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The Earl of Errol Errol it's a bonnie place, It stands upon a plain; A bad report this lady's raised That Errol's no' a man. cho: Wi' the rantin' o't and the dauntin' o't, According as ye ken, The thing they ca' the rantin' o't, Lady Errol lies her lane. "What needs I wash my apron And hang it on a dyke? What needs they ca' me Errol's wife When I gang sae maiden-like? "What needs I wash my petticoat Or hang it on a pin? For lang will I gang but-and-ben Ere I hear the bairnies' din. "What needs I wash my apron Or dry it upon a door? What needs I eek my petticoat Hangs even doon afore." "When I cam' in by yon canal And by yon bowling-green, I micht hae pleased the best Carnegie That ever bore the name. "But as sure as your name is Kate Carnegie And mine is Gilbert Hay, I'll gar your faither sell his lands Your tocher for tae pay." "Tae gar my faither sell his lands, Wad that no' be a sin? Pay tocher tae a worthless lord That cannae get a son!" Now Errol's gotten 't at his will Tae choose a maid himsel', And he has chosen a country lass Cam' in her milk tae sell. He kept her locked intae a room Three quarters o' a year, And when three quarters ended were, A braw young son she bare. There wasnae a lord in Edinborough But tae Peggy gied a ring, And there wasnae a lad in a' the toon But on Katie had a sang. "Look up, look up, my pretty Peggy, Look up and think nae shame; I'll mak' ye Lady Errol," he said, "And Kate shall be sent hame." "Tak' hame your dochter, Carnegie," he said, "And wed her tae a man, For Errol cannae please her Nor nane o' a' his men!" Child #231 Recorded by Ewan MacColl on "Traditional Songs and Ballads," and printed in his book "Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland." According to Child, Gilbert Hay, the tenth Earl of Errol, married Catherine Carnegie on January 7, 1658. Errol died in 1674 without having had children by Catherine. These marital problems may have produced a hearing in 1659. (According to at least one text, the Carnegies may have conspired to force the matter, probably to avoid having to pay a dowry.) To the best of my knowledge, this is the only ballad in the Child collection to contain a clear (if indirect) reference to homosexuality. RW Or at least to infertility. I suspect that in a society that was wrapped up in lineage, barrenness was at least as heinous a sin as homosexuality. RG glossary: a': all afore: before, i.e. in front bairnies': babies' braw: brave, i.e. handsome but-and-ben: in and out ca': call cam': came cannae: can not dochter: daughter doon: down eek: increase, i.e. lengthen gang: go gied: gave gar: make, cause to hae: have hame: home intae: into, i.e. in lane: lone, i.e. alone lang: long mak': make micht: might nae: no no': not sae: so sang: song tae: to tak': take tocher: dowry toon: town wad: would wasnae: was not RW
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