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In deepe revolving thought he stoode,
Here take her, Child of Elle, he sayd,
Thy father once mine honour wrongde
And as thou love her, and hold her deare,
Sayes, Christ thee save, good child of Ell!
My father sayes he will noe meate,
Nor his drinke shall doe him noe good, till he have slaine the Child of Ell
And have seene his harts blood.
tit From the word kirke in ver. 159, this hath been thought to be a Scottish Ballad, but it must be acknowledged that the line referred to is among the additions supplied by the Editor: besides, in the Northern counties of England, kirk is used in the common dialect for church, as well as beyond the Tweed.
I wold I were in my sadle sett,
[The following thirty-nine lines are the whole of the fragment which Percy used as the groundwork of his poem. They are taken from Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript, vol. i. p. 133.
I wold I were in my sadle sett,
He leaned ore his saddle bow
The teares that went them two betweene
He sett himselfe on one good steed
And sett his litle horne to his mouth
He had not ridden past a mile
Her father was readye with her seven brether
For itt ill beseemes thee, thou false churles sonne,
To carry her forth of this towne !
But lowd thou lyest, Sir John the Knight!
A knight me gott and a lady me bore;
But light now downe, my lady gay,
But light now downe, my owne trew loue,
Whilest your father [and your brether] bold.]
EDOM O' GORDON,
A SCOTTISH Ballad,
AS printed at Glasgow, by Robert and Andrew Foulis, MDCCLV. 8vo. 12 pages. We are indebted for its publication (with many other valuable things in these volumes) to Sir David Dalrymple, Bart., who gave it as it was preserved in the memory of a lady that is now dead.
The reader will here find it improved and enlarged with several fine stanzas, recovered from a fragment of the same ballad, in the Editor's folio MS. It is remarkable that the latter is entitled Captain Adam Carre, and is in the English idiom. But whether the author was English or Scotch, the difference originally was not great. The English Ballads are generally of the North of England, the Scottish are of the South of Scotland, and of consequence the country of ballad-singers was sometimes subject to one crown, and sometimes to the other, and most frequently to neither. Most of the finest old Scotch songs have the scene laid within twenty miles of England, which is indeed all poetic ground, green hills, remains of woods, clear brooks. The pastoral scenes remain of the rude chivalry of former ages happily nothing remains but the ruins of the castles, where the more daring and successful robbers resided. The house or castle of the Rodes stood about a measured mile south from Duns, in Berwickshire: some of the ruins of it may be seen to this day. The Gordons were anciently seated in the same county: the two villages of East and West Gordon lie about ten miles from the castle of the Rodes.* The fact, however, on which the ballad is founded, happened in the north of Scotland,†
*This ballad is well known in that neighbourhood, where it is intitled Adam O'Gordon. It may be observed, that the famous free-booter whom Edward I. fought with, hand to hand, near Farnham, was named Adam Gordon.
† Since this ballad was first printed, the subject of it has been found recorded in Abp. Spotswood's History of the Church of Scotand, p. 259, who informs us that,
"Anno 1571. In the north parts of Scotland, Adam Gordon (who was deputy for his brother the earl of Huntley) did keep a
yet it is but too faithful a specimen of the violences practised in the feudal times in every part of this Island, and indeed all over Europe.
From the different titles of this ballad, it should seem that the old strolling bards or minstrels (who gained a livelihood by reciting these poems) made no scruple of changing the names of the personages they introduced, to humour their hearers. For instance, if a Gordon's conduct was blameworthy in the opinion of that age, the obsequious minstrel would, when among Gordons, change the name to Car, whose clan or sept lay further west, and vice versâ. The foregoing observation, which I owed to Sir David Dalrymple, will appear the more perfectly well founded, if, as I have since been informed (from Crawford's Memoirs), the principal Commander of the expedition was a Gordon, and the immediate agent a Car, or Ker; for then the reciter might, upon good grounds, impute the barbarity here deplored, either to a Gordon or a Car, as best suited his purpose. In the third volume the reader will find a similar instance. See the song of Gil Morris, wherein the principal character introduced had different names given him, perhaps from the same cause.
It may be proper to mention that, in the folio MS., instead of the "Castle of the Rodes," it is the "Castle of Bittonsborrow," and also "Dractons-borrow," and "Capt. Adam Carre " is called the "Lord of Westerton-town." Uniformity required that the additional stanzas supplied from that copy should be clothed in the Scottish orthography and idiom: this has therefore been attempted, though perhaps imperfectly.
[Percy's note, which goes to prove that the historical event referred to in this ballad occurred in the north of Scotland, negatives the view which is expressed just before, that the borders are the
great stir; and under colour of the queen's authority, committed divers oppressions, especially upon the Forbes's.. Having killed Arthur Forbes, brother to the lord Forbes. Not long after he sent to summon the house of Tavoy pertaining to Alexander Forbes. The Lady refusing to yield without direction from her husband, he put fire unto it, and burnt her therein, with children and servants, being twenty-seven persons in all.
"This inhuman and barbarous cruelty made his name odious, and stained all his former doings; otherwise he was held very active and fortunate in his enterprizes.'
This fact, which had escaped the Editor's notice, was in the most obliging manner pointed out to him by an ingenious writer who signs his name H. H. (Newcastle, May 9) in the Gentleman's Magazine for May, 1775.
exclusive country of the ballad singers, at all events in this particular instance. Sir David Dalrymple appears to have altered the place of action from Towie to Rodes under a misconception. An extract from Crawford's Memoirs (an. 1571, p. 240, ed. 1706), is a proper companion to the passage from Spotswood, and explains the title in the folio MS. The person sent was one Captain Ker with a party of foot. . . . Nor was he ever so much as cashiered for this inhuman action, which made Gordon share in the scandal and the guilt." Gordon, in his History of the Family of Gordon, informs us that, in the true old spirit of Scottish family feuds, the Forbes's afterwards attempted to assassinate Gordon in the streets of Paris.
Percy showed good taste in rejecting the termination given in Dalrymple's version, which certainly does not improve the ballad, and has moreover a very modern flavour. The husband is there made to end his days as follows:
"And round and round the wa's he went
At last into the flames he flew
This ballad is found in various versions, which proves how widespread was the popularity of the striking story which it relates. In the version given from the Cotton MS. by Ritson in his Ancient Songs (vol. ii. p. 38, ed. 1829) the husband takes no vengeance on Captain Car. Another version, entitled Loudoun Castle, is reprinted in Child's English and Scottish Ballads (vol. vi. p. 254), from the Ballads and Songs of Ayrshire, where the scene is changed to Loudoun Castle, which is supposed to have been burnt about three hundred and sixty years ago by the clan Kennedy. In Ritson's version the castle is called Crechcrynbroghe, and in the Genealogy of the Forbes, by Matthew Lumsden, of Tullikerne, written in 1580 (Inverness, 1819, p. 44), the name is changed to Cargaffe. From this latter source we learn that the lady of Towie was Margaret Campbell, daughter of Sir John Campbell, of Calder, and that the husband, far from flying into the flames, married a second wife, a daughter of Forbes of Reires, who bare him a son named Arthur.7