Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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26
THE HUNTING OF THE CHEVIOT.
mere fiction, perhaps to stir up virtue; yet a fiction whereof there is no mention either in the Scottish or English chronicle." When this ballad arose we do not know, but we may suppose that a considerable time would elapse before a minstrel would venture to treat an historical event with so much freedom.
AVe must, however, allow some force to these remarks of Percy: " With regard to the subject of this ballad, although it has no countenance from history, there is room to think it had originally some foundation in fact. It was one of the laws of the Marches, fre­quently renewed between the nations, that neither party should hunt in the other's borders, without leave from the proprietors or their deputies. There had long been a rivalship between the two martial families of Percy and Douglas, which, heightened by the national quarrel, must have produced frequent challenges and struggles for superiority, petty inva­sions of their respective domains, and sharp contests for the point of honour; which would not always be recorded in history. Something of this kind, we may suppose, gave rise to the ancient ballad of the Hunting a' the Cheviot. Percy Earl of Northumberland had vowed to hunt for three days in the Scottish border, without condescending to ask leave from Earl Doug­las, who was either lord of the soil, or lord warden of the Marches. Douglas would not fail to resent the insult, and endeavour to repel the intruders by force : this would naturally produce a sharp conflict between the two parties; something of which, it is probable, did really happen, though not attended with the tragical circumstances recorded in the ballad: for these are evidently borrowed from the Battle of Otter-







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