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INTRODUCTION.

This volume is, for the greater part, a reprint of the valuable collection of Scottish Ballads published by the late William Motherwell under the title of “Ancient and Modern Minstrelsy." The modern ballads, and all that could not fairly be considered either legendary or romantic, have been excluded, as inconsistent with the title adopted for the republication; and several others, from Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and other sources, of which Motherwell neglected, or did not think fit to avail himself, have been added, as being essentially necessary to the completeness of a collection founded upon a broader basis than he had laid down for himself. Mr Motherwell's judicious and accurate notes have been preserved, as well as the greater portion of his learned and sympathetic "Essay on the Origin and History of Scottish Ballad Literature.” The subject is so rich and fertile that it has not been possible, within the prescribed limits of one volume, to include more than the very flower or cream of the compositions which the early Scottish ballad writers and singers so profusely scattered over the land, making it musical with the voice of many sorrows; but the Editor believes that the selection, limited as it is, will be found to contain an adequate proportion of the best and most popular of these rude and homely, but hearty and touching lyrics--not as they may have been from time to time “improved” by Percy, Scott, Hogg, and others, sometimes with more taste than reverence, and often without either—but as they came from the mouths of the early singers themselves, long before they were committed to the press. The temptation to “amend” such compositions where the rhythm halts, or the rhyme does not jingle, and where, as in many instances, the correct reading is hopelessly lost, is great and trying to the selfcontrol of most editors; but in this respect Motherwell set an example of fidelity which the Editor of the present volume has scrupulously followed. The only two comparatively modern ballads that have been admitted, are those upon the Yarrow Tragedy by William Hamilton of Bangour, and John Logan-an honour to which their great popularity, and their supersedence of the older versions of the story, seem fairly to entitle them. Wherever, in any ballad, not included in Motherwell's original collection, the Editor has seen reason to believe that Sir Walter Scott, or an inferior hand to his, has tampered with the original version, he has not scrupled to state his opinion-agreeing fully with his predecessor "that such a mode of editing ancient ballads is highly objectionable."

LONDON, May 1861.

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