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Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders

The following is from the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders by Sir Walter Scott:

Notes on Sir Patrick Spens

To send us out at this time of the year,
To sail upon the sea?--P. 8, v. 3.

By a Scottish act of parliament, it was enacted, that no ship should be fraughted out of the kingdom, with any staple goods, betwixt the feast of St. Simon's day and Jude and Candelmas.--James III. Parliament 2d, chap. 15. Such was the terror entertained for navigating the north seas in winter.

When a bout flew out of our goodly ship.--P. 10. v. 5.

I believe a modern seaman would say, a plank had started, which must have been a frequent incident during the infancy of ship-building. The remedy applied seems to be that mentioned in Cook's Voyages, when, upon some occasion, to stop a leak, which could not be got at in the inside, a quilted sail was brought under the vessel, which, being drawn into the leak by the suction, prevented the entry of more water. Chaucer says,

"There n'is no new guise that it na'as old."

O forty miles off Aberdeen,--P. 11. v. 3.

This concluding verse differs in the three copies of the ballad, which I have collated. The printed edition bears,

"Have owre, have owre to Aberdour;"

And one of the MSS. reads,

"At the back of auld St. Johnstowne Dykes."

But, in a voyage from Norway, a shipwreck on the north coast seems as probable as either in the Firth of Forth, or Tay; and the ballad states the disaster to have taken place out of sight of land.

Sir Patrick Spens

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