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· not equal to what he was willing to take credit for, illustration of the excellences and defects of Mr.
he was resolved to enrich his collection with all the Ritson's system. It is almost impossible to connovelty and interest which it could derive from ceive so much zeal, research, and industry bestowed a liberal insertion of pieces dressed in the garb of on a subject of antiquity. There scarcely occurs a antiquity, but equipped from the wardrobe of the phrase or word relating to Robin Hood, whether in editor's imagination. With a boldness, suggested history or poetry, in law books, in ancient proverbs, perhaps by the success of Mr. Macpherson, he in- or common parlance, but it is here collected and excluded, within a collection amounting to only twen- plained. At the same time the extreme fidelity of ty-one tragic ballads, no less than five, of which the editor seems driven to excess, when we find him he afterwards owned himself to have been altoge- pertinaciously retaining all the numerous and gross ther, or in great part, the author. The most remark- errors which repeated recitations have introduced able article in this Miscellany was, a second part into the text, and regarding it as a sacred duty to to the noble ballad of Hardyknute, which has some prefer the worst to the better readings, as if their good verses. It labours, however, under this great inferiority was a security for their being genuine. defect, that, in order to append his own conclusion In short, when Ritson copied from rare books, or to the original tale, Mr. Pinkerton found himself ancient manuscripts, there could not be a more ac: under the necessity of altering a leading circum- curate editor; when taking his authority from oral stance in the old ballad, which would have rendered tradition, and judging between two recited copies, his catastrophe inapplicable. With such license, to he was apt to consider the worst as most genuine, write continuations and conclusions would be no as if a poem was not more likely to be deteriorated difficult task. In the second volume of the Select than improved by passing through the mouths of Ballads, consisting of comic pieces, a list of fifty- many reciters. In the Ballads of Robin Hood, this two articles contained nine written entirely by the superstitious scrupulosity was especially to be reeditor himself. Of the manner in which these suppo- gretted, as it tended to enlarge the collection with a sititious compositions are executed, it may be briefly great number of doggerel compositions, which are stated, that they are the work of a scholar much all copies of each other, turning on the same idea of better acquainted with ancient books and manu- Bold Robin meeting with a shepherd, a tinker, a scripts, than with oral tradition and popular legends. mendicant, a tanner, &c. &c., by each and all of The poetry smells of the lamp; and it may be truly whom he is sou dly thrashed, and all of whom he said, that if ever a ballad had existed in such quaint receives into his band. The tradition, which avers language as the author employs, it could never have that it was the brave outlaw's custom 10 try a bout been so popular as to be preserved by oral tradition. at quarter-staff with his young recruits, might inThe glossary displays a much greater acquaintance deed have authorized one or two such tales, but the with learned lexicons, than with the familiar dialect greater part ought to have been rejected as modern still spoken by the Lowland Scottish, and it is, of imitations of the most paltry kind, composed probacourse, full of errors.. Neither was Mr. Pinkerton bly about the age of James I. of England. By more happy in the way of conjectural illustration. adopting this spurious trash as part of Robin Hood's He chose to fix on Sir John Bruce of Kinross, the history, he is represented as the best cudgelled hero, paternity of the ballad of Hardyknute, and of the Don Quixote excepted, that ever was celebrated in fine poem called the Vision. The first is due to Mrs. prose or rhyme. Ritson also published several garHalket of Wardlaw, the second to Allan Ramsay; Tands of North Country songs. although, it must be owned, it is of a character su Looking on this eminent antiquary's labours in perior io his ordinary poetry. Sir John Bruce was a general point of view, we may deprecate the a brave, blunt soldier, who made no pretence what- eagerness and severity of his prejudices, and feel ever to literature, though his daughter, Mrs. Bruce surprise that he should have shown so much irritaof Arnot, had much talent, a circumstance which bility of disposition on such a topic as a collection may perhaps have misled the antiquary.
of old ballads, which certainly have little in them to Mr. Pinkerton read a sort of recantation, in a List affect the passions; and we may be sometimes proof Scottish Poets, prefixed to a Selection of Poems voked at the pertinacity with which he has preferred from the Maitland Manuscript, vol. i. 1756, in which bad readings to good. But while industry, research, he acknowledges, as his own composition, the and antiquarian learning, are recommendations to pieces of spurious antiquity included in his “ Select works of this nature, few editors will ever be found Ballads," with a coolness which, when his subse- so competent to the task as Joseph Ritson. It quent invectives against others who had taken simi- must also be added to his praise, that although not lar liberties is considered, infers as much audacity willing to yield his opinion rashly, yet if he saw reaas the studied and laboured defence of obscenity son to believe that he had been mistaken in any with which he disgraced the same pages.
fact or argument, he resigned his own opinion with In the meantime, Joseph Ritson, a man of dili- a candour equal to the warmth with which he degence and acumen equal to those of Pinkerton, but fended himself while confident he was in the right. of the most laudable accuracy and fidelity as an Many of his works are now almost out of print, and editor, was engaged in various publications respect
an edition of them in common orthography, and ing poetical antiquities, in which he employed pro- altering the bizarre spelling and character which found research. A select collection of English | his prejudices induced the author to adopt, would be, Songs was compiled by him, with great care and to antiquaries, an acceptable present. considerable taste, and published at London, 1783. We have now given a hasty account of various colA new edition of this has appeared since Ritson's lections of popular poetry during the eighteenth cendeath, sanctioned by the name of the learned and tury; we have only farther to observe, that, in the indefatigable antiquary, Thomas Park, and aug. present century, this species of lore has been sedumented with many original pieces, and some which lously cultivated. The present Collection first apRitson had prepared for publication.
peared in 1802, in two volumes ; and what may apRitson's Collection of Songs was followed by a pear a singular coincidence, it was the first work curious volume, entitled, “Ancient Songs from the printed by Mr. James Ballantyne, (then residing at time of Henry III. to the Revo’ution," 1790 ; Kelso,) as it was the first serious demand which the "Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry,'' 1792; and “A present author made on the patience of the public. collection of Scottish Songs, with the genuine mu- The Border Minstrelsy, augmented by a third vosic,” London, 1794. This last is a genuine, but ra- lume, came to a second edition in 1803. In 1803, ther meagre collection of Caledonian popular songs. Mr. John Grahame Dalzell, to whom his country Next year Mr. Ritson published "Robin Hood,' is obliged for his antiquarian labours, published 2 vols., 1793, being. A Collection of all the Ancient "Scottish Poems of the Sixteenth Century," which, Poems, Songs, and Ballads now extant, relative to among other subjects of interest, contains a curious that celebrated Outlaw.” This work is a notable contemporary ballad of Belrinnes, which has some
• Bansters, for example, a word generally applied to the men stanzas of considerable merit. on a harvest field, who bind the sheaves, is derived from ban, to cure, and explained to mean, "blustering, swearing fellowe." * The first opening of the ballad has much of the martial strain
The year 1806 was distinguished by the appear-dry humour. Another collection which calls for anee of " Popular Ballads and songs, from Tra- particular distinction, is in the same size, or nearly digons, Manuscripts, and Scarce Editions, with so, and bears the same title with the preceding one, Translations of Similar Pieces from the Ancient the date being, Edinburgh, 1827, But the contents Danish Language, and a few Originals by the Edi- are announced as containing the budget, or stock-intor, Robert Jainieson, A. M., and F. A. S.”* This trade, of an old Aberdeenshire minstrel, the very work, which was not greeted by the public with the last, probably, of the race, who, according to Percy's attention it deserved, opened a new discovery re- definition of the profession, sung his own composiSteering the original source of the Scottish ballads. tions, and those of others, through the capital of the Mr. Jamieson's extensive acquaintance with the county, and other towns in that country of gentleScandinavian literature, enabled him to detect not men. This man's name was Charles Leslie, but he only a general similarity betwixt these and the was known more generally by the nickname of MusDanish ballads preserved in the "Kiempe Viser," sel-mou'd Charlie, from a singular projection of his an early collection of heroic ballads in thailanguage, under lip. His death was thus announced in the but to demonstrate that, in many cases, the stories newspapers for October, 1792:-" Died at Old Rain, and songs were distinctly the same, a circumstance in Aberdeenshire, aged one hundred and four years which no antiquary had hitherto so much as sus- Charles Leslie, a hawker, or ballad-singer, well peciei. Mr. Jamieson's annotations are also very known in that country by the name of Mussel-mou'd Faluable, and preserve some curious illustrations of Charlie. He followed his occupation till within a the old poets. His imitations, though he is not en- few weeks of his death." Charlie was a devoted tirely free from the affectation of using rather too' Jacobite, and so popular in Aberdeen, that he enjoymany obsolete words, are generally highly interested in that city a sort of monopoly of the minstrel ing. The work fills an important place in the col- calling, no other person being allowed, under any lections of those who are addicted to this branch of pretence, to chant ballads on the causeway, or plainantquarian study.
stanes, of "the brave burgh.". Like the former colMr. John Finlay, a poet whose career was cut short lection, most of Mussel-mou'd Charlie's songs were by a premature death, i published a short collection of a jocose character.
Scolish Historical and Romantic Ballads," But the most extensive and valuable additions in 15as. The beauty of some imitations of the old which have been of late made to this branch of anSoutush ballad, with the good sense, learning, and cient literature, are the collections of Mr. Peter modesty of the preliminary dissertations, must make Buchan of Peterhead, a person of indefatigable reall admirers of ancient lore regret the early loss of search in that department, and whose industry has this accomplished young man.
been crowned with the most successful results. This Various valuable collections of ancient ballad. is partly owing to the country where Mr. Buchan repoetry have appeared of late years, some of which sides, which, full as it is of minstrel relics, has been are illustrated with learning and acuteness, as those but little ransacked by any former collectors; so of Mr. Motherwelli and of Mr. Kinlochs intimate that, while it is a very rare event south of the Tay, much taste and feeling for this species of literature. to recover any ballad having a claim to antiquity, Nor is there any want of editions of ballads, less which has not been examined and republished in designed for public sale, than to preserve floating some one or other of our collections of ancient poepieces of ininstrelsy which are in immediate danger try, those of Aberdeenshire have been comparatively of perishing. Several of those, edited, as we have little attended to. The present Editor was the first occasion to know, by men of distinguished talent, to solicit attention to these northern songs, in conbave appeared in a smaller form and more limited sequence of a collection of ballads communicated to Edison, and must soon be among the introuvables him by his late respected friend, Lord Woodhouslee. of Scottish typography. We would particularize a Mr. Jamieson, in his collections of " Songs and duodecimo, under the modest title of a "Ballad Ballads," being himself a native of Morayshire, was Barik," without place or date annexed, which indi- able to push this inquiry much farther, and at the cates, by a few notes only, the capacity which the same time, by doing so, to illustrate his theory of editor possesses for supplying the most extensive the connexion between the ancient Scottish and and ingenious illustrations upon antiquarian sub- Danish ballads, upon which the publication of Mr. jects. Most of the ballads are of a comic character, Buchan throws much light. It is, indeed, the most and some of them admirable specimens of Scottish complete collection of the kind which has yet apwith wtach a pibroch commencer. Properat in medias res-acpeared. TT Dordtag to the classical admonition.
Of the originality of the ballads in Mr. Buchan's "MacCallanmore came from the west
collection we do not entertain the slightest doubt. With many a bow and brand ;
Several (we may, instance the curious tale of “The To waste the Rinnes he thought it best,
Two Magicians") are translated from the Norse, *The Earl of Huntly's land."
and Mr. Buchan is probably unacquainted with the (After the completion of the Border
. Minstrelsy, and nearly originals. Others refer to points of history, with Jam no painted in the Scots Magazine. (October, 1803,) a List which the editor does not seem to be familiar. It is of dederata in Scottish Soug. His communication to the Edi out of no disrespect to this laborious and useful antre of that work contains the following paragraph :- I am now tiquary, that we observe his prose composition is eruing out for the press a Collection of popular Ballads and rather 'Aorid, and forms, in this respect, a strong o poder date, which have been written for, and are exclusively contrast to the extreme simplicity of the ballads, bricated to my collection. As many of the pieces were common which gives us the most distinct assurance that he property. I have heretofore waited for the completion of Mr. Wal; has delivered the latter to the public in the shape in for any particular and selfish interest of my own ; as I was sure of which he found them. Accordingly, we have never barog the satisfaction of seeing such pieces as that gentleman seen any collection of Scottish poetry appearing, las 1 *as, could wish them. The most sanguine expectations original. It is perhaps a pity that Mr. Buchan did Dart phone to adopt, appear with every advantage whichi. par from internal evidence, so decidedly and indubitably of the piblie bare now been amply gratified ; and much curious ud aluable matter is still len for me by Mr. Scott, to whom I not remove some obvious errors and corruptions; a murch indebted for many acts of friendship, and much liberal: but, in truth, though their remaining on record is an Ey and good will shown towards me and my undertaking." injury to the effect of the ballads, in point of com-EA) (Mr. Finlay, best known by his "Wallace, or The Vale of position, it is, in some degree, a proof of their authenEllerslio * died in 1910, in his twenty-eighth year. An affection- ticity. Besides, although the exertion of this editoate and eberant tribute to his memury, from the pen of Professur rial privilege, of selecting readings, is an advantage Wilson, appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, November, 1817. to the ballads themselves, we are contented rather : (Minatrelsy; Ancient and Modern, with an Historical Intro
to take the whole in their present, though imperfect Aretion and Notes. By William Motherwell. 4to. Glasg. 1827.j state, than that the least doubt should be thrown
$ Ancient Seottish Ballady, recovered from Tradition, and ne (This is Mr. C. K. Sharpe's Work, already alluded to.-Ed.) * before pabhshed; with Notes, Historical and Explanatory, TT ( Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, hitherto and an Appendix, containing the Airs of several of the ballads. finpublished; with explanatory Notes. By P. B. 2 vols. 8vo. Edin. vo. Edin 1877.)
upon them, by amendments or alterations, which to the public with much labour and care, and made might render their authenticity doubtful. The his. the admirers of this species of poetry acquainted torical
poems, we observe, are few and of no remote with very many ancient legendary poems, which date. That of the “ Bridge of Dee,” is among the were hitherto unpublished and very little known. oldest, and there are others referring to the times of It increases the value of the collection, that many of the Covenanters. Some, indeed, are composed on them are of a comic turn, a species of composition still more recent events ; as the marriage of the mo- more rare, and, from its necessary allusion to domesther of the late illustrious Byron,* and a catastro- tic manners, more curious and interesting, than the phe of still later occurrence, " The Death of Leith- serious class of Romances. hall."
We have thus, in a cursory manner, gone through As we wish to interest the admirers of ancient the history of English and Scottish popular poetry, minstrel lore in this curious collection, we shall and noticed the principal collections which have only add, that, on occasion of a new edition, we been formed from time to time of such compositions, would recommend to Mr. Buchan to leave out a and the principles on which the editors have pronumber of songs which he has only inserted because ceeded. It is manifest that, of late, the public atthey are varied, sometimes for the worse, from sets tention has been so much turned to the subject by which have appeared in other publications. This re- men of research and talent, that we may well hope Biriction would make considerable room for such to retrieve from oblivion as much of our ancient poeas,old though they be, possess to this age all the grace try as there is now any possibility of recovering. of novelıy.
Another important part of our iask consists in givTo these notices of late collections of Scottish ing some account of the modern imitation of the Ballads, we ought to add some remarks on the English Ballad, a species of literary labour which very curious Ancient Legendary Tales, printed the author has himself pursued with some success. chiefly from Original Sources, edited by the Rev. Our remarks on this species of composition are preCharles Henry Hartshorne, A. M. 1829." The edi- fixed to the English Ballads in the present edition. tor of this unostentatious work has done his duty * IThis song is quoted in Moore's Life of Byron, vol. i.-ED.) ABBOTSFORD, 1st March, 1830.
MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDER;
HISTORICAL AND ROMANTIC BALLADS,
IN THE SOUTHERN COUNTIES OF SCOTLAND ; WITH A FEW OF MODERN DATE,
FOUNDED UPON LOCAL TRADITION.
The songs, to savage virtue dear,