A Collection of Ballads eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about A Collection of Ballads.


Burns’s version, in Johnson’s Museum (1792).  Scott’s version is made up of this copy, Riddell’s, Herd’s, and oral recitations, and contains feeble literary interpolations, not, of course, by Sir Walter.  The Complaint of Scotland (1549) mentions the “Tale of the Young Tamlene” as then popular.  It is needless here to enter into the subject of Fairyland, and captures of mortals by Fairies:  the Editor has said his say in his edition of Kirk’s Secret Commonwealth.  The Nereids, in Modern Greece, practise fairy cantrips, and the same beliefs exist in Samoa and New Caledonia.  The metamorphoses are found in the Odyssey, Book iv., in the winning of Thetis, the Nereid, or Fairy Bride, by Peleus, in a modern Cretan fairy tale, and so on.  There is a similar incident in Penda Baloa, a Senegambian ballad (Contes Populaires de la Senegambie, Berenger Ferand, Paris, 1885).  The dipping of Tamlane has precedents in Old Deccan Days, in a Hottentot tale by Bleek, and in Les Deux Freres, the Egyptian story, translated by Maspero (the Editor has already given these parallels in a note to Border Ballads, by Graham R. Thomson).  Mr. Child also cites Mannhardt, “Wald und Feldkulte,” ii. 64-70.  Carterhaugh, the scene of the ballad, is at the junction of Ettrick and Yarrow, between Bowhill and Philiphaugh.


From The Border Minstrelsy; the original was derived from a lady living near Erceldoune (Earlston), and from Mrs. Brown’s MSS.  That Thomas of Erceldoune had some popular fame as a rhymer and soothsayer as early as 1320-1350, seems to be established.  As late as the Forty Five, nay, even as late as the expected Napoleonic invasion, sayings attributed to Thomas were repeated with some measure of belief.  A real Thomas Rymer of Erceldoune witnessed an undated deed of Peter de Haga, early in the thirteenth century.  The de Hagas, or Haigs of Bemersyde, were the subjects of the prophecy attributed to Thomas,

“Betide, betide, whate’er betide, There will aye be a Haig in Bemersyde,”

and a Haig still owns that ancient chateau on the Tweed, which has a singular set of traditions.  Learmont is usually given as the Erceldoune family name; a branch of the family owned Dairsie in Fifeshire, and were a kind of hereditary provosts of St. Andrews.  If Thomas did predict the death of Alexander iii., or rather report it by dint of clairvoyance, he must have lived till 1285.  The date of the poem on the Fairy Queen, attributed to Thomas, is uncertain, the story itself is a variant of “Ogier the Dane.”  The scene is Huntly Bank, under Eildon Hill, and was part of the lands acquired, at fantastic prices, by Sir Walter Scott.  His passion for land was really part of his passion for collecting antiquities.  The theory of Fairyland here (as in many other Scottish legends and witch trials) is borrowed from the Pre-Christian

Project Gutenberg
A Collection of Ballads from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook