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IF England has found few to collect her Songs, describe their characters, and enrich them with historical notices, the same cannot be said of Scotland. Her Poets and her Antiquaries have entered with an unparalleled enthusiasm into the subject of Song, collecting whatever was curious, and explaining what was obscure about the lyrics of their country. Little is left for me, but to copy the researches and echo the sentiments of others. According to Leyden (though he does not state at what period these changes were made), the METRicAi, Ross ANCEs chanted by the Ancient Minstrels, gradually gave way in popularity to the BALLAD, and the Ballad in its turn was succeeded by the SoNo 5 that is, as civilization and literature advanced, the singing of the different ages was changed from the chanting of Tales or Romances, to shorter narratives or Ballads, and next to what we now call SoNgs, or short lyrical pieces of sentiment and description. The various kinds of Song then of our ancestors, have been designated by their descendants as– 1. METRica. Rosi ANces; II. BALLADs; III. SoNgs; and the latter only retained for their own singing WOL. II. b
and amusement. This distinction was probably first acknowledged, though not perhaps first made, in the early part of the seventeenth century. About this period, we find Hume of Godscroft, in his History of the House of Douglas,” alluding to a popular ballad on the murder of the Lord of Liddesdale, in 1353, which he speaks of as an ‘Old Song ;
after quoting a verse, he continues, ‘the song also
declareth how she did write her love-letters to Liddesdale, to dissuade him from that hunting. It tells likewise the manner of the taking of his men, and his own killing at Galsewood, and how he was carried the first night to Linden Kirk, a mile from Selkirk, and was buried within the Abbacie of Melrose;' but to have done with instancing the uses, which we would now style abuses of the old song ; what stirred up the blood of the heroic Sir Philip Sidney, more than did the sound of a trumpet, was the ballad of Chevy Chace, called by him, ‘the old song of Percie and Douglas.'t To pursue the stream of song through its numerous channels, would require a work of greater extent than these little volumes, and of greater pretensions: the subject, however inviting, is very barren of incident, and of what we now call Songs few fragments of any great antiquity can be found, and those for the most part evil-apparelled in the
vol. I. p. 143. t Defence of Poesy.