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BESSIE BELL AND MARY GRAY.
From Lyle's Ancient Ballads and Songs, p. 160, where it was printed as collated " from the singing of two aged persons, one of them a native of Perthshire." There are two versions slightly differing from the present ;—one in Cunningham's Songs of Scotland, iii. 60, obtained from Sir Walter Scott, and another in Mr. Kirkpatrick Sharpe's Ballad Book, p. 62.
Allan Ramsay wrote a song with the same title, beginning with the first stanza of the ballad, (Tea Table Miscellany, i. 70.)
The story of the unfortunate heroines is thus given by Chambers : " Bessie Bell and Mary Gray were the daughters of two country gentlemen in the neighborhood of Perth ; and an intimate friendship subsisted between them. Bessie Bell, daughter of the Laird of Kinnaird, happening to be on a visit to Mary Gray, at her father's house of Lynedoch, when the plague of 1666 broke out, to avoid the infection, the two young ladies built themselves a bower in a very retired and romantic spot, called the Burn-braes, about three quarters of a mile westward from Lynedoch House; where they resided for some time, supplied with food, it is