Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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I
SIB ALDINGAE.                          241
tale is believed, and the queen shut up in prison. The Frankish king, a relation of the injured woman, remonstrates on the injustice of condemnation without trial, and the king consents to submit the question to a duel. The champion of innocence is victorious, and the real criminal is condignly punished. This form of the legend, the oldest of all that have been cited, approaches very near to the Danish and English bal­lads.
Our conclusion would therefore be, with Grundtvig, that the ballads of Sir Atdingar, Ravengaard and Memering, and the rest, are of common derivation with the legends of St. Cunigund, Gundeberg, &c, and that all these are offshoots of a story which, " be­ginning far back in the infancy of the Gothic race and their poetry, is continually turning up, now here and now there, without having a proper home in any defi­nite time or assignable place." Many circumstances corroborative of this view might be added, but we must content ourselves with obviating a possible objec­tion. An invariable feature in the story is the judi­cium Dei by which the innocence of the accused wife is established, but there is much difference in the various forms of the legend as to the kind of ordeal employed, and some minds may here find difficulty. A close observation, however, will show such a connection between the different accounts as to prove an original unity. Even the earlier legends of St. Cunigund do not agree on this point; one makes her to have walked over burning ploughshares, another to have carried red-hot iron in her hands. The Icelandic copy of the ballad has both of these : the queen " carries iron and walks on steel"; and there is also a "judgment by
VOL. III.                         16







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III