This ballad was communicated to me by Mr James Hogg; and, although it
bears a strong resemblance to that of Earl Richard, so strong, indeed,
as to warrant a supposition, that the one has been derived from the
other, yet its intrinsic merit seems to warrant its insertion. Mr Hogg
has added the following note, which, in the course of my enquiries, I
have found most fully corroborated.
"I am fully convinced of the antiquity of this song; for, although much
of the language seems somewhat modernized, this must be attributed
to its currency, being much liked, and very much sung, in this
neighbourhood. I can trace it back several generations, but cannot
hear of its ever having been in print. I have never heard it with any
considerable variation, save that one reciter called the dwelling of the
feigned sweetheart, Castleswa."
Lord William was the bravest knight
That dwait in fair Scotland,
And, though renowned in France and Spain,
Fell by a ladie's hand.
As she was walking maid alone,
Down by yon shady wood.
She heard a smit [A] o' bridle reins,
She wish'd might be for good.
"Come to my arms, my dear Willie,
"You're welcome hame to me;
"To best o' chear and charcoal red, [B]
"And candle burnin' free."
"I winna light, I darena light,
"Nor come to your arms at a';
"A fairer maid than ten o' you,
"I'll meet at Castle-law."
"A fairer maid than me, Willie!
"A fairer maid than me!
"A fairer maid than ten o' me,
"Your eyes did never see."
He louted owr his saddle lap,
To kiss her ere they part,
And wi' a little keen bodkin,
She pierced him to the heart.
"Ride on, ride on, lord William, now,
"As fast as ye can dree!
"Your bonny lass at Castle-law
"Will weary you to see."
Out up then spake a bonny bird,
Sat high upon a tree,—
How could you kill that noble lord?
"He came to marry thee."
"Come down, come down, my bonny bird,
"And eat bread aff my hand!
"Your cage shall be of wiry goud,
"Whar now its but the wand."
"Keep ye your cage o' goud, lady,
"And I will keep my tree;
"As ye hae done to lord William.,
"Sae wad ye do to me."
She set her foot on her door step,
A bonny marble stane;
And carried him to her chamber,
O'er him to make her mane.
And she has kept that good lord's corpse
Three quarters of a year,
Until that word began to spread,
Then she began to fear.
Then she cried on her waiting maid,
Ay ready at her ca';
"There is a knight unto my bower,
"'Tis time he were awa."
The ane has ta'en him by the head,
The ither by the feet,
And thrown him in the wan water,
That ran baith wide and deep.
"Look back, look back, now, lady fair,
"On him that lo'ed ye weel!
"A better man than that blue corpse
"Ne'er drew a sword of steel."
Smit—Clashing noise, from smite—hence also (perhaps)
Smith and Smithy.
Charcoal red—This circumstance marks the antiquity of
the poem. While wood was plenty in Scotland, charcoal was the usual fuel
in the chambers of the wealthy.