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Of all the Scottish northern chiefs
Of high and warlike fame,
The bravest was Sir James the Ross,
A knight of mighty fame.

(Lyrics for first verse as given by the source.
No other verses listed in the Journal.
The version below is from 'The Digital Tradition')

Of all the northern Scottish Chiefs
That live as warlike men,
The bravest was Sir James, the Rose,
A knight of muckle fame.

His growth was like the thrifty fir
That crowns the mountain's brow
And wavering o'er his shoulders broad
Bright locks of yellow flow.

Three years he fought on bloody fields
Against their English king.
Scarce two and twenty summers yet
This fearless youth had seen.

It was fair Mathildy that he loved
That girl with beauty rare,
And Margaret on the Scottish throne
With her could not compare.

Long he had wooed, long she'd refused
It seemed, with scorn and pride
But after all confessed her love;
Her faithful words, denied.

My father was born a cruel lord.
This passion does approve.
He bids me wed Sir John a Grame
And leave the one I love.

My father's will I must fulfill,
Which puts me to a stand
Some fair maid in her beauty bloom
May bless you with her hand.

"Are those the vows, Mathildy dear,"
Sir James, the Rose, did say,
"And would Mathildy wed the Grame
When she's sworn to be my bride?"

"I only spoke to try thy love.
I'll ne'er wed man but thee.
The grave shall be my bridal bed
Ere Grames my husband be."

"You take this kiss, fair youth," she said,
"In witness of my love,
May every plague down on me fall
The day I break my vows."

Ere they had met and there embraced,
Down by a shady grove,
It was on a bank beside a burn
A blooming shelltree stood.

Concealed beneath the undie wood
To hear what they might say,
A brother to Sir John the Grame
And there concealed he lay.

Ere they did part the sun was set.
At haste he then replied,
"Return, return, you beardless youth"
He loud insulting cries.

"O it's of my brother's slight love
Rests softly on your arm."
Three paces back the youth retired
To save himself from harm.

Then turned around the beardless youth
And quick his sword he drew
And through his enemy's crashing blows
His sharp-edged weapon drew.

Grame staggered back. He reeled and fell
A lifeless lump of clay.
"So falls my foes," said valiant Rose,
And straightly walked away.

Through the green woods he then did go
Till he reached Lord Bohan's Hall
And at Mathildy's window stood
And thus began to call:

"Art thou asleep, Mathildy dear?
Awake, my love, awake.
Your own true lover calls on you
A long farewell to take."

"For I have slain fair Donald Grame.
His blood is on my sword
And distant are my faithful men.
They can't assist their lord."

"To the Isle of Skye, I must awa'
Where my twa brothers abide.
I'll raise the gallyants of that Isle.
They'll combat on my side."

"Don't do so," the maid replied,
"With me 'til morning stay,
For dark and rainy is the night
And dangerous is the way."

"All night I'll watch you in my park.
My little page I'll send
He'll run and raise the Rose's clan
Their master to defend."

She laid him down beneath the bush
And rolled him in his plaid.
At a distance stood the weeping maid;
A-weeping for her love.

O'er hills and dales, the page he ran,
Till lonely in the Glen,
'Twas there he met Sir John the Grame
And twenty of his men.

"Where art thou going, my little page?
What tidings dost thou bring?"
"I'm running to raise the Rose's clan
Their master to defend."

"For he has slain fair Donald Grame.
His blood is on his sword,
And distant are his faithful men
They can't assist their lord."

"Tell me where he is, my little page,
And I will thee well reward."
"He sleeps now in Lord Bohan's Hall.
Mathildy, she's his guard."

He spurred his horse at a furious gait
And galloped o'er the lea
Until he reached Lord Bohan's Hall
At the dawning of the day.

Without the gate, Mathildy stood
To whom the Grame replied,
"Saw ye Sir James, the Rose, last night,
Or did he pass this way?"

"Last day at noon fair James, the Rose,
I seen him passing by.
He was mounted on a milk-white steed
And forward fast did fly.

"He's in Edinborotown now by this time
If man and horse proves good."
"Your page now lies who said he was
A-sleeping in the wood."

She wrung her hands and tore her hair
Saying, "Rose, thou art betrayed,
Thou art betrayed all by those means
I was sure you would be saved."

The hero heard a well-known voice;
This valiant knight awoke,
Oh, he awoke and drew his sword
As this brave band appeared.

"So you have slain my brother dear;
His blood as dew did shine
And by the rising of the sun
Your blood shall flow or mine."

"You speak the truth," the youth replies,
"That deeds can prove the man.
Stand by your men and hand to hand
You'll see our valiant stand."

"If boasting words a coward hide,
It is my sword you fear,
It's seen the day on FIodden's Field
When you sneaked in the rear."

"Oh, at him, men, and cut him down
Oh, cut him down in twain.
Five thousand pounds onto the man
Who leaves him on the plain."

Four of his men ---the bravest four---
Fell down before that sword,
But still they scorned that mean revenge
And sought the cowardly Lord.

Till cowardly behind him stole the Grame
And wound him in the side.
Out gushing came his purple gore
And all his garments dyed.

But ne'er of his sword did he quit the grip
Nor fell he to the ground
Till through his enemy's heart his steel
Had pierced a fatal wound.

Grame staggered back. He reeled and fell
A lifeless lump of clay
Whilst down beside him sank the Rose
That fainting, dying lay.

O when Mathildy seen him fall,
"O spare his life," she cried,
"Lord Bohan's daughter begs his life.
She shall not be denied."

The hero heard a well-known voice
And raised his death-closed eyes
And fixed them on the weeping maid,
And faintly this replies,

"In vain, Mathildy, you beg my life.
By death's, it's been denied ;
My race is run. Good-bye, my love,"
He closed his eyes and died.

She drew his sword from his left side
With frantic hands, she drew.
"I come, I come, brave Rose," she cried,
"I'm going to follow you."

She leaned the hilt upon the ground
And pressed her snow-white breast;
Laid down upon her lover's face
And endless went to rest.

So come all indulging parents,
By this warning take
And never encourage your children dear
Their sacred vows to break.

From Ballads Migrant in New England, Flanders
Collected from Hanford Hayes, Staceyville, ME 1940

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec 1936

Collected by Maud Karpeles from Mr. Jas. Walsh at Ferryland, Newfoundland, August 1, 1930. One of five versions given in edition of the Journal.

The notes say "The text is very similar to the 1768 version printed in Last Leaves and the versions noted in Nova Scotia and Maine."

Roud: 2274 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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