The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Walter Scott

Appendix, No. V.

Ane Interlude of the Laying of a Gaist.

This burlesque poem is preserved in the Bannatyne MSS. It is in the same strain with the verses concerning the Gyre Carline (Vol. II.) As the mention of Bettokis Bowr occurs in both pieces, and as the scene of both is laid in East Lothian, they are perhaps composed by the same author. The humour of these fragments seems to have been directed against the superstitions of Rome; but it is now become very obscure. Nevertheless, the verses are worthy of preservation, for the sake of the ancient language and allusions.

Listen lordis, I sall you tell,

Off ane very grit marvell,

Off Lord Fergussis gaist,

How meikle Sir Andro it chest,

Unto Beittokis bour,

The silly sawle to succour:

And he hes writtin unto me,

Auld storeis for to se,

Gif it appinis him to meit,

How he sall conjure the spreit:

And I haif red mony quars,

Bath the Donet, and Dominus que pars,

Ryme maid, and als redene,

Baith Inglis and Latene:

And ane story haif I to reid,

Passes Bonitatem in the creid.

To conjure the litill gaist he mon haif

Of tod’s tails ten thraif,

And kast the grit holy water

With pater noster, pitter patter;

And ye man sit in a compas,

And cry, Harbert tuthless,

Drag thow, and ye’s draw,

And sit thair quhill cok craw.

The compas mon hallowit be

With aspergis me Domine;

The haly writ schawis als

Thair man be hung about your bals

Pricket in ane woll poik

Of neis powder ane grit loik.

Thir thingis mon ye beir,

Brynt in ane doggis eir,

Ane pluck, ane pindill, and ane palme cors,

Thre tuskis of ane awld hors,

And of ane yallow wob the warp,

The boddome of ane awld herp,

The held of ane cuttit reill,

The band of an awld quheill,

The taill of ane yeild sow,

And ane bait of blew wow,

Ane botene, and ane brechame,

And ane quhorle made of lame,

To luke out at the litill boir,

And cry, Crystis crosse, you befoir:

And quhen ye see the litill gaist,

Cumand to you in all haist,

Cry loud, Cryste eleisone,

And speir quhat law it levis on?

And gif it sayis on Godis ley,

Than to the litill gaist ye say,

With braid benedicite;

—“Litill gaist, I conjure the,

With lierie and larie,

Bayth fra God, and Sanct Marie,

First with ane fischis mouth,

And syne with ane sowlis towth,

With ten pertane tais,

And nyne knokis of windil strais,

With thre heidis of curle doddy.”—

And bid the gaist turn in a boddy.

Then efter this conjuratioun,

The litill gaist will fall in soun,

And thair efter down ly,

Cryand mercy petously;

Than with your left heil sane,

And it will nevir cum agane,

As meikle as a mige amaist.70

He had a litill we leg,

And it wes cant as any cleg,

It wes wynd in ane wynden schet,

Baythe the handis and the feit:

Suppose this gaist wes litill

Yit it stal Godis quhitell;

It stal fra peteous Abrahame,

Ane quhorle and ane quhim quhame;

It stal fra ye carle of ye mone

Ane payr of awld yin schone;

It rane to Pencatelane,

And wirreit ane awld chaplane;

This litill gaist did na mair ill

Bot clok lyk a corn mill;

And it wald play and hop,

About the heid ane stre strop;

And it wald sing and it wald dance,

Oure fute, and Orliance.

Quha conjurit the litill gaist say ye?

Nane bot the litill Spenzie fle,

That with hir wit and her ingyne,

Gart the gaist leif agane;

And sune mareit the gaist the fle,

And croun’d him King of Kandelie;

And they gat them betwene,

Orpheus king, and Elpha quene.71

To reid quha will this gentill geist,

Ye hard it not at Cockilby’s feist.72

70 Apparently some lines are here omitted.]

71 This seems to allude to the old romance of Orfeo and Heurodis, from which the reader will find some extracts, Vol. II. The wife of Orpheus is here called Elpha, probably from her having been extracted by the elves, or fairies.]

72 Alluding to a strange unintelligible poem in the Bannatyne MSS., called Cockelby’s sow.]

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29