English and Scottish Ballads.
THE LOCHMABEN HARPER.
This fine old ballad was first printed in the _Musical Museum_ (_O heard ye e'er of a silly blind Harper_, p. 598). Scott inserted a different copy, equally good, in the _Border Minstrelsy_, i. 422, and there is another, of very ordinary merits, in _Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads_ (_The Jolly Harper_), p. 37. In this the theft is done on a wager, and the booty duly restored. On account of the excellence of the ballad, we give two versions, though they differ but slightly.
O heard ye of a silly Harper, Liv'd long in Lochmaben town, How he did gang to fair England, To steal King Henry's Wanton Brown?
But first he gaed to his gude wife Wi' a' the speed that he coud thole: "This wark," quo' he, "will never work, Without a mare that has a foal."
Quo' she, "Thou hast a gude grey mare, That'll rin o'er hills baith low and hie; 10 Gae tak' the grey mare in thy hand, And leave the foal at hame wi' me.
"And tak a halter in thy hose, And o' thy purpose dinna fail; But wap it o'er the Wanton's nose; 15 And tie her to the grey mare's tail:
"Syne ca' her out at yon back yeate, O'er moss and muir and ilka dale, For she'll ne'er let the Wanton bite, Till she come hame to her ain foal." 20
So he is up to England gane, Even as fast as he can hie, Till he came to King Henry's yeate; And wha' was there but King Henry?
"Come in," quo' he, "thou silly blind Harper, 25 And of thy harping let me hear;"
"O, by my sooth," quo' the silly blind Harper, "I'd rather hae stabling for my mare."
The King looks o'er his left shoulder, And says unto his stable groom, 30 "Gae tak the silly poor Harper's mare, And tie her 'side my wanton brown."
And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit, Till a' the lords gaed through the floor; They thought the music was sae sweet, 35 That they forgat the stable door.
And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit, Till a' the nobles were sound asleep, Than quietly he took aff his shoon, And saftly down the stair did creep. 40
Syne to the stable door he hies, Wi' tread as light as light coud be, And whan he open'd and gaed in, There he fand thirty good steeds and three.
He took the halter frae his hose, 45 And of his purpose did na' fail; He slipt it o'er the Wanton's nose, And tied it to his grey mare's tail.
He ca'd her out at yon back yeate, O'er moss and muir and ilka dale, 50 And she loot ne'er the Wanton bite, But held her still gaun at her tail.
The grey mare was right swift o' fit, And did na fail to find the way, For she was at Lochmaben yeate, 55 Fu' lang three hours ere it was day.
When she came to the Harper's door, There she gae mony a nicher and snear; "Rise," quo' the wife, "thou lazy lass, Let in thy master and his mare." 60
Then up she raise, pat on her claes, And lookit out through the lock hole; "O, by my sooth," then quoth the lass, "Our mare has gotten a braw big foal."
"Come haud thy peace, thou foolish lass, 65 The moon's but glancing in thy ee, I'll wad my haill fee 'gainst a groat, It's bigger than e'er our foal will be."
The neighbours too that heard the noise Cried to the wife to put her in; 70 "By my sooth," then quoth the wife, "She's better than ever he rade on."
But on the morn at fair day light, When they had ended a' their chear, King Henry's Wanton Brown was stawn, 75 And eke the poor old Harper's mare.
"Alace! alace!" says the silly blind Harper, "Alace! alace! that I came here, In Scotland I've tint a braw cowte foal, In England they've stawn my guid grey mare." 80
"Come had thy tongue, thou silly blind Harper, And of thy alacing let me be, For thou shall get a better mare, And weel paid shall thy cowte foal be."
_Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, i. 422.
O heard ye na o' the silly blind Harper, How long he lived in Lochmaben town?
And how he wad gang to fair England, To steal the Lord Warden's Wanton Brown?
But first he gaed to his gude wyfe, 5 Wi' a the haste that he could thole-- "This wark," quo' he, "will ne'er gae weel, Without a mare that has a foal."
Quo' she--"Thou hast a gude gray mare, That can baith lance o'er laigh and hie; 10 Sae set thee on the gray mare's back, And leave the foal at hame wi' me."
So he is up to England gane, And even as fast as he may drie; And when he cam to Carlisle gate, 15 O whae was there but the Warden hie?
"Come into my hall, thou silly blind Harper, And of thy harping let me hear!"
"O, by my sooth," quo' the silly blind Harper, "I wad rather hae stabling for my mare." 20
The Warden look'd ower his left shoulder, And said unto his stable groom-- "Gae take the silly blind Harper's mare, And tie her beside my Wanton Brown."
Then aye he harped, and aye he carped, 25 Till a' the lordlings footed the floor; But an the music was sae sweet, The groom had nae mind o' the stable door.
And aye he harped, and aye he carped, Till a' the nobles were fast asleep; 30 Then quickly he took aff his shoon, And saftly down the stair did creep.
Syne to the stable door he hied, Wi' tread as light as light could be; And when he open'd and gaed in, 35 There he fand thirty steeds and three.
He took a cowt halter frae his hose, And o' his purpose he didna fail; He slipt it ower the Wanton's nose, And tied it to his gray mare's tail. 40
He turn'd them loose at the castle gate, Ower muir and moss and ilka dale; And she ne'er let the Wanton bait, But kept him a-galloping hame to her foal.
The mare she was right swift o' foot, 45 She didna fail to find the way; For she was at Lochmaben gate A lang three hours before the day.
When she came to the Harper's door, There she gave mony a nicker and sneer-- 50 "Rise up," quo' the wife, "thou lazy lass; Let in thy master and his mare."
Then up she rose, put on her clothes, And keekit through at the lock-hole-- "O, by my sooth," then cried the lass, 55 "Our mare has gotten a braw brown foal!"
"Come haud thy tongue, thou silly wench!