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98 ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH BALLADS.
stirring and full of the natural elements of poetry than those of the reivers and cattle thieves of the Scottish Border, but the ballads of the former cycle are only full of a vulgar peasant humor, while the latter are illuminated with the light of battle, and have the quarter staff and broken pate in place of the spear and the bleeding breast. Of Robin Hood it is said : —
Then Robin took them both by the hand,
And danced about the oke tree ; For three merry men and three merry men
And three merry men are we.
While the Lord of Branxholm cries:
Gae warn the water broad and wide,
Gae warn it sune and hastilie ; He that winna ride for Telfer's Kyle
Let him neer look in the face o' me.
and the difference in the spirit is reflected in the quality of the verse, the one dull and commonplace, suited to an audience of heavy-faced rustics in an alehouse, and the other full of fire and vigor, fit to be chanted in the dining hall of a Border chief. It is impossible to analyze ethnologically the causes of the great superiority of the Scottish popular poetry, or to define how much of the elevation of feeling and appreciation of the magic of nature came from the greater admixture of the Celtic ele-