Page images

it for the people who possess, in language of which all can feel the pith, and adapted to a simple melody which all can appreciate, an expression of courageous reliance on moral worth, whose fervour carries away the soul, like A Man's a Man for a' that.

"Is there, for honest poverty,

That hangs his head, and a' that?
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, and a' that,

Our toils obscure, and a' that;
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.

"What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin gray, and a' that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
A man's a man for a' that!

For a' that and a' that,

Their tinsel show, and a' that;

The honest man, though e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

"Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,

Wha struts, and stares, and a' that;
Though hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that.

For a' that, and a' that,

His ribbon, star, and a' that;
The man of independent mind,
He looks and laughs at a' that.

"A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, and a' that;

But an honest man's aboon his might,
Guid faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, and a' that,

Their dignities and a' that;

The pith o' sense, and pride o' worth, Are higher rank than a' that.

"Then let us pray that come it may,
As come it will for a' that;

That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,
May bear the gree, and a' that.
For a' that, and a' that,

It's coming yet for a' that,

That man to man, the warld o'er,

Shall brothers be for a' that."



"What resounds,

In fable or romance, of Uther's son
Begirt with British and Armoric Knights;
And all who since, baptized or infidel,
Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,
Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond,
Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore,
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabbia."

Paradise Lost, Book I.

THE poems included under this title are based on events which, if not wholly ideal, are at least incapable of being certainly identified with any known historical transactions. This limitation of the term Romantic does not claim to be an adequate definition of it for all purposes; but it expresses a prominent characteristic of Romance, and it would be difficult to find an equally suitable term.

This definition, it will be observed, does not exclude some of the poems on which remarks have been made in the previous chapters. All the legendary ballads, for example, must, as a rule, be considered romantic, in this sense of the term; and many of the social ballads and songs are evidently founded on unreal or uncertain

relationships. But in explanation of this it has been already observed, in the Introduction, that a perfectly logical classification of literary works is impossible; and the reason is evident. The characteristic, on the ground of which a number of works are included in one class, will often be found to be possessed by a number of other works which, on the ground of a different characteristic, are relegated to a separate group. Moreover, although the classification of romantic ballads and songs as a distinct group crosses the other divisions of legendary and social lyrics; yet, as our object is to discover the influence of the ballads and songs on the Scottish character, it is in the light of their most prominent characteristics that that influence is to be traced. We may, therefore, consider the same poems as legendary, as social, as romantic; and the effect upon character which is traced to them will be different in all these different points of view. Accordingly, in the present chapter, the ballads and songs are considered simply

as romances.

There are, however, many poems which appropriately go by the name of romantic, inasmuch as their romantic nature is more prominent than any other characteristic ; and different groups of these, clustering around different ideal heroes or events, are referred to so many cycles of romance. In English ballad literature two of such cycles claim a considerable number of poems-the cycle of Arthurian romance, and that which centres on Robin Hood; but neither of these is represented by a corresponding group in the ballad poetry of Scotland.

With regard to the former, if it be possible to discover

its original birthland, the south of Scotland, with those counties of northern England which are more Scotch than English in the outline of their scenery, may present perhaps a stronger claim than any other place. At least this theory, started originally by Sir Walter Scott,1 and subsequently supported by Allan Cunningham,2 finds an elaborate defence in the most recent contribution to the subject of Arthurian localities. But even if this claim be well founded, the heroic story has wandered far into other literatures, and scarcely a fragmentary segment of the whole cycle has been deposited in the ballad minstrelsy of Scotland.

Robin Hood, again, is emphatically "the English ballad-singer's joy," even though, under critical analysis, he should evaporate into the atmosphere of Teutonic mythology, leaving only the slight solid residuum of Odin or Woden. For, whatever may be the origin of his name, the hero of this romance is clothed in a distinctively English costume by the ballad-singers of England; and the absence of any corresponding group of ballads in Scotland is one of the strongest collateral proofs of the true historical origin of the romance. The hero, indeed, is not unknown in Scottish literature. He is referred to by Gavin Douglas, in The Palace of

1 Introduction to Sir Tristrem. See especially pp. xxxiv.—xxxix. and lxv.-lxvi.

2 66 'Songs of Scotland," vol. i. pp. 61–63.

3 Mr. Glennie's "Essay on Arthurian Localities," prefixed to Part iii. of the Prose Romance of Merlin, published by the Early English Text Society in 1869.

4 See Simrock's "Deutsche Mythologie," pp. 249 and 319. Compare Child's "English and Scottish Ballads," vol. v., Introd. p. xxvi.


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »