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tendency, and a contribution to the force of the tendency from which it has sprung.

The presence, therefore, of a certain agency is not sufficient to prove that it has produced a certain effect. which it is capable of producing, till it has been shown that the effect has not been produced by some other coexisting cause. How, then, must we proceed in our endeavour to trace in the Scottish character some features which are due to the Scottish ballads and songs ?


The method adopted in the following essay is the only method allowed by the nature of the inquiry, and the only method of arriving at reliable results. object has been, after arranging the ballads and songs into groups, to elicit some of the features by which each group is distinguished, to point out the effects which such features are calculated to produce, and to trace these effects in Scottish life. The proof in each detail, taken by itself, is not expected to be convincing; but when the line of argument is comprehended as a whole, it must be evident that the people of Scotland cannot have continued, from generation to generation, singing certain kinds of lyrics, without the distinctive features of these lyrics being stamped, more or less clearly, on the character of that people.

Following, then, the method thus indicated, we must start with some classification of the ballads and songs. In doing so, a sentence or two may not be out place, to define the precise sense in which the terms ballad and song are severally employed.

1. Without going into a history of the various uses of the former term, it may be defined as denoting a lyrical narrative, unguided by conscious art, of any event, real or imaginary, which is calculated to excite emotion. It need only be added, that, by this definition, our review is limited to the genuine ballad, and that therefore its modern imitations are excluded. In a critical investigation there may be doubt as to the genuineness of particular ballads; but for our purposes the question of genuineness may be left out of view altogether.

2. A song is a lyrical utterance of an emotion. It is not always possible, therefore, to distinguish precisely between a ballad and a song; for songs are often, perhaps commonly, founded on an event, imaginary if not real. But when the narrative of the event predominates over the mere utterance of the emotion which the event calls forth, the lyric becomes in propriety a ballad; and vice verså. Still, some lyrics may, without impropriety, be classed either among ballads or among songs, and are consequently found in collections of both. Barbara Allan, commonly met with in song-books, partakes more of the nature of a ballad; while Helen of Kirconnell and The Lament of the Border Widow, as well as some other lyrics generally included in our books of ballads, are more correctly regarded as songs. The Song of Moses1 is a splendid specimen of lyrical narrative, borne on by such an impetuous tide of emotion,

1 Exodus, chap. xv.

swelling at a great national crisis, that it is difficult to say whether the narrative or the emotional element prevails.

It is impossible to suggest a perfectly logical classification of the ballads and songs, or of any other literary works whatever. The following must justify itself simply by its convenience for our purposes :

1. Legendary ballads and songs-those in which a supernatural element, embodying the superstitions of a less scientific age, comes into play.

2. Social ballads and songs-those to which the social affections or the events of social life furnish a theme.

3. Romantic ballads and songs-those in which the subject is an imaginary, or at least an uncertain event.

4. Historical ballads and songs-those which contain a poetical narrative of, or reference to, some known event of history.





"There must thou wake perforce thy Doric quill;
'Tis fancy's land to which thou sett'st thy feet
Where still, 'tis said, the fairy people meet,
Beneath each birken shade, on mead or hill.
There each trim lass, that skims the milky store,
To the swart tribes their creamy bowls allots;
By night they sip it round the cottage door,
While airy minstrels warble jocund notes.
There every herd, by sad experience, knows
How, winged with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly,
When the sick ewe her summer food forgoes,

Or, stretched on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie.

Such airy beings awe the untutored swain :

Nor thou, though learned, his homelier thoughts neglect ;
Let thy sweet Muse the rural faith sustain ;

These are the themes of simple, sure effect,

That add new conquests to her boundless reign,

And fill, with double force, her heart-commanding strain."

COLLINS' Ode on the Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands.

THE poems comprehended under this designation, are those which involve a belief in forms of agency incompatible with the known laws of nature. Such a belief arises spontaneously in any mind unacquainted with the


uniformity of type which modern science has detected in the innumerable varieties of being, and with the uniformity of sequence which we have been taught to trace through all the various processes by which Nature reaches her ends. In order to study the legendary lyrics with profit, we must, therefore, carry ourselves by imagination back into those old times, when the convictions of science found as yet no place in the culture of men,when no shock was given to ordinary human beliefs by the idea of creatures which violated every principle of anatomical structure,-when an extraordinary event, instead of being laboriously referred to some recognized agency of nature, was at once explained as the work of some of those supernatural beings which peopled the fancy of our ancestors.

Most of the superstitious conceptions thus originated, which we come upon in the legendary songs and ballads, have been handed down from an exceedingly remote period, and, in the course of tradition, have gathered numerous features by which their original shape is more or less concealed. In fact, nearly all those superstitions of modern Europe, which have a title to be called popular, on the ground of their acceptance among a people at large, and not merely among isolated individuals or isolated sections of a community, still bear traces of their descent from heathen times. The recent researches of comparative mythology have put into our hands the clue by which we can already track many of the legendary beliefs, of the Aryan nations at least, to their common Eastern home; and in studying the poems which come under review in the present chapter,

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