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THE HtTNTING OF THE CHEVIOT. 27
bourn, a very different event, but which after-times would easily confound with it." *
The ballad as here printed is of the same age as the preceding. It is extracted from Hearne's Preface to the History of Guilielmus Neubrigensis, p. lxxxii. Hearne derived his copy from a manuscript in the Ashmolean collection at Oxford, and printed the text in long Hues, which, according to custom, are now broken up into two.
The manuscript copy is subscribed at the end " Expliceth quoth Rychard Sheale." Richard Sheale (it has been shown by a writer in the British Bibliographer, vol. iv. p. 97-105) was a minstrel by profession, and several other pieces in the same MS. have a like signature with this. On this ground it has been very strangely concluded that Sheale was not, as Percy and Ritson supposed, the transcriber, but the actual author of this noble ballad. The glaring objection of the antiquity of the language has
* The Editor of the Reliques afterwards met with the following passage in Collins's Peerage, which he thought might throw some light on the question of the origin of the ballad.
"In this .... year, 1436, according to Hector Boethius, was fought the battle of Pepperden, not far from the Cheviot Hills, between the Earl of Northumberland [Hd Earl, son of Hotspur], and Earl 'William Douglas, of Angus, with a small army of about four thousand men each, in which the latter had the advantage. As this seems to have been a private conflict between these two great Chieftains of the Borders, rather than a national war, it has been thought to have given rise to the celebrated old ballad of Chevy-Chase; which to render it more pathetic and interesting, has been heightened with tragical incidents wholly fictitious."