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seen is soon beheld anew, and, by oft-repeated testimony, marvellous incidents are placed beyond the region of doubt. These, with other visions and prognostics, float about and people the air; thus, through the well known channels of rustic tradition, each mountain, glen, and solitary heath came to possess its own unearthly visitors—each sept and family its omen, or boding spectre. Superstition, thus reduced to a system, fell into the hands of a class, and by them, as gifted seers, and wizards, and minstrels, systematized and expounded, exhibited these and other characteristics in the early ballads.
But to return. Before the invention of printing, and even for some time afterwards, the regular preservation of our old ballads could scarcely have been expected.
As many of the Minstrels could neither read nor write, there would be comparatively few manuscript copies of those early songs. Thus would the Bards have to trust to well-stored, and well-exercised memories, for the entertainment and amusement of lovers of poetry in grange and hall.
Doubtless successive garlands of song appeared, bloomed, faded and were forgotten to such an extent that even the names of but few of them have been preserved. It is matter of the deepest and most sincere regret that a large portion of the ancient music and poetry of Scotland was irretrievably lost centuries ago.
About the middle of the sixteenth century there was printed at St Andrews a curious work, entitled “ Vedderburn’s Complainte of Scotland,” wherein is preserved the names of thirty-seven of the more ancient songs of Old Caledonia, many of which, considerably upwards of three centuries ago, must have been the delight, solace, and admiration of our ancestors.
Though pressed for space, we are tempted to give the names of these, from the melancholy interest attaching to treasures partly lost—choice samples of the lost poetry of the time—“ The Percy and the Montgumrye,” “ The Hunts of Cheviot,” and “The Battle of IIarlaw,” being three historical ballads; “Grieved is my sorrow,” “O lusty May vith Flora quene,” “ Cull ta me the rushes green,” and “ Still under the leaves green,” these have been preserved. But the remainder are lost, viz., “My hart is leinit on the land,” “In ane mirthful morou,‘ “Allace that samyn sweit face,” “ My luf is l’ayd upone ane knycht,” “Fair luf lend thou me thy mantil joy,” “My lufe is lyand seik, send him joy, send him joy,” “Turne the sweit Ville to me,” “Greuit is my sorrow,” “Sal I go‘ vitht you to Rumbelo fayr,” “ The Huntis of Cehuet,” “ The Battel of the Hayrlaw,” “O myne harte hay this is my sang,” “ Maestress fayr ze vil forfoyr,” “ Al musing of meruellis a mys hef I gone,” “God sen the Duke had bidden in France, and Delabaute had nevyr cum hame,” “Rycht soirly musing in my mynd,” “The sang of Gilquiskar,” “ The frog cam to the myl dur,:’ “ Bill vill thou cum by a lute and belt thee in Sanct Francis cord,” “ Trolle lolee lemendon,” “Allone I veip in grit distress,” “ Brume, brume on hil,” “ The Aberdenis nou,” “Skald a bellis nou,” “Faytht is there none,” “King Vilzamis note,” “Lady help zour prisoneir,” “ Gode zou gude day vil boy,” “Allace I vyit zour tua fayrene,” “Cou thou me the raschis grene,” “Still vnder the leyuis grene,” “ The breir byndes me soir,” “ Pastance vitht gude companye,” “The lang noune now,” and “The Cheapel Valk.”
Further service was rendered by Andro IIart, printer in Edinburgh, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, by the publication of a. work entitled “Ane Compendious Book of Goodly and Spiritual Songs, collectit out of sundrie parts of Scripture, with sundrie other Ballats, chainged out of Profaine Songs, for the avoiding_ of Sinne and Harlotrie”—printed in 1590 and 1621, wherein is fortunately preserved some of our more ancient Scottish melodies. It is, however, believed that Hart’s volume contains a goodly number of parodies on the songs in the earlier volume, issued at St Andrews.
In October, 1568, George Bannatyne, a young man .“ of the middle class, left Edinburgh at the time when the pest broke out there, when hundreds were dying in that city,” and retired to the old manor of Newtyle, near the village of Meigle, in Strathmore, his father’s country house. There he devoted himself for three months to transcribing in one large volume, from the mutilated and obscured manuscripts he succeeded in procuring, the fugitive productions of the Scottish muse, during which time he transcribed three hundred and seventy-two poems, in no less than eight hundred folio pages. The Scottish people, natural lovers of literature, cannot be too grateful to the memory of Bannatyne for his abundant labour of love, in thus rescuing from oblivion much of our early poetry, which, but for his prompt and disinterested action, would have been long ago lost to posterity. This volume has, fortunately, been carefully preserved, and long ago found a sure resting-place in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, where it has been long known and treasured as the “Bannatyne Manuscript.” It was published in extenso a few years ago by a Glasgow society. Having a taste for poetry, Bannatyne made himself conversant, in their manuscript form, with the works of such poets as Dunbar, Douglas, Henryson, Montgomery, Alex.