The Heir Of Linne

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is taken from the Percy Folio, but I have modernised the spelling. For the Reliques Percy made a ballad out of the Folio version combined with 'a modern ballad on a similar subject,' a broadside entitled The Drunkard's Legacy, thus producing a very good result which is about thrice the length of the Folio version.

The Scottish variant was noted by Motherwell and Buchan, but previous editors--Herd, Ritson, Chambers, Aytoun--had used Percy's composition.


The Story.--There are several Oriental stories which resemble the ballad as compounded by Percy from The Drunkard's Legacy. In most of these--Tartar, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, etc.--the climax of the story lies in the fact that the hero in attempting to hang himself by a rope fastened to the ceiling pulls down a hidden treasure. There is, of course, no such episode in The Heir of Linne, but all the stories have similar circumstances, and the majority present the moral aspect of unthriftiness, and of friends deserting a man who loses his wealth.

'Linne,' of course, is the place which is so often mentioned in ballads.


THE HEIR OF LINNE

1.
Of all the lords in fair Scotland
A song I will begin;
Amongst them all there dwelled a lord,
Which was the unthrifty lord of Linne.

2.
His father and mother were dead him fro,
And so was the head of all his kin;
To the cards and dice that he did run
He did neither cease nor blin.

3.
To drink the wine that was so clear,
With every man he would make merry;
And then bespake him John of the Scales,
Unto the heir of Linne said he;

4.
Says 'How dost thou, lord of Linne?
Dost either want gold or fee?
Wilt thou not sell thy lands so broad
To such a good fellow as me?

5.
'For ... I ... ,' he said,
'My land, take it unto thee.'
'I draw you to record, my lordës all.'
With that he cast him a God's penny.

6.
He told him the gold upon the board,
It wanted never a bare penny.
'That gold is thine, the land is mine;
The heir of Linne I will be.'

7.
'Here's gold enough,' saith the heir of Linne,
'Both for me and my company.'
He drunk the wine that was so clear,
And with every man he made merry.

8.
Within three-quarters of a year
His gold and fee it waxed thin,
His merry men were from him gone,
And left him himself all alone.

9.
He had never a penny left in his purse,
Never a penny left but three,
And one was brass, and another was lead,
And another was white money.

10.
'Now welladay!' said the heir of Linne,
'Now welladay, and woe is me!
For when I was the lord of Linne,
I neither wanted gold nor fee.

11.
'For I have sold my lands so broad,
And have not left me one penny;
I must go now and take some read
Unto Edinburgh, and beg my bread.'

12.
He had not been in Edinburgh
Not three-quarters of a year,
But some did give him, and some said nay,
And some bid 'To the deil gang ye!

13.
'For if we should hang any landless fere,
The first we would begin with thee.'
'Now welladay!' said the heir of Linne,
'Now welladay, and woe is me!

14.
'For now I have sold my lands so broad,
That merry man is irk with me;
But when that I was the lord of Linne,
Then on my land I lived merrily.

15.
'And now I have sold my land so broad,
That I have not left me one penny!
God be with my father!' he said,
'On his land he lived merrily.'

16.
Still in a study there as he stood,
He unbethought him of a bill--
He unbethought him of a bill
Which his father had left with him.

17.
Bade him he should never on it look
Till he was in extreme need;
'And by my faith,' said the heir of Linne,
'Than now I had never more need.'

18.
He took the bill, and looked it on,
Good comfort that he found there;
It told him of a castle wall
Where there stood three chests in fere.

19.
Two were full of the beaten gold,
The third was full of white money.
He turned then down his bags of bread,
And filled them full of gold so red.

20.
Then he did never cease nor blin,
Till John of the Scales' house he did win.
When that he came to John of the Scales,
Up at the speer he looked then.

21.
There sat three lords upon a row,
And John o' the Scales sat at the board's head,
And John o' the Scales sat at the board's head,
Because he was the lord of Linne.

22.
And then bespake the heir of Linne,
To John o' the Scales' wife thus said he;
Said, 'Dame, wilt thou not trust me one shot
That I may sit down in this company?'

23.
'Now Christ's curse on my head,' she said,
'If I do trust thee one penny!'
Then bespake a good fellow,
Which sat by John o' the Scales his knee;

24.
Said, 'Have thou here, thou heir of Linne,
Forty pence I will lend thee;
Some time a good fellow thou hast been;
And other forty if need be.'

25.
They drunken wine that was so clear,
And every man they made merry;
And then bespake him John o' the Scales,
Unto the lord of Linne said he;

26.
Said, 'How dost thou, heir of Linne,
Since I did buy thy lands of thee?
I will sell it to thee twenty pound better cheap
Nor ever I did buy it of thee.'

27.
'I draw you to record, lordës all;'
With that he cast him a God's penny;
Then he took to his bags of bread,
And they were full of the gold so red.

28.
He told him the gold then over the board,
It wanted never a broad penny.
'That gold is thine, the land is mine,
And heir of Linne again I will be.'

29.
'Now welladay!' said John o' the Scales' wife,
'Welladay, and woe is me!
Yesterday I was the lady of Linne,
And now I am but John o' the Scales' wife!'

30.
Says 'Have thou here, thou good fellow,
Forty pence thou did lend me,
Forty pence thou did lend me,
And forty pound I will give thee.

31.
'I'll make thee keeper of my forest,
Both of the wild deer and the tame,'
... ... ...
... ... ...

32.
But then bespake the heir of Linne,
These were the words, and thus said he,
'Christ's curse light upon my crown,
If e'er my land stand in any jeopardy!'

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'The Heir Of Linne' by Frank Sidgwick

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy