Notes and Queries, Issue No. 61, December 28, 1850 by Various


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The Wise Men of Gotham, by J.B. Colman 520
Replies to Minor Queries:--Master John Shorne--
Antiquity of Smoking--Meaning of the Word
"Thwaites"--Thomas Rogers of Horninger--Earl
of Roscommon--Parse--The Meaning of "Version"
--First Paper-mill in England--"Torn by Horses"
--Vineyards--Cardinal--Weights for Weighing
Coins--Umbrella--Croziers and Pastoral Staves 520

Notes on Books, Sales, Catalogues, &c. 523
Notices to Correspondents 524
Advertisements 524

* * * * *



In the ballad of "Annan Water" (_Border Minstrelsy_, vol. iii.) is the
following verse:--

"O he has pour'd aff his dapperpy coat,
The silver buttons glanced bonny;
The waistcoat bursted aff his breast,
He was sae full of melancholy."

A very unexpected effect of sorrow, but one that does not seem to be
unprecedented. "A plague of sighing and grief," says Falstaff. "It blows
a man up like a bladder."

A remarkable illustration of Falstaff's assertion, and of the Scottish
ballad, is to be found in this _Saga of Egil Skallagrimson_. Bodvar, the
son of Egil, was wrecked on the coast of Iceland. His body was thrown up
by the waves near Einarsness, where Egil found it, and buried it in the
tomb of his father Skallagrim. The _Saga_ continues thus:--

"After that, Egil rode home to Borgar; and when he came there, he
went straightway into the locked chamber where he was wont to sleep;
and there he laid him down, and shot forth the bolt. No man dared
speak a word to him. And thus it is said that Egil was clad when he
laid Bodvar in the tomb. His hose were bound fast about his legs,
and he had on a red linen kirtle, narrow above, and tied with
strings at the sides. And men say that his body swelled so greatly
that his kirtle burst from off him, and so did his hose."--P. 602.

It is well known that the subjects of many ballads are common to
Scotland, and to the countries of Northern Europe. Thus, the fine old
"Douglas Tragedy," the scene of which is pointed out at Blackhouse
Tower, on the Yarrow, is equally localised in Denmark:

"Seven large stones," says Sir Walter, "erected upon the
neighbouring heights of Blackhouse, are shown as marking the spot
where the seven brethren were slain; and the Douglas Burn is avowed
to have been the stream at which the lovers stopped to drink; so
minute is tradition in ascertaining, the scene of a tragical tale,
which, considering, the rude state of former times, had probably
foundation in some real event."

The corresponding Danish ballad, however, that of "Ribolt and Guldborg,"
which has been translated by Mr. Jamieson, is not less minute in
pointing out the scene of action. The origin of ballads, which are thus
widely spread, must probably be sought in very high antiquity; and we
cannot wonder if we find them undergoing considerable {506} change in
the passage from one country to another. At least the "Douglas Tragedy"
betrays one very singular mark of having lost something of the original.

In "Ribolt and Guldborg," when the lady's brothers have all but
overtaken the fugitives, the knight addresses her thus:

"Light down, Guldborg, my lady dear,
And hald our steeds lay the renyes here.
And e'en sae be that ye see me fa'
Be sure that ye never upon me ca';
And e'en sae be that ye see me bleed,
Be sure that ye name na' me till dead."

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Thu 22nd Aug 2019, 3:28