(2) This is especially improbable, because, in 1719, the old vein of ballad poetry had run dry, popular song had chosen other forms, and no literary imitator could have written Mary Hamilton in 1719.
(3) There is no example of a popular ballad in which a contemporary event, interesting just because it is contemporary, is thrown back into a remote age.
(4) The name, Mary Hamilton, is often not given to the heroine in variants of the ballad. She is of several names and ranks in the variants.
(5) As Mr. Child himself remarked, the “pottinger” of the real story of Queen Mary’s time occurs in one variant. There was no “pottinger” in the Russian affair.
All these arguments, to which others might be added, seem fatal to the late date and modern origin of the ballad, and Mr. Child’s own faith in the hypothesis was shaken, if not overthrown.
From The Border Minstrelsy. The account in Satchells has either been based on the ballad, or the ballad is based on Satchells. After a meeting, on the Border of Salkeld of Corby, and Scott of Haining, Kinmont Willie was seized by the English as he rode home from the tryst. Being “wanted,” he was lodged in Carlisle Castle, and this was a breach of the day’s truce. Buccleugh, as warder, tried to obtain Willie’s release by peaceful means. These failing, Buccleugh did what the ballad reports, April 13, 1596. Harden and Goudilands were with Buccleugh, being his neighbours near Branxholme. Dicky of Dryhope, with others, Armstrongs, was also true to the call of duty. A few verses in the ballad are clearly by aut Gualterus aut diabolus, and none the worse for that. Salkeld, of course, was not really slain; and, if the men were “left for dead,” probably they were not long in that debatable condition. In the rising of 1745 Prince Charlie’s men forded Eden as boldly as Buccleuch, the Prince saving a drowning Highlander with his own hand.
Scott, for once, was wrong in his localities. The Dodhead of the poem is not that near Singlee, in Ettrick, but a place of the same name, near Skelfhill, on the southern side of Teviot, within three miles of Stobs, where Telfer vainly seeks help from Elliot. The other Dodhead is at a great distance from Stobs, up Borthwick Water, over the tableland, past Clearburn Loch and Buccleugh, and so down Ettrick, past Tushielaw. The Catslockhill is not that on Yarrow, near Ladhope, but another near Branxholme, whence it is no far cry to Branxholme Hall. Borthwick Water, Goudilands (below Branxholme), Commonside (a little farther up Teviot), Allanhaugh, and the other places of the Scotts, were all easily “warned.” There are traces of a modern hand in this excellent ballad. The topography is here corrected from Ms. notes in a first edition of the Minstrelsy, in the library of Mr. Charles Grieve at Branxholme’ Park, a scion of “auld Jock Grieve” of the Coultart Cleugh. Names linger long in pleasant Teviotdale.