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the mournful tragedy of her death; transference from one to another; and while, on the other hand, loyal hearts thus they are what our antiquaries are not without their homage to the have found them. It is a considerastern virtues of the leaders of the tion, however, and a consideration Congregation and the noble genius very much to the point on the preof Buchanan. Taking a later epoch, sent occasion, that this process of there are some who almost waver national ballad growing and ballad between their devotion to the mili- preserving 'can only go on while tary genius of Montrose and the those concerned in the process are dashing valour of Claverhouse on the unconscious of the presence of an one side, and their sympathy with outer world with an eye fixed upon the stern fanaticism and self-denying it. The moment it is discovered, and zeal of the Covenanters on the other. public attention drawn to it, it stops. What literature—what country but In other words, pure tradition and ours, for instance, could have pro- publication cannot go on togetherduced the noble balancing of party the one confuses the other. Any one virtues and party vices in Old Morta- who attempts to verify traditions lity? Nothing stirs the sympathy which have made their way into poeven of the steadiest supporters of pular literature, will be sure to find constitutional government more than that what is told him as the old trathe chivalrous devotion of the men dition of the spot, will be a repetition who threw their fortunes and fate more or less inaccurate of the latest into the lot of the exiled Stuarts. shape in which the tradition has apThe Jacobite minstrelsy finds a way peared in print. And so of the ballad to all hearts. Whether it may have as of other traditions—the time will arisen from our long triumphant re- shortly be, if it has not yet come, sistance to aggression, or from what when the oldest woman in the counever other cause, so it is that no try will only be able to repeat to you achievements by our own Scots are “Gil Morice” or “Sir Patrick Spens ever derided or discarded by their from some printed version. During descendants. We have thus no the purely traditional period, and pariah or outcast among us. The through that transition period in very last - accepted member of our which very old people remembered circle, the long-discarded Highlander, ballads as they had heard them behas become so important among us fore they had appeared in print, many that strangers take him for the proper active and zealous men have been national type. With some rooted employed in collecting and verifying defects, he has turned out a showy, this floating minstrelsy. As it is dashing fellow, and the grave Low- scarcely possible that any new addilander is perhaps rather proud of tions should be made to the store, the him than otherwise.
time seemed to have come for sifting These national characteristics have and assorting what had been gatherrendered our ballad poetry what it is. ed into the granary. It has not been made for us, but has The task has been fortunately ungrown up among us. Full as it is of dertaken by the very man to whose genius, wit, and poetic skill, it knows hands it seemed legitimately to fall. no authorship but that of the country For reasons, which the public will at large. It is truly autochthonous. very well understand, we are not goWe cannot point to the author of one ing to enter on a criticism of the of the pieces legitimately belonging manner in which Professor Aytoun to it, nor to the age when it was has accomplished his task. It is grawritten-if written it could be said tifying to find it proclaimed by the to be. The whole rich vein was general voice of the press that he has found among the people, like some fulfilled his duty to the anonymous geological deposit which had come literature of his country in a manner into existence by no mere human worthy of his own fame, and to be means. They have been handed assured on all hands that his collecdown from generation to generation, tion is henceforth to be considered sometimes apparently improved-at the standard edition of the ballad others, perhaps, damaged-in their poetry of Scotland. VOL. LXXXIV.NO. DXVI.
About the literary merits of the is, calm, majestic, tranquil- an obeditor who has furnished the public ject of the most pleasing interest and with two handsome volumes full of gentle enjoyment. But wherever the ballad poetry of sister Ireland, we there is action and reality in the Irish have little to say. We do not care to ballad, it is sure to bear on feuds use words of disparagement to one who and strifes still fresh and rankling. has spread before us a considerable The sores are open ; in some instances quantity of curious and pleasant read- the very wounds are bloody. The earing. But we cannot help the remark liest of those pieces which can be that the introductory matter is far legitimately called historical ballads too eloquent and discursive for our that is to say, which justify the atsombre taste. We could have well tribute historical by reference
to some spared all those portions of it which event, and justify the name of ballad, are especially devoted to Dante, Pe- by having sprung out of the popular trarch, Tasso, Ariosto, Guarini, Tas- feeling about that event, in distincsoni, Charlemagne and the twelve tion from compositions by literary peers of France, Bernard del Carpio, men who have studied the event in the Cid, Zimenes, Columbus, the books—the oldest historical ballads, Medici, Averroes, Abencerrage, Ben in this sense of the term, appear to Zaid, Aristotle, Burke, Ferdusi, refer to the unhappy '98. Take, for Alphonso the Wise, Homer, Charles instance, the “Death-wake of WilII., Ben Johnson, Oliver Cromwell
, liam Orr," written by Dr Drennan. Hippias, Hipparchus, and M'Auley. Orr was, it appears, a Presbyterian We are not under any obligation to farmer of Antrim, executed for adminhim for adding to the collections istering the oath of the United Irishwhich contain
men to a soldier. Here is a portion “ Far in a wild, unknown to public view, of the dirge dedicated to his fate :From youth to age a reverend hermit grew”
“Hapless Nation ! rent, and tom,
Thou wert early taught to mourn, because the author of it is designed Warfare of six hundred years ! as Archdeacon of Clogher ; nor for Epochs marked with blood and tears ! giving us an additional copy of that other “Hermit,” who brought his
Hunted through thy native grounds,
Or flung reward to human hounds; guiltless feast from the mountain's
Each one pulled and tore his share, grassy side, although its author, Heedless of thy deep despair. Goldsmith, was one of whose memory Ireland might justly be proud. There
Hapless Nation-hapless Land,
Heap of uncementing sand ! are many others which we might ex
Crumbled by a foreign weight; clude, not because they are easily And by worse-domestic hate. to be found elsewhere, but because
God of mercy! God of peace! there is no great advantage in finding
Make the mad confusion cease; them anywhere. But the collection
O'er the mental chaos move, is large and rich, and we acknow- Through it SPEAK the light of love. ledge with pleasure that it has introduced us into a new field of genius,
Monstrous and unhappy sight!
Brothers' blood will not unite not deficient in flowers.
Holy oil and holy water But what a sad contrast to the
Mix, and fill the world with slaughter." whole spirit of our Scottish minstrelsy. "In it, even the most tragic All this is very sad and very terrible. and exciting passages relate to en- And there is another and quite pecumities which have long departed. liar vein of sadness winding through The wrath is appeased--the wounds all the ballads that have reality in are healed, and we look back on all them—the traces that they carry of through the mellow influence of time the amount of physical destitution and change. It is like the peaceful borne by the people, and the dire ivied ruin in the placid sunset. We famines that have swept them from ask not what bloody scenes it has time to time. The picture is not witnessed-what strong injustice it vulgarised by the sordid details of has protected-what miserable cap- simple physical misery, for the Irish tive sighed in its dungeon ; there it have a way with them in these things, and can endow even starva- sion; but it is not ballad poetry, in tion and nudity with the moighty the fundamental sense of the term. It genteelness, which is their peculiar is not what the people say for themgift. We turn, for instance, to the selves, but what refined genius says
Lament of the Irish Emigrant,” by for them. The function of making the Lady Dufferin. He lacks food and ballads of a people in this fashion raiment at home, and is going to is not that to which Fletcher referseek them abroad. We all can sum- red. It may happen that the compomon up in idea what sort of object sition of one high in genius or in of poetic interest is an Irishman of rank is adopted by the populace, the poorer kind in a famine year—a and passes to their bosoms; as, for man who has sold the pig—who has instance, Lady Anne Barnard's paexhausted the last argument with thetic ballad of “Auld Robin Gray." the agent, who has been at the But this is a matter of chance; and door of every relief committee—who we suspect that the editors of newshas perhaps begged on the bighway papers, and the readers of curious
- of unwholesome and forbidding literature, know a great deal more aspect--filthy, ragged, and spotted about these ballads of the Irish than with vermin. But all these vulgar the Irish themselves know. With and offensive attributes are washed our Scottish ballads it is far otheraway by the fountains of refined sor- wise. Such pathos and sentiment row which flow full and strong from as they contain are not triumphs of the poor man's heart, when he calls literary art—they are the throbbing up, in the midst of his hardships, the of the national heart itself. And departed form of her who was the this heart is tender and true, though partner of his joys and of his sorrows, doubtless it has its capricious, and and now lies in her grave near the sometimes its worse than capricious, stile on which he sits, and thinks emotions. about the past and the future. It Breaking out of a barbarous age, was there that they sat long ago and echoing freely the sentiments of when they were betrothed. The turbulent times, it is natural that place is little changed ; the lark our ballad poetry should not be sings—the corn is green—but the found to be ever under the regulavoice that then spoke in affection tions of modern refinement and moand hope is silenced for ever. dern ethics. In this, of course, the
comparison will be in externals “ I'm very lonely now, Mary,
mightily in favour of the Irish muse. For the poor make no new friends ! But, oh! they love the better still
We do not deny to that country The few our Father sends !
generally the virtue of purity and And you were all 1 had, Mary,
decorum in the domestic relations My blessin' and my pride :
which it so often loudly claims. In There's nothin' left to care for now, a ballad literature, prepared in the Since my poor Mary died.
name of the country
men of Yours was the good, brave heart, Mary, genius and education, it is natural That still kept hoping on,
that there should be nothing to even When the trust in God had left my soul, hint offence to the most fastidious
And my arm's young strength was gone; reader. The good taste of the ediThere was comfort ever on your lip,
And the kind look on your brow- tor has, as every one would anticiI bless you, Mary, for that same, pate, kept the collection of old Scot. Though you cannot hear me now. tish ballads as free from any impurity
as the modern Irish ballads have I thank you for the patient smile, When your heart was fit to break,
been made by their authors. But of When the hunger-pain was gnawin' there,
course popular compositions springAnd you hid it for my sake!
ing out of the social conditions of I bless you for the pleasant word, their age, of necessity speak, al
When your heart was sad and sore Oh ! I'm thankful you are gone, Mary,
though they need not speak coarsely, Where grief can't reach you more !"
of the sort of acts that were done in
their day, and it is a somewhat hard This is very tender and sweet in test to measure them by the ways of sentiment, and melodious in expres- acting and thinking which belong to a different period. The Scottish “Is there any room at your head, Saunders! ballads are the utterance of Scottish
Is there any room at your feet?
Orany room at your side, Saunders, society, high and low, at periods
Where fain fain I wad sleep." far earlier than the reign of Queen Mary; and yet, as all the world The many narratives of ferocity knows, it would be a desperate affair and strife which these ballads conto judge of the people frequenting tain, are often broken in upon by such Queen Mary's court, and of their gentle lights. Take, for instance, conduct, by the criterion of the one not very extensively known, court of Queen Victoria. There is no “Edom o' Gordon.” It commemodenying it, that along with the great rates one of those terrible acts of deeds of our ancestors great crimes feudal violence which crowd the were not unknown. Accordingly, chronicles of the sixteenth and seventhe ballads, taking the tone of the teenth centuries, not in Scotland surrounding social conditions, are only. The Laird of Towie—the same not only tragic, but often criminally domain whence the Russian general tragic. To give zest to the dramatic Barclay de Tolly took his title—is narrative of a rude age, and to bring absent from home, and his feudal out the magnanimity of the hero of enemy, Gordon of Auchindown, comes the tale, a crime and a criminal are to besiege the castle. The lady dealmost necessary: Are we yet far fends it with spirit enough advanced in civilisation to be above this necessity? Tragic “ But reach my pistol, Glaud, my man, enough certainly are the plot and
And charge ye weel my gun; incidents of the Scottish ballads
For, but if I pierce that bludy butcher,
We a'shall be undone." desperately wicked sometimes the perpetrators, male or female. But She stude upon the castle wa', still, through the histories of their And let twa bullets flee ; misdeeds, the narrative conveys in
She miss'd that bludy butcher's heart,
And only razed his kuee." some shape-whether that of an avenging Providence or the milder
Fire is applied ; it penetrates medium of some great man's judg- quickly through all parts of the ment-a commendation of honour, narrow peel-house, and reaches the truth, fidelity, and all those virtues poor children, whose fate, with that which are the best that men can ex- of their mother, is described in these ercise towards each other. Brighten- pathetic terms :ing also, through narratives of falsehood and cruelty, we find those "O then bespake her youngest son, warm and strong domestic affections Sat on the nourice' knee; which have given such an honest Says, “Mother dear, gie owre this house,
For the reek it smothers me.' glow to the later minstrelsy, and especially to the popular songs of the 'I wad gie a' my gowd, my bairn, country. So it is that we have in Sae wad I a' my fee, the well-known lament of “Waly,
For ae blast o' the westlin' wind,
To blaw the reek frae thee!' Waly," and in that other ballad, which is sometimes considered a O then bespake her daughter dearcontinuation of it, but is by Pro
She was baith jimp and sma'
•Orow me in a pair o'sheets, fessor Aytoun deemed a separate And tow me owre the wa'.' composition,—those deeply pathetic wailings in which the injured wife's They row'd her in a pair o' sheets, sense of wrong and misery struggle
And tow'd her owre the wa';
But on the point o' Gordon's spear with her affecton, and give way be- She gat a deadly fa'. fore its intensity and unwavering constancy. Hence, too, the con
O bonnie, bonnie was her mouth,
And cherry were her cheeks ; stancy and faith of poor Burd Helen,
And clear, clear was her yellow hair, which lighten her path through Whereon the red blude dreeps. every form of misery and hardship, and that undying love which draw's Then wi' his spear he turn'd her owre,
O gin her face was wan! May Margaret to follow her dead
He said, “You are the first that o'er lover's spectre to his tomb, crying- I wish'd alive again.'
He turn'd her owre and owre again, whole is described to the external O gin her skin was white !
world with the clear precision of •I might hae spared that bonnie face, To hae been some man's delight.
an Ostade or a Teniers; and nothing
can be more naturally true and * Busk and boun, my merrie-men a', picturesque than every little turn For ill dooms 1 do guess ;
and incident-as, for instance, where I canna look on that bonnie face, As it lies on the grass !!
the conduct of the sow who dis
covers the milk kirning to be made • Wha looks to freits, my master deir, into cheese, and proceeds stealthIt's freits will follow them;
ily to appropriate it, not with an Let it ne'er be said that Edom o' Gordon
entirely easy mind, is thus told,-Was dauntit by a dame.'
"Ay she winket, and ay she drank.” But when the lady saw the fire
It is singular that Ireland, with Come flaming owre her head,
such an abundant ready - money She wept, and kiss'd her children twain, currency of wit in the daily interSays, 'Bairns, we been but dead.'”
course of her people, should have
none stored up in reserve for literaTheir wit is a remarkable feature ture. If we had any such echo of the of the Scottish ballads as well as tone and tenor of common life among their pathos. It is sharp, keen, and them as the Scottish ballads are to ever tells home to practical conclu
our own country, we could not well sions. Of this kind the “Wife of have been without a sprinkling of Auchtermuchty” is a very perfect this element. specimen. It is wonderful how a Sister Ireland is an adept at fairy composition so full of genius, and so legend. The lithe little ephemeral dexterously handled, should have creatures who people the elfin world come down to us without any claim- seem to be adapted to the exuberant ant to its authorship. Perhaps we and rather airy and unsubstantial must attribute this to the modesty of habits of thought of that light-heartsome feminine composer, who, having ed people. But they can give a tragic executed so noble a vindication of the sadness to the doings of the fantastic privileges of her sex, left it to carry elves — and indeed, throughout the its own weight without the encum- Irish minstrelsy, notwithstanding brance of a name. Its aim is to the elasticity of the Irish character, raise the dignity of the true house- there is far more of sadness and wife and her functions. The small inert sorrow than either of gladfarmer or crofter, returning home ness or of healthy exertion. The after his hard day's work in wind Fairy Thorn,” an Ulster ballad, is and rain, finds his wife bien and com- one of the tragic class. Some young fortable. He thinks she has been maidens in their glee have gone up to thus all day without having anything dance and amuse themselves on fairy material to do, and so he reproaches ground. One of their number is the inequality in their lots. It is doomed to be stolen into the spirit resolved that there shall be a more world, and the poet describes, with equal division of duties and privi- a chilling awfulness, the spell that leges, and he takes his first day of binds them to the ground, and drags housekeeping. The calamities and one of them away :difficulties which come upon him one after another in untiring procession, “And sinking one by one, like lark-notes and with accumulating complexity,
from the sky are to be compared only to those in: When the falcon's shadow saileth across
the open shaw, extricable dreams begotten of sau- Are hush'd the maiden's voices, as cowersage and Welsh rabbit, in which ing down they lie the hapless sleeper, with a horrible In the futter of their sudden awe. consciousness that he has nothing on For, from the air above, and the grassy but what he went to bed in, is re- ground beneath, quired, on some occasion of public And from the mountain-ashes and the solemnity, to perform impossible
old whitethorn between, functions, and finds himself gradually A power of faint enchantment doth through buried under an inextricable mass of And they sink down together on the ravelled operations. And yet the green.