Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 6 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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AULD MAITLAND. From Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, i. 306.
" This ballad, notwithstanding its present appear­ance, has a claim to very high antiquity. It has been preserved by tradition; and is, perhaps, the most authentic instance of a long and very old poem, ex­clusively thus preserved. It is only known to a few old people upon the sequestered banks of the Ettrick, and is published, as written down from the recitation of the mother of Mr. James Hogg, who sings, or rather chants it, with great animation. She learned the ballad from a blind man, who died at the advanced age of ninety, and is said to have been possessed of much traditionary knowledge. Although the Ian guage of this poem is much modernized, yet many words, which the reciters have retained without un­derstanding them, still preserve traces of its antiquity. Such are the words springals (corruptedly pronounced springwalls), sowies, portcullize, and many other ap­propriate terms of war and chivalry, which could never have been introduced by a modern ballad-maker[?]. The incidents are striking and well man­aged; and they are in strict conformity with the manners of the age in which they are placed.
" The date of the ballad cannot be ascertained with any degree of accuracy. Sir Richard Maitland, the