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She's laid him on a dressin board, Whar she did often dine; 30 She stack a penknife to his heart, And dress'd him like a swine.

She row'd him in a cake of lead, Bade him ly still and sleep, She threw him i' the Jew's draw-well, 35 It was fifty fathom deep.

Whan bells were rung, and mass was sung, And a' man bound to bed, Every lady got home her son, But sweet Sir Hugh was dead.


From Percy's _Reliques_, i. 40; printed from a manuscript copy sent from Scotland.

Mirryland toune is a corruption of Merry Lincoln, and not, as Percy conjectured, of Mailand (Milan) town. In Motherwell's copy we have Maitland town.

The rain rins doun through Mirry-land toune, Sae dois it doune the Pa: Sae dois the lads of Mirry-land toune, Quhan they play at the ba'.

Than out and cam the Jewis dochter, 5 Said, "Will ye cum in and dine?"

"I winnae cum in, I cannae cum in, Without my play-feres nine."

Scho powd an apple reid and white, To intice the zong thing in: 10 Scho powd an apple white and reid, And that the sweit bairne did win.

And scho has taine out a little pen-knife, And low down by her gair; Scho has twin'd the zong thing and his life; 15 A word he nevir spak mair.

And out and cam the thick thick bluid, And out and cam the thin; And out and cam the bonny herts bluid: Thair was nae life left in. 20

Scho laid him on a dressing borde, And drest him like a swine, And laughing said, "Gae nou and pley With zour sweit play-feres nine."

Scho rowd him in a cake of lead, 25 Bade him lie stil and sleip; Scho cast him in a deip draw-well, Was fifty fadom deip.

Quhan bells wer rung, and mass was sung, And every lady went hame, 30 Then ilka lady had her zong sonne, Bot Lady Helen had nane.

Scho rowd hir mantil hir about, And sair sair gan she weip, And she ran into the Jewis castel, 35 Quhan they wer all asleip.

"My bonny Sir Hew, my pretty Sir Hew, I pray thee to me speik:"

"O lady, rinn to the deip draw-well, Gin ze zour sonne wad seik." 40

Lady Helen ran to the deip draw-well, And knelt upon her kne: "My bonny Sir Hew, and ze be here, I pray thee speik to me."

"The lead is wondrous heavy, mither, 45 The well is wondrous deip; A keen pen-knife sticks in my hert, A word I dounae speik.

"Gae hame, gae hame, my mither deir, Fetch me my windling sheet, 50 And at the back o' Mirry-land toun, Its thair we twa sall meet."


From Percy's _Reliques_, i. 81.

The event upon which this ballad is founded, if it has been rightly ascertained, belongs to a remote period in Scottish history. Margaret, the daughter of Alexander III., was, in the year 1281, betrothed to Eric, prince of Norway. The bride was conducted to her husband by a splendid convoy of knights and nobles, and in the month of August was crowned queen. In returning from the celebration of the nuptials, many of the Scottish escort were lost at sea, and among those who perished was Sir Patrick Spence, we are to suppose.

It is in conformity with this view of the origin of the ballad, (the suggestion of Motherwell,) that in Buchan's version the object of the voyage is said to be to take the king's daughter, now "a chosen queen,"

_to_ Norway. In Scott's edition, on the other hand, Sir Patrick is deputed _to bring home_ the king of Norway's daughter. To explain this circumstance in the story, Sir Walter is forced to suppose that an unsuccessful and unrecorded embassy was sent, when the death of Alexander III. had left the Scottish throne vacant, to bring the only daughter of Eric and Margaret, styled by historians the Maid of Norway, to the kingdom of which, after her grandfather's demise, she became the heir. That such an embassy, attended with so disastrous consequences to the distinguished persons who would compose it, should be entirely unnoticed by the chroniclers is, to say the least, exceedingly improbable.

The question concerning the historical basis of the ballad would naturally lose much of its interest, were any importance attached to the arguments by which its genuineness has been lately assailed. These are so trivial as hardly to admit of a statement. The claims of the composition to a high antiquity are first disputed, (_Musical Museum_, new ed., iv. 457*,) on the ground that such a piece was never heard of till it was sent to Percy by some of his correspondents in Scotland, with other ballads of (assumed) questionable authority. But even the ballad of _Sir Hugh_ is liable to any impeachment that can be extracted from these circumstances, since it was first made known by Percy, and was transmitted to him from Scotland, (for aught we know, in suspicious company,) while its story dates also from the 13th century. Then, "an ingenious friend" having remarked to Percy that some of the phrases of _Hardyknute_ seemed to have been borrowed from _Sir Patrick Spence_ and _other_ old Scottish songs, this observation, combined with the fact that the localities of Dunfermline and Aberdour are in the neighborhood of Sir Henry Wardlaw's estate, leads to a conjecture that Lady Wardlaw may have been the author of _Sir Patrick Spence_, as she is known to have been of _Hardyknute_. It could never be deemed fair to argue from those resemblances which give plausibility to a counterfeit to the spuriousness of the original, but in fact there is _no_ resemblance in the two pieces. _Hardyknute_ is recognized at once by an ordinary critic to be a modern production, and is, notwithstanding the praise it has received, a tame and tiresome one besides. _Sir Patrick Spence_, on the other hand, if not ancient, has been always accepted as such by the most skilful judges, and is a solitary instance of a successful imitation, in manner and spirit, of the best specimens of authentic minstrelsy.[1]

It is not denied that this ballad has suffered, like others, by corruption and interpolations, and it is not, therefore, maintained that hats and cork-heeld shoon are of the 13th century.

We have assigned to Percy's copy the first place, because its brevity and directness give it a peculiar vigor. Scott's edition follows, made up from two MS. copies, (one of which has been printed in Jamieson's _Popular Ballads_, i. 157,) collated with several verses recited by a friend. Buchan's version, obtained from recitation, is in the Appendix.

The variations in recited copies are numerous: some specimens are given by Motherwell, p. xlv.

[1] This controversy has been recently re-opened by R. Chambers, _The Romantic Scottish Ballads, their Epoch and Authorship_, Edin. 1859; and in reply, _The Romantic Scottish Ballads and the Lady Wardlaw Heresy_, by Norval Clyne, Aberdeen, 1859.

The king sits in Dumferling[2] toune, Drinking the blude-reid wine: "O quhar will I get guid sailor, To sail this schip of mine?"

Up and spak an eldern knicht, 5 Sat at the kings richt kne: "Sir Patrick Spence is the best sailor, That sails upon the se."

The king has written a braid letter, And signd it wi' his hand, 10 And sent it to Sir Patrick Spence, Was walking on the sand.

The first line that Sir Patrick red, A loud lauch lauched he: The next line that Sir Patrick red, 15 The teir blinded his ee.

"O quha is this has don this deid, This ill deid don to me; To send me out this time o' the zeir, To sail upon the se? 20

"Mak hast, mak haste, my mirry men all, Our guid schip sails the morne."

"O say na sae, my master deir, For I feir a deadlie storme.

"Late late yestreen I saw the new moone 25 Wi' the auld moone in hir arme; And I feir, I feir, my deir master, That we will com to harme."

O our Scots nobles wer richt laith To weet their cork-heild schoone; 30 Bot lang owre a' the play wer playd, Thair hats they swam aboone.

O lang, lang, may their ladies sit Wi' thair fans into their hand, Or eir they se Sir Patrick Spence 35 Cum sailing to the land.

O lang, lang, may the ladies stand Wi' thair gold kems in their hair, Waiting for thair ain deir lords, For they'll se thame na mair. 40

Have owre, have owre to Aberdour,[L41]

It's fiftie fadom deip: And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spence, Wi' the Scots lords at his feit.

[2] The palace of Dunfermline was the favorite residence of King Alexander III.

41-44. "It is true that the name of Sir Patrick Spens is not mentioned in history; but I am able to state that tradition has preserved it. In the little island of Papa Stronsay, one of the Orcadian group, lying over against Norway, there is a large grave or tumulus, which has been known to the inhabitants, from time immemorial, as 'The grave of Sir Patrick Spens.' The Scottish ballads were not early current in Orkney, a Scandinavian country; so it is very unlikely that the poem could have originated the name. The people know nothing beyond the traditional appellation of the spot, and they have no legend to tell." Aytoun, _Ballads of Scotland_, i. 2.--This passage is cited simply as a piece of _external_ evidence to the antiquity of the legend of Sir Patrick Spens,--supposing the matter of fact to be well established, and the alleged tradition to be of long standing.


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