Heir of Linne (II), The
DESCRIPTION: The heir's father has his drinking son make a deathbed promise that involves a trick: when the son has lost everything and is desperate enough to commit suicide, it will provide him the means to win back his land and convince him to stay sober.
AUTHOR: Thomas Percy
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The Lord of Linn wastes his substance in riotous living. His father realizes he cannot stop his son's drinking. He builds a cottage, has his son promise not to sell it, and to go there when at the end of his rope. John of the Scales persuades the heir to sell his estate. He wastes the purchase money too, and is soon in great distress. In desperation he goes to the cottage. He finds a gibbet and rope and hangs himself. The gibbet and ceiling collapse and he is surrounded by falling gold. Having returned as from the brink of death, the heir swears never to drink again, and sets out with his newfound gold to regain his land. He goes to John of the Scales' house, is told to leave by John's wife, but is spoken for by one of the guests. John mockingly offers to resell the estate for 100 marks less than he gave for it, which John is sure cannot be paid. The heir takes him at his word, and pays down the money. When the price is paid the ex-holder complies unhappily. John's wife is much crestfallen. The kind guest is rewarded. The heir vows to be more careful.
KEYWORDS: money gambling drink poverty bargaining promise trick death suicide gold father derivative
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Percy/Wheatley II, pp. 138-147, "The Heir of Linne" (1 text)
Davis-Ballads 41, "The Heir of Linne" (1 text)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 81-84, "The Heir of Linne" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Francis James Child, English and Scottish Ballads (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1860 ("Digitized by Google"), Vol. VIII, pp. 60-70, "The Heir of Linne" ("Lithe and listen, gentlemen, To sing a sing I will beginne"") (1 text)
cf. "The Heir of Linne (I)" [Child 267] (source)
cf. "The Drunkard's Legacy" (source)
NOTES: With the exception of Davis [all] the texts cited are Percy's.
Here's what Child had to say of Percy's rewritten Heir of Linne, "the heavily-expanded version printed in the Reliques": "Percy... revised and completed [Child 267]A 'by the insertion of supplemental stanzas,' 'suggested by a modern ballad on a similar subject.' In fact, Percy made a new ballad, and a very good one, which, since his day, has passed for 'The Heir of Linne.'" [vol. V, p. 12].
Child had included the text of Percy's "new ballad" in Francis James Child, English and Scottish Ballads (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1860 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. VIII, pp. 60-70, "The Heir of Linne"; he also printed there the text later included as Child 267B.
The point is not whether or not Percy's creation is "a very good one" -- as Child wrote in 1860 -- but that he did not include it as a Child 267 text in 1894, although he did include one of Percy's sources as Child 267A. (For an unfavorable review of Percy's version see John W. Hales and Frederick J. Furnivall, Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript (London: N Trubner & Co, 1867 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. I, p. 174).
Davis: "The Virginia text evidently belongs to the version published by Percy.... This version is practically Child A [quoting Percy] 'revised and completed by the insertion of supplemental stanzas suggested by a modern ballad on a similar subject.' Except for the introduction of the lonesome lodge, the rope, and the hundred marks instead of twenty pounds, the Virginia text might pass as a much compressed variant of Child A." Coffin repeats Davis's summary: "[The Virginia text] is close to Child A, though much compressed and corrupted by some of the additions made by Percy and taken by him from The Drunkard's Legacy...." [Tristram P Coffin, The British Traditional Ballad in North America (Philadelphia, The American Folklore Society, 1950), p. 142].
I think Davis and Coffin understate the degree to which the Virginia text relies on Percy and is independent of Child 267A [that is, Hales and Furnivall]. Davis has no line that is not from Percy, though sometimes modernized. Many of those lines repeated from Percy are not in Child A at all.
The following table maps lines shared and not shared among Hales and Furnival, Percy and Davis. Where the corresponding lines are similar but "polished" by Percy, to use Hales Nad Furnival's disparaging term, the Percy line is marked with a percent sign %. Exclamation point marks line sets with sequence changes made by Percy.
"H&F" is from Hales and Furnivall (the original for Child 267A), "Percy" is from Percy/Wheatley (Percy's recomposition of his Hales and Furnivall text), and "Davis" is the version collected in Virginia. Be careful -- if you are checking line numbers for yourself -- to use those sources.
H&F ll0.01-010 Percy ll.001-010%
------------- Percy ll.011-004
H&F ll.011-012 --------------
H&F ll.013-016 Percy ll.025-028% Davis ll.01-04
H&F ll 017-018 Percy ll.029-030%
-------------- Percy ll.031-032
H&F ll.019-020 Percy ll.033-034
-------------- Percy ll.035-036
H&F ll.021-024 Percy ll.037-040%
-------------- Percy ll.041-048
-------------- Percy ll.049-052 Davis ll.05-08
H&F ll.025-032 Percy ll.053-060%
H&F ll.033-040 Percy ll 061-068
-------------- Percy ll.069-076
H&F ll.051-053 Percy ll.077-079 Davis ll.09-11
H&F ll 054-055
H&F ll,056-056 Percy ll.080-080 Davis ll.12-12
-------------- Percy ll.081-088
-------------- Percy ll.089-092
-------------- Percy ll.093-096 Davis ll.13-16
-------------- Percy ll.097-128
H&F ll.069-072 Percy ll.129-134 Davis ll.17-18
-------------- Percy ll.135-138 Davis ll.19-22
-------------- Percy ll.139-139
-------------- Percy ll.140-140 Davis ll.24-24
-------------- Percy ll.141-146
H&F ll.077-081 Percy ll.147-152
-------------- Percy ll.152-152
H&F ll.082-083 Percy ll.153-154
H&F ll.084-087 Percy ll.155-158%
H&F ll.088-089 Percy ll.159-160
-------------- Percy ll.161-168
H&F ll.090-092 Percy ll.169-171 Davis ll.25-27
-------------- Percy ll.172,174! Davis ll.28,30!
H&F ll.093-095 Percy ll.173-176! Davis ll.29-32!
-------------- Percy ll.177-184 Davis ll.33-40
H&F ll 096-101
-------------- Percy ll.185-186 Davis ll.41-42
H&F ll.102-105 Percy ll.187-190 Davis ll.43.46
-------------- Percy ll.191-192 Davis ll.47-48
H&F ll.106-106 Percy ll.193-193 Davis ll.49-49
H&F ll.108-108 Percy ll.194-194 Davis ll.50-50
-------------- Percy ll.195-198 Davis ll.51-54
H&F ll.110-115 Percy ll.199-212 Davis ll.55-60
H&F ll,116-117 Percy ll.201-202
-------------- Percy ll.203-203
H&F ll.119-121 Percy ll.204-206
-------------- Percy ll.207-208
H&F ll.122-123 Percy ll.213-214% Davis ll.61-62
H&F ll.124-125 Percy ll.215-216 Davis ll.63-64
Where Percy "polished" a Child 267A line, it is without exception, polished the same way in Davis. For example:
sayes, "how dost thou, Lord of Linne,
doest either want gold or fee?
wilt thou not sell thy lands soe brode
to such a good fellow as me?"
Sayes, Welcome, welcome, lord of Linne
Let nought disturb thy merry cheere;
Iff thou wilt sell thy landes soe broad,
Good store of gold Ile give thee heere.
"Welcome, welcome, Lord of Linne,
Let naught disturb your merry cheer;
If you will sell your lands so broad,
Good store of gold I'll give thee here."
Finally, where the lines in Percy are in a different sequence than in Child 267A, Davis follows Percy.
then be-spake a good fellowe
which sate by Iohn o the Scales his knee,
Said, "have thou here, thou heire of linne,
40 pence I will lend thee, --
some time a good fellow thou hast beene, --
& other 40 if neede bee."
Then bespake a good fellowe,
Which sat at John o' the Scales his bord;
Sayd, Turn againe, thou heire of Linne;
Some time thou wast a well good lord:
Some time a good fellow thou hast been,
And sparedst not thy gold and fee;
Therfore Ile lend thee forty pence,
And other forty if need be.
Thus bespake a good fellow,
Which sat at John o' Scales his board,
Said, "Turn again, thou heir of Linne,
Some time thou was a real good lord.
"Some time a good fellow thou hast been
And spared not your gold and fee;
There for I'll lend thee forty pence,
Another forty if need be.
There remains the question of the influence of "The Drunkard's Legacy" on Percy's text. We have Dixon's text "taken from an old chap-book, without date or printer's name," and Child's slightly different text "from a Broadside among Percy's Papers." In any case, there is no copy in Hales and Furnivall. Judging by Percy's text and "The Drunkard's Legacy," it seems more likely that Percy was remembering the plot of "The Drunkard's Legacy" rather than looking at that text. Not all "The Drunkard's Legacy" 184 lines -- whether using Child's text or Dixon's -- affected Percy's song of 216 lines.
Dixon ll.001-012 ----------------
Dixon ll.013-056 Percy ll.013-052 father realizes he cannot stop his son's drinking. He builds a cottage, has his son promise not to sell it, and to go there when at the end of his rope. Father dies.
Dixon ll.057-080 Percy ll.081-088 son loses eveything and, in desperation, goes to the cottage
Dixon ll.081-112 Percy ll.089-128 son finds a gibbet and rope and hangs himself; the gibbet and ceiling collapse and he is surrounded by falling gold
Dixon ll.113-124 Percy ll.135-146 son swears never to drink again and sets out with his newfound gold to regain his land
Dixon ll.125-128 Percy ll.161-168 he visits the current holder of his land and is told to go away
Dixon ll.129-152 Percy ll.185-186 son tricks the current holder of his land to return it at a bargain price, which the holder is sure cannot be paid
Dixon ll.153-164 Percy ll.195-198 when the price is paid the ex-holder complies unhappily
Dixon ll.165-184 ----------------
With all this overlap in plot it is surprising to me that only one line comes close to being shared:
Dixon l.100: Did place the rope about his neck
Percy l.121: Then round his necke the cord he drewe
The longdescription gives an idea of how much each source contributed to the final text. It combines the longdescription from "The Heir of Linne" [Child 267] - which was made up of Percy's marginal notes to his copy of Child 267A - and the parts of the plot contributed by "The Drunkard's Legacy," as noted above. - BS
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