Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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THE BATTLE OF HAELAW.               181
Mr. Laing, in his Early Metrical Tales (p. xlv.) speaks of an edition printed in the year 1668 as being "in the curious library of old Robert Myln." No copy is now known to exist of a date anterior to that which was published in Ramsay's Evergreen. Of the age of this copy the most opposite opinions have been maintained, some regarding the ballad as contem­porary with the event, and others insinuating that Ramsay, or one of his friends, is chargeable with the authorship. This last notion has no other ground than the freedom which Ramsay notoriously took with his texts, and that freedom has very likely been exercised in the present case. We shall, perhaps, be going quite as far as is prudent, if we acknowledge that this may be one of " the Scots poems wrote by the ingenious before 1600." Most readers will agree with Lord Hailes that the language is as recent as the days of Queen Mary, or of James the Sixth. Sibbald, in his Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, iii. 288, has stated other objections to receiving this ballad for ancient, which seem, however, to be satisfactorily answered by Finlay, Scottish Ballads, i. 160.
The copy of this ballad in The Thistle of Scotland, p. 75, is only Ramsay's, imperfectly remembered, or, what is quite as probable, here and there altered according to the taste of the illiterate editor. At page 92 of the same book, three stanzas are given of a burlesque song on this battle. A traditional ballad, recently recovered, is inserted at the end of this volume.
Fkae Dunidier as I cam throuch, Doun by the hill of Banochie,