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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.

XVII. Ballads

§ 12. Balladry in Rags

There is even sadder stuff than this. Brown Robin, Willie and Earl Richard’s Daughter (purporting to account for the birth of Robin Hood), Rose the Red and White Lily, The Famous Flower of Serving Men and Tim Potts, are a descending series with very low fall. The singing-robes of balladry are here in rags, and tawdry rags too. There is recovery of old traditions, however, in the Scottish ballads of bride-stealing or elopement like Katharine Jaffray—whether Scott’s own doing, or compiled from traditional fragments, in any case the model of his Young Lochinvar—and in like pieces of varying merit, Bonny Baby Livingston, Eppie Morrie and The Lady of Arngosk—the last named known in many of its details, both as an event about 1736 and as a popular song, but unfortunately recovered only in fragments. Very different, finally, is the tone of two good ballads, Willie’s Lyke-Wake and The Gay Goshawk, where love finds out the way by stratagem and inspires robust verse of the old kind.