O it's they've taen up their mother's mantil, And they've hung it on a pin: 50 "O lang may ye hing, my mother's mantil, Ere ye hap us again."
First printed in a complete form in Maidment's _North Countrie Garland_, p. 24. The same editor contributed a slightly different copy to Motherwell's _Minstrelsy_, (p. 173.) An inferior version is furnished by Buchan, i. 234, and Jamieson has published a fragment on the same story, here given in the Appendix.
Lord Ingram and Childe Vyet, Were both born in ane bower, Had both their loves on one Lady, The less was their honour.[L4]
Childe Vyet and Lord Ingram, 5 Were both born in one hall, Had both their loves on one Lady The worse did them befall.
Lord Ingram woo'd the Lady Maiserey, From father and from mother; 10 Lord Ingram woo'd the Lady Maiserey, From sister and from brother.
Lord Ingram wooed the Lady Maiserey, With leave of all her kin; And every one gave full consent, 15 But she said no, to him.
Lord Ingram wooed the Lady Maiserey, Into her father's ha'; Childe Vyet wooed the Lady Maiserey, Among the sheets so sma'. 20
Now it fell out upon a day, She was dressing her head, That ben did come her father dear, Wearing the gold so red.
"Get up now, Lady Maiserey, 25 Put on your wedding gown, For Lord Ingram will be here, Your wedding must be done!"
"I'd rather be Childe Vyet's wife, The white fish for to sell, 30 Before I were Lord Ingram's wife, To wear the silk so well!
"I'd rather be Childe Vyet's wife, With him to beg my bread, Before I'd be Lord Ingram's wife, 35 To wear the gold so red.
"Where will I get a bonny boy, Will win gold to his fee, Will run unto Childe Vyet's ha', With this letter from me?" 40
"O here, I am the boy," says one, "Will win gold to my fee, And carry away any letter, To Childe Vyet from thee."
And when he found the bridges broke, 45 He bent his bow and swam; And when he found the grass growing, He hasten'd and he ran.
And when he came to Vyet's castle, He did not knock nor call, 50 But set his bent bow to his breast, And lightly leaped the wall; And ere the porter open'd the gate, The boy was in the hall.
The first line that Childe Vyet read, 55 A grieved man was he; The next line that he looked on, A tear blinded his e'e.
"What ails my own brother," he says, "He'll not let my love be; 60 But I'll send to my brother's bridal; The woman shall be free.
"Take four and twenty bucks and ewes, And ten tun of the wine, And bid my love be blythe and glad, 65 And I will follow syne."
There was not a groom about that castle, But got a gown of green; And a' was blythe, and a' was glad, But Lady Maiserey was wi' wean.[L70] 70
There was no cook about the kitchen, But got a gown of gray; And a' was blythe, and a' was glad, But Lady Maiserey was wae.
'Tween Mary Kirk and that castle, 75 Was all spread o'er with garl,[L76]
To keep the lady and her maidens, From tramping on the marl.[L78]
From Mary Kirk to that castle, Was spread a cloth of gold, 80 To keep the lady and her maidens, From treading on the mould.
When mass was sung, and bells were rung, And all men bound for bed, Then Lord Ingram and Lady Maiserey, 85 In one bed they were laid.
When they were laid upon their bed, It was baith soft and warm, He laid his hand over her side, Says he, "you are with bairn." 90
"I told you once, so did I twice, When ye came as my wooer, That Childe Vyet, your one brother, One night lay in my bower.
"I told you twice, so did I thrice, 95 Ere ye came me to wed, That Childe Vyet, your one brother, One night lay in my bed!"
"O will you father your bairn on me, And on no other man? 100 And I'll gie him to his dowry, Full fifty ploughs of land."
"I will not father my bairn on you, Nor on no wrongous man, Tho' you'd gie him to his dowry, 105 Five thousand ploughs of land."
Then up did start him Childe Vyet, Shed by his yellow hair, And gave Lord Ingram to the heart, A deep wound and a sair. 110
Then up did start him Lord Ingram, Shed by his yellow hair, And gave Childe Vyet to the heart, A deep wound and a sair.
There was no pity for the two lords, 115 Where they were lying slain, All was for Lady Maiserey: In that bower she gaed brain!
There was no pity for the two lords, When they were lying dead, 120 All was for Lady Maiserey: In that bower she went mad!
"O get to me a cloak of cloth, A staff of good hard tree; If I have been an evil woman, 125 I shall beg till I die.
"For ae bit I'll beg for Childe Vyet, For Lord Ingram I'll beg three, All for the honourable marriage, that At Mary Kirk he gave me!" 130
4. The less was their bonheur. MOTHERWELL.
70, she was neen. Motherwell.
78, mould. N. C. G.
This ballad, said to be very popular in Scotland, was taken down from recitation by Jamieson, and is extracted from his collection, vol. i. p. 73. A different copy, from Motherwell's _Minstrelsy_, p.
234, is given in the Appendix. Another, styled _Young Prince James_, may be seen in Buchan's _Ballads_, vol. i. 103. _Bonnie Susie Cleland_, Motherwell, p. 221, is still another version.
In _Lady Maisry_ we seem to have the English form of a tragic story which, starting from Denmark, has spread over almost all the north of Europe, that of _King Waldemar and his Sister_. Grundtvig's collection gives seven copies of the Danish ballad upon this subject (_Kong Valdemar og hans Soster_, No. 126), the oldest from a manuscript of the beginning of the 17th century. Five Icelandic versions are known, one Norse, one Faroish, five Swedish (four of them in Arwidsson, No. 53, _Liten Kerstin och Fru Sofia_), and several in German, as _Graf Hans von Holstein und seine Schwester Annchristine_, Erk, _Liederhort_, p. 155; _Der Grausame Bruder_, Erk, p. 153, and Hoffmann, _Schlesische Volkslieder_, No. 27; _Der Grobe Bruder_, _Wunderhorn_, ii. 272; _Der Pfalzgraf am Rhein_, _id._ i. 259, etc.; also a fragment in Wendish. The relationship of the English ballad to the rest of the cycle can perhaps be easiest shown by comparison with the simplified and corrupted German versions.
The story appears to be founded on facts which occurred during the reign and in the family of the Danish king, Waldemar the First, sometime between 1157 and 1167. Waldemar is described as being, with all his greatness, of a relentless and cruel disposition (_in ira pertinax_; _in suos tantum plus justo crudelior_). Tradition, however, has imputed to him a brutal ferocity beyond belief. In the ballad before us, Lady Maisry suffers for her weakness by being burned at the stake, but in the Danish, Swedish, and German ballads, the king's sister is beaten to death with leathern whips, by her brother's own hand.
"Er schlug sie so sehre, er schlug sie so lang, Bis Lung und Leber aus dem Leib ihr sprang!"
The Icelandic and Faroe ballads have nothing of this horrible ferocity, but contain a story which is much nearer to probability, if not to historical truth. While King Waldemar is absent on an expedition against the Wends, his sister Kristin is drawn into a _liaison_ with her second-cousin, the result of which is the birth of two children. Sofia, the Queen, maliciously makes the state of things known to the king the moment he returns (which is on the very day of Kristin's lying in, according to the Danish ballad), but he will not believe the story,--all the more because the accused parties are within prohibited degrees of consanguinity. Kristin is summoned to come instantly to her brother, and obeys the message, though she is weak with childbirth, and knows that the journey will cost her her life. She goes to the court on horseback (in the Danish ballads falling from the saddle once or twice on the way), and on her arrival is put to various tests to ascertain her condition, concluding with a long dance with the king, to which, having held out for a considerable time, she at last succumbs, and falls dead in her brother's arms.