Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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In the versions of this ballad given in the body of this work, the Earl of Douglas is represented as falling by the hand of Harry Percy. In the ballad which follows, taken from Herd's Scottish Songs, i. 211, his death is ascribed to the revenge of an offended ser­vant. Though there is not the slightest reason to give credence to this story, it has a certain foun­dation in tradition. Hume of Godscroft writes " there are that say, that he [Douglas] was not slain by the enemy, but by one of his own men, a groom of his chamber, whom he had struck the day before with a truncheon, in ordering of the battle, because he saw him make somewhat slowly to. And they name this man John Bickerton of Luffness, who left a part of his armour behind unfastened, and when he was in the greatest conflict, this servant of his came behind his back, and slew him thereat." Win-town says that the Earl was so intent on marshalling his forces, and so eager to be at the foe, that he neg­lected to arm himself carefully.—Scott's Minstrelsy, i. 350.
It fell, and about the Lammas time,
When husbandmen do win their hay, Earl Douglas is to the English woods, And a' with him to fetch a prey. vol. vir.                      12

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