His brow was like the mountain snae Gilt by the morning beam; His cheeks like living roses glow; His een like azure stream.
The boy was clad in robes of grene, Sweete as the infant spring; And like the mavis on the bush, He gart the vallies ring.
That sweetly wavd around his face, That face beyond compare; He sang sae sweet, it might dispel A' rage but fell dispair.
153. Stall copy, And _first_ she kissed.
"Obraid me not, my Lord Barnard!
Obraid me not for shame!
Wi' that saim speir, O pierce my heart!
And put me out o' pain.
"Since nothing bot Gill Morice' head Thy jelous rage could quell, Let that saim hand now tak hir life That neir to thee did ill.
"To me nae after days nor nichts Will eir be saft or kind; I'll fill the air with heavy sighs, And greet till I am blind."
"Enouch of blood by me's bin spilt, Seek not zour death frae me; I rather lourd it had been my sel Than eather him or thee.
"With waefo wae I hear zour plaint; Sair, sair I rew the deid, That eir this cursed hand of mine Had gard his body bleid.
"Dry up zour tears, my winsome dame, Ze neir can heal the wound; Ze see his head upon the speir, His heart's blude on the ground.
"I curse the hand that did the deid, The heart that thocht the ill; The feet that bore me wi' sik speid, The comely zouth to kill.
"I'll ay lament for Gill Morice, As gin he were mine ain; I'll neir forget the dreiry day On which the zouth was slain."
From Motherwell's _Minstrelsy_, p. 282.
"By testimony of a most unexceptionable description,--but which it would be tedious here to detail,--the Editor can distinctly trace this ballad as existing in its present shape at least a century ago, which carries it decidedly beyond the date of the first printed copy of _Gil Morice_; and this with a poem which has been preserved but by oral tradition, is no mean _positive_ antiquity."
In the Introduction to his collection, Motherwell mentions his having found a more complete copy of this ballad under the title of _Babe Nourice_.
Child Noryce is a clever young man, He wavers wi' the wind; His horse was silver shod before, With the beaten gold behind.
He called to his little man John, 5 Saying, "You don't see what I see; For O yonder I see the very first woman That ever loved me.
"Here is a glove, a glove," he said, "Lined with the silver gris; 10 You may tell her to come to the merry green wood, To speak to Child Nory.
"Here is a ring, a ring," he says, "It's all gold but the stane; You may tell her to come to the merry green wood, 15 And ask the leave o' nane."
"So well do I love your errand, my master, But far better do I love my life; O would ye have me go to Lord Barnard's castel, To betray away his wife?" 20
"O don't I give you meat," he says, "And don't I pay you fee?
How dare you stop my errand?" he says; "My orders you must obey."
O when he came to Lord Barnard's castel, 25 He tinkled at the ring; Who was as ready as Lord Barnard[L27] himself To let this little boy in?
"Here is a glove, a glove," he says, "Lined with the silver gris; 30 You are bidden to come to the merry green wood, To speak to Child Nory.
"Here is a ring, a ring," he says, "It's all gold but the stane: You are bidden to come to the merry green wood, 35 And ask the leave o' nane."
Lord Barnard he was standing by, And an angry man was he: "O little did I think there was a lord in this world My lady loved but me!" 40
O he dressed himself in the Holland smocks, And garments that was gay; And he is away to the merry green wood, To speak to Child Nory.
Child Noryce sits on yonder tree, 45 He whistles and he sings: "O wae be to me," says Child Noryce, "Yonder my mother comes!"
Child Noryce he came off the tree, His mother to take off the horse: 50 "Och alace, alace," says Child Noryce, "My mother was ne'er so gross."
Lord Barnard he had a little small sword, That hung low down by his knee; He cut the head off Child Noryce, 55 And put the body on a tree.
And when he came to his castel, And to his lady's hall, He threw the head into her lap, Saying, "Lady, there is a ball!" 60
She turned up the bloody head, She kissed it frae cheek to chin: "Far better do I love this bloody head Than all my royal kin.
"When I was in my father's castell, 65 In my virginitie, There came a lord into the North, Gat Child Noryce with me."
"O wae be to thee, Lady Margaret," he said, "And an ill death may you die; 70 For if you had told me he was your son, He had ne'er been slain by me."
27. This unquestionably should be Lady Barnard, instead of her lord. See third stanza under. M.
From the _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, (iii. 175,) where it was first published. It was "taken from Mr. Herd's MSS., with several corrections from a shorter and more imperfect copy in the same volume, and one or two conjectural emendations in the arrangement of the stanzas."
That that part of the ballad which follows the death of the lovers is an independent story, is obvious both from internal evidence, and from the separate existence of those concluding stanzas in a variety of forms: as, _Sweet William's Ghost_, (_Tea-Table Miscellany_, ii.
142,) _Sweet William and May Margaret_, (Kinloch, p. 241,) _William and Marjorie_, (Motherwell, p. 186.) Of this second part, Motherwell observes, that it is often made the tail-piece to other ballads where a deceased lover appears to his mistress. The two were, however, combined by Sir Walter Scott, and the present Editor has contented himself with indicating distinctly the close of the proper story.
An inferior copy of _Clerk Saunders_, published by Jamieson, is inserted in the Appendix, for the sake of a few valuable stanzas.
It resembles the Swedish ballad of _The Cruel Brother_, (_Svenska Folk-Visor_, iii. 107,) which, however, is much shorter. The edition of Buchan, (i. 160,) is entirely worthless. A North-Country version of the First Part is given by Kinloch, _Ancient Scottish Ballads_, 233.