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The ballad, he said, was recited • I meant to make my bed fu' wide, by his mother,—his grandmother
But you may make it narrow, had a copy of the same in her For now I've nane to be my guide, father's handwriting, and thus But a deid man drowned in Yarrow.'
the poem came down to him. As 20.
dates are of importance in a case
of this sort, I got from him a An' aye she screighed and cried, “Alas! Till her heart did break wi' sorrow,
statement in writing in answer An' sank into her father's arms,
to questions on those points, and ?Mang the dowie dens o' Yarrow." also other corroborative particu
lars. These are to the following In thus producing for the first effect :time an additional version of the Robert Welsh great - great ballad of the Yarrow, I may grandfather of W. Welsh be properly asked to give my born about 1686, died 1766. He ground and authority.
This I farmed Faldonside, near Abbotsreadily do. The version is due to ford, well known as
once the the memory and the care of an
property of the Ker who held the old man in Peeblesshire, now de- pistol to Mary's busom on the ceased, who was a worthy type of night of Rizzio's slaughter. His what is best in our fast-decaying son married Janet Lees, from Galaold-world character—its simplicity, shiels, who was born 1726, died homeliness, and steady uprightness. 1789. Their son married MarThe late William Welsh, Peebles- garet Yule, who was born at Falashire cottar and poet, as he was hill, in Heriot, in 1761, and died wont to designate himself-being in 1819. William Welsh himself the author of a volume of poems was born at Heriot Tower, 6th and tales relating to local topics, May 1799, and left it in 1819. gave me the poem, of which the “Thegrandmother,"William Welsh above is an exact copy. I knew writes, “ had a fine ear for music, the old man well. He was, whe and had a copy of the song in her I first became personally acquaint father's writing (queer crooked ed with him, above seventy years letters), which Mr Haig, the of age, but hale, healthy, and in schoolmaster of Heriot, could read perfect possession of his faculties, fluently, and called it the Queen shrewd, acute, and much above the Anne's hand. He transcribed it common. For several years he paid into the modern style, and gave me an annual visit. I had great a copy to my mother (who was pleasure in his conversation- also very musical) for the sake of genial, humorous, pawky. He [I suppose he means in place of] moralised as only a Scotsman can; the old manuscript. I kept Haig's but his epigrammatic flashes kept copy till it got into pieces, and his sententiousness from being was lately burnt when cleaning the prosy. He wrote out for me the house."--(Letter, 14th February version of the ballad as I have 1878.) This would take the MS. given it, stating very explicitly of the ballad back at least to the that it was from the recitation of early part of last century. William his mother and grandmother. I Welsh adds the following: “An questioned him closely on the old woman, a a mantua - maker, point, but to this statement he whose name was Marion Tod, steadily adhered. I asked him to and whose house I frequented give me answers to certain ques- often when a boy of seven years, tions in writing, which he did. sung it exactly the same way; and many youngsters came to hear auld law and the heights of GlenrathGifford, as they called her, because Hopes which now we love and she came from thereabouts, sing prize for matchless charm, for the Dowie Dens o' Yarrow.' gleam and murmur of burn, for Once, when I was a young man, solitary birk that drapes the selI was singing it to a young lass dom visited linn pool — Hopes and an old maid ; and when I which the reiver cared for, behad done, I turned up the young cause they could conveniently one's head, which was hanging very conceal, say, four hundred kine low, and saw the tears on her taken from Bewcastle Waste on cheeks ; and the old one, looking the English side. More than serious, said, “Poor man! I could all, this love is reciprocated : ha'e liket him mysel'.'”—(Letter, the daughter of Dryhope finds 14th February 1878.) If these some manliness, some nobility in statements are even generally cor- the “servan'lad in Gala,” who rect—and I see no ground to may possibly never have ridden doubt them, even as to details- in a reiver's band. This surely this version of “ The Dowie Dens" was an out-of-the-way lass in is older than the earliest printed those times, with some strange fragment by Herd, and probably modern notions worthy of the evoluas early as "Rare Willy's drowned tion of the two hundred years in Yarrow,” first printed by Ram- that followed. But her brothers say in 1724. Sir Walter Scott's do not at all like this sort of arversion is confessedly a compila- rangement—"a servan'lad in tion ; Motherwell's, taken from the Gala forsooth! Here is a morecitation of an old woman in Kil- tive for his being put out of the barchan, is still later. All this
way at once ere he marries their points to the conclusion that we sister,—tenfold more powerful in have in the version now offered those times than any question the oldest, probably the original, about dower, or even hatred from ballad of “The Dowie Dens of blood-feud. For this latter moYarrow.”
tive did not prevent marriages beThis conclusion is strengthened tween families, even while bloodif we look to internal evidence. feuds were unstanched. Witness The whole tone and frame of Kers and Scotts, and Peeblesshire this ballad are from beginning to alliances many. end simple, uniform, consistent Then here comes the romance a unity of narrative feeling. The part of the affair—the fitting exstanzas which in the other two bal- planation of how the incompatilads are incongruous find here their bility of circumstances was to be natural place. There is ample, dealt with. And this is how the intelligible motive for the slaugh- minstrel pictures it. The father ter of the lover. He is no knight of the lady, hopeless of breaking or noble lord, as in Scott's ballad, down her love, proposes that the but an ignoble person—"a servan' "servan'lad” should fight the lad in Gala." This base personage nine lords—that is, lairds, for has dared to fall in love with a lord means no more than this,daughter of Scott of Dryhope, - simply, at the utmost, lord of a one of the most ready freebooters barony–who are suitors for his on the Border,—the laird of those daughter's hand. She is called glens of Dryhope and Kirkstead “ The Rose of Yarrow ;” and that run up through varied heather while this phrase does not occur and bracken sheen to the Black. in Scott's version, it is to be found in the West Country one
-this was never said before in - from Kilbarchan – given by Scottish ballad or minstrel song, Motherwell.
yet it is so true and so ancient! “ The Rose of Yarrow” was to Her brother reads her dream fall to the victor, who in this case for her,---tells her bluntly enough, was not the least likely to be not sympathising with her, or the “servan'lad." He, however, caring for her feelings, to accepts the unequal conditions. Then he slays seven of his op
“ Go seek your lover hame,
For he's sleepin' sound in Yarrow." ponents; and as the seventh fell he is treacherously run through
There is surely a touch of the “from a bush behind” by the direst irony here,--the dead man, brother of his love, who apparent- - beloved, -- "sleepin' sound.” ly was an interested spectator of She sets out in search of him, and the unequal contest. The lover then there comes a stanza which, sends a dying message to bis lady. supposing this ballad to have been love. Then comes a stanza, not in
known in the early part of last Scott's version, but happily con- century, as it probably was, obgruous with the whole story. The viously suggested to Logan the man who is now down on the field
verse in his ballad of Yarrow is not a knight, only a servant- which Scott prized so highly, and one of base degree; hence he gets which sets Logan higher than any no knightly treatment, not even other thing he is known to have decent human regard; his lot is written. The stanzas in the oronly shameful indignity.
iginal, as now for the first time They've ta’en the young man by the printed, are
heels, And trailed him like a harrow,
“ Then she rode o'er yon gloomy height, And then they flung the comely youth
An' her heart was fu' o' sorrow, In a whirlpool o' Yarrow."
But only saw the clud o' night,
Or heard the roar o' Yarrow. Then the lady has the ominous dream about
But she wandered east, so did she wast,
And searched the forest thorough, 6.Pu’in' the heather green
Until she spied her ain true love On the scroggy braes o' Yarrow.”'
Lyin' deeply drowned in Yarrow." "Scroggy braes "-quite true, not In Logan's poem, which apon the "dowie houms." There is peared in 1770, we have these no heather there, -only the wae- lines, which are simply those of some bent which, bowing to the the old ballad, and which must be autumn winds, makes them dowie; regarded as a mere copy, supposbut on the “scroggy braes” there ing the ballad to have been floatit is now, as any one may see. ing on the memories of people so But “scroggy
is better than all. early as I represent it, This expresses exactly the look of the stunted trees and bushes on
"They sought him east, they sought the braes of Yarrow-two and a him west, half or three centuries ago, when
They sought him all the forest the forest was decaying-such as
They only saw the cloud of night, only a native minstrel could have
They only heard the roar of Yar. seen or felt. “The scroggy braes,”
That Logan was a plagiarist there that the original version is much is, I fear, other proof.
more natural and appropriate, as The maiden searching, finds her referring to the hair of the dead dead lover in the water. He had lover, lying in the water.
“ The been violently slain, and then milk-white hand" is certainly brutally thrown into the stream. that of the lady, not the man. This is the reconciliation of the Then the simple drawing him out dénouement of the two ballads, of the stream by the hair, the “Willy's drowned in Yarrow' putting him on the milk-white and the modern “Dowie Dens.” steed, and bearing him home from The stricken man lay in the Yarrow, is a representation in
finitely superior to the coarse idea “ Cleavin o' the craig,
of " drawing him hame frae YarShe fand him drowned in Yarrow."
row” by his locks, as pictured in Then there comes a stanza, not Motherwell's version. found in Scott's version-pictur- Then there is the solution of esque, touching, complete in itself another incongruity. Stanza 18 -such as painter might limn, and, is obviously the original of the doing it well, make himself im- second stanza in “Willy's drowned mortal :
in Yarrow,” where as it stands it 6. His hair it was five quarters lang,
has no relevancy whatever. Here
it is in a form that is perfectly Its colour was the yellow; She twined it round her lily hand,
natural and appropriate. “I And drew him out o' Yarrow." meant,” says the maiden lover,What a picture! the lass wad
“ I meant to make my bed fu' wide,
But you may make it narrow, ing, it may be, into the water,
For now I've nane to be my guide, grasping the floating yellow hair,
But a deid man drowned in Yarrow." twining it round her lily hand, how despairingly yet how fervent- How thoroughly superior to the ly,-clasping it, the last tie amid incongruous stanza of “Willy's the moving stream, and drawing drowned in Yarrow”! Nothim tenderly out of the water
“ Yestreen I made my bed fu' wide.” flow to the river bank, where at
but least he would unmoved lie,---be, though dead, her own.
“I meant to make my bed fu' wide, Though there is nothing in
And you may make it narrow.” Scott's version corresponding to You, if not the slayer of my this, there is a stanza in Mother- lover, yet the sympathiser with well's, but it is a bad version. the assassins !-do as you choose It is not his but her own hair with me. The guide of my life is which is spoken of, and she man
gone; the light is cast out with ages to draw him out of the stream the “ deid man drowned in Yarby this ! " Her hair it was five quarters lang,
The stanza (16) which contains 'Twas like the gold for yellow;
a reference to the “ well-strand,” She twisted it round his milk-white the rivulet flowing from the spring hand,
-her washing his wounds therein And she's drawn him hame frae Yar- and drying them “withe hollan”,"?
is very true, natural, and touching. There can hardly be a question It is thoroughly Scottish in feeling,
fact, and diction.
Has not one row.” This incident may have heard of “the well-strand,”—“the been an episode in her life that meadow well-strand,”—from one's took place previously to her marboyhood? And “the hollan',” we riage with Scott of Harden. There know well. All through those old must have been associations with times, down to the middle of the this woman of quite a special kind, eighteenth century, the brown apart simply from the ordinary linen made out of the flax in Scot- occurrence of her marriage with land, and made largely, was sent a neighbouring Border laird and
to Holland Haarlem reiver, which led to the intense, especially—to be bleached. There widespread, and persistent memory it was dipped in lye and butter- of her that has come down to our milk; and after six months—from own day. This of course would March to October---returned to imply that the falling into the this country,
pure, clean, and father's arms, which fitly concludes white. The damsel wished to the ballad, did not mean the conhonour her dead lover, as best she clusion of her career. The termimight, with the purest in her nations of ballads of this class are gift. It was what she wore in her usually in the same conventional joy:
style. And probably " the Flower
of Yarrow" was no exception to “Her kurchy was of Holland clear, Tyed on her bonny brow."
the run of her sex in having more
than one love experience. With regard to the historical The truth of the view now given reference of the original ballad, I seems to me to be confirmed by confess I can say very little. If the unsatisfactory nature of the it really concerns a daughter of the historical references adduced by house of Dryhope, as it seems to Sir Walter Scott in illustration of do, this would bring the date not the ballad and of other suggesfurther back than the middle of the tions made since his time. The sixteenth century, when the forest- duel on Deuchar Swire must be set stead of Dryhope was given to a aside as having no direct bearing Scott. It is quite probable, of on the circumstances; and certain course, that the same family might important particulars of the narhave been there long before, simply rative cannot be explained by supas keepers for the Crown of the posing the ballad to refer to the forest-stead. In the alleged resi- Walter Scott of Tuschielaw” who dence of the lady at Dryhope,-in eloped with Grisel Scott of Thirlethe phrases,
“ The fairest flower in stane in 1616, and who is assumed Yarrow," " The Rose of Yarrow," to be the Walter Scott slaughtered we have a distinct suggestion of shortly afterwards by Scott of “the Flower of Yarrow,"—that Bonnington and his accomplices. is, Mary, rather Marion Scott, I think it probable, however, that daughter of John Scott of Dry- these later incidents may have hope, not Philip, as Sir Walter come to be mixed up with the Scott puts it, who was married to earlier in popular tradition and Wat of Harden in 1576. It seems song, and thus with the story and to me possible, even indeed prob- the fate of the “servan'lad in able, from those references—the Gala.” Hence the double referfirst, the oldest yet ascertained- ence in Scott's ballad, confessedly a that the ballad may actually refer compilation from different versions. to Mary Scott, the" Flower of Yar