[The Queen of Scots possessed nought 65 That my love let me want, For cow and ew he 'to me brought,'
And een whan they were skant.
All these did honestly possess He never did annoy, 70 Who never fail'd to pay their cess To my love Gilderoy.]
Wae worth the loun that made the laws, To hang a man for gear; To reave of live for ox or ass, 75 For sheep, or horse, or mare!
Had not their laws been made sae strick, I neir had lost my joy, Wi' sorrow neir had wat my cheek For my dear Gilderoy. 80
Giff Gilderoy had done amisse, He mought hae banisht been; Ah! what sair cruelty is this, To hang sike handsome men!
To hang the flower o' Scottish land, 85 Sae sweet and fair a boy!
Nae lady had sae white a hand As thee, my Gilderoy.
Of Gilderoy sae fraid they were, They bound him mickle strong; 90 Tull Edenburrow they led him thair, And on a gallows hung: They hung him high aboon the rest, He was sae trim a boy; Thair dyed the youth whom I lued best, 95 My handsome Gilderoy.
Thus having yielded up his breath, I bare his corpse away; Wi' tears that trickled for his death I washt his comelye clay; 100 And siker in a grave sae deep, I laid the dear-loed boy, And now for evir maun I weep My winsome Gilderoy.
The subject of this piece is the abduction of a young Scottish lady by a son of the celebrated Rob Roy Macgregor. Sentence of outlawry had been pronounced against this person for not appearing to stand his trial for murder. While under this sentence, he conceived the desperate project of carrying off Jane Kay, heiress of Edinbelly, in Sterlingshire, and obtaining possession of her estate by a forced marriage. Engaging a party of the proscribed Macgregors to assist him in this enterprise, Rob Roy entered the young woman's house with his brother James, tied her, hand and foot, with ropes, and carried her thus on horseback to the abode of one of his clan in Argyleshire, where, after some mock ceremony, she was compelled to submit to his embraces. The place in which the unfortunate woman was detained, was discovered, and she was rescued by her family. Rob Roy and James Macgregor were tried for their lives. The latter escaped from prison, but the principal in this outrage suffered condign punishment in February, 1753.
Fragments of the story were printed in _Select Scotish Songs_, by Robert Burns, edited by R. H. Cromek, ii. 199, and in Maidment's _North Countrie Garland_, p. 44; a complete copy in the _Thistle of Scotland_, p. 93. Chambers has combined the fragments of Burns and Maidment with a third version furnished by Mr. Kinloch, and has produced a ballad which is on the whole the most eligible for this place. (_Scottish Ballads_, p. 175.) In the Appendix may be seen the editions above referred to, and also _Eppie Morrie_, a ballad founded on a similar incident.
This sort of kidnapping seems to have been the commonest occurrence in the world in Scotland. Sharpe has collected not a few cases in his _Ballad Book_, p. 99, and he gives us two stanzas of another ballad.
The Highlandmen hae a' cum down, They've a' come down almost, They've stowen away the bonny lass, The Lady of Arngosk.
Behind her back they've tied her hands, An' then they set her on; "I winna gang wi' you," she said, "Nor ony Highland loon."
Rob Roy frae the Hielands cam Unto the Lawland Border, To steal awa a gay ladye, To haud his house in order.
He cam ower the loch o' Lynn, 5 Twenty men his arms did carry; Himsell gaed in and fand her out, Protesting he would marry.
When he cam he surrounded the house, No tidings there cam before him, 10 Or else the lady would have gone, For still she did abhor him.
"O will ye gae wi' me?" he says, "O will ye be my honey?
O will ye be my wedded wife? 15 For I loe ye best of ony."
"I winna gae wi' you," she says, "I winna be your honey; I winna be your wedded wife, Ye loe me for my money." 20
Wi' mournful cries and watery eyes, Fast hauding by her mother, Wi' mournful cries and watery eyes, They were parted frae each other.
He gied her nae time to be dress'd, 25 As ladies do when they're brides, But he hastened and hurried her awa, And rowed her in his plaids.
He mounted her upon a horse, Himsell lap on behind her, 30 And they're awa to the Hieland hills, Where her friends may never find her.
As they gaed ower the Hieland hills, The lady aften fainted, Saying, "Wae be to my cursed gowd, 35 This road to me invented!"
They rade till they came to Ballyshine, At Ballyshine they tarried; He brought to her a cotton gown, Yet ne'er wad she be married. 40
Two held her up before the priest, Four carried her to bed O; Maist mournfully she wept and cried, When she by him was laid O!
[_The tune changes_.]
"O be content, O be content, 45 O be content to stay, lady, For now ye are my wedded wife Until my dying day, lady.
"Rob Roy was my father call'd, Macgregor was his name, lady; 50 He led a band o' heroes bauld, And I am here the same, lady.
"He was a hedge unto his friends, A heckle to his foes, lady, And every one that did him wrang, 55 He took him by the nose, lady.
"I am as bold, I am as bold As my father was afore, lady; He that daurs dispute my word Shall feel my gude claymore, lady. 60
"My father left me cows and yowes, And sheep, and goats, and a', lady, And you and twenty thousand merks Will mak me a man fu' braw, lady."
QUEEN ELEANOR'S CONFESSION.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was divorced from her first husband, Louis VII. of France, on account of misbehavior at Antioch, during the Second Crusade.
Her conduct after her second marriage, with Henry II. of England, is agreed to have been irreproachable on the score of chastity. It is rather hard, therefore, that her reputation should be assailed as it is here; but if we complain of this injustice, what shall we say when we find, further on, the same story, with others even more ridiculous, told of the virtuous Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I.? See Peele's _Chronicle History of Edward I._, Dyce's ed. i. 185, 188, _seq._, and the ballad in vol. vii., 291. Both of these ballads are indeed pretty specimens of the historical value of popular traditions. The idea of the unlucky shrift is borrowed from some old story-teller. It occurs in the _fabliau Du Chevalier qui fist sa Fame confesse_, Barbazan, ed. Meon, iii. 229, in Boccaccio G. vii. 5, Bandello, Malespini, &c.; also in La Fontaine's _Le Mari Confesseur_.
The following ballad is from the _Collection_ of 1723, vol. i. p. 18.
There are several other versions: Percy's _Reliques_, ii. 165 (with corrections); Buchan's _Gleanings_, p. 77; Motherwell's _Minstrelsy_, p.
1 (_Earl Marshal_, from recitation); Aytoun's _Ballads of Scotland_, new ed. i. 196; Kinloch's _Ancient Scottish Ballads_, p. 247.
Queen Eleanor was a sick woman, And afraid that she should dye; Then she sent for two fryars of France, To speak with her speedily.
The King call'd down his nobles all, 5 By one, by two, by three, And sent away for Earl Marshal, To speak with him speedily.
When that he came before the King, He fell on his bended knee; 10 "A boon, a boon, our gracious king, That you sent so hastily."
"I'll pawn my lands," the King then cry'd, "My sceptre and my crown, That whatsoe're Queen Eleanor says, 15 I will not write it down.
"Do you put on a fryar's coat, And I'll put on another; And we will to Queen Eleanor go, Like fryar and his brother." 20
Thus both attired then they go: When they came to Whitehall, The bells did ring, and the choristers sing, And the torches did light them all.