Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 1 of 8 from 1860 edition

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This ballad was first printed in the Border Min­strelsy, (vol. iii. p. 230,) " chiefly from Mrs. Brown's MS. with corrections from a recited fragment." Moth­erwell furnishes a different version, from recitation, {Minstrelsy, p. 374,) which is subjoined to the present, and the well-known ditty of the Laidley Worm of Spindleston-Heugh, upon the same theme, will be found in the Appendix to this volume.
" Such transformations as the song narrates," re­marks Sir Walter Scott, " are common in the annals of chivalry. In the 25th and 26th cantos of the second book of the Orlando Inamorato, the Paladin, Brandi-marte, after surmounting many obstacles, penetrates into the recesses of an enchanted palace. Here he finds a fair damsel, seated upon a tomb, who announces to him, that, in order to achieve her deliverance, he must raise the lid of the sepulchre, and kiss whatever being should issue forth. The knight, having pledged his faith, proceeds to open the tomb, out of which a monstrous snake issues forth, with a tremendous hiss. Brandimarte, with much reluctance, fulfils the bizarre conditions of the adventure ; and the monster is in­stantly changed into a beautiful Fairy, who loads her deliverer with benefits."