Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/167

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Notes on Ballad Origins. 1 5 1

from the lips and the heart of the people, may be contrasted with the origin of an artistic poetry in the demand of an aristocracy for a separate epic literature," &c. But I con- ceive that, even in 1875, 1 did not suppose that the " people " simultaneously and automatically bellowed out this or that new ballad. If Mr. Henderson credits me with that opinion, I disclaim it. When I went on, in 1875, to say that " all ballad poetry sprang from the same primitive custom of dance, accompanied by improvised song, which still exists in Greece and Russia, and even in valleys of the Pyrenees," I did not discriminate, but followed the derivation of "ballad" from old French bailer, "to dance," originally meaning a song sung to the rhythmic movement of a dancing chorus. It is a long while since I wrote the brief and insufficiently-informed article of 1875.

All our extant traditional narrative ballads were not, of course, made in this w^ay, out of.improvisations in the dance. Perhaps few, if any, were. That songs are made, and have been made in this w^ay, in many regions, each song having its refrain, is proved beyond doubt by Professor Gummere {The Beginnings of Poetry, 1902). I am not certain that any of our traditional and extant ballads had this origin. But the word "ballad" — if the derivation be correct — was first applied to such improvisations, before the now remote date when the French used ballade for a peculiarly artificial form of literary versification. The term "ballad" in 1568, was even used to designate the irregular Casket Sonnets attributed to Mary Stuart.

In Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature (igoi), I wrote in a manner, I hope, more discreet than in 1875. Mr. Henderson does not quote this essay, at least he gives no reference to it. Mr. Henderson does say, that in my opinion " as a general rule — for a general rule he will have it to be — ballads and popular tales, between which he draws little or no distinction, are the creation of ' the folk-fancy ' (regarding the exact meaning of which phrase Mr. Lang's