring him shears from the middle of the Rhine. But first he must build her a bridge from a single twig, etc., etc. To this effect, with some variations in the tasks set, in A, 'Eitle Dinge,' Rhaw, Bicinia (1545), Uhland, I, 14, No 4 A, Böhme, p. 376, No 293. B. 'Van ideln unmöglichen Dingen,' Neocorus († c. 1630), Chronik des Landes Ditmarschen, ed. Dahlmann, p. 180 == Uhland, p. 15, No 4 B, Müllenhof, p. 473, Böhme, p. 376, No 294. C. Wunderhorn, II, 410 [431] == Erlach, I, 441, slightly altered in Kretzschmer [Zuccalmaglio], II, 620. D. 'Unmöglichkeiten,' Schmeller, Die Mundarten Bayerns, p. 556. E. Schlesische Volkslieder, p. 115, No 93. F. 'Liebes-Neckerei,' Meier, Schwäbische V. L., p. 114, No 39. G. 'Liebesspielereien,' Ditfurth, Fränkische V. L., II, 109, No 144. H. 'Von eitel unmöglichen Dingen,' Erk's Liederhort, p. 337, No 152b. I. 'Unmögliches Begehren,' V. L. aus Oesterreich, Deutsches Museum, 1862, II, 806, No 16. J. 'Unmögliche Dinge,' Peter, Volksthümliches aus Österreichisch-Schlesien, I, 270, No 82. In K, 'Wettgesang,' Meinert, p. 80, and L, Liederhort, p. 334, No 152, there is a simple contest of wits between a youth and a maid, and in M, Erk, Neue Sammlung, H. 2, No 11, p. 16, and N, 'Wunderbare Aufgaben,' Pröhle, Weltliche u. geistliche Volkslieder, p. 36, No 22 B, the wit-contest is added to the very insipid ballad of 'Gemalte Rosen.'

'Store Fordringar,' Kristensen, Jydske Folkeviser, I, 221, No 82, and 'Opsang,' Lindeman, Norske Fjeldmelodier, No 35 (Text Bilag, p. 6), closely resemble German[Pg 8] M, N. In the Stev, or alternate song, in Landstad, p. 375, two singers vie one with another in propounding impossible tasks.

A Wendish ballad, Haupt and Schmaler, I, 178, No 151, and a Slovak, Čelakowsky, II, 68, No 12 (the latter translated by Wenzig, Slawische Volkslieder, p. 86, Westslavischer Märchenschatz, p. 221, and Bibliothek Slavischer Poesien, p. 126), have lost nearly all their story, and, like German K, L, may be called mere wit-contests.

The Graidhne whom we have seen winning Fionn for husband by guessing his riddles, p. 3, afterwards became enamored of Diarmaid, Fionn's nephew, in consequence of her accidentally seeing a beauty spot on Diarmaid's forehead. This had the power of infecting with love any woman whose eye should light upon it: wherefore Diarmaid used to wear his cap well down. Graidhne tried to make Diarmaid run away with her. But he said, "I will not go with thee. I will not take thee in softness, and I will not take thee in hardness; I will not take thee without, and I will not take thee within; I will not take thee on horseback, and I will not take thee on foot." Then he went and built himself a house where he thought he should be out of her way. But Graidhne found him out. She took up a position between the two sides of the door, on a buck goat, and called to him to go with her. For, said she, "I am not without, I am not within; I am not on foot, and I am not on a horse; and thou must go with me." After this Diarmaid had no choice. 'Diarmaid and Grainne,' Tales of the West Highlands, III, 39-49; 'How Fingal got Graine to be his wife, and she went away with Diarmaid,' Heroic Gaelic Ballads, p. 153; 'The Death of Diarmaid,' ib., p. 154. The last two were written down c. 1774.

In all stories of the kind, the person upon whom a task is imposed stands acquitted, if another of no less difficulty is devised which must be performed first. This preliminary may be something that is essential for the execution of the other, as in the German ballads, or equally well something that has no kind of relation to the original requisition, as in the English ballads.

An early form of such a story is preserved in Gesta Romanorum, c. 64, Oesterley, p. 374. It were much to be wished that search were made for a better copy, for, as it stands, this tale is to be interpreted only by the English ballad. The old English version, Madden, XLIII, p. 142, is even worse mutilated than the Latin. A king, who was stronger, wiser, and handsomer than any man, delayed, like the Marquis of Saluzzo, to take a wife. His friends urged him to marry, and he replied to their expostulations, "You know I am rich enough and powerful enough; find me a maid who is good looking and sensible, and I will take her to wife, though she be poor." A maid was found who was eminently good looking and sensible, and of royal blood besides. The king wished to make trial of her sagacity, and sent her a bit of linen three inches square, with a promise to marry her if she would make him a shirt of this, of proper length and width. The lady stipulated that the king should send her "a vessel in which she could work," and she would make the shirt: "michi vas concedat in quo operari potero, et camisiam satis longam ei promitto." So the king sent "vas debitum et preciosum," the shirt was made, and the king married her.[14] It may be doubted whether the sagacious maid did not, in the unmutilated story, deal with the problem as is done in a Transylvanian tale, Haltrich, Deutsche Volksmärchen, u.s.w., No 45, p. 245, where the king requires the maid to make a shirt and drawers of two threads. The maid, in this instance, sends the king a couple of broomsticks, requiring that he should first make her a loom and bobbin-wheel out of them.

The tale just cited, 'Der Burghüter und seine kluge Tochter,' is one of several which have been obtained from tradition in this century, that link the ballads of The Clever Lass with oriental stories of great age. The[Pg 9] material points are these. A king requires the people of a parish to answer three questions, or he will be the destruction of them all: What is the finest sound, the finest song, the finest stone? A poor warder is instructed by his daughter to reply, the ring of bells, the song of the angels, the philosopher's stone. "Right," says the king, "but that never came out of your head. Confess who told you, or a dungeon is your doom." The man owns that he has a clever daughter, who had told him what to say. The king, to prove her sagacity further, requires her to make a shirt and drawers of two threads, and she responds in the manner just indicated. He next sends her by her father an earthen pot with the bottom out, and tells her to sew in a bottom so that no seam or stitch can be seen. She sends her father back with a request that the king should first turn the pot inside out, for cobblers always sew on the inside, not on the out. The king next demanded that the girl should come to him, neither driving, nor walking, nor riding; neither dressed nor naked; neither out of the road nor in the road; and bring him something that was a gift and no gift. She put two wasps between two plates, stripped, enveloped herself in a fishing net, put her goat into the rut in the road, and, with one foot on the goat's back, the other stepping along the rut, made her way to the king. There she lifted up one of the plates, and the wasps flew away: so she had brought the king a present and yet no present. The king thought he could never find a shrewder woman, and married her.

Of the same tenor are a tale in Zingerle's Tyrolese Kinder u. Hausmärchen, 'Was ist das Schönste, Stärkste und Reichste?' No 27, p. 162, and another in the Colshorns' Hanoverian Märchen u. Sagen, 'Die kluge Dirne,' No 26, p. 79. Here a rich and a poor peasant [a farmer and his bailiff] have a case in court, and wrangle till the magistrate, in his weariness, says he will give them three questions, and whichever answers right shall win. The questions in the former tale are: What is the most beautiful, what the strongest, what the richest thing in the world? In the other, What is fatter than fat? How heavy is the moon? How far is it to heaven? The answers suggested by the poor peasant's daughter are: Spring is the most beautiful of things, the ground the strongest, autumn the richest. And the bailiff's daughter answers: The ground is fatter than fat, for out of it comes all that's fat, and this all goes back again; the moon has four quarters, and four quarters make a pound; heaven is only one day's journey, for we read in the Bible, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." The judge sees that these replies are beyond the wit of the respondents, and they own to having been prompted by a daughter at home. The judge then says that if the girl will come to him neither dressed nor naked, etc., he will marry her; and so the shrewd wench becomes a magistrate's wife.

'Die kluge Bauerntochter,' in the Grimms' K. u. H. märchen, No 94, and 'Die kluge Hirtentochter,' in Pröhle's Märchen für die Jugend, No 49, p. 181, afford another variety of these tales. A peasant, against the advice of his daughter, carries the king a golden mortar, as he had found it, without any pestle. The king shuts him up in prison till he shall produce the pestle [Grimms]. The man does nothing but cry, "Oh, that I had listened to my daughter!" The king sends for him, and, learning what the girl's counsel had been, says he will give her a riddle, and if she can make it out will marry her. She must come to him neither clothed nor naked, neither riding nor driving, etc. The girl wraps herself in a fishing net [Grimms, in bark, Pröhle], satisfies the other stipulations also, and becomes a queen.[15]

Another story of the kind, and very well preserved, is No 25 of Vuk's Volksmärchen der Serben, 'Von dem Mädchen das an Weisheit den Kaiser übertraf,' p. 157. A poor[Pg 10] man had a wise daughter. An emperor gave him thirty eggs, and said his daughter must hatch chickens from these, or it would go hard with her. The girl perceived that the eggs had been boiled. She boiled some beans, and told her father to be ploughing along the road, and when the emperor came in sight, to sow them and cry, "God grant my boiled beans may come up!" The emperor, hearing these ejaculations, stopped, and said, "My poor fellow, how can boiled beans grow?" The father answered, according to instructions, "As well as chickens can hatch from boiled eggs." Then the emperor gave the old man a bundle of linen, and bade him make of it, on pain of death, sails and everything else requisite for a ship. The girl gave her father a piece of wood, and sent him back to the emperor with the message that she would perform what he had ordered, if he would first make her a distaff, spindle, and loom out of the wood. The emperor was astonished at the girl's readiness, and gave the old man a glass, with which she was to drain the sea. The girl dispatched her father to the emperor again with a pound of tow, and asked him to stop the mouths of all the rivers that flow into the sea; then she would drain it dry. Hereupon the emperor ordered the girl herself before him, and put her the question, "What is heard furthest?" "Please your Majesty," she answered, "thunder and lies." The emperor then, clutching his beard, turned to his assembled counsellors, and said, "Guess how much my beard is worth." One said so much, another so much. But the girl said, "Nay, the emperor's beard is worth three rains in summer." The emperor took her to wife.

With these traditional tales we may put the story of wise Petronelle and Alphonso, king of Spain, told after a chronicle, with his usual prolixity, by Gower, Confessio Amantis, Pauli, I, 145 ff. The king valued himself highly for his wit, and was envious of a knight who hitherto had answered all his questions. Determined to confound his humbler rival, he devised three which he thought unanswerable, sent for the knight, and gave him a fortnight to consider his replies, which failing, he would lose his goods and head. The knight can make nothing of these questions, which are, What is that which needs help least and gets most? What is worth most and costs least? What costs most and is worth least? The girl, who is but fourteen years old, observing her father's heavy cheer, asks him the reason, and obtains his permission to go to court with him and answer the questions. He was to say to the king that he had deputed her to answer, to make trial of her wits. The answer to the first question is the earth, and agrees in the details with the solution of the query, What is fatter than fat? in the Tyrolese and the Hanoverian tale. Humility is the answer to the second, and pride the third answer. The king admires the young maid, and says he would marry her if her father were noble; but she may ask a boon. She begs for her father an earldom which had lately escheated; and, this granted, she reminds the king of what he had said; her father is now noble. The king marries her.

In all these seven tales a daughter gets her father out of trouble by the exercise of a superior understanding, and marries an emperor, a king, or at least far above her station. The Grimms' story has the feature, not found in the others, that the father had been thrown into prison. Still another variety of these stories, inferior, but preserving essential traits, is given by Schleicher, Litauische Märchen, p. 3, 'Vom schlauen Mädchen.'

A Turkish tale from South Siberia will take us a step further, 'Die beiden Fürsten,' Radloff, Proben der Volkslitteratur der türkischen Stämme Süd-Sibiriens, I, 197. A prince had a feeble-minded son, for whom he wished to get a wife. He found a girl gathering fire-wood with others, and, on asking her questions, had reason to be pleased with her superior discretion. He sent an ox to the girl's father, with a message that on the third day he would pay him a visit, and if by that time he had not made the ox drop a calf and give milk, he would lose his head. The old man and his wife fell to weeping. The daughter bade them be of good cheer, killed the ox, and gave it to her parents to eat. On the[Pg 11] third day she stationed herself on the road by which the prince would come, and was gathering herbs. The prince asked what this was for. The girl said, "Because my father is in the pangs of child-birth, and I am going to spread these herbs under him." "Why," said the prince, "it is not the way, that men should bear children." "But if a man can't bear children," answered the girl, "how can an ox have a calf?" The prince was pleased, but said nothing. He went away, and sent his messenger again with three stones in a bag. He would come on the third day, and if the stones were not then made into boots, the old man would lose his head. On the third day the prince came, with all his grandees. The girl was by the roadside, collecting sand in a bag. "What are you going to do with that sand?" asked the prince. "Make thread," said she. "But who ever made thread out of sand?" "And who ever made boots out of stones?" she rejoined. The prince laughed in his sleeve, prepared a great wedding, and married the girl to his son. Soon after, another prince wrote him a letter, saying, "Do not let us be fighting and killing, but let us guess riddles. If you guess all mine, I will be your subject; if you fail, I will take all your having." They were a whole year at the riddles. The other prince "knew three words more," and threw ours into a deep dungeon. From the depths of this dungeon he contrived to send a profoundly enigmatic dispatch to his daughter-in-law, who understood everything, disguised herself as one of his friends, and proposed to the victor to guess riddles again. The clever daughter-in-law "knew seven words more" than he, took her father-in-law out of the dungeon, threw his rival in, and had all the people and property of the vanquished prince for her own.

This Siberian tale links securely those which precede it with a remarkable group of stories, covering by representatives still extant, or which may be shown to have existed, a large part of Asia and of Europe. This group includes, besides a Wallachian and a Magyar tale from recent popular tradition, one Sanskrit form; two Tibetan, derived from Sanskrit; one Mongol, from Tibetan; three Arabic and one Persian, which also had their source in Sanskrit; two Middle-Greek, derived from Arabic, one of which is lost; and two old Russian, from lost Middle-Greek versions.[16]

The gist of these narratives is that one king propounds tasks to another; in the earlier ones, with the intent to discover whether his brother monarch enjoys the aid of such counsellors as will make an attack on him dangerous; in the later, with a demand that he shall acquit himself satisfactorily, or suffer a forfeit: and the king is delivered from a serious strait by the sagacity either of a minister (whom he had ordered to be put to death, but who was still living in prison, or at least seclusion) or of the daughter of his minister, who came to her father's assistance. Which is the prior of these two last inventions it would not be easy to say. These tasks are always such as require ingenuity of one kind or another, whether in devising practical experiments, in contriving subterfuges, in solving riddles, or even in constructing compliments.[17]

One of the Tibetan tales, which, though[Pg 12] dating from the beginning of our era, will very easily be recognized in the Siberian tradition of this century, is to this effect. King Rabssaldschal had a rich minister, who desired a suitable wife for his youngest son. A Brahman, his trusty friend, undertook to find one. In the course of his search, which extended through many countries, the Brahman saw one day a company of five hundred maidens, who were making garlands to offer to Buddha. One of these attracted his notice by her behavior, and impressed him favorably by replies to questions which he put.[18] The Brahman made proposals to her father in behalf of the minister's son. These were accepted, and the minister went with a great train to fetch home the bride. On the way back his life was twice saved by taking her advice, and when she was domiciliated, she so surpassed her sisters-in-law in housekeeping talents and virtues that everything was put under her direction. Discord arose between the king of the country she had left and Rabssaldschal, under whom she was now living. The former wished to make trial whether the latter had an able and keen-witted minister or not, and sent him two mares, dam and filly, exactly alike in appearance, with the demand that he should distinguish them. Neither king nor counsellor could discern any difference; but when the minister's daughter heard of their difficulty, she said, "Nothing is easier. Tie the two together and put grass before them; the mother will push the best before the foal." This was done; the king decided accordingly, and the hostile ambassador owned that he was right. Soon after, the foreign prince sent two snakes, of the same size and form, and demanded which was male, which female. The king and his advisers were again in a quandary. The minister resorted to his daughter-in-law. She said, "Lay them both on cotton-wool: the female will lie quiet, the male not; for it is of the feminine nature to love the soft and the comfortable, which the masculine cannot tolerate." They followed these directions; the king gave his verdict, the ambassador acquiesced, the minister received splendid presents. For a final trial the unfriendly king sent a long stick of wood, of equal thickness, with no knots or marks, and asked which was the under and which the upper end. No one could say. The minister referred the question to his daughter. She answered, "Put the stick into water: the root end will sink a little, the upper end float." The experiment was tried; the king said to the ambassador, "This is the upper end, this the root end," to which he assented, and great presents were again given to the minister. The adverse monarch was convinced that his only safe course was peace and conciliation, and sent his ambassador back once more with an offering of precious jewels and of amity for the future. This termination was highly gratifying to Rabssaldschal, who said to his minister, How could you see through all these things? The minister said, It was not I, but my clever daughter-in-law. When the king learned this, he raised the young woman to the rank of his younger sister.

The wise daughter is not found in the Sanskrit tale,[19] which also differs from the Buddhist versions in this: that in the Sanskrit the minister had become an object of displeasure to the king, and in consequence had long been lying in prison when the crisis occurred which rendered him indispensable, a circumstance which is repeated in the tale of The Wise Heykar (Arabian Nights, Breslau transl., XIII, 73 ff, Cabinet des Fées, XXXIX, 266 ff) and in the Life of Æsop. But The Clever Wench reappears in another tale in the same Sanskrit collection (with that express title), and gives her aid to her father, a priest, who has been threatened with banishment by his king if he does not clear up a dark matter within five days. She may also be recognized in Moradbak, in Von der Hagen's 1001 Tag, VIII, 199 ff, and even in the minister's wife in the story of The Wise Heykar.

[Pg 13]

The tasks of discriminating dam and filly and the root end from the tip end of a stick, which occur both in the Tibetan tales and the Shukasaptati, are found again, with unimportant changes, in the Wallachian popular story, and the Hungarian, which in general resemble the Arabic. Some of those in the Arabian tale and in the Life of Æsop are of the same nature as the wit-trials in the Servian and German popular tales, the story in the Gesta Romanorum, and the German and English ballads. The wise Heykar, e.g., is required to sew together a burst mill-stone. He hands the king a pebble, requesting him first to make an awl, a file, and scissors out of that. The king of Egypt tells Æsop, the king of Babylon's champion sage, that when his mares hear the stallions neigh in Babylon, they cast their foal. Æsop's slaves are told to catch a cat, and are set to scourging it before the Egyptian public. Great offense is given, on account of the sacred character of the animal, and complaint is made to the king, who sends for Æsop in a rage. Æsop says his king has suffered an injury from this cat, for the night before the cat had killed a fine fighting-cock of his. "Fie, Æsop!" says the king of Egypt; "how could the cat go from Egypt to Babylon in one night?" "Why not," replies Æsop, "as well as mares in Egypt hear the stallions neigh in Babylon and cast their foal?"

The tales in the Shukasaptati and in the Dsanglun represent the object of the sending of the tasks to be to ascertain whether the king retains the capable minister through whom he has acquired supremacy. According to the Arabian tale, and those derived from it, tribute is to be paid by the king whose riddles are guessed, or by him who fails to guess. This form of story, though it is a secondary one, is yet by no means late, as is shown by the anecdote in Plutarch, Septem Sapientum Convivium (6), itself probably a fragment of such a story, in which the king of the Æthiops gives a task to Amasis, king of Egypt, with a stake of many towns and cities. This task is the favorite one of draining [drinking] all the water in the sea, which we have had in the Servian tale (it also is in the Life of Æsop), and Bias gives the customary advice for dealing with it.[20]

From the number of these wise virgins should not be excluded the king's daughter in the Gesta Romanorum who guesses rightly among the riddles of the three caskets and marries the emperor's son, though Bassanio has extinguished her just fame: Madden's Old English Versions, p. 238, No 66; Collier, Shakspere's Library, II, 102.

The first three or four stanzas of A-E form the beginning of 'Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight,' and are especially appropriate to that ballad, but not to this. The two last stanzas of A, B, make no kind of sense here, and these at least, probably the opening verses as well, must belong to some other and lost ballad. An elf setting tasks, or even giving riddles, is unknown, I believe, in Northern tradition, and in no form of this story, except the English, is a preternatural personage of any kind the hero. Still it is better to urge nothing more than that the elf is an intruder in this particular ballad, for riddle-craft is practised by a variety of preternatural beings: notoriously by Odin, Thor, the giant Vafþrúðnir, and the dwarf Alwíss in the Edda, and again by a German "berggeist" (Ey, Harzmärchenbuch, p. 64, 'Die verwünschte Prinzessin'), a Greek[Pg 14] dragon (Hahn, Griechisebe u. Albanesische Märchen, II, 210), the Russian rusalka, the Servian vila,[21] the Indian rakshas. For example: a rusalka (water-nymph) pursues a pretty girl, and says, I will give you three riddles: if you guess them, I will let you go home to your father; if you do not, I shall take you with me. What grows without a root? What runs without any object? What blooms without any flower? She answers, Stones grow without a root; water runs without any object; the fern blooms without any flower. These answers seem satisfactory, as riddles go, but the ballad concludes (with an injustice due to corruption?), "The girl did not guess the riddles: the rusalka tickled her to death." (Wojcicki, Pieśni, I, 205.) A rakshas (ogre) says he will spare a man's life if he can answer four questions, and shall devour him if he cannot. What is cruel? What is most to the advantage of a householder? What is love? What best accomplishes difficult things? These questions the man answers, and confirms his answers by tales, and gains the rakshas' good will. (Jacob, Hindoo Tales, or the Adventures of Ten Princes, a translation of the Sanskrit Dasakumaracharitam, p. 260 ff.)

The auld man in J is simply the "unco knicht" of 1 C, D, over again. He has clearly displaced the elf-knight, for the elf's attributes of hill-haunting and magical music remain, only they have been transferred to the lady. That the devil should supplant the knight, unco or familiar, is natural enough. He may come in as the substitute of the elfin knight because the devil is the regular successor to any heathen sprite, or as the embodiment of craft and duplicity, and to give us the pleasure of seeing him outwitted. We find the devil giving riddles, as they are called (tasks), in the Grimms' K. u. H. märchen, No 125 (see also the note in vol. III); Pröhle's K. u. V. märchen, No 19; Vernaleken, Oesterreichische K. u. H. märchen, No 37. He also appears as a riddle-monger in one of the best stories in the Golden Legend. A bishop, who was especially devoted to St Andrew, was tempted by Satan under the semblance of a beautiful woman, and was all but lost, when a loud knocking was heard at the door. A pilgrim demanded admittance. The lady, being asked her pleasure about this, recommended that three questions should be put to the stranger, to show whether he were fit to appear in such presence. Two questions having been answered unexceptionably, the fiend proposed a third, which was meant to be a clincher: How far is it from earth to heaven? "Go back to him that sent you," said the pilgrim (none other than St Andrew) to the messenger, "and say that he himself knows best, for he measured the distance when he fell." Antiquus hostis de medio evanuit. Much the same is related in the legend of St Bartholomew, and, in a Slovenian ballad, of St Ulrich, who interposes to save the Pope from espousing Satan in disguise.[22]

J, K, L, have completely lost sight of the original story.

Translated, after A, C, and D, in Grundtvig's Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 251; R. Warrens, Schottische Lieder der Vorzeit, p. 8; Knortz, Lieder u. Romanzen Alt-Englands, No 54.

[Pg 15]


A broadside in black letter, "printed, I suppose," says Pinkerton, "about 1670," bound up with five other pieces at the end of a copy of Blind Harry's 'Wallace,' Edin. 1673, in the Pepysian Library.

My plaid awa, my plaid awa,
And ore the hill and far awa,
And far awa to Norrowa,
My plaid shall not be blown awa.
The elphin knight sits on yon hill,
Ba, ba, ba, lilli ba
He blaws his horn both lowd and shril.
The wind hath blown my plaid awa
He blowes it east, he blowes it west,
He blowes it where he lyketh best.
'I wish that horn were in my kist,
Yea, and the knight in my armes two.'
She had no sooner these words said,
When that the knight came to her bed.
'Thou art over young a maid,' quoth he,
'Married with me thou il wouldst be.'
'I have a sister younger than I,
And she was married yesterday.'
'Married with me if thou wouldst be,
A courtesie thou must do to me.
'For thou must shape a sark to me,
Without any cut or heme,' quoth he.
'Thou must shape it knife-and-sheerlesse,
And also sue it needle-threedlesse.'
'If that piece of courtesie I do to thee,
Another thou must do to me.
'I have an aiker of good ley-land,
Which lyeth low by yon sea-strand.
'For thou must eare it with thy horn,
So thou must sow it with thy corn.
'And bigg a cart of stone and lyme,
Robin Redbreast he must trail it hame.
'Thou must barn it in a mouse-holl,
And thrash it into thy shoes soll.
'And thou must winnow it in thy looff,
And also seck it in thy glove.
'For thou must bring it over the sea,
And thou must bring it dry home to me.
'When thou hast gotten thy turns well done,
Then come to me and get thy sark then.'
'I'l not quite my plaid for my life;
It haps my seven bairns and my wife.'
The wind shall not blow my plaid awa
'My maidenhead I'l then keep still,
Let the elphin knight do what he will.'
The wind's not blown my plaid awa


A Collection of Curious Old Ballads, etc., p. 3. Partly from an old copy in black letter, and partly from the recitation of an old lady.

My plaid awa, my plaid awa,
And owre the hills and far awa,
And far awa to Norrowa,
My plaid shall not be blawn awa.
The Elphin 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.
'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.
'Thou art oer young a maid,' quoth he,
'Married with me that thou wouldst be.'
'I have a sister, younger than I,
And she was married yesterday.'
[Pg 16]
'Married with me if thou wouldst be,
A curtisie thou must do to me.
'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,
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.
'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.
'And ye maun stack it in a mouse hole,
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 thou must bring it over the sea,
Fair and clean and dry to me.
'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 bairns and my wife.'
'My maidenhead I'll then keep still,
Let the elphin knight do what he will.'


Kinloch's A. S. Ballads, p. 145. From the recitation of M. Kinnear, a native of Mearnsshire, 23 Aug., 1826.

There stands a knicht at the tap o yon hill,
Oure the hills and far awa
He has blawn his horn loud and shall.
The cauld wind's blawn my plaid awa
'If I had the horn that I hear blawn,
And the knicht that blaws that horn!'
She had na sooner thae words said,
Than the elfin knicht cam to her side.
'Are na ye oure young a may
Wi onie young man doun to lie?'
'I have a sister younger than I,
And she was married yesterday.'
'Married wi me ye sall neer be nane
Till ye mak to me a sark but a seam.
'And ye maun shape it knife-, sheer-less,
And ye maun sew it needle-, threed-less.
'And ye maun wash it in yon cistran,
Whare water never stood nor ran.
'And ye maun dry it on yon hawthorn,
Whare the sun neer shon sin man was born.'
'Gin that courtesie I do for thee,
Ye maun do this for me.
'Ye'll get an acre o gude red-land
Atween the saut sea and the sand.
'I want that land for to be corn,
And ye maun aer it wi your horn.
'And ye maun saw it without a seed,
And ye maun harrow it wi a threed.
'And ye maun shear it wi your knife,
And na tyne a pickle o't for your life.
'And ye maun moue it in yon mouse-hole
And ye maun thrash it in your shoe-sole.
'And ye maun fan it wi your luves,
And ye maun sack it in your gloves.
'And ye maun bring it oure the sea,
Fair and clean and dry to me.
'And whan that your wark is weill deen,
Yese get your sark without a seam.'

[Pg 17]


Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 296.

The Elfin knight stands on yon hill,
Blaw, blaw, blaw winds, blaw
Blawing his horn loud and shrill.
And the wind has blawin my plaid awa
'If I had yon horn in my kist,
And the bonny laddie here that I luve best!
'I hae a sister eleven years auld,
And she to the young men's bed has made bauld.
'And I mysell am only nine,
And oh! sae fain, luve, as I woud be thine.'
'Ye maun make me a fine Holland sark,
Without ony stitching or needle wark.
'And ye maun wash it in yonder well,
Where the dew never wat, nor the rain ever fell.
'And ye maun dry it upon a thorn
That never budded sin Adam was born.'
'Now sin ye've askd some things o me,
It's right I ask as mony o thee.
'My father he askd me an acre o land,
Between the saut sea and the strand.
'And ye maun plow 't wi your blawing horn,
And ye maun saw 't wi pepper corn.
'And ye maun harrow 't wi a single tyne,
And ye maun shear 't wi a sheep's shank bane.
'And ye maun big it in the sea,
And bring the stathle dry to me.
'And ye maun barn 't in yon mouse hole,
And ye maun thrash 't in your shee sole.
'And ye maun sack it in your gluve,
And ye maun winno 't in your leuve.
'And ye maun dry 't without candle or coal,
And grind it without quirn or mill.
'Ye'll big a cart o stane and lime,
Gar Robin Redbreast trail it syne.
'When ye've dune, and finishd your wark,
Ye'll come to me, luve, and get your sark.'


Motherwell's MS., p. 492.

The Elfin Knight sits on yon hill,
Ba ba lilly ba
Blowing his horn loud and shill.
And the wind has blawn my plaid awa
'I love to hear that horn blaw;
I wish him [here] owns it and a'.'
That word it was no sooner spoken,
Than Elfin Knight in her arms was gotten.
'You must mak to me a sark,
Without threed, sheers or needle wark.'


Kinloch MSS, I, 75. From Mary Barr.

'Did ye ever travel twist Berwick and Lyne?
Sober and grave grows merry in time
There ye'll meet wi a handsome young dame,
Ance she was a true love o mine.
'Tell her to sew me a holland sark,
And sew it all without needle-wark:
And syne we'll be true lovers again.
'Tell her to wash it at yon spring-well,
Where neer wind blew, nor yet rain fell.
'Tell her to dry it on yon hawthorn,
That neer sprang up sin Adam was born.
'Tell her to iron it wi a hot iron,
And plait it a' in ae plait round.'
'Did ye ever travel twixt Berwick and Lyne?
There ye'll meet wi a handsome young man,
Ance he was a true lover o mine.
[Pg 18]
'Tell him to plough me an acre o land
Betwixt the sea-side hot and the sea-sand,
And syne we'll be true lovers again.
'Tell him to saw it wi ae peck o corn,
And harrow it a' wi ae harrow tine.
'Tell him to shear it wi ae hook-tooth,
And carry it hame just into his loof.
'Tell him to stack it in yon mouse-hole,
And thrash it a' just wi his shoe-sole.
'Tell him to dry it on yon ribless kiln,
And grind it a' in yon waterless miln.
Tell this young man, whan he's finished his wark,
He may come to me, and hese get his sark.'


Gammer Gurten's Garland, p. 3, ed. 1810.

'Can you make me a cambrick shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without any seam or needle work?
And you shall be a true lover of mine
'Can you wash it in yonder well,
Where never sprung water nor rain ever fell?
'Can you dry it on yonder thorn,
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born?'
'Now you have askd me questions three,
I hope you'll answer as many for me.
'Can you find me an acre of land
Between the salt water and the sea sand?
'Can you plow it with a ram's horn,
And sow it all over with one pepper corn?
'Can you reap it with a sickle of leather,
And bind it up with a peacock's feather?
'When you have done, and finishd your work,
Then come to me for your cambrick shirt.'


Motherwell's MS., p. 92.

'Come, pretty Nelly, and sit thee down by me,
Every rose grows merry wi thyme
And I will ask thee questions three,
And then thou wilt be a true lover of mine.
'Thou must buy me a cambrick smock
Without any stitch of needlework.
'Thou must wash it in yonder strand,
Where wood never grew and water neer ran.
'Thou must dry it on yonder thorn,
Where the sun never shined on since Adam was formed.'
'Thou hast asked me questions three;
Sit down till I ask as many of thee.
'Thou must buy me an acre of land
Betwixt the salt water, love, and the sea-sand.
'Thou must plow it wi a ram's horn,
And sow it all over wi one pile o corn.
'Thou must shear it wi a strap o leather,
And tie it all up in a peacock feather.
'Thou must stack it in the sea,
And bring the stale o 't hame dry to me.
'When my love's done, and finished his work,
Let him come to me for his cambric smock.'


Motherwell's MS., p. 103. From the recitation of John McWhinnie, collier, Newtown Green, Ayr.

A lady wonned on yonder hill,
Hee ba and balou ba
And she had musick at her will.
And the wind has blown my plaid awa
Up and cam an auld, auld man,
Wi his blue bonnet in his han.
[Pg 19]
'I will ask ye questions three;
Resolve them, or ye'll gang wi me.
'Ye maun mak to me a sark,
It maun be free o woman's wark.
'Ye maun shape it knife-sheerless,
And ye maun sew it needle-threedless.
'Ye maun wash it in yonder well,
Whare rain nor dew has ever fell.
'Ye maun dry it on yonder thorn,
Where leaf neer grew since man was born.'
'I will ask ye questions three;
Resolve them, or ye'll neer get me.
'I hae a rig o bonnie land
Atween the saut sea and the sand.
'Ye maun plow it wi ae horse bane,
And harrow it wi ae harrow pin.
'Ye maun shear 't wi a whang o leather,
And ye maun bind 't bot strap or tether.
'Ye maun stack it in the sea,
And bring the stale hame dry to me.
'Ye maun mak a cart o stane,
And yoke the wren and bring it hame.
'Ye maun thresh't atween your lufes,
And ye maun sack't atween your thies.'
'My curse on those wha learnëd thee;
This night I weend ye'd gane wi me.'


Communicated by Rev. F. D. Huntington, Bishop of Western New York, as sung to him by his father in 1828, at Hadley, Mass.; derived from a rough, roystering "character" in the town.

Now you are a-going to Cape Ann,
Remember me to the self-same man.
Ummatiddle, ummatiddle, ummatallyho, tallyho, follomingkathellomeday
Tell him to buy me an acre of land
Between the salt-water and the sea-sand.
Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn,
Tell him to sow it with one peppercorn.
Tell him to reap it with a penknife,
And tell him to cart it with two mice.
Tell him to cart it to yonder new barn
That never was built since Adam was born.
Tell him to thrash it with a goose quill,
Tell him to fan it with an egg-shell.
Tell the fool, when he's done his work,
To come to me, and he shall have his shirt.


Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England, 6th ed., p. 109, No 171.

My father left me three acres of land,
Sing ivy, sing ivy
My father left me three acres of land.
Sing holly, go whistle and ivy
I ploughed it with a ram's horn,
And sowed it all over with one pepper corn.
I harrowed it with a bramble bush,
And reaped it with my little penknife.
I got the mice to carry it to the barn,
And thrashed it with a goose's quill.
I got the cat to carry it to the mill;
The miller he swore he would have her paw,
And the cat she swore she would scratch his face.

[Pg 20]


Notes and Queries, 1st S., VII, 8. Signed D.

My father gave me an acre of land,
Sing ivy, sing ivy
My father gave me an acre of land.
Sing green bush, holly and ivy
I ploughd it with a ram's horn.
I harrowd it with a bramble.
I sowd it with a pepper corn.
I reapd it with my penknife.
I carried it to the mill upon the cat's back.
  *   *   *   *   *
I made a cake for all the king's men.


The verses here prefaced to the ballad are appended to the last stanza in the broadside. For Norrowa, v. 3, Pinkerton has To-morrow. 91, needle and sheerlesse.


'A Proper New Ballad entitled The Wind hath blawn my Plaid awa, or a Discourse between a Young Woman and the Elphin Knight. To be sung with its own proper tune.'

"This ballad is printed partly from an old copy in black letter, and partly from the recitation of an old lady, which appears to be the Scottish version, and is here chiefly adhered to."


32. hae made.

91. askd should perhaps be left, or gave, as in K1, L1.


Burden2, in MS., 1, blown her; 2, 3, blawn her; 4, blawn my.

21, blow; 22, and a.


11. He speaks, in the margin of MS.

Burden1, time in margin.

51. Maid speaks, in margin.


Not divided regularly into stanzas in the MS.

42. needlewark in margin.

101. shin? in margin.


After 6: "Then follows some more which I forget, but I think it ends thus."


[13] All that was required of the burden, Mr Chappell kindly writes me, was to support the voice by harmonious notes under the melody; it was not sung after each half of the stanza, or after the stanza, and it was heard separately only when the voices singing the air stopped. Even the Danish ballads exhibit but a few cases of these "burden-stems," as Grundwig calls them: see Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, II, 221, B 1; 295, B 1; 393, A 1: III, 197, D; 470, A. Such burden-stems are, however, very common in Icelandic ballads. They are, for the most part, of a different metre from the ballad, and very often not of the same number of lines as the ballad stanza. A part of the burden stem would seem to be taken for the refrain; as Íslenzk Fornkvæði, I, 30, of four verses, 1, 2, 4; 129, of two, the last half of the first and all the second; 194, of four, the last; 225, of five, the last two; II, 52, of five, the second and last two.

In later times the Danish stev-stamme was made to conform to the metre of the ballad, and sung as the first stanza, the last line perhaps forming the burden. Compare the stev-stamme, Grundwig, III, 470, with the first stanza of the ballad at p. 475. If not so changed, says Grundtvig, it dropped away. Lyngbye, at the end of his Færöiske Qvæder, gives the music of a ballad which he had heard sung. The whole stem is sung first, and then repeated as a burden at the end of every verse. The modern way, judging by Berggreen, Folke-Sange og Melodier, 3d ed., I, 352, 358, is simply to sing the whole stem after each verse, and so says Grundtvig, III, 200, D. The whole stem is appended to the last stanza (where, as usual, the burden, which had been omitted after stanza 1, is again expressed) in the Færöe ballad in Grundtvig, III, 199, exactly as in our broadside, or in Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. iii. I must avow myself to be very much in the dark as to the exact relation of stem and burden.

[14] Grundtvig has noticed the resemblance of G.R. 64 and the ballad.—Much of what follows is derived from the admirable Benfey's papers, 'Die kluge Dirne, Die indischen Märchen von den klugen Räthsellösern, und ihre Verbreitung über Asien und Europa,' Ausland, 1859, p. 457, 486, 511, 567, 589, in Nos 20, 21, 22, 24, 25.

[15] Ragnar Loðbrók (Saga, c. 4, Rafn, Fornaldar Sögur, I, 245), as pointed out by the Grimms, notes to No 94, requires Kraka (Aslaug) to come to him clothed and not clothed, fasting and not fasting, alone and not without a companion. She puts on a fishing net, bites a leek, and takes her dog with her. References for the very frequent occurrence of this feature may be found in Oesterley's note to Gesta Romanorum, No 124, at p. 732.

[16] Benfey, Das Ausland, 1859, p. 459. The versions referred to are: Shukasaptati (Seventy Tales of a Parrot), 47th and 48th night; the Buddhist Kanjur, Vinaya, III, fol. 71-83, and Dsanglun, oder der Weise u. der Thor, also from the Kanjur, translated by I.J. Schmidt, c. 23; the Mongol translation of Dsanglun [see Popow, Mongolische Chrestomathie, p. 19, Schiefner's preface to Radloff, I, xi, xii]; an imperfect Singhalese version in Spence Hardy's Manual of Buddhism, p. 220, 'The History of Wisákhá;' 'Geschichte des weisen Heykar,' 1001 Nacht, Habicht, v. d. Hagen u. Schall, XIII, 71, ed. 1840; 'Histoire de Sinkarib et de ses deux Visirs,' Cabinet des Fées, XXXIX, 266 (Persian); two old Russian translations of Greek tales derived from Arabic, Pypin, 'in the Papers of the Second Division of the Imperial Acad. of Sciences, St Petersburg, 1858, IV, 63-85;' Planudes, Life of Æsop; A. and A. Schott, Walachische Mæhrchen, p. 125, No 9, 'Vom weissen und vom rothen Kaiser;' Erdélyi, Népdalok és Mondák, III, 262, No 8, 'The Little Boy with the Secret and his Little Sword.' To these is to be added, 'L'Histoire de Moradbak,' Caylus, Nouveaux Contes Orientaux, Œuvres Badines, VII, 289 ff, Cabinet des Fées, XXV, 9-406 (from the Turkish?). In the opinion of Benfey, it is in the highest degree likely, though not demonstrable, that the Indian tale antedates our era by several centuries. Ausland, p. 511; see also pp. 487, 459.

[17] Ingenuity is one of the six transcendental virtues of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Schlagintweit, Buddhism in Tíbet, p. 36.

[18] The resemblance to the Siberian tale is here especially striking.

[19] The Shukasaptati, in the form in which we have them, are supposed to date from about the 6th century, and are regarded as abridgments of longer tales. The Vinaya probably took a permanent shape as early as the beginning of the Christian era. As already remarked, there is scarcely a doubt that the Indian story is some centuries older still.

[20] Amasis in return (8) puts some of the questions which we are apt to think of as peculiarly mediæval: What is oldest? What is most beautiful, biggest, wisest, strongest? etc. Two of these we have had in Zingerle's story. They are answered in a commonplace way by the Æthiop, with more refinement by Thales. Seven similar questions were propounded by David to his sons, to determine who was worthiest to succeed him, and answered by Solomon, according to an Arabian writer of the 14th century: Rosenöl, I, 167. Amasis also sent a victim to Bias (2), and asked him to cut out the best and worst of the flesh. Bias cut out the tongue. Here the two anticipate the Anglo-Saxon Salomon and Saturn: "Tell me what is best and worst among men." "I tell thee word is best and worst:" Kemble, p. 188, No 37; Adrian and Ritheus, p. 204, No 43; and Bedæ Collectanea, p. 326. This is made into a very long story in the Life of Æsop, 11. See other examples in Knust, Mittheilungen aus dem Eskurial, p. 326 f, note b, and Nachtrag, p. 647; Oesterley's Kirchhof, v, 94, note to 3, 129; and Landsberger, Die Fabeln des Sophos, cx, ff. We may add that Plutarch's question, Which was first, the bird or the egg? (Quæst. Conviv. l. 2, q. 3), comes up again in The Demaundes Joyous, No 41, Kemble's Salomon and Saturn, p. 290.

[21] Afanasief, Poetic Views of the Slavonians about Nature, I, 25. The poludnitsa seems to belong to the same class: Afanasief, III, 76; Ralston, Songs of the Russian People, p. 147.

[22] The legend of St Andrew in Legenda Aurea, Grässe, cap. II, 9, p. 19 ff; also in the Fornsvenskt Legendarium, I, 143 ff; Zambrini, Leggende Inedite, II, 94 ff; Pitré, Canti pop. Siciliani, II, 232 ff: that of St Bartholomew, Grässe, p. 545, cap. CXXIII, 5, and in a German Passional, Mone's Anzeiger, 1839, VIII, col. 319 f: that of St Ulrich in Achazel and Korytko, I, 76, 'Svéti Ureh,' translated by A. Grün, Volkslieder aus Krain, p. 136 ff. The third question and answer are in all the same. St Serf also has the credit of having baffled the devil by answering occult questions in divinity: Wintown's Scottish Chronicle, I, 131, V, 1238 ff, first pointed out by Motherwell, Minstrelsy, p. lxxiv, who besides cites the legend of St Andrew.


A. 'The Fause Knight upon the Road,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Introduction, p. lxxiv.

B. 'The False Knight,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, Musick, p. xxiv.

This singular ballad is known only through Motherwell. The opening stanza of a second version is given by the editor of the music, Mr. Blaikie, in the Appendix to the Minstrelsy. The idea at the bottom of the piece is that the devil will carry off the wee boy if he can nonplus him. So, in certain humorous stories, a fool wins a princess by dumfounding her: e.g., Halliwell's Popular Rhymes and Nursery-Tales, p. 32; Von der Hagen's Gesammtabenteuer, No 63, iii, 179; Asbjørnsen og Moe, Norske Folkeeventyr, No 4. But here the boy always gets the last word. (See further on, under 'Captain Wedderburn's Courtship.')

An extremely curious Swedish ballad of the same description, from the Lappfiord, Finland, with the substitution of an old crone, possibly a witch, and clearly no better than one of the wicked, for the false knight, is given by Oskar Rancken in Några Prof af Folksång och Saga i det svenska Österbotten, p. 25, No 10. It is a point in both that the replicant is a wee boy (gossen, som liten var).

[Pg 21]

'Why are you driving over my field?' said the carlin:
'Because the way lies over it,' answered the boy, who was a little fellow.
'I will cut [hew] your traces,' said etc.:
'Yes, you hew, and I'll build,' answered etc.
'I wish you were in the wild wood:'
'Yes, you in, and I outside.'
'I wish you were in the highest tree-top:'
'Yes, you up in the top, and I at the roots.'
'I wish you were in the wild sea:'
'Yes, you in the sea, and I in a boat.'
'I'll bore a hole in your boat:'
'Yes, you bore, and I'll plug.'
'I wish you were in hell:'
'Yes, you in, and I outside.'
'I wish you were in heaven:'
'Yes, I in, and you outside.'

Chambers, in his Popular Rhymes of Scotland, p. 66 of the new edition, gives, without a word of explanation, a piece, 'Harpkin,' which seems to have been of the same character, but now sounds only like a "flyting."[23] The first stanza would lead us to expect that Harpkin is to be a form of the Elfin Knight of the preceding ballad, but Fin is seen to be the uncanny one of the two by the light of the other ballads. Finn (Fin) is an ancestor of Woden, a dwarf in Völuspá 16 (19), and also a trold (otherwise a giant), who is induced by a saint to build a church: Thiele, Danske Folkesagn, I, 45, Grimm, Mythologie, p. 455. The name is therefore diabolic by many antecedents.


Harpkin gaed up to the hill,
And blew his horn loud and shrill,
And by came Fin.
'What for stand you there?' quo Fin:
'Spying the weather,' quo Harpkin.
'What for had you your staff on your shouther?' quo Fin:
'To haud the cauld frae me,' quo Harpkin.
'Little cauld will that haud frae you,' quo Fin:
'As little will it win through me,' quo Harpkin.
'I came by your door,' quo Fin:
'It lay in your road,' quo Harpkin.
'Your dog barkit at me,' quo Fin:
'It's his use and custom,' quo Harpkin.
'I flang a stane at him,' quo Fin:
'I'd rather it had been a bane,' quo Harpkin.
'Your wife's lichter,' quo Fin:
'She'll clim the brae the brichter,' quo Harpkin.
'Of a braw lad bairn,' quo Fin:
'There'll be the mair men for the king's wars,' quo Harpkin.
'There's a strae at your beard,' quo Fin:
'I'd rather it had been a thrave,' quo Harpkin.
'The ox is eating at it,' quo Fin:
'If the ox were i the water,' quo Harpkin.
'And the water were frozen,' quo Fin:
'And the smith and his fore-hammer at it,' quo Harpkin.
'And the smith were dead,' quo Fin:
'And another in his stead,' quo Harpkin.
'Giff, gaff,' quo Fin:
'Your mou's fou o draff,' quo Harpkin.

The peit (peat) in st. 3, below, as I am informed by Dr Davidson, is the wee boy's contribution to the school firing.

[Pg 22]


Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Introduction, p. lxxiv. From Galloway.

'O whare are ye gaun?'
Quo the fause knicht upon the road:
'I'm gaun to the scule,'
Quo the wee boy, and still he stude.
'What is that upon your back? ' quo etc.
'Atweel it is my bukes,' quo etc.
'What's that ye've got in your arm?'
'Atweel it is my peit.'
'Wha's aucht they sheep?'
'They are mine and my mither's.'
'How monie o them are mine?'
'A' they that hae blue tails.'
'I wiss ye were on yon tree:'
'And a gude ladder under me.'
'And the ladder for to break:'
'And you for to fa down.'
'I wiss ye were in yon sie:'
'And a gude bottom under me.'
'And the bottom for to break:'
'And ye to be drowned.'


Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xxiv, No xxxii.

'O whare are ye gaun?' quo the false knight,
And false, false was his rede:
'I'm gaun to the scule,' says the pretty little boy,
And still, still he stude.

[23] At the last moment I come upon this: "The only safeguard against the malice of witches is 'to flight wi dem,' that is, draw them into a controversy and scold them roundly:" (Mrs Saxby, in an interesting contribution of folk-lore from Unst, Shetland, in The Leisure Hour, for March 27, 1880, p. 199.) This view, which has apparently affected 'Harpkin,' is clearly a modern misunderstanding. Let no one trust to scolding for foiling a witch, unless he "knows more words."


A. a. 'The Gowans sae gay,' Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 22. b. 'Aye as the Gowans grow gay,' Motherwell's MS., p. 563.

B. 'The Water o Wearie's Well.' a. Buchan's MSS, II, fol. 80. b. Buchan's B. N. S., II, 201. c. Motherwell's MS., p. 561. d. 'Wearie's Wells,' Harris MS., No 19.

C. a. 'May Colven,' Herd's MSS, I, 166. b. 'May Colvin,' Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 93. c. 'May Colvin, or, False Sir John,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 67.

D. a. 'May Collin,' Sharpe's Ballad Book, No 17, p. 45. b. 'Fause Sir John and May Colvin,' Buchan, B. N. S., II, 45. c. 'May Collean,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xxi.

E. 'The Outlandish Knight,' Dixon, Ancient Poems, Ballads, etc., p. 74 == Bell, Ancient Poems, Ballads, etc., p. 61.

F. 'The False Knight Outwitted,' Roxburgh Ballads, British Museum, III, 449.

Of all ballads this has perhaps obtained the widest circulation. It is nearly as well known to the southern as to the northern nations of Europe. It has an extraordinary currency in Poland. The Germans, Low and High, and the Scandinavians, preserve it, in a full and evidently ancient form, even in the tradition of this generation. Among the Latin nations it has, indeed, shrunk to very meagre proportions, and though the best English forms are not[Pg 23] without ancient and distinctive marks, most of these have been eliminated, and the better ballads are very brief.

A has but thirteen two-line stanzas. An elf-knight, by blowing his horn, inspires Lady Isabel with love-longing. He appears on her first breathing a wish for him, and induces her to ride with him to the greenwood.[24] Arrived at the wood, he bids her alight, for she is come to the place where she is to die. He had slain seven kings' daughters there, and she should be the eighth. She persuades him to sit down, with his head on her knee, lulls him asleep with a charm, binds him with his own sword-belt, and stabs him with his own dagger, saying, If seven kings' daughters you have slain, lie here a husband to them all.

B, in fourteen four-line stanzas, begins unintelligibly with a bird coming out of a bush for water, and a king's daughter sighing, "Wae 's this heart o mine." A personage not characterized, but evidently of the same nature as the elf-knight in A, lulls everybody but this king's daughter asleep with his harp,[25] then mounts her behind him, and rides to a piece of water called Wearie's Well. He makes her wade in up to her chin; then tells her that he has drowned seven kings' daughters here, and she is to be the eighth. She asks him for one kiss before she dies, and, as he bends over to give it, pitches him from his saddle into the water, with the words, Since ye have drowned seven here, I'll make you bridegroom to them all.[26]

C was first published by David Herd, in the second edition of his Scottish Songs, 1776, and afterwards by Motherwell, "collated" with a copy obtained from recitation. D,[27] E, F are all broadside or stall copies, and in broadside style. C, D, E, F have nearly the same story. False Sir John, a knight from the south country [west country, north lands], entices May Colven, C, D [a king's daughter, C 16, E 16; a knight's daughter, Polly, F 4, 9], to ride off with him, employing, in D, a charm which he has stuck in her sleeve. At the knight's suggestion, E, F, she takes a good sum of money with her, D, E, F. They come to a lonely rocky place by the sea [river-side, F], and the knight bids her alight: he has drowned seven ladies here [eight D, six E, F], and she shall be the next. But first she is to strip off her rich clothes, as being too good to rot in the sea. She begs him to avert his eyes, for decency's sake, and, getting behind him, throws him into the water. In F he is absurdly sent for a sickle, to crop the nettles on the river brim, and is pushed in while thus occupied.[Pg 24] He cries for help, and makes fair promises, C, E, but the maid rides away, with a bitter jest [on his steed, D, leading his steed, E, F], and reaches her father's house before daybreak. The groom inquires in D about the strange horse, and is told that it is a found one. The parrot asks what she has been doing, and is silenced with a bribe; and when the father demands why he was chatting so early, says he was calling to his mistress to take away the cat. Here C, E, F stop, but D goes on to relate that the maid at once tells her parents what has happened, and that the father rides off at dawn, under her conduct, to find Sir John. They carry off the corpse, which lay on the sands below the rocks, and bury it, for fear of discovery.

There is in Hone's Table Book, III, 130, ed. 1841, a rifacimento by Dixon of the common English broadside in what passes for old-ballad style. This has been repeated in Richardson's Borderer's Table Book, VI, 367; in Dixon's Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, p. 101; and, with alterations, additions, and omissions, in Sheldon's Minstrelsy of the English Border, p. 194.

Jamieson (1814) had never met with this ballad in Scotland, at least in anything like a perfect state; but he says that a tale to the same effect, intermixed with scraps of verse, was familiar to him when a boy, and that he afterwards found it, "in much the same state, in the Highlands, in Lochaber and Ardnamurchan." According to the tradition reported by Jamieson, the murderer had seduced the younger sister of his wife, and was seeking to prevent discovery, a difference in the story which might lead us to doubt the accuracy of Jamieson's recollection. (Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 348.)

Stories like that of this ballad will inevitably be attached, and perhaps more or less adapted, to localities where they become known. May Collean, says Chambers, Scottish Ballads, p. 232, note, "finds locality in that wild portion of the coast of Carrick (Ayrshire) which intervenes betwixt Girvan and Ballantrae. Carlton Castle, about two miles to the south of Girvan (a tall old ruin, situated on the brink of a bank which overhangs the sea, and which gives title to Sir John Cathcart, Bart, of Carlton), is affirmed by the country people, who still remember the story with great freshness, to have been the residence of 'the fause Sir John;' while a tall rocky eminence called Gamesloup, overhanging the sea about two miles still further south, and over which the road passes in a style terrible to all travellers, is pointed out as the place where he was in the habit of drowning his wives, and where he was finally drowned himself. The people, who look upon the ballad as a regular and proper record of an unquestionable fact, farther affirm that May Collean was a daughter of the family of Kennedy of Colzean," etc. Binyan's (Bunion) Bay, in D, is, according to Buchan, the old name of the mouth of the river Ugie.

Far better preserved than the English, and marked with very ancient and impressive traits, is the Dutch ballad 'Halewijn,' which, not many years ago, was extensively sung in Brabant and Flanders, and is still popular as a broadside, both oral tradition and printed copies exhibiting manifold variations. A version of this ballad (A) was communicated by Willems to Mone's Anzeiger in 1836, col. 448 ff, thirty-eight two-line stanzas, and afterwards appeared in Willems's Oude vlaemsche Liederen (1848), No 49, p. 116, with some changes in the text and some various readings. Uhland, I, 153, 74 D, gave the Anzeiger text, with one correction. So Hoffmann, Niederländische Volkslieder, 2d ed., No 9, p. 39, but substituting for stanzas 19, 20 four stanzas from the margin of O.v.L., and making other slighter changes. Baecker, Chants historiques de la Flandre, No 9, p. 61, repeats Willems's second text, with one careless omission and one transposition. Coussemaker, Chants populaires des Flamands de France, No 45, p. 142, professes to give the text of Oude vlaemsche Liederen, and does so nearly. Snellaert, Oude en nieuwe Liedjes, 3d ed., 1864, No 55, p. 58, inserts seven stanzas in the place of 33, 34 of O.v.L., and two after 35, making forty-five two- (or three-) line stanzas instead of thirty-eight. These additions are also found in an[Pg 25] excessively corrupt form of the ballad (B), Hoffmann, No 10, p. 43, in which the stanzas have been uniformly extended to three verses, to suit the air, which required the repetition of the second line of the original stanza.

Heer Halewijn (A), like the English elf-knight, sang such a song that those who heard it longed to be with him. A king's daughter asked her father if she might go to Halewijn. No, he said; those who go that way never come back [sixteen have lost their lives, B]. So said mother and sister, but her brother's answer was, I care not where you go, so long as you keep your honor. She dressed herself splendidly, took the best horse from her father's stable, and rode to the wood, where she found Halewijn waiting for her.[28] They then rode on further, till they came to a gallows, on which many women were hanging. Halewijn says, Since you are the fairest maid, choose your death [B 20 offers the choice between hanging and the sword]. She calmly chooses the sword. "Only take off your coat first, for a maid's blood spirts a great way, and it would be a pity to spatter you." His head was off before his coat, but the tongue still spake. This dialogue ensues:

'Go yonder into the corn,
And blow upon my horn,
That all my friends you may warn.'
'Into the corn I will not go,
And on your horn I will not blow:
A murderer's bidding I will not do.'
'Go yonder under the gallows-tree,
And fetch a pot of salve for me,
And rub my red neck lustily.'
'Under the gallows I will not go,
Nor will I rub your red neck, no,
A murderer's bidding I will not do.'

She takes the head by the hair and washes it in a spring, and rides back through the wood. Half-way through she meets Halewijn's mother, who asks after her son; and she tells her that he is gone hunting, that he will never be seen again, that he is dead, and she has his head in her lap. When she came to her father's gate, she blew the horn like any man.

And when the father heard the strain,
He was glad she had come back again.
Thereupon they held a feast,
The head was on the table placed.

Snellaert's copy and the modern three-line ballad have a meeting with father, brother, sister, and mother successively. The maid's answer to each of the first three is that Halewijn is amusing himself with sixteen maids, or to that effect, but to the mother that he is dead, and she has his head in her lap. The mother angrily replies, in B, that if she had given this information earlier she would not have got so far on her way home. The maid retorts, Wicked woman, you are lucky not to have been served as your son; then rides, "like Judith wise," straight to her father's palace, where she blows the horn blithely, and is received with honor and love by the whole court.[29]

Another Flemish version (C) has been lately published under the title, 'Roland,' by which only, we are informed, is this particular form known in Bruges and many parts of[Pg 26] Flanders:[30] Chants populaires recueillis à Bruges par Adolphe Lootens et J. M. E. Feys, No 37, p. 60, 183 vv, in sixty-three stanzas, of two, three, four, or five lines. This text dates from the last century, and is given with the most exact fidelity to tradition. It agrees with A as to some main points, but differs not a little as to others. The story sets out thus:

It was a bold Roland,
He loved a lass from England;
He wist not how to get her,
With reading or with writing,
With brawling or with fighting.

Roland has lost Halewyn's art of singing. Louise asks her father if she may go to Roland, to the fair, as all her friends do. Her father refuses: Roland is "een stoute kalant," a bad fellow that betrays pretty maids; he stands with a drawn sword in his hand, and all his soldiers in armor. The daughter says she has seen Roland more than once, and that the tale about the drawn sword and soldiers is not true. This scene is exactly repeated with mother and brother. Louise then tries her shrift-father. He is easier, and does not care where she goes, provided she keeps her honor and does not shame her parents. She tells father, mother, and brother that she has leave from her confessor, makes her toilet as in A, takes the finest horse in the stable, and rides to the wood. There she successively meets Roland's father, mother, and brother, each of whom asks her where she is going, and whether she has any right to the crown she wears. To all she replies, Whether I have or not, be off; I know you not. She does not encounter Roland in the wood, they do not ride together, and there is no gallows-field. She enters Roland's house, where he is lying abed. He bids her gather three rose-wreaths "at his hands" and three at his feet; but when she approaches the foot of the bed he rises, and offers her the choice to lose her honor or kneel before the sword. She chooses the sword, advises him to spare his coat, and, while he is taking it off, strikes off his head, all as in A. The head speaks: Go under the gallows (of which we have heard nothing hitherto), fetch a pot of salve, rub it on my wounds, and they shall straight be well. She declines to follow a murderer's rede, or to learn magic. The head bids her go under the blue stone and fetch a pot of maidens-grease, which also will heal the wounds. This again she refuses to do, in the same terms; then seizes the head by the hair, washes it in a spring, and rides off with it through the wood, duly meeting Roland's father, mother, and brother once more, all of whom challenge her, and to all of whom she answers,

Roland your son is long ago dead;
God has his soul and I his head;
For in my lap here I have his head,
And with the blood my apron is red.

When she came back to the city the drums and the trumpets struck up.[31] She stuck the head out of the window, and cried, "Now I am Roland's bride!" She drew it in, and cried, "Now I am a heroine!"

Danish. Eleven versions of this ballad are known in Danish, seven of which are given in Danmarks gamle Folkeviser, No 183, 'Kvindemorderen,' A-G. Four more, H-L, are furnished by Kristensen, Jydske Folkeviser, I, Nos 46, 47, 91; II, No 85. A, in forty-one two-line stanzas (previously printed in Grundtvig's Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 233), is from a 16th century MS.; B, thirty stanzas,[Pg 27] C, twenty-four, D, thirty-seven, from MSS of the 17th century; E, fifty-seven, from a broadside of the end of the 18th; F, thirty, from one of the beginning of the 19th; and G-L, thirty-five, twenty-three, thirty-one, twenty-six, thirty-eight stanzas, from recent oral tradition.

The four older versions, and also E, open with some lines that occur at the beginning of other ballads.[32] In A and E, and, we may add, G, the maid is allured by the promise of being taken to a paradise exempt from death and sorrow; C, D, F promise a train of handmaids and splendid presents. All the versions agree very well as to the kernel of the story. A false knight prevails upon a lady to elope with him, and they ride to a wood [they simply meet in a wood, H, K]. He sets to work digging a grave, which she says is too long for his [her] dog and too narrow for his [her] horse [all but F, H]. She is told that the grave is for her. He has taken away the life [and honor, B, C, I] of eight maids, and she shall be the ninth. The eight maids become nine kings' daughters in E, ten in F, nineteen in G, and in E and F the hard choice is offered of death by sword, tree, or stream. In A, E, I, L the knight bids the lady get her gold together before she sets out with him, and in D, H, K, L he points out a little knoll under which he keeps the gold of his previous victims. The maid now induces the knight to lie down with his head in her lap, professing a fond desire to render him the most homely of services[33] [not in C, G, I, K]. He makes an express condition in E, F, G, H, L that she shall not betray him in his sleep, and she calls Heaven to witness that she will not. In G she sings him to sleep. He slept a sleep that was not sweet. She binds him hand and foot, then cries, Wake up! I will not betray you in sleep.[34] Eight you have killed; yourself shall be the ninth. Entreaties and fair promises and pretences that he had been in jest, and desire for shrift, are in vain. Woman-fashion she drew his sword, but man-fashion she cut him down. She went home a maid.

E, F, G, however, do not end so simply. On her way home through the wood [E], she comes upon a maid who is working gold, and who says, The last time I saw that horse my brother rode it. She answers, Your brother is dead, and will do no more murdering for gold; then turns her horse, and sets the sister's bower on fire. Next she encounters seven robbers on the heath, who recognize the horse as their master's, and are informed of his death and of the end of his crimes. They ask about the fire. She says it is an old pig-sty. She rides on, and they call to her that she is losing her horse's gold shoe. But nothing can stop her; she bids them pick it up and drink it in wine; and so comes home to her father's. F has nothing of the sister; in place of seven robbers there are nine of the robber's brothers, and the maid sets their house on fire. G indulges in absurd extravagances: the heroine meets the robber's sister with twelve fierce dogs, and then his twelve swains, and cuts down both dogs and swains.

The names in the Danish ballads are, A, Ulver and Vænelil; B, Olmor, or Oldemor, and Vindelraad; C, Hollemen and Vendelraad; D, Romor, Reimord, or Reimvord, and the maid unnamed; F, Herr Peder and Liden Kirsten; H-L, Ribold, Rigbold [I, Rimmelil] and Guldborg.

Four Swedish versions are known, all from tradition of this century. A, 'Den Falske Riddaren,' twenty-three two-line stanzas, Arwidsson, 44 B, I, 301. B, 'Röfvaren Brun,' fifteen stanzas, Afzelius, 83, III, 97. C, twen[Pg 28]ty-seven stanzas, Arwidsson, 44 A, I, 298. D, 'Röfvaren Rymer,' sixteen stanzas, Afzelius, 82, III, 94. A, B, D have resemblances, at the beginning, to the Ribold ballads, like the Danish A, B, E, G, while the beginning of C is like the Danish C, D, F. A has the grave-digging; there have been eight maids before; the knight lays his head in the lady's lap for the same reason as in most of the Danish ballads, and under the same assurance that he shall not be betrayed in sleep; he is bound, and conscientiously waked before his head is struck off; and the lady rides home to her father's. There have been eight previous victims in C, and they king's daughters; in B, eleven (maids); D says not how many, but, according to an explanation of the woman that sang it, there were seven princesses. C, D, like Danish E, F, G, make the maid encounter some of the robber's family on the way home. By a misconception, as we perceive by the Dutch ballad, she is represented as blowing the robber's horn. Seven sisters come at the familiar sound to bury the murdered girl and share the booty, but find that they have their brother to bury.

The woman has no name in any of the Swedish ballads. A calls the robber "an outlandish man" (en man ifrån fremmande land), B, simple Brun, C, a knight, and D, Riddaren Rymer, or Herr Rymer.

Of Norwegian versions, but two have been printed: A, 'Svein Norðmann,' twenty two-line stanzas, Landstad, 69, p. 567; B, 'Rullemann og Hildeborg,' thirty stanzas, Landstad, 70, p. 571, both from recent recitation. Bugge has communicated eight others to Grundtvig. Both A and B have the paradise at the beginning, which is found in Danish A, E, G, and Swedish D. In both the lady gets her gold together while the swain is saddling his horse. They come to a grave already dug, which in B is said to be made so very wide because Rulleman has already laid nine maidens in it. The stanza in A which should give the number is lost, but the reciter or singer put it at seven or nine. The maid gets the robber into her power by the usual artifice, with a slight variation in B. According to A, she rides straight home to her father. B, like Danish F, has an encounter with her false lover's [five] brothers. They ask, Where is Rullemann, thy truelove? She answers, He is lying down, in the green mead, and bloody is his bridal bed.

Of the unprinted versions obtained by Professor Bugge, two indicate that the murderer's sleep was induced by a spell, as in English A. F 9 has,

Long time stood Gullbjör; to herself she thought,
May none of my runes avail me ought?

And H 18, as also a variant to B 20, says it was a rune-slumber that came over him. Only G, H, I, K give the number of the murdered women: in G, H, eight, in I, nine, in K, five.

The names are, in A, Svein Norðmann and Guðbjörg; B, Rulleman and Hildeborg [or Signe]; C, D, E, F, Svein Nórmann and Gullbjör [Gunnbjör]; G, Rullemann and Kjersti; H, Rullball and Signelill; I, Alemarken and Valerós; K, Rulemann and a fair maid.

Such information as has transpired concerning Icelandic versions of this ballad is furnished by Grundtvig, IV, 4. The Icelandic form, though curtailed and much injured, has shown tenacity enough to preserve itself in a series of closely agreeing copies from the 17th century down. The eldest, from a manuscript of 1665, runs thus:

Ása went along the street, she heard a sweet sound.
Ása went into the house, she saw the villain bound.
'Little Ása, loose me! I will not beguile thee.'
'I dare not loose thee, I know not whether thou'lt beguile me.'
'God almighty take note who deceives the other!'
She loosed the bands from his hand, the fetter from his foot.
'Nine lands have I visited, ten women I've beguiled;
[Pg 29]
'Thou art now the eleventh, I'll not let thee slip.'

A copy, from the beginning of the 18th century, has, in stanza 2, "Ása went into the wood," a recent copy, "over the fields;" and stanza 3, in the former, with but slight differences in all the modern copies, reads,

'Welcome art thou, Ása maid! thou wilt mean to loose me.'

Some recent copies (there is one in Berggreen, Danske Folkesange, 2d ed., I, 162) allow the maid to escape, adding,

'Wait for me a little space, whilst I go into the green wood.'
He waited for her a long time, but she never came back to him.
Ása took her white steed, of all women she rode most.
Ása went into a holy cell, never did she harm to man.

This is certainly one of the most important of the German ballads, and additions are constantly making to a large number of known versions. Excepting two broadsides of about 1560, and two copies from recitation printed in 1778, all these, twenty-six in number, have been obtained from tradition since 1800.[35] They are as follows: A a, 'Gert Olbert,' 'Die Mörners Sang,' in Low German, as written down by William Grimm, in the early years of this century, 61 vv, Reifferscheid, p. 161, II. A b, "from the Münster region," communicated to Uhland by the Baroness Annette von Droste-Hüllshof, 46 vv, Uhland, I, 151, No 74 C; repeated in Mittler, No 79. A c, a fragment from the same source as the preceding, and written down at the beginning of this century, 35 vv, Reifferscheid, p. 161, I. B, 'Es wollt sich ein Markgraf ausreiten,' from Bökendorf, Westphalia, as taken down by W. Grimm, in 1813, 41 vv, Reifferscheid, p. 116. C a, 'Die Gerettete,' "from the Lower Rhine," twenty-six two-line stanzas, Zuccalmaglio, No 28, p. 66; Mittler, No 85. C b, eleven two-line stanzas, Montanus (== Zuccalmaglio) Die deutschen Volksfeste, p. 45. D, 'Von einem wackern Mägdlein, Odilia geheissen,' etc., from the Rhine, 34 vv [Longard], No 24, p. 48. E, 'Schondilie,' Menzenberg and Breitbach, 59 vv, Simrock, No 7, p. 19; Mittler, No 86. F, 'Jungfrau Linnich,' communicated by Zuccalmaglio as from the Rhine region, Berg and Mark, fourteen two-line stanzas, Erlach, IV, 598, and Kretzschmer (nearly), No 92, p. 164; Mittler, No 87. G a, 'Ulinger,' 120 vv, Nuremberg broadside "of about 1555" (Böhme) in Wunderhorn, ed. 1857, IV, 101, Böhme, No 13a, p. 56. G b c, Basel broadsides, "of about 1570" (Böhme), and of 1605, in Uhland, No 74 A, I, 141; Mittler, No 77. H, 'Adelger,' 120 vv, an Augsburg broadside, "of about 1560" (Böhme), Uhland, No 74 B, I, 146; Böhme, No 13b, p. 58; Mittler, No 76. I, 'Der Brautmörder,' in the dialect of the Kuhländchen (Northeast Moravia and Austrian Silesia), 87 vv, Meinert, p. 61; Mittler, No 80. J, 'Annele,' Swabian, from Hirrlingen and Obernau, 80 vv, Meier, Schwäbische V. L., No 168, p. 298. K, another Swabian version, from Hirrlingen, Immenried, and many other localities, 80 vv, Scherer, Jungbrunnen, No 5 B, p. 25. L a, from the Swabian-Würtemberg border, 81 VV, Birlinger, Schwäbisch-Augsburgisches Wörterbuch, p. 458. L b, [Birlinger], Schwäbische V. L., p. 159, from Immenried, nearly word for word the same. M, 'Der falsche Sänger,' 40 vv, Meier, No 167, p. 296. N, 'Es reitets ein Ritter durch Haber und Klee,' 43 vv, a fifth Swabian version, from Hirrlingen, Meier, p. 302. O, 'Alte Ballade die in Entlebuch noch gesungen wird,' twenty-three double stanzas, in the local dialect, Schweizerblätter von Henne und Reithard, 1833, IIr Jahrgang, 210-12. P, 'Das Guggibader-Lied,' twenty-one treble stanzas (23?), in the Aargau dialect, Rochholz, Schweizersagen aus dem Aargau, I 24. Q, 'Es sitzt gut Ritter auf und ritt,' a copy taken down in 1815 by J. Grimm, from the recitation of a lady who had heard it as a child in German Bohemia, 74 vv, Reifferscheid, p. 162. R, 'Bie wrüe işt auv der ritterşmàn, 'in the dialect of[Pg 30] Gottschee, Carniola, 86 vv, Schröer, Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Ak., phil-hist. Cl, LX, 462. S, 'Das Lied von dem falschen Rittersmann,' 60 vv, from Styria, Rosegger and Heuberger, Volkslieder aus Steiermark, No 19, p. 17. T, 'Ulrich und Ännchen,'[36] 49 vv, Herder's Volkslieder, 1778, I, 79; Mittler, No 78. U, 'Schön Ulrich und Roth-Aennchen,' 46 vv, in Taschenbuch für Dichter und Dichterfreunde, Abth. viii, 126, 1778, from Upper Lusatia (slightly altered by the contributor, Meissner); Mittler, No 84. A copy from Kapsdorf, in Hoffmann and Richter's Schlesische V. L., No 13, p. 27, is the same, differing by only three words. V, 'Schön-Aennelein,' 54 vv, from the eastern part of Brandenburg, Erk u. Irmer, 6th Heft, p. 64, No 56 (stanzas 4-8 from the preceding). W, 'Schön Ullerich und Hanselein,' twenty-nine two-line stanzas, from the neighborhood of Breslau, in Gräter's Idunna und Hermode, No 35, Aug. 29, 1812, following p. 140. The same in Schlesische V. L., No 12, p. 23, 'Schön Ulrich u. Rautendelein,' with a stanza (12) inserted; and Mittler, No 81. X, 'Der Albrecht u. der Hanselein,' 42 vv, from Natangen, East Prussia, in Neue preussische Provinzial-Blätter, 2d series, III, 158, No 8. Y, 'Ulrich u. Annle,' nineteen two-line stanzas, a second Kuhländchen version, Meinert, p. 66; Mittler, No 83. Z a, 'Von einem frechen Räuber, Herr Ulrich geheissen,' nineteen two-line stanzas, from the Rhine [Longard], No 23, p. 46. Z b, 'Ulrich,' as sung on the Lower Rhine, the same ballad, with unimportant verbal differences, and the insertion of one stanza (7, the editor's?), Zuccalmaglio, No 15, p. 39; Mittler, No 82.

The German ballads, as Grundtvig has pointed out, divide into three well-marked classes. The first class, embracing the versions A-F (6), and coming nearest to English and Dutch tradition, has been found along the lower half of the Rhine and in Westphalia, or in Northwest Germany; the second, including G-S (13), is met with in Swabia, Switzerland, Bohemia, Moravia, Styria, Carniola, or in South Germany; the third, T-Z (7), in East Prussia, the eastern part of Brandenburg and of Saxony, Silesia, and, again, Moravia, or, roughly speaking, in North and East Germany; but, besides the Moravian, there is also of this third class one version, in two copies, from the Rhine.

(I.) A runs thus. She that would ride out with Gert Olbert must dress in silk and gold. When fair Helena had so attired herself, she called from her window, Gert Olbert, come and fetch the bride. He took her by her silken gown and swung her on behind him, and they rode three days and nights. Helena then said, We must eat and drink; but Gert Olbert said, We must go on further. They rode over the green heath, and Helena once more tenderly asked for refreshment. Under yon fir [linden], said Gert Olbert, and kept on till they came to a green spot, where nine maids were hanging. Then it was, Wilt thou choose the fir-tree, the running stream, or the naked sword? She chose the sword, but begged him to take off his silken coat, "for a maid's blood spirts far, and I should be sorry to spatter it." While he was engaged in drawing off his coat, she cut off his head. But still the false tongue spoke. It bade her blow in his horn; then she would have company enough. She was not so simple as to do this. She rode three days and nights, and blew the horn when she reached her father's castle. Then all the murderers came running, like hounds after a hare. Frau Clara [Jutte] called out, Where is my son? Under the fir-tree, sporting with nine maids; he meant me to be the tenth, said Helena.

B is the same story told of a margrave and Fair Annie, but some important early stanzas are lost, and the final ones have suffered injury; for the ballad ends with this conceit, "She put the horn to her mouth, and blew the margrave quite out of her heart." Here, by a transference exceedingly common in tradition, it is the man, and not the maid, that "would ride in velvet and silk and red gold."

C a has the names Odilia and Hilsinger, a trooper (reiter). Odilia was early left an orphan, and as she grew up "she grew into[Pg 31] the trooper's bosom." He offered her seven pounds of gold to be his, and "she thought seven pounds of gold a good thing." We now fall into the track of A. Odilia dresses herself like a bride, and calls to the trooper to come and get her. They ride first to a high hill, where she asks to eat and drink, and then go on to a linden-tree, on which seven maids are hanging. The choice of three deaths is offered, the sword chosen, he is entreated to spare his coat, she seizes his sword and hews off his head. The false tongue suggests blowing the horn. Odilia thinks "much biding or blowing is not good." She rides away, and presently meets the trooper's "little foot-page" (bot), who fancies she has Hilsinger's horse and sword. "He sleeps," she says, "with seven maids, and thought I was to be the eighth." This copy concludes with a manifestly spurious stanza. C b agrees with C a for ten stanzas, as to the matter, and so far seems to be C a improved by Zuccalmaglio, with such substitutions as a princely castle for "seven pounds of gold." The last stanza (11),

Und als die Sternlein am Himmel klar,
Ottilia die achte der Todten war,

was, no doubt, suggested by the last of F, another of Zuccalmaglio's versions, and, if genuine, would belong to a ballad of the third class.

D has the name Odilia for the maid, but the knight, or trooper, has become expressly a robber (ritter, reiter, räuber). They ride to a green heath, where there is a cool spring. Odilia asks for and gets a draught of water, and is told that at the linden-tree there will be eating and drinking for them. And when they come to the linden, there hang six, seven maids! All proceeds as before. The talking head is lost. Odilia meets the robber's mother, and makes the usual reply.[37]

E resembles C closely. Odilia becomes Schondilg (Schön Odilie), Räuber returns to Ritter, or Reiter, and the servant-maid bribe of seven pounds of gold rises to ten tons.[38] Schondilg's toilet, preparatory to going off (6-8), is described with a minuteness that we find only in the Dutch ballad (12-16). After this, there is no important variation. She meets the trooper's three brothers, and makes the same replies to them as to the mother in D.

F. The personages here are Linnich (i.e., Nellie) and a knight from England. The first twelve stanzas do not diverge from C, D, E. In stanza 13 we find the knight directing the lady to strip off her silk gown and gold necklace, as in the English C, D, E; but certainly this inversion of the procedure which obtains in German C, D, E is an accident arising from confused recollection. The 14th and last stanza similarly misunderstands the maid's feigned anxiety about the knight's fine coat, and brings the ballad to a false close, resembling the termination of those of the third class, still more those of certain mixed forms to be spoken of presently.

(II.) The second series, G-S, has three or four traits that are not found in the foregoing ballads. G, which, as well as H, was in print more than two hundred years before any other copy is known to have been taken down, begins, like the Dutch Halewijn, with a knight (Ulinger) singing so sweetly that a maid (Fridburg) is filled with desire to go off with him. He promises to teach her his art. This magical song is wanting only in R, of class II, and the promise to teach it only in Q, R. She attires herself splendidly; he swings her on to his horse behind him, and they ride to a wood. When they came to the wood there was no one there but a white dove on a hazel-bush, that sang, Listen, Fridburg: Ulinger[Pg 32] has hanged eleven[39] maids; the twelfth is in his clutches. Fridburg asked what the dove was saying. Ulinger replied, It takes me for another; it lies in its red bill; and rode on till it suited him to alight. He spread his cloak on the grass, and asked her to sit down:

Er sprach sie solt ihm lausen,
Sein gelbes Haar zerzausen.[40]

Looking up into her eyes, he saw tears, and asked why she was weeping. Was it for her sorry husband? Not for her sorry husband, she said. But here some stanzas, which belong to another ballad,[41] have crept in, and she is, with no reason, made to ride further on. She comes to a lofty fir, and eleven maids hanging on it. She wrings her hands and tears her hair, and implores Ulinger to let her be hanged in her clothes as she is.

'Ask me not that, Fridburg,' he said;
'Ask me not that, thou good young maid;
Thy scarlet mantle and kirtle black
Will well become my young sister's back.'

Then she begs to be allowed three cries.

'So much I may allow thee well,
Thou art so deep within the dell;
So deep within the dell we lie,
No man can ever hear thy cry.'

She cries, "Help, Jesu!" "Help, Mary!" "Help, dear brother!"

'For if thou come not straight,
For my life 't will be too late!'

Her brother seems to hear his sister's voice "in every sense."

He let his falcon fly,
Rode off with hounds in full cry;
With all the haste he could
He sped to the dusky wood.
'What dost thou here, my Ulinger?
What dost thou here, my master dear?'
'Twisting a withe, and that is all,
To make a halter for my foal.'
'Twisting a withe, and that is all,
To make a halter for thy foal!
I swear by my troth thus shall it be,
Thyself shalt be the foal for me.'
'Then this I beg, my Fridburger,
Then this I beg, my master dear,
That thou wilt let me hang
In my clothes as now I stand.'
'Ask me not that, thou Ulinger,
Ask me not that, false perjurer;
Thy scarlet mantle and jerkin black
Will well become my scullion's back.'
His shield before his breast he slung,
Behind him his fair sister swung,
And so he hied away
Where his father's kingdom lay.

H, the nearly contemporaneous Augsburg broadside, differs from G in only one important particular. The "reuter" is Adelger, the lady unnamed. A stanza is lost between 6 and 7, which should contain the warning of the dove, and so is Adelger's version of what the bird had said. The important feature in H, not present in G, is that the halt is made near a spring, about which blood is streaming, "der war mit blut umbrunnenn." This adds a horror to this powerful scene which well suits with it. When the maid begins to weep, Adelger asks whether her tears are for her father's land, or because she dislikes him so much. It is for neither reason, but because on yon fir she sees eleven maids hanging. He confirms her fears:

'Ah, thou fair young lady fine,
O palsgravine, O empress mine,
[Pg 33] Adelger 's killed his eleven before,
Thou 'lt be the twelfth, of that be sure.'[42]

The last two lines seem, by their form, to be the dove's warning that has dropped out between stanzas 6 and 7. The maid's clothes in H are destined to be the perquisite of Adelger's mother, and the brother says that Adelger's are to go to his shield-bearer. The unhappy maid cries but twice, to the Virgin and to her brother. When surprised by the brother, Adelger feigns to be twisting a withe for his falcon.

I begins, like G, H, with the knight's seductive song. Instead of the dove directly warning the maid, it upbraids the man: "Whither now, thou Ollegehr?[43] Eight hast thou murdered already; and now for the ninth!" The maid asks what the dove means, and is told to ride on, and not mind the dove, who takes him for another man. There are eight maids in the fir. The cries are to Jesus, Mary, and her brothers, one of whom hastens to the rescue. He is struck with the beauty of his sister's attire,—her velvet dress, her virginal crown, "which you shall wear many a year yet." So saying, he draws his sword, and whips off his "brother-in-law's" head, with this epicedium:

'Lie there, thou head, and bleed,
Thou never didst good deed.
'Lie there, thou head, and rot,
No man shall mourn thy lot.
'No one shall ever be sorry for thee
But the small birds on the greenwood tree.'[44]

In J, again, the knight comes riding through the reeds, and sings such a song that Brown Annele, lying under the casement, exclaims, "Could I but sing like him, I would give my troth and my honor!" There are, by mistake, two[45] doves in stanza 4, that warn Annele not to be beguiled, but this error is set right in the next stanza. When she asks what the dove is cooing, the answer is, "It is cooing about its red foot; it went barefoot all winter." We have here again, as in H, the spring in the wood, "mit Blute umrunnen," and the lady asks again the meaning of the bloody spring. The knight replies, in a stanza which seems both corrupted and out of place, "This is where the eleven pure virgins perished." Then follow the same incidents as in G-I. He says she must hang with the eleven in the fir, and be queen over all. Her cries are for her father, for Our Lady, and for her brother, who is a hunter in the forest. The hunter makes all haste to his sister, twists a withe, and hangs the knight without a word between them, then takes his sister by the hand and conducts her home, with the advice never more to trust a knight: for all which she returns her devout thanks.[46]

K and L are of the same length and the same tenor as J. There are no names in L; in K both Annele and Ulrich, but the latter is very likely to have been inserted by the editor. K, L have only one dove, and in neither does the lady ask the meaning of the dove's song. The knight simply says, "Be still; thou liest in thy throat!" Both have the bloody spring, but out of place, for it is very improperly spoken of by the knight as the spot he is making for:

[Pg 34]

'Wir wollen ein wenig weiter vorwärts faren,
Bis zu einem kühlen Waldbrunnen,
Der ist mit Blut überronnen.'[47]

L 26-28, 17-19.

The three cries are for father, mother, brother. In K the brother fights with "Ulrich" two hours and a half before he can master him, then despatches him with his two-edged sword, and hangs him in a withe. He fires his rifle in L, to announce his coming, and hears his sister's laugh; then stabs the knight through the heart. The moral of J is repeated in both: Stay at home, and trust no knight.

M smacks decidedly of the bänkelsänger, and has an appropriate moral at the tail: animi index cauda! The characters are a cavalier and a girl, both nameless, and a brother. The girl, hearing the knight sing "ein Liedchen von dreierlei Stimmen," which should seem to signify a three-part song, says, "Ah, could I sing like him, I would straightway give him my honor." They ride to the wood, and come upon a hazel-bush with three doves, one of which informs the maid that she will be betrayed, the second that she will die that day, and the third that she will be buried in the wood. The second and third doves, as being false prophets, and for other reasons, may safely be pronounced intruders. All is now lost till we come to the cries, which are addressed to father, mother, and brother. The brother stabs the traitor to the heart.[48]

N is as short as M, and, like it, has no names, but has all the principal points: the fascinating song, the dove on the bush, eleven maids in the fir, the three cries, and the rescue by the huntsman-brother, who cocks his gun and shoots the knight. The reciter of this ballad gave the editor to understand that if the robber had succeeded in his twelfth murder, he would have attained such powers that nobody after that could harm him.[49]

O is a fairly well-preserved ballad, resembling G-J as to the course of the story. Anneli, lying under the casement, hears the knight singing as he rides through the reeds. The elaborate toilet is omitted, as in I, J. The knight makes haste to the dark wood. They come to a cold spring, "mit Bluot war er überrunnen;" then to a hazel, behind which a dove coos ominously. Anneli says, Listen. The dove coos you are a false man, that will not spare my life. No, says the knight, that is not it; the dove is cooing about its blue foot, for its fate is to freeze in winter. The cloak is thrown on the grass, the eleven maids in the fir are descried, and Anneli is told she must hang highest, and be empress over all. He concedes her as many cries as she likes, for only the wood-birds will hear. She calls on God, the Virgin, and her brother. The brother thinks he hears his sister's voice, calls to his groom to saddle, comes upon the knight while he is twisting a withe for his horse, as he says, ties him to the end of the withe, and makes him pay for all he has perpetrated in the wood. He then swings Anneli behind him, and rides home with her.

P, the other Swiss ballad, has been re[Pg 35]touched, and more than retouched in places, by a modern pen. Still the substance of the story, and, on the whole, the popular tone, is preserved. Fair Anneli, in the miller's house, hears the knight singing as he rides through the rushes, and runs down-stairs and calls to him: she would go off with him if she could sing like that, and her clothes are fit for any young lady. The knight promises that he will teach her his song if she will go with him, and bids her put these fine clothes on. They ride to the wood. A dove calls from the hazel, "He will betray thee." Anneli asks what the dove is saying, and is answered much as in J and O, that it is talking about its frost-bitten feet and claws. The knight tears through the wood, to the great peril of Anneli's gown and limbs, and when he has come to the right place, spreads his cloak on the grass, and makes the usual request. She weeps when she sees eleven maids in the fir-tree, and receives the customary consolation:

'Weep not too sore, my Anneli,
'Tis true thou art doomed the twelfth to be;
Up to the highest tip must thou go,
And a margravine be to all below;
Must be an empress over the rest,
And hang the highest of all as the best.'

The request to be allowed three cries is lost. The knight tells her to cry as much as she pleases, he knows no one will come; the wild birds will not hear, and the doves are hushed. She cries to father, mother, and brother. The brother, who is sitting over his wine at the inn, hears, saddles his best horse, rides furiously, and comes first to a spring filled with locks of maid's hair and red with maid's blood; then to a bush, where the knight (Rüdeli, Rudolph) is twisting his withe. He bids his sister be silent, for the withe is not for her; the villain is twisting it for his own neck, and shall be dragged at the tail of his horse.

Q resembles the Swabian ballads, and presents only these variations from the regular story. The dove adds to the warning, "Fair maid, be not beguiled," what we find nowhere else, "Yonder I see a cool spring, around which blood is running." The knight, to remove the maid's anxiety, says, "Let it talk; it does not know me; I am no such murderer." The end is excessively feeble. When the brother, a hunter as before, reaches his sister, "a robber runs away," and then the brother takes her by the hand, conducts her to her father's land, and enjoins her to stay at home and spin silk. There are no names.

There is one feature entirely peculiar to R. The knight carries off the maid, as before, but when they come to the hazel bush there are eleven doves that sing this "new song:"

'Be not beguiled, maiden,
The knight is beguiling thee:
'We are eleven already,
Thou shalt be the twelfth.'

The eleven doves are of course the spirits of the eleven preceding victims. The maid's inquiry as to what they mean is lost. The knight's evasion is not ingenious, but more likely to allay suspicion than simply saying, "I am no such murderer." He says, "Fear not: the doves are singing a song that is common in these parts." When they come to the spring "where blood and water are running," and the maid asks what strange spring is this, the knight answers in the same way, and perhaps could not do better: "Fear not: there is in these parts a spring that runs blood and water." This spring is misplaced, for it occurs before they enter the wood. The last scene in the ballad is incomplete, and goes no further than the brother's exclamation when he comes in upon the knight: "Stop, young knight! Spare my sister's life." The parties in R are nameless.

So again in S, which also has neither the knight's enchanting song nor the bloody spring. There are two doves, as in J, stanza 4. The cries are addressed to mother, father, brother, as in N, and, as in N, again, the brother cocks his gun, and shoots the knight down;[50] then calmly leads his sister home, with the warning against knights.

[Pg 36]

(III.) T, the first of the third series, has marked signs of deterioration. Ulrich does not enchant Ännchen by his song, and promise to teach it to her; he offers to teach her "bird-song." They walk out together, apparently, and come to a hazel, with no dove; neither is there any spring. Annie sits down on the grass; Ulrich lays his head in her lap; she weeps, and he asks why. It is for eleven maids in the fir-tree, as so often before. Ulrich's style has become much tamer:

'Ah, Annie, Annie, dear to me,
How soon shalt thou the twelfth one be!'

She begs for three cries, and calls to her father, to God, to her youngest brother. The last is sitting over the wine and hears. He demands of Ulrich where she is, and is told, Upon yon linden, spinning silk. Then ensues this dialogue: Why are your shoes blood-red? Why not? I have shot a dove. That dove my mother bare under her breast. Annie is laid in the grave, and angels sing over her; Ulrich is broken on the wheel, and round him the ravens cry.

There is no remnant or reminiscence of the magical singing in U. Schön Ulrich and Roth Ännchen go on a walk, and come first to a fir-tree, then a green mead. The next scene is exactly as in T. Ulrich says the eleven maids were his wives, and that he had thrust his sword through their hearts. Annie asks for three sighs, and directs them to God, to Jesus, and to her youngest brother. He is sitting over his wine, when the sigh comes into the window, and Ulrich simultaneously in at the door. The remainder is very much as in T.

V differs from U only in the names, which are Schön-Heinrich and Schön-Ännelein, and in the "sighs" returning to cries, which invoke God, father, and brother.

W begins with a rivalry between Ulrich and Hanselein[51] for the hand of Rautendelein (Rautendchen). Ulrich is successful. She packs up her jewels, and he takes her to a wood, where she sees eleven maids hanging. He assures her she shall presently be the twelfth. It is then they sit down, and she leans her head on his breast and weeps, "because," as she says, "I must die." His remark upon this, if there was any, is lost. Hoffmann inserts a stanza from another Silesian copy, in which Ulrich says, Rather than spare thy life, I will run an iron stake through thee. She asks for three cries, and he says, Four, if you want. She prefers four, and calls to her father, mother, sister, brother. The brother, as he sits over the wine, hears the cry, and almost instantly Ulrich comes in at the door. He pretends to have killed a dove; the brother knows what dove, and hews off Ulrich's head, with a speech like that in I. Still, as Rautendchen is brought to the grave, with toll of bells, so Ulrich is mounted on the wheel, where ravens shriek over him.

X. Albrecht and Hänselein woo Alalein. She is promised to Albrecht, but Hänsel gets her. He takes her to a green mead, spreads his mantle on the grass, and she sits down. His lying in her lap and her discovery of the awful tree are lost. She weeps, and he tells her she shall be "his eleventh." Her cries are condensed into one stanza:

'Gott Vater, Sohn, Herr Jesu Christ,
Mein jüngster Bruder, wo Du bist!'

Her brother rides in the direction of the voice, and meets Hänselein in the wood, who says Alalein is sitting with princes and counts. The conclusion is as in T, U, V.

Y has Ansar Uleraich wooing a king's daughter, Annle, to the eighth year. He takes her to a fir-wood, then to a fir, a stump of a tree, a spring; in each case bidding her sit down. At the spring he asks her if she[Pg 37] wishes to be drowned, and, upon her saying no, cuts off her head. He has not walked half a mile before he meets her brother. The brother inquires where Ulrich has left his sister, and the reply is, "By the green Rhine." The conclusion is as in W. Ulrich loses his head, and the brother pronounces the imprecation which is found there and in I.[52]

Z, which takes us back from Eastern Germany to the Rhine, combines features from all the three groups. Ulrich fascinates a king's daughter by his song. She collects her gold and jewels, as in W, and goes to a wood, where a dove warns her that she will be betrayed. Ulrich appropriates her valuables, and they wander about till they come to the Rhine. There he takes her into a wood, and gives her a choice between hanging and drowning, and, she declining both, says she shall die by his sword. But first she is allowed three cries,—to God, her parents, her youngest brother. The youngest brother demands of Ulrich where he has left his sister. "Look in my pocket, and you shall find fourteen tongues, and the last cut [reddest] of all is your sister's." The words were scarcely out of his mouth before Ulrich's sword had taken off his head.

The three classes of the German ballad, it will be observed, have for their principal distinction that in I the maid saves her own life by an artifice, and takes the life of her treacherous suitor; in II, she is rescued by her brother, who also kills the traitor; in III, she dies by the villain's hand, and he by her brother's, or by a public execution. There are certain subordinate traits which are constant, or nearly so, in each class. In I, A-F, a choice of deaths is invariably offered; the maid gets the advantage of the murderer by persuading him to take off his coat [distorted in F, which has lost its conclusion]; and, on her way home, she falls in with one or more of the robber's family, mother, brothers, servant, who interrogate her [except F, which, as just said, is a fragment]. Class II has several marks of its own. All the thirteen ballads [G-S], except the last, represent the knight as fascinating the maid by his singing; in all but Q she is warned of her danger by a dove,[53] or more than one; in all but the much-abridged M, N, the knight spreads his cloak on the grass, they sit down, and, excepting M, N, R, the unromantic service is repeated which she undertakes in Danish A, B, D, E, F, H, L, Swedish A, Norwegian A, B. The bloody spring occurs in some form, though often not quite intelligible, in H, J, K, L, O, P, Q, R (also in D, Y). All but the much-abridged M, N have the question, What are you weeping for? your father's land, humbled pride, lost honor? etc.; but this question recurs in T, U, V, W. The cries for help are a feature of both the second and the third class, and are wanting only in Y. Class III differs from I, and resembles II, in having the cries for help, and, in the less impaired forms, T-W, the knight spreads his cloak, lies down with his head in the lady's lap, and asks the cause of her tears. Beyond this, and the changed catastrophe, the ballads of Class III are distinguished by what they have lost.

Forms in which the story of this is mixed with that of some other German ballad remain to be noticed.

A. A ballad first published in Nicolai's Almanach, II, 100, No 21 (1778), and since reprinted, under the titles, 'Liebe ohne Stand,' 'Der Ritter und die Königstochter,' etc., but never with absolute fidelity, in Wunderhorn (1819), I, 37 (== Erlach, II, 120), Kretzschmer, No 72, I, 129; Mittler, No 89; Erk, Neue Sammlung, iii, 18, No 14; also, with a few changes, by Zuccalmaglio, No. 95, p. 199, as 'aus Schwaben;' by Erk, Liederhort, No 28, p. 90, as "corrected from oral tradition;" and as "from oral tradition," in Erk's Wunderhorn (1857), I, 39. Independent versions are given by Mittler, No 90, p. 83, from Oberhessen; Pröhle, Weltliche u. geistliche Volkslieder, No 5, p. 10, from the Harz; Reifferscheid, No 18, p. 36, from Bökendorf. Erk refers to still another copy, five stanzas longer[Pg 38] than Nicolai's, from Hesse-Darmstadt, Neue Sammlung, iii, 19, note.

What other ballad is here combined with Ulinger, it is impossible to make out. The substance of the narrative is that a knight rides singing through the reeds, and is heard by a king's daughter, who forthwith desires to go with him. They ride till the horse is hungry [tired]; he spreads his cloak on the grass, and makes, sans façon, his usual request. The king's daughter sheds many tears, and he asks why. "Had I followed my father's counsel, I might have been empress." The knight cuts off her head at the word, and says, Had you held your tongue, you would have kept your head. He throws the body behind a tree, with Lie there and rot; my young heart must mourn [no knight, a knight, shall mourn over thee]. Another stanza or two, found in some versions, need not be particularly noticed.

'Stolz Sieburg,' Simrock, No 8, p. 21, from the Rhine, Mittler, No 88, is another and somewhat more rational form of the same story. To the question whether she is weeping for Gut, Muth, Ehre, the king's daughter answers:

'Ich wein um meine Ehre,
Ich wollt gern wieder umkehren.'

For this Stolz Sieburg strikes off her head, with a speech like that which we have just had, and throws it into a spring; then resolves to hang himself.[54]

A Dutch version of this ballad, Le Jeune, No 92, p. 292; Willems, No 72, p. 186; Hoffmann, No 29, p. 92, has less of the Halewyn in it, and more motive than the German, though less romance. "If you might have been an empress," says the knight, "I, a margrave's son, will marry you to-morrow." "I would rather lose my head than be your wife," replies the lady; upon which he cuts off her head and throws it into a fountain, saying, Lie there, smiling mouth! Many a thousand pound have you cost me, and many pence of red gold. Your head is clean cut off.

B. The Ulinger story is also found combined with that of the beautiful ballad, 'Wassermanns Braut.'[55] (1.) In a Transylvanian ballad, 'Brautmörder,' Schuster, Siebenbürgisch-sächsische Volkslieder, p. 57, No 54 A, 38 vv, with variations, and p. 59, B, a fragment of 10 vv; (A in a translation, Böhme, No 14, p. 61.) A king from the Rhine sues seven years for a king's daughter, and does not prevail till the eighth. She begs her mother not to consent, for she has seen it in the sun that she shall not long be her daughter, in the moon that she shall drown before the year is out, in the bright stars that her blood shall be dispersed far and wide. He takes her by the hand, and leads her through a green wood, at the end of which a grave is already made. He pushes her into the grave, and drives a stake through her heart. The princess' brother asks what has become of his sister. "I left her on the Rhine, drinking mead and wine." "Why are your skirts so bloody?" "I have shot a turtle-dove." "That turtle-dove was, mayhap, my sister." They spit him on a red-hot stake, and roast him like a fish. Lines 1-4 of this ballad correspond to 1-4 of Y (which last agree with 1-4 of Meinert's 'Wassermanns Braut'); 17, 18, to Y 5, 6; 25-34 to 21-30; and we find in verse 22 the stake through the heart which Hoffmann has interpolated in W, stanza 12.

(2.) A Silesian copy of 'Wassermanns[Pg 39] Braut,' co[llecte]d by [Ho]ffman contributed to Deutsches Museum, 1852, II, 164, represents the bride, after she has fallen into the water and has been recovered by the nix, as asking for three cries, and goes on from this point like the Ulrich ballad W, the conclusion being that the sister is drowned before the brother comes to her aid.[56]

'Nun schürz dich, Gredlein,' "Forster's Frische Liedlein, No 66," Böhme, No 53, Uhland, No 256 A, which is of the date 1549, and therefore older than the Nuremberg and Augsburg broadsides, has derived stanzas 7-9 from an Ulinger ballad, unless this passage is to be regarded as common property. Some copies of the ballad commonly called 'Müllertücke' have also adopted verses from Ulinger, especially that in Meier's Schwäbische Volkslieder, No 233, p. 403.

A form of ballad resembling English C-F, but with some important differences, is extraordinarily diffused in Poland. There is also a single version of the general type of English A, or, better, of the first class of the German ballads. This version, A, Pauli, Pieśńi ludu Polskiego w Galicyi, p. 90, No 5, and Kolberg, Pieśni ludu Polskiego, No 5, bbb, p. 70, runs thus. There was a man who went about the world wiling away young girls from father and mother. He had already done this with eight; he was now carrying off the ninth. He took her to a frightful wood; then bade her look in the direction of her house. She asked, "What is that white thing that I see on yon fir?" "There are already eight of them," he said, "and you shall be the ninth; never shall you go back to your father and mother. Take off that gown, Maria." Maria was looking at his sword. "Don't touch, Maria, for you will wound your pretty little hands." "Don't mind my hands, John," she replied, "but rather see what a bold heart I have;" and instantly John's head flew off. Then follows a single stanza, which seems to be addressed to John's mother, after the manner of the German A, etc.: "See, dear mother! I am thy daughter-in-law, who have just put that traitor out of the world." There is a moral for conclusion, which is certainly a later addition.

The other ballads may be arranged as follows, having regard chiefly to the catastrophe. B, Kolberg, No 5, oo: C, rr: D, ccc: E, dd: F, uu: G, ww: H, t: I, u: J, gg: K, mm: L, Wacław z Oleska, p. 483, 2, Kolberg, p: L*, Kozłowski, Lud, p. 33, No IV: M, Wojcicki, I, 234, Kolberg, r: N, Wojcicki, I, 82, Kolberg, s: O, Kolberg, d: P, ib. f: Q, pp: R, Wojcicki, I, 78, Kolberg, e: S, Kolberg, l: T, ib. n: U, Pauli, Pjeśńi ludu Polskiego w Galicyi, p. 92, No 6, Kolberg, q: V, Kolberg, y: W, Wojcicki, II, 298, "J. Lipiński, Pieśni ludu Wielkopolskiego, p. 34," Kolberg, ee; X, Kolberg, a: Y, ib. z: Z, aa: AA, qq: BB, w; CC, ddd: DD, m: EE, c: FF, o: GG, łł: HH, ss: II, ii: JJ, ff: KK, tt: LL, i: MM, g*. In B-K the woman comes off alive from her adventure: in O-CC, she loses her life: in L-N there is a jumble of both conclusions: DD-MM are incomplete.[57]

The story of the larger part of these ballads, conveyed as briefly as possible, is this: John, who is watering horses, urges Catherine,[58] who is drawing water, to elope with him. He bids her take silver and gold enough, that the horse may have something to carry. Catherine says her mother will not allow her to enter the new chamber. Tell her that you have a headache, says John, and she will consent. Catherine feigns a headache, is put into[Pg 40] the new chamber, and absconds with John while her mother is asleep.[59] At a certain stage, more commonly at successive stages,—on the high road, K, P, S, DD, II, LL, in a dark wood, D, P, T, X, Z, DD, EE, at a spring, D, K, S, T, V, W, X, Y, Z, EE, II, LL, etc.,—he bids her take off, or himself takes from her, her "rich attire," D, P, T, V, W, X, Y, Z, DD, EE, her satin gown, D, T, X, DD, EE, her French or Turkish costume, K, P, II, robes of silver, K, shoes, Z, CC, FF, silk stockings, T, corals, D, X, CC, EE, pearls, T, rings, K, O-T, X, Z, CC-FF, II, LL. In many of the ballads he tells her to go back to her mother, B-G, K, L*, M, N, Q, S, U, X, Y, EE, HH-LL, sometimes after pillaging her, sometimes without mention of this. Catherine generally replies that she did not come away to have to go back, B, C, D, G, L*, M, S, U, X, Y, EE, HH, JJ, KK, LL. John seizes her by the hands and sides and throws her into a deep river [pool, water, sea]. Her apron [tress, AA, II, both apron and tress, O, petticoat, KK] is caught on a stake or stump of a tree, B, C, G, H, I, O, P, R, T, U, V, W, Y, BB, DD, EE, II, JJ, KK [in a bush D]. John cuts it away with axe or sword, G, I, O, R, T, BB, II, JJ. She cries to him for help. He replies, "I did not throw you in to help you out,"[60] B, C, F, P, U, V, W, X, Z, EE, II. Catherine is drawn ashore in a fisherman's net [swims ashore I, J, GG].

Catherine comes out from the water alive in B-N. The brother who plays so important a part in the second class of German ballads, appears also in a few of the Polish versions, B, C, D, and L*, O, P, Q, X, but is a mere shadow. In B 21, 22, and C 16, 17, the brother, who is "on the mountain," and may be supposed to hear the girl's cry, slides down a silken cord, which proves too short, and the girl "adds her tress"! He asks the fishermen to throw their nets for her. She is rescued, goes to church, takes an humble place behind the door, and, when her eyes fall on the young girls, melts into tears. Her apron catches in a bush in D: she plucks a leaf, and sends it down the stream to her mother's house. The mother says to the father, "Do you not see how Catherine is perishing?" The leaf is next sent down stream to her sister's house, who says to her brother, "Do you not see how Catherine is perishing?" He rides up a high mountain, and slides down his silken cord. Though one or two stanzas are lost, or not given, the termination was probably the same as in B, C. In L* 15, O 12, the brother, on a high mountain, hears the cry for help, and slides down to his sister on a silken cord, but does nothing. X does not account for the brother's appearance: he informs the fishermen of what has happened, and they draw Catherine out, evidently dead. The brother hears the cry from the top of a wall in P 21, 22; slides down his cord; the sister adds her tress; he directs the fishermen to draw her out; she is dead. Instead of the brother on the wall, we have a mason in Q 27 [perhaps "the brother on the wall" in P is a mason]. It is simply said that "he added" a silken cord: the fishermen drew out Catherine dead. The conclusion is equally, or more, impotent in all the versions in which the girl escapes from drowning. In G, I, J, she seats herself on a stone, and apostrophizes her hair, saying [in G, I], "Dry, my locks, dry, for you have had much pleasure in the river!" She goes to church, takes an humble place, and weeps, in E, F, G, as in B, C, D. John goes scot-free in all these.[61] Not so in the more vigorous[Pg 41] ballads of tragic termination. Fierce pursuit is made for him. He is cut to pieces, or torn to pieces, O, P, S, T, Y; broken on the wheel, L, U, V, W; cleft in two, BB; broken small as barley-corns, or quartered, by horses, L*, Z; committed to a dungeon, to await, as we may hope, one of these penalties, Q, R. The bells toll for Catherine [the organs play for her], and she is laid in the grave, O-W, Y, Z, L, L*.

There are, besides, in various ballads of this second class, special resemblances to other European forms. The man (to whom rank of any sort is assigned only in N[62]) comes from a distant country, or from over the border, in O, Q, R, T, DD, GG, as in English D, E. The maid is at a window in M, W, as in German G, J, M, O, P, Q, etc. In Q 2, John, who has come from over the border, persuades the maid to go with him by telling her that in his country "the mountains are golden, the mountains are of gold, the ways of silk," reminding us of the wonderland in Danish A, E, etc. After the pair have stolen away, they go one hundred and thirty miles, O, DD, FF; thrice nine miles, Q; nine and a half miles, T; cross one field and another, M, R; travel all night, GG; and neither says a word to the other. We shall find this trait further on in French B, D, Italian B, C, D, F, G. The choice of deaths which we find in German A-F appears in J. Here, after passing through a silent wood, they arrive at the border of the (red) sea. She sits down on a stone, he on a rotten tree. He asks, By which death will you die: by my right hand, or by drowning in this river? They come to a dark wood in AA; he seats himself on a beech-trunk, she near a stream. He asks, Will you throw yourself into the river, or go home to your mother? So H, and R nearly.[63] She prefers death to returning. Previous victims are mentioned in T, DD, HH. When she calls from the river for help, he answers, T 22, You fancy you are the only one there; six have gone before, and you are the seventh: HH 16, Swim the river; go down to the bottom; six maids are there already, and you shall be the seventh [four, fifth]: DD 13, Swim, swim away, to the other side; there you will see my seventh wife.[64]

Other Slavic forms of this ballad resemble more or less the third German class. A Wendish version from Upper Lusatia, Haupt and Schmaler, Part I, No I, p. 27, makes Hilžička (Lizzie) go out before dawn to cut grass. Hołdrašk suddenly appears, and says she must pay him some forfeit for trespassing in his wood. She has nothing but her sickle, her silver finger-ring, and, when these are rejected, her wreath, and that, she says, he shall not have if she dies for it. Hołdrašk, who avows that he has had a fancy for her seven years (cf. German Y, and the Transylvanian mixed form B), gives her her choice, to be cut to pieces by his sword, or trampled to death by his horse. Which way pleases him, she says, only she begs for three cries. All three are for her brothers. They ride round the wood twice, seeing nobody; the third time Hołdrak comes up to them. Then follows the dialogue about the bloody sword and the dove. When asked where he has left Hiłžička, Hołdrašk is silent. The elder brother seizes him, the younger dispatches him with his sword.

Very similar is a Bohemian ballad, translated in Waldau's Böhmische Granaten, II, 25.[65] While Katie is cutting grass, early in the morning, Indriasch presents himself, and demands some for his horse. She says, You must dismount, if your horse is to have grass. "If I do, I will take away your wreath." "Then God will not grant you his blessing." He springs from his horse, and while he gives[Pg 42] it grass with one hand snatches at the wreath with the other. "Will you die, or surrender your wreath?" Take my life, she says, but allow me three cries. Two cries reached no human ear, but the third cry her mother heard, and called to her sons to saddle, for Katie was calling in the wood, and was in trouble. They rode over stock and stone, and came to a brook where Indriasch was washing his hands. The same dialogue ensues as in the Wendish ballad. The brothers hewed the murderer into fragments.

A Servian ballad has fainter but unmistakable traces of the same tradition: Vuk, Srpske Narodne Pjesme, I, 282, No 385, ed. 1841; translated by Goetze, Serbische V. L., p. 99, by Talvj, V. L. der Serben, 2d ed., II, 172, by Kapper, Gesänge der Serben, II, 318. Mara is warned by her mother not to dance with Thomas. She disobeys. Thomas, while dancing, gives a sign to his servants to bring horses. The two ride off, and when they come to the end of a field Thomas says, Seest thou yon withered maple? There thou shalt hang, ravens eat out thine eyes, eagles beat thee with their wings. Mara shrieks, Ah me! so be it with every girl that does not take her mother's advice.[66]

French. This ballad is well known in France, and is generally found in a form resembling the English; that is to say, the scene of the attempted murder is the sea or a river (as in no other but the Polish), and the lady delivers herself by an artifice. One French version nearly approaches Polish O-CC.

A. 'Renauld et ses quatorze Femmes,' 44 vv, Paymaigre, Chants populaires recueillis dans le pays messin, No 31, I, 140. Renauld carried off the king's daughter. When they were gone half-way, she called to him that she was dying of hunger (cf. German A-F). Eat your hand, he answered, for you will never eat bread again. When they had come to the middle of the wood, she called out that she was dying of thirst. Drink your blood, he said, for you will never drink wine again. When they came to the edge of the wood, he said, Do you see that river? Fourteen dames have been drowned there, and you shall be the fifteenth. When they came to the river-bank, he bade her put off her cloak, her shift. It is not for knights, she said, to see ladies in such plight; they should bandage their eyes with a handkerchief. This Renauld did, and the fair one threw him into the river. He laid hold of a branch; she cut it off with his sword (cf. the Polish ballad, where the catastrophe, and consequently this act, is reversed). "What will they say if you go back without your lover?" "I will tell them that I did for you what you meant to do for me."[67] "Reach me your hand; I will marry you Sunday."

"Marry, marry a fish, Renauld,
The fourteen women down below."

B. 'De Dion et de la Fille du Roi,' from Auvergne, Ampère, Instructions, etc., 40 vv, p. 40, stanzas 15-24, the first fourteen constituting another ballad.[68] The pair went five or six leagues without exchanging a word; only the fair one said, I am so hungry I could eat my fist. Eat it, replied Dion, for you never again will eat bread. Then they went five or six leagues in silence, save that she said, I am so thirsty I could drink my blood. "Drink it, for you never will drink wine. Over there is a pond in which fifteen ladies have had a bath, have drowned themselves, and you will make sixteen." Arrived at the pond, he orders her to take off her clothes. She tells him to put his sword under his feet, his cloak before his face, and turn to the pond; and, when he has done so, pushes him in. Here are my keys! he cries. "I don't want them; I will find locksmiths." "What will your friends say?" "I will tell them I did by you as you would have done by me."

C. 'Veux-tu venir, bell' Jeanneton,' 32 vv,[Pg 43] from Poitou and Aunís, Bujeaud, II, 232. When they reach the water, the fair one asks for a drink. The man says, incoherently enough, Before drinking of this white wine I mean to drink your blood. The stanza that should tell how many have been drowned before is lost. Jeanneton, having been ordered to strip, pushes the "beau galant" into the sea, while, at her request, he is pulling off her stockings. He catches at a branch; she cuts it off, and will not hear to his entreaties.

D. 'En revenant de la jolie Rochelle,' twelve two-line stanzas, Gagnon, Chansons populaires du Canada, p. 155. A cavalier meets three fair maids, mounts the fairest behind him, and rides a hundred leagues without speaking to her, at the end of which she asks to drink. He takes her to a spring, but when there she does not care to drink. The rest of the ballad is pointless, and shows that the original story has been completely forgotten.

E. 'Belle, allons nous épromener,' from the Lyonnais, 28 vv, Champfleury, Chansons des Provinces, p. 172, is like C, but still more defective. The pair go to walk by "la mer courante." There is no order for the lady to strip: on the contrary, she cries, Déshabillez-moi, déchaussez-moi! and, while the man is drawing off her shoe, "la belle avance un coup de pied, le beau galant tombe dans l'eau."

F. 'Allons, mie, nous promener,' 32 vv, Poésies populaires de la France, MS., III, fol. 84, No 16, is like C. The lady asks the man to pull off her shoes before he kills her. The man clutches a branch; the woman cuts it away.

G. 'Le Traître Noyé,' Chants pop. du Velay et du Forez, Romania, X, 199, is like E, F.

H. 'La Fillette et le Chevalier,' Victor Smith, Chants pop. du Velay et du Forez, Romania, X, 198, resembles the common Polish ballad. Pierre rouses his love early in the morning, to take a ride with him. He mounts her on his horse, and when they come to a lonesome wood bids her alight, for it is the last of her days. He plunges his sword into her heart, and throws her into a river. Her father and mother come searching for her, and are informed of her fate by a shepherdess, who had witnessed the murder. The youngest of her three brothers plunges into the water, exclaiming, Who threw you in? An angel descends, and tells him it was her lover. A less romantic version, described in a note, treats of a valet who is tired of an amour with a servant-girl. He is judicially condemned to be hanged or burned.

'La Fille de Saint-Martin de l'Ile,' Bujeaud, II, 226, has the conclusion of the third class of German ballads. A mother incites her son to make away with his wife. He carries her off on his horse to a wheat-field [wood], and kills her with sword and dagger. Returning, he meets his wife's brother, who asks why his shoes are covered with blood. He says he has been killing rabbits. The brother replies, I see by your paleness that you have been killing my sister. So Gérard de Nerval, Les Filles du Feu, Œuvres Com., V, 134, and La Bohème galante (1866), p. 79: 'Rosine,' Chants pop. du Velay, etc., Romania, X, 197.

The ballad is known over all North Italy, and always nearly in one shape.

A. 'Monchisa,' sixty-four short verses, Bernoni, Canti popolari veneziani, Puntata v, No 2. A count's son asks Monchesa, a knight's daughter, in marriage in the evening, espouses her in the morning, and immediately carries her off. When they are "half-way," she heaves a sigh, which she says is for father and mother, whom she shall no more see. The count points out his castle; he has taken thirty-six maids there, robbed them of their honor, and cut off their heads. "So will I do with you when we are there." The lady says no word till she is asked why she is silent; then requests the count to lend her his sword; she wishes to cut a branch to shade her horse. The moment she gets the sword in her hand, she plunges it into his heart; then throws the body into a ditch. On her way back, she meets her brother, whom she tells that she is looking after the assassins who have killed her husband. He fears it was she; this she denies, but afterwards says she must go to Rome to confess a great sin. There she obtains prompt absolution.

[Pg 44]

B. 'La Figlia del Conte,' Adolf Wolf, Volkslieder aus Venetien, No 73, a, 34 vv, b, 48 vv. Here it is the daughter of a count that marries Malpreso, the son of a knight. He takes her to France immediately. She goes sixty miles (b) without speaking. She confesses to her brother what she has done.

C. Righi, Canti popolari veronesi, 58 vv, No 94*, p. 30. The count's son marries Mampresa, a knight's daughter. For thirty-six miles she does not speak; after five more she sighs. She denies to her brother having killed her husband, but still says she must go to the pope to confess an old sin; then owns what she has done.

D. 'La Monferrina,' 48 vv, Nigra, Canzoni popolari del Piemonte, in Rivista Contemporanea, XXIV, 76. The lady is a Monferrina, daughter of a knight. After the marriage they travel fifty miles without speaking to one another. Fifty-two Monferrine have lost their heads; the bridegroom does not say why. She goes to the Pope to confess.

E. 'La Vendicatrice,' an incomplete copy from Alexandria, 18 vv only, Marcoaldi, Canti popolari, No 12, p. 166, like D, as far as it goes. Thirty-three have been beheaded before.

F. 'La Inglese,' 40 vv, Ferraro, Canti popolari di Ferrara, Cento e Pontelagoscuro, No 2, p. 14. The count's son marries an English girl, daughter of a knight. She never speaks for more than three hundred miles; after two hundred more she sighs. She denies having killed her husband; has not a heart of that kind.

G. 'La Liberatrice,' 24 vv, Ferraro, Canti popolari monferrini, No 3, p. 4. Gianfleisa is the lady's name. When invited to go off, she says, If you wish me to go, lend me a horse. Not a word is spoken for five hundred miles. The man (Gilardu) points out his castle, and says that no one he has taken there has ever come back. Gianfleisa goes home without meeting anybody.

'Laura,' Ferraro, C. p. di Pontelagoscuro, Rivista di Filologia romanza, II, 197, and C. p. di Ferrara, etc., p. 86, is a mixture of this ballad with another. Cf. 'La Maledetta,' Ferraro, C. p. monferrini, No 27, p. 35.

Several other French and Italian ballads have common points with Renauld, Monchisa, etc., and for this have sometimes been improperly grouped with them: e.g., 'La Fille des Sables,' Bujeaud, II, 177 ff. A girl sitting by the water-side hears a sailor sing, and asks him to teach her the song. He says, Come aboard, and I will. He pushes off, and by and by she begins to weep.[69] She says, My father is calling me to supper. "You will sup with me." "My mother is calling me to bed." "You will sleep with me." They go a hundred leagues, and not a word said, and at last reach his father's castle. When she is undressing, her lace gets into a knot. He suggests that his sword would cut it. She plunges the sword into her heart. So 'Du Beau Marinier,' Beaurepaire, p. 57 f, and Poésies populaires de la France, MS., III, fol. 59, No 4; 'L'Épée Libératrice,' V. Smith, Chansons du Velay, etc., Romania, VII, 69, nearly; also 'Il Corsaro,' Nigra, Rivista Coutemporanea, XXIV, p. 86 ff. In 'La Monferrina Incontaminata,' Ferraro, C. p. m., No 2, p. 3, a French knight invites a girl to go off with him, and mounts her behind him. They ride five hundred miles without speaking, then reach an inn, after which the story is the same. So Bernoni, Puntata IX, No 2. 'La Fille du Patissier,' Paymaigre, No 30, p. 93, has the same conclusion. All these, except 'La Fille des Sables,' make the girl ask for the sword herself, and in all it is herself that she kills.

The Spanish preserves this ballad in a single form, the earliest printed in any language, preceding, by a few years, even the German broadsides G, H.

'Romance de Rico Franco,' 36 vv, "Cancionero de Romances, s. a., fol. 191: Canc. de Rom., ed. de 1550, fol. 202: ed. de 1555, fol. 296;" Wolf and Hofmann, Primavera, No 119, II, 22: Duran, No 296, I, 160: Grimm, p. 252: Depping and Galiano, 1844, II, 167: Ochoa, p. 7. The king's huntsmen got no game, and lost the falcons. They betook them[Pg 45]selves to the castle of Maynes, where was a beautiful damsel, sought by seven counts and three kings. Rico Franco of Aragon carried her off by force. Nothing is said of a rest in a wood, or elsewhere; but that something has dropped out here is shown by the corresponding Portuguese ballad. The lady wept. Rico Franco comforted her thus: If you are weeping for father and mother, you shall never see them more; and if for your brothers, I have killed them all three. I am not weeping for them, she said, but because I know not what my fate is to be. Lend me your knife to cut the fringes from my mantle, for they are no longer fit to wear. This Rico Franco did, and the damsel thrust the knife into his breast. Thus she avenged father, mother, and brothers.

A Portuguese ballad has recently been obtained from tradition in the island of St. George, Azores, which resembles the Spanish closely, but is even curter: A, 'Romance de Dom Franco,' 30 vv; B, 'Dona Inez,' a fragment of 18 vv; Braga, Cantos populares do Archipelago açoriano, No 48, p. 316, No 49, p. 317: Hartung's Romanceiro, II, 61, 63. Dona Inez was so precious in the eyes of her parents that they gave her neither to duke nor marquis. A knight who was passing [the Duke of Turkey, B] took a fancy to her, and stole her away. When they came to the middle of the mountain ridge on which Dona Inez lived, the knight stopped to rest, and she began to weep. From this point Portuguese A, and B so far as it is preserved, agree very nearly with the Spanish.[70]

Certain Breton ballads have points of contact with the Halewyn-Ulinger class, but, like the French and Italian ballads mentioned on the preceding page, have more important divergences, and especially the characteristic distinction that the woman kills herself to preserve her honor. 1. 'Jeanne Le Roux,' Luzel, I, 324 ff, in two versions; Poésies pop. de la France, MS., III, fol. 182. The sieur La Tremblaie attempts the abduction of Jeanne from the church immediately after her marriage ceremony. As he is about to compel her to get up on the crupper of his horse, she asks for a knife to cut her bridal girdle, which had been drawn too tight. He gives her the choice of three, and she stabs herself in the heart. La Tremblaie remarks, I have carried off eighteen young brides, and Jeanne is the nineteenth, words evidently taken from the mouth of a Halewyn, and not belonging here. 2. Le Marquis de Coatredrez, Luzel, I, 336 ff, meets a young girl on the road, going to the pardon of Guéodet, and forces her on to his horse. On the way and at his house she vainly implores help. He takes her to the garden to gather flowers. She asks for his knife to shorten the stems, and kills herself. Early in the morning the door of the château is broken in by Kerninon, foster-brother of the victim, who forces Coatredrez to fight, and runs him through. 3. 'Rozmelchon,' Luzel, I, 308 ff, in three versions, and, 4, 'La Filleule de du Guesclin,' Villemarqué, Barzaz-Breiz, 6th ed., 212 ff, are very like 2. The wicked Rozmelchon is burned in his château in Luzel's first copy; the other two do not bring him to punishment. Villemarqué's villain is an Englishman, and has his head cloven by du Guesclin. 5. 'Marivonnic,' Luzel, I, 350 ff, a pretty young girl, is carried off by an English vessel, the captain of which shows himself not a whit behind the feudal seigneurs in ferocity. The young girl throws herself into the water.

Magyar. Five versions from recent traditions, all of them interesting, are given in Arany and Gyulai's collection of Hungarian popular poetry, 'Molnár Anna,' I, 137 ff, Nos 1-5.[71]A, p. 141, No 3. A man, nameless here, but called in the other versions[Pg 46] Martin Ajgó, or Martin Sajgó, invites Anna Miller to go off with him. She refuses; she has a young child and a kind husband. "Come," he says; "I have six palaces, and will put you in the seventh," and persists so long that he prevails at last. They went a long way, till they came to the middle of a green wood. He asked her to sit down in the shade of a branchy tree (so all); he would lie in her lap, and she was to look into his head (a point found in all the copies). But look not up into the tree, he said. He went to sleep (so B, D); she looked up into the tree, and saw six fair maids hanging there (so all but E). She thought to herself, He will make me the seventh! (also B, D). A tear fell on the face of the "brave sir," and waked him. You have looked up into the tree, he said. "No, but three orphans passed, and I thought of my child." He bade her go up into the tree. She was not used to go first, she said. He led the way. She seized the opportunity, tore his sword from its sheath (so C), and hewed off his head. She then wrapped herself in his cloak, sprang upon his horse, and returned home, where (in all the copies, as in this) she effected a reconcilement with her husband. B, p. 138, No 2, agrees closely with the foregoing. Martin Ajgó calls to Anna Miller to come with him a long way into the wilderness (so D, E). He boasts of no palaces in this version. He calls Anna a long time, tempts her a long time, drags her on to his horse, and carries her off. The scene under the tree is repeated. Anna pretends (so D, E) that the tear which drops on Martin's face is dew from the tree, and he retorts, How can it be dew from the tree, when the time is high noon? His sword falls out of its sheath as he is mounting the tree, and he asks her to hand it to him. She throws it up (so E), and it cuts his throat in two. Rightly served, Martin Ajgó, she says: why did you lure me from home? C, p. 144, No 4. Martin Sajgó tells Anna Miller that he has six stone castles, and is building a seventh. It is not said that he goes to sleep. As in A, Anna pulls his sword from the scabbard. D, p. 146, No 5. Here reappears the very important feature of the wonderland: "Come, let us go, Anna Miller, a long journey into the wilderness, to a place that flows with milk and honey." Anna insists, as before, that Martin shall go up the tree first. He puts down his sword; she seizes it, and strikes off his head with one blow. E, p. 137, No 1, is somewhat defective, but agrees essentially with the others. Martin Ajgó calls Anna; she will not come; he carries her off. He lets his sword fall as he is climbing, and asks Anna to hand it up to him. She throws it up, as in B, and it cuts his back in two.

Neus, in his Ehstnische Volkslieder, maintains the affinity of 'Kallewisohnes Tod,' No 2, p. 5, with the Ulinger ballads, and even of his Holepi with the Dutch Halewyn. The resemblance is of the most distant, and what there is must be regarded as casual. The same of the Finnish 'Kojoins Sohn,' Schröter, Finnische Runen, p. 114, 115; 'Kojosen Poika,' Lönnrot, Kanteletar, p. 279.

In places where a ballad has once been known, the story will often be remembered after the verses have been wholly or partly forgotten, and the ballad will be resolved into a prose tale, retaining, perhaps, some scraps of verse, and not infrequently taking up new matter, or blending with other traditions. Naturally enough, a ballad and an equivalent tale sometimes exist side by side. It has already been mentioned that Jamieson, who had not found this ballad in Scotland, had often come upon the story in the form of a tale interspersed with verse. Birlinger at one time (1860) had not been able to obtain the ballad in the Swabian Oberland (where it has since been found in several forms), but only a story agreeing essentially with the second class of German ballads. According to this tradition, a robber, who was at the same time a portentous magician, enticed the twelve daughters of a miller, one after another, into a wood, and hanged eleven of them on a tree, but was arrested by a hunter, the brother of the twelve, before he could dispatch the last, and was handed over to justice. The object of the murders was to obtain blood for magical purposes. This story had, so to speak, natu[Pg 47]ralized itself in the locality, and the place where the robber's house had been and that where the tree had stood were pointed out. The hunter-brother was by some conceived of as the Wild Huntsman, and came to the rescue through the air with a fearful baying of dogs. (Birlinger in Volksthümliches aus Schwaben, I, 368, No 592, and Germania, 1st Ser., V, 372.)

The story of the German ballad P has attached itself to localities in the neighborhood of Weissenbach, Aargau, and is told with modifications that connect it with the history of the Guggi-, or Schongauer-, bad. A rich man by lewd living had become a leper. The devil put it into his head that he could be cured by bathing in the blood of twelve [seven] pure maidens. He seized eleven at a swoop, while they were on their way to church, and hanged them, and the next day enticed away a miller's daughter, who was delivered from death as in the ballad. A medicinal spring rose near the fatal tree. (Rochholz, I, 22.) No pure version of this ballad has been obtained in the Harz region, though a mixed form has already been spoken of; but 'Der Reiter in Seiden,' Pröhle, Märchen für die Jugend, No 32, p. 136, which comes from the western Harz, or from some place further north, on the line between Kyffhaüser and Hamburg, is, roughly speaking, only 'Gert Olbert' turned into prose, with a verse or two remaining. 'Der betrogene Betrüger,' from Mühlbach, Müller's Siebenbürgische Sagen, No 418, p. 309, has for its hero a handsome young man, addicted to women, who obtains from the devil the power of making them follow his piping, on the terms that every twelfth soul is to be the devil's share. He had taken eleven to a wood, and hanged them on a tree after he had satisfied his desire. The brother of a twelfth substituted himself for his sister, dressed in her clothes, snatched the rope from the miscreant, and ran him up on the nearest bough; upon which a voice was heard in the wind, that cried The twelfth soul is mine. Grundtvig, in his Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 249, gives his recollections of a story that he had heard in his youth which has a catastrophe resembling that of English C-F. A charcoal burner had a way of taking up women beside him on his wagon, and driving them into a wood, where he forced them to take off their clothes, then killed them, and sunk them with heavy stones in a deep moss. At last a girl whom he had carried off in this way got the advantage of him by inducing him to turn away while she was undressing, and then pushing him into the moss. Something similar is found in the conclusion of a robber story in Grundtvig's Danske Folkeminder, 1861, No 30, p. 108, and in a modern Danish ballad cited in Danmarks gamle Folkeviser, IV, 24, note.**

Another Transylvanian tale, Schuster, p. 433, has a fountain, a thirsty bride, and doves (two or three) that sing to her, traits which have perhaps been derived from some Ulinger ballad; but the fountain is of an entirely different character, and the doves serve a different purpose. The tale is a variety of 'Fitchers Vogel,' Grimms, No 46, and belongs to the class of stories to which 'Bluebeard,' from its extensive popularity, has given name. The magician of 'Fitcher's Vogel' and of 'Bluebeard' becomes, or remains, a preternatural being (a hill-man) further north, as in Grundtvig's Gamle danske Minder, 1857, No 312, p. 182. There is a manifest affinity between these three species of tales and our ballad (also between the German and Danish tales and the Scandinavian ballad of 'Rosmer'), but the precise nature of this affinity it is impossible to expound. 'Bluebeard,' 'La Barbe Bleue,' Perrault, Histoires ou Contes du temps passé, 1697, p. 57 (Lefèvre), has a special resemblance to the German ballads of the second class in the four calls to sister Anne, which represent the cries to father, mother, and brother, and agrees with these ballads as to the means by which the death of the malefactor is brought about.

Looking back now over the whole field covered by this ballad, we observe that the framework of the story is essentially the same in English, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian; in the first class of the German ballads; in Polish A; in French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Magyar. The woman delivers[Pg 48] herself from death by some artifice,[72] and retaliates upon the man the destruction he had intended for her. The second form of the German ballad attributes the deliverance of the woman to her brother, and also the punishment of the murderer. The third form of the German ballad makes the woman lose her life, and her murderer, for the most part, to suffer the penalty of the law, though in some cases the brother takes immediate vengeance. Polish B-K may be ranked with the second German class, and O-CC still better with the third; but the brother appears in only a few of these, and, when he appears, counts for nothing. The Wendish and the Bohemian ballad have the incident of fraternal vengeance, though otherwise less like the German. The Servian ballad, a slight thing at best, is still less like, but ranks with the third German class. The oldest Icelandic copy is altogether anomalous, and also incomplete, but seems to imply the death of the woman: later copies suffer the woman to escape, without vengeance upon the murderer.

It is quite beyond question that the third class of German ballad is a derivation from the second.[73] Of the versions T-Z, Z alone has preserved clear traits of the marvellous. A king's daughter is enticed from home by Ulrich's singing, and is warned of her impending fate by the dove, as in Class II. The other ballads have the usual marks of degeneracy, a dropping or obscuring of marvellous and romantic incidents, and a declension in the rank and style of the characters. T, to be sure, has a hazel, and Y a tree-stump and a spring, and in T Ulrich offers to teach Ännchen bird-song, but these traits have lost all significance. Knight and lady sink to ordinary man and maid; for though in Y the woman is called a king's daughter, the opening stanzas of Y are borrowed from a different ballad. Ulrich retains so much of the knight that he rides to Ännchen's house, in the first stanza of T, but he apparently goes on foot with her to the wood, and this is the rule in all the other ballads of this class. As Ulrich has lost his horse, so the brother, in T, U, V, X, has lost his sword, or the use of it, and in all these (also, superfluously, in W) Ulrich, like a common felon as he was, is broken on the wheel.

That the woman should save her life by her own craft and courage is certainly a more primitive conception than that she should depend upon her brother, and the priority of this arrangement of the plot is supported, if not independently proved, by the concurrence, as to this point, of so many copies among so many nations, as also by the accordance of various popular tales. The second German form must therefore, so far forth, be regarded as a modification of the first. Among the several devices, again, which the woman employs in order to get the murderer into her power, the original would seem to be her inducing him to lay his head in her lap, which gives her the opportunity (by the use of charms or runes, in English A, Danish G, Norwegian F, H, and one form of B) to put him into a deep sleep. The success of this trick no doubt implies considerable simplicity on the part of the victim of it; not more, however, than is elsewhere witnessed in preternatural beings, whose wits are frequently represented as no match for human shrewdness. Some of the Scandinavian ballads are not liable to the full force of this objection, whatever that may be, for they make the knight express a suspicion of treachery, and the lady solemnly asseverate that she will not kill [fool, beguile] him in his sleep. And so, when he is fast bound, she cries out, Wake up, for I will not kill thee in thy sleep! This last circumstance is wanting in hardly any of the Scandinavian ballads, whereas the previous compact is found only in Danish E, F, G, H, L, Swedish A, Norwegian A, and the Icelandic ballad. Not occurring in any of the older Danish copies, it may be that[Pg 49] the compact is an after-thought, and was inserted to qualify the improbability. But the lady's equivocation is quite of a piece with Memering's oath in 'Ravengaard and Memering,' Grundtvig, No 13, and King Dietrich's in the Dietrichsaga, Unger, c. 222, p. 206.[74]

English A and all the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian ballads employ the stratagem of lulling the man to sleep, but these are not the only ballads in which the man lays his head in the woman's lap. This trait is observed in nearly all German ballads of the second and third class, in all the well-preserved ones, and also in the Magyar ballad. With regard to the German ballads, however, it is purposeless (for it does not advance the action of the drama in the least), and must be regarded as a relic of an earlier form.[75] English B-F and all the French ballads dispose of the traitor by a watery death. The scene is shifted from a wood to a sea-coast, pool, or river bank, perhaps to suit the locality to which the ballad had wandered. In English B, where, apparently under the influence of other ballads,[76] the lady is forced to wade into water up to her chin, the knight is pushed off his horse when bending over to give a last kiss for which he had been asked; in English C-F and French A, B, the man is induced to turn his face to save the woman's modesty; in French C-E he is made to pull off her stockings or shoes, and then, while off his guard, pitched into a sea or river. This expedient is sufficiently trivial; but still more so, and grazing on the farcical, is that which is made use of in the Dutch ballad and those of the German first class, the woman's persuading the man to take off his fine coat lest it should be spattered with her blood, and cutting off his head with his own sword while he is thus occupied. The Spanish and Portuguese ballads make the lady borrow the knight's knife to remove some of the trimming of her dress, and in the Italian she borrows his sword to cut a bough to shade her horse; for in Italian the halt in the wood is completely forgotten, and the last half of the action takes place on horseback. All these contrivances plainly have less claim to be regarded as primary than that of binding the murderer after he has been put to sleep.

The knight in English A is called an Elf, and as such is furnished with an enchanting horn, which is replaced by a harp of similar properties in B, where, however, the male personage has neither name nor any kind of designation. The elf-horn of English A is again represented by the seductive song of the Dutch ballad and of German G-R and Z. Though the lady is not lured away in the Scandinavian ballads by irresistible music,[77] Danish A, E, Norwegian A, B, and Swedish D present to her the prospect of being taken to an elf-land, or elysium, and there are traces of this in Danish G and D also, and in Polish Q. The tongue that talks after the head is off, in the Dutch ballad and in German A, B, C, E, is another mark of an unearthly being. Halewyn, Ulver, Gert Olbert, like the English knight, are clearly supernatural, though of a nondescript type. The elf in English A is not to be interpreted too strictly, for the specific elf is not of a sanguinary turn, as these so conspicuously are. He is comparatively innocuous, like the hill-man Young Akin, in another English ballad, who likewise entices away a woman by magical music, but only to make her his wife. But the elf-knight and the rest seem to delight in bloodshed for its own sake; for, as Grundtvig has pointed out, there is no other apparent motive for murder in English A, B, the Norwegian ballads, Danish A, Swedish A, B, or German[Pg 50] A-E.[78] This is true again, for one reason or another, of others of the German ballads, of the French, of most of the Italian, and of the Hungarian ballads.

The nearest approach to the Elf-knight, Halewyn, etc., is perhaps Quintalin, in the saga of Samson the Fair. He was son of the miller Galin. Nobody knew who his mother was, but many were of the mind that Galin might have had him of a "goddess," an elf or troll woman, who lived under the mill force. He was a thief, and lay in the woods; was versed in many knave's tricks, and had also acquired agreeable arts. He was a great master of the harp, and would decoy women into the woods with his playing, keep them as long as he liked, and send them home pregnant to their fathers or husbands. A king's daughter, Valentina, is drawn on by his music deep into the woods, but is rescued by a friendly power. Some parts of her dress and ornaments, which she had laid off in her rapid following up of the harping, are afterwards found, with a great quantity of precious things, in the subaqueous cave of Quintalin's mother, who is a complete counterpart to Grendel's, and was probably borrowed from Beówulf.[79] This demi-elf Quintalin is a tame personage by the side of Grendel or of Halewyn. Halewyn does not devour his victims, like Grendel: Quintalin does not even murder his. He allures women with his music to make them serve his lust. We may infer that he would plunder them, for he is a notorious thief. Even two of the oldest Danish ballads, B, C, and again Danish I and Swedish C, make the treacherous knight as lecherous as bloody, and so with German J, K, L, O, P, Q, R, S, and Italian A, B, C, E, F. This trait is wanting in Danish D, where, though traces of the originally demonic nature of the knight remain, the muckle gold of the maids already appears as the motive for the murders. In the later Danish E-H, K, L, and Swedish C, D, the original elf or demon has sunk to a remorseless robber, generally with brothers, sisters, or underlings for accomplices.[80] This is preëminently his character in English C-F, in nearly all the forty Polish ballads, and in the two principal ballads of the German second class, G, H, though English D, German H, and Polish Q retain a trace of the supernatural: the first in the charm by means of which the knight compels the maid to quit her parents, the second in the bloody spring, and the last in the golden mountains. There is nothing that unequivocally marks the robber in the other German ballads of the second class and in those of the third. The question 'Weinst du um deines Vaters Gut?' in I-L, O-S, T-W, is hardly decisive, and only in W and Z is it expressly said that the maid had taken valuable things with her (as in Swedish D, Norwegian A, B, English D-F). J-L, O-S, give us to understand that the lady had lost her honor,[81] but in all the rest, except the anomalous Z, the motive for murder is insufficient.[82]

The woman in these ballads is for the most part nameless, or bears a stock name to which no importance can be attached. Not so with the names of the knight. Most of these are[Pg 51] peculiar, and the Northern ones, though superficially of some variety, have yet likeness enough to tempt one to seek for a common original. Grundtvig, with considerable diffidence, suggests Oldemor as a possible ground-form. He conceives that the R of some of the Scandinavian names may be a relic of a foregoing Herr. The initial H would easily come or go. Given such a name as Hollemen (Danish C), we might expect it to give place to Halewyn, which is both a family and a local name in Flanders, if the ballad should pass into the Low Countries from Denmark, a derivation that Grundtvig is far from asserting. So Ulinger, a local appellation, might be substituted for the Ulver of Danish A. Grundtvig, it must be borne in mind, declines to be responsible for the historical correctness of this genealogy, and would be still less willing to undertake an explanation of the name Oldemor.

In place of Oldemor, Professor Sophus Bugge, in a recent article, marked by his characteristic sharp-sightedness and ingenuity, has proposed Hollevern, Holevern, or Olevern as the base-form of all the Northern names for the bloody knight, and he finds in this name a main support for the entirely novel and somewhat startling hypothesis that the ballad we are dealing with is a wild shoot from the story of Judith and Holofernes.[83] His argument, given as briefly as possible, is as follows.

That the Bible story was generally known in the Middle Ages no one would question. It was treated in a literary way by an Anglo-Saxon poet, who was acquainted with the scriptural narrative, and in a popular way by poets who had no direct acquaintance with the original.[84] The source of the story in the ballad must in any case be a tradition many times removed from the biblical story; that much should be changed, much dropped, and much added is only what would be expected.

Beginning the comparison with 'Judith' with this caution, it is first submitted that Holofernes can be recognized in most of the Scandinavian and German names of the knight. The v of the proposed base-form is preserved in Ulver, Halewyn, and probably in the English Elf-knight. It is easy to explain a v's passing over to g, as in Ulinger, Adelger, and especially under the influence of the very common names in -ger. Again, v might easily become b, as in Olbert, or m, as in Hollemen, Olmor; and the initial R of Rulleman, Romor, etc., may have been carried over from a prefixed Herr.[85]

The original name of the heroine has been lost, and yet it is to be noticed that Gert Olbert's mother, in German A, is called Fru Jutte.

The heroine in this same ballad is named Helena (Linnich in F); in others (German C, D, E), Odilia. These are names of saints, and this circumstance may tend to show that the woman in the ballad was originally conceived of as rather a saint than a secular character, though in the course of time the story has so changed that the devout widow who sought out her country's enemy in his own camp has been transformed into a young maid who is enticed from home by a treacherous suitor.

It is an original trait in the ballad that the murderer, as is expressly said in many copies, is from a foreign land. According to an English version (E), he comes from the north, as Holofernes does, "venit Assur ex montibus ab aquilone" (Jud. xvi, 5).

The germ of this outlandish knight's blood[Pg 52]thirstiness is found in the truculent part that Holofernes plays in the Bible, his threats and devastations. That the false suitor appears without companions is in keeping with the ballad style of representation; yet we might find suggestions of the Assyrian's army in the swains, the brothers, the stable-boy, whom the maid falls in with on her way home.

The splendid promises made in many of the ballads might have been developed from the passage where Holofernes, whose bed is described as wrought with purple, gold, and precious stones, says to Judith, Thou shalt be great in the house of Nebuchadnezzar, and thy name shall be named in all the earth (xi, 21).

In many forms of the ballad, especially the Dutch and the German, the maid adorns herself splendidly, as Judith does: she even wears some sort of crown in Dutch A 16, German D 8, as Judith does in x, 3, xvi, 10 (mitram).

In the English D, E, F, the oldest Danish, A, and the Polish versions, the maid, like Judith, leaves her home in the night.

The Piedmontese casté, Italian E 1 [there is a castle in nearly all the Italian ballads, and also in Dutch B], may remind us of Holofernes' castra.

The knight's carrying off the maid, lifting her on to his horse in many copies, may well come from a misunderstanding of elevaverunt in Judith x, 20: Et cum in faciem ejus intendisset, adoravit eum, prosternens se super terram. Et elevaverunt eam servi Holofernis, jubente domino suo.[86]

In German A Gert Olbert and Helena are said to ride three days and nights, and in Danish D the ride is for three days; and we may remember that Judith killed Holofernes the fourth day after her arrival in his camp.

The place in which the pair alight is, according to German G 20, a deep dale, and this agrees with the site of Holofernes' camp in the valley of Bethulia. There is a spring or stream in many of the ballads, and also a spring in the camp, in which Judith bathes (xii, 7).

Most forms of the ballad make the knight, after the halt, inform the maid that she is to die, as many maids have before her in the same place; e.g., German G 7:

'Der Ulinger hat eylff Jungfrawen gehangen,
Die zwölfft hat er gefangen.'[87]

This corresponds with the passage in Judith's song (xvi, 6), Dixit se ... infantes meos dare in prædam et virgenes in captivitatem: but it is reasonable to suppose that the ballad follows some version of the Bible words that varied much from the original.

The incident of the maid's lousing and tousing her betrayer's hair, while he lies with his head in her lap, may have come from Judith seizing Holofernes by the hair before she kills him, but the story of Samson and Delilah may have had influence here.

According to many German versions, the murderer grants the maid three cries before she dies. She invokes Jesus, Mary, and her brother. Or she utters three sighs, the first to God the Father, the second to Jesus, the third to her brother. These cries or sighs seem to take the place of Judith's prayer, Confirma me, Domine Deus Israel (xiii, 7), and it may also be well to remember that Holofernes granted Judith, on her request, permission to go out in the night to pray.

The Dutch, Low-German, Scandinavian, and other versions agree in making the woman kill the knight with his own sword, as in Judith. The Dutch and Low-German [also Danish F, Swedish A] have preserved an original trait in making the maid hew off the murderer's head. English and French versions dispose of the knight differently: the maid pushes him into sea or river. Perhaps, in some older form of the story, after the head was cut off, the trunk was pushed into the water: cf. Judith xiii, 10: Abscidit caput ejus et ... evolvit corpus ejus truncum. The words apprehendit comam capitis ejus (xiii, 9) have their[Pg 53] parallel in Dutch A, 33: "Zy nam het hoofd al by het haer." The Dutch ballad makes the maid carry the head with her.

"Singing and ringing" she rode through the wood: Judith sings a song of praise to the Lord after her return home.

In English C-F, May Colven comes home before dawn, as Judith does. The Dutch A says, When to her father's gate she came, she blew the horn like a man. Compare Judith xiii, 13: Et dixit Judith a longe custodibus murorum, Aperite portas!

The Dutch text goes on to say that when the father heard the horn he was delighted at his daughter's return: and Judith v, 14, Et factum est, cum audissent viri vocem ejus, vocaverunt presbyteros civitatis.

The conclusion of Dutch A is that there was a banquet held, and the head was set on the table. So Judith causes Holofernes' head to be hung up on the city wall, and after the enemy have been driven off, the Jews hold a feast.

The Icelandic version, though elsewhere much mutilated, has a concluding stanza which certainly belongs to the ballad:

Ása went into a holy cell,
Never did she harm to man.

This agrees with the view taken of the heroine of the ballad as a saint, and with the Bible account that Judith lived a chaste widow after her husband's demise.

Danish D is unique in one point. The robber has shown the maid a little knoll, in which the "much gold" of the women he has murdered lies. When she has killed him, the maid says, "I shall have the much gold," and takes as much as she can carry off. Compare with this Holofernes putting Judith into his treasury (xii, 1),[88] her carrying off the conopœum (xiii, 10), and her receiving from the people all Holofernes' gold, silver, clothes, jewels, and furniture, as her share of the plunder of the Assyrian camp (xv, 14). It is, perhaps, a perversion of this circumstance that the robber in German G, H, is refused permission to keep his costly clothes.

English D seems also to have preserved a portion of the primitive story, when it makes the maid tell her parents in the morning all that has happened, whereupon they go with her to the sea-shore to find the robber's body. The foundation for this is surely the Bible account that Judith makes known her act to the elders of the city, and that the Jews go out in the morning and fall on the enemy's camp, in which Holofernes' body is lying. In Swedish C the robber's sisters mourn over his body, and in Judith xiv, 18 the Assyrians break out into loud cries when they learn of Holofernes' death.

In all this it is simply contended that the story of Judith is the remote source of the ballad, and it is conceded that many of the correspondences which have been cited may be accidental. Neither the Latin text of Judith nor any other written treatment of the story of Judith is supposed to have been known to the author of the ballad. The knowledge of its biblical origin being lost, the story would develop itself in its own way, according to the fashion of oral tradition. And so the pious widow into whose hands God gave over his enemies is converted into a fair maid who is enticed by a false knight into a wood, and who kills him in defence of her own life.

A similar transformation can be shown elsewhere in popular poetry. The little Katie of certain northern ballads (see Grundtvig, No 101) is a maid among other maids who prefers death to dishonor; but was originally Saint Catherine, daughter of the king of Egypt, who suffered martyrdom for the faith under the Emperor Maxentius. All the versions of the Halewyn ballad which we possess, even the purest, may be far removed from the primitive, both as to story and as to metrical form. New features would be taken up, and old ones would disappear. One copy has[Pg 54] preserved genuine particulars, which another has lost, but Dutch tradition has kept the capital features best of all.[89]

Professor Bugge's argument has been given with an approach to fulness out of a desire to do entire justice to the distinguished author's case, though most of the correspondences adduced by him fail to produce any effect upon my mind.

The case is materially strengthened by the Dutch text C ('Roland'), which was not accessible at the time Bugge's paper was written. The name Roland is not so close to Holofern as Halewyn, but is still within the range of conceivable metamorphosis. The points of coincidence between Dutch C and the story of Judith are these: The woman, first making an elaborate toilet,[90] goes out to seek the man, who is spoken of as surrounded with soldiers; she is challenged on the way; finds Roland lying on his bed, which he proposes she shall share (or lose her life);[91] she cuts off his head, which, after her return home, she exposes from her window.[92]

If this was the original form of the Dutch ballad, and the Dutch ballad is the source from which all the other ballads have come, by processes of dropping, taking up, and transforming, then we may feel compelled to admit that this ballad might be a wild shoot from the story of Judith. Any one who bears in mind the strange changes which stories undergo will hesitate to pronounce this impossible. What poor Ophelia says of us human creatures is even truer of ballads: "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

But when we consider how much would have to be dropped, how much to be taken up, and how much to be transformed, before the Hebrew "gest" could be converted into the European ballad, we naturally look for a less difficult hypothesis. It is a supposition attended with less difficulty that an independent European tradition existed of a half-human, half-demonic being, who possessed an irresistible power of decoying away young maids, and was wont to kill them after he got them into his hands, but who at last found one who was more than his match, and lost his own life through her craft and courage. A modification of this story is afforded by the large class of Bluebeard tales. The Quintalin story seems to be another variety, with a substitution of lust for bloodthirst. The Dutch ballad may have been affected by some lost ballad of Holofern, and may have taken up some of its features, at least that of carrying home Halewyn's [Roland's] head, which is found in no other version.[93]

A a is translated by Grundtvig in Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, No 37, p. 230: B b in the same, No 36, p. 227: C a, b, D a, b, blended, No 35, p. 221. A, by Rosa Warrens, Schottische V. L. der Vorzeit, No 1, p. 1: Gerhard, p. 15. C b, by Rosa Warrens, No[Pg 55] 34, p. 148: Wolf, Halle der Völker, I, 38, Hausschatz, 225. C, D, etc., as in Allingham, p. 244, by Knortz, Lied. u. Rom. Alt-Englands, No 4, p. 14.


a. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 22. b. Motherwell's MS., p. 563.

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
'If I had yon horn that I hear blawing,
And yon elf-knight to sleep in my bosom.'
This maiden had scarcely these words spoken,
Till in at her window the elf-knight has luppen.
'It's a very strange matter, fair maiden,' said he,
'I canna blaw my horn but ye call on me.
'But will ye go to yon greenwood side?
If ye canna gang, I will cause you to ride.'
He leapt on a horse, and she on another,
And they rode on to the greenwood together.
'Light down, light down, lady Isabel,' said he,
'We are come to the place where ye are to die.'
'Hae mercy, hae mercy, kind sir, on me,
Till ance my dear father and mother I see.'
'Seven king's-daughters here hae I slain,
And ye shall be the eight o them.'
'O sit down a while, lay your head on my knee,
That we may hae some rest before that I die.'
She stroakd him sae fast, the nearer he did creep,
Wi a sma charm she lulld him fast asleep.
Wi his ain sword-belt sae fast as she ban him,
Wi his ain dag-durk sae sair as she dang him.
'If seven king's-daughters here ye hae slain,
Lye ye here, a husband to them a'.'


a. Buchan's MSS, II, fol. 80. b. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 201. c. Motherwell's MS., p. 561. d. Harris MS., No 19.

There came a bird out o a bush,
On water for to dine,
An sighing sair, says the king's daughter,
'O wae 's this heart o mine!'
He 's taen a harp into his hand,
He 's harped them all asleep,
Except it was the king's daughter,
Who one wink couldna get.
He 's luppen on his berry-brown steed,
Taen 'er on behind himsell,
Then baith rede down to that water
That they ca Wearie's Well.
'Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
No harm shall thee befall;
Oft times I've watered my steed
Wi the waters o Wearie's Well.'
The first step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the knee;
And sighend says this lady fair,
'This water 's nae for me.'
'Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
No harm shall thee befall;
Oft times I've watered my steed
Wi the water o Wearie's Well.'
The next step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the middle;
'O,' sighend says this lady fair,
I 've wat my gowden girdle.'
[Pg 56]
'Wide in, wide in, my lady fair,
No harm shall thee befall;
Oft times have I watered my steed
Wi the water o Wearie's Well.'
The next step that she stepped in,
She stepped to the chin;
'O,' sighend says this lady fair,
'They sud gar twa loves twin.'
'Seven king's-daughters I 've drownd there,
In the water o Wearie's Well,
And I'll make you the eight o them,
And ring the common bell.'
'Since I am standing here,' she says,
'This dowie death to die,
One kiss o your comely mouth
I'm sure wad comfort me.'
He louted him oer his saddle bow,
To kiss her cheek and chin;
She 's taen him in her arms twa,
An thrown him headlong in.
'Since seven king's daughters ye 've drowned there,
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,
And she swam to dry lan;
She thanked God most cheerfully
The dangers she oercame.


a. Herd's MSS, I, 166. b. Herd's Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 93. c. Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 67, == b "collated with a copy obtained from recitation."

False Sir John a wooing came
To a maid of beauty fair;
May Colven was this lady's name,
Her father's only heir.
He wood her butt, he wood her ben,
He wood her in the ha,
Until he got this lady's consent
To mount and ride awa.
He went down to her father's bower,
Where all the steeds did stand,
And he 's taken one of the best steeds
That was in her father's land.
He 's got on and she 's got on,
And fast as they could flee,
Until they came to a lonesome part,
A rock by the side of the sea.
'Loup off the steed,' says false Sir John,
'Your bridal bed you see;
For I have drowned seven young ladies,
The eight one you shall be.
'Cast off, cast off, my May Colven,
All and your silken gown,
For it 's oer good and oer costly
To rot in the salt sea foam.
'Cast off, cast off, my May Colven,
All and your embroiderd shoen,
For they 're oer good and oer costly
To rot in the salt sea foam.'
'O turn you about, O false Sir John,
And look to the leaf of the tree,
For it never became a gentleman
A naked woman to see.'
He turnd himself straight round about,
To look to the leaf of the tree;
So swift as May Colven was
To throw him in the sea.
'O help, O help, my May Colven,
O help, or else I'll drown;
I'll take you home to your father's bower,
And set you down safe and sound.'
'No help, no help, O false Sir John,
No help, nor pity thee;
Tho seven king's-daughters you have drownd,
But the eight shall not be me.'
So she went on her father's steed,
As swift as she could flee,
And she came home to her father's bower
Before it was break of day.
[Pg 57]
Up then and spoke the pretty parrot:
'May Colven, where have you been?
What has become of false Sir John,
That woo'd you so late the streen?
'He woo'd you butt, he woo'd you ben,
He woo'd you in the ha,
Until he got your own consent
For to mount and gang awa.'
'O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot,
Lay not the blame upon me;
Your cup shall be of the flowered gold,
Your cage of the root of the tree.'
Up then spake the king himself,
In the bed-chamber where he lay:
'What ails the pretty parrot,
That prattles so long or day?'
'There came a cat to my cage door,
It almost a worried me,
And I was calling on May Colven
To take the cat from me.'


a. Sharpe's Ballad Book (1823), No 17, p. 45. b. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 45. c. Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. 21, No. XXIV, one stanza.

O heard ye of a bloody knight,
Lived in the south country?
For he has betrayed eight ladies fair
And drowned them in the sea.
Then next he went to May Collin,
She was her father's heir,
The greatest beauty in the land,
I solemnly declare.
'I am a knight of wealth and might,
Of townlands twenty-three;
And you'll be lady of them all,
If you will go with me.'
'Excuse me, then, Sir John,' she says;
'To wed I am too young;
Without I have my parents' leave,
With you I darena gang.'
'Your parents' leave you soon shall have,
In that they will agree;
For I have made a solemn vow
This night you'll go with me.'
From below his arm he pulled a charm,
And stuck it in her sleeve,
And he has made her go with him,
Without her parents' leave.
Of gold and silver she has got
With her twelve hundred pound,
And the swiftest steed her father had
She has taen to ride upon.
So privily they went along,
They made no stop or stay,
Till they came to the fatal place
That they call Bunion Bay.
It being in a lonely place,
And no house there was nigh,
The fatal rocks were long and steep,
And none could hear her cry.
'Light down,' he said, 'fair May Collin,
Light down and speak with me,
For here I've drowned eight ladies fair,
And the ninth one you shall be.'
'Is this your bowers and lofty towers,
So beautiful and gay?
Or is it for my gold,' she said,
'You take my life away?'
'Strip off,' he says, 'thy jewels fine,
So costly and so brave,
For they are too costly and too fine
To throw in the sea wave.'
'Take all I have my life to save,
O good Sir John, I pray;
Let it neer be said you killed a maid
Upon her wedding day.'
'Strip off,' he says, 'thy Holland smock,
That's bordered with the lawn,
For it's too costly and too fine
To rot in the sea sand.'
[Pg 58]
'O turn about, Sir John,' she said,
'Your back about to me,
For it never was comely for a man
A naked woman to see.'
But as he turned him round about,
She threw him in the sea,
Saying, 'Lie you there, you false Sir John,
Where you thought to lay me.
'O lie you there, you traitor false,
Where you thought to lay me,
For though you stripped me to the skin,
Your clothes you've got with thee.'
Her jewels fine she did put on,
So costly, rich and brave,
And then with speed she mounts his steed,
So well she did behave.
That lady fair being void of fear,
Her steed being swift and free,
And she has reached her father's gate
Before the clock struck three.
Then first she called the stable groom,
He was her waiting man;
Soon as he heard his lady's voice
He stood with cap in hand.
'Where have you been, fair May Collin?
Who owns this dapple grey?'
'It is a found one,' she replied,
'That I got on the way.'
Then out bespoke the wily parrot
Unto fair May Collin:
'What have you done with false Sir John,
That went with you yestreen?'
'O hold your tongue, my pretty parrot,
And talk no more to me,
And where you had a meal a day
O now you shall have three.'
Then up bespoke her father dear,
From his chamber where he lay:
'What aileth thee, my pretty Poll,
That you chat so long or day?'
'The cat she came to my cage-door,
The thief I could not see,
And I called to fair May Collin,
To take the cat from me.'
Then first she told her father dear
The deed that she had done,
And next she told her mother dear
Concerning false Sir John.
'If this be true, fair May Collin,
That you have told to me,
Before I either eat or drink
This false Sir John I'll see.'
Away they went with one consent,
At dawning of the day,
Until they came to Carline Sands,
And there his body lay.
His body tall, by that great fall,
By the waves tossed to and fro,
The diamond ring that he had on
Was broke in pieces two.
And they have taken up his corpse
To yonder pleasant green,
And there they have buried false Sir John,
For fear he should be seen.


J. H. Dixon, Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England, p. 74.

An outlandish knight came from the north lands,
And he came a-wooing to me;
He told me he'd take me unto the north lands,
And there he would marry me.
'Come, fetch me some of your father's gold,
And some of your mother's fee,
And two of the best nags out of the stable,
Where they stand thirty and three.'
She fetched him some of her father's gold,
And some of her mother's fee,
And two of the best nags out of the stable,
Where they stood thirty and three.
[Pg 59]
She mounted her on her milk-white steed,
He on the dapple grey;
They rode till they came unto the sea-side,
Three hours before it was day.
'Light off, light off thy milk-white steed,
And deliver it unto me;
Six pretty maids have I drowned here,
And thou the seventh shalt be.
'Pull off, pull off thy silken gown,
And deliver it unto me;
Methinks it looks too rich and too gay
To rot in the salt sea.
'Pull off, pull off thy silken stays,
And deliver them unto me;
Methinks they are too fine and gay
To rot in the salt sea.
'Pull off, pull off thy Holland smock,
And deliver it unto me;
Methinks it looks too rich and gay
To rot in the salt sea.'
'If I must pull off my Holland smock,
Pray turn thy back unto me;
For it is not fitting that such a ruffian
A naked woman should see.'
He turned his back towards her
And viewed the leaves so green;
She catched him round the middle so small,
And tumbled him into the stream.
He dropped high and he dropped low,
Until he came to the side;
'Catch hold of my hand, my pretty maiden,
And I will make you my bride.'
'Lie there, lie there, you false-hearted man,
Lie there instead of me;
Six pretty maids have you drowned here,
And the seventh has drowned thee.'
She mounted on her milk-white steed,
And led the dapple grey;
She rode till she came to her own father's hall,
Three hours before it was day.
The parrot being in the window so high,
Hearing the lady, did say,
'I'm afraid that some ruffian has led you astray,
That you have tarried so long away.'
'Don't prittle nor prattle, my pretty parrot,
Nor tell no tales of me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
Although it is made of a tree.'
The king being in the chamber so high,
And hearing the parrot, did say,
'What ails you, what ails you, my pretty parrot,
That you prattle so long before day?'
'It's no laughing matter,' the parrot did say,
'That so loudly I call unto thee,
For the cats have got into the window so high,
And I'm afraid they will have me.'
'Well turned, well turned, my pretty parrot,
Well turned, well turned for me;
Thy cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
And the door of the best ivory.'


Roxburghe Ballads, III, 449.

'Go fetch me some of your father's gold,
And some of your mother's fee,
And I'll carry you into the north land,
And there I'll marry thee.'
She fetchd him some of her father's gold,
And some of her mother's fee;
She carried him into the stable,
Where horses stood thirty and three.
She leapd on a milk-white steed,
And he on a dapple-grey;
They rode til they came to a fair river's side,
Three hours before it was day.
'O light, O light, you lady gay,
O light with speed, I say,
For six knight's daughters have I drowned here,
And you the seventh must be.'
[Pg 60]
'Go fetch the sickle, to crop the nettle
That grows so near the brim,
For fear it should tangle my golden locks,
Or freckle my milk-white skin.'
He fetchd the sickle, to crop the nettle
That grows so near the brim,
And with all the strength that pretty Polly had
She pushd the false knight in.
'Swim on, swim on, thou false knight,
And there bewail thy doom,
For I don't think thy cloathing too good
To lie in a watry tomb.'
She leaped on her milk-white steed,
She led the dapple grey;
She rid till she came to her father's house,
Three hours before it was day.
'Who knocked so loudly at the ring?'
The parrot he did say;
'O where have you been, my pretty Polly,
All this long summer's day?'
'O hold your tongue, parrot,
Tell you no tales of me;
Your cage shall be made of beaten gold,
Which is now made of a tree.'
O then bespoke her father dear,
As he on his bed did lay:
'O what is the matter, my parrot,
That you speak before it is day?'
'The cat's at my cage, master,
And sorely frighted me,
And I calld down my Polly
To take the cat away.'


Burden. Song xix of Forbes's 'Cantus,' Aberdeen, 1682, 3d ed., has, as pointed out by Motherwell, Minstrelsy, p. lx, nearly the same burden: The gowans are gay, The first morning of May. And again, a song in the Tea Table Miscellany, as remarked by Buchan, There gowans are gay, The first morning of May: p. 404 of the 12th ed., London, 1763.


No doubt furnished to Motherwell by Buchan, as a considerable number of ballads in this part of his MS. seem to have been.

32. Then in.

81. kind sir, said she.

102. That we may some rest before I die.

111. the near.

132. to them ilk ane.

1 is given by Motherwell, Minstrelsy, p. lx, but apparently to improve metre and secure rhyme, thus:

Lady Isabel sits in her bouir sewing,
She heard an elf-knight his horn blowing.

B b.

Buchan's printed copy differs from the manuscript very slightly, except in spelling.

43, 63. Aft times hae I.

53. And sighing sair says.

73, 93. And sighing says.

142. Till she swam.

143. Then thanked.

144. she'd.


Like A b, derived by Motherwell from Buchan.

41, 61, 81. wade in, wade in.

143. And thanked.

Dixon, Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, p. 63, printing B from the manuscript, makes one or two trivial changes.


is only this fragment.

Mony a time I rade wi my brown foal
The water o Wearie's Wells.
'Leave aff, leave aff your gey mantle,
It's a' gowd but the hem;
Leave aff, leave [aff], it's far owre gude
To weet i the saut see faem.'
She wade in, an he rade in,
Till it took her to the knee;
Wi sighin said that lady gay
'Sic wadin's no for me.'
  *   *   *   *   *
He rade in, and she wade in,
Till it took her to the chin;
Wi sighin said that ladie gay
'I'll wade nae farer in.'
'Sax king's dochters I hae drowned,
An the seventh you sall be.'
  *   *   *   *   *
[Pg 61]
'Lie you there, you fause young man,
Where you thought to lay me.'

C b.

The printed copy follows the manuscript with only very trifling variations: Colvin for Colven;

131, up then spak;

164, ere day;

172, almost worried.


21, 2. he's courted.

23. Till once he got.

Between 2 and 3 is inserted:

She's gane to her father's coffers,
Where all his money lay,
And she's taken the red, and she's left the white,
And so lightly as she tripped away.

31 She's gane down to her father's stable,

3 And she's taken the best, and she's left the warst.

He rode on, and she rode on,
They rode a long summer's day,
Until they came to a broad river,
An arm of a lonesome sea.
53, 4
'For it's seven king's daughters I have drowned here,
And the eighth I'll out make with thee.'
61, 2
'Cast off, cast off your silks so fine,
And lay them on a stone.'
71, 2, 3
'Cast off, cast off your holland smock,
And lay it on this stone,
For it's too fine.' ...
93, 4
She's twined her arms about his waist,
And thrown him into
101, 2
'O hold a grip of me, May Colvin,
For fear that I should'

3 father's gates

4 and safely I'll set you down.

'O lie you there, thou false Sir John,
O lie you there,' said she,
'For you lie not in a caulder bed
Than the ane you intended for me.'

123. father's gates.

4. At the breaking of the day.

134. yestreen.

Between 13 and 14 is inserted:

Up then spake the pretty parrot,
In the bonnie cage where it lay:
'O what hae ye done with the false Sir John,
That he behind you does stay?'
153, 4
'Your cage will be made of the beaten gold,
And the spakes of ivorie.'
171, 2
'It was a cat cam ...
I thought 't would have' ...

D a.

21. Colin.


Buchan's copy makes many slight changes which are not noticed here.

12. west countrie.

After 1 is inserted:

All ladies of a gude account
As ever yet were known;
This traitor was a baron knight,
They calld him fause Sir John.

After 2:

'Thou art the darling of my heart,
I say, fair May Colvin,
So far excells thy beauties great
That ever I hae seen.'

32. Hae towers, towns twenty three.

72. five hunder.

73. The best an steed.

83. fatal end.

84. Binyan's Bay.

122. rich and rare.

124. sea ware.

After 12:

Then aff she's taen her jewels fine,
And thus she made her moan:
'Hae mercy on a virgin young,
I pray you, gude Sir John.'
'Cast aff, cast aff, fair May Colvin,
Your gown and petticoat,
For they're too costly and too fine
To rot by the sea rock.'

134. Before her.

144. to toss.

183. her steed.

233. What hast thou made o fause.

[Pg 62]

283. Charlestown sands. Sharps thinks Carline Sands means Carlinseugh Sands on the coast of Forfarshire.

After 30:

Ye ladies a', wherever you be,
That read this mournful song,
I pray you mind on May Colvin,
And think on fause Sir John.
Aff they've taen his jewels fine,
To keep in memory;
And sae I end my mournful sang
And fatal tragedy.


Motherwell's one stanza is:

O heard ye eer o a bloody knight
That livd in the west countrie?
For he has stown seven ladies fair,
And drownd them a' in the sea.


32. of the.

172. But so.


[24] 'The Elfin Knight' begins very much like A, but perhaps has borrowed its opening stanzas from this ballad. See page 13.

[25] The second stanza, which describes the harping, occurs again in 'Glenkindie' (st. 6).

[26] Perhaps the change from wood, A, to water, B-F, was made under the influence of some Merman ballad, or by admixture with such a ballad; e.g., 'Nøkkens Svig,' Grundtvig, No 39. In this (A) the nix entices a king's daughter away from a dance, sets her on his horse, and rides with her over the heath to a wild water, into which she sinks. It is also quite among possibilities that there was originally an English nix ballad, in which the king's daughter saved herself by some artifice, not, of course, such as is employed in B-F, but like that in A, or otherwise. Maid Heiemo, in Landstad, No 39, kills a nix with "one of her small knives." Had she put him to sleep with a charm, and killed him with his own knife, as Lady Isabel does, there would have been nothing to shock credibility in the story.

Aytoun, Ballads of Scotland, I, 219, 2d ed., hastily pronounces Buchan's ballad not authentic, "being made up of stanzas borrowed from versions of 'Burd Helen' ['Child Waters']." There are, indeed, three successive steps into the water in both ballads, but Aytoun should have bethought himself how natural and how common it is for a passage to slip from one ballad into another, when the circumstances of the story are the same; and in some such cases no one can say where the verses that are common originally belonged. Here, indeed, as Grundtvig remarks, IV, 7, note*, it may well be that the verses in question belonged originally to 'Burd Helen,' and were adopted (but in the processes of tradition) into 'The Water of Wearie's Well;' for it must be admitted that the transaction in the water is not a happy conception in the latter, since it shocks probability that the woman should be able to swim ashore, and the man not.

[27] "This ballad appears modern, from a great many expressions, but yet I am certain that it is old: the present copy came from the housekeeper at Methven." Note by Sharpe, in Laing's ed. of the Ballad Book, 1880, p. 130, xvii. Motherwell, in his Minstrelsy, p. lxx, n. 24, says that he had seen a stall ballad as early as 1749, entitled 'The Western Tragedy,' which perfectly agreed with Sharpe's copy. But in his Note-Book, p. 5 (about 1826-7), Motherwell says, "The best copy of May Colean with which I have met occurs in a stall copy printed about thirty years ago [should we then read 1799 instead of 1749?], under the title of 'The Western Tragedy.' I have subsequently seen a posterior reprint of this stall copy under this title, 'The Historical Ballad of May Collean.' In Mr. Sharpe's Ballad Book, the same copy, wanting only one stanza, is given."

[28] According to the variation given by Willems, and adopted by Hoffmann, Halewijn's son came to meet her, tied her horse to a tree, and bade her to sit down by him and loose her hair. For every hair she undid she dropped a tear. But it will presently be seen not only that the time has not come for them to sit down, but that Halewijn's bidding her undo her hair (to no purpose) is a perversion of her offering to "red" his, to get him into her power, an offer which she makes in the German and Scandinavian ballads, where also there is good reason for her tears, but none as yet here.

[29] J. W. Wolf, Deutsche Märchen u. Sagen, No 29, p. 143, gives the story according to B, apparently from a ballad like Snellaert's. So Luise v. Ploennies, Reiseerinnerungen aus Belgien, p. 38.

Halewyn makes his appearance again in the Flemish ballad, 'Halewyn en het kleyne Kind,' Coussemaker, No 46, p. 149; Poésies populaires de la France, vol. I. A boy of seven years has shot one of Halewyn's rabbits, and is for this condemned to be hanged on the highest tree in the park. The father makes great offers for his ransom, but in vain. On the first step of the ladder the child looks back for his mother, on the second for his father, on the third for his brother, on the fourth for his sister, each of whom successively arrives and is told that delay would have cost him his life. It will presently be seen that there is a resemblance here to German ballads (G-X, Z).

[30] "La chanson de Halewyn, telle à peu près que la donnent Willems, Snellaert et de Coussemaker, se vend encore sur le marché de Bruges. Quoiqu'elle porte pour titre Halewyn, jamais notre pièce n'a été connue ici sous ce nom. Le nom de Halewijn, Alewijn ou Alwin ... est réservé au héros de la pièce suivante" [Mi Adel en Hir Alewijn]. Lootens et Feys, p. 66. "Il est a regretter que Willems et de Coussemaker n'aient pas jugé à propos de donner cette pièce telle que le peuple l'a conservée; on serait sans aucun doute en possession de variantes remarquables, et les lacunes qui existent dans notre version n'eussent pas manqué d'être com blées. Il est bon d'insister sur la remarque faite à la suite de la chanson, qu'à Bruges et dans beaucoup de localités de la Flandre, elle n'est connue que sous le titre de Roland. Ajoutons que notre texte appartient au dernier siècle." L. et F., 295.

[31] So in 'Liebe ohne Stand,' one of the mixed forms of the German ballad, Wunderhorn, Erk I, 41, Crecelius, I, 36,

Und als es nun kam an den dritten Tag,
Da gingen die Pfeiffen und Trommeln an.

[32] E.g., the wonderland in A 2-6, and the strict watch kept over the lady in 7-10 are repeated in 'Ribold og Guldborg,' Grundtvig, 82, B 2-7, 8-11, and in 'Den trofaste Jomfru,' ib. 249, A 3-6, 7-10. The watching in A, B, C and the proffered gifts of C, D, F are found in 'Nøkkens Svig,' Grundtvig, 39, A, B, 12-18. The disguise in A 11-14, the rest in the wood with the knight's head in the lady's lap, A 16, 27, B 11, 21, D 14, 24, E 11, 21, etc., recur in Ribold, B 12-14, L 9, 10, M 19, 20, N 11, 13, P 12, 13. These resemblances, naturally, are not limited to the Danish copies.

[33] So the princess in Asbjörnsen og Moe, N. Folkeeventyr, p. 153. Cf. Campbell's Tales of the West Highlands, III, 209; IV, 282, 283.

[34] The binding and waking, with these words, are found also in a made-up text of 'Frændehævn,' Grundtvig, No 4, C 51-53, but certainly borrowed from some copy of 'Kvindemorderen.'

[35] All the German versions appear to have been originally in the two-line stanza.

[36] The copies with this title in Simrock, No 6, p. 15, and in Scherer's Jungbrunnen, No 5 A, and his Deutsche V. L., 1851, p. 349, are compounded from various texts.

[37] Both D and E have attached to them this final stanza:

'Odilia, why are thy shoes so red?'
'It is three doves that I shot dead.'

This is a well-known commonplace in tragic ballads; and Grundtvig suggests that this stanza was the occasion of the story taking the turn which we find in ballads of the third class.

[38] One scarcely knows whether this bribe is an imperfect reminiscence of splendid promises which the knight makes, e.g., in the Danish ballads, or a shifting from the maid to the knight of the gold which the elsewhere opulent or well-to-do maid gets together while the knight is preparing to set forth; or simply one of those extravagances which so often make their appearance in later versions of ballads.

[39] The number eleven is remarkably constant in the German ballads, being found in G, H, J-L, N-W; it is also the number in Swedish B. Eight is the favorite number in the North, and occurs in Danish A-D, H-L, Swedish A, C, Norwegian G, H; again in German I. German M, X, Danish F, have ten; German A, B, Danish E, Norwegian I, have nine; German C, D, seven; Danish G has nineteen. French A, B have fourteen, fifteen, Italian ballads still higher numbers: A, B, C, thirty-six, D, fifty-two, E, thirty-three, F, three hundred and three.

[40] This stroke of realism fails only in M, N, R, of this second class.

[41] Apparently to a Ribold ballad, of which no other trace has been found in German. See further on in this volume.


'Ach du schöne junkfraw fein,
Du pfalzgrävin, du kaiserin!
Der Adelger hat sich vor ailf getödt,
Du wirst die zwölft, das sei dir gsait.
'So bitt mich nit, du junkfraw fein,
So bitt mich nit, du herzigs ein!'

The liebkosung of this murder-reeking Adelger, o'ersized with coagulate gore, is admirably horrible.

[43] Nimmersatt (All-begehrend) as interpreted by Meinert, not Adelger.

[44] Verses which recur, nearly, not only in Y 17-19, W 27, 28, but elsewhere, as in a copy of 'Graf Friedrich,' Erk's Liederhort, p. 41, No 15, st. 19.

[45] There is no sense in two doves. The single dove one may suppose to be the spirit of the last victim. We shall find the eleven appearing as doves in Q. There is no occasion to regard the dove here as a Waldminne (Vilmar, Handbüchlein für Freunde des deutschen Volkslieds, p. 57). Cf. the nightingale (and two nightingales) in the Danish 'Redselille og Medelvold:' see 'Leesome Brand,' further on in this volume.

[46] This ballad has become, in Tübingen, a children's game, called 'Bertha im Wald.' The three cries are preserved in verse, and very nearly as in J, M. The game concludes by the robber smothering Bertha. Meier, Deutsche Kinder-Reime, No 439.

[47] K, or the editor, seeks to avoid the difficulty by taking the last line from the knight, and reading, "Mit Blut war er umronnen," an emendation not according with the simplicity of ballads. Another Swabian copy, Meier, p. 301, note, strophe 6, has:

'Wir müssen zu selbigem Bronnen
Wo Wasser und Blut heraus ronnen.'

[48] The last verses are these, and not very much worse than the rest:

Mein Bruder ist ein Jägersmann,
Der alle Thierlein schiessen kann;
Er hatt' ein zweischneidiges Schwerte,
Und stach es dem Falschen ins Herze.
Ihr Mädchen alle insgemein,
Lasst euch doch diess zur Warnung sein,
Und geht doch mit keinem so falschen
In einen so finsteren Walde.
My brother is a hunting man,
And all the small game shoot he can;
He had a sword with edges two,
And ran the heart of the false man through
Ye maidens now in general,
Let this be warning to you all;
With man so false you never should
Go to so very dark a wood.

[49] So in Rochholz, Schweizer Sagen, No 14, I, 23, a man who had killed eleven maids would, if he could have made up the number twelve, have been able to pass through walls and mouseholes. Again, a certain robber in Jutland, who had devoured eight children's hearts, would have acquired the power of flying could he but have secured one more. Grundtvig, D. g. F. IV, 16, note.

[50] What will those who are so troubled about cork-heeled shoon in 'Sir Patrick Spens' say to the fire-arms in L, N, S?

[51] A variety of W, cited in Schlesische Volkslieder, p. 26, has,

'Ach Ulbrich, Ulbrich, Halsemann, Halsemann,
Lass du mich nur drei Gale schrei'n!'

Grundtvig, assuming that the name is Ulbrich Halsemann, would account for the second and superfluous character here [found also in W] by a divarication of Ulrich Halsemann into Ulrich and Halsemann (Hanslein). Ansar, "bisher unverständlicher Vorname des Ritters Uleraich" in Y (Meinert), would equally well yield Hanslein. Might not Halsemann possibly be an equivalent of Halsherr?

[52] And in 'Der Mutter Fluch,' Meinert, p. 246, a ballad with which Y agrees in the first two and last four stanzas.

[53] There is a dove in Z, but Z, as has been said, presents traits of all three classes.


'Da lyge, feyns Lybchen, unndt fawle,
Meyn jungk Herze muss trawren.'

Nicolai, vv 35, 36,

'Da liege, du Häuptchen, und faule,
Kein Reuter wird dir nachtrauern.'

Simrock, vv 35, 36,

are evidently derived from the apostrophe to the murderer's head in I, W, Y.

Stolz Syburg is the hero of a very different ballad, from the Münster region, Reifferscheid, No 16, p. 32 (also No 17, and Simrock, No 9, p. 23, 'Stolz Heinrich'). And from this the name, in consequence of a remote resemblance in the story, may have been taken up by the Rhine ballad, though it has contributed nothing more. Margaret, a king's daughter, is wiled away by a splendid description of Stolz Syburg's opulence. When they have gone a long way, he tells her that he has nothing but a barren heath. She stabs herself at his feet.

[55] 'Wassermans Braut,' Meinert, p. 77; 'Die unglückliche Braut,' Hoffmann u. Richter, Schlesische V. L., p. 6, No. 2; 'Königs Töchterlein,' Erk u. Irmer, vi, 6, No 4; 'Der Wassermann,' Erk's Liederhort, p. 50, No 17. ('Die Nixenbraut,' "Norddeutschland," Zuccalmaglio, p. 192, No 92, seems to be Meinert's copy written over.)

[56] The remarkable Norwegian ballad of the 'Wassermanns Brant' group, The Nix and Heiemo, Landstad, No 39, p. 350, has not been unaffected by the one we are now occupied with. There is even a verbal contact between stanza 19,

'Heiemo tenkte með sjave seg:
Tru mine smá knivar 'ki hjelper meg?'

and Norwegian F, stanza 9, cited by Grundtvig, IV, 4,

Lengji stó Gullbjör, hó tenkte mæ seg:
'Kann inkje mí' rúninne hjelpe meg?'

[57] Kolberg's b, h, k, v, x, bb, cc, hh, kk, ll, nn, xx, yy, zz, consist of only one or two initial stanzas, containing no important variation. His aaa, a fragment of six stanzas, Pauli, p. 147, No 6, Wojcicki, II, 169, though it begins like the rest, sounds like a different ballad.

The ballad in Wojcicki, I, 38, is allied with the one we are engaged with, and the two fragments on p. 36, p. 37 with both this and that.

[58] Anne in R, LL, and Kolberg's h: Mary in I, U, II: Ursula, N: both Catherine and Alice, AA. John is found in all but N, where there is a nameless seigneur.

[59] They are expressly said to go off in a carriage in I, O, Q, T, BB, DD, FF. Still, in I, John says, "Let the black horse have something to carry under us." In O, T, FF, the horses have a presentiment of evil to their mistress, and refuse to stir.

[60] One version of 'The Two Sisters,' Q, has the same answer:

'I did not put you in with the design
Just for to pull you out again.'

st. 9.

This might be called a formula in Polish ballads: something of the kind occurs three times in X, four times in B, five times in P; in other ballads also. In Q 25, Catherine clutches the river bank, and John pushes away her hands. Compare 'The Two Sisters,' F 9, further on in this volume.

[61] L, L*, M, N, as already said, confuse the two catastrophes. John says, in N, "Do you see that broad river? I will measure its depth by throwing you in." We may assume that he was as good as his word. But Ursula made her way home through woods and forests, weeping her eyes out on the way. Kind souls dug a grave for her. The conclusion of M is absurd, but need not be particularized. G has a passage of the sternest theology. While Catherine is struggling in the water, her father comes by. She cries to him to save her. He says, "My dear Catherine, you have loved pleasure too much. Lord Jesus grant you drown!" Her mother appears, and makes the same reply to her daughter's appeal. There are stall-copy terminal morals to many of the ballads.

[62] N 1, "A lord came riding from his estate to a neighbor."

[63] The place is high above the water in R 10, 11, as in English D 9, 29, C 4.

[64] BB 6, "My mother said that I had seen you; she will watch me closely," may be an accidental coincidence with Danish A 7-9, B 6-8, etc.

[65] The second, and more valuable, volume of Waldau's B. G. I have found it impossible to obtain. Reifferscheid cites the ballad at p. 166.

[66] A few silly verses follow in the original, in which Thomas treats what he had said as a jest. These are properly rejected by Talvj as a spurious appendage.


'De achte de soll Helena sin,
De achte de most he sölwer sin.'

German A b 13.

[68] Another version of this double ballad, but much corrupted in the second part, was known to Gérard de Nerval. See Les Filles du Feu, Œuvres complètes, V, 132.

[69] So far there is agreement in 'La Fille du Prince,' Paymaigre, No 32, p. 106; Poésies pop. de la France, MS., III, fol. 133.

[70] The Asturian romance communicated in two copies by Amador de los Rios to Jahrbuch für rom. u. eng. Literatur, III, 285, No 2, and the Portuguese 'Romance de Romeirinha,' Braga, Romanceiro, No 9, p. 24, 'A Romeira,' Almeida-Garrett, III, 11, are not parallels, though they have been cited as such.

[71] Magyar Népköltési Gyüjtemény. Uj Folyam, szerkesztik és kiadják Arany László és Gyulai Pál. Collection of Magyar Popular Poetry, New Series, Pest, 1872, 2 vols. Aigner, has blended Nos 4 and 3 (C, A) in 'Martin und Aennchen,' Ungarische Volksdichtungen, p. 170, and has translated No 1 (E), at p. 120, 'Molnár Anna,' in each case obscuring or omitting one or two traits which are important for a comparative view.

[72] Very little remains of the artifice in Polish A. The idea seems to be that the girl pretends to be curious about the sword in order to get it into her hands. But the whole story is told in ten stanzas.

[73] I accept and repeat Grundtvig's views as to the relation of the three forms of the story. And with regard to the history of the ballad generally, this is but one of many cases in which much or most of the work had been done to my hand in Danmarks gamle Folkeviser.

[74] Memering was required by his adversary to swear that he knew not of the sword Adelring, and took his oath that he knew of nothing but the hilt being above ground, which was accepted as satisfactory. Presently he pulls Adelring out of the ground, into which he had thrust the blade, and, being accused of perjury, triumphantly rejoins that he had sworn that he knew of nothing but the hilt being above ground. Dietrich does the same in his duel with Sigurd Swain.

[75] Magyar A is entirely peculiar. Apparently the man lays his head in the woman's lap that he may know, by the falling of her tears, when she has disobeyed his command not to look into the tree. This is like 'Bluebeard,' and rather subtle for a ballad.

[76] 'Child Waters,' 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland.'

[77] The murderer has a horn in Swedish C, D, as also in the Dutch Halewyn and the German A, B, C, E, and the horn may be of magical power, but it is not distinctly described as such.

[78] The scenery of the halting-place in the wood—the bloody streams in Danish A, B, D, H, L, K, the blood-girt spring in German H, J, K, L, O, P, Q—is also, to say the least, suggestive of something horribly uncanny. These are undoubtedly ancient features, though the spring, as the Danish editor observes, has no longer any significancy in the German ballads, because in all of them the previous victims are said to have been hanged.

[79] The saga in Björner's Nordiska Kämpadater, c. 5-7.

[80] Danish E, I, L, and even A, make the knight suggest to the lady that she should get her gold together while he is saddling his horse; but this is a commonplace found in other cases of elopement, and by itself warrants no conclusion as to the knight's rapacity. See 'Samson,' Grundtvig, No 6, C 5; 'Ribold og Guldborg,' No 82, C 13, E 14, etc.; 'Redselille og Medelvold,' No 271, A 21, B 20; 272, Bilag 3, st. 8; 270, 18, etc.

[81] So perhaps a Polish ballad in Wojcicki, I, 38, akin to the other John and Katie ballads.

[82] It is well known that in the Middle Ages the blood of children or of virgins was reputed a specific for leprosy (see, e.g., Cassel in the Weimar Jahrbücher, I, 408.) Some have thought to find in this fact an explanation of the murders in these ballads and in the Bluebeard stories, and, according to Rochholz, this theory has been adopted into popular tradition in the Aargau. So far as this cycle of ballads is concerned, there is as much ground for holding that the blood was wanted to cure leprosy as for believing that the gold was wanted for aurum potabile.

[83] Det philologisk-historiske Samfunds Mindeskrift i Anledning af dets femogtyveaarige Virksomhed, 1854-79, Bidrag til den nordiske Balladedigtnings Historie, p. 75 ff.

[84] Bugge cites the Old German Judith, Müllenhoff u. Scherer, Denkmäler, 2d ed., No 37, p. 105, to show how the Bible story became modified under a popular treatment.

[85] Holefern might doubtless pass into Halewyn, but there is not the slightest need of Holefern to account for Halewyn. Halewyn, besides being a well-known local and family appellation, is found in two other Dutch ballads, one of which (Lootens and Feys, p. 66, No 38; Hoffmann, p. 46, No 11) has no kind of connection with the present, and is no more likely to have derived the name from this than this from that. It shall not be denied that Adelger, Hilsinger, Rullemann, Reimvord might have sprung from or have been suggested by Holofern, under the influence of familiar terminations, but it may be remarked that Hildebrand, Ravengaard, Valdemar, Rosmer, if they had occurred in any version, would have occasioned no greater difficulty.

[86] The Old German poem makes Holofernes kindle with desire for Judith the moment he sees her, and he bids his men bring her to his tent. They lift her up and bring her in.

[87] It should be observed that these words are from the dove's warning.

[88] Simply because he had no other apartment at his disposition. Shall we add, the Polish mother putting her daughter into the "new room," in which she kept her valuables?

[89] Bugge holds that the ballad was derived by the Scandinavians from the Germans, more precisely by the Danes from a Low German form. This, he says, would follow from what he has maintained above, and he finds support for his view in many particular traits of Norse copies. Thus, one of the Norwegian names for the murderer is Alemarken. The first three syllables are very near to the Danish Oldemor; but -ken seems to be the German diminutive suffix, and can only be explained by the ballad having come from Germany.

[90] This toilet derives importance solely from the agreement with Judith x, 3: for the rest it is entirely in the ballad style. Compare the toilets in 'Hafsfrun,' Afzelius, No 92, III, 148, Arwidsson, No 150, II, 320, Wigström, Folkdiktning, No 2, p. 11, Landstad, No 55, p. 494: 'Guldsmedens Datter,' Grundtvig, No. 245, IV, 481 ff, Wigström, ib., No 18, p. 37, Landstad, No 43, p. 437: Torkilds Riim, Lyngbye, Færøiske Qvæder, 534, 535, Afzelius, III, 202: 'Stolts Karin,' Arwidsson, No 63, I, 388: 'Liti Kerstis hevn,' Landstad, No 67, p. 559 == 'Lord Thomas and Fair Annet': in many of which there is a gold crown. There is a man's toilet in Grundtvig, No 207, IV, 201.

[91] Bugge would naturally have seen the Assyrian scouts that Judith falls in with (x, 11) in Roland's father, mother, and brother, all of whom hail the maid as she is making for Roland's quarters (C 30-38); still more "Holofernes jacebat in lecto" (xiii, 4), in "Roland die op zijn bedde lag," C 39.

[92] Judith xiv, 1: "Suspendite caput hoc super muros nostros." The cutting off and bringing home of the head, as need hardly be said, is not of itself remarkable, being found everywhere from David to Beówulf, and from Beówulf to 'Sir Andrew Barton.'

[93] Dutch B, which, as before said, has been completely rewritten, makes the comparison with Holofernes:

'Ik heb van't leven hem beroofd,
in mynen schoot heb ik zyn hoofd,
hy is als Holofernes gelooft.'
Zy reed dan voort als Judith wys,
zoo regt nae haer vaders paleis,
daer zy wierd ingehaeld met eer en prys.


A. a. 'Gil Brenton,' Jamieson Brown MS., fol. 34. b. 'Chil Brenton,' William Tytler Brown MS., No 3.

B. 'Cospatrick,' Scott's Minstrelsy, II, 117 (1802).

C. 'We were sisters, we were seven,' Cromek's Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, p. 207.

D. 'Lord Dingwall,' Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 204.

E. Elizabeth Cochrane's song-book, No 112.

F. a. 'Lord Brangwill,' Motherwell's MSS, p. 219. b. 'Lord Bengwill,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xvi.

G. 'Bothwell,' Herd's Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, p. 244.

H. Kinloch MSS, V, 335.

Eight copies of this ballad are extant, four of them hitherto unpublished. A a, No 16 in the Jamieson-Brown MS., is one of twenty ballads written down from the recitation of Mrs. Brown of Falkland, by her nephew, Robert Scott, in 1783, or shortly before. From these twenty thirteen were selected, and, having first been revised by Mrs. Brown, were sent, with two others, to William Tytler in the year just mentioned. William Tytler's MS. has disappeared, but a list of the ballads which it contained, with the first stanza of each, is given by Dr Anderson, in Nichols's Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, VII, 176. B is the 'Cospatrick' of the Border Minstrelsy, described by Scott as taken down from the recitation of a lady (known to be Miss Christian Rutherford, his mother's sister) "with some stanzas transferred from Herd's copy, and some readings adopted from a copy in Mrs Brown's manuscript under the title of Child Brenton," that is, from A b. C purports to be one of a considerable number of pieces, "copied from the recital of a peasant-woman of Galloway, upwards of ninety years of age." Though overlaid with verses of Cunningham's making (of which forty or fifty may be excided in one mass) and though retouched almost everywhere, both the groundwork of the story and some genuine lines remain unimpaired. The omission of most of the passage referred to, and the restoration of the stanza form, will give us, perhaps, a thing of shreds and patches, but still a ballad as near to genuine as some in Percy's Reliques or even Scott's Minstrelsy. D and F are (the former presumably, the second certainly) from recitation of the first quarter of this[Pg 63] century. E is one of the few ballads in Elizabeth Cochrane's song-book, and probably of the first half of the last century. G, the earliest printed form of the ballad, appeared in Herd's first collection, in the year 1769. H was taken down from recitation by the late Dr Hill Burton in his youth.

A, B, and C agree in these points: A bride, not being a maid, looks forward with alarm to her wedding night, and induces her bower-woman to take her place for the nonce. The imposture is detected by the bridegroom, through the agency of magical blankets, sheets, and pillows, A; or of blankets, bed, sheet, and sword, B; or simply of the Billie Blin, C. (The sword is probably an editorial insertion; and Jamieson, Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 343, doubts, but without sufficient reason, the Billie Blin.) The bridegroom has recourse to his mother, who demands an explanation of the bride, and elicits a confession that she had once upon a time encountered a young man in a wood, who subjected her to violence. Before they parted, he gave her certain tokens, which he enjoined her to be very careful of, a lock of his hair, a string of beads, a gold ring, and a knife. B omits the knife, and C the beads. The mother goes back to her son, and asks what he had done with the tokens she had charged him never to part with. He owns that he had presented them to a lady, one whom he would now give all his possessions to have for his wife. The lady of the greenwood is identified by the tokens.

A, C, and D make the mother set a golden chair for the bride, in which none but a maid can sit, D [no leal maid will sit till bidden, C]. In D the chair is declined; in C, taken without bidding; in A the significance of the chair has been lost. E, F, G employ no kind of test of maidenhood,—the bride frankly avows that she is with child to another man; and D, as well as E, F, G, omits the substitution of the chambermaid. The tokens in D are a chain, a ring, and three locks of hair; in E, gloves and a ring; in F, G, green gloves, a ring, and three locks [plaits] of hair. Only the ring remains in H.

"This ballad," says Motherwell (1827), "is very popular, and is known to reciters under a variety of names. I have heard it called Lord Bangwell, Bengwill, Dingwall, Brengwill, etc., and The Seven Sisters, or the Leaves of Lind." He adds: "There is an unedited ballad in Scotland, which is a nearer approximation to the Danish song, inasmuch as the substitution of the maiden sister for the real bride constitutes a prominent feature of the tale."[94] (Minstrelsy, Introduction, lxix21 and xc.)

Scott remarks that Cospatrick[95] "was the designation of the Earl of Dunbar, in the days of Wallace and Bruce." Mr Macmath informs me that it is in use at the present day in the families of the Earl of Home and of Dunbar of Mochrum, Bart, who, among others, claim descent from the ancient earls of Dunbar and March. The story of the ballad might, of course, attach itself to any person prominent in the region where the ballad was known.

Swedish. Three Swedish versions of this ballad were given by Afzelius: A, 'Riddar Olle' in 50 two-line stanzas, II, 217; B, 19 two-line stanzas, II, 59; C, 19 two-line stanzas, II, 56: No 33, I, 175-182 of Bergström's edition. Besides these, there are two fragments in Cavallius and Stephens's unprinted collection: D, 6 stanzas; E, 7 stanzas, the latter printed in Grundtvig, V, 307.[96] All[Pg 64] these were obtained from recitation in the present century. A comes nearest to our A, B. Like Scottish B, it seems to have been compounded from several copies. Sir Olof betrothed Ingalilla, and carried her home for the spousal, wearing a red gold crown and a wan cheek. Ingalilla gave birth to twin-boys. Olof had a maid who resembled Ingalilla completely, and who, upon Ingalilla's entreaty, consented to play the part of bride on the morrow. Dressed in Ingalilla's clothes, blue kirtle, green jacket, etc., and wearing five gold rings and a gold crown, the maid rode to church, with Ingalilla at her back, and her beauty was admired by all as she came and went. But outside of the church were a good many musicians; and one of these piped out, "God-a-mercy, Ingalilla, no maid art thou!" Ingalilla threw into the piper's hand something which made him change his tune. He was an old drunken fellow, and no one need mind what he sang. After five days of drinking, they took the bride to her chamber, not without force. Ingalilla bore the light before her, and helped put her to bed; then lay down herself. Olof had over him a fur rug, which could talk as well as he, and it called out,

'Hear me, Sir Olof, hear what I say;
Thou hast taken a strumpet, and missed a may.'

And Olof,

'Hear, little Inga, sweetheart,' he said;
'What didst thou get for thy maidenhead?'[97]

Inga explained. Her father was a strange sort of man, and built her bower by the sea-strand, where all the king's courtiers took ship. Nine had broken in, and one had robbed her of her honor. He had given her an embroidered sark, a blue kirtle, green jacket, black mantle, gloves, five gold rings, a red gold crown, a golden harp, and a silver-mounted knife, which she now wishes in the youngster's body. The conclusion is abruptly told in two stanzas. Olof bids Inga not to talk so, for he is father of her children. He embraces her and gives her a queen's crown and name. B has the same story, omitting the incident of the musician. C has preserved this circumstance, but has lost both the substitution of the waiting-woman for the bride and the magical coverlet. D has also lost these important features of the original story; E has retained them.

Danish. 'Brud ikke Mø,' Grundtvig, No 274, V, 304. There are two old versions (more properly only one, so close is the agreement), and a third from recent tradition. This last, Grundtvig's C, from Jutland, 1856, seems to be of Swedish origin, and, like Swedish C, D, wants the talking coverlet, though it has kept the other material feature, that of the substitution. A is found in two manuscripts, one of the sixteenth and the other of the seventeenth century. B is the well-known 'Ingefred og Gudrune,' or 'Herr Samsings Nattergale,' Syv, IV, No 62, Danske Viser, No 194, translated in Jamieson's Illustrations, p. 340, and by Prior, III, 347. A later form of B, from recent recitation, 1868, is given in Kristensen's Jydske Folkeviser, I, No 53.

The story in A runs thus: Sølverlad and Vendelrod [Ingefred and Gudrune] were sitting together, and Vendelrod wept sorely. Sølverlad asked her sister the reason, and was told there was cause. Would she be bride one night? Vendelrod would give her wedding clothes and all her outfit. But Sølverlad asked for bridegroom too, and Vendelrod would not give up her bridegroom, happen what might. She went to church and was married to Samsing. On the way from church they met a spaeman [B, shepherd], who warned Vendelrod that Samsing had some nightingales that could tell him whether he had married a maid or no. The sisters turned aside[Pg 65] and changed clothes, but could not change cheeks! Sølverlad was conducted to Samsing's house and placed on the bride bench. An unlucky jester called out, "Methinks this is not Vendelrod!" but a gold ring adroitly thrown into his bosom opened his eyes still wider, and made him pretend he had meant nothing. The supposed bride is put to bed. Samsing invokes his nightingales: "Have I a maid or no?" They reply, it is a maid that lies in the bed, but Vendelrod stands on the floor. Samsing asks Vendelrod why she avoided her bed, and she answers: her father lived on the strand; her bower was broken into by a large company of men, and one of them robbed her of her honor. In this case there are no tokens for evidence. Samsing owns immediately that he and his men had broken into the bower, and Vendelrod's agony is over.

Some of the usual tokens, gold harp, sark, shoes, and silver-mounted knife, are found in the later C. Danish D is but a single initial stanza.

Besides Sølverlad and Vendelrod, there is a considerable number of Danish ballads characterized by the feature that a bride is not a maid, and most or all of these have similarities to 'Gil Brenton.' 'Hr. Find og Vendelrod,' Grundtvig, No 275, has even the talking blanket (sometimes misunderstood to be a bed-board). In this piece there is no substitution. Vendelrod gives birth to children, and the news makes Find jump over the table. Still he puts the question mildly, who is the father, and recognizes that he is the man, upon hearing the story of the bower on the strand, and seeing half a gold ring which Vendelrod had received "for her honor."

In 'Ingelilles Bryllup,' Grundtvig, No 276, Blidelild is induced to take Ingelild's place by the promise that she shall marry Ingelild's brother. Hr. Magnus asks her why she is so sad, and says he knows she is not a maid. Blidelild says, "Since you know so much, I will tell you more," and relates Ingelild's adventure,—how she had gone out to the river, and nine knights came riding by, etc. [so A; in B and C we have the bower on the strand, as before]. Hr. Magnus avows that he was the ninth, who stayed when eight rode away. Blidelild begs that he will allow her to go and look for some lost rings, and uses the opportunity to send back Ingelild in her stead.

Various other Scandinavian ballads have more or less of the story of those which have been mentioned. In the Danish 'Brud i Vaande,' Grundtvig, No 277, a bride is taken with untimely pains while being "brought home." The question asked in several of the Scottish ballads, whether the saddle is uncomfortable, occurs in A, B; the bower that was forced by eight swains and a knight in A, C, D, F; the gifts in A, B, F; and an express acknowledgment of the act of violence by the bridegroom in A, B, D. We find all of these traits except the first in the corresponding Swedish ballad 'Herr Äster och Fröken Sissa,' Afzelius, No 38, new ed., No 32,1; the saddle and broken bower in Swedish D, Grundtvig, No 277, Bilag 1; only the saddle in Swedish F, Grundtvig, No. 277, Bilag 3, and C, Arwidsson, No 132; the saddle and gifts in Icelandic A, B, C, D, E, Grundtvig, No 277, Bilag 5, 6, 7, 8.

'Peder og Malfred,' Grundtvig, No 278, in four versions, the oldest from a manuscript of 1630, represents Sir Peter as riding away from home about a month after his marriage, and meeting a woman who informs him that there is a birth in his house. He returns, and asks who is the father. Sir Peter satisfies himself that he is the man by identifying the gifts, in A, B, C, D; and in A, B we have also the bower by the strand.

In 'Oluf og Ellinsborg,' Grundtvig, No 279, A, B, C, one of the queen's ladies is habitually sad, and is pressed by her lover to account for this. She endeavors to put him off with fictitious reasons, but finally nerves herself to tell the truth: she was walking by herself in her orchard, when five knights came riding by, and one was the cause of her grief. Oluf owns it was all his doing. A Swedish ballad, remarkably close to the Danish, from a manuscript of the date 1572 (the oldest Danish version is also from a manuscript of[Pg 66] the 16th century), is 'Riddar Lage och Stolts Elensborg,' Arwidsson, No 56.

'Iver Hr. Jonsøn,' Grundtvig, No 280, in five versions, the oldest of the 16th century, exhibits a lady as fearing the arrival of her lover's ship, and sending her mother to meet him, while she takes to her bed. Immediately upon her betrothed's entering her chamber, she abruptly discloses the cause of her trouble. Eight men had broken into her bower on the strand, and the ninth deprived her of her honor. Iver Hr. Jonsøn, with as little delay, confesses that he was the culprit, and makes prompt arrangements for the wedding.

There is another series of ballads, represented by 'Leesome Brand' in English, and by 'Redselille og Medelvold' in Danish, which describe a young woman, who is on the point of becoming a mother, as compelled to go off on horseback with her lover, and suffering from the ride. We find the question, whether the saddle is too narrow or the way too long, in the Danish 'Bolde Hr. Nilaus' Løn,' Grundtvig, 270, 'Redselille og Medelvold,' Grundtvig, 271 C, D, E, I, K, L, M, P, Q, V, Y, and the Norwegian versions, A, D, E, F, of 'Sønnens Sorg,' Grundtvig, 272, Bilag 1, 4, 5, 6.[98] The gifts also occur in Grundtvig's 271 A, Z, and Norwegian D, Bilag 9.

Perhaps no set of incidents is repeated so often in northern ballads as the forcing of the bower on the strand, the giving of keepsakes, the self-identification of the ravisher through these, and his full and hearty reparation. All or some of these traits are found in many ballads besides those belonging to the groups here spoken of: as 'Hildebrand og Hilde,' E, I, Grundtvig, No 83, and Norwegian A, III, 857; 'Guldsmedens Datter,' Grundtvig, 245, and its Swedish counterpart at p. 481 of the preface to the same, and in Eva Wigström's Folkdiktning, p. 37, No 18; 'Liden Kirstins Dans,' Grundtvig, 263 (translated by Prior, 112), and Norwegian B, C, Bilag 2, 3; 'Jomfruens Harpeslæt,' Grundtvig, 265 (translated by Jamieson, 'Illustrations,' p. 382, Prior, 123, Buchanan, p. 6), and Swedish D, Bilag 2, Swedish A, Afzelius, 81. So Landstad, 42, 45; Arwidsson, 141; Grundtvig, 37 G; 38 A, D; Kristensen, I, No 95, II, No 28 A, C.

A very pretty Norwegian tale has for the talisman a stepping-stone at the side of the bed: Asbjørnsen og Moe, No 29, 'Vesle Aase Gaasepige,' Dasent, 2d ed., p. 478. An English prince had pictures taken of all the handsomest princesses, to pick his bride by. When the chosen one arrived, Aase the goose-girl informed her that the stone at the bedside knew everything and told the prince; so if she felt uneasy on any account, she must not step on it. The princess begged Aase to take her place till the prince was fast asleep, and then they would change. When Aase came and put her foot on the stone, the prince asked, "Who is it that is stepping into my bed?" "A maid clean and pure," answered the stone. By and by the princess came and took Aase's place. When they were getting up in the morning, the prince asked again, "Who is it stepping out of my bed?" "One that has had three children," said the stone. The prince sent his first choice away, and tried a second. Aase faithfully warned her, and she had cause for heeding the advice. When Aase stepped in, the stone said it was a maid clean and pure; when the princess stepped out, the stone said it was one that had had six children. The prince was longer in hitting on a third choice. Aase took the bride's place once more, but this time the prince put a ring on her finger, which was so tight that she could not get it off, for he saw that all was not right. In the morning, when he asked, "Who is stepping out of my bed?" the stone answered, "One that has had nine children." Then the prince asked the stone to clear up the mystery, and it revealed how the princesses had put little Aase in their place. The prince went straight to Aase to see if she had the ring. She had tied a rag over her finger, pretending she had cut it; but the prince soon had the rag off, recognized his ring, and Aase got the prince, for the good reason that so it was to be.

The artifice of substituting waiting-woman[Pg 67] for bride has been thought to be derived from the romance of Tristan, in which Brangwain [Brengain, Brangaene] sacrifices herself for Isold: Scott's 'Sir Tristrem,' ii, 54; Gottfried V. Strassburg, xviii, ed. Bechstein. Grundtvig truly remarks that a borrowing by the romance from the popular ballad is as probable a supposition as the converse; and that, even should we grant the name of the hero of the ballad to be a reminiscence of that of Isold's attendant (e. g. Brangwill of Brangwain), nothing follows as to the priority of the romance in respect to this passage. A similar artifice is employed in the ballad of 'Torkild Trundeson,' Danske Viser, 200 (translated by Prior, 100); Afzelius, II, 86, from the Danish; Arwidsson, 36. The resemblance is close to 'Ingelilles Bryllup,' C, Grundtvig, 276. See also, further on, 'The Twa Knights.'

The Billie Blin presents himself in at least four Scottish ballads: 'Gil Brenton,' C; 'Willie's Lady;' one version of 'Young Beichan;' two of 'The Knight and Shepherd's Daughter;' and also in the English ballad of 'King Arthur and the King of Cornwall,' here under the slightly disfigured name of Burlow Beanie.[99] In all he is a serviceable household demon; of a decidedly benignant disposition in the first four, and, though a loathly fiend with seven heads in the last, very obedient and useful when once thoroughly subdued. He is clearly of the same nature as the Dutch belewitte and German bilwiz, characterized by Grimm as a friendly domestic genius, penas, guote holde; and the names are actually associated in a passage cited by Grimm from Voet: "De illis quos nostrates appellant beeldwit et blinde belien, a quibus nocturna visa videri atque ex iis arcana revelari putant."[100] Though the etymology of these words is not unencumbered with difficulty, bil seems to point to a just and kindly-tempered being. Bilvís, in the seventh book of Saxo Grammaticus, is an aged counsellor whose bent is to make peace, while his brother Bölvís, a blind man, is a strife-breeder and mischief-maker.[101] The same opposition of Bil and Böl apparently occurs in the Edda, Grímnismál, 474, where Bil-eygr and Böl-eygr (Bal-eygr) are appellatives of Odin, which may signify mild-eyed and evil-eyed. Bölvís is found again in the Hrômund's saga, under the description of 'Blind the Bad,' and 'the Carl Blind whose name was Bavís.' But much of this saga is taken from the story of Helgi Hundingslayer; and Blind the Bad in the saga is only Sæmund's Blindr inn bölvísi,—the blind man whose baleful wit sees through the disguise of Helgi, and all but betrays the rash hero to his enemies; that is, Odin in his malicious mood (Bölverkr), who will presently be seen in the ballad of 'Earl Brand' masking as Old Carl Hood, "aye for ill and never for good." Originally and properly, perhaps, only the bad member of this mythical pair is blind; but it would not be at all strange that later tradition, which confuses and degrades so much in the old mythology, should transfer blindness to the good-natured one, and give rise to the anomalous Billie Blind. See Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, 1879, I, 391 ff; Uhland, Zur Geschichte der Dichtung u. Sage, III, 132 ff, VII, 229; Schmeller, Bayerisches Wörterbuch, II, 1037 ff, ed. 1877; Van den Bergh, Woordenboek der nederlandsche Mythologie, 12.

It has been suggested to me that "the Haleigh throw" in E 6 is a corruption of the High Leith Row, a street in Edinburgh. I have not as yet been able to obtain information of such a street.

D is translated by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, No 40, p. 262.

[Pg 68]


a. Jamieson-Brown MS., No 16, fol. 34. b. William Tytler's Brown MS., No 3. From the recitation of Mrs Brown of Falkland, 1783, Aberdeenshire.

Gil Brenton has sent oer the fame,
He's woo'd a wife an brought her hame.
Full sevenscore o ships came her wi,
The lady by the greenwood tree.
There was twal an twal wi beer an wine,
An twal an twal wi muskadine:
An twall an twall wi bouted flowr,
An twall an twall wi paramour:
An twall an twall wi baken bread,
An twall an twall wi the goud sae red.
Sweet Willy was a widow's son,
An at her stirrup-foot he did run.
An she was dressd i the finest pa,
But ay she loot the tears down fa.
An she was deckd wi the fairest flowrs,
But ay she loot the tears down pour.
'O is there water i your shee?
Or does the win blaw i your glee?
'Or are you mourning i your meed
That eer you left your mither gueede?
'Or are ye mourning i your tide
That ever ye was Gil Brenton's bride?'
'The[re] is nae water i my shee,
Nor does the win blaw i my glee:
'Nor am I mourning i my tide
That eer I was Gil Brenton's bride:
'But I am mourning i my meed
That ever I left my mither gueede.
'But, bonny boy, tell to me
What is the customs o your country.'
'The customs o't, my dame,' he says,
'Will ill a gentle lady please.
'Seven king's daughters has our king wedded,
An seven king's daughters has our king bedded.
'But he's cutted the paps frae their breast-bane,
An sent them mourning hame again.
'But whan you come to the palace yate,
His mither a golden chair will set.
'An be you maid or be you nane,
O sit you there till the day be dane.
'An gin you're sure that you are a maid,
Ye may gang safely to his bed.
'But gin o that you be na sure,
Then hire some woman o youre bowr.'
O whan she came to the palace yate,
His mither a golden chair did set.
An was she maid or was she nane,
She sat in it till the day was dane.
An she's calld on her bowr woman,
That waiting was her bowr within.
'Five hundred pound, maid, I'll gi to the,
An sleep this night wi the king for me.'
Whan bells was rung, an mass was sung,
An a' man unto bed was gone,
Gil Brenton an the bonny maid
Intill ae chamber they were laid.
'O speak to me, blankets, an speak to me, sheets,
An speak to me, cods, that under me sleeps;
'Is this a maid that I ha wedded?
Is this a maid that I ha bedded?'
'It's nae a maid that you ha wedded,
But it's a maid that you ha bedded.
'Your lady's in her bigly bowr,
An for you she drees mony sharp showr.'
O he has taen him thro the ha,
And on his mither he did ca.
'I am the most unhappy man
That ever was in christend lan.
[Pg 69]
'I woo'd a maiden meek an mild,
An I've marryed a woman great wi child.'
'O stay, my son, intill this ha,
An sport you wi your merry men a'.
'An I'll gang to yon painted bowr,
An see how't fares wi yon base whore.'
The auld queen she was stark an strang;
She gard the door flee aff the ban.
The auld queen she was stark an steer;
She gard the door lye i the fleer.
'O is your bairn to laird or loon?
Or is it to your father's groom?'
'My bairn's na to laird or loon,
Nor is it to my father's groom.
'But hear me, mither, on my knee,
An my hard wierd I'll tell to thee.
'O we were sisters, sisters seven,
We was the fairest under heaven.
'We had nae mair for our seven years wark
But to shape an suc the king's son a sark.
'O it fell on a Saturday's afternoon,
Whan a' our langsome wark was dane,
'We keist the cavils us amang,
To see which shoud to the greenwood gang.
'Ohone, alas! for I was youngest,
An ay my wierd it was the hardest.
'The cavil it did on me fa,
Which was the cause of a' my wae.
'For to the greenwood I must gae,
To pu the nut but an the slae;
'To pu the red rose an the thyme,
To strew my mother's bowr and mine.
'I had na pu'd a flowr but ane,
Till by there came a jelly hind greeme,
'Wi high-colld hose an laigh-colld shoone,
An he 'peard to be some kingis son.
'An be I maid or be I nane,
He kept me there till the day was dane.
'An be I maid or be I nae,
He kept me there till the close of day.
'He gae me a lock of yallow hair,
An bade me keep it for ever mair.
'He gae me a carket o gude black beads,
An bade me keep them against my needs.
'He gae to me a gay gold ring,
An bade me ke[e]p it aboon a' thing.
'He gae to me a little pen-kniffe,
An bade me keep it as my life.'
'What did you wi these tokens rare
That ye got frae that young man there?'
'O bring that coffer hear to me,
And a' the tokens ye sal see.'
An ay she ranked, an ay she flang,
Till a' the tokens came till her han.
'O stay here, daughter, your bowr within,
Till I gae parley wi my son.'
O she has taen her thro the ha,
An on her son began to ca.
'What did you wi that gay gold ring
I bade you keep aboon a' thing?
'What did you wi that little pen-kniffe
I bade you keep while you had life?
'What did you wi that yallow hair
I bade you keep for ever mair?
'What did you wi that good black beeds
I bade you keep against your needs?'
'I gae them to a lady gay
I met i the greenwood on a day.
'An I would gi a' my father's lan,
I had that lady my yates within.
'I would gi a' my ha's an towrs,
I had that bright burd i my bowrs.'
[Pg 70]
'O son, keep still your father's lan;
You hae that lady your yates within.
'An keep you still your ha's an towrs;
You hae that bright burd i your bowrs.'
Now or a month was come an gone,
This lady bare a bonny young son.
An it was well written on his breast-bane
'Gil Brenton is my father's name.'


Scott's Minstrelsy, II, 117, ed. 1802. Ed. 1830, III, 263. Partly from the recitation of Miss Christian Rutherford.

Cospatrick has sent oer the faem,
Cospatrick brought his ladye hame.
And fourscore ships have come her wi,
The ladye by the grenewood tree.
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,
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 owre high?
'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
That I suld leave my mother good.
'But, gentle boy, come tell to me,
What is the custom of thy countrye?'
'The custom thereof, my dame,' he says,
'Will ill a gentle laydye please.
'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,
Ye may gae safely to his bed;
'But gif o that ye be na sure,
Then hire some damsell o your bour.'
The ladye's calld her bour-maiden,
That waiting was into her train;
'Five thousand merks I will gie thee,
To sleep this night with my lord for me.'
When bells were rung, and mass was sayne,
And a' men unto bed were gane,
Cospatrick and the bonny maid,
Into ae chamber they were laid.
'Now, speak to me, blankets, and speak to me, bed,
And speak, thou sheet, inchanted web;
'And speak up, my bonny brown sword, that winna lie,
Is this a true maiden that lies by me?'
'It is not a maid that you hae wedded,
But it is a maid that you hae bedded.
'It is a liel maiden that lies by thee,
But not the maiden that it should be.'
O wrathfully he left the bed,
And wrathfully his claiths on did.
And he has taen him thro the ha,
And on his mother he did ca.
[Pg 71]
'I am the most unhappy man
That ever was in christen land!
'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 merrymen a';
'And I will to the secret bour,
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?'
'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,
When a' our toilsome task was done,
'We cast the kavils us amang,
To see which suld to the grene-wood gang.
'O hon, alas! for I was youngest,
And aye my wierd it was the hardest.
'The kavil it on me did fa,
Whilk was the cause of a' my woe.
'For to the grene-wood I maun gae,
To pu the red rose and the slae;
'To pu the red rose and the thyme,
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-colld hose and laigh-colld shoon,
And he seemd to be sum king's son.
'And be I maid or be I nae,
He kept me there till the close o day.
'And be I maid or be I nane,
He kept me there till the day was done.
'He gae me a lock o his yellow hair,
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.'
'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,
While I gae parley wi my son.'
O she has taen her thro the ha,
And on her son began to ca.
'What did you wi the bonny beads
I bade ye keep against your needs?
'What did you wi the gay gowd ring
I bade ye keep abune a' thing?'
'I gae them a' to a ladye gay
I met in grene-wood on a day.
'But I wad gie a' my halls and tours,
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 that bright burd in your bours.
'And keep, my son, your very life;
Ye have that ladye to your wife.'
Now or a month was cum and gane,
The ladye bore a bonny son.
And 't was weel written on his breast-bane,
'Cospatrick is my father's name.'
'O rowe my ladye in satin and silk,
And wash my son in the morning milk.'

[Pg 72]


Cromek's Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, p. 207. "From the recital of a peasant-woman of Galloway, upwards of ninety years of age."

We were sisters, we were seven,
We were the fairest under heaven.
And it was a' our seven years wark
To sew our father's seven sarks.
And whan our seven years wark was done,
We laid it out upo the green.
We coost the lotties us amang,
Wha wad to the greenwood gang,
To pu the lily but and the rose,
To strew witha' our sisters' bowers.
... I was youngest,
... my weer was hardest.
And to the greenwood I bud gae,
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
There I met a handsome childe,
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
High-coled stockings and laigh-coled shoon,
He bore him like a king's son.
An was I weel, or was I wae,
He keepit me a' the simmer day.
An though I for my hame-gaun sich[t],
He keepit me a' the simmer night.
He gae to me a gay gold ring,
And bade me keep it aboon a' thing.
He gae to me a cuttie knife,
And bade me keep it as my life:
Three lauchters o his yellow hair,
For fear we wad neer meet mair.
  *   *   *   *   *
Next there came shippes three,
To carry a' my bridal fee.
Gowd were the beaks, the sails were silk,
Wrought wi maids' hands like milk.
They came toom and light to me,
But heavie went they waie frae me.
They were fu o baken bread,
They were fu of wine sae red.
My dowry went a' by the sea,
But I gaed by the grenewode tree.
An I sighed and made great mane,
As thro the grenewode we rade our lane.
An I ay siched an wiped my ee,
That eer the grenewode I did see.
'Is there water in your glove,
Or win into your shoe?
O[r] am I oer low a foot-page
To rin by you, ladie?'
'O there's nae water in my glove,
Nor win into my shoe;
But I am maning for my mither
Wha's far awa frae me.'
  *   *   *   *   *
'Gin ye be a maiden fair,
Meikle gude ye will get there.
'If ye be a maiden but,
Meikle sorrow will ye get.
'For seven king's daughters he hath wedded,
But never wi ane o them has bedded.
'He cuts the breasts frae their breast-bane,
An sends them back unto their dame.
'He sets their backs unto the saddle,
An sends them back unto their father.
'But be ye maiden or be ye nane,
To the gowden chair ye draw right soon.
'But be ye leman or be ye maiden,
Sit nae down till ye be bidden.'
Was she maiden or was she nane,
To the gowden chair she drew right soon.
Was she leman or was she maiden,
She sat down ere she was bidden.
[Pg 73]
Out then spake the lord's mother;
Says, 'This is not a maiden fair.
'In that chair nae leal maiden
Eer sits down till they be bidden.'
The Billie Blin then outspake he,
As he stood by the fair ladie.
'The bonnie may is tired wi riding,
Gaurd her sit down ere she was bidden.'
  *   *   *   *   *
But on her waiting-maid she ca'd:
'Fair ladie, what 's your will wi me?'
'O ye maun gie yere maidenheid
This night to an unco lord for me.'
'I hae been east, I hae been west,
I hae been far beyond the sea,
But ay, by grenewode or by bower,
I hae keepit my virginitie.
'But will it for my ladie plead,
I'll gie 't this night to an unco lord.'
  *   *   *   *   *
When bells were rung an vespers sung,
An men in sleep were locked soun,
Childe Branton and the waiting-maid
Into the bridal bed were laid.
'O lie thee down, my fair ladie,
Here are a' things meet for thee;
'Here's a bolster for yere head,
Here is sheets an comelie weids.'
  *   *   *   *   *
'Now tell to me, ye Billie Blin,
If this fair dame be a leal maiden.'
'I wat she is as leal a wight
As the moon shines on in a simmer night.
'I wat she is as leal a may
As the sun shines on in a simmer day.
'But your bonnie bride's in her bower,
Dreeing the mither's trying hour.'
Then out o his bridal bed he sprang,
An into his mither's bower he ran.
'O mither kind, O mither dear,
This is nae a maiden fair.
'The maiden I took to my bride
Has a bairn atween her sides.
'The maiden I took to my bower
Is dreeing the mither's trying hour.'
Then to the chamber his mother flew,
And to the wa the door she threw.
She stapt at neither bolt nor ban,
Till to that ladie's bed she wan.
Says, 'Ladie fair, sae meek an mild,
Wha is the father o yere child?'
'O mither dear,' said that ladie,
'I canna tell gif I sud die.
'We were sisters, we were seven,
We were the fairest under heaven.
'And it was a' our seven years wark
To sew our father's seven sarks.
'And whan our seven years wark was done,
We laid it out upon the green.
'We coost the lotties us amang,
Wha wad to the greenwode gang;
'To pu the lily but an the rose,
To strew witha' our sisters' bowers.
..... 'I was youngest,
..... my weer was hardest.
'And to the greenwode I bu[d] gae.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'There I met a handsome childe,
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'Wi laigh-coled stockings and high-coled shoon,
He seemed to be some king's son.
'And was I weel or was I wae,
He keepit me a' the simmer day.
'Though for my hame-gaun I oft sicht,
He keepit me a' the simmer night.
[Pg 74]
'He gae to me a gay gold ring,
An bade me keep it aboon a' thing;
'Three lauchters o his yellow hair,
For fear that we suld neer meet mair.
'O mither, if ye'll believe nae me,
Break up the coffer, an there ye'll see.'
An ay she coost, an ay she flang,
Till her ain gowd ring came in her hand.
And scarce aught i the coffer she left,
Till she gat the knife wi the siller heft,
Three lauchters o his yellow hair,
Knotted wi ribbons dink and rare.
She cried to her son, 'Where is the ring
Your father gave me at our wooing,
An I gae you at your hunting?
'What did ye wi the cuttie knife,
I bade ye keep it as yere life?'
'O haud yere tongue, my mither dear;
I gae them to a lady fair.
'I wad gie a' my lands and rents,
I had that ladie within my brents.
'I wad gie a' my lands an towers,
I had that ladie within my bowers.'
'Keep still yere lands, keep still yere rents;
Ye hae that ladie within yere brents.
'Keep still yere lands, keep still yere towers;
Ye hae that lady within your bowers.'
Then to his ladie fast ran he,
An low he kneeled on his knee.
'O tauk ye up my son,' said he,
'An, mither, tent my fair ladie.
'O wash him purely i the milk,
And lay him saftly in the silk.
'An ye maun bed her very soft,
For I maun kiss her wondrous oft.'
It was weel written on his breast-bane
Childe Branton was the father's name.
It was weel written on his right hand
He was the heir o his daddie's land.


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 woud to the grenewood gang.
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
Till she met wi a highlan groom.
He keeped her sae late and lang
Till the evening set and birds they sang.
He gae to her at their parting
A chain o gold and gay gold ring;
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,
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.
[Pg 75]
'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
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.
'But be ye maid or be ye nane,
Unto the high seat make ye boun.
'Lord Dingwall aft has been beguild
By girls whom young men hae defiled.
'He's cutted the paps frae their breast-bane,
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.
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,
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.
'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,
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,
Whom ye did send to bring her hame.'
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,
The fairest women under heaven.
'And we kiest kevels us amang,
Wha woud to the grenewood gang;
'For to pu the finest flowers,
To put around our summer bowers.
'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 stayd an hour but ane
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;
'And three locks o his yellow hair;
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,
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,
'Ye will tell to me this thing:
What did you wi my wedding-ring?'
[Pg 76]
'Mother dear, I'll tell nae lie:
I gave it to a gay ladie.
'I would gie a' my ha's and towers,
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.'
Now when nine months were come and gane,
The lady she brought hame a son.
It was written on his breast-bane
Lord Dingwall was his father's name.
He's taen his young son in his arms,
And aye he praisd his lovely charms.
And he has gien him kisses three,
And doubled them ower to his ladie.


Elizabeth Cochrane's Song-Book, p. 146, No 112.

Lord Benwall he's a hunting gone;
Hey down, etc.
He's taken with him all his merry men.
Hey, etc.
As he was walking late alone,
He spyed a lady both brisk and young.
He keeped her so long and long,
From the evening late till the morning came.
All that he gave her at their parting
Was a pair of gloves and a gay gold ring.
Lord Benwall he's a wooing gone,
And he's taken with him all his merry men.
As he was walking the Haleigh throw,
He spy'd seven ladyes all in a row.
He cast a lot among them all;
Upon the youngest the lot did fall.
He wedded her and brought her home,
And by the way she made great moan.
'What aileth my dearest and dayly flower?
What ails my dear, to make such moan?
'Does the steed carry you too high?
Or does thy pillow sit awry?
'Or does the wind blow in thy glove?
Or is thy heart after another love?'
'The steed does not carry me too high,
Nor does my pillow sit awry.
'Nor does the wind blow in my glove,
Nor is my heart after another love.'
When they were doun to supper set,
The weary pain took her by the back.
'What ails my dearest and dayly flower?
What ails my dearest, to make such moan?'
'I am with child, and it's not to thee,
And oh and alas, what shall I doe!'
'I thought I had got a maid so mild;
But I have got a woman big with child.
'I thought I had got a dayly flower;
I have gotten but a common whore.'
  *   *   *   *   *
'Rise up, Lord Benwall, go to your hall,
And cherrish up your merry men all.'
  *   *   *   *   *
'As I was walking once late alone,
I spy'd a lord, both brisk and young.
'He keeped me so long and long,
From the evening late till the morning came.
'All that he gave me at our parting
Was a pair of gloves and a gay gold ring.
'If you will not believe what I tell to thee,
There's the key of my coffer, you may go and see.'
[Pg 77]
His mother went, and threw and flang,
Till to her hand the ring it came.
'Lord Benwall, wilt thou tell to me
Where is the ring I gave to thee?'
'Now I would give all my lands and tower,
To have that lady in my bower.
'I would give all my lands and rents,
To have that lady in my tents.'
'You need not give all your lands and tower,
For you have that lady in your power.
'You need not give all your lands and rents,
For you have that lady in your tents.'
Now it was written on the child's breast-bone
Lord Benwall's sirname and his name.
It was written on the child's right hand
That he should be heir of Lord Benwall's land.
'Canst cloath my lady in the silk,
And feed my young son with the milk.'


a. Motherwell's MS., p 219. From the recitation of Mrs Thomson, February, 1825. b. Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xvi, the first stanza only.

There were three sisters in a bouir,
Eh down and Oh down
And the youngest o them was the fairest flour.
Eh down and O down
And we began our seven years wark,
To sew our brither John a sark.
When seven years was come and gane,
There was nae a sleeve in it but ane.
But we coost kevils us amang
Wha wud to the green-wood gang.
But tho we had coosten neer sae lang,
The lot it fell on me aye to gang.
I was the youngest, and I was the fairest,
And alace! my wierd it was aye the sairest.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Till I had to the woods to gae.
To pull the cherrie and the slae,
And to seek our ae brither, we had nae mae.
But as I was walking the leas o Lyne,
I met a youth gallant and fine;
Wi milk white stockings and coal black shoon;
He seemed to be some gay lord's son.
But he keepit me there sae lang, sae lang,
Till the maids in the morning were singing their sang.
Would I wee or would I way,
He keepit me the lang simmer day.
Would I way or would I wight,
He keepit me the simmer night.
But guess what was at our parting?
A pair o grass green gloves and a gay gold ring.
He gave me three plaits o his yellow hair,
In token that we might meet mair.
But when nine months were come and gane,
This gallant lord cam back again.
He's wed this lady, and taen her wi him;
But as they were riding the leas o Lyne,
This lady was not able to ride,
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'O does thy saddle set thee aside?
Or does thy steed ony wrang way ride?
'Or thinkst thou me too low a groom?
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'Or hast thou musing in thy mind
For the leaving of thy mother kind?'
[Pg 78]
'My saddle it sets not me aside,
Nor does my steed ony wrang way ride.
'Nor think I thee too low a groom
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'But I hae musing in my mind
For the leaving of my mother kind.'
'I'll bring thee to a mother of mine,
As good a mother as eer was thine.'
'A better mother she may be,
But an unco woman she'll prove to me.'
But when lords and ladies at supper sat,
Her pains they struck her in the back.
When lords and ladies were laid in bed,
Her pains they struck her in the side.
'Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Brangwill,
For I'm wi child and you do not know't.'
He took up his foot and gave her sic a bang
Till owre the bed the red blood sprang.
He is up to his mother's ha,
Calling her as hard as he could ca.
'I went through moss and I went through mure,
Thinking to get some lily flouir.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'But to my house I have brocht a hure.
'I thocht to have got a lady baith meek and mild,
But I've got a woman that's big wi child.'
'O rest you here, Lord Brangwill,' she said,
'Till I relieve your lady that lyes so low.'
'O daughter dear, will you tell to me
Who is the father of your babie?'
'Yes, mother dear, I will tell thee
Who is the father of my babie.
'As I was walking the leas o Lyne,
I met a youth gallant and fine;
'With milk-white stockings and coal-black shoon;
He seemd to be sum gay lord's son.
'He keepit me sae lang, sae lang,
Till the maids in the morning were singing their sang.
'Would I wee or would I way,
He keepit me the lang simmer day.
'Would I way or would I wight,
He keepit me the simmer night.
'But guess ye what was at our parting?
A pair of grass green gloves and a gay gold ring.
'He gave me three plaits o his yellow hair,
In token that we might meet mair.'
'O dochter dear, will ye show me
These tokens that he gave to thee?'
'Altho my back should break in three,
Unto my coffer I must be.'
'Thy back it shall not break in three,
For I'll bring thy coffer to thy knee.'
Aye she coost, and aye she flang,
Till these three tokens came to her hand.
Then she is up to her son's ha,
Calling him hard as she could ca.
'O son, O son, will you tell me
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'What ye did wi the grass green gloves and gay gold ring
That ye gat at your own birth-een?'
'I gave them to as pretty a may
As ever I saw in a simmer day.
'I wud rather than a' my lands sae broad
That I had her as sure as eer I had.
'I would rather than a' my lands sae free
I had her here this night wi me.'
[Pg 79]
'I wish you good o your lands sae broad,
For ye have her as sure as eer ye had.
'I wish ye good o your lands sae free,
For ye have her here this night wi thee.'
'Gar wash my auld son in the milk,
Gar deck my lady's bed wi silk.'
He gave his auld son kisses three,
But he doubled them a' to his gay ladye.


Herd's Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, 1769, p. 244; ed. 1776, I, 83.

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
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 cried and made great moan,
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?'
'My saddle is not set awry,
Nor carries me my steed owre high;
'But I am weary of my life,
Since I maun be Lord Bothwell's wife.'
He's blawn his horn sae sharp and shrill,
Up start the deer on evry 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'.
She's calld upon her maids by seven,
To mak his bed baith saft and even.
She's calld upon her cooks by nine,
To make their dinner fair and fine.
When day was gane, and night was come,
'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;
'But I nor maid nor maiden am,
For I'm wi bairn to another man.'
'I thought I'd a maiden sae meek and sae mild,
But I've nought but a woman wi child.'
His mother's taen her up to a tower,
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 faither of my bairn.
'But as I walkd in the lowlands my lane,
I met a gentleman gallant and fine.
'He keepit me there sae late and sae lang,
Frae the evning late till the morning dawn.
'And a' that he gied me to my propine
Was a pair of green gloves and a gay gold ring;
'Three lauchters of his yellow hair,
In case that we shoud meet nae mair.'
His lady mother went down the stair:
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
'Now son, now son, come tell to me,
Where's the green gloves I gave to thee?'
[Pg 80]
'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,
I had that lady within my bowers.
'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,
You have that lady to be your wife.'
'O row my lady in sattin and silk,
And wash my son in the morning milk.'


Kinloch MSS, V, 335, in the handwriting of Dr John Hill Burton.

We were seven sisters in a bower,
Adown adown, and adown and adown
The flower of a' fair Scotland ower.
Adown adown, and adown and adown
We were sisters, sisters seven,
The fairest women under heaven.
There fell a dispute us amang,
Wha would to the greenwood gang.
They kiest the kevels them amang,
O wha would to the greenwood gang.
The kevels they gied thro the ha,
And on the youngest it did fa.
The kevel fell into her hand,
To greenwood she was forced to gang.
She hedna pued a flower but ane,
When by there came an earl's son.
'And was he well or was he wae,
He keepet me that summer's day.'
And was he weel or was he weight,
He keepet her that summer's night.
And he gave her a gay goud ring
His mother got at her wedding.
  *   *   *   *   *
'Oh is yer stirrup set too high?
Or is your saddle set awry?
'Oh is yer stirrup set too side?
Or what's the reason ye canna ride?'
  *   *   *   *   *
When all were at the table set,
Then not a bit could this lady eat.
When all made merry at the feast,
This lady wished she were at her rest.
  *   *   *   *   *

A. a.

In the MS. two lines are written continuously, and two of these double lines numbered as one stanza.

191, 231, 692, 712, perhaps gate, gates in MS.

541, MS. be a nae.

56.1 casket in MS.?

b. 1.

Chil Brenton has sent oer the faem,
Chil Brenton's brought his lady hame.


Printed by Scott in four-line stanzas. 7, 55, 56, 58, 61, seem to be the stanzas transferred from Herd, but only the last without change.


The stanzas are not divided in Cromek. Between 14 and 15 the following nineteen couplets have been omitted.

First blew the sweet, the simmer wind,
Then autumn wi her breath sae kind,
Before that eer the guid knight came
The tokens of his luve to claim.
Then fell the brown an yellow leaf
Afore the knight o luve shawed prief;
Three morns the winter's rime did fa,
When loud at our yett my luve did ca.
'Ye hae daughters, ye hae seven,
Ye hae the fairest under heaven.
[Pg 81] I am the lord o lands wide,
Ane o them maun be my bride.
I am lord of a baronie,
Ane o them maun lie wi me.
O cherry lips are sweet to pree,
A rosie cheek's meet for the ee;
Lang brown locks a heart can bind,
Bonny black een in luve are kind;
Sma white arms for clasping's meet,
Whan laid atween the bridal-sheets;
A kindlie heart is best of a',
An debonnairest in the ha.
Ane by ane thae things are sweet,
Ane by ane in luve they're meet;
But when they a' in ae maid bide,
She is fittest for a bride.
Sae be it weel or be it wae,
The youngest maun be my ladie;
Sae be it gude, sae be it meet,
She maun warm my bridal-sheet.
Little kend he, whan aff he rode,
I was his tokend luve in the wood;
Or when he gied me the wedding-token,
He was sealing the vows he thought were broken.
First came a page on a milk-white steed,
Wi golden trappings on his head:
A' gowden was the saddle lap,
And gowden was the page's cap.

15-21 have been allowed to stand principally on account of 18.

There is small risk in pronouncing 24, 25, 42, 43, 80, 81 spurious, and Cunningham surpasses his usual mawkishness in 83.


is written in four-line stanzas.

19. mother, in the margin.

20. lady, in the margin.

F. a.

72. MS. Till [Still?].

72 and 8, 17 and 181, 201 and 21, 231 and 24, 32 and 332, 501 and 51, are respectively written as a stanza in the MS.

121, 411. Motherwell conjectures

Would I wait, or would I away.

131, 421. Motherwell conjectures

Would I away, or would I wait.

142, 432. MS. green sleeves: but see 511, and also E 221, G 242, 282.

292, above you do not know't is written know not who till, apparently a conjecture of Motherwell's.

302, sometimes recited

Till owre the bed this lady he flang.

531. MS. abroad.

b. 1.

Seven ladies livd in a bower,
Hey down and ho down
And aye the youngest was the flower.
Hey down and ho down


The stanzas are not divided in Herd.


4 is crossed through in the MS., but no reason given.


[94] In his note-book, p. 117, Motherwell writes, with less than his usual discretion: "The ballad of Bothwell, Cospatric, or Gil Brenton, appears to be copied from an account of the birth of Makbeth given by Wintown." The substance of this account is, that Macbeth's mother had a habit of repairing to the woods for wholesome air, and that, during one of her rambles, she fell in with a fair man, really the Devil, who passed the day with her, and got on her a son.

"And of that dede in taknyng
He gave his lemman thare a ryng,
And bad hyr that scho suld kepe that wele,
And hald for hys luve that jwele."

Cronykil, Book VI, ch. xviii, 57-90.

[95] Scott says: "Cospatrick, Comes Patricius;" but Cos- (Gos-)patrick is apparently Servant of Patrick, like Gil-patrick (Kil-patrick). Mr Macmath suggests to me that Gil Brenton may have originally been Gil-brandon, which seems very likely. See Notes and Queries, 5th S., x, 443.

[96] A fragment in Rancken's 'Några Prof af Folksång,' p. 14 f, belongs not to 'Riddar Olle,' as there said, but to 'Herr Äster och Fröken Sissa,' though the burden is 'Riddar Olof.' Other verses, at p. 16, might belong to either. 'Riddar Ola,' E. Wigström's Folkdiktning, p. 37, No 18, belongs with the Danish 'Guldsmedens Datter,' Grundtvig No 245.

[97] The inquiry seems to refer to the morning gift. "Die Morgengabe ist ein Geschenk des Mannes als Zeichen der Liebe (in signum amoris), für die Uebergabe der vollen Schönheit (in honore pulchritudinis) und der Jungfräulichkeit (pretium virginitatis)." Weinhold, Die deutschen Frauen in dem Mittelalter, S. 270.

[98] And again, "Is it the saddle, your horse, or your true-love?" almost exactly as in our B, E, F, Grundtvig, 40 C, E, F, Afzelius, 91, Landstad, 45, 52. So the Scottish ballad, 'The Cruel Brother,' B 15 f.

[99] The auld belly-blind man in 'Earl Richard,' 443, 451, Kinloch's A. S. Ballads, p. 15, retains the bare name; and Belly Blind, or Billie Blin, is the Scotch name for the game of Blindman's-buff.

[100] Gisbertus Voetius, De Miraculis, Disput., II, 1018. Cited also by Schmeller, Bayerisches Wörterbuch, from J. Prætorius's Alectryomantia, p. 3.

[101] Merlin, in Layamon, v. 17130 ff (as pointed out by Grundtvig, I, 274), says that his mind is balewise, "mi gæst is bæliwis," and that he is not disposed to gladness, mirth, or good words.


a. 'Willie's Lady,' Fraser-Tytler MS.

b. 'Sweet Willy,' Jamieson-Brown MS., No 15, fol. 33.

a, 'Willie's Lady,' was No 1 in the manuscript of fifteen ballads furnished William Tytler by Mrs Brown in 1783, and having been written down a little later than b may be regarded as a revised copy. This manuscript, as remarked under No 5, is not now in the possession of the Fraser-Tytler family, having often been most liberally lent, and, probably, at last not returned. But a transcript had been made by the grandfather of the present family of two of the pieces contained in it, and 'Willie's Lady' is one of these two.

[Pg 82]

Lewis had access to William Tytler's copy, and, having regulated the rhymes, filled out a gap, dropped the passage about the girdle, and made other changes to his taste, printed the ballad in 1801 as No 56 of his Tales of Wonder. The next year Scott gave the "ancient copy, never before published," "in its native simplicity, as taken from Mrs Brown of Falkland's MS.,"—William Tytler's,—in Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, II, 27, but not with literal accuracy. Jamieson, in 1806, gave 'Sweet Willy,' almost exactly according to the text of his Brown manuscript, in an appendix to the second volume of his collection, p. 367, and at p. 175 of the same volume, a reconstruction of the ballad which might have been spared.

b lacks altogether the passage which makes proffer of the cup, a, stanzas 5-11, and substitutes at that place the girdle of a 21-28. The woodbine in a 36, 41, is also wanting, and the concluding stanza. A deficiency both in matter and rhyme at a 32, is supplied by b 25, 26, but not happily:

'An do you to your mither then,
An bid her come to your boy's christnen;
'For dear's the boy he's been to you:
Then notice well what she shall do.'

Again, the transition in a, from st. 33 to st. 34, is abrupt even for a ballad, and b introduces here four stanzas narrating the execution of the Billy Blind's injunctions, and ending,

And notic'd well what she did say,

whereby we are prepared for the witch's exclamations.[102]

Danish versions of this ballad are numerous: A-I, 'Hustru og Mands Moder' ['Fostermoder,' 'Stifmoder'], Grundtvig, No 84, II, 404 ff; J-T, 'Hustru og Mands Moder,' Kristensen, II, 111 ff, No 35: U-X,'Barselkvinden,' Kristensen, I, 201 ff, No 74; Y, 'Hustru og Slegfred,' Grundtvig, No 85, II, 448 ff: in all twenty-five, but many of Kristensen's copies are fragments. Grundtvig's 84 A, B, and 85 a are from manuscripts of the sixteenth century. 84 F-I and several repetitions of 85 are of the seventeenth. Grundtvig's 84 C, D, E, and all Kristensen's versions, are from recent oral tradition. Some of these, though taken down since 1870, are wonderfully well preserved.

The Danish ballads divide into two classes, principally distinguished by their employing or not employing of the artifice of wax children. (There is but one of these in N, R, Kristensen's E, I, II, 116, 122, and in the oldest Swedish ballad, as in the Scottish: but children in Scandinavian ballads are mostly born in pairs.) Of the former class, to which our only known copy belongs, are F-I, N-T, X (Grundtvig, 84 F-I, Kristensen, II, No 35, E-L, I, No 74 D). N and I furnish, perhaps, the most consistent story, which, in the former, runs thus: Sir Peter married Ellen (elsewhere Mettelille, Kirstin, Tidelil, Ingerlil), and gave her in charge to his mother, a formidable witch, and, as appears from F, violently opposed to the match. The first night of her marriage Ellen conceived twins. She wrapped up her head in her cloak and paid a visit to her mother-in-law, to ask how long women go with child. The answer was,

'Forty weeks went Mary with Christ,
And so each Danish woman must.
'Forty weeks I went with mine,
But eight years shalt thou go with thine.'

The forty weeks had passed, and Ellen began to long for relief. Sir Peter besought aid of his sister Ingerlin. If I help your young bride, she said, I must be traitor to my mother. Sir Peter insisted, and Ingerlin moulded a fine child of wax,[103] wrapped it in linen, and exhibited it to her mother, who, supposing that her[Pg 83] arts had been baffled, burst out into exclamations of astonishment. She had thought she could twist a rope out of flying sand, lay sun and moon flat on the earth with a single word, turn the whole world round about! She had thought all the house was spell-bound, except the spot where the young wife's chest stood, the chest of red rowan, which nothing can bewitch! The chest was instantly taken away, and Ellen's bed moved to the place it had occupied; and no sooner was this done than Ellen gave birth to two children.

In the ballads of the other class, the young wife, grown desperate after eight years of suffering, asks to be taken back to her maiden home. Her husband's mother raises objections: the horses are in the meadow, the coachman is in bed. Then, she says, I will go on my bare feet. The moment her husband learns her wish, the carriage is at the door, but by the arts of the mother it goes to pieces on the way, and the journey has to be finished on horseback. The joy of her parents at seeing their daughter approaching was quenched on a nearer view: she looked more dead than quick. She called her family about her and distributed her effects. A great wail went up in the house when two sons were cut from the mother's side. (C, J, K, L, W: Grundtvig, 84 C; Kristensen, II, No 35 A, B, C; I, No 74 C.)

The first son stood up and brushed his hair:
'Most surely am I in my ninth year.'
The second stood up both fair and red:
'Most sure we'll avenge our dear mother dead.'[104]

Several of the most important ballads of the first class have taken up a part of the story of those of the second class, to the detriment of consistency. F, G, H, O, P (Grundtvig, 84 F, G, H, Kristensen, II, No 35 F, G), make the wife quit her husband's house for her father's, not only without reason, but against reason. If the woman is to die, it is natural enough that she should wish to die with the friends of her early days, and away from her uncongenial mother-in-law; but there is no kind of occasion for transferring the scene of the trick with the wax children to her father's house; and, on the other hand, it is altogether strange that her husband's mother and the rowan-tree chest (which sometimes appears to be the property of the mother, sometimes that of the wife) should go with her.

Y, 'Hustru og Slegfred,' Grundtvig, 85, agrees with the second class up to the point when the wife is put to bed at her mother's house, but with the important variation that the spell is the work of a former mistress of the husband; instead of his mother, as in most of the ballads, or of the wife's foster-mother, as in C, D, J, K, M (Grundtvig, 84 C, D, Kristensen, II, No 35 A, B, D), or of the wife's step-mother as in A only. The conclusion of 'Hustru og Slegfred' is rather flat. The wife, as she lies in bed, bids all her household hold up their hands and pray for her relief, which occurs on the same day. The news is sent to her husband, who rejoins his wife, is shown his children, praises God, and burns his mistress. Burning is also the fate of the mother-in-law in B, I, O, P, whereas in F she dies of chagrin, and in G bursts into a hundred flinders (flentsteene).

This ballad, in the mixed form of O, P (Kristensen, II, 35 F, G), has been resolved into a tale in Denmark, a few lines of verse being retained. Recourse is had by the spell-bound wife to a cunning woman in the village, who informs her that in her house there is a place in which a rowan-tree chest has stood, and that she can get relief there. The cunning woman subsequently pointing out the exact spot, two boys are born, who are seven years old, and can both walk and talk. Word is sent the witch that her son's wife has been delivered of two sons, and that she herself shall be burned the day following. The witch says, "I have been able to twine a string out of running water. If I have not succeeded in bewitching the woman, she must have found the place where the damned rowan chest stood." (Grundtvig, III, 858, No 84 b.)

Three Swedish versions of the ballad have been printed. A, B, from tradition of this[Pg 84] century, are given by Arwidsson, II, 252 ff, 'Liten Kerstins Förtrollning,' No 134. These resemble the Danish ballads of the second class closely. Liten Kerstin goes to her mother's house, gives birth to two children, and dies. In A the children are a son and daughter. The son stands up, combs his hair, and says, "I am forty weeks on in my ninth year." He can run errands in the village, and the daughter sew red silk. In B both children are boys. One combs his hair, and says, "Our grandmother shall be put on two wheels." The other draws his sword, and says, "Our mother is dead, our grandmother to blame. I hope our mother is with God. Our grandmother shall be laid on seven wheels." The other copy, C, mentioned by Grundtvig as being in Cavallius and Stephens' manuscript collection, has been printed in the Svenska Fornminnesföreningens Tidskrift, vol. ii, p. 72 ff, 1873-74. It dates from the close of the sixteenth century, and resembles the mixed ballads of the Danish first class, combining the flitting to the father's house with the artifice of the wax children. The conclusion of this ballad has suffered greatly. After the two sons are born, we are told that Kirstin, before unmentioned, goes to the chest and makes a wax child. If the chest were moved, Elin would be free of her child. And then the boy stands up and brushes his hair, and says he has come to his eighth year.

Three stanzas and some of the incidents of a Norwegian version of this ballad have been communicated to Grundtvig, III, 858 f, No 84 c, by Professor Sophus Bugge. The only place which was unaffected by a spell was where Signelíti's bride-chest stood, and the chest being removed, the birth took place. The witch was a step-mother, as in Danish A.

There are two familiar cases of malicious arrest of childbirth in classic mythology,—those of Latona and Alcmene. The wrath of Juno was the cause in both, and perhaps the myth of Alcmene is only a repetition of an older story, with change of name. The pangs of Latona were prolonged through nine days and nights, at the end of which time Ilithyia came to her relief, induced by a bribe. (Hymn to the Delian Apollo, 91 ff.) Homer, Il. xix, 119, says only that Hera stopped the delivery of Alcmene and kept back Ilithyia. Antoninus Liberalis, in the second century of our era, in one of his abstracts from the Metamorphoses of Nicander, a poem of the second century B. C., or earlier, has this account: that when Alcmene was going with Hercules, the Fates and Ilithyia, to please Juno, kept her in her pains by sitting down and folding their hands; and that Galinthias, a playmate and companion of Alcmene, fearing that the suffering would drive her mad, ran out and announced the birth of a boy, upon which the Fates were seized with such consternation that they let go their hands, and Hercules immediately came into the world. (Antoninus Lib., Metam. c. xxix.) Ovid, Metamorphoses, ix, 281-315, is more circumstantial. After seven days and nights of torture, Lucina came, but, being bribed by Juno, instead of giving the aid for which she was invoked, sat down on the altar before Alcmene's door, with the right knee crossed over the left, and fingers interlocked, mumbling charms which checked the processes of birth. Galanthis, a servant girl media de plebe, was shrewd enough to suspect that Juno had some part in this mischief; and besides, as she went in and out of the house, she always saw Lucina sitting on the altar, with her hands clasped over her knees. At last, by a happy thought, she called out, "Whoever you are, wish my mistress joy; she is lighter, and has her wish." Lucina jumped up and unclasped her hands, and the birth followed instantly. Pausanias, ix, 11, tells a similar but briefer story, in which Historis, daughter of Tiresias, takes the place of Galanthis. See, for the whole matter, 'Ilithyia oder die Hexe,' in C. A. Böttiger's Kleine Schriften, I, 76 ff.

Apuleius, in his Metamorphoses, mentions a case of suspended childbirth, which, curiously enough, had lasted eight years,[105] as in the Dan[Pg 85]ish and Swedish ballads. The witch is a mistress of her victim's husband, as in Grundtvig, 85, and as in a story cited by Scott from Heywood's 'Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels,' p. 474. "There is a curious tale about a Count of Westeravia [Vestravia, in diocesi Argentoratensi], 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 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."

A story like that of the ballad is told as a fact that took place in Arran within this century. A young man forsook his sweetheart and married another girl. When the wife's time came, she suffered excessively. A pack-man who was passing suspected the cause, went straight to the old love, and told her that a fine child was born; when up she sprang, and pulled out a large nail from the beam of the roof, calling out to her mother, "Muckle good your craft has done!" The wife was forthwith delivered. (Napier, in The Folklore Record, II, 117.)

In the Sicilian tales, collected by Laura Gonzenbach, Nos 12 and 15, we have the spell of folded hands placed between the knees to prevent birth, and in No 54 hands raised to the head.[106] In all these examples the spell is finally broken by telling the witch a piece of false news, which causes her to forget herself and take away her hands. (Sicilianische Märchen aus dem Volksmund gesammelt, Leipzig, 1870.)

We find in a Roumanian tale, contributed to Das Ausland for 1857, p. 1029, by F. Obert, and epitomized by Grundtvig, III, 859, No 84 d, a wife condemned by her offended husband to go with child till he lays his hand upon her. It is twenty years before she obtains grace, and the son whom she then bears immediately slays his father. A Wallachian form of this story (Walachische Märchen von Arthur u. Albert Schott, No 23) omits the revenge by the new-born child, and ends happily.

With respect to the knots in st. 34, it is to be observed that the tying of knots (as also the fastening of locks), either during the marriage ceremony or at the approach of parturition was, and is still, believed to be effectual for preventing conception or childbirth. The minister of Logierait, Perthshire, testifies, about the year 1793, that immediately before the celebration of a marriage it is the custom to loosen carefully every knot about bride and bridegroom,—garters, shoe-strings, etc. The knots are tied again before they leave the church. (Statistical Account of Scotland, V, 83.) So among the Laps and Norwegians, when a child is to be born, all the knots in the woman's clothes, or even all the knots in the house, must be untied, because of their impeding delivery. (Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, p. 322, who also cites the Statistical Account of Scotland.)

Willie's Lady is translated by Schubart, p. 74, Talvj, p. 555, and by Gerhard, p. 139. Grundtvig, 84 H (== Syv, 90, Danske Viser, 43), is translated by Jamieson, Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 344, and by Prior, No 89.

[Pg 86]


a. A copy, by Miss Mary Fraser Tytler, of a transcript made by her grandfather from William Tytler's manuscript. b. Jamieson-Brown MS., No 15, fol. 33.

Willie has taen him oer the fame,
He's woo'd a wife and brought her hame.
He's woo'd her for her yellow hair,
But his mother wrought her mickle care.
And mickle dolour gard her dree,
For lighter she can never be.
But in her bower she sits wi pain,
And Willie mourns oer her in vain.
And to his mother he has gone,
That vile rank witch of vilest kind.
He says: 'My ladie has a cup,
Wi gowd and silver set about.
'This goodlie gift shall be your ain,
And let her be lighter o her young bairn.'
'Of her young bairn she'll neer be lighter,
Nor in her bower to shine the brighter.
'But she shall die and turn to clay,
And you shall wed another may.'
'Another may I'll never wed,
Another may I'll neer bring home.'
But sighing says that weary wight,
'I wish my life were at an end.'
'Ye doe [ye] unto your mother again,
That vile rank witch of vilest kind.
'And say your ladie has a steed,
The like o'm's no in the lands of Leed.
'For he [i]s golden shod before,
And he [i]s golden shod behind.
'And at ilka tet of that horse's main,
There's a golden chess and a bell ringing.
'This goodlie gift shall be your ain,
And let me be lighter of my young bairn.'
'O her young bairn she'll neer be lighter,
Nor in her bower to shine the brighter.
'But she shall die and turn to clay,
And ye shall wed another may.'
'Another may I['ll] never wed,
Another may I['ll] neer bring hame.'
But sighing said that weary wight,
'I wish my life were at an end.'
'Ye doe [ye] unto your mother again,
That vile rank witch of vilest kind.
'And say your ladie has a girdle,
It's red gowd unto the middle.
'And ay at every silver hem,
Hangs fifty silver bells and ten.
'That goodlie gift has be her ain,
And let me be lighter of my young bairn.'
'O her young bairn she's neer be lighter,
Nor in her bower to shine the brighter.
'But she shall die and turn to clay,
And you shall wed another may.'
'Another may I'll never wed,
Another may I'll neer bring hame.'
But sighing says that weary wight,
'I wish my life were at an end.'
Then out and spake the Belly Blind;
He spake aye in good time.
'Ye doe ye to the market place,
And there ye buy a loaf o wax.
'Ye shape it bairn and bairnly like,
And in twa glassen een ye pit;
'And bid her come to your boy's christening;
Then notice weel what she shall do.
'And do you stand a little fore bye,
And listen weel what she shall say.'
[Pg 87]
'Oh wha has loosed the nine witch knots
That was amo that ladie's locks?
'And wha has taen out the kaims of care
That hangs amo that ladie's hair?
'And wha's taen down the bush o woodbine
That hang atween her bower and mine?
'And wha has killd the master kid
That ran beneath that ladie's bed?
'And wha has loosed her left-foot shee,
And lotten that ladie lighter be?'
O Willie has loosed the nine witch knots
That was amo that ladie's locks.
And Willie's taen out the kaims o care
That hang amo that ladie's hair.
And Willie's taen down the bush o woodbine
That hang atween her bower and thine.
And Willie has killed the master kid
That ran beneath that ladie's bed.
And Willie has loosed her left-foot shee,
And letten his ladie lighter be.
And now he's gotten a bonny young son,
And mickle grace be him upon.


The stanzas are not regularly divided in the MS., nor were they so divided by Scott.

412. hung (?) beneath: but see 362.

Scott's principal variations are:

121. Yet gae ye.

141. For he is silver shod.

At every tuft of that horse main
There's a golden chess and a bell to ring.

211. Yet gae ye.

2. o rankest kind.

222. It's a' red gowd to.

241. This gudely gift sall be.

261. For she.

282. my days.

301. Yet gae ye.

2. there do buy.

311. Do shape.

2. you'll put.

321. And bid her your boy's christening to.

331. a little away.

2. To notice weel what she may saye.

352. That were amang.

382. And let.

391. Syne Willie.

402. That were into.

411, 421, 431. And he.

412. Hung atween her bour and the witch carline.

442. a bonny son.


Divided in Jamieson's MS. into stanzas of four verses, two verses being written in one line: but Jamieson's 8 == a 14-16.

11. Sweet Willy's taen.

5-11, wanting. Instead of the cup, the girdle occurs here: == a 21-28.

121. He did him till.

2. wilest kin.

131. An said, My lady.

141, 2. he is.

162. An lat her be lighter o her young bairn.

181. go to clay.

a 211 == b 51. Now to his mither he has gane.

2. kin.

a 221 == b 61. He say[s] my lady.

2. It's a' red.

a 231 == b 71. at ilka.

2. Hings.

a 241 == b 81. gift sall be your ain.

2. lat her ... o her.

a 29 == b 22. Then out it spake the belly blin; She spake ay in a good time.

a 32 == b 25, 26.

An do you to your mither then, An bid her come to your boy's christnen;
For dear's the boy he's been to you: Then notice well what she shall do.

Between a 33 and a 34 occurs in b (28-31):

He did him to the market place, An there he bought a loaf o wax.
He shap'd it bairn and bairnly like, An in't twa glazen een he pat.
He did him till his mither then, An bade him (sic) to his boy's christnen.
An he did stan a little forebye, An notic'd well what she did say.

[Pg 88]

a 352 == b 332. hang amo.

36. wanting in b.

372. aneath.

392 == b 362. hang amo his.

401. kemb o care.

2. his lady's.

41. wanting in b.

422 == b 382. ran aneath his.

44. wanting in b.

b 222 makes the Billy Blind feminine. This is not so in a, or in any other ballad, and may be only an error of the transcriber, who has not always written carefully.


[102] The Jamieson-Brown copy contains seventy-eight verses; Scott's and the Tytler copy, eighty-eight. Dr Anderson's, Nichols's Illustrations, VII, 176, counts seventy-six instead of eighty-eight; but, judging by the description which Anderson has given of the Alexander-Fraser-Tytler-Brown MS., at p. 179, he is not exact. Still, so large a discrepancy is hard to explain.

[103] The sister does this in F-I and S: in O, P, the husband "has" it done.

[104] Grundtvig, 84 D, E; Kristensen, I, No 74 A, B, C; II, No 35 A, B, C.

[105] Eadem amatoris sui uxorem, quod in eam dicacule probrum dixerat, jam in sarcina prægnationis, obsæpto utero et repigrato fetu, perpetua prægnatione damuavit, et, ut cuncti numerant, jam octo annorum onere misella illa velut elephantum paritura distenditur. I, 9.

[106] We may suppose with closed fingers, or clasping the head, though this is not said. Antique vases depict one or two Ilithyias as standing by with hands elevated and open, during the birth of Athene from the head of Zeus. Welcker, Kleine Schriften, III, 191, note 12.


A. a. b. 'Earl Bran,' Mr Robert White's papers. c. 'The Brave Earl Brand and the King of England's Daughter,' Bell, Ancient Poems, etc., p. 122. d. Fragmentary verses remembered by Mr R. White's sister.

B. 'The Douglas Tragedy,' Scott's Minstrelsy, III, 246, ed. 1803.

C. 'Lord Douglas,' Motherwell's MS., p. 502.

D. 'Lady Margaret,' Kinloch MSS, I, 327.

E. 'The Douglas Tragedy,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 180.

F. 'The Child of Ell,' Percy MS., p. 57; Hales and Furnivall, I, 133.

'Earl Brand,' first given to the world by Mr Robert Bell in 1857, has preserved most of the incidents of a very ancient story with a faithfulness unequalled by any ballad that has been recovered from English oral tradition. Before the publication of 'Earl Brand,' A c, our known inheritance in this particular was limited to the beautiful but very imperfect fragment called by Scott 'The Douglas Tragedy,' B; half a dozen stanzas of another version of the same in Motherwell's Minstrelsy, E; so much of Percy's 'Child of Elle' as was genuine, which, upon the printing of his manuscript, turned out to be one fifth, F; and two versions of Erlinton, A, C.[107] What now can be added is but little: two transcripts of 'Earl Brand,' one of which, A a, has suffered less from literary revision than the only copy hitherto printed, A c; a third version of 'The Douglas Tragedy,' from Motherwell's manuscript, C; a fourth from Kinloch's manuscripts, D; and another of 'Erlinton,' B. Even 'Earl Brand' has lost a circumstance that forms the turning-point in Scandinavian ballads, and this capital defect attends all our other versions, though traces which remain in 'Erlinton' make it nearly certain that our ballads originally agreed in all important particulars with those which are to this day recited in the north of Europe.

The corresponding Scandinavian ballad is 'Ribold and Guldborg,' and it is a jewel that any clime might envy. Up to the time of Grundtvig's edition, in Danmarks gamle Folkeviser, No 82, though four versions had been printed, the only current copy for a hundred and fifty years had been Syv's No 88, based on a broadside of the date 1648, but compounded from several sources; and it was in this form that the ballad became known to the English through Jamieson's translation. Grundtvig has now published twenty-seven versions of 'Ribold og Guldborg' (II, 347 ff, nineteen; 675 ff, four; III, 849 ff, four:[Pg 89][108] of all which only two are fragments), and nine of 'Hildebrand og Hilde,' No 83, which, is the same story set in a dramatic frame-work (II, 393 ff, seven; 680 f, one; III, 857, one, a fragment). Three more Danish versions of 'Ribold og Guldborg' are furnished by Kristensen, Gamle jydske Folkeviser, I, No 37, II, No 84 A, B (C*, D*, E*). To these we may add the last half, sts 15-30, of 'Den farlige Jomfru,' Grundtvig, 184 G. Of Grundtvig's texts, 82 A is of the sixteenth century; B-H are of the seventeenth; the remainder and Kristensen's three from recent tradition. Six versions of 'Hildebrand og Hilde,' A-F, are of the seventeenth century; one is of the eighteenth, G; and the remaining two are from oral tradition of our day.

The first six of Grundtvig's versions of 'Ribold and Guldborg,' A-F, are all from manuscripts, and all of a pure traditional character, untampered with by "collators." G and H are mixed texts: they have F for their basis, but have admitted stanzas from other sources. Most of the versions from recitation are wonderful examples and proofs of the fidelity with which simple people "report and hold" old tales: for, as the editor has shown, verses which never had been printed, but which are found in old manuscripts, are now met with in recited copies; and these recited copies, again, have verses that occur in no Danish print or manuscript, but which nevertheless are found in Norwegian and Swedish recitations, and, what is more striking, in Icelandic tradition of two hundred years' standing.

The story in the older Danish ballads runs thus. Ribold, a king's son, sought Guldborg's love in secret. He said he would carry her to a land where death and sorrow came not; where all the birds were cuckoos, and all the grass was leeks, and all the streams ran wine. Guldborg, not indisposed, asked how she should evade the watch kept over her by all her family and by her betrothed. Ribold disguised her in his cloak and armor, B, E, F, and rode off, with Guldborg behind him. On the heath they meet a rich earl [a crafty man, C; her betrothed, D], who asks, Whither away, with your stolen maid? [little page, B, F.] Ribold replies that it is his youngest sister, whom he has taken from a cloister, A, E [sick sister, C; brother, B, F; page, D]. This shift avails nothing; no more does a bribe which he offers for keeping his secret. Report is at once made to her father that Guldborg has eloped with Ribold. Guldborg perceives that they are pursued, and is alarmed. Ribold reassures her, and prepares to meet his foes. He bids Guldborg hold his horse, B, C, E, and, whatever may happen, not to call him by name: "Though thou see me bleed, name me not to death; though thou see me fall, name me not at all!" Ribold cuts down six or seven of her brothers and her father, besides others of her kin; the youngest brother only is left, and Guldborg in an agony calls upon Ribold to spare him, to carry tidings to her mother. No sooner was his name pronounced than Ribold received a mortal wound. He sheathed his sword, and said, Come, wilt thou ride with me? Wilt thou go home to thy mother again, or wilt thou follow so sad a swain? And she answered, I will not go home to my mother again; I will follow thee, my heart's dearest man. They rode through the wood, and not a word came from the mouth of either. Guldborg asked, Why art thou not as glad as before? And Ribold answered, Thy brother's sword has been in my heart. They reached his house. He called to one to take his horse, to another to bring a priest, and said his brother should have Guldborg. But she would not give her faith to two brothers. Ribold died that night, C. Three dead came from Ribold's bower: Ribold and his lief, and his mother, who died of grief! In A Guldborg slays herself, and dies in her lover's arms.

'Hildebrand and Hilde,' A, B, C, D, opens with the heroine in a queen's service, sewing her seam wildly, putting silk for gold and gold for silk. The queen calls her to account. Hilde begs her mistress to listen to her tale of sorrow. She was a king's daughter. Twelve knights had been appointed to be her guard, and one had beguiled her, Hildebrand, son of the king of England. They went off together,[Pg 90] and were surprised by her brothers [father, B, C, D]. Hildebrand bade her be of good cheer; but she must not call him by name if she saw him bleed or fall, A, B, D. A heap of knights soon lay at his feet. Hilde forgot herself, and called out, Hildebrand, spare my youngest brother! Hildebrand that instant received a mortal wound, and fell. The younger brother tied her to his horse, and dragged her home. They shut her up at first in a strong tower, built for the purpose, A, B [Swedish A, a dark house], and afterwards sold her into servitude for a church bell. Her mother's heart broke at the bell's first stroke, and Hilde, with the last word of her tale, fell dead in the queen's arms.

The most important deviation of the later versions from the old is exhibited by S and T, and would probably be observed in Q, R, as well, were these complete. S, T are either a mixture of 'Ribold and Guldborg' with 'Hildebrand and Hilde,' or forms transitional between the two. In these Ribold does not live to reach his home, and Guldborg, unable to return to hers, offers herself to a queen, to spin silk and weave gold [braid hair and work gold]. But she cannot sew for grief. The queen smacks her on the cheek for neglecting her needle. Poor Guldborg utters a protest, but gives no explanation, and the next morning is found dead. Singularly enough, the name of the hero in Q, R, S, T, is also an intermediate form. Ribold is the name in all the old Danish copies except C, and that has Ride-bolt. Danish I, K, X, Z, all the Icelandic copies, and Swedish D, have either Ribold or some unimportant variation. Q, R, S, have Ride-brand [T, Rederbrand]. All copies of Grundtvig 83, except Danish G, Swedish C, which do not give the hero's name, have Hilde-brand; so also 82 N, O, P, V, and Kristensen, I, No 37. The name of the woman is nearly constant both in 82 and 83.

The paradise promised Guldborg in all the old versions of 82[109] disappears from the recited copies, except K, M. It certainly did not originally belong to 'Ribold and Guldborg,' or to another Danish ballad in which it occurs ('Den trofaste Jomfru,' Grundtvig, 249 A), but rather to ballads like 'Kvindemorderen,' Grundtvig, 183 A, or 'Líti Kersti,' Landstad, 44, where a supernatural being, a demon or a hillman, seeks to entice away a mortal maid. See No 4, p. 27. In 82 L, N, U, V, Y, Æ, Ø, and Kristensen's copies, the lovers are not encountered by anybody who reports their flight. Most of the later versions, K, L, M, N, P, U, V, Y, Æ, Ø, and Kristensen's three, make them halt in a wood, where Ribold goes to sleep in Guldborg's lap, and is roused by her when she perceives that they are pursued. So Norwegian B, Swedish A, B, C, and 'Hildebrand and Hilde' B. M, Q, R, S, T, Z, have not a specific prohibition of dead-naming, but even these enjoin silence. 83 C is the only ballad in which there is a fight and no prohibition of either kind, but it is clear from the course of the story that the stanza containing the usual injunction has simply dropped out. P is distinguished from all other forms of the story by the heroine's killing herself before her dying lover reaches his house.

The four first copies of 'Hildebrand and Hilde,' as has been seen, have the story of Ribold and Guldborg with some slight differences and some abridgment. There is no elopement in B: the lovers are surprised in the princess' bower. When Hilde has finished her tale, in A, the queen declares that Hildebrand was her son. In B she interrupts the narrative by announcing her discovery that Hildebrand was her brother. C and D have nothing of the sort. There is no fight in E-H. E has taken up the commonplace of the bower on the strand which was forced by nine men.[110] Hildebrand is again the son of the queen, and, coming in just as Hilde has expired, exclaims that he will have no other love, sets his sword against a stone, and runs[Pg 91] upon it. H has the same catastrophe. F represents the father as simply showing great indignation and cruelty on finding out that one of the guardian knights had beguiled his daughter, and presently selling her for a new church bell. The knight turns out here again to be the queen's son; the queen says he shall betroth Hille, and Hille faints for joy. G agrees with B as to the surprise in the bower. The knight's head is hewn off on the spot. The queen gives Hilde her youngest son for a husband, and Hilde avows that she is consoled. I agrees with E so far as it goes, but is a short fragment.

There are three Icelandic versions of this ballad, 'Ribbalds kvæði,' Íslenzk Fornkvæði, No 16, all of the seventeenth century. They all come reasonably close to the Danish as to the story, and particularly A. Ribbald, with no prologue, invites Gullbrún "to ride." He sets her on a white horse; of all women she rode best. They have gone but a little way, when they see a pilgrim riding towards them, who hails Ribbald with, Welcome, with thy stolen maid! Ribbald pretends that the maid is his sister, but the pilgrim knows very well it is Gullbrún. She offers her cloak to him not to tell her father, but the pilgrim goes straight to the king, and says, Thy daughter is off! The king orders his harp to be brought, for no purpose but to dash it on the floor once and twice, and break out the strings. He then orders his horse. Gullbrún sees her father come riding under a hill-side, then her eleven brothers, then seven brothers-in-law. She begs Ribbald to spare her youngest brother's life, that he may carry the news to her mother. He replies, I will tie my horse by the reins; you take up your sewing! then three times forbids her to name him during the fight. He slew her father first, next the eleven brothers, then the other seven, all which filled her with compunction, and she cried out, Ribbald, still thy brand! On the instant Ribbald received many wounds. He wiped his bloody sword, saying, This is what you deserve, Gullbrún, but love is your shield; then set her on her horse, and rode to his brother's door. He called out, Here is a wife for you! But Gullbrún said, Never will I be given to two brothers. Soon after Ribbald gave up the ghost. There was more mourning than mirth; three bodies went to the grave in one coffin, Ribbald, his lady, and his mother, who died of grief.

B and C have lost something at the beginning, C starting at the same point as our 'Douglas Tragedy.' The king pursues Ribbald by water. Gullbrún (B) stands in a tower and sees him land. Ribbald gives Gullbrún to his brother, as in A: she lives in sorrow, and dies a maid.

Norwegian. ('Ribold and Guldborg.') A, 'Rikeball og stolt Guðbjörg,' Landstad, 33; B, 'Veneros og stolt Ölleber,' Landstad, 34; C, D, E, F, in part described and cited, with six other copies, Grundtvig, III, p. 853 f. The last half of Landstad No 23, stanzas 17-34, and stanzas 18-25 of Landstad 28 B, also belong here. A agrees with the older Danish versions, even to the extent of the paradise. B has been greatly injured. Upon the lady's warning Veneros of the approach of her father, he puts her up in an oak-tree for safety. He warns her not to call him by name, and she says she will rather die first; but her firmness is not put to the test in this ballad, some verses having dropped out just at this point. Veneros is advised to surrender, but dispatches his assailants by eighteen thousands (like Lille brór, in Landstad, 23), and by way of conclusion hews the false Pál greive, who had reported his elopement to Ölleber's father, into as many pieces. He then takes Ölleber on his horse, they ride away and are married. Such peculiarities in the other copies as are important to us will be noticed further on.

('Hildebrand and Hilde.') A, one of two Norwegian copies communicated by Professor Bugge to Grundtvig, III, 857 f, agrees well with Danish E, but has the happy conclusion of Danish F, G, I. The heroine is sold for nine bells. B, the other, omits the bower-breaking of A and Danish E, and ends with marriage.

The Swedish forms of 'Ribold and Guldborg' are: A, 'Hillebrand,' Afzelius, No 2; B, 'Herr Redebold,' and C, 'Kung Vallemo,'[Pg 92] Afzelius, No 80; new ed., No 2, 1, 2, 3; D, 'Ribbolt,' Arwidsson, No 78; E, 'Herr Redebold' F, 'Herting Liljebrand,' and G, 'Herr Balder,' in Cavallius and Stephens' manuscript collection; H, 'Kung Walmon,' E. Wigström's Folkdiktning, No 15, p. 33. A, B, C, H, are not markedly different from the ordinary Danish ballad, and this is true also, says Grundtvig, of the unprinted versions, E, F, G. D and G are of the seventeenth century, the others from recent tradition. Ribold is pictured in D as a bold prince, equally versed in runes and arts as in manly exercises. He visits Giötha by night: they slumber sweet, but wake in blood. She binds up his wounds with rich kerchiefs. He rides home to his father's, and sits down on a bench. The king bids his servants see what is the matter, and adds, Be he sick or be he hurt, he got it at Giötha-Lilla's. They report the prince stabbed with sharp pikes within, and bound with silk kerchiefs without. Ribold bids them bury him in the mould, and not blame Giötha-Lilla; "for my horse was fleet, and I was late, and he hurtled me 'gainst an apple-tree" (so Hillebrand in A). E represents the heroine as surviving her lover, and united to a young king, but always grieving for Redebold.

'Hildebrand and Hilde' exists in Swedish in three versions: A, a broadside of the last part of the seventeenth century, now printed in the new edition of Afzelius, p. 142 ff of the notes (the last nine stanzas before, in Danske Viser, III, 438 f); B, Afzelius, No 32, new ed. No 26, C, Arwidsson, No 107, both taken down in this century. In A and B Hillebrand, son of the king of England, carries off Hilla; they halt in a grove; she wakes him from his sleep when she hears her father and seven brothers coming; he enjoins her not to call him by name, which still she does upon her father's being slain [or when only her youngest brother is left], and Hillebrand thereupon receives mortal wounds. He wipes his sword, saying, This is what you would deserve, were you not Hilla. The youngest brother ties Hilla to his horse, drags her home, and confines her in a dark house, which swarms with snakes and dragons (A only). They sell her for a new church bell, and her mother's heart breaks at the first sound. Hilla falls dead at the queen's knee. C has lost the dead-naming, and ends with the queen's promising to be Hilla's best friend.

A detailed comparison of the English ballads, and especially of 'Earl Brand,' with the Scandinavian (such as Grundtvig has made, III, 855 f) shows an unusual and very interesting agreement. The name Earl Brand, to begin with, is in all probability a modification of the Hildebrand found in Danish 82 N, O, P, V, C*, in all versions of Danish 83, and in the corresponding Swedish A. Ell, too, in Percy's fragment, which may have been Ellë earlier, points to Hilde, or something like it, and Erl-inton might easily be corrupted from such a form as the Alibrand of Norwegian B (Grundtvig, III, 858). Hildebrand is the son of the king of England in Danish 83 A-E, and the lady in 'Earl Brand' is the same king's daughter, an interchange such as is constantly occurring in tradition. Stanza 2 can hardly be the rightful property of 'Earl Brand.' Something very similar is met with in 'Leesome Brand,' and is not much in place there. For 'old Carl Hood,' of whom more presently, Danish 82 X and Norwegian A, C have an old man, Danish C a crafty man, T a false younker, and Norwegian B and three others "false Pál greive." The lady's urging Earl Brand to slay the old carl, and the answer, that it would be sair to kill a gray-haired man, sts 8, 9, are almost literally repeated in Norwegian A, Landstad, No 33. The knight does slay the old man in Danish X and Norwegian C, and slays the court page in Danish Z, and false Pál greive in Norwegian B,—in this last after the battle. The question, "Where have ye stolen this lady away?" in st. 11, occurs in Danish 82 A, D, E, K, P, R, S, T, Z, in Norwegian B and Icelandic B, and something very similar in many other copies. The reply, "She is my sick sister, whom I have brought from Winchester" [nunnery], is found almost literally in Danish C, X, Z: "It is my sick sister; I took her yesterday from the cloister." [Danish E, it is my youngest sister from the cloister; she is sick: Danish A,[Pg 93] youngest sister from cloister: Danish R and Norwegian B, sister from cloister: Danish S, T, sister's daughter from cloister: Norwegian F, sister from Holstein: Danish P, Icelandic A, Norwegian A, sister.] The old man, crafty man, rich earl, in the Scandinavian ballads, commonly answers that he knows Guldborg very well; but in Danish D, where Ribold says it is a court page he has hired, we have something like sts 14, 15: "Why has he such silk-braided hair?" On finding themselves discovered, the lovers, in the Scandinavian ballad, attempt to purchase silence with a bribe: Danish A-I, M, Icelandic and Norwegian A, B. This is not expressly done in 'Earl Brand,' but the same seems to be meant in st. 10 by "I'll gie him a pound." St. 17 is fairly paralleled by Danish S, 18, 19: "Where is Guldborg, thy daughter? Walking in the garden, gathering roses;" and st. 18, by Norwegian B, 15: "You may search without and search within, and see whether Ölleber you can find." The announcement in st. 19 is made in almost all the Scandinavian ballads, in words equivalent to "Ribold is off with thy daughter," and then follows the arming for the pursuit. The lady looks over her shoulder and sees her father coming, as in st. 21, in Danish 82 A, F, H, I, Q, R, T, X, Z, and Norwegian A.

The scene of the fight is better preserved in the Scottish ballads than in 'Earl Brand,' though none of these have the cardinal incident of the death-naming. All the Scottish versions, B-F, and also 'Erlinton,' A, B, make the lady hold the knight's horse: so Danish 82 B, C, E, I, Æ, D*, Icelandic C, Norwegian and Swedish A, and Danish 83 D. Of the knight's injunction, "Name me not to death, though thou see me bleed," which, as has been noted, is kept by nearly every Danish ballad (and by the Icelandic, the Norwegian, and by Swedish 'Ribold and Guldborg,' A, B, C, H, Swedish 'Hildebrand and Hilde,' A, B), there is left in English only this faint trace, in 'Erlinton,' A, B: "See ye dinna change your cheer until ye see my body bleed." It is the wish to save the life of her youngest brother that causes the lady to call her lover by name in the larger number of Scandinavian ballads, and she adds, "that he may carry the tidings to my mother," in Danish 82 A, B, C, E, F, G, H, M, X, 83 B, C, D. Grief for her father's death is the impulse in Danish 82 I, N, O, Q, R, S, Y, Z, Æ, Ø, A*, C*, D*, E*, Swedish A, B, C, H. English A says nothing of father or brother; but in B, C, D, E, it is the father's death that causes the exclamation. All the assailants are slain in 'Erlinton' A, B, except an aged knight [the auldest man], and he is spared to carry the tidings home. 'Erlinton' C, however, agrees with the oldest Danish copies in making the youngest brother the motive of the lady's intervention. It is the fifteenth, and last, of the assailants that gives Earl Brand his death-wound; in Danish H, the youngest brother, whom he has been entreated to spare; and so, apparently, in Danish C and Norwegian A.

The question, "Will you go with me or return to your mother?" which we find in English B, C, D, is met with also in many Danish versions, 82 B, H, K, L, M, N, P, U, Z, Æ, Ø, C*, and Swedish A, B, C. The dying man asks to have his bed made in English B, C, as in Danish 82 B, C, K, L, N, U, N, Æ, Ø, C*, D*, Norwegian A, Swedish A, B, C, H, and desires that the lady may marry his brother in English A, as in nearly all the Danish versions, Icelandic A, B, C, Norwegian C, D, E, Swedish C. He declares her a maiden true in 'Earl Brand,' A c 33, and affirms the same with more particularity in Danish 82 B, C, E, F, G, M, Ø, Icelandic B, C, Norwegian A, C, E, Swedish C. The growth of the rose and brier [bush and brier] from the lovers' grave in English B, C, is not met with in any version of 'Ribold and Guldborg' proper, but 'Den farlige Jomfru' G, Grundtvig, 184, the last half of which, as already remarked, is a fragment of a Ribold ballad, has a linden in place of the rose and brier.

No complete ballad of the Ribold class is known to have survived in German, but a few verses have been interpolated by tradition in the earliest copy of the Ulinger ballad (vv. 47-56), which may almost with certainty be assigned to one of the other description.[Pg 94] They disturb the narrative where they are, and a ready occasion for their slipping in was afforded by the scene being exactly the same in both ballads: a knight and a lady, with whom he had eloped, resting in a wood.[111] See No 4, p. 32 of this volume.

We find in a pretty Neapolitan-Albanian ballad, which, with others, is regarded by the editors as a fragment of a connected poem, several of the features of these northern ones. A youth asks a damsel in marriage, but is not favored by her mother, father, or brother. He wins over first the mother and then the father by handsome presents, but his gifts, though accepted, do not conciliate the brother. He carries off the lady on horseback, and is attacked by the brother, four uncles, and seven cousins. He is killed and falls from his horse; with him the lady falls dead also, and both are covered up with stones. In the spring the youth comes up a cypress, the damsel comes up a vine, and encloses the cypress in her arms. (Rapsodie d'un poema albanese raccolte nelle colonie del Napoletano, de Rada and de' Coronei, Florence, 1866, lib. ii., canto viii.)

These ballads would seem to belong among the numerous ramifications of the Hilde saga. Of these, the second lay of Helgi Hundingslayer, in Sæmund's Edda, and 'Waltharius,' the beautiful poem of Ekkehard, are most like the ballads.[112] Leaving 'Waltharius' till we come to 'Erlinton,' we may notice that Sigrún, in the Helgi lay, though promised by her father to another man, Hödbrodd, son of Granmar, preferred Helgi. She sought him out, and told him frankly her predicament: she feared, she said, the wrath of her friends, for breaking her father's promise. Helgi accepted her affection, and bade her not care for the displeasure of her relatives. A great battle ensued between Helgi and the sons of Granmar, who were aided by Sigrún's father and brothers. All her kinsmen were slain except one brother, Dag. He bound himself to peace with Helgi, but, notwithstanding, made sacrifices to Odin to obtain the loan of his spear, and with it slew Helgi. We have, therefore, in so much of the lay of Helgi Hundingslayer, the groundwork of the story of the ballads: a woman, who, as in many of the Ribold ballads, has been betrothed to a man she does not care for, gives herself to another; there is a fight, in which a great number of her kinsmen fall; one brother survives, who is the death of the man she loves. The lay of Helgi Hiörvard's son, whose story has much in common with that of his namesake, affords two resemblances of detail not found in the lay of the Hundingslayer. Helgi Hiörvard's son, while his life-blood is ebbing, expresses himself in almost the words of the dying Ribold: "The sword has come very near my heart." He then, like Ribold and Earl Brand, declares his wish that his wife should marry his brother, and she, like Guldborg, declines a second union.[113]

[Pg 95]

There is also a passage in the earlier history of Helgi Hundingslayer of which traces appear to be preserved in ballads, and before all in the English ballad 'Earl Brand,' A. Hunding and Helgi's family were at feud. Helgi introduced himself into Hunding's court as a spy, and when he was retiring sent word to Hunding's son that he had been there disguised as a son of Hagal, Helgi's foster-father. Hunding sent men to take him, and Helgi, to escape them, was forced to assume woman's clothes and grind at the mill. While Hunding's men are making search, a mysterious blind man, surnamed the bale-wise, or evil-witted (Blindr inn bölvísi), calls out, Sharp are the eyes of Hagal's maid; it is no churl's blood that stands at the mill; the stones are riving, the meal-trough is springing; a hard lot has befallen a war-king when a chieftain must grind strange barley; fitter for that hand is the sword-hilt than the mill-handle. Hagal pretends that the fierce-eyed maid is a virago whom Helgi had taken captive, and in the end Helgi escapes. This malicious personage reappears in the Hrômund saga as "Blind the Bad" and "the Carl Blind, surnamed Bavís," and is found elsewhere. His likeness to "old Carl Hood," who "comes for ill, but never for good," and who gives information of Earl Brand's flight with the king's daughter, does not require to be insisted on. Both are identical, we can scarcely doubt, with the blind [one-eyed] old man of many tales, who goes about in various disguises, sometimes as beggar, with his hood or hat slouched over his face,—that is Odin, the Síðhöttr or Deep-hood of Sæmund, who in the saga of Hálf and his champions is called simple Hood, as here, and expressly said to be Odin.[114] Odin, though not a thoroughly malignant divinity, had his dark side, and one of his titles in Sæmund's Edda is Bölverkr, maleficus. He first caused war by casting his spear among men, and Dag, after he has killed Helgi, says Odin was the author of all the mischief, for he brought strife among kinsmen.[115]

The disastrous effects of "naming" in a great emergency appear in other northern traditions, though not so frequently as one would expect. A diverting Swedish saga, which has been much quoted, relates how St. Olof bargained with a troll for the building of a huge church, the pay to be the sun and moon, or St. Olof himself. The holy man was equally amazed and embarrassed at seeing the building run up by the troll with great rapidity, but during a ramble among the hills had the good luck to discover that the troll's name was Wind and Weather, after which all was easy. For while the troll was on the roof of the church, Olof called out to him,

'Wind and Weather, hi!
You've set the spire awry;'

and the troll, thus called by his name, lost his strength, fell off, and was dashed into a hundred pieces, all flint stones. (Iduna, Part 3, p. 60 f, note. Other forms of the same story in Afzelius, Sago-Häfder, III, 100 f; Faye, Norske Folke-Sagn, p. 14, 2d ed.; Hofberg, Nerikes Gamla Minnen, p. 234.)

It is a Norwegian belief that when a nix assumes the human shape in order to carry some one off, it will be his death if the selected victim recognizes him and names him, and in this way a woman escaped in a ballad. She called out, So you are the Nix, that pestilent beast, and the nix "disappeared in red[Pg 96] blood." (Faye, as above, p. 49, note.) A nix is baffled in the same way in a Færoe and an Icelandic ballad cited by Grundtvig, II, 57.

The marvellous horse Blak agrees to carry Waldemar [Hildebrand] over a great piece of water for the rescue of his daughter [sister], stipulating, however, that his name shall not be uttered. The rider forgets himself in a panic, calls to the horse by his name, and is thrown off into the water. The horse, whose powers had been supernatural, and who had been running over the water as if it were land, has now only ordinary strength, and is forced to swim. He brings the lady back on the same terms, which she keeps, but when he reaches the land he is bleeding at every hair, and falls dead. (Landstad, 58; Grundtvig, 62; Afzelius, 59, preface; Kristensen, I, No 66.)

Klaufi, a berserker, while under the operation of his peculiar fury, loses his strength, and can no longer wield the weapon he was fighting with, upon Gríss's crying out, "Klaufi, Klaufi, be not so mad!" (Svarfdæla Saga, p. 147, and again p. 156 f.) So the blood-thirst of the avenger's sword in the magnificent Danish ballad 'Hævnersværdet' is restrained by naming. (Grundtvig, No 25, st. 35.) Again, men engaged in hamfarir, that is in roving about in the shape of beasts, their proper bodies remaining lifeless the while, must not be called by name, for this might compel them to return at once to their own shape, or possibly prevent their ever doing so. (Kristni Saga, ed. 1773, p. 149. R.T. King, in Notes and Queries, 2d Ser., II, 506.) Grundtvig remarks that this belief is akin to what is related in Fáfnismál (prose interpolation after st. 1), that Sigurd concealed his name by reason of a belief in old times that a dying man's word had great power, if he cursed his foe by name. (D.g.F., II, 340.)

The beautiful fancy of plants springing from the graves of star-crossed lovers, and signifying by the intertwining of stems or leaves, or in other analogous ways, that an earthly passion has not been extinguished by death, presents itself, as is well known, very frequently in popular poetry. Though the graves be made far apart, even on opposite sides of the church, or one to the north and one to the south outside of the church, or one without kirk wall and one in the choir, however separated, the vines or trees seek one another out, and mingle their branches or their foliage:

"Even from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Even in our ashes live their wonted fires!"

The principal ballads which exhibit this conception in one or another form are the following:

In English, 'The Douglas Tragedy,' 'Fair Margaret and Sweet William,' 'Lord Thomas and Fair Annet,' 'Fair Janet,' 'Prince Robert,' 'Lord Lovel.' The plants in all these are either a brier and a rose, or a brier and a birk.

Swedish. Arwidsson, No 73: the graves are made east and west of the church, a linden grows from each, the trees meet over the church roof. So E. Wigström, Folkdiktning, No 20, p. 42. Arwidsson 74 A: Rosea Lilla and the duke are buried south and north in the church-yard. A rose from her grave covers his with its leaves. The duke is then laid in her grave, from which a linden springs. 74 B: the rose as before, and a linden from the duke's grave. Arwidsson, 72, 68, Afzelius, No 19 (new ed., 18), 23 (new ed., 21, 1, 2): a common grave, with a linden, two trees, or lilies, and, in the last, roses also growing from the mouths of both lovers. In one version the linden leaves bear the inscription, My father shall answer to me at doomsday.

Norwegian. Landstad, 65: the lovers are laid north and south of the church; lilies grow over the church roof.

Danish. Danske Viser, 124, 153, two roses. Kristensen, II, No 60, two lilies, interlocking over church wall and ridge. 61 B, C (== Afzelius, 19), separate graves; B, a lily from each grave; C, a flower from each breast. Grundtvig, 184 G, 271 N, a linden; Danske Folkeminder, 1861, p. 81, two lilies.

German. 'Der Ritter u. die Maid,' (1) Nicolai, I, No 2, == Kretzschmer, I, 54; (2) Uhland, 97 A, Simrock, 12; (3) Erk's Liederhort, 26; Hoffmann u. Richter, 4: the lovers are buried together, and there grow from[Pg 97] their grave (1) three pinks, (2) three lilies, (3) two lilies. Wunderhorn, 1857, I, 53, Mittler, No 91: the maid is buried in the churchyard, the knight under the gallows. A lily grows from his grave, with an inscription, Beid wären beisammen im Himmel. Ditfurth, II, 7: two lilies spring from her (or their) grave, bearing a similar inscription. In Haupt and Schmaler, Volkslieder der Wenden, I, 136, from the German, rue is planted on the maid's grave, in accordance with the last words of the knight, and the same inscription appears on one of the leaves.

'Graf Friedrich,' Uhland, 122, Wunderhorn, II, 293, Mittler, 108, Erk's Liederhort, 15 a: Graf Friedrich's bride is by accident mortally wounded while he is bringing her home. Her father kills him, and he is dragged at a horse's heels. Three lilies spring from his grave, with an inscription, Er wär bei Gott geblieben. He is then buried with his bride, the transfer being attended with other miraculous manifestations. Other versions, Hoffmann u. Richter, 19, ==Mittler, 112, ==Liederhort, 15; Mittler, 113, 114; also Meinert, 23, ==Mittler, 109, etc.: the lilies in most of these growing from the bride's grave, with words attesting the knight's innocence.

Lilies with inscriptions also in Wunderhorn, II, p. 251, ==Mittler, 128, 'Alle bei Gott die sich lieben;' Mittler, 130; Ditfurth, II, 4, 9; Scherer, Jungbrunnen, 9 A, 25; Pogatschnigg und Hermann, 1458. Three lilies from a maid's grave: 'Die schwazbraune Hexe' ('Es blies ein Jäger'), Nicolai, I, 8; Wunderhorn, I, 36; Gräter's Bragur, I, 280; Uhland, 103; Liederhort, 9; Simrock, 93; Fiedler, p. 158; Ditfurth, II, 33, 34; Reifferscheid, 15, etc. Three roses, Hoffmann u. Richter, 171, p. 194; three pinks, ib., 172; rose, pink, lily, Alemannia, IV, 35. Three lilies from a man's grave: 'Der Todwunde:' Schade, Bergreien, 10, ==Uhland, 93 A, ==Liederhort, 34 g, ==Mittler, 47, etc.

Portuguese. 'Conde Nillo,' 'Conde Niño,' Almeida-Garrett, III, No 18, at p. 21; Braga, Rom. Geral., No 14, at p. 38,==Hartung, I, 17: the infanta is buried at the foot of the high altar, Conde Nillo near the church door; a cypress and an orange [pines]. Almeida-Garrett, III, No 20, at p. 38: a sombre clump of pines over the knight, reeds from the princess's grave, which, though cut down, shoot again, and are heard sighing in the night. Braga, Archip. Açor., 'Filba Maria,' 'Dom Doardos,' 'A Ermida no Mar,' Nos 32, 33, 34, Hartung, I, 220-224; Estacio da Veiga, 'Dom Diniz,' p. 64-67, ==Hartung, I, 217, 2: tree and pines, olive and pines, clove-tree and pine, roses and canes: in all, new miracles follow the cutting down. So also Almeida-Garrett, No 6, I, 167.

Roumanian. Alecsandri, 7, Stanley, p. 16, 'Ring and Handkerchief,' translated by Stanley, p. 193, Murray, p. 56: a fir and a vine, which meet over the church.

French. Beaurepaire, Poésie pop. en Normandie, p. 51: a thorn and an olive are planted over the graves; the thorn embraces the olive.

Romaic. Passow, Nos 414, 415, 456, 469; Zambelios, p. 754, No 41; Tommaseo, Canti Popolari, III, 135; Chasiotis, p. 103, No 22: a cypress from the man's grave, a reed from the maid's (or from a common tomb); reversed in Passow, Nos 418, 470, and Schmidt, Griechische Märchen, u.s.w., No 59, p. 203. Sakellarios, p. 25, No 9, cypress and apple-tree; p. 38, No 13, cypress and lemon-tree. (F. Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, pp. 166, 168, 182, 183.)

Servian. Talvj, V.L. der Serben, II, p. 85: a fir and a rose; the rose twines round the fir.

Wend. Haupt and Schmaler, V.L. der Wenden, II, No 48: a maid, who kills herself on account of the death of her lover, orders two grape vines to be planted over their graves: the vines intertwine.

Breton. Luzel, I, p. 423: a fleur-de-lis springs from a common tomb, and is always in flower, however often it is plucked.

Italo-Albanian. De Rada, Rapsodie d'un poema albanese, etc., p. 47: the youth comes up (nacque) a cypress; the maid a white vine, which clings around the tree. Camarda, Appendice al saggio di grammatologia comparata, 'Angelina,' p. 112, the same; but inappropri[Pg 98]ately, as Liebrecht has remarked, fidelity in love being wanting in this case.

Magyar. The lovers are buried before and behind the altar; white and red lilies spring from the tombs; mother or father destroys or attempts to destroy the plants: Aigner, Ungarische Volksdichtungen, 2d ed., at p. 92, p. 138, 131 f. Again, at p. 160, of the 'Two Princes' (Hero and Leander): here a white and a red tulip are planted over the graves, in a garden, and it is expressly said that the souls of the enamored pair passed into the tulips. In the first piece the miracle occurs twice. The lovers had thrown themselves into a deep lake; plants rose above the surface of the water and intertwined (p. 91); the bodies were brought up by divers and buried in the church, where the marvel was repeated.

Afghan. Audam and Doorkhaunee, a poem "read, repeated, and sung, through all parts of the country," Elphinstone's Account of the Kingdom of Caubul, 1815, p. 185 f: two trees spring from their remains, and the branches mingle over their tomb. First cited by Talvj, Versuch, p. 140.

Kurd. Mem and Zin, a poem of Ahméd X[/-a]ni, died 1652-3: two rose bushes spring from their graves and interlock. Bulletin de la classe des sciences historiques, etc., de l'acad. impér. des sciences de St. Pét., tome XV, No 11, p. 170.

The idea of the love-animated plants has been thought to be derived from the romance of Tristan, where it also occurs; agreeably to a general principle, somewhat hastily assumed, that when romances and popular ballads have anything in common, priority belongs to the romances. The question as to precedence in this instance is an open one, for the fundamental conception is not less a favorite with ancient Greek than with mediæval imagination.

Tristan and Isolde had unwittingly drunk of a magical potion which had the power to induce an indestructible and ever-increasing love. Tristan died of a wound received in one of his adventures, and Isolde of a broken heart, because, though summoned to his aid, she arrived too late for him to profit by her medical skill. They were buried in the same church. According to the French prose romance, a green brier issued from Tristan's tomb, mounted to the roof, and, descending to Isolde's tomb, made its way within. King Marc caused the brier to be cut down three several times, but the morning after it was as flourishing as before.[116]

Eilhart von Oberge, vv. 9509-21 (ed. Lichtenstein, Quellen u. Forschungen, xix, 429) and the German prose romance (Büsching u. von der Hagen, Buch der Liebe, c. 60), Ulrich von Thürheim, vv. 3546-50, and Heinrich von Freiberg, vv. 6819-41 (in von der Hagen's ed. of G.v. Strassburg's Tristan) make King Marc plant, the first two a grape-vine over Tristan and a rose over Isolde, the others, wrongly, the rose over Tristan and the vine over Isolde. These plants, according to Heinrich, struck their roots into the hearts of the lovers below, while their branches embraced above. Icelandic ballads and an Icelandic saga represent Tristan's wife as forbidding the lovers to be buried in the same grave, and ordering them to be buried on opposite sides of the church. Trees spring from their bodies and meet over the church roof, (Íslenzk Fornkvæði, 23 A, B, C, D; Saga af Tristram ok Ísönd, Brynjulfson, p. 199; Tristrams Saga ok Ísondar, Kölbing, p. 112). The later Titurel imitates the conclusion of Tristan. (Der jüngere Titurel, ed. Hahn, sts 5789, 5790.)

Among the miracles of the Virgin there are several which are closely akin to the prodigies already noted. A lily is found growing from the mouth of a clerk, who, though not leading an exemplary life, had every day said his ave before the image of Mary: Unger, Mariu Saga, No 50; Berceo, No 3; Miracles de N.D. de Chartres, p. lxiii, No 29, and p. 239; Marien-legenden (Stuttgart, 1846), No xi and p. 269. A rose springs from the grave and[Pg 99] roots in the heart of a knight who had spared the honor of a maid because her name was Mary: Unger, No clvi, Hagen's Gesammtabenteuer, lxxiii. Roses inscribed Maria grow from the mouth, eyes, and ears of a monk: Unger, cxxxvii; and a lily grows over a monk's grave, springing from his mouth, every leaf of which bears Ave Maria in golden letters: Unger, cxxxviii; Gesammtabenteuer, lxxxviii; Libro de Exenplos, Romania, 1878, p. 509, 43, 44; etc., etc.

No one can fail to be reminded of the purple, lily-shaped flower, inscribed with the mournful AI AI, that rose from the blood of Hyacinthus, and of the other from the blood of Ajax, with the same letters, "his name and eke his plaint," hæc nominis, illa querellæ. (Ovid, Met. X, 210 ff; xiii, 394 ff.) The northern lindens have their counterpart in the elms from the grave of Protesilaus, and in the trees into which Philemon and Baucis were transformed. See, upon the whole subject, the essay of Koberstein in the Weimar Jahrbuch, I, 73 ff, with Köhler's supplement, p. 479 ff; Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, II, 689 f, and III, 246.

"The ballad of the 'Douglas Tragedy,'" says Scott, "is one of the few to which popular tradition has ascribed complete locality. The farm of Blackhouse, in Selkirkshire, is said to have been the scene of this melancholy event. There are the remains of a very ancient tower, adjacent to the farm-house, in a wild and solitary glen, upon a torrent named Douglas burn, which joins the Yarrow after passing a craggy rock called the Douglas craig.... From this ancient tower Lady Margaret is said to have been carried by her lover. Seven large stones, erected upon the neighboring heights of Blackhouse, are shown, as marking the spot where the seven brethren were slain; and the Douglas burn is averred to have been the stream at which the lovers stopped to drink: so minute is tradition in ascertaining the scene of a tragical tale, which, considering the rude state of former times, had probably foundation in some real event."

The localities of the Danish story were ascertained, to her entire satisfaction, by Anne Krabbe in 1605-6, and are given again in Resen's Atlas Danicus, 1677. See Grundtvig, II, 342 f.

B, Scott's 'Douglas Tragedy,' is translated by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, No 11; Afzelius, III, 86; Schubart, p. 159; Talvj, p. 565; Wolff, Halle, I, 76; Hausschatz, p. 201; Rosa Warrens, No 23; Gerhard, p. 28; Loève Veimars, p. 292.

'Ribold og Guldborg,' Danish B, is translated by Buchanan, p. 16 (loosely); G by Jamieson, Illustrations, p. 317, and Prior, II, 400; T by Prior, II, 407; Swedish A, For. Quart. Rev., XXV, 41. 'Hildebrand og Hilde,' Danish A, B, F, H, by Prior, II, 411-20.


a, b, from the papers of the late Robert White, Esq., of Newcastle-on-Tyne: c, R. Bell, Ancient Poems, Ballads, etc. (1857), p. 122: d, fragmentary lines as remembered by Mrs Andrews, Mr White's sister, from her mother's singing.

Oh did ye ever hear o brave Earl Bran?
Ay lally, o lilly lally
He courted the king's daughter of fair England.
All i the night sae early
She was scarcely fifteen years of age
Till sae boldly she came to his bedside.
'O Earl Bran, fain wad I see
A pack of hounds let loose on the lea.'
'O lady, I have no steeds but one,
And thou shalt ride, and I will run.'
'O Earl Bran, my father has two,
And thou shall have the best o them a.'
They have ridden oer moss and moor,
And they met neither rich nor poor.
Until they met with old Carl Hood;
He comes for ill, but never for good.
[Pg 100]
'Earl Bran, if ye love me,
Seize this old carl, and gar him die.'
'O lady fair, it wad be sair,
To slay an old man that has grey hair.
'O lady fair, I'll no do sae;
I'll gie him a pound, and let him gae.'
'O where hae ye ridden this lee lang day?
Or where hae ye stolen this lady away?'
'I have not ridden this lee lang day.
Nor yet have I stolen this lady away.
'She is my only, my sick sister,
Whom I have brought from Winchester.'
'If she be sick, and like to dead,
Why wears she the ribbon sae red?
'If she be sick, and like to die,
Then why wears she the gold on high?'
When he came to this lady's gate,
Sae rudely as he rapped at it.
'O where's the lady o this ha?'
'She's out with her maids to play at the ba.'
'Ha, ha, ha! ye are a' mistaen:
Gae count your maidens oer again.
'I saw her far beyond the moor,
Away to be the Earl o Bran's whore.'
The father armed fifteen of his best men,
To bring his daughter back again.
Oer her left shoulder the lady looked then:
'O Earl Bran, we both are tane.'
'If they come on me ane by ane,
Ye may stand by and see them slain.
'But if they come on me one and all,
Ye may stand by and see me fall.'
They have come on him ane by ane,
And he has killed them all but ane.
And that ane came behind his back,
And he's gien him a deadly whack.
But for a' sae wounded as Earl Bran was,
He has set his lady on her horse.
They rode till they came to the water o Doune,
And then he alighted to wash his wounds.
'O Earl Bran, I see your heart's blood!'
'T is but the gleat o my scarlet hood.'
They rode till they came to his mother's gate,
And sae rudely as he rapped at it.
'O my son's slain, my son's put down,
And a' for the sake of an English loun.'
'O say not sae, my dear mother,
But marry her to my youngest brother.
  *   *   *   *   *
'This has not been the death o ane,
But it's been that of fair seventeen.'
  *   *   *   *   *


Scott's Minstrelsy, III, 246, ed. 1803; III, 6, ed. 1833: the copy principally used supplied by Mr Sharpe, the three last stanzas from a penny pamphlet and from tradition.

'Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas,' she says,
'And put on your armour so bright;
Let it never be said that a daughter of thine
Was married to a lord under night.
'Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,
And put on your armour so bright,
And take better care of your youngest sister,
For your eldest's awa the last night.'
He's mounted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And lightly they rode away.
Lord William lookit oer his left shoulder,
To see what he could see,
And there he spy'd her seven brethren bold,
Come riding over the lee.
[Pg 101]
'Light down, light down, Lady Margret,' he said,
'And hold my steed in your hand,
Until that against your seven brethren bold,
And your father, I mak a stand.'
She held his steed in her milk-white hand,
And never shed one tear,
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa,
And her father hard fighting, who lovd her so dear.
'O hold your hand, Lord William!' she said,
'For your strokes they are wondrous sair;
True lovers I can get many a ane,
But a father I can never get mair.'
O she's taen out her handkerchief,
It was o the holland sae fine,
And aye she dighted her father's bloody wounds,
That were redder than the wine.
'O chuse, O chuse, Lady Margret,' he said,
'O whether will ye gang or bide?'
'I'll gang, I'll gang, Lord William,' she said,
'For ye have left me no other guide.'
He's lifted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And slowly they baith rade away.
O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they came to yon wan water,
And there they lighted down.
They lighted down to tak a drink
Of the spring that ran sae clear,
And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood,
And sair she gan to fear.
'Hold up, hold up, Lord William,' she says,
'For I fear that you are slain;'
''T is naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak,
That shines in the water sae plain.'
O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they cam to his mother's ha door,
And there they lighted down.
'Get up, get up, lady mother,' he says,
'Get up, and let me in!
Get up, get up, lady mother,' he says,
'For this night my fair lady I've win.
'O mak my bed, lady mother,' he says,
'O mak it braid and deep,
And lay Lady Margret close at my back,
And the sounder I will sleep.'
Lord William was dead lang ere midnight,
Lady Margret lang ere day,
And all true lovers that go thegither,
May they have mair luck than they!
Lord William was buried in St. Mary's kirk,
Lady Margret in Mary's quire;
Out o the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose,
And out o the knight's a briar.
And they twa met, and they twa plat,
And fain they wad be near;
And a' the warld might ken right weel
They were twa lovers dear.
But bye and rade the Black Douglas,
And wow but he was rough!
For he pulld up the bonny brier,
And flang't in St. Mary's Loch.


Motherwell's MS., p. 502. From the recitation of Mrs Notman.

'Rise up, rise up, my seven brave sons,
And dress in your armour so bright;
Earl Douglas will hae Lady Margaret awa
Before that it be light.
'Arise, arise, my seven brave sons,
And dress in your armour so bright;
It shall never be said that a daughter of mine
Shall go with an earl or a knight.'
'O will ye stand, fair Margaret,' he says,
'And hold my milk-white steed,
[Pg 102] Till I fight your father and seven brethren,
In yonder pleasant mead?'
She stood and held his milk-white steed,
She stood trembling with fear,
Until she saw her seven brethren fall,
And her father that loved her dear.
'Hold your hand, Earl Douglas,' she says,
'Your strokes are wonderous sair;
I may get sweethearts again enew,
But a father I'll ne'er get mair.'
She took out a handkerchief
Was made o' the cambrick fine,
And aye she wiped her father's bloody wounds,
And the blood sprung up like wine.
'Will ye go, fair Margaret?' he said,
'Will ye now go, or bide?'
'Yes, I'll go, sweet William,' she said,
'For ye've left me never a guide.
'If I were to go to my mother's house,
A welcome guest I would be;
But for the bloody deed that's done this day
I'll rather go with thee.'
He lifted her on a milk-white steed
And himself on a dapple gray;
They drew their hats out over their face,
And they both went weeping away.
They rode, they rode, and they better rode,
Till they came to yon water wan;
They lighted down to gie their horse a drink
Out of the running stream.
'I am afraid, Earl Douglas.' she said,
'I am afraid ye are slain;
I think I see your bonny heart's blood
Running down the water wan.'
'Oh no, oh no, fair Margaret,' he said,
'Oh no, I am not slain;
It is but the scad of my scarlet cloak
Runs down the water wan.'
He mounted her on a milk-white steed
And himself on a dapple gray,
And they have reached Earl Douglas' gates
Before the break of day.
'O rise, dear mother, and make my bed,
And make it braid and wide,
And lay me down to take my rest,
And at my back my bride.'
She has risen and made his bed,
She made it braid and wide;
She laid him down to take his rest,
And at his back his bride.
Lord William died ere it was day,
Lady Margaret on the morrow;
Lord William died through loss of blood and wounds,
Fair Margaret died with sorrow.
The one was buried in Mary's kirk,
The other in Mary's quire;
The one sprung up a bonnie bush,
And the other a bonny brier.
These twa grew, and these twa threw,
Till they came to the top,
And when they could na farther gae,
They coost the lovers' knot.


Kinloch MSS, I, 327.

'Sleepst thou or wakst thou, Lord Montgomerie,
Sleepst thou or wakst thou, I say?
Rise up, make a match for your eldest daughter,
For the youngest I carry away.'
'Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,
Dress yourselves in the armour sae fine;
For it ne'er shall be said that a churlish knight
Eer married a daughter of mine.'
  *   *   *   *   *
'Loup aff, loup aff, Lady Margaret,' he said,
'And hold my steed in your hand,
And I will go fight your seven brethren,
And your father, where they stand.'
Sometimes she gaed, sometimes she stood,
But never dropt a tear,
Until she saw her brethren all slain
And her father who lovd her so dear.
[Pg 103]
'Hold thy hand, sweet William,' she says,
'Thy blows are wondrous sore;
Sweethearts I may have many a one,
But a father I'll never have more.'
O she's taken her napkin frae her pocket,
Was made o the holland fine,
And ay as she dichted her father's bloody wounds,
They sprang as red as the wine.
'Two chooses, two chooses, Lady Margret,' he says,
'Two chooses I'll make thee;
Whether to go back to your mother again,
Or go along with me.'
'For to go home to my mother again,
An unwelcome guest I'd be;
But since my fate has ordered it so,
I'll go along with thee.'
He has mounted her on a milk-white steed,
Himself on the dapple gray,
And blawn his horn baith loud and shill,
And it sounded far on their way.
They rode oer hill, they rode oer dale,
They rode oer mountains so high,
Until they came to that beautiful place
Where Sir William's mother did lie.
'Rise up, rise up, lady mother,' he said,
'Rise up, and make much o your own;
Rise up, rise up, lady mother,' he said,
'For his bride's just new come home.'
Sir William he died in the middle o the night,
Lady Margaret died on the morrow;
Sir William he died of pure pure love,
Lady Margaret of grief and sorrow.


Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 180. From recitation.

He has lookit over his left shoulder,
And through his bonnie bridle rein,
And he spy'd her father and her seven bold brethren,
Come riding down the glen.
'O hold my horse, Lady Margret,' he said,
'O hold my horse by the bonnie bridle rein,
Till I fight your father and seven bold brethren,
As they come riding down the glen.'
Some time she rade, and some time she gaed,
Till she that place did near,
And there she spy'd her seven bold brethren slain,
And her father who loved her so dear.
'O hold your hand, sweet William,' she said,
'Your bull baits are wondrous sair;
Sweet-hearts I may get many a one,
But a father I will never get mair.'
She has taken a napkin from off her neck,
That was of the cambrick so fine,
And aye as she wiped her father's bloody wounds,
The blood ran red as the wine.
  *   *   *   *   *
He set her upon the milk-white steed,
Himself upon the brown;
He took a horn out of his pocket,
And they both went weeping along.


Percy MS., p. 57; ed. Hales and Furnivall, I, 133.

 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Sayes 'Christ thee saue, good Child of Ell!
Christ saue thee and thy steede!
'My father sayes he will [eat] noe meate,
Nor his drinke shall doe him noe good,
Till he haue slaine the Child of Ell,
And haue seene his harts blood.'
'I wold I were in my sadle sett,
And a mile out of the towne;
[Pg 104] I did not care for your father
And all his merry men!
'I wold I were in my sadle sett,
And a little space him froe;
I did not care for your father
And all that long him to!'
He leaned ore his saddle bow
To kisse this lady good;
The teares that went them two betweene
Were blend water and blood.
He sett himselfe on one good steed,
This lady on a palfray,
And sett his litle horne to his mouth,
And roundlie he rode away.
He had not ridden past a mile,
A mile out of the towne,
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Her father was readye with her seuen brether,
He said, 'Sett thou my daughter downe!
For it ill beseemes thee, thou false churles sonne,
To carry her forth of this towne!'
'But lowd thou lyest, Sir Iohn the knight,
Thou now doest lye of me;
A knight me gott, and a lady me bore;
Soe neuer did none by thee.
'But light now downe, my lady gay,
Light downe and hold my horsse,
Whilest I and your father and your brether
Doe play vs at this crosse.
'But light now downe, my owne trew loue,
And meeklye hold my steede,
Whilest your father [and your seuen brether] bold
  *   *   *   *   *

A. a, b.

Obtained from recitation "many years ago" wrote Mr White in 1873, by James Telfer, of Laughtree Liddesdale, in some part of the neighboring country: the copy has the date 1818. c is said by the editor to have been taken down from the recitation of an old fiddler in Northumberland, but when and by whom he does not tell us. The three are clearly more or less "corrected" copies of the same original, c having suffered most from arbitrary changes. Alterations for rhyme's sake, or for propriety's, that are written above the lines or in the margin of a 2, 5, 8, 19, are adopted in c without advertisement.

Burden. b. I the brave night sae early:

c. I the brave nights so early:

d. I (or O) the life o the one, the randy.

11. c. Brand, and always in c.

12. a. daughters.

b. He's courted.

21. c. years that tide; that tide is written over of age in a.

22. c. When sae.

42. c. But thou.

52. b. best o these.

c. best of tho. of tho is written over o them a in a.

62. b, c. have met.

71. c. Till at last they met.

72. c. He's aye for ill and never.

81. b. O Earl Bran.

c. Now Earl Brand. Now in the margin of a.

82. b, c. Slay this.

92. b. man that wears.

c. carl that wears, carl ... wears written over man ... has in a.

10. b.
O lady fair, I'll no do that,
I'll pay him penny, let him be jobbing at.
My own lady fair, I'll not do that,
I'll pay him his fee

112. b. where have stoln this fair.

  c. And where have ye stown this fair.

13. b.
She is my sick sister,
Which I newly brought from Winchester.
For she is, I trow, my sick sister,
Whom I have been bringing fra Winchester.

141. c. nigh to dead.

2. b, c. What makes her wear.

151. c. If she's been.

2. b, c. What makes her wear the gold sae high.

161. c. When came the carl to the lady's yett.

2. b. rapped at.

c. He rudely, rudely rapped thereat.

172. b. maids playen.

c. a playing.

d. She's out with the fair maids playing at the ball.

[Pg 105]

181. b. mistkane (?): 2. b, c. Ye may count.

b2. young Earl.

19. c.
I met her far beyond the lea
With the young Earl Brand, his leman to be:

In a lea is written over moor, and With the young, etc., stands as a "correction."

20. b.
Her father, etc.,
And they have riden after them.
Her father of his best men armed fifteen,
And they're ridden after them bidene.

211. b, c. The lady looket [looked] over [owre] her left shoulder then.

221. b, c. If they come on me one by one,

2. b. Ye may stand by and see them fall.

c. You may stand by till the fights be done.

d. Then I will slay them every one.

231. b. all in all.

d. all and all.

2. d. Then you will see me the sooner fall.

2. b. has slain.

24 c.
They came upon him one by one,
Till fourteen battles he has won.
And fourteen men he has them slain,
Each after each upon the plain.
25. c.
But the fifteenth man behind stole round,
And dealt him a deep and a deadly wound.
26. c.
Though he was wounded to the deid,
He set his lady on her steed.

271. c. river Donne:

2. b. And he lighted down.

c. And there they lighted to wash his wound.

282. b. It's but the glent.

c. It's nothing but the glent and my scarlet hood.

291. c. yett.

292. b. Sae ruddly as he rappet at.

c. So faint and feebly he rapped thereat.

301. b. O my son's slain and cut down.

c. O my son's slain, he is falling to swoon.

32. b.
... death of only one,
But it's been the death of fair seventeen.

Instead of 32, c has:

To a maiden true he'll give his hand,
To the king's daughter o fair England,
To a prize that was won by a slain brother's brand.


3. A stanza resembling this is found in Beaumont and Fletcher's 'Knight of the Burning Pestle' (1611), Dyce, II, 172, but may belong to some other ballad, as 'The Knight and Shepherd's Daughter:'

He set her on a milk-white steed,
And himself upon a grey;
He never turned his face again,
But he bore her quite away.

84. ware.

181. Marie.

204. flang'd.


123. MS. scâd.


10. The following stanza, superscribed "Mrs Lindores, Kelso," was found among Mr Kinlock's papers, and was inserted at I, 331, of the Kinlock MSS. It may be a first recollection of D 10, but is more likely to be another version:

'We raid over hill and we raid over dale,
And we raid over mountains sae high,
Until we cam in sicht o yon bonnie castle bowr
Whare Sir William Arthur did lie.'


5-6. "Two stanzas are here omitted, in which Lord William offers her the choice of returning to her mother, or of accompanying him; and the ballad concludes with this [the 6th] stanza, which is twice repeated in singing." Motherwell's preface.


34. MS. merrymen.

62. of one palfray.

7, 8 are written in one stanza. Half a page, or about nine stanzas, is gone after st. 11.

[Pg 106]


[107] 'Erlinton,' though not existing in a two-line stanza, follows immediately after 'Earl Brand.' The copy of 'The Douglas Tragedy' in Smith's Scottish Minstrel, III, 86, is merely Scott's, with changes to facilitate singing.

[108] B*, III, 853, a fragment of five stanzas, has been dropped by Grundtvig from No 82, and assigned to No 249. See D. g. F. IV, 494.

[109] Though the paradise has not been transmitted in any known copy of 'Earl Brand,' it appears very distinctly in the opening stanza of 'Leesome Brand' A. This last has several stanzas towards the close (33-35) which seem to belong to 'Earl Brand,' and perhaps derived these, the "unco land," and even its name, by the familiar process of intermixture of traditions.

[110] See No 5, pp. 64, 65, 66.

[111] Compare vv 49-56, "Wilt thou ride to them, or wilt thou fight with them, or wilt thou stand by thy love, sword in hand?" "I will not ride to them, I will not fight with them [i. e., begin the fight], but I will stand by my love, sword in hand," with Norwegian A, 29, 30: "Shall we ride to the wood, or shall we bide like men?" "We will not ride to the wood, but we will bide like men." And also with Danish Æ, sts 14, 15.

[112] The chief branches, besides the Helgi lay and Walter, are the saga in Snorri's Edda, Skáldskaparmal, § 50; that in Saxo Grammaticus, Stephanius, ed. 1644, pp. 88-90; Sörla þáttr, in Fornaldar Sögur, I, 391 ff; the Shetland ballad printed in Low's Tour through the Islands of Orkney and Shetland, 108 ff, and in Barry's History of the Orkney Islands, 2d ed., 489 ff, and paraphrased in Hibbert's Description of the Shetland Islands, 561 ff; the Thidrik saga, §§ 233-239, Unger; Gudrun, v-viii. The names of father, daughter, and lover in these are: (1) Hügni, ——, Högni, Högin-, Högni, ——, [Artus], Hagen; (2) [Sigrún], Hilde-gunde, Hildr, Hilda, Hildr, Hildina, Hildr, Hilde; (3) Helgi, [Walter], Hedin, Hithin-, Hedin, ----, [Herburt], Hetel. Hagan, in 'Waltharius,' may be said to take the place of the father, who is wanting; and this is in a measure true also of Hedin, Helgi's half-brother, in the lay of Helgi Hiörvard's son. See the excellent discussion of the saga by Klee, Zur Hildesage, Leipzig, 1873.

The Swedish ballad, 'Herr Hjelmer,' A, Arwidsson, I, 155, No 21; B, C, Afzelius, II, 178, 226, No 74 (Helmer); D, E. Wigström, Folkdiktning, p. 25, No 10 (Hjelman), has several points of agreement with Ribold and the Hilde saga. The hero kills six of seven brothers [also the father, in A], spares the seventh on oath of fidelity, and is treacherously slain by him. The youngest brother carries her lover's head to his sister, is invited to drink by her (in three of the four copies), and slain while so engaged; reminding us of Hildina in the Shetland ballad. Danish 'Herr Hjælm,' Grundtvig, Danske Folkeminder, 1861, p. 81, agrees with the Swedish, except that there are only three brothers.

[113] Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar, ed. Grundtvig, 42-44, Ribold og Guldborg, A 33, 34, B 46, D 46, 47, E 42, Q 24. The observation is Professor Bugge's.

[114] Höttr, er Óðinn var reyndar, Hood, who was Odin really, Fornaldar Sögur, II, p. 25. Klee observes, p. 10 f, that Högni [Hagen] is the evil genius of the Hildesage. Sometimes he is the heroine's father; in 'Waltharius,' strangely enough, the hero's old friend (and even there a one-eyed man.) Klee treats the introduction of a rival lover (as in the Shetland ballad and Gudrun) as a departure from the older story. But we have the rival in Helgi Hundingslayer. The proper marplot in this lay is Blind the Ill-witted (Odin), whose part is sustained in 'Earl Brand' by the malicious Hood, in several Norwegian ballads by a very enigmatical "false Pál greive," in two other Norwegian ballads and one Danish by an old man, and, what is most remarkable, in the Shetland ballad by the rejected lover of Hildina (the Sir Nilaus of Danish D, Hertug Nilssón of some Norwegian copies), who bears the name Hiluge, interpreted with great probability by Conrad Hofmann (Munich Sitzungsberichte, 1867, II, 209, note), Illhugi, der Bössinnige, evil-minded (Icelandic íllhugaðr, ílluðigr.)

[115] Inimicitias Othinus serit, Saxo, p. 142, ed. 1644. See Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, I, 120, note 2, III, 56, new ed., for Odin's bad points, though some of Grimm's interpretations might now be objected to.

[116] Et de la tombe de monseigneur Tristan yssoit une ronce belle et verte et bien feuilleue, qui alloit par dessus la chapelle, et descendoit le bout de la ronce sur la tombe de la royne Yseult, et entroit dedans. La virent les gens du pays et la comptèrent au roy Marc. Le roy la fist couper par troys foys, et quant il l'avoit le jour fait couper, le lendemain estoit aussi belle comme avoit aultre fois esté. Fol. cxxiv as cited by Braga, Rom. Ger., p. 185.


A. 'Erlinton,' Scott's Minstrelsy, III, 235, ed. 1803.

B. 'True Tammas,' Mr R. White's papers.

C. 'Robin Hood and the Tanner's Daughter,' Gutch's Robin Hood, II, 345.

'Erlinton' (A) first appeared in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, the text formed "from the collation of two copies obtained from recitation." B is a manuscript copy, furnished by the late Mr Robert White of Newcastle, and was probably taken down from recitation by Mr James Telfer early in the century. C, in which Robin Hood has taken the place of a hero who had at least connections out of Great Britain, was first printed in Gutch's Robin Hood, from a manuscript of Mr Payne Collier, supposed to have been written about 1650.

This ballad has only with much hesitation been separated from the foregoing. In this as in that, a man induces a maid to go off with him; he is set upon by a party of fifteen in A, B, as in 7 A; and he spares the life of one of his assailants [an old man, A, B, the younger brother, C]. Some agreements as to details with Scandinavian Ribold ballads have already been noticed, and it has been observed that while there is no vestige of the dead-naming in 'Earl Brand,' there is an obvious trace of it in 'Erlinton' A, B. 'Erlinton' A, B has also one other correspondence not found in 'Earl Brand,'—the strict watch kept over the lady (st. 2). Even the bigly bower, expressly built to confine her in, is very likely a reminiscence or a displacement of the tower in which Hilde is shut up, after her elopement, in some of the Scandinavian ballads (Danish 83 A, B; Swedish A, dark house). But notwithstanding these resemblances to the Ribold story, there is a difference in the larger part of the details, and all the 'Erlinton' ballads have a fortunate conclusion, which also does not seem forced, as it does in Arwidsson, 107, the only instance, perhaps, in which a fortunate conclusion in a Ribold ballad is of the least account; for Grundtvig's F, G are manifestly copies that have been tampered with, and Landstad 34 is greatly confused at the close. It may be an absolute accident, but 'Erlinton' A, B has at least one point of contact with the story of Walter of Aquitania which is not found in 'Earl Brand.' This story requires to be given in brief on account of its kinship to both.

Walter, with his betrothed Hildegunde, fly from the court of Attila, at which they have both lived as hostages since their childhood, taking with them two boxes of jewels. Gunther, king of Worms, learns that a knight and lady, with a richly-laden horse, have passed the Rhine, and sets out in pursuit, with twelve of his best fighting men, resolved to capture the treasure. The fugitives, after a very long ride, make a halt in a forest, and Walter goes to sleep with his head on Hildegunde's knees. The lady meanwhile keeps watch, and rouses her lover when she perceives by the dust they raise that horsemen are approaching. Gunther sends one of his knights with a message demanding the surrender of the treasure. Walter scornfully refuses, but expresses a willingness to make the king a present of a hundred bracelets, or rings, of red gold, in token of his respect. The messenger is sent back with directions to take the treasure by force, if it should be refused again. Walter, having vainly offered a present of two hundred bracelets to avoid a conflict, is attacked by the knight, whom he slays. Ten others go the way of this first, and only the king and one of his troop, Hagen, a very distinguished knight and an old comrade of Walter, remain. These now attack Walter; the combat is long[Pg 107] and fierce; all three are seriously wounded, and finally so exhausted as to be forced to cease fighting. Walter and Hagen enter into a friendly talk while refreshing themselves with wine, and in the end Gunther[117] is put on a horse and conducted home by Hagen, while Walter and Hildegunde continue their journey to Aquitania. There they were married and ruled thirty happy years. ('Waltharius,' ed. R. Peiper, 1873.)

The particular resemblances of 'Erlinton' A, B to 'Walter' are that the assailants are "bold knights," or "bravest outlaws," not the lady's kinsmen; that there are two parleys before the fight; and that the hero survives the fight and goes off with his love. The utmost that could be insisted on is that some features of the story of Walter have been blended in the course of tradition with the kindred story of Ribold. 'Erlinton' C is much less like 'Walter,' and more like 'Ribold.'

The 'Sultan's Fair Daughter,' translated by Aigner, Ungarische Volksdichtungen, p. 93, 2d ed., has perhaps derived something from the Walter story. Two Magyars escape from the Sultan's prison by the aid of his daughter, under promise of taking her to Hungary. She often looks backwards, fearing pursuit. At last a large band overtake them. One of the Magyars guards the lady; the other assaults the Turks, of whom he leaves only one alive, to carry back information. One of the two has a love at home; the other takes the Sultan's daughter.

'Erlinton' is translated by Rosa Warrens, Schottische Volkslieder, No 24, and by Karl Knortz, Schottische Balladen, No 12.


Scott's Minstrelsy, III, 235, ed. 1803; ed. 1833, II, 353. Made up from two copies obtained from recitation.

Erlinton had a fair daughter;
I wat he weird her in a great sin;
For he has built a bigly bower,
An a' to put that lady in.
An he has warnd her sisters six,
An sae has he her brethren se'en,
Outher to watch her a' the night,
Or else to seek her morn an een.
She hadna been i that bigly bower
Na not a night but barely ane,
Till there was Willie, her ain true love,
Chappd at the door, cryin 'Peace within!'
'O whae is this at my bower door,
That chaps sae late, nor kens the gin?'
'O it is Willie, your ain true love,
I pray you rise an let me in!'
'But in my bower there is a wake,
An at the wake there is a wane;
But I'll come to the green-wood the morn,
Whar blooms the brier, by mornin dawn.'
Then she's gane to her bed again,
Where she has layen till the cock crew thrice,
Then she said to her sisters a',
'Maidens, 't is time for us to rise.'
She pat on her back her silken gown,
An on her breast a siller pin,
An she's tane a sister in ilka hand,
An to the green-wood she is gane.
She hadna walkd in the green-wood
Na not a mile but barely ane,
Till there was Willie, her ain true love,
Whae frae her sisters has her taen.
He took her sisters by the hand,
He kissd them baith, an sent them hame,
[Pg 108] An he's taen his true love him behind,
And through the green-wood they are gane.
They hadna ridden in the bonnie green-wood
Na not a mile but barely ane,
When there came fifteen o the boldest knights
That ever bare flesh, blood, or bane.
The foremost was an aged knight,
He wore the grey hair on his chin:
Says, 'Yield to me thy lady bright,
An thou shalt walk the woods within.'
'For me to yield my lady bright
To such an aged knight as thee,
People wad think I war gane mad,
Or a' the courage flown frae me.'
But up then spake the second knight,
I wat he spake right boustouslie:
'Yield me thy life, or thy lady bright,
Or here the tane of us shall die.'
'My lady is my warld's meed;
My life I winna yield to nane;
But if ye be men of your manhead,
Ye'll only fight me ane by ane.'
He lighted aff his milk-white steed,
An gae his lady him by the head,
Sayn, 'See ye dinna change your cheer,
Untill ye see my body bleed.'
He set his back unto an aik,
He set his feet against a stane,
An he has fought these fifteen men,
An killd them a' but barely ane.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
For he has left that aged knight.
An a' to carry the tidings hame.
When he gaed to his lady fair,
I wat he kissd her tenderlie:
'Thou art mine ain love, I have thee bought;
Now we shall walk the green-wood free.'


MS. of Robert White, Esq., of Newcastle, from James Telfer's collection.

There was a knight, an he had a daughter,
An he wad wed her, wi muckle sin;
Sae he has biggit a bonnie bower, love,
An a' to keep his fair daughter in.
But she hadna been in the bonnie bower, love,
And no twa hours but barely ane,
Till up started Tammas, her ain true lover,
And O sae fain as he wad been in.
'For a' sae weel as I like ye, Tammas,
An for a' sae weel as I like the gin,
I wadna for ten thousand pounds, love,
Na no this night wad I let thee in.
'But yonder is a bonnie greenwud,
An in the greenwud there is a wauk,
An I'll be there an sune the morn, love,
It's a' for my true love's sake.
'On my right hand I'll have a glove, love,
An on my left are I'll have nane;
I'll have wi' me my sisters six, love,
An we will wauk the wuds our lane.'
They hadna waukd in the bonnie greenwud,
Na no an hour but barely ane,
Till up start Tammas, her ain true lover,
He's taen her sisters her frae mang.
An he has kissed her sisters six, love,
An he has sent them hame again,
But he has keepit his ain true lover,
Saying, 'We will wauk the wuds our lane.'
They hadna waukd in the bonnie greenwud
Na no an hour but barely ane,
Till up start fifteen o the bravest outlaws
That ever bure either breath or bane.
An up bespake the foremost man, love,
An O but he spake angrily:
'Either your life—or your lady fair, sir,
This night shall wauk the wuds wi me.'
[Pg 109]
'My lady fair, O I like her weel, sir,
An O my life, but it lies me near!
But before I lose my lady fair, sir,
I'll rather lose my life sae dear.'
Then up bespak the second man, love,
An aye he spake mair angrily,
Saying, 'Baith your life, and your lady fair, sir,
This night shall wauk the wuds wi me.'
'My lady fair, O I like her weel, sir,
An O my life, but it lies me near!
But before I lose my lady fair, sir,
I'll rather lose my life sae dear.
'But if ye'll be men to your manhood,
As that I will be unto mine,
I'll fight ye every ane man by man,
Till the last drop's blude I hae be slain.
'O sit ye down, my dearest dearie,
Sit down and hold my noble steed,
And see that ye never change your cheer
Until ye see my body bleed.'
He's feughten a' the fifteen outlaws,
The fifteen outlaws every ane,
He's left naething but the auldest man
To go and carry the tidings hame.
An he has gane to his dearest dear,
An he has kissed her, cheek and chin,
Saying, 'Thou art mine ain, I have bought thee dear,
An we will wauk the wuds our lane.'


Gutch's Robin Hood, II, 345, from a MS. of Mr. Payne Collier's, supposed to have been written about 1650.

As Robin Hood sat by a tree,
He espied a prettie may,
And when she chanced him to see,
She turnd her head away.
'O feare me not, thou prettie mayde,
And doe not flie from mee;
I am the kindest man,' he said,
'That ever eye did see.'
Then to her he did doffe his cap,
And to her lowted low;
'To meete with thee I hold it good hap,
If thou wilt not say noe.'
Then he put his hand around her waste,
Soe small, so tight, and trim,
And after sought her lip to taste,
And she to kissed him.
'Where dost thou dwell, my prettie maide?
I prithee tell to me;'
'I am a tanner's daughter,' she said,
'John Hobbes of Barneslee.'
'And whither goest thou, pretty maide?
Shall I be thy true love?'
If thou art not afeard,' she said,
'My true love thou shalt prove.'
'What should I feare?' then he replied;
'I am thy true love now;'
'I have two brethren, and their pride
Would scorn such one as thou.'
'That will we try,' quoth Robin Hood;
'I was not made their scorne;
Ile shed my blood to doe the[e] good,
As sure as they were borne.'
'My brothers are proude and fierce and strong;'
'I am,' said he, 'the same,
And if they offer thee to wrong,
Theyle finde Ile play their game.
'Through the free forrest I can run,
The king may not controll;
They are but barking tanners' sons,
To me they shall pay toll.
'And if not mine be sheepe and kine,
I have cattle on my land;
On venison eche day I may dine,
Whiles they have none in hand.'
These wordes had Robin Hood scarce spoke,
When they two men did see,
Come riding till their horses smoke:
'My brothers both,' cried shee.
[Pg 110]
Each had a good sword by his side,
And furiouslie they rode
To where they Robin Hood espied,
That with the maiden stood.
'Flee hence, flee hence, away with speede!'
Cried she to Robin Hood,
'For if thou stay, thoult surely bleede;
I could not see thy blood.'
'With us, false maiden, come away,
And leave that outlawe bolde;
Why fledst thou from thy home this day,
And left thy father olde?'
Robin stept backe but paces five,
Unto a sturdie tree;
'Ile fight whiles I am left alive;
Stay thou, sweete maide, with mee.'
He stood before, she stoode behinde,
The brothers two drewe nie;
'Our sister now to us resign,
Or thou full sure shalt die.'
Then cried the maide, 'My brethren deare,
With ye Ile freely wend,
But harm not this young forrester,
Noe ill doth he pretend.'
'Stande up, sweete maide, I plight my troth;
Fall thou not on thy knee;
Ile force thy cruell brothers both
To bend the knee to thee.
'Stand thou behinde this sturdie oke,
I soone will quell their pride;
Thoult see my sword with furie smoke,
And in their hearts' blood died.'
He set his backe against a tree,
His foote against a stone;
The first blow that he gave so free
Cleft one man to the bone.
The tanners bold they fought right well,
And it was one to two;
But Robin did them both refell,
All in the damsell's viewe.
The red blood ran from Robins brow,
All downe unto his knee;
'O holde your handes, my brethren now,
I will goe backe with yee.'
'Stand backe, stand backe, my pretty maide,
Stand backe and let me fight;
By sweete St. James be no[t] afraide
But I will it requite.'
Then Robin did his sword uplift,
And let it fall againe;
The oldest brothers head it cleft,
Right through unto his braine.
'O hold thy hand, bolde forrester,
Or ill may thee betide;
Slay not my youngest brother here,
He is my father's pride.'
'Away, for I would scorne to owe,
My life to the[e], false maide!'
The youngest cried, and aimd a blow
That lit on Robin's head.
Then Robin leand against the tree,
His life nie gone did seeme;
His eyes did swim, he could not see
The maiden start betweene.
It was not long ere Robin Hood
Could welde his sword so bright;
Upon his feete he firmly stood,
And did renew the fight.
Untill the tanner scarce could heave
His weapon in the aire;
But Robin would not him bereave
Of life, and left him there.
Then to the greenewood did he fly,
And with him went the maide;
For him she vowd that she would dye,
He'd live for her, he said.


42. Ed. 1833 has or kens.


12. If A 12 be right, gross injustice is done the father by changing I wat he weird her into he wad wed her. One of the two is a singular corruption.

There is another copy of B among Mr White's[Pg 111] papers, with the title 'Sir Thamas,' which I have no doubt has been "revised," whether by Telfer, or by Mr White himself, it is impossible to say. The principal variations are here given, that others may be satisfied.

12. wed her mang his ain kin.

14. this fair.

23. Till up cam Thamas her only true love.

32. O tirl nae langer at the pin.

33. I wadna for a hundred pounds, love.

34. can I.

43. fu soon.

44. And by oursels we twa can talk.

I'll hae a glove on my right hand, love,
And on my left I shall hae nane.
Beyond an hour, or scarcely twa,
When up rode Thamas, her only true love,
And he has tane her frae mang them a'.

71. He kissed her sisters, a' the six, love.

73. his winsome true love.

74. That they might walk.

81. didna walk.

Beyond two hours, or barely three,
Till up cam seven[118] stalwart outlaws,
The bauldest fellows that ane could see.

98. We'll take your life, for this lady fair, sir.

101. My lady's fair, I like her weel, sir.

And he spak still mair furiously;
'Flee, or we'll kill ye, because your lady.
'My lady fair, I shall part na frae thee,
And for my life, I did never fear;
Sae before I lose my winsome lady,
My life I'll venture for ane sae dear.
'But if ye're a' true to your manhood,
As I shall try to be true to mine,
I'll fight ye a', come man by man then,
Till the last drop o my bloud I tine.'

142. my bridled steed.

143. And mind ye never change your colour.

He fought against the seven outlaws,
And he has beat them a' himsel;
But he left the auldest man amang them
That he might gae and the tidings tell.
Then he has gane to his dearest dearie,
And he has kissed her oer and oer;
'Though thou art mine, I hae bought thee dearly,
Now we shall sunder never more.'


11. Robinhood, and so always.

31. After this: Finis, T. Fleming.


[117] Gunther, as well remarked by Klee, 'Zur Hildesage,' p. 19, cannot have belonged originally to the Hildegunde saga. No sufficient motive is furnished for introducing him. In the Polish version of the story there is only one pursuer, Arinoldus, whom Walter slays. Rischka, Verhältniss der polnischen Sage von Walgierz Wdaly zu den deutschen Sagen von W. v. Aquitanien, p. 8 ff.

[118] "The original ballad had fifteen. Seven would do as well, and the latter number would seem more nearly to resemble the truth."


A. a. Deloney's 'Jack of Newbury,' reprint of 1859, p. 61. b. 'The Ungrateful Knight and the Fair Flower of Northumberland,' Ritson's Ancient Songs, 1790, p. 169.

B. a. Kinloch MSS, V, 49. b. 'The Provost's Dochter,' Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 131.

C. 'The Betrayed Lady.' a. Buchan's MSS, II, 166. b. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 208.

D. Motherwell's MS., p. 102.

E. 'The Flower of Northumberland,' Mr Robert White's papers.

The earliest copy of this ballad is introduced as 'The Maidens' Song,'[119] in Deloney's Pleasant History of John Winchcomb, in his younger yeares called Jacke of Newberie, a book written as early as 1597. Mr Halliwell reprinted the "9th" edition, of the date 1633,[120] in 1859, and the ballad is found at p. 61 of the reprint (A). The copy in Ritson's Ancient Songs, 1790, p. 169, has a few variations, which are probably to be explained by Ritson having used some other edition of Deloney. Ritson's text is used in The Border[Pg 112]er's Table Book, VI, 25, and was taken thence into Sheldon's Minstrelsy of the English Border, with some arbitrary alterations. The ballad was formerly popular in Scotland. Kinloch and Buchan printed B and C with some slight changes; the texts are now given as they stand in the manuscripts. E, a traditional version from the English border, has unfortunately been improved by some literary pen.

An English lady is prevailed upon to release a Scot from prison, and to fly with him, on the promise of being made his wife, and (A) lady of castles and towers. She takes much gold with her (A), and a swift steed (two, A). According to A they come to a rough river; the lady is alarmed, but swims it, and is wet from top to toe. On coming within sight of Edinburgh, the faithless knight bids her choose whether she will be his paramour or go back: he has wife and children. She begs him to draw his sword and end her shame: he takes her horse away, and leaves her. Two English knights come by, who restore her to her father. The dismissal takes place at the Scottish cross and moor in B; at a moor and a moss, C; at Scotland bridge, D; at a fair Scottish cross, E. She offers to be servant in his kitchen rather than go back, B, C, E; begs him to throw her into the water, D; from his castle wall, E. He fees an old man to take her home on an old horse, B, E.

We do not find the whole of this story repeated among other European nations, but there are interesting agreements in parts with Scandinavian, Polish, and German ballads.

There is some resemblance in the first half to a pretty ballad of the northern nations which treats in a brief way the theme of our exquisite romance of 'The Nutbrown Maid:' Danish, 'Den Trofaste Jomfru,' Grundtvig, No 249, IV, 494, nine copies, A-I, the first three from 16th or 17th century manuscripts, the others from tradition of this century, as are also the following: K-M, 'Den Fredløse,' Kristensen, II, 191, No 57: Swedish, 'De sju Gullbergen,' A, Afzelius, No 79, III, 71, new ed., No 64, I, 322; B, C, Grundtvig, IV, 507 f: Norwegian A, 'Herre Per og stolt Margit,' Landstad, No 74, p. 590; B, 'Herr' Nikelus,' Landstad, No 75, p. 594.[121] All tell very much the same tale. A knight carries off a maid on his horse, making her magnificent promises, among which are eight gold castles, Dan. C, D, E, H, I; one, K, L, M; eight, Norw. A; nine, Norw. B; seven, Swed. B; seven gold mountains, Swed. A, perhaps, by mistake of bergen for borgar[122] She gets her gold together while he is saddling his horse, Dan. A, C, D, F, H, M; Swed. A; Norw. A, B. They come to a sea-strand or other water, it is many miles to the nearest land, Dan. B, D, Swed. A, C; the lady wishes she were at home, Dan. E, F, Swed. B, C. He swims the horse across, Dan. A, B, D, E, F, H, K, L, M; Swed. A, B, C [part of the way, having started in a boat, Norw. A, B]. The maid wrings her clothes, Dan. A, D, K, L; Swed. A; Norw. A, B. She asks, Where are the gold castles which you promised? Dan. C 7, D 14, K 9, L 7, M 8; Norw. A 22, B 16.[123] He tells her that he has no gold castle but this green turf, Dan. C 8; he needs none but the black ground and thick wood, Dan. K 10: he is a penniless, banished man. She offers him her gold to buy him a charter of peace. In all, except Dan. A, B, C, and the incomplete Dan. I, Norw. B, he goes on to say that he has plighted faith to another woman, and she meekly replies, Then I will be your servant. He continues the trial no further, reveals himself as of wealth and rank, says that she shall have ladies to wait on her, and makes her his queen. The knight is king of England in Dan. B, H, King Henry, simply, in Dan. F. The gold castles prove to be realities: there is in Dan. E even one more than was promised.[124]

[Pg 113]

The Polish ballads of the class of 'Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight' (see p. 39 f) have thus much in common with 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland:' a maid is induced to go off with a man on horseback, and takes gold with her; after going a certain distance, he bids her return home; in AA, H, R, he gives her her choice whether to return or to jump into the river; she prefers death (cf. D 3, 5, p. 116); in all they finally come to a river, or other water, into which he throws her.[125]

There is a German ballad which has some slight connection with all the foregoing, and a very slight story it is altogether: 'Stolz Heinrich,' Simrock, No 9, p. 23, 'Stolz Syburg,' Reiffenberg, No 16, p. 32, No 17, p. 34, from the Lower Rhine and Münster; made over, in Kretzschmer, I, 187, No 106. Heinrich, or Syburg, wooes a king's daughter in a distant land. He asks her to go with him, and says he has seven mills in his country. "Tell me what they grind," says Margaret, "and I will go with you." The mills grind sugar and cinnamon, mace and cloves. They come to a green heath. Margaret thinks she sees the mills gleaming: he tells her that a green heath is all he has. "Then God have mercy that I have come so far," she says; draws a sword; kneels before him, and stabs herself.

The ballad of 'Young Andrew,' further on, has points in common with 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland.'

C is translated by Rosa Warrens, Schottische Lieder der Vorzeit, No 31, p. 137.


a. Deloney's Pleasant History of John Winchcomb, 9th ed., London, 1633, reprinted by Halliwell, p. 61. b. Ritson's Ancient Songs, 1790, p. 169.

It was a knight in Scotland borne
Follow, my love, come over the strand
Was taken prisoner, and left forlorne,
Even by the good Earle of Northumberland.
Then was he cast in prison strong,
Where he could not walke nor lie along,
Even by the goode Earle of Northumberland.
And as in sorrow thus he lay,
The Earle's sweete daughter walkt that way,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
And passing by, like an angell bright,
The prisoner had of her a sight,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
And loud to her this knight did crie,
The salt teares standing in his eye,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
'Faire lady,' he said, 'take pity on me,
And let me not in prison dye,
And you the faire flower of Northumberland.'
'Faire Sir, how should I take pity on thee,
Thou being a foe to our countrey,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.'
'Faire lady, I am no foe,' he said,
'Through thy sweet love heere was I stayd,
For thee, the faire flower of Northumberland.'
'Why shouldst thou come heere for love of me,
Having wife and children in thy countrie?
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.'
'I sweare by the blessed Trinitie,
I have no wife nor children, I,
Nor dwelling at home in merrie Scotland.
[Pg 114]
'If curteously you will set me free,
I vow that I will marrie thee,
So soone as I come in faire Scotland.
'Thou shalt be a lady of castles and towers,
And sit like a queene in princely bowers,
When I am at home in faire Scotland.'
Then parted hence this lady gay,
And got her father's ring away,
To helpe this sad knight into faire Scotland.
Likewise much gold she got by sleight,
And all to helpe this forlorne knight
To wend from her father to faire Scotland.
Two gallant steedes, both good and able,
She likewise tooke out of the stable,
To ride with this knight into faire Scotland.
And to the jaylor she sent this ring,
The knight from prison forth to bring,
To wend with her into faire Scotland.
This token set the prisoner free,
Who straight went to this faire lady,
To wend with her into faire Scotland.
A gallant steede he did bestride,
And with the lady away did ride,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
They rode till they came to a water cleare:
'Good Sir, how should I follow you heere,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland?
'The water is rough and wonderfull deepe,
An[d] on my saddle I shall not keepe,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.'
'Feare not the foord, faire lady,' quoth he,
'For long I cannot stay for thee,
And thou the faire flower of Northumberland.'
The lady prickt her wanton steed,
And over the river swom with speede,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
From top to toe all wet was shee:
'This have I done for love of thee,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.'
Thus rode she all one winter's night,
Till Edenborow they saw in sight,
The chiefest towne in all Scotland.
'Now chuse,' quoth he, 'thou wanton flower,
Whe'r thou wilt be my paramour,
Or get thee home to Northumberland.
'For I have wife, and children five,
In Edenborow they be alive;
Then get thee home to faire England.
'This favour shalt thou have to boote,
Ile have thy horse, go thou on foote,
Go, get thee home to Northumberland.'
'O false and faithlesse knight,' quoth shee,
'And canst thou deale so bad with me,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland?
'Dishonour not a ladie's name,
But draw thy sword and end my shame,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.'
He tooke her from her stately steed,
And left her there in extreme need,
And she the faire flower of Northumberland.
Then sate she downe full heavily;
At length two knights came riding by,
Two gallant knights of faire England.
She fell downe humbly on her knee,
Saying, 'Courteous knights, take pittie on me,
And I the faire flower of Northumberland.
'I have offended my father deere,
And by a false knight that brought me heere,
From the good Earle of Northumberland.'
They tooke her up behind them then,
And brought her to her father's againe,
And he the good Earle of Northumberland.
All you faire maidens be warned by me,
Scots were never true, nor never will be,
To lord, nor lady, nor faire England.

[Pg 115]


a. Kinloch MSS, V, 49, in the handwriting of J. Beattie. b. Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 134, from the recitation of Miss E. Beattie.

The provost's daughter went out a walking,
A may's love whiles is easy won
She heard a poor prisoner making his moan,
And she was the fair flower of Northumberland.
'If any lady would borrow me
Out into the prison strong,
I would make her a lady of high degree,
For I am a great lord in fair Scotland.'
She's done her to her father's bed-stock,
A may's love whiles is easy won
She's stolen the keys o many braw lock,
And she's loosd him out o the prison strong.
She's done her to her father's stable,
A may's love whiles is easy won
She's taen out a steed that was both swift and able,
To carry them both to fair Scotland.
O when they came to the Scottish cross,
A may's love whiles is easy won
'Ye brazen-faced whore, light off o my horse,
And go get you back to Northumberland!'
O when they came to the Scottish moor,
A may's love whiles is easy won
'Get off o my horse, you're a brazen-faced whore,
So go get you back to Northumberland!'
'O pity on me, O pity,' said she,
'O that my love was so easy won!
Have pity on me as I had upon thee,
When I loosd you out of the prison strong.'
'O how can I have pity on thee?
O why was your love so easy won!
When I have a wife and children three
More worthy than a' Northumberland.'
'Cook in your kitchen I will be,
O that my love was so easy won!
And serve your lady most reverently,
For I darena go back to Northumberland.'
'Cook in my kitchen you shall not be,
Why was your love so easy won!
For I will have no such servants as thee,
So get you back to Northumberland.'
But laith was he the lassie to tyne,
A may's love whiles is easy won
He's hired an old horse and feed an old man,
To carry her back to Northumberland.
O when she came her father before,
A may's love whiles is easy won
She fell down on her knees so low
For she was the fair flower of Northumberland.
'O daughter, O daughter, why was ye so bold,
Or why was your love so easy won,
To be a Scottish whore in your fifteen year old?
And you the fair flower of Northumberland!'
Her mother she gently on her did smile,
O that her love was so easy won!
'She is not the first that the Scotts have beguild,
But she's still the fair flower of Northumberland.
'She shanna want gold, she shanna want fee,
Altho that her love was so easy won,
She shanna want gold to gain a man wi,
And she's still the fair flower of Northumberland.'


a. Buchan's MSS, II, 166. b. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 208.

As I went by a jail-house door,
Maid's love whiles is easy won
I saw a prisoner standing there,
'I wish I were home in fair Scotland.
'Fair maid, will you pity me?
Ye'll steal the keys, let me gae free:
I'll make you my lady in fair Scotland.
'I'm sure you have no need of me,
For ye have a wife and bairns three,
That lives at home in fair Scotland.'
[Pg 116]
He swore by him that was crownd with thorn,
That he never had a wife since the day he was born,
But livd a free lord in fair Scotland.
She went unto her father's bed-head,
She's stown the key o mony a lock,
She's let him out o prison strong.
She's went to her father's stable,
She's stown a steed baith wight and able,
To carry them on to fair Scotland.
They rode till they came to a muir,
He bade her light aff, they'd call her a whore,
If she didna return to Northumberland.
They rode till they came to a moss,
He bade her light aff her father's best horse,
And return her again to Northumberland.
'I'm sure I have no need of thee,
When I have a wife and bairns three,
That lives at home in fair Scotland.'
'I'll be cook in your kitchen,
And serve your lady handsomelie,
For I darena gae back to Northumberland.'
'Ye cannot be cook in my kitchen,
My lady cannot fa sic servants as thee,
So ye'll return again to Northumberland.'
When she went thro her father's ha,
She looted her low amongst them a',
She was the fair flower o Northumberland.
Out spake her father, he spake bold,
'How could ye be a whore in fifteen years old,
And you the flower of Northumberland?'
Out spake her mother, she spake wi a smile,
'She's nae the first his coat did beguile,
Ye're welcome again to Northumberland.'


Motherwell's MS., p. 102.

She's gane down to her father's stable,
O my dear, and my love that she wan
She's taen out a black steed baith sturdy and able,
And she's away to fair Scotland.
When they came to Scotland bridge,
'Light off, you whore, from my black steed,
And go your ways back to Northumberland.'
'O take me by the body so meek,
And throw me in the water so deep,
For I daurna gae back to Northumberland.'
'I'll no take thee by the body so meek,
Nor throw thee in the water so deep;
Thou may go thy ways back to Northumberland.'
'Take me by the body so small,
And throw me in yon bonny mill-dam,
For I daurna gae back to Northumberland.'


"Written down from memory by Robert Hutton, Shepherd, Peel, Liddesdale." Mr R. White's papers.

A bailiff's fair daughter, she lived by the Aln,
A young maid's love is easily won
She heard a poor prisoner making his moan,
And she was the flower of Northumberland.
'If ye could love me, as I do love thee,
A young maid's love is hard to win
I'll make you a lady of high degree,
When once we go down to fair Scotland.'
To think of the prisoner her heart was sore,
A young maid's love is easily won
Her love it was much, but her pity was more,
And she, etc.
She stole from her father's pillow the key,
And out of the dungeon she soon set him free,
And she, etc.
[Pg 117]
She led him into her father's stable,
And they've taken a steed both gallant and able,
To carry them down to fair Scotland.
When they first took the way, it was darling and dear;
As forward they fared, all changed was his cheer,
And she, etc.
They rode till they came to a fair Scottish corse;
Says he, 'Now, pray madam, dismount from my horse,
And go get you back to Northumberland.
'It befits not to ride with a leman light,
When awaits my returning my own lady bright,
My own wedded wife in fair Scotland.'
The words that he said on her fond heart smote,
She knew not in sooth if she lived or not,
And she, etc.
She looked to his face, and it kythed so unkind
That her fast coming tears soon rendered her blind,
And she, etc.
'Have pity on me as I had it on thee,
O why was my love so easily won!
A slave in your kitchen I'm willing to be,
But I may not go back to Northumberland.
'Or carry me up by the middle sae sma,
O why was my love so easily won!
And fling me headlong from your high castle wa,
For I dare not go back to Northumberland.'
Her wailing, her woe, for nothing they went,
A young maid's love is easily won
His bosom was stone and he would not relent,
And she, etc.
He turned him around and he thought of a plan,
He bought an old horse and he hired an old man,
To carry her back to Northumberland.
A heavy heart makes a weary way,
She reached her home in the evening gray,
And she, etc.
And all as she stood at her father's tower-gate,
More loud beat her heart than her knock thereat,
And she, etc.
Down came her step-dame, so rugged and doure,
O why was your love so easily won!
'In Scotland go back to your false paramour,
For you shall not stay here in Northumberland.'
Down came her father, he saw her and smiled,
A young maid's love is easily won
'You are not the first that false Scots have beguiled,
And ye're aye welcome back to Northumberland.
'You shall not want houses, you shall not want land,
You shall not want gold for to gain a husband,
And ye're aye welcome back to Northumberland.'

A. a.

2. Halliwell's Deloney, in the first line of the burden, has leape over, but not elsewhere.

92. in the.

252. Where.


32. walks.

34. she is.

51. aloud.

133. omits sad.

153. the knight.

162. forth did.

243. The fairest.

271 thou shalt.

322. knight.

352. never were.

B. b.

22. this prison.

43. omits that was.

63. ye brazen-fac'd.

113. He hired.

123. fell at his feet.

131. omits so.

141. mother on her sae gentlie smild, etc.

C. a.

82. Her bade.

83. return him.


51. into.

132. at fifteen.

[Pg 118]


2. Thus in Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xv:

When they came to Scotland brig,
O my dear, my love that she wan!
'Light off, ye hure, from my black steed,
And his ye awa to Northumberland.'


"The Flower of Northumberland. Written down from memory by Robert Hutton, Shepperd, Peel, Liddesdale, and sent by James Telfor to his friend Robert White, Newcastle on Tyne. 20 copies printed." Mr White's note.


[119] "Two of them singing the dittie," says Deloney, "and all the rest bearing the burden."

[120] The earliest edition now known to exist is of 1619.

[121] Some of these ballads begin with stanzas which are found also in Kvindemorderen and Ribold ballads (our No 4, No 7), where also a young woman is carried off furtively by a man. This is only what is to be expected.

[122] By mistake, most probably. But in one of the Polish ballads, cited a little further on, Q (Kolberg, P. 1. Polskiego, 5 pp), the maid is told, "In my country the mountains are golden, the mountains are of gold."

[123] So 'Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight,' D 11:

'Is this your bowers and lofty towers?'

[124] There is a similarity, which is perhaps not accidental, between these Scandinavian ballads and 'Child Waters.' Child Waters makes Ellen swim a piece of water, shows her his hall—"of red gold shines the tower"—where the fairest lady is his paramour, subjects her to menial services, and finally, her patience withstanding all trials, marries her.

[125] They pass the water in Q only, and that in a boat. She is thrown in from a bridge in V, W, the bridge of Cracow in C: cf. Scotland bridge, D 2 of this ballad. By a curious accident, it is at a wayside crucifix that the man begins his change of demeanor in Polish CC 2 (Kolberg, ddd), as in B 5, E 7, of this ballad, it is at a Scottish cross.


A. a. 'The Miller and the King's Daughter,' broadside of 1656, Notes and Queries, 1st S., V, 591. b. Wit Restor'd, 1658, "p. 51," in the reprint of 1817, p. 153. c. 'The Miller and the King's Daughters,' Wit and Drollery, ed. 1682, p. 87. d. 'The Miller and the King's Daughter,' Jamieson's Popular Ballads, I, 315.

B. a. 'The Twa Sisters,' Jamieson-Brown MS., fol. 39. b. 'The Cruel Sister,' Wm. Tytler's Brown MS., No 15. c. 'The Cruel Sister,' Abbotsford MS., "Scottish Songs," fol. 21. d. 'The Twa Sisters,' Jamieson's Popular Ballads, I, 48.

C. 'The Cruel Sister,' Scott's Minstrelsy, II, 143 (1802).

D. 'The Bonnie Milldams of Binnorie,' Kinloch MSS, II, 49.

E. 'The Twa Sisters,' Sharpe's Ballad Book, No X, p. 30.

F. 'The Bonny Bows o London,' Motherwell's MS., p. 383.

G. Motherwell's MS., p. 104.

H. Motherwell's MS., p. 147.

I. 'Bonnie Milldams o Binnorie,' Kinloch MSS, V, 425.

J. 'The Miller's Melody,' Notes and Queries, 4th S., V, 23.

K. 'Binnorie,' Kinloch's papers.

L. a. 'The Miller's Melody,' Notes and Queries, 1st S., V, 316. b. 'The Drowned Lady,' The Scouring of the White Horse, p. 161.

M. 'Binorie, O an Binorie,' Murison MS., p. 79.

N. 'Binnorie,' [Pinkerton's] Scottish Tragic Ballads, p. 72.

O. 'The Bonny Bows o London.' a. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 128. b. Christie's Traditional Ballad Airs, I, 42.

P. a. 'The Twa Sisters,' Motherwell's MS., p. 245. b. 'The Swan swims bonnie O,' Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xx.

Q. 'The Twa Sisters,' communicated by J. F. Campbell, Esq.

R. a. 'The Three Sisters,' Notes and Q., 1st S., VI, 102. b. 'Bodown,' communicated by J. F. Campbell, Esq. c. 'The Barkshire Tragedy,' The Scouring of the White Horse, p. 158.

S. Kinloch MSS, VI, 89.

T. 'Sister, dear Sister,' Allingham's Ballad Book, p. xxxiii.

U. From Long Island, N.Y., communicated by Mr W. W. Newell.

This is one of the very few old ballads which are not extinct as tradition in the British Isles. Even drawing-room versions are spoken of as current, "generally traced to some old nurse, who sang them to the young ladies."[126] It has been found in England, Scot[Pg 119]land, Wales, and Ireland, and was very early in print. Dr Rimbault possessed and published a broadside of the date 1656[127] (A a), and the same copy is included in the miscellany called Wit Restor'd, 1658. Both of these name "Mr Smith" as the author; that is, Dr James Smith, a well-known writer of humorous verses, to whom the larger part of the pieces in Wit Restor'd has been attributed. If the ballad were ever in Smith's hands, he might possibly have inserted the three burlesque stanzas, 11-13; but similar verses are found in another copy (L a), and might easily be extemporized by any singer of sufficiently bad taste. Wit and Drollery, the edition of 1682, has an almost identical copy of the ballad, and this is repeated in Dryden's Miscellany, edition of 1716, Part III, p. 316. In 1781 Pinkerton inserted in his Tragic Ballads one with the title 'Binnorie,' purporting to be from Scottish tradition. Of twenty-eight couplets, barely seven are genuine. Scott printed in 1802 a copy (C) compounded from one "in Mrs Brown's MS." (B b) and a fragment of fourteen stanzas which had been transcribed from recitation by Miss Charlotte Brooke, adopting a burden found in neither.[128] Jamieson followed, four years after, with a tolerably faithful, though not, as he says, verbatim, publication of his copy of Mrs Brown's ballad, somewhat marred, too, by acknowledged interpolations. This text of Mrs Brown's is now correctly given, with the whole or fragments of eleven others, hitherto unpublished.

The ballad is as popular with the Scandinavians as with their Saxon cousins. Grundtvig, 'Den talende Strengeleg,' No 95, gives nine Danish versions and one stanza of a tenth; seven, A-E, in II, 507 ff, the remainder, H-K, in III, 875 ff. One more, L, is added by Kristensen, No 96, I, 253. Of these, only E had been previously printed. All are from tradition of this century.

There are two Icelandic versions, A from the 17th, B from the 19th, century, printed in Íslenzk Fornkvæði, No 13, 'Hörpu kvæði.'

Of twelve Norwegian versions, A, by Moe, "is printed in Norske Universitets og Skole-Annaler for 1850, p. 287," and in Moe's Samlede Skrifter, II, 118, 'Dæ bur ein Mann hær utmæ Aa;' B, by Lindeman, Annaler, as before, "p. 496," and in his Norske Fjeldmelodier, vol. I, Tekst-Bilag, p. 4, No 14, 'Dei tvæ Systa;' C, by Landstad, 'Dei tvo systar,' No 53, p. 480; D-L are described by Professor Bugge in Grundtvig, III, 877 f; M "is printed in Illustreret Nyhedsblads Nytaarsgave for 1860, p. 77, Christiania."

Four Färöe versions are known: A, 'Hörpuríma,' "in Svabo's MS., No 16, I, 291," incorrectly printed by Afzelius, I, 86, and accurately, from a copy furnished by Grundtvig, in Bergström's edition of Afzelius, II, 69; B, a compound of two versions taken down by Pastor Lyngbye and by Pastor Schröter, in Nyeste Skilderie af Kjøbenhavn, 1821, col. 997 ff; C, a transcript from recitation by Hammershaimb (Grundtvig); D, "in Fugloyjarbók, No 31."

Swedish versions are: A, 'Den underbara Harpan,' Afzelius, No 17, I, 81, new ed., No 16, 1, I, 72: B, 'De två Systrarne,' Afzelius, No 69, III, 16, new ed., No 16, 2, I, 74: C, D, E, unprinted copies in Cavallius and Stephens's collection: F, 'De två Systrarne,' Arwidsson, No 99, II, 139: G, 'Systermordet,' E. Wigström, Skånska Visor, p. 4, and the same, Folkdiktning, etc., No 7, p. 19: H,[Pg 120] Rancken, Några Prof af Folksång, No 3, p. 10. Afzelius, moreover, gives variations from four other copies which he had collected, III, 20 ff, new ed., II, 74 ff; and Rancken from three others. Both of the editors of the new Afzelius have recently obtained excellent copies from singers. The ballad has also been found in Finnish, Bergström's Afzelius, II, 79.

There is a remarkable agreement between the Norse and English ballads till we approach the conclusion of the story, with a natural diversity as to some of the minuter details.

The sisters are king's daughters in English A, B, C, H, O (?), P, Q, R a, and in Swedish B and two others of Afzelius's versions. They are an earl's daughters in Swedish F, and sink to farmer's daughters in English R b, c,[129] Swedish A, G, Norwegian C.

It is a thing made much of in most of the Norse ballads that the younger sister is fair and the older dark; the younger is bright as the sun, as white as ermine or as milk, the elder black as soot, black as the earth, Icelandic A, Swedish A, B, G, Danish A, D, etc.; and this difference is often made the ground for very unhandsome taunts, which qualify our compassion for the younger; such as Wash all day, and you will be no whiter than God made you, Wash as white as you please, you will never get a lover, Färöe A, B, Norwegian A, C, etc. This contrast may possibly be implied in "the youngest was the fairest flower," English F, G, Q ["sweetest," D], but is expressed only in M, "Ye was fair and I was din" (dun), and in P a, "The old was black and the young are fair."

The scene of action is a seashore in Icelandic and Färöe A, B, Norwegian A, Swedish A, B, G, H, and in all the Danish complete copies: a seashore, or a place where ships come in, in English A, B a, D-I, Q, R a, T, but in all save the last of these (the last is only one stanza) we have the absurdity of a body drowned in navigable water being discovered floating down a mill-stream.[130] B c has "the deep mill-dam;" C "the river-strand," perhaps one of Scott's changes; M, "the dams;" L, O, P, R b c, a river, Tweed mill-dam, or the water of Tweed. Norwegian B has a river.

The pretence for the older sister's taking the younger down to the water is in English A-E, G, H, I, O, Q, to see their father's ships come in; in Icelandic B to wash their silks;[131] in most of the Norse ballads to wash themselves, so that, as the elder says, "we may be alike white," Danish C-H, Norwegian A, C, Swedish F, G, Färöe A, B. Malice prepense is attributed to the elder in Swedish B, F, Norwegian C, Danish E, F, G: but in Färöe A, B, Norwegian A, B, and perhaps some other cases, a previous evil intent is not certain, and the provocations of the younger sister may excuse the elder so far.

The younger is pushed from a stone upon which she sits, stands, or steps, in English B, C, E-H, M, O, Q, Icelandic A, B, Färöe A, B, Norwegian A, B, C, Danish A-E, H, L, Swedish G, H, and Rancken's other copies.

The drowning scene is the same in all the ballads, except as to one point. The younger sister, to save her life, offers or consents to renounce her lover in the larger number, as English B-E, G, H, I, M, P, Q, Danish A-D, F, G, I, Swedish A-D, G, H; and in Icelandic B and "all the Färöe" ballads she finally yields, after first saying that her lover must dispose of himself. But Swedish F, with more spirit, makes the girl, after promising everything else, reply:

'Help then who can, help God above!
But ne'er shalt thou get my dear true-love.'

In this refusal concur Icelandic A, Danish E, H, L, and all the Norwegian versions except L.

Swedish A, G, and Rancken's versions (or[Pg 121] two of them) make the younger sister, when she sees that she must drown, send greetings to her father, mother, true-love [also brother, sister, Rancken], and add in each case that she is drinking, or dancing, her bridal in the flood, that her bridal-bed is made on the white-sand, etc.

The body of the drowned girl is discovered, in nearly all the English ballads, by some member of the miller's household, and is taken out of the water by the miller. In L b, which, however, is imperfect at the beginning, a harper finds the body. In the Icelandic ballads it is found on the seashore by the lover; in all the Norwegian but M by two fishermen, as also in Swedish D [fishermen in Swedish B]; in all the Färöe versions and Norwegian M by two "pilgrims;"[132] in Danish A-F, L, and Swedish C by two musicians, Danish H, Swedish A, G, one. Danish G, which is corrupted at the close, has three musicians, but these simply witness and report the drowning.

According to all complete and uncorrupted forms of the ballad, either some part of the body of the drowned girl is taken to furnish a musical instrument, a harp or a viol,[133] or the instrument is wholly made from the body. This is done in the Norse ballads by those who first find the body, save in Swedish B, where fishermen draw the body ashore, and a passing "speleman" makes the instrument. In English it is done by the miller, A; by a harper, B, C, G, L b (the king's harper in B); by a fiddler, D, E, I, L a (?), O, P (the king's fiddler, O (?), P); by both a fiddler and the king's harper, H; in F by the father's herdsman, who happens to be a fiddler.

Perhaps the original conception was the simple and beautiful one which we find in English B and both the Icelandic ballads, that the king's harper, or the girl's lover, takes three locks of her yellow hair to string his harp with. So we find three tets of hair in D, E, I, and three links in F, P, used, or directed to be used, to string the fiddle or the fiddle-bow, and the same, apparently, with Danish A. Infelicitous additions were, perhaps, successively made; as a harp-frame from the breast-bone in English C, and fiddle-pins formed of the finger-joints, English F, O, Danish B, C, E, F, L. Then we have all three: the frame of the instrument formed from the breast (or trunk), the screws from the finger-joints, the strings from the hair, Swedish A, B, G, Norwegian A, C, M. And so one thing and another is added, or substituted, as fiddle-bows of the arms or legs, Swedish C, D, Danish H, English L a; a harp-frame from the arms, Norwegian B, Färöe A; a fiddle-frame from the skull, Swedish C, or from the back-bone, English L b; a plectrum from the arm, Färöe B; strings from the veins, English A; a bridge from the nose, English A, L a; "hørpønota" from the teeth, Norwegian B; till we end with the buffoonery of English A and L a.

Swedish H has nothing about the finding of the body. Music is wanted for the bridal, and a man from another village, who undertakes to furnish it, looks three days for a proper tree to make a harp of. The singer of this version supplied the information, lost from the ballad, that the drowned sister had floated ashore and grown up into a linden, and that this was the very tree which was chosen for the harp. (See, further on, a Lithuanian, a Slovak, and an Esthonian ballad.)

All the Norse ballads make the harp or fiddle to be taken to a wedding, which chances to be that of the elder sister with the drowned girl's betrothed.[134] Unfortunately, many of the[Pg 122] English versions are so injured towards the close that the full story cannot be made out. There is no wedding-feast preserved in any of them. The instrument, in A, B, C, H, is taken into the king's presence. The viol in A and the harp in H are expressly said to speak. The harp is laid upon a stone in C, J, and plays "its lone;" the fiddle plays of itself in L b.[135] B makes the harper play, and D, F, K, O, which say the fiddle played, probably mean that there was a fiddler, and so perhaps with all the Norse versions; but this is not very material, since in either case the instrument speaks "with most miraculous organ."

There are three strings made from the girl's hair in Icelandic A, B, English B [veins, English A], and the three tets or links in English D, E, F, I, P were no doubt taken to make three strings originally. Corresponding to this are three enunciations of the instrument in English A, B, C, Icelandic A, Färöe A,[136] B, Swedish A, B, C, E, G, H, Danish A, D, F, I. These are reduced to two in Icelandic B, Danish B, C, H, L, Swedish D, and even to one in English D, F, I, K, O, but some of these have suffered injury towards the conclusion. The number is increased to four in Norwegian B, to five in Norwegian A, D, and even to six in Norwegian C, K, M. The increase is, of course, a later exaggeration, and very detrimental to the effect. In those English copies in which the instrument speaks but once,[137] D, F, K, O, and we may add P, it expresses a desire for vengeance: Hang my sister, D, F, K; Ye'll drown my sister, as she's dune me, O; Tell him to burn my sister, P. This is found in no Norse ballad, neither is it found in the earliest English versions. These, and the better forms of the Norse, reveal the awful secret, directly or indirectly, and, in the latter case, sometimes note the effect on the bride. Thus, in Icelandic B, the first string sounds, The bride is our sister; the second, The bride is our murderer. In Danish B the first fiddle plays, The bride is my sister; the second, The bridegroom is my true-love; in C, H, the first strain is, The bride has drowned her sister, the second, Thy sister is driven [blown] to land. Färöe A, B, have: (1) The bride was my sister; (2) The bride was my murderer; (3) The bridegroom was my true-love. The bride then says that the harp disturbs her much, and that she lists to hear it no more. Most impressive of all, with its terse, short lines, is Icelandic A:

The first string made response:
'The bride was my sister once.'
The bride on the bench, she spake:
'The harp much trouble doth make.'
The second string answered the other:
'She is parting me and my lover.'
Answered the bride, red as gore:
'The harp is vexing us sore.'
The canny third string replied:
'I owe my death to the bride.'
He made all the harp-strings clang;
The bride's heart burst with the pang.

This is the wicked sister's end in both of the Icelandic ballads and in Färöe A, B. In Swedish A, G, at the first stroke on the harp she laughs; at the second she grows pale [has to be undressed]; upon the third she lay dead in her bed [falls dead on the floor]. She is burned in Danish A, B, C, F, G, Swedish B, Norwegian A, B, C, I, M. In Norwegian K, L, the younger sister (who is restored to life) begs that the elder may not be burned, but sent out of the country (cf. English R b c); nevertheless, she is buried alive in L, which is her fate also in E, and in other unprinted versions. A prose comment upon Danish I has her stabbed by the bridegroom.

[Pg 123]

Norwegian B 21 makes the bride, in her confusion at the revelations of the harp, ask the bridegroom to drive the fiddler out of the house. So far from complying, the bridegroom orders him mead and wine, and the bride to the pile. In Norwegian C the bride treads on the harper's foot, then orders the playing to stop; but the bridegroom springs from the table, and cries, Let the harp have its song out, pays no regard to the lady's alleging that she has so bad a head that she cannot bear it, and finally sends her to the pile. So, nearly, Norwegian A. In Danish A, C, D, H, L, vainly in the first two, the bride tries to hush the fiddler with a bribe. He endeavors to take back what he has said in D, L, declaring himself a drunken fool (the passage is borrowed from another ballad): still in L, though successful for the nonce, she comes to the stake and wheel some months after. In H the fiddler dashes the instrument against a stone, seemingly to earn his bribe, but this trait belongs to versions which take the turn of the Norwegian. In C 15 the bride springs from the table, and says, Give the fiddlers a trifle, and let them go. This explains the last stanza of English A (cf., Norwegian B 21):

Now pay the miller for his payne,
And let him bee gone in the divel's name.

Swedish F has an entirely perverted and feeble conclusion. "A good man" takes the younger sister from the water, carries her to his house, revives her, and nurses her till the morrow, and then restores her to her father, who asks why she is so pale, and why she had not come back with her sister. She explains that she had been pushed into the water, "and we may thank this good man that I came home at all." The father tells the elder that she is a disgrace to her country, and condemns her to the "blue tower." But her sister intercedes, and a cheerful and handsome wedding follows.

Swedish C and nearly all the Norwegian ballads[138] restore the drowned girl to life, but not by those processes of the Humane Society which are successfully adopted by the "arlig man" in Swedish F. The harp is dashed against a stone, or upon the floor, and the girl stands forth "as good as ever." As Landstad conceives the matter (484, note 7), the elder sister is a witch, and is in the end burned as such. The white body of the younger is made to take on the appearance of a crooked log, which the fishermen (who, by the way, are angels in C, E) innocently shape into a harp, and the music, vibrating from her hair "through all her limbs, marrow and bone," acts as a disenchantment. However this may be, the restoration of the younger sister, like all good endings foisted on tragedies, emasculates the story.

English F 9 has the peculiarity, not noticed elsewhere, that the drowning girl catches at a broom-root, and the elder sister forces her to let go her hold.[139] In Swedish G she is simply said to swim to an alder-root. In English G 8 the elder drives the younger from the land with a switch, in I 8 pushes her off with a silver wand.

English O introduces the ghost of the drowned sister as instructing her father's fiddler to make a string of her hair and a peg of her little finger bone, which done, the first spring the fiddle plays, it says,

'Ye'll drown my sister as she's dune me.'

P, which is disordered at the end, seems to have agreed with O. In Q the ghost sends, by the medium of the miller and his daughter, respects to father, mother, and true-love, adding a lock of yellow hair for the last. The ghost is found in N, Pinkerton's copy, as well, but there appears to the lover at dead of night, two days after the drowning. It informs him of the murder, and he makes search for the body. This is a wide departure from the original story, and plainly a modern perversion. Another variation, entirely wanting[Pg 124] in ancient authority, appears in R, S. The girl is not dead when she has floated down to the mill-dam, and, being drawn out of the water by the miller, offers him a handsome reward to take her back to her father [S, to throw her in again!]. The miller takes the reward, and pushes the girl in again, for which he is hanged.[140]

Q has a burden partly Gaelic,

... ohone and aree (alack and O Lord),
On the banks of the Banna (White River), ohone and aree,

which may raise a question whether the Scotch burden Binnorie (pronounced Bínnorie, as well as Binnórie) is corrupted from it, or the corruption is on the other side. Mr Campbell notices as quaint the reply in stanza 9:

'I did not put you in with the design
Just for to pull you out again.'

We have had a similar reply, made under like circumstances, in Polish versions of No 4: see p. 40, note.

All the Norse versions of this ballad are in two-line stanzas, and all the English, except L b and in part L a.

Some of the traits of the English and Norse story are presented by an Esthonian ballad, 'The Harp,' Neus, Ehstnische Volkslieder, No 13, p. 56. Another version is given in Rosenplänter's Beiträge zur genauern Kenntniss der ehstnischen Sprache, Heft 4, 142, and a third, says Neus, in Ch. H. J. Schlegel's Reisen in mehrere russische Gouvernements, V, 140. A young woman, who tells her own story, is murdered by her sisters-in-law and buried in a moor. She comes up as a birch, from which, with the jaw-bone of a salmon, the teeth of a pike, and her own hair (the account is somewhat confused) a harp is made. The harp is taken to the hall by the murdered girl's brother, and responds to his playing with tones of sorrow like those of the bride who leaves father and mother for the house of a husband.[141]

A Slovak ballad often translated (Talvj, Historical View, etc., p. 392; Wenzig's Slawische Volkslieder, p. 110, Westslawischer Märchenschatz, 273, and Bibliothek Slavischer Poesien, p. 134; Lewestam, Polnische Volksagen und Märchen, p. 151) comes nearer in some respects. A daughter is cursed by her mother for not succeeding in drawing water in frosty weather. Her bucket turns to stone, but she to a maple. Two fiddlers come by, and, seeing a remarkably fine tree, propose to make of it fiddles and fiddle-sticks. When they cut into the tree, blood spirts out. The tree bids them go on, and when they have done, play before the mother's door, and sing, Here is your daughter, that you cursed to stone. At the first notes the mother runs to the window, and begs them to desist, for she has suffered much since she lost her daughter.

The soul of a dead girl speaks through a tree, again, in a Lithuanian ballad, Nesselmann, Littauische Volkslieder, No 378, p. 320. The girl is drowned while attempting to cross a stream, carried down to the sea, and finally thrown ashore, where she grows up a linden. Her brother makes a pipe from a branch, and the pipe gives out sweet, sad tones. The mother says, That tone comes not from the linden; it is thy sister's soul, that hovers over the water. A like idea is met with in another Lithuanian ballad, Rhesa, Dainos, ed. Kurschat, No 85, p. 231. A sister plucks a bud from a rose-bush growing over the grave of her brother, who had died from disappointed love. How fragrant! she exclaims. But her mother answers, with tears, It is not the rosebud, but the soul of the youth that died of grief.

Though the range of the ballad proper is somewhat limited, popular tales equivalent as to the characteristic circumstances are very widely diffused.

A Polish popular tale, which is, indeed, half song, Wojcicki, Klechdy, ed. 1851, II, 15 (Lewestam, p. 105), Kolberg, Pieśni ludu[Pg 125] Polskiego, p. 292, No 40 a, b, c, approaches very close to the English-Norse ballad. There were three sisters, all pretty, but the youngest far surpassing the others. A young man from the far-off Ukraine fell in with them while they were making garlands. The youngest pleased him best, and he chose her for his wife. This excited the jealousy of the eldest, and a few days after, when they were gathering berries in a wood, she killed the youngest, notwithstanding the resistance of the second sister, buried her, and gave out that she had been torn to pieces by wolves. When the youth came to ask after his love, the murderess told him this tale, and so won him by her devoted consolations that he offered her his hand. A willow grew out of the grave of the youngest, and a herdsman made a pipe from one of its boughs. Blow as he would, he could get no sound from the pipe but this:

'Blow on, herdsman, blow! God shall bless thee so.
The eldest was my slayer, the second tried to stay her.'

The herdsman took the pipe to the house of the murdered girl. The mother, the father, and the second sister successively tried it, and the pipe always sang a like song, Blow, mother, blow, etc. The father then put the pipe into the eldest sister's hands. She had hardly touched it, when blood spattered her cheeks, and the pipe sang:

'Blow on, sister, blow: God shall wreak me now.
Thou, sister, 't was didst slay me, the younger tried to stay thee,' etc.

The murderess was torn by wild horses.

Professor Bugge reports a Norwegian tale, Grundtvig, III, 878, which resembles the ballad at the beginning. There were in a family two daughters and a son. One sister was wasteful, the other saving. The second complained of the first to her parents, and was killed and buried by the other. Foliage covered the grave, so that it could not be seen, but on the trees under which the body lay, there grew "strings." These the brother cut off and adapted to his fiddle, and when he played, the fiddle said, My sister is killed. The father, having heard the fiddle's revelation, brought his daughter to confess her act.

There is a series of tales which represent a king, or other personage, as being afflicted with a severe malady, and as promising that whichever of his children, commonly three sons, should bring him something necessary for his cure or comfort should be his heir: (1) 'La Flor del Lililá,' Fernan Caballero, Lágrimas, cap. 4; (2) 'La caña del riu de arenas,' Milá, Observaciones sobre la poesia popular, p. 178, No 3; (3) 'Es kommt doch einmal an den Tag,' Müllenhof, Sagen, u. s. w., p. 495, No 49; (4) 'Vom singenden Dudelsack,' Gonzenbach, Sicilianische Märchen, I, 329, No 51. Or the inheritance is promised to whichever of the children finds something lost, or rich and rare, a griffin's feather, a golden branch, a flower: (5) 'Die Greifenfeder,' Schneller, Märchen und Sagen aus Wälschtirol, p. 143, No 51; (6) 'La Flanuto,' Bladé, Contes et proverbes populaires recueillis en Armagnac, p. 3, No 1; (7) Wackernagel, in Haupt's Zeitschrift, III, 35, No 3, == 'Das Todtebeindli,' Colshorn, C. u. Th., Märchen u. Sagen, p. 193, No 71, == Sutermeister, Kinder-u.-Hausmärchen aus der Schweiz, p. 119, No 39. Or a king promises his daughter to the man who shall capture a dangerous wild beast, and the exploit is undertaken by three brothers [or two]: (8) 'Der singende Knochen,' Grimms, K. u. H. märchen, I, 149, No 28 (1857); (9) 'Die drei Brüder,' Curtze, Volksüberlieferungen aus dem Fürstenthum Waldeck, p. 53, No 11; (10) 'Der Rohrstengel,' Haltrich, Deutsche Volksmärchen aus dem Sachsenlande, u. s. w., p. 225, No 42. With these we may group, though divergent in some respects, (11) 'Der goldene Apfel,' Toeppen, Aberglauben aus Masuren, p. 139.[142] In all these tales the youngest child is successful, and is killed, out of envy, by the eldest or by the two elder. [There are only two children in (6), (7), (8); in (4) the second is innocent, as in the Polish tale.] Reeds grow over the spot where the body is buried (1), (2), (10), (11), or an[Pg 126] elder bush (3), out of which a herdsman makes a pipe or flute; or a white bone is found by a herdsman, and he makes a pipe or horn of it (5-9); or a bag-pipe is made of the bones and skin of the murdered youth (4). The instrument, whenever it is played, attests the murder.

Among the tales of the South African Bechuana, there is one of a younger brother, who has been killed by an older, immediately appearing as a bird, and announcing what has occurred. The bird is twice killed, and the last time burnt and its ashes scattered to the winds, but still reappears, and proclaims that his body lies by a spring in the desert. Grimms, K. u. H. m. III, 361. Liebrecht has noted that the fundamental idea is found in a Chinese drama, 'The Talking Dish,' said to be based on a popular tale. An innkeeper and his wife kill one of their guests for his money, and burn the body. The innkeeper collects the ashes and pounds the bones, and makes a sort of mortar and a dish. This dish speaks very distinctly, and denounces the murderers. Journal Asiatique, 1851, 4th Series, vol. 18, p. 523.

Danish A, E are translated by Prior, I, 381, 384. English B, with use of C, is translated by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 104, No 15; C, by Afzelius, III, 22. C, by Talvj, Versuch, u. s. w., p. 532; by Schubart, p. 133; by Gerhard, p. 143; by Doenniges, p. 81; Arndt, p. 238. C, with use of Aytoun's compounded version, by R. Warrens, Schottische V. L. der Vorzeit, p. 65; Allingham's version by Knortz, Lieder u. Romanzen Alt-Englands, p. 180.


A. a. Broadside "printed for Francis Grove, 1656," reprinted in Notes and Queries, 1st S., V, 591. b. Wit Restor'd, 1658, "p. 51," p. 153 of the reprint of 1817. c. Wit and Drollery, ed. 1682, p. 87, == Dryden's Miscellany, Part 3, p. 316, ed. 1716. d. Jamieson's Popular Ballads, I, 315.

There were two sisters, they went playing,
With a hie downe downe a downe-a
To see their father's ships come sayling in.
With a hy downe downe a downe-a
And when they came unto the sea-brym,
The elder did push the younger in.
'O sister, O sister, take me by the gowne,
And drawe me up upon the dry ground.'
'O sister, O sister, that may not bee,
Till salt and oatmeale grow both of a tree.'
Somtymes she sanke, somtymes she swam,
Until she came unto the mill-dam.
The miller runne hastily downe the cliffe,
And up he betook her withouten her life.
What did he doe with her brest-bone?
He made him a violl to play thereupon.
What did he doe with her fingers so small?
He made him peggs to his violl withall.
What did he doe with her nose-ridge?
Unto his violl he made him a bridge.
What did he doe with her veynes so blew?
He made him strings to his violl thereto.
What did he doe with her eyes so bright?
Upon his violl he played at first sight.
What did he doe with her tongue so rough?
Unto the violl it spake enough.
What did he doe with her two shinnes?
Unto the violl they danc'd Moll Syms.
Then bespake the treble string,
'O yonder is my father the king.'
Then bespake the second string,
'O yonder sitts my mother the queen.'
And then bespake the strings all three,
'O yonder is my sister that drowned mee.'
'Now pay the miller for his payne,
And let him bee gone in the divel's name.'

[Pg 127]


a. Jamieson-Brown MS., fol. 39. b. Wm. Tytler's Brown MS., No 15. c. Abbotsford MS., "Scottish Songs," fol. 21. d. Jamieson's Popular Ballads, I, 48.

There was twa sisters in a bowr,
Edinburgh, Edinburgh
There was twa sisters in a bowr,
Stirling for ay
There was twa sisters in a bowr,
There came a knight to be their wooer.
Bonny Saint Johnston stands upon Tay
He courted the eldest wi glove an ring,
But he lovd the youngest above a' thing.
He courted the eldest wi brotch an knife,
But lovd the youngest as his life.
The eldest she was vexed sair,
An much envi'd her sister fair.
Into her bowr she could not rest,
Wi grief an spite she almos brast.
Upon a morning fair an clear,
She cried upon her sister dear:
'O sister, come to yon sea stran,
An see our father's ships come to lan.'
She's taen her by the milk-white han,
An led her down to yon sea stran.
The younges[t] stood upon a stane,
The eldest came an threw her in.
She tooke her by the middle sma,
An dashd her bonny back to the jaw.
'O sister, sister, tak my han,
An Ise mack you heir to a' my lan.
'O sister, sister, tak my middle,
An yes get my goud and my gouden girdle.
'O sister, sister, save my life,
An I swear Ise never be nae man's wife.'
'Foul fa the han that I should tacke,
It twin'd me an my wardles make.
'Your cherry cheeks an yallow hair
Gars me gae maiden for evermair.'
Sometimes she sank, an sometimes she swam,
Till she came down yon bonny mill-dam.
O out it came the miller's son,
An saw the fair maid swimmin in.
'O father, father, draw your dam,
Here's either a mermaid or a swan.'
The miller quickly drew the dam,
An there he found a drownd woman.
You coudna see her yallow hair
For gold and pearle that were so rare.
You coudna see her middle sma
For gouden girdle that was sae braw.
You coudna see her fingers white,
For gouden rings that was sae gryte.
An by there came a harper fine,
That harped to the king at dine.
When he did look that lady upon,
He sighd and made a heavy moan.
He's taen three locks o her yallow hair,
An wi them strung his harp sae fair.
The first tune he did play and sing,
Was, 'Farewell to my father the king.'
The nextin tune that he playd syne,
Was, 'Farewell to my mother the queen.'
The lasten tune that he playd then,
Was, 'Wae to my sister, fair Ellen.'

[Pg 128]


Scott's Minstrelsy, 1802, II; 143. Compounded from B b and a fragment of fourteen stanzas transcribed from the recitation of an old woman by Miss Charlotte Brooke.

There were two sisters sat in a bour;
Binnorie, O Binnorie
There came a knight to be their wooer.
By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie
He courted the eldest with glove and ring,
But he loed the youngest aboon a' thing.
He courted the eldest with broach and knife,
But he loed the youngest aboon his life.
The eldest she was vexed sair,
And sore envied her sister fair.
The eldest said to the youngest ane,
'Will ye go and see our father's ships come in?'
She's taen her by the lilly hand,
And led her down to the river strand.
The youngest stude upon a stane,
The eldest came and pushed her in.
She took her by the middle sma,
And dashed her bonnie back to the jaw.
'O sister, sister, reach your hand,
And ye shall be heir of half my land.'
'O sister, I'll not reach my hand,
And I'll be heir of all your land.
'Shame fa the hand that I should take,
It's twin'd me and my world's make.'
'O sister, reach me but your glove,
And sweet William shall be your love.'
'Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove,
And sweet William shall better be my love.
'Your cherry cheeks and your yellow hair
Garrd me gang maiden evermair.'
Sometimes she sunk, and sometimes she swam,
Until she came to the miller's dam.
'O father, father, draw your dam,
There's either a mermaid or a milk-white swan.'
The miller hasted and drew his dam,
And there he found a drowned woman.
You could not see her yellow hair,
For gowd and pearls that were sae rare.
You could na see her middle sma,
Her gowden girdle was sae bra.
A famous harper passing by,
The sweet pale face he chanced to spy.
And when he looked that ladye on,
He sighed and made a heavy moan.
He made a harp of her breast-bone,
Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.
The strings he framed of her yellow hair,
Whose notes made sad the listening ear.
He brought it to her father's hall,
And there was the court assembled all.
He laid this harp upon a stone,
And straight it began to play alone.
'O yonder sits my father, the king,
And yonder sits my mother, the queen.
'And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
And by him my William, sweet and true.'
But the last tune that the harp playd then,
Was 'Woe to my sister, false Helen!'

[Pg 129]


Kinloch's MSS, II, 49. From the recitation of Mrs Johnston, a North-country lady.

There lived three sisters in a bouer,
Edinbruch, Edinbruch
There lived three sisters in a bouer,
Stirling for aye
There lived three sisters in a bouer,
The youngest was the sweetest flowr.
Bonnie St Johnston stands upon Tay
There cam a knicht to see them a',
And on the youngest his love did fa.
He brought the eldest ring and glove,
But the youngest was his ain true-love.
He brought the second sheath and knife,
But the youngest was to be his wife.
The eldest sister said to the youngest ane,
'Will ye go and see our father's ships come in?'
And as they walked by the linn,
The eldest dang the youngest in.
'O sister, sister, tak my hand,
And ye'll be heir to a' my land.'
'Foul fa the hand that I wad take,
To twin me o my warld's make.'
'O sister, sister, tak my glove,
And yese get Willie, my true-love.'
'Sister, sister, I'll na tak your glove,
For I'll get Willie, your true-love.'
Aye she swittert, and aye she swam,
Till she cam to yon bonnie mill-dam.
The miller's dochter cam out wi speed,
It was for water, to bake her bread.
'O father, father, gae slack your dam;
There's in't a lady or a milk-white swan.'
  *   *   *   *   *
They could na see her coal-black eyes
For her yellow locks hang oure her brees.
They could na see her weel-made middle
For her braid gowden girdle.
  *   *   *   *   *
And by there cam an auld blind fiddler,
And took three tets o her bonnie yellow hair.
  *   *   *   *   *
The first spring that the bonnie fiddle playd,
'Hang my cruel sister, Alison,' it said.


Sharpe's Ballad Book, No 10, p. 30.

There livd twa sisters in a bower,
Hey Edinbruch, how Edinbruch!
There lived twa sisters in a bower,
Stirling for aye!
The youngest o them O she was a flower!
Bonny Sanct Johnstoune that stands upon Tay!
There cam a squire frae the west,
He loed them baith, but the youngest best.
He gied the eldest a gay gold ring,
But he loed the youngest aboon a' thing.
'O sister, sister, will ye go to the sea?
Our father's ships sail bonnilie.'
The youngest sat down upon a stane;
The eldest shot the youngest in.
'O sister, sister, lend me your hand,
And you shall hae my gouden fan.
'O sister, sister, save my life,
And ye shall be the squire's wife.'
First she sank, and then she swam,
Untill she cam to Tweed mill-dam.
The millar's daughter was baking bread,
She went for water, as she had need.
'O father, father, in our mill-dam
There's either a lady, or a milk-white swan.'
[Pg 130]
They could nae see her fingers small,
Wi diamond rings they were coverd all.
They could nae see her yellow hair,
Sae mony knots and platts were there.
They could nae see her lilly feet,
Her gowden fringes war sae deep.
Bye there cam a fiddler fair,
And he's taen three taits o her yellow hair.


Motherwell's MS., p. 383. From the recitation of Agnes Lyle, Kilbarchan, 27th July, 1825.

There was two ladies livd in a bower,
Hey with a gay and a grinding O
The youngest o them was the fairest flower
About a' the bonny bows o London.
There was two ladies livd in a bower,
An wooer unto the youngest did go.
The oldest one to the youngest did say,
'Will ye take a walk with me today,
And we'll view the bonny bows o London.
'Thou'll set thy foot whare I set mine,
Thou'll set thy foot upon this stane.'
'I'll set my foot where thou sets thine:'
The old sister dang the youngest in,
At, etc.
'O sister dear, come tak my hand,
Take my life safe to dry land,'
At, etc.
'It's neer by my hand thy hand sall come in,
It's neer by my hand thy hand sall come in,
At, etc.
'It's thy cherry cheeks and thy white briest bane
Gars me set a maid owre lang at hame.'
She clasped her hand[s] about a brume rute,
But her cruel sister she lowsed them out.
Sometimes she sank, and sometimes she swam,
Till she cam to the miller's dam.
The miller's bairns has muckle need,
They were bearing in water to bake some breid.
Says, 'Father, dear father, in our mill-dam,
It's either a fair maid or a milk-white swan.'
The miller he's spared nae his hose nor his shoon
Till he brocht this lady till dry land.
I wad he saw na a bit o her feet,
Her silver slippers were made so neat.
I wad he saw na a bit o her skin,
For ribbons there was mony a ane.
He laid her on a brume buss to dry,
To see wha was the first wad pass her by.
Her ain father's herd was the first man
That by this lady gay did gang.
He's taen three links of her yellow hair,
And made it a string to his fiddle there.
He's cut her fingers long and small
To be fiddle-pins that neer might fail.
The very first spring that the fiddle did play,
'Hang my auld sister,' I wad it did say.
'For she drowned me in yonder sea,
God neer let her rest till she shall die,'
At the bonny bows o London.

[Pg 131]


Motherwell's MS., p. 104. From Mrs King, Kilbarchan.

There were three sisters lived in a bouir,
Hech, hey, my Nannie O
And the youngest was the fairest flouir.
And the swan swims bonnie O
'O sister, sister, gang down to yon sand,
And see your father's ships coming to dry land.'
O they have gane down to yonder sand,
To see their father's ships coming to dry land.
'Gae set your fit on yonder stane,
Till I tye up your silken goun.'
She set her fit on yonder stane,
And the auldest drave the youngest in.
'O sister, sister, tak me by the hand,
And ye'll get a' my father's land.
'O sister, sister, tak me by the gluve,
An ye'll get Willy, my true luve.'
She had a switch into her hand,
And ay she drave her frae the land.
O whiles she sunk, and whiles she swam,
Until she swam to the miller's dam.
The miller's daughter gade doun to Tweed,
To carry water to bake her bread.
'O father, O father, what's yon in the dam?
It's either a maid or a milk-white swan.'
They have tane her out till yonder thorn,
And she has lain till Monday morn.
She hadna, hadna twa days lain,
Till by there came a harper fine.
He made a harp o her breast-bane,
That he might play forever thereon.


Motherwell's MS., p. 147. From I. Goldie, March, 1825.

There were three sisters lived in a hall,
Hey with the gay and the grandeur O
And there came a lord to court them all.
At the bonnie bows o London town
He courted the eldest with a penknife,
And he vowed that he would take her life.
He courted the youngest with a glove,
And he said that he'd be her true love.
'O sister, O sister, will you go and take a walk,
And see our father's ships how they float?
'O lean your foot upon the stone,
And wash your hand in that sea-foam.'
She leaned her foot upon the stone,
But her eldest sister has tumbled her down.
'O sister, sister, give me your hand,
And I'll make you lady of all my land.'
'O I'll not lend to you my hand,
But I'll be lady of your land.'
'O sister, sister, give me your glove,
And I'll make you lady of my true love.'
'It's I'll not lend to you my glove,
But I'll be lady of your true love.'
Sometimes she sank, and sometimes she swam,
Until she came to a miller's dam.
The miller's daughter was coming out wi speed,
For water for to bake some bread.
'O father, father, stop the dam,
For it's either a lady or a milk-white swan.'
He dragged her out unto the shore,
And stripped her of all she wore.
By cam a fiddler, and he was fair,
And he buskit his bow in her bonnie yellow hair.
[Pg 132]
By cam her father's harper, and he was fine,
And he made a harp o her bonny breast-bone.
When they came to her father's court,
The harp [and fiddle these words] spoke:
'O God bless my father the king,
And I wish the same to my mother the queen.
'My sister Jane she tumbled me in,
. . . . . . .
  *   *   *   *   *


Kinloch MSS, V, 425. From the recitation of M. Kinnear, 23d August, 1826.

There war twa sisters lived in a bouer,
Binnorie and Binnorie
There cam a squire to court them baith.
At the bonnie mill-streams o Binnorie
He courted the eldest with jewels and rings,
But he lovd the youngest the best of all things.
He courted the eldest with a penknife,
He lovd the youngest as dear as his life.
It fell ance upon a day
That these twa sisters hae gane astray.
It was for to meet their father's ships that had come in.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
As they walked up the linn,
The eldest dang the youngest in.
'O sister, sister, tak my hand,
And ye'll hae Lud John and aw his land.'
With a silver wand she pushd her in,
. . . . . . .
'O sister, sister, tak my glove,
And ye sall hae my ain true love.'
The miller's dochter cam out wi speed.
It was for a water to bake her bread.
'O father, father, gae slack your dam;
There's either a white fish or a swan.'
  *   *   *   *   *
Bye cam a blind fiddler that way,
And he took three tets o her bonnie yellow hair.
And the first spring that he playd,
It said, 'It was my sister threw me in.'


Notes and Queries, 4th S., V, 23, from the north of Ireland.

There were two ladies playing ball,
Hey, ho, my Nannie O
A great lord came to court them all.
The swan she does swim bonnie O
He gave to the first a golden ring,
He gave to the second a far better thing.
  *   *   *   *   *
He made a harp of her breast-bone
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .
He set it down upon a stone,
And it began to play its lone.


Mr G.R. Kinloch's papers, Kinloch MSS, II, 59. From Mrs Lindores.

'O sister, sister, gie me your hand,
Binnorie and Binnorie
And I'll give the half of my fallow-land,
By the bonnie mill-dams of Binnorie.'
  *   *   *   *   *
The first time the bonnie fiddle played,
'Hang my sister, Alison,' it said,
'At the bonnie mill-dams of Binnorie.'

[Pg 133]


a. From oral tradition, Notes and Queries, 1st S., V, 316. b. The Scouring of the White Horse, p. 161. From North Wales.

O was it eke a pheasant cock,
Or eke a pheasant hen,
Or was it the bodye of a fair ladye,
Come swimming down the stream?
O it was not a pheasant cock,
Nor eke a pheasant hen,
But it was the bodye of a fair ladye
Came swimming down the stream.
  *   *   *   *   *
And what did he do with her fair bodye?
Fal the lal the lal laral lody
He made it a case for his melodye.
Fal, etc.
And what did he do with her legs so strong?
He made them a stand for his violon.
And what did he do with her hair so fine?
He made of it strings for his violine.
And what did he do with her arms so long?
He made them bows for his violon.
And what did he do with her nose so thin?
He made it a bridge for his violin.
And what did he do with her eyes so bright?
He made them spectacles to put to his sight.
And what did he do with her petty toes?
He made them a nosegay to put to his nose.


Taken down from recitation at Old Deir, 1876, by Mrs A.F. Murison. MS., p. 79.

There lived twa sisters in yonder ha,
Binórie O an Binórie
They hadna but ae lad atween them twa,
He's the bonnie miller lad o Binórie.
It fell oot upon a day,
The auldest ane to the youngest did say,
At the bonnie mill-dams o Binórie,
'O sister, O sister, will ye go to the dams,
To hear the blackbird thrashin oer his songs?
At the,' etc.
'O sister, O sister, will ye go to the dams,
To see oor father's fish-boats come safe to dry lan?
An the bonnie miller lad o Binorie.'
They hadna been an oor at the dams,
Till they heard the blackbird thrashin oer his tune,
At the, etc.
They hadna been an oor at the dams
Till they saw their father's fish-boats come safe to dry lan,
Bat they sawna the bonnie miller laddie.
They stood baith up upon a stane,
An the eldest ane dang the youngest in,
I the, etc.
She swam up, an she swam doon,
An she swam back to her sister again,
I the, etc.
'O sister, O sister, len me your han,
An yes be heir to my true love,
He's the bonnie miller lad o Binorie.'
'It was not for that love at I dang you in,
But ye was fair and I was din,
And yes droon i the dams o Binorie.'
The miller's daughter she cam oot,
For water to wash her father's hans,
Frae the, etc.
'O father, O father, ye will fish your dams,
An ye'll get a white fish or a swan,
I the,' etc.
They fished up and they fished doon,
But they got nothing but a droonet woman,
I the, etc.
Some o them kent by her skin sae fair,
But weel kent he by her bonnie yallow hair
She's the bonnie miller's lass o Binorie.
[Pg 134]
Some o them kent by her goons o silk,
But weel kent he by her middle sae jimp,
She's the bonnie miller's lass o Binorie.
Mony ane was at her oot-takin,
But mony ane mair at her green grave makin,
At the bonny mill-dams o Binorie.


[Pinkerton's] Scottish Tragic Ballads, p. 72.

There were twa sisters livd in a bouir,
Binnorie, O Binnorie
Their father was a baron of pouir.
By the bonnie mildams of Binnorie
The youngest was meek, and fair as the may
Whan she springs in the east wi the gowden day.
The eldest austerne as the winter cauld,
Ferce was her saul, and her seiming was bauld.
A gallant squire cam sweet Isabel to wooe;
Her sister had naething to luve I trow.
But filld was she wi dolour and ire,
To see that to her the comlie squire
Preferd the debonair Isabel:
Their hevin of luve of spyte was her hell.
Till ae ein she to her sister can say,
'Sweit sister, cum let us wauk and play.'
They wauked up, and they wauked down,
Sweit sang the birdis in the vallie loun.
Whan they cam to the roaring lin,
She drave unweiting Isabel in.
'O sister, sister, tak my hand,
And ye sall hae my silver fan.
'O sister, sister, tak my middle,
And ye sall hae my gowden girdle.'
Sumtimes she sank, sumtimes she swam,
Till she cam to the miller's dam.
The miller's dochtor was out that ein,
And saw her rowing down the streim.
'O father deir, in your mil-dam
There is either a lady or a milk-white swan!'
Twa days were gane, whan to her deir
Her wraith at deid of nicht cold appeir.
'My luve, my deir, how can ye sleip,
Whan your Isabel lyes in the deip!
'My deir, how can ye sleip bot pain
Whan she by her cruel sister is slain!'
Up raise he sune, in frichtfu mude:
'Busk ye, my meiny, and seik the flude.'
They socht her up and they socht her doun,
And spyd at last her glisterin gown.
They raisd her wi richt meikle care;
Pale was her cheik and grein was her hair.


a. Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 128. b. Traditional Ballad Airs, edited by W. Christie, I, 42.

There were twa sisters in a bower,
Hey wi the gay and the grinding
And ae king's son has courted them baith.
At the bonny bonny bows o London
He courted the youngest wi broach and ring,
He courted the eldest wi some other thing.
It fell ance upon a day
The eldest to the youngest did say,
'Will ye gae to yon Tweed mill-dam,
And see our father's ships come to land?'
They baith stood up upon a stane,
The eldest dang the youngest in.
She swimmed up, sae did she down,
Till she came to the Tweed mill-dam.
The miller's servant he came out,
And saw the lady floating about.
'O master, master, set your mill,
There is a fish, or a milk-white swan.'
[Pg 135]
They could not ken her yellow hair,
[For] the scales o gowd that were laid there.
They could not ken her fingers sae white,
The rings o gowd they were sae bright.
They could not ken her middle sae jimp,
The stays o gowd were so well laced.
They could not ken her foot sae fair,
The shoes o gowd they were so rare.
Her father's fiddler he came by,
Upstarted her ghaist before his eye.
'Ye'll take a lock o my yellow hair,
Ye'll make a string to your fiddle there.
'Ye'll take a lith o my little finger bane,
And ye'll make a pin to your fiddle then.'
He's taen a lock o her yellow hair,
And made a string to his fiddle there.
He's taen a lith o her little finger bane,
And he's made a pin to his fiddle then.
The firstand spring the fiddle did play,
Said, 'Ye'll drown my sister, as she's dune me.'


a. Motherwell's MS., p. 245. b. Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xx, xx.

There were twa ladies in a bower,
Hey my bonnie Nannie O
The old was black and the young ane fair.
And the swan swims bonnie O
Once it happened on a day
The auld ane to the young did say,
The auld ane to the young did say,
'Will you gae to the green and play?'
'O sister, sister, I daurna gang,
For fear I file my silver shoon.'
It was not to the green they gaed,
But it was to the water of Tweed.
She bowed her back and she's taen her on,
And she's tumbled her in Tweed mill-dam.
'O sister, O sister, O tak my hand,
And I'll mak you heir of a' my land.'
'O sister, O sister, I'll no take your hand,
And I'll be heir of a' your land.'
'O sister, O sister, O tak my thumb,
And I'll give you my true-love John.'
'O sister, O sister, I'll no tak your thumb,
And I will get your true-love John.'
Aye she swattered and aye she swam,
Until she came to the mouth of the dam.
The miller's daughter went out to Tweed,
To get some water to bake her bread.
In again she quickly ran:
'Here's a lady or a swan in our mill-dam.'
Out went the miller and his man
And took the lady out of the dam.
They laid her on the brae to dry;
Her father's fiddler then rode by.
When he this lady did come near,
Her ghost to him then did appear.
'When you go to my father the king,
You'll tell him to burn my sister Jean.
'When you go to my father's gate,
You'll play a spring for fair Ellen's sake.
'You'll tak three links of my yellow hair,
And play a spring for evermair.'

[Pg 136]


Copied Oct. 26, 1861, by J.F. Campbell, Esq., from a collection made by Lady Caroline Murray; traced by her to an old nurse, and beyond the beginning of this century.

There dwelt twa sisters in a bower,
Oh and ohone, and ohone and aree!
And the youngest she was the fairest flower.
On the banks of the Banna, ohone and aree!
There cam a knight to court the twa,
But on the youngest his love did fa.
He courted the eldest with ring and wi glove,
But he gave the youngest all his love.
He courted the eldest with brooch and wi knife,
But he loved the youngest as his life.
'O sister, O sister, will ye come to the stream,
To see our father's ships come in?'
The youngest stood upon a stane,
Her sister came and pusht her in.
'O sister, O sister, come reach me your hand,
And ye shall hae all our father's land.
'O sister, O sister, come reach me your glove,
And you shall hae William to be your true love.'
'I did not put you in with the design
Just for to pull you out again.'
Some time she sank, some time she swam,
Until she came to a miller's dam.
The miller's daughter dwelt on the Tweed,
She went for water to bake her bread.
'O faither, faither, come drag me your dam,
For there's aither a lady in't, or a milk-white swan.'
The miller went, and he dragd his dam,
And he brought her fair body to lan.
They couldna see her waist sae sma
For the goud and silk about it a'.
They couldna see her yallow hair
For the pearls and jewels that were there.
Then up and spak her ghaist sae green,
'Do ye no ken the king's dochter Jean?
'Tak my respects to my father the king,
And likewise to my mother the queen.
'Tak my respects to my true love William,
Tell him I deid for the love of him.
'Carry him a lock of my yallow hair,
To bind his heart for evermair.'


a. Notes and Queries, 1st S., VI, 102, from Lancashire. b. Written down for J.F. Campbell, Esq., Nov. 7, 1861, at Wishaw House, Lancashire, by Lady Louisa Primrose, c. 'The Scouring of the White Horse,' p. 158, from Berkshire, as heard by Mr Hughes from his father.

There was a king of the north countree,
Bow down, bow down, bow down
There was a king of the north countree,
And he had daughters one, two, three.
I'll be true to my love, and my love'll be true to me
To the eldest he gave a beaver hat,
And the youngest she thought much of that.
To the youngest he gave a gay gold chain,
And the eldest she thought much of the same.
These sisters were walking on the bryn,
And the elder pushed the younger in.
'Oh sister, oh sister, oh lend me your hand,
And I will give you both houses and land.'
'I'll neither give you my hand nor glove,
Unless you give me your true love.'
Away she sank, away she swam,
Until she came to a miller's dam.
The miller and daughter stood at the door,
And watched her floating down the shore.
[Pg 137]
'Oh father, oh father, I see a white swan,
Or else it is a fair woman.'
The miller he took up his long crook,
And the maiden up from the stream he took.
'I'll give to thee this gay gold chain,
If you'll take me back to my father again.'
The miller he took the gay gold chain,
And he pushed her into the water again.
The miller was hanged on his high gate
For drowning our poor sister Kate.
The cat's behind the buttery shelf,
If you want any more, you may sing it yourself.


Kinloch MSS, VI, 89, in Kinloch's hand.

  *   *   *   *   *
'O father, father, swims a swan,'
This story I'll vent to thee
'O father, father, swims a swan,
Unless it be some dead woman.'
I'll prove true to my true love,
If my love prove true to me
The miller he held out his long fish hook,
And hooked this fair maid from the brook.
She offered the miller a gold ring stane
To throw her into the river again.
Down she sunk, and away she swam,
Until she came to her father's brook.
The miller was hung at his mill-gate,
For drowning of my sister Kate.


Allingham's Ballad Book, p. xxxiii. From Ireland.

'Sister, dear sister, where shall we go play?'
Cold blows the wind, and the wind blows low
'We shall go to the salt sea's brim.'
And the wind blows cheerily around us, high ho


Communicated by Mr W.W. Newell, as repeated by an ignorant woman in her dotage, who learned it at Huntington, Long Island, N.Y.

There was a man lived in the mist,
Bow down, bow down
He loved his youngest daughter best.
The bow is bent to me,
So you be true to your own true love,
And I'll be true to thee.
These two sisters went out to swim;
The oldest pushed the youngest in.
First she sank and then she swam,
First she sank and then she swam.
The miller, with his rake and hook,
He caught her by the petticoat.
  *   *   *   *   *

A. b.

11, went a-playing.

Burden2. a downe-o.


11. went a-playing.

Burden1,2. With a hey down, down, a down, down-a.

42. Till oat-meal and salt grow both on a tree.

61. ran hastily down the clift.

62. And up he took her without any life.

[Pg 138]

132. Moll Symns.

141, 151. Then he bespake.

172. And let him go i the devil's name.


11, went a-playing.

12, ships sailing in.

21. into.

32. me up on.

62. withouten life.

B. a.

26, 27, 28. An it has been written in as a conjectural emendation by Jamieson, he did it play, {it/he} playd; and it is adopted by Jamieson in his printed copy: see below, d 26, 27, 28.


The first stanza only, agreeing with a 1, is given by Anderson, Nichols's Illustrations, VII, 178.


Evidently a copy of Mrs Brown's version, and in Scott's MS. it has the air, as all the Tytler-Brown ballads had. Still it has but twenty-three stanzas, whereas Dr Anderson gives fifty-eight lines as the extent of the Tytler-Brown copy of 'The Cruel Sister' (Nichols, Illus. Lit. Hist., VII, 178). This, counting the first stanza, with the burden, as four lines, according to the arrangement in Scott's MS., would tally exactly with the Jamieson-Brown MS., B a.

It would seem that B c had been altered by somebody in order to remove the absurd combination of sea and mill-dam; the invitation to go see the ships come to land, B a 7, is omitted, and "the deep mill-dam" substituted, in 8, for "yon sea-stran." Stanza 17 of c, "They raisd her," etc., cited below, occurs in Pinkerton, N 20, and is more likely to be his than anybody's.

21. brooch and ring.

22. abune a' thing.

31. wooed ... with glove and knife.

32. looed the second.

52. she well nigh brist.

7. wanting.

82. led her to the deep mill-dam.

92. Her cruel sister pushd her in.

112. And Ise mak ye.

12. wanting.

141. Shame fa the hand that I shall tak.

151. gowden hair.

152. gar ... maiden ever mair.

16. wanting.

171. Then out and cam.

172. swimming down.

181. O father, haste and draw.

191. his dam.

192. And then. (?)

Instead of 20-22:

They raisd her wi meikle dule and care,
Pale was her cheek and green was her hair.

241. that corpse upon.

252. he's strung.

261, 271, 281, for tune, line, if the copy be right.

271. The next.

281. The last.

282. fause Ellen.

"Note by Ritson. 'The fragment of a very different copy of this ballad has been communicated to J.R. by a friend at Dublin.'" [J.C. Walker, no doubt.]


Jamieson, Popular Ballads and Songs, I, 48, says that he gives his text verbatim as it was taken from the recitation of the lady in Fifeshire (Mrs Brown), to whom both he and Scott were so much indebted. That this is not to be understood with absolute strictness will appear from the variations which are subjoined. Jamieson adds that he had received another copy from Mrs Arrott of Aberbrothick, "but as it furnished no readings by which the text could have been materially improved," it was not used. Both Jamieson and Scott substitute the "Binnorie" burden, "the most common and popular," says Scott, for the one given by Mrs Brown, with which Mrs Arrott's agreed. It may be added that Jamieson's interpolations are stanzas 20, 21, 27, etc., and not, as he says (I, 49), 19, 20, 27, etc. These interpolations also occur as such in the manuscript.

11. sisters livd.

22. aboon.

32. he loved.

42. and sair envied.

51. Intill her bower she coudna.

52. maistly brast.

112. mak ye.

142. me o.

161. omits an.

162. came to the mouth o yon mill-dam.

182. There's.

202. that was.

222. that were.

261. it did.

271. it playd seen.

281. thirden tune that it.

A copy in Motherwell's MS., p. 239, is derived from Jamieson's printed edition. It omits the interpolated stanzas, and makes a few very slight changes.

[Pg 139]


Scott's account of his edition is as follows (II, 143, later ed., III, 287):

"It is compiled from a copy in Mrs Brown's MS., intermixed with a beautiful fragment, of fourteen verses, transmitted to the editor by J.C. Walker, Esq., the ingenious historian of the Irish bards. Mr Walker, at the same time, favored the editor with the following note: 'I am indebted to my departed friend, Miss Brooke, for the foregoing pathetic fragment. Her account of it was as follows: This song was transcribed, several years ago, from the memory of an old woman, who had no recollection of the concluding verses; probably the beginning may also be lost, as it seems to commence abruptly.' The first verse and burden of the fragment run thus:

"'O sister, sister, reach thy hand!
Hey ho, my Nanny, O
And you shall be heir of all my land.
While the swan swims bonny, O'"

Out of this stanza, or the corresponding one in Mrs Brown's copy, Scott seems to have made his 9, 10.


"My mother used to sing this song." Sharpe's Ballad Book, ed. of 1880, note, p. 129.


22. An wooer.


21. strand, with sand written above: sand in 31.


12. var. in MS. There was a knicht and he loved them bath.

7. The following stanza was subsequently written on an opposite blank page,—perhaps derived from D 8:

Foul fa the hand that I wad take,
To twin me and my warld's make.

102. a was, perhaps, meant to be expunged, but is only a little blotted.

112. var. a lady or a milk-white swan.

12, 13 were written in later than the rest; at the same time, apparently, as the stanza above (7).


Found among Mr Kinloch's papers by Mr Macmath, and inserted by him as a note on p. 59, vol. II, of Kinloch's MSS. The order of the stanzas is there, wrongly, inverted.

12. var. I wad give you.

L. a.

These fragments were communicated to Notes and Queries, April 3, 1852, by "G. A. C.," who had heard 'The Miller's Melody' sung by an old lady in his childhood, and who represents himself as probably the last survivor of those who had enjoyed the privilege of listening to her ballads. We may, therefore, assign this version to the latter part of the 18th century. The two four-line stanzas were sung to "a slow, quaint strain." Two others which followed were not remembered, "but their purport was that the body 'stopped hard by a miller's mill,' and that this 'miller chanced to come by,' and took it out of the water 'to make a melodye.'" G.A.C. goes on to say: "My venerable friend's tune here became a more lively one, and the time quicker; but I can only recollect a few of the couplets, and these not correctly nor in order of sequence, in which the transformation of the lady into a viol is described."


Some stanzas of this four-line version, with a ludicrous modern supplement, are given in 'The Scouring of the White Horse,' p. 161, as from the Welsh marshes. Five out of the first six verses are there said to be very old indeed, "the rest all patchwork by different hands." Mr Hughes has kindly informed me that he derived the ballad from his father, who had originally learned it at Ruthyn when a boy. What is material here follows:

O it was not a pheasant cock,
Nor yet a pheasant hen,
But O it was a lady fair
Came swimming down the stream.
An ancient harper passing by
Found this poor lady's body,
To which his pains he did apply
To make a sweet melódy.
To cat-gut dried he her inside,
He drew out her back-bone,
And made thereof a fiddle sweet
All for to play upon.
And all her hair, so long and fair,
That down her back did flow,
O he did lay it up with care,
To string his fiddle bow.
And what did he with her fingers,
Which were so straight and small?
[Pg 140] O he did cut them into pegs,
To screw up his fiddoll.
Then forth went he, as it might be,
Upon a summer's day,
And met a goodly company,
Who asked him in to play.
Then from her bones he drew such tones
As made their bones to ache,
They sounded so like human groans
Their hearts began to quake.
They ordered him in ale to swim,—
For sorrow's mighty dry,—
And he to share their wassail fare
Essayd right willingly.
He laid his fiddle on a shelf
In that old manor-hall,
It played and sung all by itself,
And thus sung this fiddoll:
'There sits the squire, my worthy sire,
A-drinking hisself drunk,' etc., etc.


Pinkerton tells us, in the Preface to his Ancient Scottish Poems, p. cxxxi, that "Binnorie is one half from tradition, one half by the editor." One fourth and three fourths would have been a more exact apportionment. The remainder of his text, which is wholly of his invention, is as follows:

'Gae saddle to me my swiftest steid;
Her fere, by my fae, for her dethe sall bleid.'
A page cam rinning out owr the lie:
'O heavie tydings I bring,' quoth he.
'My luvely lady is far awa gane;
We weit the fairy hae her tane.
Her sister gaed wood wi dule and rage;
Nocht cold we do her mind to suage.
"O Isabel, my sister," she wold cry,
"For thee will I weip, for thee will I die."
Till late yestrene, in an elric hour,
She lap frae aft the hichest touir.'
'Now sleip she in peace,' quoth the gallant squire;
'Her dethe was the maist that I cold require.
But I'll main for the, my Isabel deir,
Full mony a dreiry day, hot weir.'

20. This stanza occurs also in B c (17), and was perhaps borrowed from Pinkerton by the reviser of that copy.

O. a.

Buchan's note, II, 320: "I have seen four or five different versions of this ballad, but none in this dress, nor with the same chorus.... The old woman from whose recitation I took it down says she had heard another way of it, quite local, whose burden runs thus:

'Ever into Buchanshire, vari vari O.'"

12. hae courted.


Mr Christie has "epitomized" Buchan's copy (omitting stanzas 9-12), with these few slight alterations from the singing of a Banffshire woman, who died in 1860, at the age of nearly eighty:

Burden: It's hey, etc.

22. And he courted the eldest wi mony other thing.

31. But it fell.

52. And the eldest.

P. b.

This stanza only:

There livd twa sisters in a bower,
Hey my bonnie Annie O
There cam a lover them to woo.
And the swan swims bonnie O,
And the swan swims bonnie O


The burden is given thus in Pop. Tales of the West Highlands, IV, 125:

Oh ochone, ochone a rie,
On the banks of the Banna, ochone a rie.

R. a.

The title 'The Three Sisters,' and perhaps the first stanza, belongs rather to No 1 A, B, p. 3f.


A farmer there lived in the north countree,
Bo down
And he had daughters one, two, three.
And I'll be true unto my love, if he'll be true unto me

(The burden is given as Bo down, bo down, etc., in Popular Tales of the West Highlands, IV, 125.)

Between 1 and 2 b has:

The eldest she had a lover come,
And he fell in love with the younger one.
He bought the younger a ...
The elder she thought ...

3. wanting.

41. The sisters they walkt by the river brim.

62. my true love.

[Pg 141]

The miller's daughter was at the door,
As sweet as any gillyflower.
O father, O father, there swims a swain,
And he looks like a gentleman.
The miller he fetcht his line and hook,
And he fisht the fair maiden out of the brook.

111. O miller, I'll give you guineas ten,

The miller he took her guineas ten,
And then he popt her in again.

131. ... behind his back gate,

2. the farmer's daughter Kate.

Instead of 14:

The sister she sailed over the sea,
And died an old maid of a hundred and three.
The lover became a beggar man,
And he drank out of a rusty tin can.

b 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 are cited in Popular Tales of the West Highlands, IV, 127.


A varmer he lived in the west countree,
Hey-down, bow-down
A varmer he lived in the west countree,
And he had daughters one, two, and dree.
And I'll be true to my love,
If my love'll be true to me.

2, 3. wanting.

41. As thay wur walking by the river's brim.

51. pray gee me thy hand.

71. So down she sank and away she swam.

The miller's daughter stood by the door,
As fair as any gilly-flower.
here swims a swan,
Very much like a drownded gentlewoman.
The miller he fot his pole and hook,
And he fished the fair maid out of the brook.

111. O miller, I'll gee thee guineas ten.

122. pushed the fair maid in again.

Between 12 and 13 c has,

But the crowner he cum and the justice too,
With a hue and a cry and a hullaballoo.
They hanged the miller beside his own gate
For drowning the varmer's daughter, Kate.

Instead of 14:

The sister she fled beyond the seas,
And died an old maid among black savagees.
So I've ended my tale of the west countree,
And they calls it the Barkshire Tragedee.


12. MS. Or less (?).


"Sung to a peculiar and beautiful air." Allingham, p. xxxiii.


[126] Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands, IV, 126, 1862.

[127] Jamieson, in his Popular Ballads, II, 315, prints the ballad, with five inconsiderable variations from the broadside, as from Musarum Deliciæ, 2d edition, 1656. The careful reprint of this book, and of the same edition, in "Facetiæ," etc., 1817, does not contain this piece, and the first edition, of 1655, differed in no respect as to contents, according to the editor of "Facetiæ." Still it is hardly credible that Jamieson has blundered, and we may suppose that copies, ostensibly of the same edition, varied as to contents, a thing common enough with old books.

[128] Cunningham has re-written Scott's version, Songs of Scotland, II, 109, 'The Two Fair Sisters.' He says, "I was once deeply touched with the singing of this romantic and mournful song.... I have ventured to print it in the manner I heard it sung." There is, to be sure, no reason why he should not have heard his own song sung, once, and still less why he should not have been deeply touched with his own pathos. Cunningham adds one genuine stanza, resembling the first of G, J, P:

Two fair sisters lived in a bower,
Hey ho my nonnie O
There came a knight to be their wooer.
While the swan swims bonnie O

[129] English M is confused on this point. The sisters live in a hall. The burden in st. 1 makes them love a miller-lad; but in 14, 15, calls the drowned girl "the bonnie miller's-lass o Binorie."

[130] The sisters, D, I, walk by, up, a linn; G, go to a sand [strand]; Q, go to the stream; R a, walk on the bryn.

[131] Swedish H begins, "Dear sister, come follow me to the clapping-stone:" "Nay, I have no foul clothes." So F 6, 7, G 4, 5, Färöe A 6, nearly; and then follows the suggestion that they should wash themselves. Another of Rancken's copies begins, "Two sisters went to the bucking-stone, to buck their clothes snow-white," H; and so Rancken's S nearly.

[132] There are, besides the two fishermen, in Norwegian A, two "twaddere," i.e., landloupers, possibly (Bugge) a corruption of the word rendered pilgrims, Färöe vallarar, Swedish vallare. The vallarar in these ballads are perhaps more respectable than those whose acquaintance we shall make through the Norse versions of 'Babylon,' and may be allowed to be harmless vagrants, but scarcely better, seeing that they are ranked with "staff-carls" in Norges Gamle Love, cited by Cleasby and Vigfusson at 'vallari.'

[133] A harp in the Icelandic and Norwegian ballads, Färöe A, B, C, Swedish A, B, D, G, H; a harp in English B, C, G, J. A harp is not named in any of the Danish versions, but a fiddle is mentioned in C, E, H, is plainly meant in A, and may always be intended; or perhaps two fiddles in all but H (which has only one fiddler), and the corrupted G. D begins with two fiddlers, but concludes with only one. We have a fiddle in Swedish C, and in English A, D, E, F, I, J, K, L, O, P; both harp and fiddle in H.

[134] Some of the unprinted Norwegian ballads are not completely described, but a departure from the rule of the major part would probably have been alluded to.

[135] The stanza, 9, in which this is said is no doubt as to its form entirely modern, but not so the idea. I has "the first spring that he playd, it said," etc.

[136] The fourth string is said to speak in Färöe A 30, but no utterance is recorded, and this is likely to be a mistake. In many of the versions, and in this, after the strings have spoken individually, they unite in a powerful but inarticulate concord.

[137] I has lost the terminal stanzas.

[138] Not M, and apparently not D, which ends:

When he kissed the harp upon the mouth, his heart broke.

[139] So the traitor John pushes away Catherine's hands in 'Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight,' Polish Q 25 (see p. 40). In the French versions A, C, E of the same, the knight catches at a branch to save himself, and the lady cuts it off with his sword.

[140] The miller begins to lose character in H:

He dragged her out unto the shore,
And stripped her of all she wore.

[141] Neus also refers to an Esthonian saga of Rögutaja's wife, and to 'Die Pfeiferin,' a tale, in Das Inland, 1846, No 48, Beilage, col. 1246 ff, 1851, No 14, col. 230 ff; and to a Slovenian ballad in Tielemann, Livona, ein historisch-poetisches Taschenbuch, 1812, p. 187.

[142] All these are cited in Köhler's note, Gonzenbach, II, 235.


A. '[The] Cruel Brother, or the Bride's Testament.' a. Alex. Fraser Tytler's Brown MS. b. Jamieson's Popular Ballads, I, 66.

B. The Kinloch MSS, I, 21.

C. 'Ther waur three ladies,' Harris MS., p. 11 b.

D. a. Notes and Queries, 1st S., VI, 53. b. 2d S., V, 171.

E. Notes and Queries, 4th S., V, 105.

F. 'The Three Knights,' Gilbert's Ancient Christmas Carols, 2d ed., p. 68.

G. 'Fine Flowers of the Valley.' a. Herd's MSS, I, 41. b. Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 88.

H. Fragment appended to G.

I. The Kinloch MSS, I, 27.

J. As current in County Meath, Ireland, about 1860.

K. Notes and Queries, 4th S., IV, 517.

[Pg 142]

A a was obtained directly from Mrs Brown of Falkland, in 1800, by Alexander Fraser Tytler. Jamieson says that he gives b verbatim from the recitation of Mrs Arrott; but it would seem that this must have been a slip of memory, for the two agree except in half a dozen words. B, C, I, J are now for the first time printed. G only was taken down earlier than the present century.

Aytoun remarks (1858): "This is, perhaps, the most popular of all the Scottish ballads, being commonly recited and sung even at the present day." The copy which he gives, I, 232, was "taken down from recitation," but is nevertheless a compound of G and A b, with a few unimportant variations, proceeding, no doubt, from imperfect recollection.[143] The copy in Dixon's Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs, p. 56, repeated in Bell's volume of the same title, p. 50, is Gilbert's F. Dixon informs us that the ballad was (in 1846) still popular amongst the peasantry in the west of England. Cunningham gives us a piece called 'The Three Ladies of Leithan Ha,' Songs of Scotland, II, 87, which he would fain have us believe that he did not know he had written himself. "The common copies of this tragic lyric," he truly says, "differ very much from this; not so much in the story itself as in the way it is told."

All versions but K, which has pretty nearly lost all point, agree after the opening stanzas. A-E have three ladies and only one knight; F has three knights and one lady; G, I, J, K have three ladies and three knights [lords in G, "bonny boys" in I, the first line being caught from 'Sir Hugh.'] Three knights are to no purpose; only one knight has anything to do. The reason for three ladies is, of course, that the youngest may be preferred to the others,—an intention somewhat obscured in B. The ladies are in colors in B, C, I, J, and this seems to be the better interpretation in the case of G, though a strict construction of the language would rather point to the other. The colors are transferred to the knights in F because there is only one lady. In K this is a part of the general depravation of the ballad.

'Rizzardo bello,' Wolf, Volkslieder aus Venetien, No 83, seems to be the same story, with a change of relations such as we often find in ballad poetry. Rizzardo is conducting his bride home, and on the way embraces and kisses her. Her brother witnesses "questo onore," and thrusts his sword into the happy bridegroom's heart. Rizzardo tells his bride to come on slowly; he will go before to make preparation. He begs his mother to open the doors, for his bride is without, and he is wounded to death. They try to make the bride eat. She says she can neither eat nor drink: she must put her husband to bed. He gives her a ring, saying, Your brother has been the death of me; then another ring, in sign that she is to be wife of two brothers. She answers him as Guldborg answers Ribold, that she would die rather: "Rather die between two knives than be wife of two brothers." This ballad was obtained from a peasant woman of Castagnero. Another version, which unfortunately is not printed, was sung by a woman at Ostiglia on the Po.

Dr Prior remarks that the offence given by not asking a brother's assent to his sister's marriage was in ballad-times regarded as unpardonable. Other cases which show the importance of this preliminary, and the sometimes fatal consequences of omitting it, are: 'Hr. Peder og Mettelille,' Grundtvig, No 78, II, 325, sts 4, 6; 'Jomfruen i Skoven,' Danske Viser, III, 99, st. 15; 'Jomfru Ellensborg og Hr. Olof,' ib., III, 316, st. 16; 'Iver Lang og hans Søster,' ib., IV, 87, st. 116; 'Herr Helmer Blaa,' ib., IV, 251, st. 8; 'Jomfru Giselmaar,' ib., IV, 309, st. 13. See Prior's Ancient Danish Ballads, III, 112, 232 f, 416.

There is a very common German ballad, 'Graf Friedrich,' in which a bride receives a mortal wound during the bringing-home, but accidentally, and from the bridegroom's hand. The marriage train is going up a hill; the way is narrow; they are crowded; Graf Friedrich's sword shoots from its sheath and wounds the bride. The bridegroom is exceedingly dis[Pg 143]tressed; he tries to stop the bleeding with his shirt; she begs that they may ride slowly. When they reach the house there is a splendid feast, and everything is set before the bride; but she can neither eat nor drink, and only wishes to lie down. She dies in the night. Her father comes in the morning, and, learning what has happened, runs Graf Friedrich through, then drags his body at a horse's heels, and buries it in a bog. Three lilies sprang from the spot, with an inscription announcing that Graf Friedrich was in heaven, and a voice came from the sky commanding that the body should be disinterred. The bridegroom was then buried with his bride, and this act of reparation was attended with other miraculous manifestations. As the ballads stand now, the kinship of 'Graf Friedrich' with 'The Cruel Brother' is not close and cannot be insisted on; still an early connection is not improbable.

The versions of 'Graf Friedrich' are somewhat numerous, and there is a general agreement as to all essentials. They are: A, a Nuremberg broadside "of about 1535," which has not been made accessible by a reprint. B, a Swiss broadside of 1647, without place, "printed in Seckendorf's Musenalmanach für 1808, p. 19;" Uhland, No 122, p. 277; Mittler, No 108; Wunderhorn, II, 293 (1857); Erk's Liederhort, No 15a, p. 42; Böhme, No 79, p. 166: also, in Wunderhorn, 1808, II, 289, with omission of five stanzas and with many changes; Simrock, No 11, p. 28, omitting four stanzas and with changes; as written down by Goethe for Herder, Düntzer u. Herder, Briefe Goethes, u.s.w., Aus Herder's Nachlass, I, 167, with the omission of eight stanzas and with some variations. C, Wunderhorn (1857), II, 299, from the Schwarzwald, == Erlach, IV, 291, Mittler, No 113. D, Taschenbuch für Dichter, u.s.w., Theil VIII, 122, from Upper Lusatia, == Erlach, III, 448, Talvj, Charakteristik, p. 421. E, from the Kuhländchen, Meinert, p. 23, == Mittler, No 109. F, Hoffmann u. Richter, Schlesische V. L., No 19, p. 35, == Mittler, No 112, Erk's Liederhort, No 15, p. 40. G, Zingerle, in Wolf's Zeitschrift für deutsche Mythologie, I, 341, from Meran. H, from Uckermark, Brandenburg, Mittler, No 114. I, Hesse, from oral tradition, Mittler, No 111. J, Erk u. Irmer, II, 54, No 54, from the neighborhood of Halle, == Mittler, No 110. K, from Estedt, district of Magdeburg, Parisius, p. 31, No 9.

A Danish ballad, 'Den saarede Jomfru,' Grundtvig, No 244, IV, 474, has this slight resemblance with 'Graf Friedrich:' While a knight is dancing with a princess, his sword glides from the scabbard and cuts her hand. To save her partner from blame, she represents to her father that she had cut herself with her brother's sword. This considerateness so touches the knight (who is, of course, her equal in rank) that he offers her his hand. The Danish story is found also in Norwegian and in Färöe ballads.

The peculiar testament made by the bride in 'The Cruel Brother,' by which she bequeaths good things to her friends, but ill things to the author of her death, is highly characteristic of ballad poetry. It will be found again in 'Lord Ronald,' 'Edward,' and their analogues. Still other ballads with this kind of testament are: 'Frillens Hævn,' Grundtvig, No 208 C, 16-18, IV, 207; a young man, stabbed by his leman, whom he was about to give up in order to marry, leaves his lands to his father, his bride-bed to his sister, his gilded couch to his mother, and his knife to his leman, wishing it in her body. 'Møen paa Baalet,' Grundtvig, No 109 A, 1821, II, 587; Ole, falsely accused by her brother, and condemned to be burned, gives her mother her silken sark, her sister her shoes, her father her horse, and her brother her knife, with the same wish. 'Kong Valdemar og hans Søster,' Grundtvig, No 126, III, 97, has a testament in A-E and I; in I, 14-19 (III, 912), Liden Kirsten bequeaths her knife, with the same imprecation, to the queen, who, in the other copies, is her unrelenting foe: so Lillelin to Herr Adelbrand, Danske Viser, III, 386, No 162, 16-18, Kristensen, I, 262, No 100, A 20-23, having been dragged at a horse's heels in resentment of a taunt. 'Hustru og Mands Moder,' Grundtvig, No. 84, II, 404, has a testament in A, B, D, H, and in the last[Pg 144] three a bequest of shoes or sark to a cruel mother-in-law or foster-mother, with the wish that she may have no peace or much pain in the wearing. 'Catarina de Lió,' Briz y Candi, Cansons de la Terra, I, 209, has been beaten by her mother-in-law while in a delicate state. When she is at the point of death, the mother-in-law asks what doctor she will have and what will she will make. "My will," says Catherine, "will not please you much. Send back my velvet dress to my father's; my gala dress give my sister; give my working dress to the maid, my jewels to the Virgin." "And what will you leave to me?" "What I leave you will not please you much: my husband to be hanged, my mother-in-law to be quartered, and my sister-in-law to be burned." 'Le Testament de Marion,' another version of this story from the south of France, Uchaud, Gard, Poésies pop. de la France, MS., IV, fol. 283, bequeaths "my laces to my sister Marioun, my prettiest gowns to my sister Jeanneton; to my rascal of a husband three fine cords, and, if that is not enough (to hang him), the hem of his shirt." The Portuguese ballad of 'Dona Helena' rather implies than expresses the imprecation: Braga, C.P. do Archipelago Açoriano, p. 225, No 15, p. 227, No 16; Almeida-Garrett, III, 56; Hartung, I, 233-43, No 18. Helena leaves her husband's house when near childbirth, out of fear of his mother. Her husband, who does not know her reason, goes after her, and compels her to return on horseback, though she has just borne a son. The consequences are what might be expected, and Helena desires to make her shrift and her will. She leaves one thing to her oldest sister, another to her youngest. "And your boy?" "To your bitch of a mother, cause of my woes." "Rather to yours," says the husband, "for I shall have to kill mine" (so Braga; Garrett differs somewhat). 'Die Frau zur Weissenburg' (A), Uhland, p. 287, No 123 B, Scherer's Jungbrunnen, p. 94, No 29; 'Das Lied von der Löwenburg' (B), Simrock, p. 65, No 27; 'Hans Steutlinger' (C), Wunderhorn, II, 168 (1857), all one story, have a bitterly sarcastic testament. A lady instigates her paramour to kill her husband. The betrayed man is asked to whom he will leave his children [commit, A, bequeath, B, C]. "To God Almighty, for he knows who they are." "Your property?" "To the poor, for the rich have enough." "Your wife?" "To young Count Frederic, whom she always liked more than me (A)." "Your castle?" "To the flames."

In some cases there is no trace of animosity towards the person who has caused the testator's death; as in 'El testamento de Amelia' (who has been poisoned by her mother), Milá, Observaciones, p. 103, No 5, Briz y Saltó, Cansons de la Terra, II, 197 (two copies); 'Herren Båld,' Afzelius, I, 76, No 16 (new ed. I, 59, No 15); a Swedish form of 'Frillens Hævn,' Grundtvig, IV, 203; 'Renée le Glaz' and 'Ervoanik Le Lintier,' Luzel, C.P. de la Basse Bretagne, I, 405, 539, 553. There are also simple testaments where there is no occasion for an ill remembrance, as in 'Ribold og Guldborg,' Grundtvig, No 82, I, K, L, U, X, Æ, Kristensen, II, No 84 B; 'Pontplancoat;' Luzel, I, 383, 391. And, again, there are parodies of these wills. Thus the fox makes his will: Grundtvig, Gamle danske Minder, 1854, 'Mikkels Arvegods,' p. 24, and p. 25 a copy from a manuscript three hundred years old; Kristensen, Jyske Folkeviser, II, 324, No 90; 'Reven og Bjönnen,' 'Reven og Nils fiskar,' Landstad, Nos 85, 86, p. 637, 639: and the robin, 'Robin's Tesment,' Buchan, I, 273, Herd's MSS, I, 154, and Scottish Songs (1776), II, 166, Chambers' Popular Rhymes, p. 38, "new edition."

Translated in Grundtvig's Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, No 33, p. 212, F, with use of A and G b; Aytoun's copy, with omissions, by Rosa Warrens, Schottische Volkslieder der Vorzeit, No 17, p. 80; after Allingham and others, by Knortz, Lieder und Romanzen Alt-Englands, No 5, p. 16.

[Pg 145]


a. Alex. Fraser Tytler's Brown MS. b. Jamieson's Popular Ballads, I, 66, purporting to be from the recitation of Mrs Arrot of Aberbrothick.

There was three ladies playd at the ba,
With a hey ho and a lillie gay
There came a knight and played oer them a'.
As the primrose spreads so sweetly
The eldest was baith tall and fair,
But the youngest was beyond compare.
The midmost had a graceful mien,
But the youngest lookd like beautie's queen.
The knight bowd low to a' the three,
But to the youngest he bent his knee.
The ladie turned her head aside,
The knight he woo'd her to be his bride.
The ladie blushd a rosy red,
And sayd, 'Sir knight, I'm too young to wed.'
'O ladie fair, give me your hand,
And I'll make you ladie of a' my land.'
'Sir knight, ere ye my favor win,
You maun get consent frae a' my kin.'
He's got consent frae her parents dear,
And likewise frae her sisters fair.
He's got consent frae her kin each one,
But forgot to spiek to her brother John.
Now, when the wedding day was come,
The knight would take his bonny bride home.
And many a lord and many a knight
Came to behold that ladie bright.
And there was nae man that did her see,
But wishd himself bridegroom to be.
Her father dear led her down the stair,
And her sisters twain they kissd her there.
Her mother dear led her thro the closs,
And her brother John set her on her horse.
She leand her oer the saddle-bow,
To give him a kiss ere she did go.
He has taen a knife, baith lang and sharp,
And stabbd that bonny bride to the heart.
She hadno ridden half thro the town,
Until her heart's blude staind her gown.
'Ride softly on,' says the best young man,
'For I think our bonny bride looks pale and wan.'
'O lead me gently up yon hill,
And I'll there sit down, and make my will.'
'O what will you leave to your father dear?'
'The silver-shod steed that brought me here.'
'What will you leave to your mother dear?'
'My velvet pall and my silken gear.'
'What will you leave to your sister Anne?'
'My silken scarf and my gowden fan.'
'What will you leave to your sister Grace?'
'My bloody cloaths to wash and dress.'
'What will you leave to your brother John?'
'The gallows-tree to hang him on.'
'What will you leave to your brother John's wife?'
'The wilderness to end her life.'
This ladie fair in her grave was laid,
And many a mass was oer her said.
But it would have made your heart right sair,
To see the bridegroom rive his haire.

[Pg 146]


Kinloch's MSS, I, 21, from Mary Barr, May, 1827, Clydesdale.

A gentleman cam oure the sea,
Fine flowers in the valley
And he has courted ladies three.
With the light green and the yellow
One o them was clad in red:
He asked if she wad be his bride.
One o them was clad in green:
He asked if she wad be his queen.
The last o them was clad in white:
He asked if she wad be his heart's delight.
'Ye may ga ask my father, the king:
Sae maun ye ask my mither, the queen.
'Sae maun ye ask my sister Anne:
And dinna forget my brither John.'
He has asked her father, the king:
And sae did he her mither, the queen.
And he has asked her sister Anne:
But he has forgot her brother John.
Her father led her through the ha,
Her mither danced afore them a'.
Her sister Anne led her through the closs,
Her brither John set her on her horse.
It's then he drew a little penknife,
And he reft the fair maid o her life.
'Ride up, ride up,' said the foremost man;
'I think our bride comes hooly on.'
'Ride up, ride up,' said the second man;
'I think our bride looks pale and wan.'
Up than cam the gay bridegroom,
And straucht unto the bride he cam.
'Does your side-saddle sit awry?
Or does your steed ...
'Or does the rain run in your glove?
Or wad ye chuse anither love?'
'The rain runs not in my glove,
Nor will I e'er chuse anither love.
'But O an I war at Saint Evron's well,
There I wad licht, and drink my fill!
'Oh an I war at Saint Evron's closs,
There I wad licht, and bait my horse!'
Whan she cam to Saint Evron's well,
She dought na licht to drink her fill.
Whan she cam to Saint Evron's closs,
The bonny bride fell aff her horse.
'What will ye leave to your father, the king?'
'The milk-white steed that I ride on.'
'What will ye leave to your mother, the queen?'
'The bluidy robes that I have on.'
'What will ye leave to your sister Anne?'
'My gude lord, to be wedded on.'
'What will ye leave to your brither John?'
'The gallows pin to hang him on.'
'What will ye leave to your brither's wife?'
'Grief and sorrow a' the days o her life.'
'What will ye leave to your brither's bairns?'
'The meal-pock to hang oure the arms.'
Now does she neither sigh nor groan:
She lies aneath yon marble stone.

[Pg 147]


Harris MS., p. 11 b, No 7.

There waur three ladies in a ha,
Hech hey an the lily gey
By cam a knicht, an he wooed them a'.
An the rose is aye the redder aye
The first ane she was cled in green;
'Will you fancy me, an be my queen?'
'You may seek me frae my father dear,
An frae my mither, wha did me bear.
'You may seek me frae my sister Anne,
But no, no, no frae my brither John.'
The niest ane she was cled in yellow;
'Will you fancy me, an be my marrow?'
'Ye may seek me frae my father dear,
An frae my mither, wha did me bear.
'Ye may seek me frae my sister Anne,
But no, no, no frae my brither John.'
The niest ane she was cled in red:
'Will ye fancy me, an be my bride?'
'Ye may seek me frae my father dear,
An frae my mither wha did me bear.
'Ye may seek me frae my sister Anne,
An dinna forget my brither John.'
He socht her frae her father, the king,
An he socht her frae her mither, the queen.
He socht her frae her sister Anne,
But he forgot her brither John.
Her mither she put on her goun,
An her sister Anne preened the ribbons doun.
Her father led her doon the close,
An her brither John set her on her horse.
  *   *   *   *   *
Up an spak our foremost man:
'I think our bonnie bride's pale an wan.'
  *   *   *   *   *
'What will ye leave to your father dear?'
'My ... an my ... chair.'
'What will ye leave to your mither dear?'
'My silken screen I was wont to wear.'
'What will ye leave to your sister Anne?'
'My silken snood an my golden fan.'
'What will you leave to your brither John?'
'The gallows tree to hang him on.'


Notes and Queries, 1st S., VI, 53, 2d S., V, 171. As sung by a lady who was a native of County Kerry, Ireland.

There were three ladies playing at ball,
Farin-dan-dan and farin-dan-dee
There came a white knight, and he wooed them all.
With adieu, sweet honey, wherever you be
He courted the eldest with golden rings,
And the others with many fine things.
And adieu, etc.


Notes and Queries, 4th S., V, 105. From Forfarshire, W.F.

There were three sisters playin at the ba,
Wi a hech hey an a lillie gay
There cam a knicht an lookt ower the wa'.
An the primrose springs sae sweetly.
Sing Annet, an Marret, an fair Maisrie,
An the dew hangs i the wood, gay ladie.

[Pg 148]


Gilbert's Ancient Christmas Carols, 2d ed., p. 68, as remembered by the editor. West of England.

There did three knights come from the west,
With the high and the lily oh
And these three knights courted one lady.
As the rose was so sweetly blown
The first knight came was all in white,
And asked of her, if she'd be his delight.
The next knight came was all in green,
And asked of her, if she'd be his queen.
The third knight came was all in red,
And asked of her, if she would wed.
'Then have you asked of my father dear,
Likewise of her who did me bear?
'And have you asked of my brother John?
And also of my sister Anne?'
'Yes, I have asked of your father dear,
Likewise of her who did you bear.
'And I have asked of your sister Anne,
But I've not asked of your brother John.'
Far on the road as they rode along,
There did they meet with her brother John.
She stooped low to kiss him sweet,
He to her heart did a dagger meet.
'Ride on, ride on,' cried the serving man,
'Methinks your bride she looks wondrous wan.'
'I wish I were on yonder stile,
For there I would sit and bleed awhile.
'I wish I were on yonder hill,
There I'd alight and make my will.'
'What would you give to your father dear?'
'The gallant steed which doth me bear.'
'What would you give to your mother dear?'
'My wedding shift which I do wear.
'But she must wash it very clean,
For my heart's blood sticks in evry seam.'
'What would you give to your sister Anne?'
'My gay gold ring and my feathered fan.'
'What would you give to your brother John?'
'A rope and gallows to hang him on.'
'What would you give to your brother John's wife?'
'A widow's weeds, and a quiet life.'


a. Herd's MSS, I, 41. b. Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 88.

There was three ladys in a ha,
Fine flowers i the valley
There came three lords amang them a',
Wi the red, green, and the yellow
The first of them was clad in red:
'O lady fair, will you be my bride?'
The second of them was clad in green:
'O lady fair, will you be my queen?'
The third of them was clad in yellow:
'O lady fair, will you be my marrow?'
'You must ask my father dear,
Likewise the mother that did me bear.'
'You must ask my sister Ann,
And not forget my brother John,'
'I have askt thy father dear,
Likewise thy mother that did thee bear.
'I have askt thy sister Ann,
But I forgot thy brother John.'
Her father led her through the ha,
Her mother dancd before them a'.
Her sister Ann led her through the closs,
Her brother John put her on her horse.
[Pg 149]
'You are high and I am low;
Let me have a kiss before you go.'
She was louting down to kiss him sweet,
Wi his penknife he wounded her deep.
  *   *   *   *   *
'O lead me over into yon stile,
That I may stop and breath a while.
'O lead me over to yon stair,
For there I'll ly and bleed ne mair.'
'O what will you leave your father dear?'
'That milk-white steed that brought me here.'
'O what will you leave your mother dear?'
'The silken gown that I did wear.'
'What will you leave your sister Ann?'
'My silken snood and golden fan.'
'What will you leave your brother John?'
'The highest gallows to hang him on.'
'What will you leave your brother John's wife?'
'Grief and sorrow to end her life.'
'What will ye leave your brother John's bairns?'
'The world wide for them to range.'


Herd's MSS, I, 44, II, 75; Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 90; appended to G.

She louted down to gie a kiss,
With a hey and a lilly gay
He stuck his penknife in her hass.
And the rose it smells so sweetly
'Ride up, ride up,' cry'd the foremost man;
'I think our bride looks pale and wan.'