The Duke o' Perth had three daughters, Elizabeth, Margaret, and fair Marie; And Mary's to the greenwud gane, To pu' the rose and the fair lilie.
She hadna pu'd a rose, a rose, 45 A double rose, but barely three, When up and started a Loudon lord, Wi' Loudon hose, and London sheen.
"O will ye be called a robber's wife?
Or will ye be stickit wi' my bloody knife? 50 For pu'in the rose and the fair lilie, For pu'in them sae fair and free."
"Before I'll be called a robber's wife, I'll rather be stickit wi' your bloody knife, For pu'in the rose and the fair lilie, 55 For pu'in them sae fair and free."
But just as he took out his knife, To tak frae her her ain sweet life, Her brother John cam ryding bye, And this bloody robber he did espy. 60
But when he saw his sister fair, He kenn'd her by her yellow hair; He call'd upon his pages three, To find this robber speedilie.
"My sisters twa that are dead and gane, 65 For whom we made a heavy maene, It's you that's twinn'd them o' their life, And wi' your cruel bloody knife.
Then for their life ye sair shall dree: Ye sall be hangit on a tree, 70 Or thrown into the poison'd lake, To feed the toads and rattle-snake."
From _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, iii. 162.
"This ballad is published from tradition, with some conjectural emendations. It is corrected by a copy in Mrs. Brown's MS., from which it differs in the concluding stanzas. Some verses are apparently modernized.
"_Jellon_ seems to be the same name with _Jyllian_, or _Julian_.
'Jyl of Brentford's Testament' is mentioned in Warton's _History of Poetry_, vol. ii. p. 40. The name repeatedly occurs in old ballads, sometimes as that of a man, at other times as that of a woman. Of the former is an instance in the ballad of _The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter_. [See this collection, vol. iii. p. 253.]
'Some do call me Jack, sweetheart, And some do call me _Jille_.'
"Witton Gilbert, a village four miles west of Durham, is, throughout the bishopric, pronounced Witton Jilbert. We have also the common name of Giles, always in Scotland pronounced Jill. For Gille, or Juliana, as a female name, we have _Fair Gillian_ of Croyden, and a thousand authorities. Such being the case, the Editor must enter his protest against the conversion of _Gil_ Morrice into _Child_ Maurice, an epithet of chivalry. All the circumstances in that ballad argue, that the unfortunate hero was an obscure and very young man, who had never received the honour of knighthood. At any rate there can be no reason, even were internal evidence totally wanting, for altering a well-known proper name, which, till of late years, has been the uniform title of the ballad." SCOTT.
_May-a-Row_, in Buchan's larger collection, ii. 231, is another, but an inferior, version of this ballad.
O Jellon Grame sat in Silverwood,[L1]
He sharp'd his broadsword lang; And he has call'd his little foot-page An errand for to gang.
"Win up, my bonny boy," he says, 5 "As quickly as ye may; For ye maun gang for Lillie Flower Before the break of day."--
The boy has buckled his belt about, And through the green-wood ran; 10 And he came to the ladye's bower Before the day did dawn.
"O sleep ye, wake ye, Lillie Flower?
The red sun's on the rain: Ye're bidden come to Silverwood, 15 But I doubt ye'll never win hame."--
She hadna ridden a mile, a mile, A mile but barely three, Ere she came to a new-made grave, Beneath a green aik tree. 20
O then up started Jellon Grame, Out of a bush thereby; "Light down, light down, now, Lillie Flower, For it's here that ye maun lye."--
She lighted aff her milk-white steed, 25 And kneel'd upon her knee; "O mercy, mercy, Jellon Grame, For I'm no prepared to die!
"Your bairn, that stirs between my sides, Maun shortly see the light: 30 But to see it weltering in my blood, Would be a piteous sight."--
"O should I spare your life," he says, "Until that bairn were born, Full weel I ken your auld father 35 Would hang me on the morn."--
"O spare my life, now, Jellon Grame!
My father ye needna dread: I'll keep my babe in gude green-wood, Or wi' it I'll beg my bread."-- 40
He took no pity on Lillie Flower, Though she for life did pray; But pierced her through the fair body As at his feet she lay.
He felt nae pity for Lillie Flower, 45 Where she was lying dead; But he felt some for the bonny bairn, That lay weltering in her bluid.
Up has he ta'en that bonny boy, Given him to nurses nine; 50 Three to sleep, and three to wake, And three to go between.
And he bred up that bonny boy, Call'd him his sister's son; And he thought no eye could ever see 55 The deed that he had done.
O so it fell upon a day, When hunting they might be, They rested them in Silverwood, Beneath that green aik tree. 60
And many were the green-wood flowers Upon the grave that grew, And marvell'd much that bonny boy To see their lovely hue.
"What's paler than the prymrose wan? 65 What's redder than the rose?
What's fairer than the lilye flower On this wee know that grows?"--
O out and answer'd Jellon Grame, And he spak hastilie-- 70 "Your mother was a fairer flower, And lies beneath this tree.
"More pale she was, when she sought my grace, Than prymrose pale and wan; And redder than rose her ruddy heart's blood, 75 That down my broadsword ran."--
Wi' that the boy has bent his bow, It was baith stout and lang; An thro' and thro' him, Jellon Grame, He gar'd an arrow gang. 80
Says,--"Lie ye there, now, Jellon Grame!
My malisoun gang you wi'!
The place that my mother lies buried in Is far too good for thee."
1. Silverwood, mentioned in this ballad, occurs in a medley MS.
song, which seems to have been copied from the first edition of the Aberdeen Cantus, _penes_ John G. Dalyell, Esq. advocate. One line only is cited, apparently the beginning of some song:--
"Silverwood, gin ye were mine." SCOTT.
A fragment of this fine ballad (which is commonly called _The Cruel Knight_) was published by Herd, (i. 222,) and also by Pinkerton, (_Select Scottish Ballads_, i. 69,) with variations. Finlay constructed a nearly complete edition from two recited copies, but suppressed some lines. (_Scottish Ballads_, ii. 72.) The present copy is one which Motherwell obtained from recitation, with a few verbal emendations by that editor from Finlay's.
With respect to the sudden and strange catastrophe, Motherwell remarks:--
"The reciters of old ballads frequently supply the best commentaries upon them, when any obscurity or want of connection appears in the poetical narrative. This ballad, as it stands, throws no light on young Johnstone's motive for stabbing his lady; but the person from whose lips it was taken down alleged that the barbarous act was committed unwittingly, through young Johnstone's suddenly waking from sleep, and, in that moment of confusion and alarm, unhappily mistaking his mistress for one of his pursuers. It is not improbable but the ballad may have had, at one time, a stanza to the above effect, the substance of which is still remembered, though the words in which it was couched have been forgotten." _Minstrelsy_, p. 193.