English and Scottish Ballads.
A fragment of this gloomy and impressive romance, (corresponding to v.
21-42,) was published in Herd's _Scottish Songs_, i. 184, from which, probably, it was copied into Pinkerton's _Scottish Tragic Ballads_, p.
84. The entire ballad was first printed in _The Border Minstrelsy_, together with another piece, _Lord William_, containing a part of the same incidents. Of the five versions which have appeared, four are given in this place, and the remaining one in the Appendix. In the _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1794, Vol. 64, Part I. p. 553, there is a modern ballad of extremely perverted orthography and vicious style, (meant for ancient,) in which the twenty lines of Herd's fragment are interwoven with an altogether different story. It is printed as authentic in _Scarce "Ancient" Ballads_, Aberdeen, 1822.
"There are two ballads in Mr. Herd's MSS. upon the following story, in one of which the unfortunate knight is termed _Young Huntin'_. [See Appendix.] The best verses are selected from both copies, and some trivial alterations have been adopted from tradition." _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, iii. 184.
"O Lady, rock never your young son, young, One hour langer for me; For I have a sweetheart in Garlioch Wells, I love far better than thee.
"The very sole o' that lady's foot 5 Than thy face is far mair white:"
"But, nevertheless, now, Erl Richard, Ye will bide in my bower a' night?"
She birled him with the ale and wine, As they sat down to sup: 10 A living man he laid him down, But I wot he ne'er rose up.
Then up and spake the popinjay, That flew aboun her head; "Lady! keep weel your green cleiding 15 Frae gude Erl Richard's bleid."--
"O better I'll keep my green cleiding Frae gude Erl Richard's bleid, Than thou canst keep thy clattering toung, That trattles in thy head." 20
She has call'd upon her bower maidens, She has call'd them ane by ane; "There lies a dead man in my bour: I wish that he were gane!"
They hae booted him, and spurred him, 25 As he was wont to ride;-- A hunting-horn tied round his waist, A sharpe sword by his side; And they hae had him to the wan water, For a' men call it Clyde.[L30] 30
Then up and spoke the popinjay That sat upon the tree-- "What hae ye done wi' Erl Richard?
Ye were his gay ladye."--
"Come down, come down, my bonny bird, 35 And sit upon my hand; And thou sall hae a cage o' gowd, Where thou hast but the wand."--
"Awa! awa! ye ill woman!
Nae cage o' gowd for me; 40 As ye hae done to Erl Richard, Sae wad ye do to me."
She hadna cross'd a rigg o' land, A rigg but barely ane, When she met wi' his auld father, 45 Came riding all alane.
"Where hae ye been, now, ladye fair, Where hae ye been sae late?
We hae been seeking Erl Richard, But him we canna get."-- 50
"Erl Richard kens a' the fords in Clyde, He'll ride them ane by ane; And though the night was ne'er sae mirk, Erl Richard will be hame."
O it fell anes, upon a day, 55 The King was boun to ride; And he has mist him, Erl Richard, Should hae ridden on his right side.
The ladye turn'd her round about, Wi' mickle mournfu' din-- 60 "It fears me sair o' Clyde water, That he is drown'd therein."--
"Gar douk, gar douk," the King he cried, "Gar douk for gold and fee; O wha will douk for Erl Richard's sake, 65 Or wha will douk for me?"
They douked in at ae weil-heid, And out aye at the other; "We can douk nae mair for Erl Richard, Although he were our brother." 70
It fell that, in that ladye's castle, The King was boun to bed; And up and spake the popinjay, That flew abune his head.
"Leave aff your douking on the day, 75 And douk upon the night; And where that sackless knight lies slain, The candles will burn bright."--
"O there's a bird within this bower, That sings baith sad and sweet; 80 O there's a bird within your bower, Keeps me frae my night's sleep."
They left the douking on the day, And douk'd upon the night; And where that sackless knight lay slain, 85 The candles burned bright.[L86]
The deepest pot in a' the linn,[L87]
They fand Erl Richard in; A green turf tyed across his breast, To keep that gude lord down. 90
Then up and spake the King himsell, When he saw the deadly wound-- "O wha has slain my right-hand man, That held my hawk and hound?"--
Then up and spake the popinjay, 95 Says--"What needs a' this din?
It was his light leman took his life, And hided him in the linn."
She swore her by the grass sae grene, Sae did she by the corn, 100 She hadna seen him, Erl Richard, Since Moninday at morn.
"Put na the wite on me," she said, "It was my may Catherine:"
Then they hae cut baith fern and thorn, 105 To burn that maiden in.
It wadna take upon her cheik, Nor yet upon her chin; Nor yet upon her yellow hair, To cleanse the deadly sin. 110
The maiden touch'd the clay-cauld corpse, A drap it never bled; The ladye laid her hand on him, And soon the ground was red.
Out they hae ta'en her, may Catherine, 115 And put her mistress in; The flame tuik fast upon her cheik, Tuik fast upon her chin; Tuik fast upon her faire body-- She burn'd like hollin-green.[L120] 120
30. _Clyde_, in Celtic, means _white_.--LOCKHART.
86. These are unquestionably the corpse-lights, called in Wales _Canhwyllan Cyrph_, which are sometimes seen to illuminate the spot where a dead body is concealed. The Editor is informed, that, some years ago, the corpse of a man, drowned in the Ettrick, below Selkirk, was discovered by means of these candles. Such lights are common in churchyards, and are probably of a phosphoric nature. But rustic superstition derives them from supernatural agency, and supposes, that, as soon as life has departed, a pale flame appears at the window of the house, in which the person had died, and glides towards the churchyard, tracing through every winding the route of the future funeral, and pausing where the bier is to rest. This and other opinions, relating to the "tomb-fires' livid gleam," seem to be of Runic extraction. SCOTT.
87. The deep holes, scooped in the rock by the eddies of a river, are called _pots_; the motion of the water having there some resemblance to a boiling caldron. _Linn_, means the pool beneath a cataract. SCOTT.
120. The lines immediately preceding, "The maiden touched," &c., and which are restored from tradition, refer to a superstition formerly received in most parts of Europe, and even resorted to by judicial authority, for the discovery of murder. In Germany, this experiment was called _bahrrecht_, or the law of the bier; because, the murdered body being stretched upon a bier, the suspected person was obliged to put one hand upon the wound and the other upon the mouth of the deceased, and, in that posture, call upon heaven to attest his innocence. If, during this ceremony, the blood gushed from the mouth, nose, or wound, a circumstance not unlikely to happen in the course of shifting or stirring the body, it was held sufficient evidence of the guilt of the party. SCOTT.