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Yet stay, fair lady, turn again,

And dry those pearly tears;

For see beneath this gown of gray
Thy owne true love appears.

Here forc'd by grief, and hopeless love,

These holy weeds I sought;

And here amid these lonely walls

To end my days I thought.

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95

100

Is not yet past away,

Might I still hope to win thy love,

No longer would I stay.

Now farewell grief, and welcome joy

Once more unto my heart;

For since I have found thee, lovely youth,

We never more will part.

*The year of probation, or novicite.

105

As the foregoing song has been thought to have suggested to our late excellent poet Dr. Goldsmith, the Plan of his beautiful ballad of Edwin and Emma, (first printed in his "Vicar of Wakefield,") it is but justice to his memory to declare, that his Poem was written first, and that if there is any imitation in the case, they will be found both to be indebted to the beautiful old ballad Gentle Herdsman, &c. printed in the second volume of this work, which the Doctor had much admired in manuscript, and has finely improved. See vol. ii. book i. song xiv. ver. 37, pag. 87, &c.

THE END OF THE SECOND BOOK.

OF

Ancient Poetry, etc.

SERIES THE FIRST.

BOOK III.

I.

THE MORE MODERN BALLAD OF CHEVY

CHASE.

Ar the beginning of this volume we gave the old original Song of Chevy Chace. The reader has here the more improved edition of that fine Heroic ballad. It will afford an agreeable entertainment to the curious to compare them together, and to see how far the latter bard has excelled his predecessor, and where he has fallen short of him. For though he has every where improved the versification, and generally the sentiment and diction; yet some few passages retain more dignity in the ancient copy; at least the obsoleteness of the style serves as a veil to hide whatever might appear too familiar or vulgar in them. Thus, for instance, the catastrophe of the gallant Witherington is in the modern copy exprest in terms which never fail at present to excite ridicule: whereas in the original it is related with a plain and pathetic simplicity, that is liable to no such unlucky effect:

VOL. I.

49

See the stanza in page 14, which, in modern orthography, &c. would run thus:

"For Witherington my heart is woe,
"That ever he slain should be:

"For when his legs were hewn in two,
"He knelt and fought on his knee."

So again the stanza which describes the fall of Montgomery is somewhat more elevated in the ancient copy:

"The dint it was both sad and sore,

"He on Montgomery set:

"The swan-feathers his arrow bore

"With his hearts blood were wet." p. 13.

WE might also add, that the circumstances of the battle are more clearly conceived, and the several incidents more distinctly marked in the old original, than in the improved copy. It is well known that the ancient English weapon was the long bow, and that this nation excelled all others in archery; while the Scottish warriours chiefly depended on the use of the spear: this characteristic difference never escapes our ancient bard, whose description of the first onset (p. 9.) is to the following effect:

"The proposal of the two gallant earls to determine the dispute by single combat being over-ruled; . the English, says he, who stood with their bows ready bent, gave a general discharge of their arrows, which slew seven score spearmen of the enemy: but, notwithstanding so severe a loss, Douglas like a brave captain kept his ground. He had divided his forces into three columns, who, as soon as the English had discharged the first volley, bore down upon them with their spears, and breaking through their ranks reduced them to close fighting. The archers upon this dropt their bows and had recourse to their swords, and

there followed so sharp a conflict, that multitudes on both sides lost their lives." In the midst of this general engagement, at length, the two great earls. meet, and after a spirited rencounter agree to breathe; upon which a parley ensues, that would do honour to Homer himself.

Nothing can be more pleasingly distinct and circumstantial than this: whereas, the modern copy, though in general it has great merit, is here unluckily both confused and obscure. Indeed the original words seem here to have been totally misunderstood. "Yet bydys the yerl Douglas upon the BENT," evidently signifies," Yet the earl Douglas abides in the FIELD:" Whereas the more modern bard seems to have understood by BENT, the inclination of his mind, and accordingly runs quite off from the subject:*

"To drive the deer with hound and horn

v. 109.

"Earl Douglas had the bent." ONE may also observe a generous impartiality in the old original bard, when in the conclusion of his tale he represents both nations as quitting the field, without any reproachful reflection on either: though he gives to his own countrymen the credit of being the smaller number.

"Of fifteen hundred archers of England

"Went away but fifty and three;

"Of twenty hundred spearmen of Scotland,

"But even five and fifty."

p. 14.

He attributes FLIGHT to neither party, as hath been done in the modern copies of this ballad, as well Scotch as English. For, to be even with our latter

In the present edition, instead of the unmeaning lines here censured, an insertion is made of four stanzas modernized from the ancient copy.

bard, who makes the Scots to FLEE, some reviser of North Britain has turned his own arms against him, and printed an edition at Glasgow, in which the lines are thus transposed:

"Of fifteen hundred Scottish speirs
"Went hame but fifty-three:

"Of twenty hundred Englishmen

"Scarce fifty-five did flee."

And to countenance this change he has suppressed the two stanzas between ver. 240 and ver. 249. From that Edition I have here reformed the Scottish names, which in the modern English ballad appeared to be corrupted.

When I call the present admired ballad modern, I only mean that it is comparatively so; for that it could not be writ much later than the time of Q. Elizabeth, I think may be made appear; nor yet does it seem to be older than the beginning of the last century.* Sir Philip Sidney, when he complains of the antiquated phrase of CHEVY CHASE, could never have seen this improved copy, the language of which is not more ancient than that he himself used. It is probable that

A late writer has started a notion that the more modern copy" was written to be sung by a party of English, headed by "a Douglas in the year 1524; which is the true reason why, "at the same time that it gives the advantage to the English "soldiers above the Scotch, it gives yet so lovely and so mani"festly superior a character to the Scotch commander above "the English." See Say's Essay on the Numbers of Paradise Lost, 4to, 1745, p. 167.

This appears to me a groundless conjecture: the language seems too modern for the date above mentioned; and, had it been printed even so early as Queen Elizabeth's reign, I think I should have met with some copy wherein the first line would have been,

God prosper long our noble queen,

as was the case with the Blind Beggar of Bednal Green; see vol. ii. book ii. no. x. ver. 23.

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