« PreviousContinue »
I cannot bid adieu to Montgomery without recommending the lovers of poetry that are not already acquainted with the · Cherrie and the Slae,' and the lyrics of the same author, to procure the volume of his poems,
and read and be refreshed. Montgomery always thought and felt as a poet.
In Verstigan's Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, printed at Antwerp in 1605, Ritson found the following interesting passage so highly illustrative of Scottish song :—' So fell it out of late years, that an English gentleman, travelling in Palestine, not far from Jerusalem, as he passed through a country town, he heard, by chance, a woman sitting at her door, dandling her child to sing, Bothwel bank thou bloomest fayre. The gentleman hereat wondered, and forthwith, in English, saluted the woman, who joyfully answered him; and said she was right glad there to see a gentleman of our isle ; and told him that she was a Scottish woman, and came first from Scotland to Venice, and from Venice thither, where her fortune was to be the wife of an officer under the Turk; who, being at that instant absent, and very soon to return, she entreated the gentleman to
* See Mr. Cunningham’s modernized copy of these lines at p. 18.
stay there until his return. The which he did ; and she, for country sake, to shew herself the more kind and bountiful unto him, told her husband at his home coming, that the gentleman was her kinsman ; whereupon her husband entertained him very kindly; and, at his departure gave him divers things of good value.' The following is supposed to be the plaintive strain that soothed despair on the date crown'd shore' of Syria.
Balow, my babe, lye still and sleipe,
Balow, my babe, ly still and sleipe,
It grieves me sair to see thee weepe.
But doe not, doe not, prettie mine,
Bairne, sin thy cruel father is gane,
Fareweil, fareweil, thou falsest youth,
Balow, my babe, ly stil, and sleipe,
Percy's Reliques, vol. ii p 214.*
The Lament for the bonny Earl of Murray't has been entitled by Percy' a Scottish song'- I cannot let slip this opportunity of printing in these pages a ballad of so much simplicity and beauty.
* A more modern copy of this song, and a more poetical one, is printed in Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany. Fletcher in the Koight of the Burning Pestle makes a citizen cry, this is scurvy music, you musicians play Baloo.'
† In December, 1591, Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, had made an attempt to seize on the person of his sovereign James VI., but being disappointed, had retired towards the north. The King unad. visedly gave a commission to George Gordon, Earl of Huntley, to pursue Bothwell and his followers with fire and sword. Huntley
THE BONNY EARL OF MURRAY.
Ye Highlands, and ye Lawlands,
Oh ! quhair hae ye been ?
And hae lain him on the green.
And quhairfore did you sae ?
But forbade you him to slay.
He was a braw gallant,
And he rid and the ring;
Oh! he might hae been a king.
He was a braw gallant,
And he play'd at the ba';
Was the flower amang them a'.
He was a braw gallant,
And he play'd at the gluve;
Oh ! he was the Queenes luve.
Oh ! lang will his lady,
Look owre the castle downe,*
Cum sounding throw the towne.
under cover of executing that commission, took occasion to revenge a private quarrel he had against James Stewart, Earl of Murray, a relation of Bothwell's. In the night of February 7, 1592, he beset Murray's house, burnt it to the ground, and slew Murray himself; a young nobleman of the most promising virtues, and the very darling of the people.
King James, who took no care to punish the murtherers, is said by some to have privately countenanced and abetted them, being stimulated by jealousy for some indiscreet praises which his Queen had too layishly bestowed on this unfortunate youth.-PERCY.
* Castle downe here has been thought to mean the Castle of Downe, a seat belonging to the family of Murray.-PERCY.
A great change was wrought in the literature of Scotland in the early part of the seventeenth century by Drummond of Hawthornden and William Alexander, (afterwards Earl of Sterling); Drummond has not only the merit of teaching his nation a purer and more classical style of writing in the themes which he so poetically handled, but is now generally and justly considered as one of the early refiners of English versification. On comparing Drummond's and his friend Alexander's poems with those of Scott and Montgomery, it is easily perceived how much those poets did for the literature of their country:-wearing the cloaths not the garb of English writers, Drummond appeared as the first poet who wrote sonnets strictly and elegantly. King James to his last hour never could throw off his Scottish
Let me observe here that the castle downe,' means no more than the following passage in Gil Morice:
The lady sat on castil wa',
Beheld baith dale and doun ;
Cum trailing to the toun.
or this in Edom o' Gordon,'
he best nself; 1 darling
The ladie stude on her castle wa'
Beheld baith dale and down ;
Cum ryding towards the toun.
The Quein luikt oure the castle wa,
Beheld baith dale and down,
Cum ryding to the town.
said by stima. nad too