Ed de Moel

Child Ballads - Narrative

Young Hunting

  1. 'Young Hunting,'
    1. Herd's Manuscripts, I, 182.
    2. The same, II, 67. 148.
    Version A
  2. 'Young Redin,' Kinloch Manuscripts, VII, 7, Kinloch's Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 1. Version B
  3. 'Young Riedan,' Harris Manuscript, fol. 8. Version C
  4. Motherwell's Manuscript, p. 377. Version D
  5. 'Lord William,' Scott's Minstrelsy, III, 265, 1803. Version E
  6. 'Earl Richard.'
    1. Motherwell's Manuscript, p. 61, Motherwell's Minstrelsy, p. 218.
    2. Motherwell's Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xvii, one stanza.
    Version F
  7. Herd's Manuscripts, I, 34; Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 148. Version G
  8. 'Clyde's Water,' Dr. Joseph Robertson's Journnal of Excursions, No 1, 1829. Version H
  9. 'Lord John,' Motherwell's Manuscript, p. 189. Version I
  10. 'Earl Richard,' Scott's Minstrelsy, II, 42, 1802, and III, 184, 1833. Version J
  11. 'Young Hunting,' Buchan's Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 118. Version K

J, Scott's version, and naturally the best known, is described by the editor as made up from the best verses of Herd's copies, A, G, with some trivial alterations adopted from tradition. This account is far from being exact, for there are many lines in the edition of 1802 which are not found in Herd's copies, and in the edition of 1833 four additional stanzas, 11, 12, 13, 28. Such portions of Scott's version as are not found in Herd are here distinguished by a larger type. K is perhaps a stall copy, and certainly, where it is not taken from other versions, is to a considerable degree a modern manufacture by a very silly pen.[foot-note]

The copy in Pinkerton's Tragic Ballads, p. 84, is only the first five stanzas of G, a little altered.

A Scandinavian ballad begins somewhat like 'Young Hunting,' but ends like 'Elveskud' or 'Clerk Colvil.' A young man who has made up his mind to marry is warned by his mother against the wiles of a former mistress. He rides to his old love's honse and is welcomed to beer and wine. He tells her that he is on the way to his bride. She wants a word with him, or a kiss, and as he leans over to her on his horse, stabs him to the heart. He rides home bleeding, pretends that he has hurt himself by running against a tree, asks that his bed may be made and a priest sent for, and dies. Danish, 'Frillens Hævn,' Grundtvig, IV, 203 f, No 208, A-D, A from a manuscript of the 17th century. Swedish, A, 'Herr Magnus,' Afzelius, No 13, I, 67, an imperfect copy; B, from Cavallius and Stephens' manuscript collection, C-H, fragments in the same collection, Grundtvig, IV, 203; I, 'Herr Samsing,' Eva Wigström, in Hazelius, Ur de nordiska Folkens Lif, p. 124. Norwegian, 'Herre Per og Gjöðalin,' a mixed form, Landstad, p. 564, No 68, and the first stanza in Lindeman, No 132, No 178.

The place where the dead body of the knight lies at the bottom of the river is discovered by candles burning bright, A 22 f, C 19 f, H 8, K 31, 35. Sir Walter Scott supposed these candles to mean "the corpse-lights ... which are sometimes seen to illuminate the spot where a dead body is concealed." He had been informed that the body of a man drowned in the Ettrick had been discovered by means of these candles. Though the language in the ballad is not quite explicit, owing perhaps to the fact that the method of detection practised was more familiar formerly than now, the meaning is as likely to be that a candle, floated on the water, would burn brighter when it came to the spot where the body lay. A candle (a consecrated one in Catholic countries) stuck in a loaf of bread, or supported by cork, is still believed to be efficient for indicating the place of a drowned body; in England, Henderson, Notes on the Folk Lore of the Northern Counties, ed. 1879, p. 60; in Bohemia, Wuttke, Deutscher Volksaberglaube der Gegenwart, ed. 1869, p. 239, No 371; in Brittany, Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung, 1837, p. 892; in Portugal, Vasconcellos, Tradições Populares, p. 80, No 178.[foot-note]

That the body of a murdered man will emit blood upon being touched, or even approached, by the murderer is a belief of ancient standing, and evidence of this character was formerly admitted in judicial investigations. See especially Grimm, Rechtsalterthümer, 1854, p, 930 f, Bahrgericht, who cites from literature the Nibelungenlied (1043-45, Bartsch) Hartmann's Iwein, 1355-64, Shakespeare's Richard III, I, 2, besides instances of legal or historical description; to which may be added others furnished by Sir W. Scott, Minstrelsy III, 190-83, ed. 1833, and Kinloch, Ancient Scottish Ballads, pp 10-12. See further Schmidt, Die Märchen des Straparola, pp 229, 346 ff, Holinshed's Chronicle of Scotland, p. 235, ed. 1808, Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Luard, II, 344 f, Brand's Antiquities, ed. Ellis, II, 542-44.[foot-note]

There is a sort of judicium ignis in A 26-28, B 23 f, C 24, K 37 f: the fire which does not burn the innocent bower-woman consumes her guilty mistress.

For the oath by corn, A 16, D 21, grass and corn, G 7, thorn, K 26, see 'Glasgerion.'

E is translated by Schubart, p. 173; F by Wolff, Halle der Völker, I, 24, Hausschatz, p. 204; J by Schubart, p. 86, Gerhard, p. 134; Aytoun's copy by Rosa Warrens, Schottische Volkslieder, p. 46; Allingham's copy by Knortz, Lieder und Romanzen Alt-Englands, p. 42.

This page most recently updated on 22-Mar-2011, 16:45:26.
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