« PreviousContinue »
inflection of voice, is left to the individual's own volumes folio, in which the late Duke John of Roxtaste. This was sometimes exchanged for a stanza burghe took so much pleasure, that he was often of six lines, the third and sixth rhyrning together. found enlarging it with fresh acquisitions, which he For works of more importance and pretension, a pasted in and registered with his own hand. more complicated versification was still retained, The first attempt, however, to reprint a collection and may be found in the tale of Ralph Coilzear, * of ballads for a class of readers distinct from those the Adventures of Arthur at the Tarn-Wathelyn, for whose use the stall-copies were intended, was Sir Gawain, and Sir Gologras, and other scarce ro- that of an anonymous editor of three 12mo volumes,
A specimen of this structure of verse has which appeared in London, with engravings. These been handed down to our times in the stanza of volumes came out in various years, in the beginning Christ Kuk on the Green, transmitted by King of the 15th century. The editor writes with some James I. to Allan Raisay and to Burns. The ex- tippancy, but with the air of a person superior to the ce sire passion for alliteration, which formed a rule ordinary drudgery of a mere collector. His work of the Saxon poetry, was also retained in the Scot- appears to have been got up at considerable expense, tish poems of a more elevated character, though the and the general introductions and historical illustramore ordinary minstrels and ballad-makers threw tions which are prefixed to the various ballads, are off the restraint.
written with an accuracy of which such a subject had The varieties of stanza thus adopted for popular not till then been deemed worthy. The principal poetry were not, we may easily suppose, left long part of the collection consists of stall-ballads, neiunemployed. In frontier regions, where men are ther possessing much poetical inerit, nor any particontinually engaged in active enterprise, betwixt the cular rarity or curiosityStill this original Misceltask of defending themselves and annoying their lany holds a considerable value amongst collectors, Deigbbours, they may be said to live in an atmosphere and as the three volumes--being published at differs of danger, the excitation of which is peculiarly fa- ent times--are seldom found together, they sell for Fourable to the encouragement of poetry. Hence, a high price when complete. the expressions of Lesly the historian, quoted in the We may now turn our eyes to Scotland, where following Introduction, in which he paints the de- the facility of the dialect, which cuts off the consobght taken by the Borderers in their peculiar species nants in the termination of the words, so as greatly of music, and the rhyming ballads in which they to simplify the task of rhyming, and the habits, dis, celebrated the feats of their ancestors, or recorded positions, and manners of the people, were of old their own ingenious stratagems in predatory war; so favourable to the composition of ballad-poetry, fare. In the same Introduction, the reader will that, had the Scottish songs been preserved, there find the reasons alleged why the taste for song was is no doubt a very curious history might have been and must have been longer preserved on the Border composed by means of minstrelsy only, from the than in the interior of the country,
reign of Alexander III. in 1285, down to the close Having thus made some remarks on early poetry of the Civil Wars in 1745. That materials for in general, and on that of Scotland in particular, the such a collection existed, cannot be disputed, since Editor's purpose is, to mention the fate of some pre- the Scottish historians often refer to old ballads vious attempts to collect ballad poetry, and the as authorities for general tradition. But their reprinciples of selection and publication which have gular preservation was not to be hoped for or exbeea adopted by various editors of learning and in-pected. Successive garlands of song sprung, flouforination; and although the present work chiefly rished, faded, and were forgotten, in their turn; and regards the Ballads of Scotland, yet the investiga- the names of a few specimens are only preserved, tion must necessarily include some of the principal to show us how abundant the display of these wild collections among the English also.
flowers had been. Of manuscript records of ancient ballads, very few Like the natural free gifts of Flora, these poetical have been yet discovered. It is probable that the garlands can only be successfully sought for where minstrels, seldom knowing either how to read or the land is uncultivated; and civilization and inwrite, trusted to their well-exercised memories.crease of learning are sure to banish them, as the Nor was it a difficult task to acquire a sufficient plough of the agriculturist bears down the mountain stock in trade for their purpose, since the Editor has daisy. Yet it is to be recorded with some interest, not only known many persons capable of retaining that the earliest surviving specimen of the Scottish a very large collection of legendary lore of this kind, press, is a Miscellany of Millar and Chapman, bat there was a period in his own life, when a me- which preserves a considerable fund of Scottish pomory that ought to have been charged with more pular poetry, and among other things, no bad specivaluable matter, enabled him to recollect as many men of the gests of Robin Hood,
?" the English of these old songs as would have occupied several ballad-maker's joy,'' and whose renown seems to days in the recitation.
have been as freshly preserved in the north as on The press, however, at length superseded the neces- the southern shores of the Tweed. There were prosity of such exertions of recollection, and sheafs of bably several collections of Scottish ballads and meballads issued from it weekly, for the amusement of trical pieces during the seventeenth century. A very the sojourners at the alehouse, and the lovers of po- fine one, belonging to Lord Montagu, perished in etry in grange and hall, where such of the audience the fire which consumed Ditton House, about as could not read, had at least read unto them. twenty years ago. These fugitive leaves, generally printed upon broad James Watson, in 1706, published, at Edinburgh, sides, or in small miscellanies called Garlands, and a miscellaneous collection in three parts, containing circulating amongst persons of loose and careless some ancient poetry. But the first editor who seems habits-50 far as books were concerned-were sub to have made a determined effort to preserve our anject to destruction from many causes; and as the cient popular poetry, was the well-known Allan Rameditions in the early age of printing were probably say, in his Evergreen, containing chiefly extracts much limited, even those published as chap-books from the ancient Scottish Makers, whose poems have in the early part of the 18th century, are rarely met been preserved in the Bannatyne Manuscript, but with.
+ ["A Collection of Old Ballads, collected from the best and Some persons, however, seem to have had what most ancient Copies extant, with introductions, Historical and their contemporaries probably thought the bizarre Critical, illustrated with copperplates.". This anonymous collectaste of gathering and preserving collections of this tion, first published in 1723, was so well received,
passed to a second edition, and two more volumes were added fugitive poetry. Hence the great body of ballads in in 1723 and 1725. The third edition of the first volume is dated the Pepysian collection at Cambridge, made by that 1727.--ED.) Secretary Pepys, whose Diary is so very amusing; ! (A facsimile reprint, in black-letter, of the Original Tracts and hence the still more valuable deposit, in three which issued from the press of Walter Chepunan and Andro Myl
lar at Edinburgh, in the year 1503, was published under the title of [This, and most of the other romances here referred to, may "The Knightly Tale of Golagrug and Gawane, and other Ancient be found reprinted in a volume entitled, " Select Romains of the Poema,” in 1827, 4to. Tbe " litil geste" of Robin Hood, referred Ancient Popular Poetry of Scotland." (Edin. 1822. Small tto.) to in the text, is a fragment of a piece contained in Rilson's ColEdited by Mr. David Laing, and inscribed to Sir Walter Scott.} . lection.--ED.)
hat it soon
exhibiting amongst them some popular ballads. tion indicated, render it difficult to imitate, and imAmongst these is the Battle of Harlaw, apparently possible to excel a work, which must always be from a modernized copy, being probably the most an- held among the first of its class in point of merit, cient Scottish historical ballad of any length now in though not actually the foremost in point of time. existence. * He also inserted in the same collection, But neither the high character of the work, nor the the genuine Scottish Border ballad of Johnnie Arm- rank and respectability of the author, could protect strong, copied from the recitation of a descendant of him or his labours from the invidious attacks of the unfortunate hero, in the sixth generation. This criticism. poet also included in the Evergreen, Hardyknute, The most formidable of these were directed by which, though evidently modern, is a most spirited Joseph Ritson, a man of acute observation, profound and beautiful imitation of the ancient ballad. In a research, and great labour. These valuable attrisubsequent collection of lyrical pieces, called the Tea- butes were unhappily combined with an eager irriTable Miscellany, Allan Ramsay inserted several old tability of temper, which induced him to treat antiballads, such as l'ruel Barbara Allan, The Bonnie quarian trifles with the same seriousness which men Earl of Murray, There came a Ghost to Margaret's of the world reserve for matters of importance, and door, and two or three others. But his unhappy disposed him to drive controversies into personal plan of writing new words to old tunes, without at quarrels, by neglecting, in literary debate, the courtethe same time preserving
the ancient verses, led him, sies of ordinary society!! It ought to be said, howwith the assistance of some ingenious young gen- ever, by one who knew him well, that this irritability tlemen," to throw aside many originals, the preser- of disposition was a constitutional and physical invation of which would have been much more inter- firmity; and that Ritson's extreme attachment to esting than any thing which has been substituted the severity of truth, corresponded to the rigour of in their stead.
his criticisms upon the labours of others. He seems In fine, the task of collecting and illustrating an to have attacked Bishop Percy wish the greater anicient popular poetry, whether in England or Scot- mosity, as bearing no good-will to the hierarchy, in land, was never executed by a competent person, which that prelate held a distinguished place. possessing the necessary powers of selection and Ritson's criticism, in which there was too much annotation, till it was undertaken by Dr. Percy, horse-play, was grounded on two points of accusaafterwards Bishop of Dromore in Ireland. This tion. The first regarded Dr. Percy's definition of the reverend gentleman, himself a poet, and ranking order and office of minstrels, which Ritson consihigh among the literati of the day, commanding dered as designedly overcharged, for the sake of access to the individuals and institutions which giving an undue importance to his subject. The could best afford hin materials, gave the public the second objection respected the liberties which Dr. result of his researches in a work entitled "Reliques Percy had taken with his materials, in adding 10, of Ancient English Poetry," in three volumes, pub- retrenching, and improving them, so as to bring lished in London, 1765, which has since gone through them nearer to the taste of his own period. We will four editions. The taste with which the materials take some brief notice of both topics. were chosen, the extreme felicity with which they First, Dr. Percy, in the first edition of his work, were illustrated, the display at once of antiquarian certainly laid himself open to the charge of having knowledge and classical reading which the collec- given an inaccurate, and somewhat exaggerated
• That there was such an ancient ballad is certain, and the been superseded by a pedantic modern song, turning upon the tune, adapted to the bagpipes,
was long extremely popular, and, most unpoetic part of the legend, the hesitation, namely, of tho within the remembrance of man, the first which was played at lover, which of the ladies to prefer. One of the most touching kirns and other rustic festivals. But there is a suspicious phrase expressions in the song is the following exclamation: in the ballad as it is published by Allan Ramsay. Vhen de
"Oh, Jove! she's like thy Pallas." scribing the national confusion, the bard says, "Sen the days of auld King Harie,
Another song, of which Ramsay chose a few words for the Such slauchter was not heard or geen."
theme of a rifacimento, seems to have been a curious specimen
of mostrel recitation. It was partly verse, partly narrative, and Query, who was the " auld King Haric" here meant? If Henry was alternatoly sung and repeated. The story was the escape of VIII be intended, as is most likely, it must bring the date of the a young gentleman, pursued by a cruel uncle, desirous of his ez. blad is said to have been printed in 1668. poem, at least of that verse, as low as Queen Mary's time. The tato; or a bloody rival, greedy of his life; or the relentless father
A copy of that edition of his lady-love, or some such remorseless character, having would be a great curiosity.
sinister intentions on the person of the fugitive. The object or (See the preface to the reprint of this ballad, in a volume of his rapacity or vengeance being nearly overtaken, a shepbered Early Metrical Tales." 12mo, Edin. 1826.--ED)
undertakes to mislead the pursuer, who comes in sight just as the | Green be the pillow of honest Allan, at whoso lamp Burns object of his pursuit disappears, and greets the shepherd thus -lighted his brilliant torch! It is without enmity to his memory that we record his mistake in this matter. But it is impossible not to regret that such an affecting tale as that of Bessie Bell and
Good morrow, shepherd, and my friend, Mary Gray should have fallen into his hands. The southern reader
Saw you a young man this way riding : must learn, (for what northern render is ignorant?) that these two
With long black hair, on a lob tail d mare, beautiful women were kinsfolk, and so strictly united in friend
And I know that I cannot be far behind him! ship, that even personal jealousy could not interrupt their union.
THE SHEPHERD. They were visited by a handsome and agreeable young man, who
Yes, I did see him this way riding, was acceptable to them both, but so captivated with their charms,
And what did much surprise iny wit, that, while confident of a preference on the part of both, he was
The man and the mure flew up in the air unable to make a choice between them. While this wingular
And I see, and I see, and I see her yet. situation of the three persons of the tale continued, the breaking
Behind yon white cloud I see her tail wave. out of the plague forced the two ladies to take refuge in the beau
And I see, and I see, and I see her yet." tiful valley of Lynedoch, where they built themselves a bower, in The tune of these verses is an extremely good one, and Allan order to avoid human intercourse and the danger of infection. Ramsay has adopted a bacchanalian song to it with some suc. The lover was not included in their renunciation of society. He CO89; but we should have thanked him much had he taken the visited their retirement, brought with him the fatal disease, and trouble to preserve the original legend of the old minstrel. The unable to return to Perth, which was his usual residence, was valuable and learned friend to whom we owe this mutilated acnursed by the fair friends with all the tenderness of affection. He count of it, has often heard it sung among the High Jinks of died, however, having first communicated the infection to his Scottish lawyers of the last generation. lovely attendants. They followed him to the grave, lovely in their lives, and undivided in their death. Their burial place in
: (Sir Walter Scott corresponded frequently with the Bishop of the vicinity of the bower which they built, is still visible, in the
Dromore, at the time when he was collecting the materials of the romantic vicinity of Lord Lyndoch's mansion, and prolongs the
“ Border Minstrelsy."'-ED.) memory of female friendship, which even rivalry could not dis
$ For example, in quoting a popular song, well known by the solve. Two stanzas of the original ballad alone survive :
name of Maggie Lander, the editor of the Reliques had given a
line of the Dame's aduress to the merry minstrel, thus : "Bessie Bell and Mary Gray,
"Gin ye be Rob, I've heard of you,
You dwell upon the Border."
Ritson insisted the genuine reading was,
Come ye trae the Border ?"
And he expatiates with great keenness on the crime of the BiThey wadna rest in Methvin kirk,
shop's having sophisticated the text, (of which he produces no Among their gentle kin;
evidence,) to favour his opinion, that the Borders were a farounite But they wad lie in Lednoch braes,
abode of the minstrels of both kingdomy. The fact, it is believed, To beek against the sun."
is undoubted, and the one reading seems to support it as well as
the other.-(Joseph Ritson died in 1903.) There is, to a Scottish ear, so much tenderness and simplicity in · [The Right Honourable William Adam, Lord Chief Commissioner of the these verses, as must induce us to regret that the rest should have Scorch Jury Court. - Ed)
account of the English Minstrels, whom he defined at the court of the Anglo-Norman kings until the to be an order of men in the middle ages, who reign of Edward III;t and that, therefore, until a subsisted by the arts of poetry and music, and sung very late period, and when the lays of minstrelsy t the harp the verses which ihey themselves com were going out of fashion, English performers in posed." The reverend editor of the Reliques pro- that capacity must have confined the exercise of duced in support of this definition many curious their talents to the amusement of the vulgar. Now, quotations, lo show that in many instances, the per as it must be conceded to Mr. Ritson, that almost sons of these minstrels had been honoured and res- all the English metrical romances which have been pected, their performances applauded and rewarded preserved till the present day, are translated from by the great and the courtly, and their craft imitated the French, it may also be allowed, that a class of bý princes themselves.
men employed chiefly in rendering into English the Against both these propositions, Ritson made a works of others, could not hold s) high a station as deterinined opposition. He contended, and probably those who aspired to original composition ; and so with justice, that the minstrels were not necessarily far the critic has the best of the dispute. But Mr. pacts, or in the regular habit of composing the ver- Ritson has over-driven his argument, since there ses which they sung to the harp; and indeed, that was assuredly a period in English history, when the the word minstrel, in its ordinary acceptation, meant national minstrels, writing in the national dialect, no more than musician.
were, in proportion to their merit in their calling, Dr. Percy, from an amended edition of his Essay held in honour and respect. on Minstrelsy, prefixed to the fourth edition of the Thomas the Rhymer, for example, a minstrel who Relques of Ancient Poetry, seems to have been, to flourished in the end of the twelfth century, was not a certain point, convinced by the critic's reasoning; only a man of talent in his art, but of some rank in for he has extended the definition impugned by Rit- society; the companion of nobles, and himself a son, and the minstrels are thus described as singing man of landed property. He, and his contemporary verses "composed by themselves or others." This Kendal, wrote, as we are assured by Robert de We apprehend to be a tenable position ; for, as on Brunne, in a passage already alluded to, a kind of the one hand it seeins too broad an averment to say English, which was designed for "pride and nothat all ininstrels were by profession poets, so on the bleye,”'I and not for such inferior persons as Robert other, it is extravagant to affirm that men who were himself addressed, and to whose comprehension he constantly in the habit of reciting verse, should not avowedly lowered his language and structure of frequently bave acquired that of composing it, es- versification. There existed, therefore, during the pecially when their bread depended on giving plea- time of this historian, a more refined dialect of the sure; and to have the power of producing novelty, English language, used by such composers of popuis a great step towards that desirable end. No un- lar poetry as moved in a higher circle; and there prejudiced reader, therefore, can have any hesitation can be no doubt, that while their productions were in adopting Bishop Percy's definition of the min-held in such high esteem, the authors must have strels, and their occupation, as qualified in the fourth been honoured in proportion. Edition of his Essay, implying ihat they were some The education bestowed upon James I. of Scottimea poets, sometimes the mere reciters of the po- land, when brought up under the charge of Henry etry of others.
IV., comprehended both music and the art of verOn the critic's second proposition, Dr. Percy suc- nacular poetry ; in other words, Minstrelsy in both cessfully showed, that at no period of history was branches. That poetry, of which the King left sethe word minstrel applied to instrumental music veral specimens, was, as is well known, English ; exclusively; and he has produced sufficient evidence, nor is it to be supposed that a prince, upon whose that the talents of the profession were as frequently education such sedulous care was bestowed, would employed in chanting or reciting poetry as in play- have been instructed in an art which, if we are to ing the mere tunes. There is appearance of distinc- believe Mr. Ritson, was degraded to the last degree, tion being sometimes made bei ween minstrel reci- and discreditable to its professors. The same argulations and minstrelsy of music alone; and we may ment is strengthened by the poetical exercises of the add a curious instance, to those quoted by the Bi- Duke of Orleans, in English, written during his shop. It is from the singular ballad respecting captivity after the battle of Agincouri.ll It could Thomas of Erceldoune,* which announces the pro not be supposed that the noble prisoner was to soposition, that tongue is chief of minstrelsy.
lace his hours of imprisonmeni with a degrading We may also notice, that the word minstrel being and vulgar species of composition. in fact derived from the Minné-singer of the Ger We could produce other instances to show that mans, means, in its primary sense, one who sings this acute critic has carried his argument considerof love, a sense totally in applicable to a mere instru-ably too far. But we prefer taking a general view of mental musician.
the subject, which seems to explain clearly, how A second general point on which Dr. Percy was contradictory evidence should exist on it, and why fiercely attacked by Mr. Ritson, was also one on instances of great personal respect to individual which both the parties might claim a right to sing minstrels, and a high esteem of the art, are quite se
Te Deum. It respected the rank or status which concilable with much contempt thrown on the order was held by the minstrels in society during the mid- at large. dle ages. On this point the editor of the Reliques of All professors of the fine arts--all those who conAncient Poetry had produced the most satisfactory tribute, not to the necessities of life, but to the enevidence, that, at the courts of the Anglo-Norman joyments of society, hold their professional respectaprinces, the professors of the gay science were the bility by the severe tenure of exhibiting excellence favourite solacers of the leisure hours of princes, in their department. We are well enough satisfied who did not themselves disdain to share their tuneful with the tradesman who goes through his task in a labours, and imitate their compositions. Mr. Ritson workmanlike manner, nor are we disposed to look replied to this with great ingenuity, arguing, that down upon the divine, the lawyer, or ihe physician, such instances of respect paid to French minstrels
+ That monarch first used the vernacular English dialect in a reciting in their native language in the court of motto which he displayed on his shiehlat u celebrated tournament Norman monarchs, though held in Britain, argued The legend which graced the representation of a white swan on nothing in favour of English artists professing the the king's buckler
, tan thus in
“Ha! ha! the whyte swan! same trade; and of whose compositions, and not
By Goddis soule I am thy man." of those existing in the French language, Dr. Percy 1 (The learned editor of Warton's History of English Poetry. professed to form his collection. The reason of the is of opinion that Sir Walter Scott misinterpreted the pa ungo d.sunetion betwixt the respectability of the French referred to. De Brunne, according to this author's text, say: cf minstrels, and the degradation of the same class of the elder reciters of the metrical romance.
" They said it for pride and nobleye mea in England, Mr. Ritson plausibly alleged to be,
That non were soulk as they :' that the English language, a mixed speech betwixt i.e. they recited it in a style so lotty and noble, that none have Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French, was not known since equalled them.-- Warton, edi. 1824, vol. 1, p. 183.--ED.)
$ See the edition printed by Mr. Watson Taylor, for the Roxsebeet Remains of Popular Pieces of Poetry. Edin. 1822. burghe Club
unless they display gross ignorance of their pro- 1 to penury, indigence, and persecution according to fession : we hold it enough, that if they do not pos- law.t sess the highest knowledge of their respective sci There was still another and more important subences, they can at least instruct us on the points we ject of debate, between Dr. Percy and his hostile desire to know. But
critic. The former, as a poet and a man of taste, "mediocribus esse poetis
was tempted to take such freedoms with his origiNon di, non homines, non concessere columnæ." nal ballads, as might enable him to please a more The same is true respecting the professors of paint critical age than that in which they were composed. ing, of sculpture, of music, and the fine arts in ge- Words were thus altered, phrases improved, and neral. If they exhibit paramount excellence, no situ- whole verses were inserted or omitted at pleasure. ation in society is too high for them which their Such freedoms were especially taken with the poems manners enable them to fill; if they fall short of published from a folio manuscript in Dr. Percy's own the highest point of aim, they degenerate into sign possession, very curious from the miscellaneous napainters, stone-cutters, common crowders, doggrell ture of its contents, but unfortunately having many rhymers, and so forth, the most contemptible of of the leaves mutilated, and injured in other respects, mankind. The reason of this is evident. Men must by the gross carelessness and ignorance of the transbe satisfied with such a supply of their actual wants criber. Anxious to avail himself of the treasures as can be obtained in the circumstances, and should which this manuscript contained, the editor of the an individual want a coat, he must employ the village Reliques did not hesitate to repair and renovate the tailor, if Stultze is not to be had. But if he seeks for songs which he drew from this corrupted yet curious delight, the case is quite different; and he that can source, and to accommodate them with such emendnot hear Pasta or Sontag, would be little solaced ations as might recommendthem tothe modern taste. for the absence of these sirens, by the strains of a
For these liberties with his subject, Ritson censucrack-voiced ballad-singer. Nay, on the contrary, red Dr. Percy in the most uncompromising terms, ac, the offer of such inadequate compensation, would cused him, in violent language, of interpolation and only be regarded as an insult, and resented accord- forgery, and insinuated that there existed no such ingly.
thing in rerum natura as that folio manuscript, so The theatre affords the most appropriate example often referred to as the authority of originals inserted of what we mean. The first circles in society are in the Reliques. In this charge, the eagerness of open to persons eminently distinguished in the dra- Ritson again betrayed him farther than judgment ma; and their rewards are, in proportion to those and discretion, as well as courtesy, warranted. It is who profess the useful arts, incalculably higher. no doubt highly desirable that the text of ancient But those who lag in the rear of the dramatic art, poetry should be given untouched and uncorrupted. are proportionably poorer and more degraded than | But this is a point which did not occur to the editor those who are the lowest of a useful trade or pro- of the Reliques in 1765, whose object it was to win fession. These instances will enable us readily to the favour of the public, at a period when the great explain why the greater part of the minstrels, prac- difficulty was, not how to secure the very words of tising their profession in scenes of vulgar mirth and old ballads, but how to arrest attention upon the subdebauchery, humbling their art to please the ears ject at all. That great and important service to naof drunken clowns, and living with the dissipation tional literature would probably never have been atnatural to men whose precarious subsistence is, tained without the work of Dr. Percy; a work which according to the ordinary phrase, from hand to first fixed the consideration of general readers on mouth only, should fall under general contempt, ancient poetry, and made it worth while to inquire while the stars of the profession, to use a modern how far its graces were really antique, or how far phrase, looked down on them from the distant em- derived from the taste with which the publicaPaxrean
arising from gross vapours in the neiher at ject of Dr. Percy was certainly intimated in several mosphere.
parts of his work, where he ingenuously acknowThe debate, therefore, resembles the apologue of ledges, that certain ballads have received emendathe gold and silver shield. Dr. Percy looked on the tions, and that others are not of pure and unmixed minstrel in the palmy and exalted state to which, no antiquity; that the beginning of some and end of doubt, many were elevated by their talents, like others have been supplied; and upon the whole, those who possess excellence in the fine arts in the that he has, in many instances, decorated the an: present day; and Ritson considered the reverse of + [The " Song of the Traveller," an ancient piece lately discothe medal, when the poor and wandering glee-man vered in the Cathedral Libraryof Exeter, and published by the Rev. was glad to purchase his bread by singing his ballads furnishes a most curious picture of the life of the Northern Scald, at the alehouse, wearing a fantastic habit, and lat- or Minstrel, in the high and palmy state of the profession. The terly sinking into a mere crowder upon an untuned reverend editor thus translates the closing lines : fiddle, accompanying his rude strains with a ruder "Ille cat carissimus Terra incolis ditty, the helpless associate of drunken revellers,
Cui Deus addidit
. Hominum imperium gerendum, and marvellously afraid of the constable and parish
Quum ille cos (bardos) habeat caros.
Ita comeantes cum cantilenis fcruntur beadle.* The difference betwixt those holding the
Bardi hominum per terras multas; extreme positions of highest and lowest in such a Simul cos remuneratur ob cantilenas pulchrag, profession, cannot surely be more marked than that
Muneribus immensis, ille qui ante nobiles
Vult judicium suum extollere, dignitatem sustinere. which separated David Garrick or John Kemble Habet ille sub ca lo stabilem famam."-P. 22. from the outcasts of a strolling company, exposed Mr. Coneybçare contrasts this " flattering picture” with the fol* In Fletcher's comedy of Monsieur Thomas," such a fiddler-contained in some verses by Richard Shcale (the alleged author
lowing "melancholy specimen" of the Minstrel life of Inter times is questioned as to the ballads he is best versed in, and replies, of the old Chevy Chase,) which are preserved in one of the Asb"Under your mastership's correction, I can sing,
molean MSS • The Duke of Norfolk, or the merry balind
"Now for the good cheere that I have had here, of Diviug and Lazarus ;' The Rose of England ;'
I give you hearty thanks with bowing of my shankes, In Crete, where Dedimus first began;"
Desiring you by petition to grant me such commission Jonas his crying out against Coventry.'
Because my name is Sheale, that both for meat and meale Thimas. Excellent !
To you I may resort sum tyme for my comforte.
For I perceive here at all tymes is good cherre,
Both ale, wyne, and beere, as hyt doth now appere,
! perceive without fable ye keepe a good table. Fiddler. 'The Landing of the Spaniards at Bow,
I can be contente, if hytle out of Lent,
A piece of beefe to take my longer to aslake, With the bloody battle at Mile-end.'"
Both mutton and veale is goode for Rycharde Shenle ; The poor minstrel is described as accompanying the young rako
Though I looke so grave, I were a veri knave, in his revels. Launcelot describes
If I wold think skoror other evenynge or morne, “The gentleman bimself, young Monsieur Thomas,
Beyng in honger, of fresshe anon or kongar,
I can fynde in my hearte, with my frendis to take a parte Erant with his furious myrmidons ;
Of such as Godde shal sende, and thus I make an ende. The fiery fiddler and myself -now singing,
Now farewel, good myn Hoste, I thank youe for youre coste Now heating at the doors." &c.
Untyl another tyme, und thus do I ende my ryme.".-P. 28
cent ballads with the graces of a more refined period. the productions of William Julius Mickle, translator
This system is so distinctly intimated, that if there of the Lusiad, though they were never claimed by be any critic sull of opinion, like poor Ritson, whose him, nor received among his works. Amongst them aurbid temperament led him to such a conclusion, is the elegiac poem of Cumnor Hall, which sugthat the crime of literary imitation is equal to that gested the fictitious narrative entitled Kenilworth. of commercial forgery, he ought to recollect that The Red-Cross Knight, also by Mickle, which has gult, in the laiter case, does not exist without a furnished words for a beautiful glee, first occurred corresponding charge of uttering the forged docu- in the same collection. As Mickle, with a vein of mezi, por causing it to be uliered, as genuine, with great facility, united a power of verbal melody which 011 which the mere imitation is not culpable, at least might have been envied by bards of much greater Datenreinally so. This quality is totally awanting renown,t he must be considered as very successful in the accusation so roughly brought against Dr. in these efforts, if the ballads be regarded as avowPerry, who avowedly indulged in such alterations edly modern. If they are to be judged of as accurate and improvements upon his materials, as might imitations of ancient poetry, they have less merit; adapt them to the taste of an age not otherwise dis- the deception being only maintained by a huge store posed to bestow iis attention on them.
of double consonants, strewed at random into ordiWe have to add, that, in the fourth edition of the nary words, resembling the real fashion of antiquity R203, Mr. Thomas Percy of St. John's College, as little as the niches, turrets, and tracery of plaster Oxford, pleading the cause of his uncle with the stuck upon a modern front. In the year 1810, the most gentlemanlike moderation, and with every re-four volumes of 1784 were republished by Mr. R. H. SPECT to Mr. Ritson's science and talents, has com- Evans, the son of the original editor, with very conbared the critic's opinion, without any attempt to siderable alterations and additions. In this last ediTrort his injurious language.
tion, the more ordinary modern ballads were judiIt would be now, no doubt, desirable to have had ciously retrenched in number, and large and valuable some more distinct accouni of Dr. Percy's folio additions made to the ancient part of the collection. mancript and its contents; and Mr. Thomas Being in some measure a supplement to the Reliques Percy, accordingly, gives the original of the Mar- of Ancient Poetry, this miscellany cannot be disruize of Sir Gawain, and collates it with the copy pensed with on the shelves of any bibliomaniac who published in a complete state by his uncle, who has may choose to emulate Captain Cox of Coventry, on this occasion given entire rein to his own fancy, the prototype of all collectors of popular poetry. tho:zh the rude origin of most of his ideas is to be While Dr. Percy was setting the example of a found in the old ballad. There is also given a copy classical publication of ancient English poetry, the of that elegant metrical tale, “The Child of Elle, "late David Herd was, in modest retirement, comas it erists in the folio manuscript, which goes far piling a collection of Scottish Songs, which he has to show it has derived all its beauties from Dr. happily described as "the poetry and music of the Percy's poetical powers. Judging from these two heart." The first part of his Miscellany contains Specimens, we can easily conceive why the Reverend | heroic and historical ballads, of which there is a Editor of the “Reliques” should have declined, by respectable and well-chosen selection. Mr. Herd, the production of the folio manuscript, to furnish his an accountant, as the profession is called in Edinsevere Anstarch with weapons against him, which burgh, was known and generally esteemed for his he was sure would be unsparingly used. Yet it is shrewd, manly common sense, and antiquarian scicertain, the manuscript contains much that is really ence, mixed with much good-nature and great moexcellent, though mutilated and sophisticated. A desty. His hardy and antique mould of countenance, Cory of the fine ballad of “Sir Caulin” is found in a and his venerable grizzled locks, procured him Scottish shape, under the name of "King Maleolm amongst his acquaintance, the name of Graysteil. and Sir Colvin,” in Buchan's North Country Bal. His original collection of songs, in one volume, aplads, to be presently mentioned. It is, therefore, peared in 1769; an enlarged one,in two volumes,came unquestionably ancient, though possibly retouched, out in 1776. A publication of the same kind, being and perhaps with the addition of a second part, of Herd's book still more enlarged, was printed for which the Scotush copy has no vestiges. It would Lawrie and Symington in 1791. Some modern adbe desirable to know exactly to what extent Dr. ditions occur in this later work, of which by far the Percy had used the license of an editor, in these most valuable were two fine imitations of the Scotand other cases; and certainly, at this period, would tish ballad, by the gifted author of the "Man of Feelbe only a degree of justice due to his memory. On the whole, we may dismiss the “Reliques of
na " Kenneth."
John Pinkerton, a man of conAncient Poetry” with the praise and censure considerable learning, and some severity as well as acuteferred on it by a gentleman, himself a valuable la- ness of disposition, was now endeavouring to force bourer in the vineyard of antiquities. "It is the most himself into public attention; and his collection of elegant compilation of the early poetry that has ever Select Ballads, London, 1783, contains sufficient eviappeared in any age or country. But it must bedence that he understood, in an extensive sense, fra kly added, that so numerous are the alterations Horace's maxim, quidlibet audendi. As he was and corrections, that the severe antiquary, who de possessed of considerable powers of poetry, though sires to see the old English ballads in a genuine state, must consult a more accurate edition than the introductory stanza to a forgotten poem of Mlickle, originally this celebrated work."*
published under the injudicious and equivocal title of "The ConOr Ritson's own talents as an editor of ancient cubine," but in subsequent editions called, " Bir Martyn, or, The poetry, we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Progress of Dissipation." The first collector who followed the example of Dr.
"Awake, ye west winds, through the lonely dale,
And, Fancy, to thy faery bower betake; Perey, was Mr. T. Evans, bookseller, father of the Even now, with balmy sweetness breathes the galo, gentleman we have just quoted. His “ Old Ballads, Dimpling with downy wing the stilly lake; historical and narrative, with some of modern date,?' Through the pale willows faltering whispers wako, appeared in two volumes, in 1777, and were emi
And evening comes with locks bedropp'd with dow
On Desmond's mouldering turrets slowly shake Dently successful. In 1784, a second edition appeared,
The wither'd ryegrass, and the hairbell blue, extending the work to four volumes. In this col And ever and anon sweet Mulla's plaints renew." lection, many ballads found acceptance, which Bi- Mickle's facility of versification was so great, that, being a printer shop Percy had not considered as possessing suffi- by profession, he frequently put his lines into ispex without taking cient merit to claim admittance into the Reliques. the trouble previously to put them into writing; thus uniting the
composition of the author with the mechanical operation which The Avo. Miscellany of 1723 yielded a great part of typographers call by the same name: the inaterials. The collection of Evans contained i David Herd was a native of St. Cyrus, in Kincardineshire, Reveral modern pieces of great merit, which are not to
and though often termed a rriter, he was only a clerk in the of
fice of Mr. David Russell, accountant in Edinburgh, He died, be found elsewhere, and which are understood to be aged 79, in 1810, and lett a very curious library, which was dis
persed by auction. Herd by no means merited the character, * Introduction to Evana's Ballads, 1810. New edition enlarg giren him by Pinkorton, of an illiterate and injudicious compi