He strack the door hard wi' his foot, 125 Sae has he wi' his knee, And iron locks and iron bars Into the floor flung he: "Be not afraid, Burd Ellen," he says, "There's nane come in but me. 130
"Tak up, tak up my bonny young son; Gar wash him wi' the milk; Tak up, tak up my fair lady, Gar row her in the silk.
"And cheer thee up, Burd Ellen," he says, 135 "Look nae mair sad nor wae; For your marriage and your kirkin too Sall baith be in ae day."
62,63, according to Jamieson, the same as vv. 54, 55, but here formed on their model, from 57, 58.
First published in the _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, ii.
351,--"from the collation of two copies obtained from recitation."
_Erlinton_ and _The Child of Elle_ are corrupt varieties of _The Douglas Tragedy_. The passage referred to in vol. ii. p. 114, is remarked on in a note at the end of the ballad.
Erlinton had a fair daughter; I wat he weird her in a great sin, For he has built a bigly bower, An' a' to put that lady in.
An' he has warn'd her sisters six, 5 An' sae has he her brethren se'en, Outher to watch her a' the night, Or else to seek her morn an e'en.
She hadna been i' that bigly bower, Na not a night, but barely ane, 10 Till there was Willie, her ain true love, Chapp'd at the door, cryin', "Peace within!"
"O whae is this at my bower door, That chaps sae late, or kens the gin?"
"O it is Willie, your ain true love, 15 I pray you rise an' let me in!"
"But in my bower there is a wake, An' at the wake there is a wane; But I'll come to the green-wood the morn, Whar blooms the brier, by mornin' dawn." 20
Then she's gane to her bed again, Where she has layen till the cock crew thrice, Then she said to her sisters a', "Maidens, 'tis time for us to rise."
She pat on her back her silken gown, 25 An' on her breast a siller pin, An' she's ta'en a sister in ilka hand, An' to the green-wood she is gane.
She hadna walk'd in the green-wood, Na not a mile but barely ane, 30 Till there was Willie, her ain true love, Wha frae her sisters has her ta'en.
He took her sisters by the hand, He kiss'd them baith, an' sent them hame, An' he's ta'en his true love him behind, 35 And through the green-wood they are gane.
They hadna ridden in the bonnie green-wood, Na not a mile but barely ane, When there came fifteen o' the boldest knights, That ever bare flesh, blood, or bane. 40
The foremost was an aged knight, He wore the grey hair on his chin: Says, "Yield to me thy lady bright, An' thou shalt walk the woods within."
"For me to yield my lady bright 45 To such an aged knight as thee, People wad think I war gane mad, Or a' the courage flown frae me."
But up then spake the second knight, I wat he spake right boustouslie: 50 "Yield me thy life, or thy lady bright, Or here the tane of us shall die."
"My lady is my warld's meed;[L53]
My life I winna yield to nane; But if ye be men of your manhead, 55 Ye'll only fight me ane by ane."
He lighted aff his milk-white steed, An' gae his lady him by the head, Say'n, "See ye dinna change your cheer, Untill ye see my body bleed." 60
He set his back unto an aik, He set his feet against a stane, An' he has fought these fifteen men, An' kill'd them a' but barely ane; For he has left that aged knight, 65 An' a' to carry the tidings hame.
When he gaed to his lady fair, I wat he kiss'd her tenderlie: "Thou art mine ain love, I have thee bought; Now we shall walk the green-wood free." 70
53, Should we not read _warld's mate_?
NOTE to v. 59, 60.
"Say'n, 'See ye dinna change your cheer, Untill ye see my body bleed.'"
As has been remarked (vol. ii. p. 114), _Erlinton_ retains an important, and even fundamental trait of the older forms of the story, which is not found in any other of the English versions of the _Douglas Tragedy_. It was a northern superstition that to call a man by name while he was engaged in fight was a fatal omen, and hence a phrase, "to name-to-death." To avert this danger, Ribolt, in nearly all the Scandinavian ballads, entreats Guldborg not to _pronounce his name_, even if she sees him bleeding or struck down. In her agony at seeing the last of her brothers about to be slain, Guldborg forgets her lover's injunction, calls on him by name to stop, and thus brings about the catastrophe. Ignorant reciters have either dropped the corresponding passage in the English ballad, or (as in this case) have so corrupted it, that its significance is only to be made out by comparison with the ancient copies.
THE CHILD OF ELLE.
"From a fragment in the Editor's folio MS., which, though extremely defective and mutilated, appeared to have so much merit, that it excited a strong desire to attempt the completion of the story. The reader will easily discover the supplemental stanzas by their inferiority, and at the same time be inclined to pardon it, when he considers how difficult it must be to imitate the affecting simplicity and artless beauties of the original." PERCY, _Reliques_, i. 113. (See vol. ii. p. 114.)
It must be acknowledged that this truly modest apology was not altogether uncalled for. So extensive are Percy's alterations and additions, that the reader will have no slight difficulty in detecting the few traces that are left of the genuine composition. Nevertheless, Sir Walter Scott avers that the corrections are "in the true style of Gothic embellishment!"
On yonder hill a castle standes, With walles and towres bedight, And yonder lives the Child of Elle, A younge and comely knighte.
The Child of Elle to his garden wente, 5 And stood at his garden pale, Whan, lo! he beheld fair Emmelines page Come trippinge downe the dale.
The Child of Elle he hyed him thence, Ywis he stoode not stille, 10 And soone he mette faire Emmelines page Come climbing up the hille.
"Nowe Christe thee save, thou little foot-page, Now Christe thee save and see!
Oh telle me how does thy ladye gaye, 15 And what may thy tydinges bee?"
"My lady shee is all woe-begone, And the teares they falle from her eyne; And aye she laments the deadlye feude Betweene her house and thine." 20
"And here shee sends thee a silken scarfe, Bedewde with many a teare, And biddes thee sometimes thinke on her, Who loved thee so deare.
"And here shee sends thee a ring of golde, 25 The last boone thou mayst have, And biddes thee weare it for her sake, Whan she is layde in grave.
"For, ah! her gentle heart is broke, And in grave soone must shee bee, 30 Sith her father hath chose her a new, new love, And forbidde her to think of thee.
"Her father hath brought her a carlish knight, Sir John of the north countraye, And within three dayes shee must him wedde, 35 Or he vowes he will her slaye."
"Nowe hye thee backe, thou little foot-page, And greet thy ladye from mee, And telle her that I, her owne true love, Will dye, or sette her free. 40
"Nowe hye thee backe, thou little foot-page, And let thy fair ladye know, This night will I bee at her bowre-windowe, Betide me weale or woe."
The boye he tripped, the boye he ranne, 45 He neither stint ne stayd, Untill he came to fair Emmelines bowre, Whan kneeling downe he sayd:
"O ladye, Ive been with thy own true love, And he greets thee well by mee; 50 This night will he bee at thy bowre-windowe, And dye or sette thee free."