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We cannot compliment the translator on the neatness or the accuracy with which he has executed his task. The aukward collocation of the members of his sentences, the strong savour of German idiom, and his improper use of auxiliary verbs, sufficiently intimate his imperfect acquaintance with the English language. In the following sentences, not only the expression but the meaning is singularly distorted: Not all plants do grow in earth, and therefore the root does not enter the ground.'-_- Sometimes the petioli of pinnate leaves, when they remain after the leaves have dropped off, become thorns, as in Astragalus tragacantha, and other species of that genus. On the peduncles they grow larger, sharper, and assume, after the lower and fruit have fallen off, the shape of thorns ; for instance, hedysarum cornutum : or lastly, the stipula become sharp, ligneous, they remain and change into thorns, for instance in the mimosa.' The terms stipe, spathe, thyrse, rament, loment, grossification, &c. are uncouth and barbarous. Linnæus and Linné are used indifferently throughout the work; and the translator seems to have been ignorant that the D. prefixed to the Professor's name in German is equivalent to M.D. in our own language, and not the initial of a Christian appellation.-In noticing such trifles we wish not to be reckoned fastidious: but we are solicitous to recommend uniformity and precision, even in the smallest matters, in every scientific publication that is destined for the perusal of the young. The ten plates which are subjoined to the present Introduction to Botany are well engraved, and form very suitable illustrations of the text: but we must object to the table of colours, on account of the very slovenly manner in which it is executed. If a second impression be required, we hope that the editors will profit by our well-meant suggestions : yet we are tempted to submit to their consideration, or to that of competent judges, the propriety of rather composing a separate work, more accurately arranged, and deduced from the best sources, both of a general and a particular description.
Art. III. Popular Ballads and Songs, from Tradition, Manuscripts,
and scarce Editions ; with Translations of similar Pieces from the antient Danish Language, and a few Originals by the Editor. By Robert Jamieson, A.M. and F.A.S. 2 Vols.
8vo. Boards. Edinburgh, Constable and Co.; London, Cadell and Davies. 1806. IT T is natural that a refined and philosophical nation should
applaud the industry that is employed in rescuing from oblivion those relics of antiquity which record manners and cha
racters no longer within the reach of observation, and which add to its literature a species of poetry that civilized genius could never have created. We are not to wonder, also, that, when superior minds have discovered and begun to supply this desideratum, the subalterns in literature should crowd to the work, and soon afford a melancholy demonstration of their zeal and activity in an overwhelming multitude of unprofitable productions.
Some years have now elapsed, since eminent talents were first directed, in our own country, towards the traditionary compositions of our ancestors, and the long-unvisited hoards of our public libraries; and we have observed with pleasure, in the reception of their labours, such a general acknowlegement of their importance and interest as must insure the publication of all that is really precious in our remains of antiquity. The unfortunate effects of this study, however, have not yet been felt. It is but very lately that the present sentiment of these venerable memorials arose in the public mind, and as yet we possess little respecting them, except those works of taste and genius by which that opinion was established. Now, it exists in great strength; and the path to this department of literature is pointed out to those needy but ingenious men of letters, who eagerly flock to any new scene for the exertion of their predatory dexterity. They come, also, attended by that more honest, though not more productive class of authors who are destined, by a perpetual misconception of the prevailing taste, to annoy the world not less with their officious endeavours to gratify its desires, than their fellow-labourers by gratifying their own.
We have no doubt that, if yet unexplored recesses still conceal many curious and important remains of antient times, which we shall one day gratefully receive from the hands of our more discerning antiquaries, they must include a much greater accumulation of matter from which no art can extort either utility or amusement; and which, long after we are completely versed in all the virtues and vices which our ancestors ever acted or thought, in all the combinations of syllables and configurations of stanzas which they substituted for metre, and in all the varieties of drivelling which they hoped were the effusions of poetry, will still continue to minister to starving or misguided industry the amplest materials of public suffering. Believing this, then, can we be deemed unreasonable in the apprehension with which we look forwards to the torrent of barbarous erudition, which, 'ere all its sources are exhausted, seems destined to inundate our literature?
Under such impressions, we conceive it to be the duty of all to whom the honour of our press and the comfort of men of letters is in any degree intrusted, to arm themselves in all their judicial severity against the very earliest delinquents ;and we feel, with no slight satisfaction, from the determined antiquarian enthusiasm of the public, that we may now reprove the unprofitable intruders into this branch of learned investigation, without any hazard of discouraging a pursuit which is honourable to the character of the nation, and of some importance to its literature and philosophy.
Mr. Jamieson is not only very far from requiring all the cen. sure that an offending antiquary may provoke, but has intitled himself in many respects to considerable praise : yet even this work of a man of abilities and feeling discovers many warning traits, from which the reader may conjecture what aspect the evil is likely to assume, when the whole herd of huntsmen and whippers-in of literature is let loose into the repositories of black letter and MSS.
The following passages from the editor's preface (which we have selected with some trouble, since the narrative is much diversified with small talk) contain a statement of Mr. J.'s opportunities for collecting authentic materials:
In March, 1779, I-a man that acknowledges favours may be allowed to be an egotist-communicated my design to the Rev. Dr. Gerrard, Professor of Theology in King's College, Aberdeen, who, with his usual zeal where the promotion of liberal pursuits is concerned, entered warmly into my views, and not only bimself did every thing he could, but obtained of Professor Scott of the same College a transcript of a large collection of upwards of twenty pieces, which that gentleman had written down a good many years ago, when he was very young, from the recitation of his aunt Mrs. Brown of Falk. land. These, being almost all new to me, and none of them having ever been printed, encouraged me to proceed with spirit and confidence, and I was much gratified to find that the kind zeal and industry of my friends, and the obliging politeness of every person to whom I applied, was likely to enable me in a considerable degree to surmount the disadvantages and difficulties I laboured under, from having resided very little in the lowlands of Scotland since I was turned of fifteen, and from my being confined by a laborious employment and very limited circumstances to an inland manufacturing town in England. Anxious, however, to do the utmost in my power for my work, in the summer of 1800 1 took a journey to the North of Scotland, and stopping at Edinburgh in my way, was not a little mortified to find that Mr. Scott was engaged in an undertaking of the same kind, in which he had made nearly the same progress, and that the greater part of the materials collected for both works was the same.
• In 1800 I paid an unexpected visit to Mrs. Brown at Dysart, where she then happened to be for her health, and wrote down C3
from her unpremeditated repetition about a dozen pieces more, most of which will be found in this work ; several others which I liad not time to take down were afterwards transmitted to me by Mrs. Brown herself, and by her late highly respectable and worthy husband, the Rev. Dr. Brown. “ As to the authenticity of the pieces them. selves, they are as authentic as traditionary poetry can be expected to be; and their being more entire than most other such pieces are found to be, may be easily accounted for, from the circumstance that there are very few persons of Mrs. Brown's abilities and education, that repeat popular ballads from memory. She learnt most of them before she was 12 years old, from old women and maid servants; what she once learnt she never forgot ; and such were her curiosity and industry, that she was not contented with merely knowing the story according to one way of telling, but studied to acquire all the varieties of the same tale which she could meet with. In some instances these different readings may have insensibly mixed with each other, and produced from various disjointed fragments, a whole, such as reciters, whose memories and judgment are less perfect, can seldom produce. But this must be the case in all poetry which depends for its authenticity upon oral tradition alone.'
This last piece of reasoning, which should establish the superior claim to perfection in Mr. J.'s collection of ballads, does not appear to us eminently successful; since we cannot think that people of education and abilities are the most faithful reporters of legendary tales. That which they cannot understand they are under a strong temptation to make intelligible by conjectural emendations, and fancy at times may supply the defects of recollection. It seems to us that the editor would have been more fortunate, if he could have collected his ballads fresh from their natural reporters, the country people; whose faithful memory is not exposed to disturbance in the discharge of irs duty, from any intrusion of criticism or imagination.
On Mr. Jamieson's arrangement we should have had little to remark, if he had adhered to it. The first volume consists of Tragic Ballads, Humorous Ballads, and Songs : the second, of Miscellaneous Ballads, Songs, and an Appendix, the latter of which contains nothing but duplicates, with some small variation. Most editors, with half the sense of Mr. J. would have troubled us with the various readings only; and not even with these, had they related to such unfortunate productions as the 'Trumpeter of Fyvie.' In the Miscellaneous class, we have the Guide Wallace,' which is certainly “as tragical a tragedy as ever was tragedized by any company of tragedians." All those relating to Sir John Barleycoin should have been com. prehended among the ludicrous compositions; and we are not quite certain that the latter class has any title to the Carle of Kellieburn Braesi' A woman being sent to the devil is an occurrence of such a nature, that no way of telling the story
ean make the event humorous. The translations from the Danish, and a few original ballads, are scattered about with a dignified indifference to order; and an old ballad, Lord Wayates and Auld Ingram,' is unaccountably wedged in between a drinking song and a Christmas carol.
We now come to the consideration of the materials them. selves, by the merits of which the work must either stand or
and here we mean to select from Mr. J.'s pages those parts which appear to us most striking, either in the antient ditties themselves, or in the accompanying illustrations, adding such remarks as a perusal of them may suggest.
<Child Maurice.' We were much gratitied on meeting with this rude original of the celebrated ballad Gill Morris ; and the more because at one time its very existence was doubted. In its present state, it is a faithful transcript of the copy preserved in Bishop Percy's folio MS. so often mentioned in the “Relics of Antient English Poetry," and elsewhere. It is undoubtedly very much corrupted, and in some passages unintelligible : but its curiosity overbalances these defects. It ends thus :
• Sayes, wicked be my merry men a!!
I gave meate and drinke and clothe
when I was in all that wrath
that ever best rode a strede
that ever ware woman's weede.' The hero's station in society is rendered decidedly clear in the concluding stanza. Late writers, and particularly Mr. Scott, (see his Minstrelsy of the Border, Vol. Il. p. 20.) who enters his protest in rather confident language against the absurdity of supposing him a knight, as the denomination of Child was usually supposed to imply, must endeavour to support thir argument by some other kind of evidence than that which they have produced.
Sweet Willie and Fair Annie.' This ballad has been repeatedly published by former editors, and we see no superiority in this copy which should intitle it to its place. We remark one defect which is common to all editions of it: poverty is made the objection to Fair Annje as a wife for Sweet Willie'; yet, towards the conclusion, she is r presented as being drest in the most gorgeous style of magnificance.
• Fair Annie of Lochrayan.'--' This beautiful piece was adopted into this collection, and · Fair Annie's Complaint written to accompany it, long before the editor knew any thing of Mr.