The Jew's Daughter.A SCOTTISH BALLAD.
This fragment is founded upon the supposed practice of the Jews in crucifying or otherwise murdering Christian children, out of hatred to the religion of their parents: a practice which hath been always alleged in excuse for the cruelties exercised upon that wretched people, but which probably never happened in a single instance. For, if we consider, on the one hand, the ignorance and superstition of the times when such stories took their rise, the virulent prejudices of the monks who record them, and the eagerness with which they would be catched up by the barbarous populace as a pretence for plunder; on the other hand, the great danger incurred by the perpetrators, and the inadequate motives they could have to excite them to a crime of so much horror; we may reasonably conclude the whole charge to be groundless and malicious.
The following ballad is probably built upon some Italian legend, and bears a great resemblance to the Prioresse's Tale in Chaucer. The poet seems also to have had an eye to the known story of Hugh of Lincoln, a child said to have been murdered by the Jews in the reign of Henry III. The conclusion of this ballad appears to be wanting: what it probably contained may be seen in Chaucer. As for Mirryland Toun, it is probably a corruption of Milan (called by the Dutch Meylandt) Town. [ 1] The Pa is evidently the river Po, although the Adige, not the Po, runs through Milan.
Printed from a MS. copy sent from Scotland.
THE rain rins doun through Mirry-land toune,
Sae dois it doune the Pa:
Sae dois the lads of Mirry-land toune,
Quhan they play at the ba'.
Than out and cam the Jewis dochtèr,
Said, "Will ye cum in and dine?"
"I winnae cum in, I cannae cum in,
Without my play-feres nine."
Scho powd an apple reid and white
To intice the zong thing in:
Scho powd an apple white and reid,
And that the sweit bairne did win.
And scho has taine out a little pen-knife,
And low down by her gair,
Scho has twin'd the zong thing and his life;
A word he nevir spak mair.
And out and cam the thick thick bluid,
And out and cam the thin;
And out and cam the bonny herts bluid:
Thair was nae life left in.
Scho laid him on a dressing borde,
And drest him like a swine,
And laughing said, "Gae nou and pley
With zour sweit play-feres nine."
Scho rowd him in a cake of lead,
Bade him lie stil and sleip.
Scho cast him in a deip draw-well,
Was fifty fadom deip.
Quhan bells wer rung, and mass was sung,
And every lady went hame:
Than ilka lady had her zong sonne,
Bot Lady Helen had nane.
Scho rowd hir mantil hir about,
And sair sair gan she weip:
And she ran into the Jewis castèl,
Quhan they wer all asleip.
My bonny Sir Hew, my pretty Sir Hew,
I pray thee to me speik.
"O lady, rinn to the deip draw-well,
Gin ze zour sonne wad seik."
Lady Helen ran to the deip draw-well,
And knelt upon her knee:
My bonny Sir Hew, an ze be here,
I pray thee speik to me.
"The lead is wondrous heavy, mither,
The well is wondrous deip,
A keen pen-knife sticks in my hert,
A word I dounae speik.
Gae hame, gae hame, my mither deir,
Fetch me my windling sheet,
And at the back o' Mirry-land toun
Its thair we twa sall meet."
1. It is important to note that Mirry-land Toune is a corruption of Merry Lincoln and not, as Percy conjectured, of Mailand (Milan) town.--Editor