Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 2 of 8 from 1860 edition

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From the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, iii. 10. Bondsey and Maisry, another version of the same story, from Buchan's collection, is given in the Appendix.
" In this ballad the reader will find traces of a singu­lar superstition, not yet altogether discredited in the wilder parts of Scotland. The lykewake, or watching a dead body, in itself a melancholy office, is rendered, in the idea of the assistants, more dismally awful, by the mysterious horrors of superstition. In the interval betwixt death and interment, the disembodied spirit is supposed to hover round its mortal habitation, and, if invoked by certain rites, retains the power of commu­nicating, through its organs, the cause of its dissolution. Such inquiries, however, are always dangerous, and never to be resorted to, unless the deceased is suspect­ed to have suffered foul play, as it is called. • It is the more unsafe to tamper with this charm in an unau­thorized manner, because the inhabitants of the infer­nal regions are, at such periods, peculiarly active. One of the most potent ceremonies in the charm, for