Popular Ballads of the Olden Time

The following is from Popular Ballads of the Olden Time: Third Series - Ballads of Scottish Tradition and Romance Selected and Edited by Frank Sidgwick:

Katharine Jaffray

The Text is from Herd's MSS., two copies showing a difference of one word and a few spellings. Stt. 3 and 5 are interchanged for the sake of the sense.

Many copies of this ballad exist (Child prints a dozen), but this one is both the shortest and simplest.

The Story--In The Cruel Brother (First Series, p. 76) it was shown that a lover must 'speak to the brother' of his lady. Here the lesson, it seems, is that he must 'tell the lass herself' before her wedding-day. Katharine, however, not only proves her faith to her first lover (her 'grass-green' dress, 10.2, shows an ill-omened marriage), but prefers the Scot to the Southron. This lesson the ballad drives home in the last two verses.

Presumably Scott founded Young Lochinvar on the story of this ballad, as in six versions the Scots laird bears that name.

There liv'd a lass in yonder dale,
  And doun in yonder glen, O,
And Kath'rine Jaffray was her name,
  Well known by many men, O.

Out came the Laird of Lauderdale,
  Out frae the South Countrie,
All for to court this pretty maid,
  Her bridegroom for to be.

He has teld her father and mither baith,
  And a' the rest o' her kin,
And has teld the lass hersell,
  And her consent has win.

Then came the Laird of Lochinton,
  Out frae the English border,
All for to court this pretty maid,
  Well mounted in good order.

He's teld her father and mither baith,
  As I hear sindry say,
But he has nae teld the lass hersell,
  Till on her wedding day.

When day was set, and friends were met,
  And married to be,
Lord Lauderdale came to the place,
  The bridal for to see.

'O are you come for sport, young man?
  Or are you come for play?
Or are you come for a sight o' our bride,
  Just on her wedding day?'

'I'm nouther come for sport,' he says,
  'Nor am I come for play;
But if I had one sight o' your bride,
  I'll mount and ride away.'

There was a glass of the red wine
  Fill'd up them atween,
And ay she drank to Lauderdale,
  Wha her true-love had been.

Then he took her by the milk-white hand,
  And by the grass-green sleeve,
And he mounted her high behind him there,
  At the bridegroom he askt nae leive.

Then the blude run down by Cowden Banks,
  And down by Cowden Braes,
And ay she gard the trumpet sound,
  'O this is foul, foul play!'

Now a' ye that in England are,
  Or are in England born,
Come nere to Scotland to court a lass,
  Or else ye'l get the scorn.

They haik ye up* and settle ye by,
  Till on your wedding day,
And gie ye frogs instead o' fish,
  And play ye foul, foul play.

[* 'haik ye up,' kidnap (Jamieson), but ? delude, or keep in suspense.]

Lizie Lindsay


Copyright Scotland from the Roadside 2016