Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 2 of 8 from 1860 edition

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the Border Minstrelsy, underwent a total revisal about the period when the tragedy of Douglas was in the ze­nith of its popularity, and this improved copy, it seems, embraced the ingenious interpolation above referred to. Independent altogether of this positive informa­tion, any one, familiar with the state in which tradi­tionary poetry has been transmitted to the present times, can be at no loss to detect many more ' ingen­ious interpolations,' as well as paraphrastic additions, in the ballad as now printed. But, though it has been grievously corrupted in this way, the most scrupulous inquirer into the authenticity of ancient song can have no hesitation in admitting that many of its verses, even as they now stand, are purely traditionary, and fair, and genuine parcels of antiquity, unalloyed with any base admixture of modern invention, and in nowise altered, save in those changes of language to which all oral poetry is unavoidably subjected, in its progress from one age to another." Motherwell.
We have given Gil Morrice as it stands in the Re-liques, (iii. 132,) degrading to the margin those stan­zas which are undoubtedly spurious, and we have added an ancient traditionary version, obtained by Motherwell, which, if it appear short and crude, is at least comparatively incorrupt. Chield Morice, taken down from recitation, and printed in Motherwell's Minstrelsy, (p. 269,) nearly resembles Gil Morrice, as here exhibited. We have also inserted in the Appen­dix Childe Maurice, " the very old imperfect copy," mentioned in the Reliques, and first published from the Percy MS. by Jamieson.
The sets of Gil Morrice in the collections of Herd, Pinkerton, Kitson, &e., are all taken from Percy.