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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

V. The Earliest Scottish Literature

§ 11. Colkelbie’s Sow

Along with it, Gavin Douglas mentions two other popular tales:

  • I saw Raf Coilzear with his thrawin brow,
  • Craibit Johne the Reif and auld Cowkeywis sow.
  • Palice of Honour, p. 65 (small).
  • John the Reeve, who is also mentioned by Dunbar, is printed in Laing’s Select Remains of the Ancient Popular Poetry of Scotland, but is clearly an English work. The tale of Colkelbie’s sow, also printed in the same work, is as clearly Scottish. The authority for it is the Bannatyne manuscript which was written in 1568. Colkelbie is in Stewarton in Ayrshire. Colkelbie (in Scotland the farmer or laird is, usually, called by the name of his estate) sells a sow for three pence. The first penny fell into a lake but was found by a woman who bought a pig wherewith to make a feast. But the pig escaped, and became a mighty boar. Near Paris, Colkelbie meets an old blind man who is being led by a beautiful damsel called Adria, finds a substitute, and carries off the damsel after giving the blind man the second penny. Adria grows up under the care of Colkelbie’s wife and is ultimately married to his son Flannislie. This son is made a squire of the body-guard by the king of France and receives a grant of land which is called Flandria (Flanders), from the names of Flannislie and Adria. With the third penny, Colkelbie, in Scotland apparently, buys twenty-four eggs to give at the baptism of the son of his neighbour Blerblowan. The mother of the child rejects the eggs, and Colkelbie gives them to one of his domestics, who raises from them such a stock of poultry that in fifteen years he is able to give a thousand pounds to his godson, who, ultimately, becomes immensely rich.

    The story is divided into three parts, the metre of the first differing from that of the two others. From the numerous references to it, the story was obviously very popular, but it makes a sorry end to the old romances.