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a rarely musical ballad, of faithless love, ending in


Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,

Oh where have you been?

They have slain the Earl of Murray
And laid him on the green.

Now wae be to thee, Huntley!
And wherefore did ye sae ?
I bade you bring him wi you,
But I forbade ye him to slay.

He was a braw gallant
And he rade at the ring;
And the bonny Earl of Murray
O he might have been a king.

He was a braw gallant
And he played at the ba';

And the bonny Earl of Murray

Was the flower among them a'.

He was a braw gallant
And he played at the glove;
And the bonny Earl of Murray
O he was the Queen's love.

O lang will his lady

Look o'er the castle Down,
Ere she see the Earl of Murray

Come sounding thro' the town.

That last line shows what pomp, power and brilliance can be suggested by one single verb perfectly chosen and placed. As a rule, the ballad form belongs to primitive conditions of life; the form sometimes lasts longer than the the genuine ballad spirit. In every century so-called ballads have been written in English, but the three great Groups, of Border, Robin Hood and Jacobite Ballads are incomparably the finest.

Those written more recently have not the same freshness and gusto, nor the lurking tragedy of so many of the older ones. However, two of Mr. de la Mare's, The Silver Penny and The Three Beggars, do not quite

come into the modern category. Though no one, probably, would rank them with those already quoted, they have a true ballad lilt, and a very real charm. Of the two, The Silver Penny is the simpler, the nearer to the old spontaneity, ruthlessness, and, in the second verse, to the old bitter" irony":

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The Three Beggar Men, though more archaic in language, is much more modern in its spirit than The Silver Penny, as the following verses of it show:

'Twas autumn daybreak gold and wild,
While past St. Ann's grey tower they shuffled,
Three beggars spied a fairy child

In crimson mantle muffled.

The daybreak lighted up her face
All pink, and sharp, and emerald eyed;
She looked on them a little space,

And shrill as hautboy cried:

"O three tall footsore men of rags
Which walking this gold moon I see,
What will ye give me from your bags,
For fairy-kisses three ?"

The first, that was a reddish man,
Out of his bundle takes a crust:
"La, by the tombstone of St. Ann,
There's fee if fee ye must!"

The second, that was a chestnut man,
Out of his bundle draws a bone:
"La, by the belfry of St. Ann,

And all my breakfast gone!"

The third, that was a yellow man,
Out of his bundle picks a groat:
"La, by the Angel of St. Anne,
And I must go without!"

That changeling, lean and icy-lipped,
Touched crust, and bone, and groat, and lo!
Beneath her finger, taper-tipped,

The magic all ran through.

Instead of crust, a peacock pie,
Instead of bone, sweet venison,
Instead of groat, a white lily

With seven blooms thereon.

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HERE is no one word which can cover all the forms which prose takes. I have made a special exception of Essays and Letters: and then it seems best to take the rest in this chapter, under one comprehensive name, the Treatise. Yet, we may still make some divisions. There is the prose of pure history, which tells a story; there is prose full of imagination, not that which makes a picture to-day of what we saw at some past moment, and makes it just as we saw it, but the kind of imagination which fashions new and fresh pictures, and is truly "imaginative prose." there is the kind of which great speeches are made, oratorical prose; there is the prose of persuasion. There is controversial prose, which may be used in the service of religion, politics or social and economic affairs, or even in the criticism of literature. This is the language of the pamphlet, something between a treatise and an essay. Lastly, there is devotional prose.


Probably, historical prose is the earliest in time. It certainly was in England. The oldest in any of the languages related to English is in English, or AngloSaxon rather; the earliest entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is dated A.D. I, the last 1154. The earlier entries must certainly have been written down long after the dates attached to them. Several old manuscripts, found in different monasteries, exist; these were compiled or copied by different writers.

Up to the time of Bede, who was born, most likely, in 673, these entries were mostly bare matters of fact, written we know not when; certainly many of the events

in the earlier centuries were written down in the manuscripts after Bede's days, written as the chroniclers learned them from different people and sources.

One story, belonging to 784 (the Chronicle dates it, however, 755), is believed to be the oldest existing piece of prose in any North European language. It relates the slaying of Cynewulf, who had captured the West Saxon kingdom from his kinsman Sigebert. Cyneard, brother of Sigebert, slew Cynewulf.

The following translation, showing the devotion of his followers to Cynewulf in his life and after his death, may be compared with Wigláf's loyalty to Beowulf:

The atheling1 offered money and life to each of them (i.e., to Cynewulf's thanes), and not one of them would accept it; but they continued fighting till they all fell, except one, a British hostage, and he was sorely wounded.

Then upon the morrow, the King's thanes, whom he had left behind him, heard that the King was slain, then rode they thither, and Osric his ealdorman, and Wiferth his thane, and the men whom he had previously left behind. And at the town wherein the King lay slain they found the atheling, and those within had closed the gates against them; but they then went onward. And he then offered them their own choice of land and money if they would grant him the kingdom, and showed them that their kinsmen were with him, men who would not desert him. And they then said, that no kinsman was dearer to them than their lord, and that they never would follow his murderer. And they then bade their kinsmen that they should go away from him in safety; but they said that the same had been bidden their companions who before that had been with the King; then they said, that they no more minded it “ than your companions who were slain with the King." And then they continued fighting around the gates until they made their way in, and slew the atheling, and all the men who were with him, except one who was the ealdorman's godson; and he escaped with life, though he was wounded in several places.

Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History, relates a dramatic story about the introduction of Christianity to Northumbria, which, though very well known, can never grow stale, because it is both simple and beautiful. I have made the rendering, not from Bede's Latin of the end

1 Cyneard, Sigebert's heir to the West Saxon kingdom.

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