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prominence is not to be given to ballads, like Barbara Allan, in which death is the result of unreciprocated love. There is a weakness of sentiment in these, which is out of unison with a characteristic of Scottish lovesongs to be noticed by and by. Where the death arises from less sentimental causes, there is a force of reality in the representation which is immeasurably more affecting. In most of these ballads the effect is due to the simplicity with which the tale of sorrow is told, and could not be felt by the quotation of isolated verses. As an instance may be mentioned The Lass of Lochroyan.1 The story is that of a maiden who has surrendered herself to her lover, and comes to claim at his own home the love he had promised, but is driven from the door by a deceit of his mother, and perishes, with her child, by the wreck of the boat in which she is returning. It is scarcely necessary to mention that it was this ballad which suggested, besides forgotten lyrics by Jamieson and Dr. Wolcott, Burns' beautiful song, Lord Gregory. With this ballad may be compared another, Willie and May Margaret,2 in which the hero is the victim of a similar deceit and a similar fate to those which the heroine suffers in the other.

But in love-tragedy the Scottish ballad, which attains. the most subduing pathos, is one that carries the imagination away to a Border stream which holds a unique place in Scottish legend and song. The peculiar spell

1 "Border Minstrelsy," vol. iii. p. 199. Fair Annie of Lochroyan (Jamieson's "Popular Ballads and Songs," vol. i. p. 37) is, in some passages, a superior version.

2 Jamieson's "Popular Ballads and Songs,” vol. i. p. 135. A completer version, The Drowned Lovers, is given by Buchan and by Motherwell.

which the Yarrow wields over the fancy has become a familiar fact to the reader of English poetry as well as of Scotch, from its having been made the theme of three companion poems by the modern poet, whose chief mission has been to teach his countrymen to feel and to understand the influence of natural objects. To anyone at all acquainted with the literature of which this essay treats, the very thought of the Yarrow, even while it remains yet unvisited, is full of "dreams treasured up from early days;" and, when it has been visited, the wonderful scenery through which it flows is felt to be suggestive of a pensive tenderness in unison with the tragic strain of the ballad which is now to be noticed:

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'And is this-Yarrow?-This the stream
Of which my fancy cherished,

So faithfully, a waking dream?

An image that hath perished!
O that some minstrel's harp were near,
To utter notes of gladness,

And chase the silence from the air

That fills my heart with sadness!

'But thou, that didst appear so fair
To fond imagination,

Dost rival in the light of day

Her delicate creation :


Meek loveliness is round thee spread,
A softness mild and holy,

The grace of forest charms decayed,
And pastoral melancholy.”

Whether it was this pensive mood that created The Dowie Dens of Yarrow1 as its own interpretation, may perhaps admit of conjecture; but the local tradition. refers the ballad to a tragedy which is alleged to have occurred in the district.2 According to this tradition, the hero was betrothed to the heroine, whose father had promised to give her as a dowry the half of his property. Stung by indignation at the prospect of losing such a large portion of his patrimony, her brother waylaid her betrothed and murdered him, at a spot which is still pointed out on the "dowie banks of Yarrow." In the ballad, however, the combat is a prearranged duel; and the hero, on proceeding to the place agreed upon, finds himself met, not by one, but by nine armed men.

Wonderful is the skill with which the old minstrel arrests the interest of his hearers, by rushing at once into the heart of his story:—

"Late at e'en, drinking the wine,
And ere they paid the lawing,
They set a combat them between,
To fight it at the dawing."

Our hero, accordingly, visits his mistress to bid her farewell, before setting out for the combat from which he may never return; and, while she "kisses his cheek," and "kaims his hair," and "belts him with his noble brand," earnest are her entreaties that he may stay at home, from the foreboding that he will be betrayed by her "cruel brother." The result of the "unequal marrow" 2 Ibid. pp. 144–5.

1 "Border Minstrelsy," vol, iii. p. 147.

of nine to one is such as might have been anticipated, and the victim, as he dies, requests the brother to carry tidings of his death to the desolate sister. Meanwhile she sits pining at home, and her yearning after her lover finds vent in a prayer to the southerly wind that is blowing from him to her :


"O gentle wind, that bloweth south,
From where my love repaireth,
Convey a kiss from his dear mouth,
And tell me how he fareth."

Her forebodings, moreover, have been intensified by "a doleful dream," that she had been pulling green heather, with her true love, on the banks of the Yarrow; for there is a superstition that it is unlucky to dream of anything green:1 but her brother, who is approaching with his unhappy tidings, and receives from her an account of her dream, gives it a more pointed interpretation.

1 "It is rather strange that green, the most natural and agreeable of all colours, should have been connected by superstition with calamity and sorrow. It was thought very ominous to be married in a dress of this hue :


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To this day, in the North of Scotland, no young woman would wear such attire on her wedding-day. . . . Probably the saying respecting a lady married before her elder sisters, 'that she has given them green stockings,' is connected with this notion."-CHAMBERS' Popular Rhymes of Scotland, pp. 341-2. Chambers mentions further, that green was considered a peculiarly unlucky colour to two families, the Lindsays and the Grahams.

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"I'll read your dream, sister,' he says,
'I'll read it into sorrow;
Ye're bidden gae take up your love;
He's sleeping sound on Yarrow.'" 1

The passionate anguish with which the maiden is impelled is expressed by the old singer, in a picture, the horror of which is almost too vivid for poetical effect. Down she speeds to the tragic scene, where she comes upon the lifeless form in which was 'lost all that had made life dear to her.

"She kissed his cheek, she kaimed his hair,
She searched his wounds all thorough,
She kissed them till her lips grew red

On the dowie houms of Yarrow."


The heart smitten by such a grief is like the tree blasted by lightning: never again can it blossom into love; and vain, therefore, are all the consolations addressed to it by friends :

'Now, haud your tongue, my daughter dear,
For a' this breeds but sorrow;


I'll wed you to a better lord,

Than him ye lost on Yarrow.'

Now, haud your tongue, my father dear,

Ye mind me but of sorrow;

A fairer rose did never bloom

Than now lies cropped on Yarrow.'"

Among songs dealing, like these ballads, with the death of one who is loving and loved, everyone will

1 This interesting verse is fortunately preserved in Buchan's version, The Braes of Yarrow, though not in Scott's.

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