Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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148                    SIR PATRICK SPENCB.
heir. That such an embassy, attended with so disas­trous consequences to the distinguished persons who would compose it, should be entirely unnoticed by the chroniclers is, to say the least, exceedingly improbable. The question concerning the historical basis of the ballad would naturally lose much of its interest, were any importance attached to the arguments by which its genuineness has been lately assailed. These are so trivial as hardly to admit of a statement. The claims of the composition to a high antiquity are first disputed, (Musical Museum, new ed., iv. 457*,) on the ground that such a piece was never heard of till it was sent to Percy by some of his correspondents in Scotland, with other ballads of (assumed) questionable authority. But even the ballad of Sir Hugh is liable to any im­peachment that can be extracted from these circum­stances, since it was first made known by Percy, and was transmitted to him from Scotland, (for aught we know, in suspicious company,) while its story dates also from the 13th century. Then, " an ingenious friend" having remarked to Percy that some of the phrases of Hardyknute seemed to have been borrowed from Sir Patrick Spence and other old Scottish songs, this ob­servation, combined with the fact that the localities of Dunfermline and Aberdour are in the neighborhood of Sir Henry Wardlaw's estate, leads to a conjecture that Lady Wardlaw may have been the author of Sir Patrick Spence, as she is known to have been of Hardyknute. It could never be deemed fair to argue from those resemblances which give plausibility to a counterfeit to the spuriousness of the original, but in fact there is no resemblance in the two pieces. Hardyknute is recognized at once by an ordinary critic







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