A b, "given from the recitation of an old
woman," is evidently A a slightly regulated by
Motherwell. B, we are informed in the 4th edition of the
Reliques, p. 61, was sent Percy by Sir David Dalrymple, Lord
Hailes. Motherwell thought there was reason to believe "that his
lordship made a few slight verbal improvements on the copy he
transmitted, and altered the hero's name to Edward, a name which,
by the bye, never occurs in a Scottish ballad, except where
allusion is made to an English king."[foot-note] Dalrymple, at least,
would not be likely to change a Scotch for an English name. The
Bishop might doubtless prefer Edward to Wat, or Jock, or even
Davie. But as there is no evidence that any change of name was
made, the point need not be discussed. As for other changes, the
word "brand," in the first stanza, is possibly more literary than
popular; further than this the language is entirely fit. The
affectedly antique spelling[foot-note] in Percy's copy has given rise
to vague suspicions concerning the authenticity of the ballad, or
of the language: but as spelling will not make an old ballad, so
it will not unmake one. We have, but do not need, the later
traditional copy to prove the other genuine. 'Edward' is not only
unimpeachable, but has ever been regarded as one of the noblest
and most sterling specimens of the popular ballad.
Motherwell seems to incline to regard 'Edward' rather as a
detached portion of a ballad than as complete in itself. "The
verses of which it consists," he says, "generally conclude the
ballad of 'The Twa Brothers,' and also some versions of
'Lizie Wan:'" Minstrelsy, LXVII, 12. The Finnish
Motherwell refers to, might have convinced him that the ballad is
complete as it is; and he knew as well as anybody that one ballad
is often appended to another by reciters, to lengthen the story
or improve the conclusion.[foot-note] More or less of 'Edward' will be
found in four versions of 'The Twa Brothers' and two of
'Lizie Wan,' further on in this volume.
This ballad has been familiarly known to have an exact
counterpart in Swedish. There are four versions, differing only
as to length: 'Sven i Rosengard,' A, Afzelius, No 67, III,
4, eleven two-line stanzas, with three more
lines of burden;
B, in, 3, six stanzas (Bergström's ed., No 54, 1,2);
C, Arwidsson, No 87 A, II, 83, eighteen stanzas; D,
No 87 B, II, 86, sixteen stanzas. The same in
Danish: A, Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p.
175, nine stanzas; B, Boisen, Nye og gamle Viser, 10th
ed., No 95, p. 185, 'Brodermordet.' And in Finnish, probably
derived from the Swedish, but with traits of its own: A,
Schroter's Finnische Runen, p. 124, 'Werinen Pojka,' The
Bloodstained Son, fifteen two-line stanzas, with two lines of
refrain; B, 'Velisurmaaja,' Brother-Murderer, Kanteletar,
p. x, twenty stanzas.
All these are a dialogue between mother and son, with a
question and answer in each stanza. The mother asks, Where have
you been? The son replies that he has been in the stable [Danish,
grove, fields; Finnish A, on the sea-strand]. "How is it
that your foot is bloody?"[foot-note] [clothes, shirt; Finnish, "How
came your jerkin muddy?" etc.] A horse has kicked or trod on him.
"How came your sword so bloody?" He then confesses that he has
killed his brother. [Swedish D and the Danish copies have
no question about the foot, etc.] Then follows a series of
questions as to what the son will do with himself, and what shall
become of his wife, children, etc., which are answered much as in
the English ballad. Finally, in all, the mother asks when he will
come back, and he replies (with some variations), When crows are
white. And that will be? When swans are black. And that? When
stones float. And that? When feathers sink, etc. This last
feature, stupidly exaggerated in some copies, and even
approaching burlesque, is one of the commonplaces of ballad
poetry, and may or may not have been, from the beginning, a part
of the ballads in which it occurs. Such a conclusion could not be
made to adhere to 'Edward,' the last stanza of which is peculiar
in implicating the mother in the guilt of the murder. Several
versions of * The Twa Brothers' preserve this trait, and
'Lizie Wan' also.
The stanza of this ballad was originally, in all probability,
one of two lines a question and an answer with refrains, as we
find it in A 10, 11, 12, and the corresponding Swedish and
Finnish ballad; and in 'Lord Randal,' J, K, etc.,
and also the corresponding Swedish and German ballad. A 1,
2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 are now essentially stanzas of one line, with
refrains; that is, the story advances in these at that rate.
A 4, 7 (= C) are entirely irregular, substituting
narrative or descriptive circumstances for the last line of the
refrain, and so far forth departing from primitive
simplicity.[foot-note] The stanza in B embraces always a
question and a reply, but for what is refrain in other forms of
the ballad we have epical matter in many cases. A 1, 2,
substantially, = B 1; A 3, 4 = B 2; A
5, 6 = B 3; A 8, 9 = B 4; A 11 = 6;
A 12 =7.
Testaments such as this ballad ends with
have been spoken of under No 11.
A is translated by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske
Folkeviser, No 26, p. 172; by Rosa Warrens, Schottische V. L., No
21, p. 96; by Wolff, Halle des Völker, I, 22,' and Hausschatz, p.
223. B, in Afzelius, in, 10; "often in Danish," Grundtvig;
by Herder, Volkslieder, II, 207; by Doring, p. 217; Gerhard, p.
88; Knortz, Schottische Balladen, No 27. Swedish A, by W. and M.
Howitt, Literature and Romance of Northern Europe, I,
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