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THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
A SUCCESSFUL imitation of an old song is really attended with less difficulty than to convince a blockhead that one of these jeu d'esprits is a forgery. This fine ballad is even a more palpable imitation than Hardiknute. The manners indeed are old, but the language is of yesterday. Its author must very soon be discovered.*
I've heard a liltingt
* This remark is strikingly correct. These stanzas were written by a lady of family, in Roxburghshire. (Vide “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. iii. p. 125.) They are founded on the battle of Flodden, fought on the borders, in 1513, in which King James the fourth of Scotland was slain, and the flower of his Nobility destroyed, with a great slaughter of all ranks, by the English army, under the command of the Earl of Surry.
The subjoined illustrations of provincial terms are given from « The Bee,” published in 1791, vol. i. p. 24. The English reader will find them very useful, and their accuracy may be relied on.
+ A lilting, a cheerful kind of singing, alluding to a custom in Scotland, practised on all occasions where country people, especially women, are engaged in any kind of employment, the time of the song being a common measure to all their operations.
Lasses a' lilting before the break o' day,
At buchtsł in the morning
At e’en in the gloming
Loaning, an opening between fields of corn, left uncultivated for the sake of driving cattle to the homestead from the distant parts of the farm.
# Forresters, a general name, poetically here assumed for the men of the country.
# Buchts, a small pen, usually put up in the corner of the sheep-fold into which the ewes were driven when they were to be milked.
♡ Scorning is almost exclusively applied among the country people, to denote that kind of merriment occasioned by teasing a young girl about her lover.
|| Leglin, a kind of bucket, with one of the staves projecting above the rest as a handle.
Swankies, a cant term for young lads, half-grown men.
'Mang stacks with the lasses at bogle to play;*
In har'st at the shearing,
* The diversion here allnded to is still a common amusement among young people in Scotland, and is called bogle about the stacks. To understand it, let the English reader be informed, that there it is customary to put up the corns in round ricks, called stacks, close together in a yard adjoining to the barn. The diversion consists in one person hunting several others among these stacks, and usually consists of as numerous a party as can be easily collected together. It is chiefly confined to very young boys and girls, for very obvious reasons, near towns; but in the country, it affords sometimes a very innocent and attractive amusement for the youth of both sexes, when farther advanced in life,
+ Bansters, Bandsters, i. e. Binders, men who bind up the sheaves behind the reapers.
Lyart, a term appropriated to denote a peculiarity which is often seen to affect aged persons, when some of the locks become grey sooner than others. Where the mixture of black and white hairs is pretty uniform, the hair is said to be grey. $ Fleeching means nearly the same thing with coaxing ; pro
O dule for the order!
perly, it is a kind of earnestly intreating, with a desire to gain any one over to the purpose wanted, by artfully drawing them to form a good opinion of the fleecher. Fairs and public preachings in the fields, at that time beginning to be common in Scotland, were places of public resort, at which young persons of both sexes had occasion to meet: and as these were often at a great distance from home, it gave the young men opportunities of performing obliging offices of galļantry to their mistresses, which was, no doubt, one cause of their being so well attended: They were as the balls and assemblies of the country belles and beaux.
* The last verse is a natural national apology for the defeat. The expression in the first line is common in Scotland, Dule (proh dolor !) signifies grief or sorrow, as if it were said, Alas, for the order!
I've seen the smiling of fortune beguiling,
I've tasted her favours, and felt her decay; Sweet is her blessing, and kind her caressing,
But soon it is fled-it is Aled far away.
I've seen the forest adorned of the foremost,
With flowers of the fairest, both pleasant and gay: Full sweet was their blooming, their scent the air
perfuming, But now they are wither’d, and a' wede awae.
I've seen the morning, with gold the hills adorning,
And the red storm roaring, before the parting day; I've seen Tweed's silver streams, glittering in the
sunny beams, Turn drumly* and dark, as they rolled on their