Percy's Reliques - Gil Morrice.

Gil Morrice.

A SCOTTISH BALLAD

            The following piece hath run through two editions in Scotland: the second was printed at Glasgow in 1755, 8vo. Prefixed to them both is an advertisement, setting forth that the preservation of this poem was owing "to a lady, who favoured the printers with a copy, as it was carefully collected from the mouths of old women and nurses;" and "any reader that can render it more correct or complete," is desired to oblige the public with such improvements. In consequence of this advertisement, sixteen additional verses have been produced and handed about in manuscript, which are here inserted in their proper places: (these are from ver. 109 to ver. 121, and from ver. 124 to ver. 129, but are perhaps, after all, only an ingenious interpolation.)

            As this poem lays claim to a pretty high antiquity, we have assigned it a place among our early pieces: though, after all, there is reason to believe it has received very considerable modern improvements: for in the Editor's ancient manuscript collection is a very old imperfect copy of the same ballad: wherein though the leading features of the story are the same, yet the colouring here is so much improved and heightened, and so many additional strokes are thrown in, that it is evident the whole has undergone a revisal.

N.B.--The Editor's manuscript instead of Lord Barnard, has John Stewart;and instead of Gil Morrice, Child Maurice, which last is probably the original title. See above, no. ix, Child Waters.

GIL MORRICE was an erles son,
His name it waxed wide;
It was nae for his great riches,
Nor
zet his mickle pride;
Bot it was for a lady gay,
That livd on Carron side.

"Quhair sall I get a bonny boy,
That will win hose and shoen;
That will gae to Lord Barnards ha',
And bid his lady cum?
[ 1] And
ze maun rin my errand, Willie;
And
ze may rin wi' pride;
Quhen other boys gae on their foot
On horse-back
ze sall ride."

"O no! Oh no! my master dear!
I dare nae for my life;
I'll no gae to the bauld baṛns,
For to triest furth his wife."
"My bird Willie, my boy Willie;
My dear Willie," he sayd:
"How can
ze strive against the stream?
For I sall be obeyd."

"Bot, O my master dear!" he cryd,
"In grene wod
ze're zour lain;
Gi owre sic thochts, I walde
ze rede,
For fear
ze should be tain."
"Haste, haste, I say, gae to the ha',
Bid hir cum here wi speid:
If
ze refuse my heigh command,
Ill gar
zour body bleid.

"Gae bid hir take this gay mantel,
'Tis a' gowd bot the hem;[ 2]
Bid hir cum to the gude grene wode,
And bring nane bot hir lain:
And there it is a silken sarke,
Hir ain hand sewd the sleive;
And bid hir cum to Gill Morice,
Speir nae bauld barons leave."

"Yes, I will gae zour black errand,
Though it be to
zour cost;
Sen
ze by me will nae be warn'd,
In it
ze sall find frost.
The baron he is a man of might,
He neir could bide to taunt,
As
ze will see before its nicht,
How sma'
ze hae to vaunt.

"And sen I maun zour errand rin
Sae sair against my will,
I'se mak a vow and keip it trove,
It sall be done for ill."
And quhen he came to broken brigue,
He bent his bow and swam;
And quhen he came to grass growing,
Set down his feet and ran.

And quhen he came to Barnards ha',
Would neither chap nor ca':
Bot set his bent bow to his breist,
And lichtly lap the wa'.[ 3]
He wauld nae tell the man his errand,
Though he stude at the gait;
Bot straiht into the ha' he cam,
Quhair they were set at meit.

"Hail! hail! my gentle sire and dame!
My message winna waite;
Dame,
ze maun to the gude grene wod
Before that it be late.

"ze're bidden tak this gay mantel,
Tis a' gowd bot the hem:
zou maun gae to the gude grene wode,
Ev'n by your sel alane.

"And there it is, a silken sarke,
Your ain hand sewd the sleive;
ze maun gae speik to Gill Morice
Speir nae bauld barons leave."
The lady stamped wi' hir foot,
And winked wi' hir ee;
Bat a' that she coud say or do,
Forbidden he wad nae bee.

"Its surely to my bow'r-woman;
It neir could be to me.
I brocht it to Lord Barnards lady;
I trow that
ze be she."
Then up and spack the wylie nurse,
(The bairn upon hir knee)
"If it be cum frae Gill Morice,
It's deir welcum to mee."

"ze leid, ze leid, ze filthy nurse,
Sae loud I heird
zee lee;[ 4]
I brocht it to Lord Barnards lady;
I trow
ze be nae shee."

Then up and spack the bauld baṛn,
An angry man was hee;
He's tain the table wi' his foot,
Sae has he wi' his knee;
Till siller cup and ma
zer[ 5] dish
In flinders he gard flee.

"Gae bring a robe of zour clid́ng,
That hings upon the pin;
And I'll gae to the gude grene wode,
And speik wi'
zour lemmàn."
"O bide at hame, now Lord Barnard,
I warde
ze bide at hame;
Neir wyte a man for violence,
That neir wate
ze wi' nane."

Gil Morice sate in gude grene wode,
He whistled and he sang:
"O what mean a' the folk coming,
My mother tarries lang."
His hair was like the threeds of gold,
Drawne frae Minerva's loome:
His lipps like roses drapping dew,
His breath was a' perfume.

His brow was like the mountain snae
Gilt by the morning beam:
His cheeks like living roses glow:
His een like a
zure stream.
The boy was clad in robes of grene,
Sweete as the infant spring:
And like the mavis on the bush,
He gart the vallies ring.

The baron came to the grene wode,
Wi' mickle dule and care,
And there he first spied Gill Morice
Kameing his
zellow hair:
That sweetly wavd around his face,
That face beyond compare:
He sang sae sweet it might dispel
A' rage but fell despair.[ 6]

"Nae wonder, nae wonder, Gill Morice,
My lady loed thee weel,
The fairest part of my bodie
Is blacker than thy heel.
zet neir the less now, Gill Morice,
For a' thy great beautie,
ze's rew the day ze eir was born;
That head sall gae wi' me."

Now he has drawn his trusty brand,
And slaited on the strae;
And thro' Gill Morice' fair body
He's gar cauld iron gae.
And he has tain Gill Morice' head
And set it on a speir;
The meanest man in a' his train
Has gotten that head to bear.

And he has tain Gill Morice up,
Laid him across his steid,
And brocht him to his painted bowr,
And laid him on a bed.
The lady sat on castil wa',
Beheld baith dale and doun;
And there she saw Gill Morice' head
Cum trailing to the toun.

"Far better I loe that bluidy head,
Both and that
zellow hair,
Than Lord Barnard, and a' his lands,
As they lig here and thair."
And she has tain her Gill Morice,
And kissd baith mouth and chin:
"I was once as fow of Gill Morice,
As the hip is o' the stean.

"I got ze in my father's house,
Wi' mickle sin and shame;
I brocht thee up in gude grene wode,
Under the heavy rain.
Oft have I by thy cradle sitten,
And fondly seen thee sleip;
But now I gae about thy grave,
The saut tears for to weip."

And syne she kissd his bluidy cheik,
And syne his bluidy chin:
"O better I loe my Gill Morice
Than a' my kith and kin!"
"Away, away,
ze ill woman,
And an ill deith mait
ze dee:
Gin I had kend he'd bin
zour son,
He'd neir bin slain for mee."

"Obraid me not, my Lord Barnard!
Obraid me not for shame!
Wi' that saim speir O pierce my heart!
And put me out o' pain.
Since nothing bot Gill Morice head
Thy jelous rage could quell,
Let that saim hand now tak hir life,
That neir to thee did ill.

"To me nae after days nor nichts
Will eir be saft or kind;
I'll fill the air with heavy sighs,
And greet till I am blind."
"Enouch of blood by me's been spilt,
Seek not
zour death frae mee;
I rather lourd it had been my sel
Than eather him or thee.

"With waefo wae I hear zour plaint;
Sair, sair I rew the deid,
That eir this cursed hand of mine
Had gard his body bleid.
Dry up
zour tears, my winsome dame,
ze neir can heal the wound;
ze see his head upon the speir,
His heart's blude on the ground.

"I curse the hand that did the deid,
The heart that thocht the ill;
The feet that bore me wi' sik speid,
The comely
zouth to kill.
I'll ay lament for Gill Morice,
As gin he were mine ain;
I'll neir forget the dreiry day
On which the
zouth was slain.

*** This little pathetic tale suggested the plot of the tragedy of Douglas.

            Since it was first printed, the Editor has been assured that the foregoing ballad is still current in many parts of Scotland, where the hero is universally known by the name of Child Maurice, pronounced by the common people Cheild or Cheeld; which occasioned the mistake.

            It may be proper to mention, that other copies read ver. 110 thus:

Shot frae the golden sun.

            And ver. 116 as follows:

His een Iike azure sheene.

NOTES

1. Something seems wanting here.

2. Perhaps "'bout the hem."

3. Could this be the wall of the castle?

4. Perhaps, "loud say I heire."

5. i.e. a drinking cup of maple: other edit. read ezar.

6. So Milton,--

"Vernal delight and joy: able to drive
All sadness but despair."-- Paradise Lost, iv. 155

 

 

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