Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

An Extensive Investigation Into The Sources And Inspiration Of National Folk Song

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in which the sentiments and poetical fashions of one generation have been foisted upon those of an­other to the utter destruction of all verisimilitude, to say nothing of strength and genuineness of expres­sion. Bishop Percy, with all his fine taste and gen­uine poetic power, was a conspicuous sinner in this respect, and patched the rough and strong frieze of the ancient ballads with pieces of the thin and sleazy silk of eighteenth century sentiment and diction. Even Scott, with all his sense of hon­esty and appreciation of the value of the integrity of the ancient ballads, could not always refrain from his possessing temptation " to give a hat and stick" to the stories which he heard, and, as Pro­fessor Child points out, there are some stanzas in the Border Minstrelsy which bear suspiciously his mark, and of which the originals have not been found in his manuscript materials. It is true enough that Scott's additions and emendations, as well as those of Allan Cunningham, who was wholly indifferent to the genuineness and integrity of his originals, were likely to be in the very spirit and turn of expression of the ancient ballads, and that the lover of poetry for its own sake will not be likely to find fault with them, but the real student of folk - song must repudiate them, and can be content only with the genuine expressions of the people, as they lived in tradition, however
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