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QUHY dois your brand sae drop wi' bluid,' Edward, Edward?
Quhy dois your brand sae drop wi' bluid? And quhy sae sad gang yee, O?2 O, I hae killed my hauke sae guid, Mither, mither: O, I hae killed my hauke sae guid: And I had nae mair bot hee,3 O.
Your haukis bluid was nevir sae reid,
Your steid was auld, and ye hae gat mair,
why does your sword so drop with blood.
and why so sad go ye.
some other grief you suffer.
no other but he.
And quhatten penance wul ye drie for that, 25
Ile set my feit in yonder boat,
Ile set my feit in yonder boat,
And quhat wul ye doe wi' your towirs and
Ile let thame stand til they doun fa,'
the world's large.]
This curious song was transmitted to the editor by Sir David Dalrymple, Bart., late Lord Hailes.
HIS old Romantic Legend (which is given from two copies, one of them in the editor's folio MS., but which contained very great variations), bears marks of considerable antiquity, and, perhaps, ought to have taken place of any in this volume. It would seem to have been written while part of Spain was in the hands of the Saracens or Moors: whose empire there was not fully extinguished before the year 1491. The Mahometans are spoken of in v. 49, &c., just in the same terms as in all other old romances. The author of the ancient Legend of Sir Bevis represents his hero, upon all occasions, breathing out defiance against
"Mahound and Termagaunte;
and so full of zeal for his religion, as to return the following polite message to a Paynim king's fair daughter, who had fallen in love with him, and sent two Saracen knights to invite him to her bower,
"I wyll not ones stirre off this grounde,
Indeed they return the compliment by calling him elsewhere "A christen hounde."‡
This was conformable to the real manners of the barbarous ages: perhaps the same excuse will hardly serve our bard, for that Adland should be found lolling or leaning at his gate (v. 35) may be thought, perchance, a little out of character. And yet the great painter of manners, Homer, did not think it inconsistent with decorum to represent a king of the Taphians leaning at the gate of Ulysses to inquire for that monarch, when he touched at Ithaca as he was taking a voyage with a ship's cargo of iron to dispose in traffic.§ So little ought we to judge of ancient manners by our own.
Before I conclude this article, I cannot help observing, that the
See a short Memoir at the end of this Ballad, Note ††.
reader will see, in this ballad, the character of the old Minstrels (those successors of the Bards) placed in a very respectable light :* here he will see one of them represented mounted on a fine horse, accompanied with an attendant to bear his harp after him, and to sing the poems of his composing. Here he will see him mixing in the company of kings without ceremony: no mean proof of the great antiquity of this poem. The farther we carry our inquiries back, the greater respect we find paid to the professors of poetry and music among all the Celtic and Gothic nations. Their character was deemed so sacred, that under its sanction our famous king Alfred (as we have already seen)† made no scruple to enter the Danish camp, and was at once admitted to the king's headquarters. Our poet has suggested the same expedient to the heroes of this ballad. All the histories of the North are full of the great reverence paid to this order of men. Harold Harfagre, a celebrated King of Norway, was wont to seat them at his table above all the officers of his court: and we find another Norwegian king placing five of them by his side in a day of battle, that they might be eye-witnesses of the great exploits they were to celebrate.§ As to Estmere's riding into the hall while the kings were at table, this was usual in the ages of chivalry; and even to this day we see a relic of this custom still kept up, in the champion's riding into Westminster Hall during the coronation dinner.||
Some liberties have been taken with this tale by the editor, but none without notice to the reader in that part which relates to the subject of the harper and his attendant.
[Percy refers to two copies of this ballad, but there is every reason to believe that one of these was the bishop's own composition, as it was never seen by others and has not since been found. The copy from the folio MS. was torn out by Percy when he was preparing the fourth edition of the Reliques for the press, and is now unfortunately lost, so that we have no means of telling what alterations he made in addition to those which he mentions in the foot notes. The readings in the fourth edition are changed in several places from those printed in the first edition.]
* See vol. ii., note subjoined to 1st part of Beggar of Bednal, &c. † See the Essay on the Antient Minstrels (Appendix I.)
Even so late as the time of Froissart, we find minstrels and heralds mentioned together, as those who might securely go into an enemy's country. Cap. cxl.
§ Bartholini Antiq. Dan. p. 173. Northern Antiquities, &c., vol. i. pp. 386, 389, &c.
See also the account of Edw. II. in the Essay on the Minstrels, and note (x).
EARKEN to me, gentlemen,
The tone1 of them was Adler younge,
As they were drinking ale and wine
Then bespake him kyng Estmere,
Kyng Adland hath a daughter, brother,
Saies, Reade me,3 reade me, deare brother,
Where we might find a messenger
Ver. 3. brether, f. MS.
* He means fit, suitable.
[1 the one.
3 advise me.]
V. 10. his brother's hall f. MS