Sidor som bilder

fragments of it repeated in his infancy, before Mrs. Wardlaw's copy was heard of.

The poem is here printed from the original edition, as it was prepared for the press with the additional improvements.

In an elegant publication, intitled, Scottish Tragic Ballads, printed by and for J. Nichols, 1781, 8vo. may be seen a continuation of the Ballad of Hardyknute, by the addition of a Second Part, which hath since been acknowledged to be his own composition, by the ingenious Editor [John Pinkerton]-To whom the late Sir D. Dalrymple communicated (subsequent to the account drawn up above) extracts of a letter from Sir John Bruce, of Kinross, to Lord Binning, which plainly proves the pretended discoverer of the fragment of Hardyknute to have been Sir John Bruce himself. His words are, "To perform my promise, I send you a true copy of the Manuscript I found some weeks ago in a vault at Dumferline. It is written on vellum in a fair Gothic character, but so much defaced by time, as you'll find that the tenth part is not legible." He then gives the whole fragment as it was first published in 1719, save one or two stanzas, marking several passages as having perished by being illegible in the old MS. Hence it appears, that Sir John was the author of Hardyknute, but afterwards used Mrs. Wardlaw to be the midwife of his poetry, and suppressed the story of the vault; as is well observed by the Editor of the Tragic Ballads, and of Maitland's Scot. Poets, vol. i. p. cxxvii.

To this gentleman we are indebted for the use of the copy, whence the second edition was afterwards printed, as the same was prepared for the press by John Clerk, M.D. of Edinburgh, an intimate companion of Lord President Forbes.

The title of the first edition was, "Hardyknute, a Fragment. Edinburgh, printed for James Watson, &c. 1719," folio, 12 pages. Stanzas not in the first edition are, Nos. 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 34, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42.

In the present impression the orthography of Dr. Clerk's copy has been preserved, and his readings carefully followed, except in a few instances, wherein the common edition appeared preferable: viz. He had in ver. 20. but.-v. 56. of harm.—v. 64. every.-v. 67. lo down.-v. 83. That omitted.-v. 89. And omitted.-v. 143. With argument but vainly strave Lang.—v. 148. say'd.—v. 155. incampit on the plain.-v. 156. Norse squadrons.-v. 158. regand revers.V. 170. his strides he bent.-v. 171. minstrals playand Pibrochs fine. -v. 172. stately went.-v. 182. mon.-v. 196. sharp and fatal.— v. 219. which.-v. 241. stood wyld.-Stanza 39 preceded stanza 38. v. 305. There.-v. 313. blew westling.-v. 336. had originally been, He fear'd a' cou'd be fear'd.

The Editor was also informed, on the authority of Dr. David Clerk, M.D. of Edinburgh (son of the aforesaid Dr. John Clerk),

that between the present stanzas 36 and 37, the two following had been intended, but were on maturer consideration omitted, and do not now appear among the MS. additions:

"Now darts flew wavering through slaw speed,

Scarce could they reach their aim;

Or reach'd, scarce blood the round point drew,
'Twas all but shot in vain :

Right strengthy arms forfeebled grew,

Sair wreck'd wi' that day's toils:

E'en fierce-born minds now lang'd for peace,
And curs'd war's cruel broils.

"Yet still wars horns sounded to charge,
Swords clash'd and harness rang;

But saftly sae ilk blaster blew

The hills and dales fraemang.

Nae echo heard in double dints,
Nor the lang-winding horn,

Nae mair she blew out brade as she
Did eir that summers morn."

[Elizabeth Halket, second daughter of Sir Charles Halket of Pitfirrane, Fife, and wife of Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitrivie, Fife and Balmulie near Dunfermline, who was born in the year 1677, married in 1696, and died in 1727, is now known to have been the authoress of Hardyknute, although it was many years before the question of the authorship was finally settled.

Mr. David Laing once possessed a copy of this ballad printed in a duodecimo of eight pages without date, which is supposed to be the original edition. Besides various differences, some important and others minute, it does not contain stanzas 27, 28 and 40, which are printed in the folio of 1719. It was reprinted several times before Percy included it in his book, and its antiquity does not seem to have been doubted, for the editor of the edition of 1740 speaks of it as a specimen of the true sublime, and believes that "it can only be the work of an author highly smitten with the fury of a poetical genius." Allan Ramsay's Evergreen, 1724, vol. ii. contains this ballad with the twelve additional stanzas noted above by Percy.

When Percy first printed the ballad suspicions of its authenticity had been expressed, which soon led to the discovery of the writer, but after having stated who was the real author, he threw doubts upon his statement on account of Pinkerton's truthless report. Pinkerton was never to be depended upon, and he had previously affirmed that the common people of Lanarkshire "repeat scraps of both parts," although the second was his own composition. Sir John Hope Bruce

had nothing to do with the composition of the ballad, and it is even doubtful whether his supposed letter to Lord Binning ever had any existence. If it had, it was merely a mystification. On the second of December, 1785, Lord Hailes wrote to Pinkerton as follows, "You mistook if you suppose that I reckoned Sir John Bruce to be the author of Hardyknute. It is his sister-in-law, Lady Wardlaw, who is said to have been the author." Yet Pinkerton made Percy believe that Bruce was the author. Great difference of opinion has been expressed as to the merit of the ballad by various critics. Mathias was fascinated with it, and printed it privately with an encomiastic criticism. Scott wrote on the fly-leaf of his copy of Ramsay's Evergreen, "Hardyknute was the first poem I ever learnt the last that I shall forget," and in his Minstrelsy of the Border he terms it " a most spirited and beautiful imitation of the ancient ballad." Thomas Warton was deceived by it, and describes it as genuine in the first edition of his Observations on Spenser. In the second edition he assigns the ballad to its true author, but adds, "I am apt to think that the first stanza is old and gave the hint for writing the rest." On the other side Dr. Johnson considered it to have "no great merit," and Aytoun esteemed it a very poor performance. It has not been popular with the ordinary devourers of ballads, and Mr. James Maidment never had the good luck to pick up a stall copy-he writes, "The flying stationers, the best judges of what suited their customers, not considering it an eligible republication." The ballad is supposed to refer to the battle of Largs, fought on the second of October, 1263, between the invading force led by Haco, King of Norway, and the Scottish army commanded in person by Alexander III., but it would, in fact, suit any conflict between Scots and Northmen. The effect of this battle was the loss to Scandinavia of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man, which dependencies were relinquished to Alexander III. by terms of a treaty concluded in 1266, with Magnus, the successor of Haco. The victory was largely due to the Lord High Steward of Scotland, who is supposed to be represented by Hardyknute. Mr. Gilfillan notes that "Fairly Castle, the residence of Hardyknute, stands three miles south of the battle field. It is a single square tower, by the side of a wild stream tumbling over a rock into a deep ravine."]


TATELY stept he east the wa','
And stately stept he west,

Full seventy years he now had seen,
Wi' scarce seven years of rest.
He liv'd when Britons breach of faith
Wrought Scotland mickle wae :
And ay his sword tauld to their cost,
He was their deadlye fae.


High on a hill his castle stood,
With ha's and tow'rs a height,
And goodly chambers fair to se,
Where he lodged mony a knight.
His dame sae peerless anes and fair,
For chast and beauty deem'd,
Nae marrow3 had in all the land,
Save Elenor the queen.


Full thirteen sons to him she bare,
All men of valour stout;

In bloody fight with sword in hand
Nine lost their lives bot* doubt:
Four yet remain, lang may they live
To stand by liege and land;

High was their fame, high was their might,
And high was their command.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

[* Margaret was the name of the queen of Alexander III. Her

mother was Eleanor, Queen of England.

1 wall or rampart of the castle.

3 match or equal.

2 halls.

4 without.]


Great love they bare to Fairly fair,
Their sister saft and dear,
Her girdle shaw'd her middle gimp,'
And gowden glist2 her hair.

What waefu' wae her beauty bred?
Waefu' to young and auld,

Waefu' I trow to kyth and kin,
As story ever tauld.


The king of Norse in summer tyde,
Puff'd up with pow'r and might,
Landed in fair Scotland the isle

With mony a hardy knight.

The tydings to our good Scots king
Came, as he sat at dine,

With noble chiefs in brave aray,
Drinking the blood-red wine


"To horse, to horse, my royal liege,
Your faes stand on the strand,
Full twenty thousand glittering spears
The king of Norse commands."
Bring me my steed Mage dapple gray,
Our good king rose and cry'd,
A trustier beast in a' the land
A Scots king nevir try'd.


Go little page, tell Hardyknute,

That lives on hill sae hie,

To draw his sword, the dread of faes,

And haste and follow me.

♫1 slender.

2 shone like gold.]





« FöregåendeFortsätt »