Ed de Moel

Child Ballads - Narrative

Lizie Lindsay

  1. 'Lizie Lindsay.'
    1. Jamieson-Brown Manuscript, Appendix, p. ii.
    2. Jamieson's Popular Ballads. II, 149.
    Version A
  2. 'Donald of the Isles,' Kinloch Manuscripts, I, 237. Aytoun's Ballads of Scotland, 1859, I, 277. Version B
  3. 'Donald of the Isles,' Kinloch Manuscripts, I, 253. Version C
  4. 'Lizzy Lindsay,' from a Note-Book of Dr. Joseph Robertson, January, 1830, No 6. Version D
  5. 'Bonny Lizie Lindsay,' Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 102. Version E
  6. 'Lizzie Lindsay,' Whitelaw's Book of Scottish Ballads, p. 51. Version F
  7. 'Leezie Lindsay,' Notes and Queries, Third Series, I, 463. Version G

Of A a Professor Robert Scott says, in the letter in which it was enclosed: "You will find above, all I have been able to procure in order to replace the lost fragment of 'Lizie Lindsay.' I believe it is not so correct or so complete as what was formerly sent, but there are materials enough to operate upon, and by forcing the memory of the recorder more harm than good might have been done." Jamieson says of b: "Transmitted to the editor by Professor Scott of Aberdeen, as it was taken down from the recitation of an old woman.[foot-note] It is very popular in the northeast of Scotland, and was familiar to the editor in his early youth; and from the imperfect recollection which he still retains of it he has corrected the text in two or three unimportant passages."

There is nothing to show whether the lost copy was recovered, unless it be the fact that Jamieson prints about twice as many stanzas as there are in a. But Jamieson was not always precise in the account he gave of the changes he made in his texts.

In his preface to B, Kinloch remarks that the ballad is very popular in the North, "and few milk-maids in that quarter but can chaunt it, to a very pleasant tune. Lizie Lindsay," he adds, "according to the tradition of Mearnsshire, is said to have been a daughter of Lindsay of Edzell; but I have searched in vain for genealogical confirmation of the tradition." Kinloch gave Aytoun a copy of this version, changing a few phrases, and inserting st. 20 of C.

The following stanza, printed as No 434 of the Musical Museum, was sent with the air to Johnson by Burns, who intended to communicate something more. (Museum, 1853, IV, 382):

  Will ye go to the Highlands, Leezie Lindsay?
Will ye go to the Highlands wi me?
Will ye go to the Highlands, Leezie Lindsay,
My pride and my darling to be?

Robert Allan added three stanzas to this, Smith's Scotish Minstrel, II, 100, and again, p. 101 of the same, others (in which Lizie Lindsay is, without authority, made 'a puir lassie'). The second stanza of the second "set" is traditional (cf. B 8, C 6, D 6, E 8):

  To gang to the Hielands wi you, sir,
I dinna ken how that may be,
For I ken nae the road I am gaeing,
Nor yet wha I'm gaun wi.

Donald MacDdnald, heir of Kingcausie, wishes to go to Edinburgh for a wife (or to get Lizie Lindsay for his wife). His mother consents, on condition that he shall use no flattery, and shall 'court her in great poverty' (policy, D). He sees many bonny young ladies at Edinburgh, but Lizie Lindsay is above compare with others. He presents himself to her in simple Highland garb; what he can offer is a diet of curds and whey and a bed of green rushes (bracken). Lizie would like to know where she would be going, and with whom. His father is an old shepherd (couper, souter), his mother an old dey, and his name is Donald MacDonald. Lizie's father and mother threaten to have him hanged, which daunts him not in the least. Her maid warmly seconds the suit. Lizie packs up her clothes and sets forth with Donald to foot the steep and dirty ways; she wishes herself back in Edinburgh. They come at last to a shieling, where a woman welcomes Sir Donald; he bids her call him Donald her son, and orders a supper of curds and whey, and a bed of green rushes. Lizie, 'weary with travel,' lies late in the morning, and is roused as if to help at the milking; this makes her repine again. But Donald takes her out of the hut and shows her Kingcausie, where she is to be lady.

Kingcausie is some seven miles from Aberdeen, on the south side of the Dee.

Ballads of this description are peculiarly liable to interpolation and debasement, and there are two passages, each occurring in several versions, which we may, without straining, set down to some plebeian improver.

In B 10, D 10, E 19, Lizie Lindsay, not quite ready to go with Donald, makes him an offer of five or ten guineas if he will stay long enough for her to take his picture, 'to keep her from thinking long.' In F 11 Donald makes the same offer for her picture. In E 10, F 6, Lizie tells Donald, who has asked where she lives, that if he will call at the Canongate Port, she will drink a bottle of sherry with him, and in the next stanza she is as good as her word. This convivial way of the young ladies of Edinburgh is, owing to an injury to the text, not perceptible in D 14, where Donald seems to be inviting Lizie's mother to bring a bottle of sherry with her in case she should call on him at the Canongate Port.

A b is translated by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 122; by Rosa Warrens, Schottische Volkslieder der Vorzeit, p. 125, with deficient verses supplied from F. Knortz, Lieder u. Romanzen Alt-Englands, p. 158, translates Allingham's ballad.

This page most recently updated on 19-Apr-2011, 05:20:48.
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