Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 4 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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The unhappy lady into whose mouth some unknown poet has put this lament, is now ascertained to have been Anne, daughter to Bothwell, Bishop of Ork­ney. Her faithless lover was her cousin, Alexander Erskine, son to the Earl of Mar. Lady Anne is said to have possessed great beauty, and Sir Alexander was reputed the handsomest man of his age. He was first a colonel in the French army, but afterwards engaged in the service of the Covenanters, and came to his death by being blown up, with many other per­sons of rank, in Douglass Castle, on the 30th of August, 1640. The events which occasioned the ballad seem to have taken place early in the seventeenth century. Of the fate of the lady subsequent to this period noth­ing is known. See Chambers, Scottish Ballads, p. 150, and The Scots Musical Museum, (1853,) iv. 203*.
In Brome's comedy of The Northern Lass, or the Nest of Fools, acted in 1632, occur the two following stanzas. They are, perhaps, a part of the original Lament, which certainly has undergone great altera­tions in its progress down to our times.