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80 ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH BALLADS.
And this, in which the very gallop of the horse's feet runs along the lines: —
It's twenty lang miles to Sillerton toun,
The langest that ever were gane, But the steed it was wight and the lady was light, And she rade linkin in.
The element of poetry of the highest kind in these ballads is the strength as well as the simplicity of passion interpreted in language of naked directness and dramatic power. Their stories are mainly those of the bloody tragedies and the violent events and emotions in the lives of a people to whom strife and adventure were an integral part of existence, and whose passions were strong and vigorous, although a proportion of the ballads have an element of rustic humor, and the cycle of those relating to Robin Hood is mainly of this kind. There is an element of the supernatural in the English and Scottish ballads, more particularly in the latter, which, if not so marked and pervading as in those of the Celtic nations, shows that the mysterious terrors of nature were still embodied in the visible forms of the imagination, and that the woods were still haunted by elfin knights, the green braes by fairies, while human beings were still liable to be transformed into laidly worms and