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The fine beroic song of Chevy-Chase has ever been admired by competent judges. Those genuine strokes of nature and artless pafron, which have endeared it to the most fimple readers, have recommended it to the most refined'; and it has equally been the amusement of our childhood, and the favourite of our riper years. Vol. I,
Mr. Addison has given an excellent critique* on this very popular ballad, but is mistaken with regard to the antiquity of the common received copy; for this, if one may judge from the style, cannot be older than the time of Elizabeth, and was probably written after the elogium of Sir Philip Sidney : perhaps in consequence of it. I flatter myself, I have here recovered the genuine antique poem : the true original song, · which appeared rude even in the time of Sir Philip, and
caused him to lament, that it was so evil-apparelled in the rugged garb of antiquity.
This curiosity is printed, from an old manuscript, at the end of Hearne's preface to Gul. Newbrigienfis Hift. 17.19. 8vo. vol. 1. To the MS. Copy is subjoined the name of the author, RYCHARD SHEALES: whom Hearne had so little judgment as to suppose to be the same with a R. Sheale, who was living in 1588. But whoever examines the gradation of language and idiom in the following volumes, will be convinced that this is the production of an earlier poet. It is indeed expressly mentioned among some very ancient fongs in an old book intituled, The Complaint of Scotlandt, (fol. 42.) under the title of the Huntis Of Chevet, where the two following lines are also quoted;
The Perffee and the Mongumrye mette f.
That day, that day, that gentil day 11: Which, tho? not quite the same as they stand in the ballad, yet differ not more than might be owing to the author's quoting from memory. Indeed whoever considers the style and orthography of this old poem will not be inclined to place it lower than the time of Henry VI : as on the other hand the mention of James the Scottish kingt, with one or two Anachronisms, forbid us to align it an earlier date. King James 1. who was prisoner in this kingdom at the death of
* Spectator, No 70. 74.
$ Subscribed, after the usual manner of our old poets, expliceth (explicit] quoth Hpchard Bheale.
+ One of the earliest procuctions of the Scottish press, now to be found. The tirle-page was wanting in the copy here quoted; but it is supposed to bave been printed in 1540. See Ames.
I See Pt. 2. v. 25. ll Sce Pi. 1. V. 104. Pt.2. v. 36. 140.
bis father*, did not wear the crown of Scotland till the fecond year of our Henry VIII, but before the end of that long reign a third James had mounted the thronet. A fuccelsion of two or three Jameses, and the long detention of one of them in England, would render the name familiar to the English, and dispose a poet in those rude time to give it to any Scottish king be happened to mention.
So much for the date of this old ballad: with regard to its subject, altho' it has no countenance from history, there is room to think it had originally fome foundation in fuct. It was one of the Laws of the Marches frequently renewed between the two nations, that neither party should hunt in the other's borders, without leave from the proprietors or their deputies 1. There had long been a rivalship between the two martial families of Percy and Douglas, which bei btened by the national quarrel, must have produced frequent challenges and struggles for superiority, petty invasions of their rejpective domains, and sharp coniefts for the point of honour ; which would not always be recorded in history. Something of this kind we may suppose gave rise to the ancient ballad of the Hunting A’ THE CHEviatt. Percy earl of Northumberland had vowed to hunt for three days in the Scottish border without condescending to ask leave from earl Douglas, who was either lord of the soil, or lord warden of the marches. Douglas would not fail to resent the insult, and endeavour to repel the intruders by force : this would natu
* Who died Aug. 5. 1406, in the 7th year of our Hen. IV. 1 James I. was crowned May 22. 1424. murdered Feb. 21. 1436-7. # In 1460.---Hen. VI. was deposed 1461: restored and sain 1471.
| Item. . . Concordatum est, quod, S. NULLUS unius partis vel alterius ingrediatur terras, boschas, forrestas, warrenas, loca, dominia quæcunque alicujus partis alterius. subditi, cauía venandi, piscandi, aucupandi, disportum aut solatium in eisdem, aliave quacunque de caufa, A BSQUE LICENTIA ejus . . . . ad quern . . . loca .
· pertinent, aut de deputatis suis prius cape. & obtent. Vid. Bp. Nicbelfor's Leges Marcbiarum. 1705. 8vo. pag: 27. 51.
+ This was the original title. See the ballad, Pt. 1. v. 106. Pr. 2. v 165.
rally produce a sharp conflict between the two parties : fomething of which, it is probable, did really happen, tho' not attended with the tragical circumstances recorded in the ballad: for these are evidently borrowed from the Battle or OTTER BOURN*, a very different event, but which after: times would easily confound with it. That battle might be owing to some such previous affront as this of Chevy CHASE, though it has escaped the notice of historians. Our pret has evidently jumbled the two events together : if indeed the lines t in which this mistake is made, are not rather spurious, and the after-insertion of Jome perfon, who did not distinguish between the two stories.
Hearne bas printed this ballad without any division of ftanzas, in long lines, as he found it in the old written copy: but it is usual to find the distinction of stanzas negleEted in ancient MSS; where, to save room, two or three verses are frequently given in one line undivided. See flagrant inftances in the Harleian Catalog. No. 2253. f. 29. 34. 61. 70. & palim.
THE FIRST PART.
HE Persé owt of Northombarlande,
And a vowe to God mayd he,
Off Chyviat within dayes thre,
And all that ever with him be.
The fattiste hartes in all Cheviat
He sayd he wold kill, and cary them away:
* See the next ballad.
+ Vid. Pt. 2. v. 167. V. 5. manger in Hearne's PC. [Printed Copy.]
"Then the Persé owt of Banborowe cam,
With him a myghtye meany;
The wear chosen out of shyars thre*.
This begane on a monday at morn
In Cheviat the hillys so he ;
It was the mor pitté.
The dryvars thorowe the woodes went
For to reas the dear;
With ther browd aras cleare.
Then the wyld thorowe the woodes went
On every fyde fhear;
For to kyll thear dear.
The begane in Chyviat the hyls above
Ver. 11. The the Persé. PC. V. 13. archardes bolle off blood and bone. PC. V. 19. throrowe. PC.
By these “ shyars thre” is probably meant three diftri&ts in Northumberland, which still go by the name of fires, and are all in the neighbourhood of Cheviot. These are INand-thire, being the district fo named from Holy-Ipand : Norehamshire, so called from the town and castle of Norcbam (or Norbam); and Bamboroughshire, the ward op bundred belonging to Bamborougb-castle and torun.