A Bundle of Ballads


Introduction by the Editor.

Recitation with dramatic energy by men whose business it was to travel from one great house to another and delight the people by the way, was usual among us from the first. The scop invented and the glee-man recited heroic legends and other tales to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers.
These were followed by the minstrels and other tellers of tales written for the people. They frequented fairs and merrymakings,
spreading the knowledge not only of tales in prose or ballad form, but of appeals also to public sympathy from social reformers.

As late as the year 1822, Allan Cunningham, in publishing a collection of "Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry," spoke from his own recollection of itinerant story-tellers who were welcomed in the houses of the peasantry and earned a living by their craft.

The earliest story-telling was in recitative. When the old alliteration passed on into rhyme, and the crowd or rustic fiddle took the place of the old "gleebeam" for accentuation of the measure and the meaning of the song, we come to the ballad-singer as Philip Sidney knew him. Sidney said, in his "Defence of Poesy," that he never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas, that he found not his heart moved more than with a trumpet; and yet, he said, "it is sung but by some blind crowder, with no rougher voice than rude style; which being so evil apparelled in the dust and cobweb of that uncivil age, what would it work trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar?" Many an old ballad, instinct with natural feeling, has been more or less corrupted, by bad ear or memory, among the people upon whose lips it has lived. It is to be considered, however, that the old broader pronunciation of some letters developed some syllables and the swiftness of speech slurred over others, which will account for many an apparent halt in the music of what was actually, on the lips of the ballad-singer, a good metrical line.

"Chevy Chase" is, most likely, a corruption of the French word chevauchee, which meant a dash over the border for destruction and plunder within the English pale. Chevauchee was the French equivalent to the Scottish border raid. Close relations between France and
Scotland arose out of their common interest in checking movements towards their conquest by the kings of England, and many French words were used with a homely turn in Scottish common speech. Even that national source of joy, "great chieftain of the pudding-race," the haggis, has its name from the French hachis. At the end of the old ballad of "Chevy Chase," which reads the corrupted word into a new sense, as the Hunting on the Cheviot Hills, there is an identifying of the Hunting of the Cheviot with the Battle of Otterburn:—

"Old men that knowen the ground well enough call it the Battle of
At Otterburn began this spurn upon a Monenday;
There was the doughty Douglas slain, the Percy never went away."

The Battle of Otterburn was fought on the 19th of August 1388. The
Scots were to muster at Jedburgh for a raid into England. The Earl of
Northumberland and his sons, learning the strength of the Scottish gathering, resolved not to oppose it, but to make a counter raid into
Scotland. The Scots heard of this and divided their force. The main body, under Archibald Douglas and others, rode for Carlisle. A
detachment of three or four hundred men-at-arms and two thousand combatants, partly archers, rode for Newcastle and Durham, with James
Earl of Douglas for one of their leaders. These were already pillaging and burning in Durham when the Earl of Northumberland first heard of them, and sent against them his sons Henry and Ralph Percy.
In a hand-to-hand fight between Douglas and Henry Percy, Douglas took
Percy’s pennon. At Otterburn the Scots overcame the English but
Douglas fell, struck by three spears at once, and Henry was captured in fight by Lord Montgomery. There was a Scots ballad on the Battle of Otterburn quoted in 1549 in a book—"The Complaynt of Scotland"—
that also referred to the Hunttis of Chevet. The older version of
"Chevy Chase" is in an Ashmole MS. in the Bodleian, from which it was first printed in 1719 by Thomas Hearne in his edition of William of
Newbury’s History. Its author turns the tables on the Scots with the suggestion of the comparative wealth of England and Scotland in men of the stamp of Douglas and Percy. The later version, which was once known more widely, is probably not older than the time of James I.,
and is the version praised by Addison in Nos. 70 and 74 of "The

"The Nut-Brown Maid," in which we can hardly doubt that a woman pleads for women, was first printed in 1502 in Richard Arnold’s Chronicle.
Nut-brown was the old word for brunette. There was an old saying that
"a nut-brown girl is neat and blithe by nature."

"Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudeslie" was first printed by Copland about 1550. A fragment has been found of an earlier impression. Laneham, in 1575, in his Kenilworth Letter,
included "Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudeslie"
among the light reading of Captain Cox. In the books of the
Stationers’ Company (for the printing and editing of which we are deeply indebted to Professor Arber), there is an entry between July
1557 and July 1558, "To John kynge to prynte this boke Called Adam
Bell etc. and for his lycense he giveth to the howse." On the 15th of
January 1581-2 "Adam Bell" is included in a list of forty or more copyrights transferred from Sampson Awdeley to John Charlewood; "A
Hundred Merry Tales" and Gower’s "Confessio Amantis" being among the other transfers. On the 16th of August 1586 the Company of Stationers
"Alowed vnto Edward white for his copies these fyve ballades so that they be tollerable:" four only are named, one being "A ballad of
William Clowdisley, never printed before." Drayton wrote in the
"Shepheard’s Garland" in 1593:—

"Come sit we down under this hawthorn tree,
The morrow’s light shall lend us day enough—
And tell a tale of Gawain or Sir Guy,
Of Robin Hood, or of good Clem of the Clough."

Ben Jonson, in his "Alchemist," acted in 1610, also indicates the current popularity of this tale, when Face, the housekeeper, brings
Dapper, the lawyer’s clerk, to Subtle, and recommends him with—

"’slight, I bring you
No cheating Clim o’ the Clough or Claribel."

"Binnorie," or "The Two Sisters," is a ballad on an old theme popular in Scandinavia as well as in this country. There have been many versions of it. Dr. Rimbault published it from a broadside dated
1656. The version here given is Sir Walter Scott’s, from his
"Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," with a few touches from other versions given in Professor Francis James Child’s noble edition of
"The English and Scottish Popular Ballads," which, when complete, will be the chief storehouse of our ballad lore.

"King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid" is referred to by Shakespeare in
"Love’s Labour’s Lost," Act iv. sc I; in "Romeo and Juliet," Act ii.
sc. I; and in "II. Henry IV.," Act iii. sc. 4. It was first printed in 1612 in Richard Johnson’s "Crown Garland of Goulden Roses gathered out of England’s Royall Garden. Being the Lives and Strange Fortunes of many Great Personages of this Land, set forth in many pleasant new
Songs and Sonnets never before imprinted."

"Take thy Old Cloak about thee," was published in 1719 by Allan Ramsay in his "Tea-Table Miscellany," and was probably a sixteenth century piece retouched by him. Iago sings the last stanza but one—"King
Stephen was a worthy peer," etc.—in "Othello," Act ii. sc. 3.

In "Othello," Act iv. sc. 3, there is also reference to the old ballad of "Willow, willow, willow."

"The Little Wee Man" is a wee ballad that is found in many forms with a little variation. It improves what was best in the opening of a longer piece which introduced popular prophecies, and is to be found in Cotton MS. Julius A. v. It was printed by Thomas Wright in his edition of Langtoft’s Chronicle (ii. 452).

"The Spanish Lady’s Love" was printed by Thomas Deloney in "The
Garland of Goodwill," published in the latter half of the sixteenth century. The hero of this ballad was probably one of Essex’s companions in the Cadiz expedition, and various attempts have been made to identify him, especially with a Sir John Bolle of Thorpe Hall,

"Edward, Edward," is from Percy’s "Reliques." Percy had it from Lord

"Robin Hood" is the "Lytell Geste of Robyn Hood," printed in London by
Wynken de Worde, and again in Edinburgh by Chepman and Myllar in 15O8,
in the first year of the establishment of a printing-press in

"King Edward IV. and the Tanner of Tamworth" is a ballad of a kind once popular; there were "King Alfred and the Neatherd," "King Henry and the Miller," "King James I. and the Tinker," "King Henry VII. and the Cobbler," with a dozen more. "The Tanner of Tamworth" in another,
perhaps older, form, as "The King and the Barker," was printed by
Joseph Ritson in his "Ancient Popular Poetry."

"Sir Patrick Spens" was first published by Percy in his "Reliques of
Ancient English Poetry" (1757). It was given by Sir Walter Scott in his "Minstrelsy of the Border," and with more detail by Peter Buchan in his "Ancient Ballads of the North." Buchan took it from an old blind ballad-singer who had recited it for fifty years, and learnt it in youth from another very old man. The ballad is upon an event in
Scottish history of the thirteenth century, touching marriage of a
Margaret, daughter of the King of Scotland, to Haningo, son of the
King of Norway. The perils of a winter sea-passage in ships of the olden time were recognised by an Act of the reign of James III. of
Scotland, prohibiting all navigation "frae the feast of St. Simon’s
Day and Jude unto the feast of the Purification of our Lady, called

"Edom o’ Gordon" was first printed at Glasgow by Robert and Andrew
Foulis in 1755. Percy ascribed its preservation to Sir David
Dalrymple, who gave it from the memory of a lady. The incident was transferred to the border from the North of Scotland. Edom o’ Gordon was Sir Adam Gordon of Auchindown, Lieutenant-Depute for Queen Mary in the North in 1571. He sent Captain Ker with soldiers against the
Castle of Towie, which was set on fire, and the Lady of Towie, with twenty-six other persons, "was cruelly brint to the death." Other forms of the ballad ascribe the deed, with incidents of greater cruelty, to Captain Carr, the Lord of Estertowne.

"The Children in the Wood" was entered in the books of the Stationers’
Company on the 15th of October 1595 to Thomas Millington as,
"for his Copie vnder th[e h]andes of bothe the wardens a ballad intituled, The Norfolk gent his will and Testament and how he
Commytted the keepinge of his Children to his owne brother whoe delte moste wickedly with them and howe God plagued him for it."
It was printed as a black-letter ballad in 167O. Addison wrote a paper on it in "The Spectator" (No. 85), praising it as "one of the darling songs of the common people."

"The Blind Beggar of Bednall Green" is in many collections, and was known in Elizabeth’s time, another Elizabethan ballad having been set to the tune of it. "This very house," wrote Samuel Pepys in June 1663
of Sir William Rider’s house at Bethnal Green, "was built by the blind beggar of Bednall Green, so much talked of and sung in ballads; but they say it was only some outhouses of it." The Angels that abounded in the Beggar’s stores were gold coins, so named from the figure on one side of the Archangel Michael overcoming the Dragon. This coin was first struck in 1466, and it was used until the time of Charles the First.

"The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington," or "True Love Requited," is a ballad in Pepys’s collection, now in the Bodleian. The Islington of the Ballad is supposed to be an Islington in Norfolk.

"Barbara Allen’s Cruelty" was referred to by Pepys in his Diary,
January 2, 1665-6 as "the little Scotch song of Barbary Allen." It was first printed by Allan Ramsay (in 1724) in his "Tea-Table
Miscellany." In the same work Allan Ramsay was also the first printer of "Sweet William’s Ghost."

Fragments of "The Braes o’ Yarrow" are in old collections. The ballad has been given by Scott in his "Minstrelsy of the Border," and another version is in Peter Buchan’s "Ancient Ballads of the North."

"Kemp Owyne" is here given from Buchan’s "Ballads of the North of
Scotland." Here also Professor F. J. Child has pointed to many
Icelandic, Danish, and German analogies. Allied to "Kemp Owyne" is the modern ballad of "The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heughs," written before 1778 by the Rev. Mr. Lamb of Norham; but the "Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea" is an older cousin to "Kemp Owyne."

"O’er the Water to Charlie" is given by Buchan as the original form of this one of the many songs made when Prince Charles Edward made his attempt in 1745-6. The songs worked scraps of lively old tunes, with some old words of ballad, into declaration of goodwill to the

"Admiral Hosier’s Ghost" was written by Richard Glover in 174O to rouse national feeling. Vice-Admiral Vernon with only six men-of-war had taken the town of Portobello, and levelled its fortifications.
The place has so dangerous a climate that it is now almost deserted.
Admiral Hosier in 1726 had been, in the same port, with twenty ships,
restrained from attack, while he and his men were dying of fever. He was to blockade the Spanish ports in the West Indies and capture any
Spanish galleons that came out. He left Porto Bello for Carthagena,
where he cruised about while his men were being swept away by disease.
His ships were made powerless through death of his best officers and men. He himself at last died, it was said, of a broken heart. Dyer’s ballad pointed the contrast as a reproach to the Government for half-hearted support of the war, and was meant for suggestion of the success that would reward vigorous action.

"Jemmy Dawson" was a ballad written by William Shenstone on a young officer of Manchester volunteers who was hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1746 on Kennington Common for having served the Pretender. He was engaged to a young lady, who came to the execution, and when it was over fell back dead in her coach.

"William and Margaret," by David Mallet, published in 1727, is another example of the tendency to the revival of the ballad in the eighteenth century.

"Elfinland Wood," by the Scottish poet William Motherwell, who died in
1835, aged thirty-seven, is a modern imitation of the ancient Scottish ballad. Mrs. Hemans, who wrote "Casabianca," died also in 1835. But the last ballad in this bundle, Lady Anne Barnard’s "Auld Robin Gray,"
was written in 1771, and owes its place to a desire that this volume,
which begins with the best of the old ballads, should end with the best of the new. Lady Anne, eldest daughter of the fifth Earl of
Balcarres, married Sir Andrew Barnard, librarian to George III., and survived her husband eighteen years. While the authorship of the piece remained a secret there were some who attributed it to Rizzio,
the favourite of Mary Queen of Scots. Lady Anne Barnard acknowledged the authorship to Walter Scott in 1823, and told how she came to write it to an old air of which she was passionately fond, "Bridegroom grat when the sun gaed down." When she had heaped many troubles on her heroine, and called to a little sister to suggest another, the suggestion came promptly, "Steal the cow, sister Anne." And the cow was stolen.

H. M.


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Chicago: Morley, Henry, 1822-1894, ed. Bowring, Edgar Alfred, 1826-1911, trans., "Introduction by the Editor.," A Bundle of Ballads in A Bundle of Ballads (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1891), Original Sources, accessed August 7, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UW9TTA3I37ERKCD.

MLA: . "Introduction by the Editor." A Bundle of Ballads, edited by Morley, Henry, 1822-1894, and translated by Bowring, Edgar Alfred, 1826-1911, in A Bundle of Ballads, Vol. 3, London, George Routledge & Sons, 1891, Original Sources. 7 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UW9TTA3I37ERKCD.

Harvard: (ed.) (trans.), 'Introduction by the Editor.' in A Bundle of Ballads. cited in 1891, A Bundle of Ballads, George Routledge & Sons, London. Original Sources, retrieved 7 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UW9TTA3I37ERKCD.