Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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496
HISTORICAL NOTES
in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, c. 1755, but neither has any resemblance to Gude Wallace in the text.
[The four numbers following were sent by Burns in a letter to his friend William Tytler of Woodhouslee, as ' a sample of old pieces' of which he said: ' I had once a great many of these fragments and some of them here entire ; but as 1 had no idea that anybody cared for them, I have forgotten them.' Burns here, as elsewhere, indicated how little he was affected by the historical or narrative ballad, and he paid little attention to the metrical tales which Percy and Ritson edited—a subject so much developed a little later by Sir Walter Scott. The budget collected by Tytler was subsequently utilized by Scott, Jamieson, Motherwell, and others. The four fragments of Burns are here reprinted from the text of Gromek, the originals from Tytler being missing.]
•No. 348. Wear Edinburgh, was a young son born. Cromek's Scotish Songs, 1810, ii. 204, entitled ' Young Hynhorn, to its own tune.' This is the earliest version of a vernacular ballad founded on the most ancient metrical tale connected with the South of Scotland or the kingdom of Northumberland. Whether Burns added anything of his own when he sent the. fragment to Tytler in 1787 is immaterial from a literary point of view, but at any rate he was the, first to discover the popular version. The tale exists in three English and three, French MSS. of the thirteenth century, all more or less differing in detail from one another. A seventh version in one of the Auchinleck MSS. is a Northumber­land legend in Scottish orthography, of which the following is an outline:— Hutheolf, king of Northnmbria, fought and defeated the invading Danes on ' Allerton more' in Cleveland, gave a feast at Pickering, afterwards went to York and proclaimed his son Horn his successor. Nine months later, three Irish kings with an army invaded his country, his forces were victorious, bnt Hutheolf was slain. Taking advantage of Horn's youth and inexperience, an ' erl of Northumbria' seized the kingdom, and compelled Horn to fly' fer South in Inglon,d' to the court of king Houlac, who educated him for apparently the space of seven years. His beauty fascinated the king's daughter Rimineld, but. the father was obdurate and offensive, and Horn fled under an assumed name ; not however before receiving a gold ring from Rimineld, which she said would change its colour when she became unfaithful to his memory. Seven years afterwards when sailing the seas, or on Sarascenic land fighting the infidels, the ring of priceless virtue and value ' grew pale and wan,' and compelled him to' come back: meeting a palmer he exchanged dresses, and in this disguise was hospitably received by King Houlac. Rimineld served the guests with wine, and when she came to the palmer he dropped into the cup the ring which she recognized. In due time she discovered her long lost lover, to whom she related her unwilling betrothal to a knight of her father's choice. Horn, having recovered his kingdom of Northumbria, was wedded to Rimineld with Houlac's consent, ' and they all lived happily ever after.'
Chaucer refers as follows to this tale in ' the second fit' of his satirical ballad 'Sir Thopas':—
' Men speke of romances of prys, Of Horn child and of Ypotys,
Of Bevis and Sir Gy, Of Sir Libeux and Pleyn-damour, But Sir Thopas, he bereth the flour
Of loyal chivalry.'                 (Skeat's Chaucer, iv. 196.)
The verses in the text, like those of Tam Lin, are remarkable examples of the vitality of popular poetry. Burns could not possibly have got the ballad in a modern Scottish dress except from tradition, for the metrical tale of King Horn had not then been printed, and was not known except to a very few literary antiquarians. Until 1827, when Motherwell published the 'complete' ballad made up from the Burns version and ' from recitation,' nothing but the Burns






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