The Book of Old English Ballads
George Wharton Edwards
Part 1 out of 3
Produced by John B. Hare
A BOOK OF OLD ENGLISH BALLADS
Accompaniment of Decorative Drawings
George Wharton Edwards
And an Introduction by
Hamilton W. Mabie
King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid
King Leir and his Three Daughters
Phillida and Corydon
Fair Margaret and Sweet William
The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington
Barbara Allen's Cruelty
The Douglas Tragedy
Helen of Kirkconnell
Robin Hood and Allen-a-Dale
Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne
Robin Hood's Death and Burial
The Twa Corbies
Waly, Waly, Love be Bonny
The Nut-brown Maid
The Fause Lover
The Battle of Otterburn
The Lament of the Border Widow
The Banks o' Yarrow
Hugh of Lincoln
Sir Patrick Spens
Goethe, who saw so many things with such clearness of vision,
brought out the charm of the popular ballad for readers of a later
day in his remark that the value of these songs of the people is to
be found in the fact that their motives are drawn directly from
nature; and he added, that in the art of saying things compactly,
uneducated men have greater skill than those who are educated. It is
certainly true that no kind of verse is so completely out of the
atmosphere of modern writing as the popular ballad. No other form of
verse has, therefore, in so great a degree, the charm of freshness.
In material, treatment, and spirit, these bat lads are set in sharp
contrast with the poetry of the hour. They deal with historical
events or incidents, with local traditions, with personal adventure
or achievement. They are, almost without exception, entirely
objective. Contemporary poetry is, on the other hand, very largely
subjective; and even when it deals with events or incidents it
invests them to such a degree with personal emotion and imagination,
it so modifies and colours them with temperamental effects, that the
resulting poem is much more a study of subjective conditions than a
picture or drama of objective realities. This projection of the
inward upon the outward world, in such a degree that the dividing
line between the two is lost, is strikingly illustrated in
Maeterlinck's plays. Nothing could be in sharper contrast, for
instance, than the famous ballad of "The Hunting of the Cheviot" and
Maeterlinck's "Princess Maleine." There is no atmosphere, in a
strict use of the word, in the spirited and compact account of the
famous contention between the Percies and the Douglases, of which
Sir Philip Sidney said "that I found not my heart moved more than
with a Trumpet." It is a breathless, rushing narrative of a swift
succession of events, told with the most straight-forward
simplicity. In the "Princess Maleine," on the other hand, the
narrative is so charged with subjective feeling, the world in which
the action takes place is so deeply tinged with lights that never
rested on any actual landscape, that all sense of reality is lost.
The play depends for its effect mainly upon atmosphere. Certain
very definite impressions are produced with singular power, but
there is no clear, clean stamping of occurrences on the mind. The
imagination is skilfully awakened and made to do the work of
The note of the popular ballad is its objectivity; it not only takes
us out of doors, but it also takes us out of the individual
consciousness. The manner is entirely subordinated to the matter; the
poet, if there was a poet in the case, obliterates himself. What we
get is a definite report of events which have taken place, not a
study of a man's mind nor an account of a man's feelings. The true
balladist is never introspective; he is concerned not with himself
but with his story. There is no self-disclosure in his song. To the
mood of Senancour and Amiel he was a stranger. Neither he nor the
men to whom he recited or sang would have understood that mood.
They were primarily and unreflectively absorbed in the world outside
of themselves. They saw far more than they meditated; they recorded
far more than they moralized. The popular ballads are, as a rule,
entirely free from didacticism in any form; that is one of the main
sources of their unfailing charm. They show not only a childlike
curiosity about the doings of the day and the things that befall
men, but a childlike indifference to moral inference and
justification. The bloodier the fray the better for ballad
purposes; no one feels the necessity of apology either for ruthless
aggression or for useless blood-letting; the scene is reported as it
was presented to the eye of the spectator, not to his moralizing
faculty. He is expected to see and to sing, not to scrutinize and
meditate. In those rare cases in which a moral inference is drawn,
it is always so obvious and elementary that it gives the impression
of having been fastened on at the end of the song, in deference to
ecclesiastical rather than popular feeling.
The social and intellectual conditions which fostered self-
unconsciousness,--interest in things, incidents, and adventures
rather than in moods and inward experiences,--and the unmoral or non
moralizing attitude towards events, fostered also that delightful
naivete which contributes greatly to the charm of many of the best
ballads; a naivete which often heightens the pathos, and, at times,
softens it with touches of apparently unconscious humour; the naivete
of the child which has in it something of the freshness of a
wildflower, and yet has also a wonderful instinct for making the
heart of the matter plain. This quality has almost entirely
disappeared from contemporary verse among cultivated races; one must
go to the peasants of remote parts of the Continent to discover even
a trace of its presence. It has a real, but short-lived charm, like
the freshness which shines on meadow and garden in the brief dawn
which hastens on to day.
This frank, direct play of thought and feeling on an incident, or
series of incidents, compensates for the absence of a more perfect
art in the ballads; using the word "art" in its true sense as
including complete, adequate, and beautiful handling of subject-
matter, and masterly working out of its possibilities. These
popular songs, so dear to the hearts of the generations on whose
lips they were fashioned, and to all who care for the fresh note,
the direct word, the unrestrained emotion, rarely touch the highest
points of poetic achievement. Their charm lies, not in their
perfection of form, but in their spontaneity, sincerity, and graphic
power. They are not rivers of song, wide, deep, and swift; they are
rather cool, clear springs among the hills. In the reactions
against sophisticated poetry which set in from lime to time, the
popular ballad--the true folk-song--has often been exalted at the
expense of other forms of verse. It is idle to attempt to arrange
the various forms of poetry in an order of absolute values; it is
enough that each has its own quality, and, therefore, its own value.
The drama, the epic, the ballad, the lyric, each strikes its note in
the complete expression of human emotion and experience. Each
belongs to a particular stage of development, and each has the
authority and the enduring charm which attach to every authentic
utterance of the spirit of man under the conditions of life.
In this wide range of human expression the ballad follows the epic
as a kind of aftermath; a second and scattered harvest, springing
without regularity or nurture out of a rich and unexhausted soil. The
epic fastens upon some event of such commanding importance that it
marks a main current of history; some story, historic, or mythologic;
some incident susceptible of extended narrative treatment. It is
always, in its popular form, a matter of growth it is direct, simple,
free from didacticism; representing, as Aristotle says, "a single
action, entire and complete." It subordinates character to action; it
delights in episode and dialogue; it is content to tell the story as
a story, and leave the moralization to hearers or readers. The
popular ballad is so closely related to the popular epic that it may
be said to reproduce its qualities and characteristics within a
narrower compass, and on a smaller scale. It also is a piece of the
memory of the people, or a creation of the imagination of the people;
but the tradition or fact which it preserves is of local, rather
than national importance. It is indifferent to nice distinctions and
delicate gradations or shadings; its power springs from its
directness, vigour, and simplicity. It is often entirely occupied
with the narration or description of a single episode; it has no room
for dialogue, but it often secures the effect of the dialogue by its
unconventional freedom of phrase, and sometimes by the introduction
of brief and compact charge and denial, question and reply. Sometimes
the incidents upon which the ballad makers fastened, have a unity or
connection with each other which hints at a complete story. The
ballads which deal with Robin Hood are so numerous and so closely
related that they constantly suggest, not only the possibility, but
the probability of epic treatment. It is surprising that the richness
of the material, and its notable illustrative quality, did not
inspire some earlier Chaucer to combine the incidents in a sustained
narrative. But the epic poet did not appear, and the most
representative of English popular heroes remains the central figure
in a series of detached episodes and adventures, preserved in a long
line of disconnected ballads.
This apparent arrest, in the ballad stage, of a story which seemed
destined to become an epic, naturally suggests the vexed question of
the author ship of the popular ballads. They are in a very real sense
the songs of the people; they make no claim to individual authorship;
on the contrary, the inference of what may be called community
authorship is, in many instances, irresistible. They are the product
of a social condition which, so to speak, holds song of this kind in
solution; of an age in which improvisation, singing, and dancing are
the most natural and familiar forms of expression. They deal almost
without exception with matters which belong to the community memory
or imagination; they constantly reappear with variations so
noticeable as to indicate free and common handling of themes of wide
local interest. All this is true of the popular ballad; but all this
does not decisively settle the question of authorship. What share did
the community have in the making of these songs, and what share fell
to individual singers?
Herder, whose conception of the origin and function of literature
was so vitalizing in the general aridity of thinking about the
middle of the last century, and who did even more for ballad verse
in Germany than Bishop Percy did in England, laid emphasis almost
exclusively on community authorship. His profound instinct for
reality in all forms of art, his deep feeling for life, and the
immense importance he attached to spontaneity and unconsciousness in
the truest productivity made community authorship not only
attractive but inevitable to him. In his pronounced reaction
against the superficial ideas of literature so widely held in the
Germany of his time, he espoused the conception of community
authorship as the only possible explanation of the epics, ballads,
and other folk-songs. In nature and popular life, or universal
experience, he found the rich sources of the poetry whose charm he
felt so deeply, and whose power and beauty he did so much to reveal
to his contemporaries. Genius and nature are magical words with him,
because they suggested such depths of being under all forms of
expression; such unity of the whole being of a race in its thought,
its emotion, and its action; such entire unconsciousness of self or
of formulated aim, and such spontaneity of spirit and speech. The
language of those times, when words had not yet been divided into
nobles, middle-class, and plebeians, was, he said, the richest for
poetical purposes. "Our tongue, compared with the idiom of the
savage, seems adapted rather for reflection than for the senses or
imagination. The rhythm of popular verse is so delicate, so rapid,
so precise, that it is no easy matter to defect it with our eyes;
but do not imagine it to have been equally difficult for those
living populations who listened to, instead of reading it; who were
accustomed to the sound of it from their infancy; who themselves
sang it, and whose ear had been formed by its cadence." This
conception of poetry as arising in the hearts of the people and
taking form on their lips is still more definitely and strikingly
expressed in two sentences, which let us into, the heart of Herder's
philosophy of poetry: "Poetry in those happy days lived in the ears
of the people, on the lips and in the harps of living bards; it sang
of history, of the events of the day, of mysteries, miracles, and
signs. It was the flower of a nation's character, language, and
country; of its occupations, its prejudices, its passions, its
aspirations, and its soul." In these words, at once comprehensive
and vague, after the manner of Herder, we find ourselves face to
face with that conception not only of popular song in all its forms,
but with literature as a whole, which has revolutionized literary
study in this century, and revitalized it as well. For Herder was a
man of prophetic instinct; he sometimes felt more clearly than he saw;
he divined where he could not reach results by analysis. He was often
vague, fragmentary, and inconclusive, like all men of his type; but he
had a genius for getting at the heart of things. His statements often
need qualification, but he is almost always on the tight track. When he
says that the great traditions, in which both the memory and the
imagination of a race were engaged, and which were still living in
the mouths of the people, "of themselves took on poetic form," he is
using language which is too general to convey a definite impression
of method, but he is probably suggesting the deepest truth with
regard to these popular stories. They actually were of community
origin; they actually were common property; they were given a great
variety of forms by a great number of persons; the forms which have
come down to us are very likely the survivors of a kind of in formal
competition, which went on for years at the fireside and at the
festivals of a whole country side.
Barger, whose "Lenore" is one of the most widely known of modern
ballads, held the same view of the origin of popular song, and was
even more definite in his confession of faith than Herder. He
declared in the most uncompromising terms that all real poetry must
have a popular origin; "can be and must be of the people, for that is
the seal of its perfection." And he comments on the delight with
which he has listened, in village street and home, to unwritten
songs; the poetry which finds its way in quiet rivulets to the
remotest peasant home. In like manner, Helene Vacaresco overheard the
songs of the Roumanian people; hiding in the maize to catch the
reaping songs; listening at spinning parties, at festivals, at death-
beds, at taverns; taking the songs down from the lips of peasant
women, fortune-tellers, gypsies, and all manner of humble folk who
were the custodians of this vagrant community verse. We have passed
so entirely out of the song-making period, and literature has become
to us so exclusively the work of a professional class, that we find
it difficult to imagine the intellectual and social conditions which
fostered improvisation on a great scale, and trained the ear of great
populations to the music of spoken poetry. It is almost impossible
for us to disassociate literature from writing. There is still,
however, a considerable volume of unwritten literature in the world
in the form of stories, songs, proverbs, and pithy phrases; a
literature handed down in large part from earlier times, but still
receiving additions from contemporary men and women.
This unwritten literature is to be found, it is hardly necessary to
say, almost exclusively among country people remote from towns, and
whose mental attitude and community feeling reproduce, in a way, the
conditions under which the English and Scotch ballads were originally
composed. The Roumanian peasants sing their songs upon every
occasion of domestic or local interest; and sowing and harvesting,
birth, christening, marriage, the burial, these notable events in
the life of the country side are all celebrated by unknown poets;
or, rather, by improvisers who give definite form to sentiments,
phrases, and words which are on many lips. The Russian peasant
tells his stories as they were told to him; those heroic epics whose
life is believed, in some cases, to date back at least a thousand
years. These great popular stories form a kind of sacred
inheritance bequeathed by one generation to another as a possession
of the memory, and are almost entirely unrelated to the written
literature of the country. Miss Hapgood tells a very interesting
story of a government official, stationed on the western shore of
Lake Onega, who became so absorbed in the search for this
literature of the people that he followed singers and reciters from
place to place, eager to learn from their lips the most widely known
of these folk tales. On such an expedition of discovery he found
himself, one stormy night, on an island in the lake. The hut of
refuge was already full of stormbound peasants when he entered.
Having made himself some tea, and spread his blanket in a vacant
place, he fell asleep. He was presently awakened by a murmur of
recurring sounds. Sitting up, he found the group of peasants
hanging on the words of an old man, of kindly face, expressive eyes,
and melodious voice, from whose lips flowed a marvellous song; grave
and gay by turns, monotonous and passionate in succession; but
wonderfully fresh, picturesque, and fascinating. The listener soon
became aware that he was hearing, for the first time, the famous
story of "Sadko, the Merchant of Novgorod." It was like being
present at the birth of a piece of literature!
The fact that unwritten songs and stories still exist in great
numbers among remote country-folk of our own time, and that additions
are still made to them, help us to understand the probable origin of
our own popular ballads, and what community authorship may really
mean. To put ourselves, even in thought, in touch with the ballad-
making period in English and Scotch history, we must dismiss from our
minds all modern ideas of authorship; all notions of individual
origination and ownership of any form of words. Professor ten Brink
tells us that in the ballad-making age there was no production;
there was only reproduction. There was a stock of traditions,
memories, experiences, held in common by large populations, in
constant use on the lips of numberless persons; told and retold in
many forms, with countless changes, variations, and modifications;
without conscious artistic purpose, with no sense of personal
control or possession, with no constructive aim either in plot or
treatment; no composition in the modern sense of the term. Such a
mass of poetic material in the possession of a large community
was, in a sense, fluid, and ran into a thousand forms almost without
direction or premeditation. Constant use of such rich material gave a
poetic turn of thought and speech to countless persons who, under
other conditions, would have given no sign of the possession of the
faculty of imagination.
There was not only the stimulus to the faculty which sees events and
occurrences with the eyes of the imagination, but there was also
constant and familiar use of the language of poetry. To speak
metrically or rhythmically is no difficult matter if one is in the
atmosphere or habit of verse-making; and there is nothing surprising
either in the feats of memory or of improvisation performed by the
minstrels and balladists of the old time. The faculty of
improvising was easily developed and was very generally used by
people of all classes. This facility is still possessed by rural
populations, among whom songs are still composed as they are sting,
each member of the company contributing a new verse or a variation,
suggested by local conditions, of a well-known stanza. When to the
possession of a mass of traditions and stories and of facility of
improvisation is added the habit of singing and dancing, it is not
difficult to reconstruct in our own thought the conditions under
which popular poetry came into being, nor to understand in what
sense a community can make its own songs. In the brave days when
ballads were made, the rustic peoples were not mute, as they are
to-day; nor sad, as they have become in so many parts of England.
They sang and they danced by instinct and as an expression of social
feeling. Originally the ballads were not only sung, but they gave
measure to the dance; they grew from mouth to mouth in the very act
of dancing; individual dancers adding verse to verse, and the
frequent refrain coming in as a kind of chorus. Gesture and, to a
certain extent, acting would naturally accompany so free and general
an expression of community feeling. There was no poet, because all
were poets. To quote Professor ten Brink once more:--
"Song and playing were cultivated by peasants, and even by freedmen
and serfs. At beer-feasts the harp went from hand to hand. Herein
lies the essential difference between that age and our own. The
result of poetical activity was not the property and was not the
production of a single person, but of the community. The work of the
individual endured only as long as its delivery lasted. He gained
personal distinction only as a virtuoso. The permanent elements of
what he presented, the material, the ideas, even the style and metre,
already existed. 'The work of the singer was only a ripple in the
stream of national poetry. Who can say how much the individual
contributed to it, or where in his poetical recitation memory ceased
and creative impulse began! In any case the work of the individual
lived on only as the ideal possession of the aggregate body of the
people, and it soon lost the stamp of originality. In view of such
a development of poetry, we must assume a time when the collective
consciousness of a people or race is paramount in its unity; when
the intellectual life of each is nourished from the same treasury of
views and associations, of myths and sagas; when similar interests
stir each breast; and the ethical judgment of all applies itself to
the same standard. In such an age the form of poetical expression
will also be common to all, necessarily solemn, earnest, and simple."
When the conditions which produced the popular ballads become clear
to the imagination, their depth of rootage, not only in the community
life but in the community love, becomes also clear. We under stand
the charm which these old songs have for us of a later age, and the
spell which they cast upon men and women who knew the secret of
their birth; we understand why the minstrels of the lime, when
popular poetry was in its best estate, were held in such honour, why
Taillefer sang the song of Roland at the head of the advancing
Normans on the day of Hastings, and why good Bishop Aldhelm, when he
wanted to get the ears of his people, stood on the bridge and sang a
ballad! These old songs were the flowering of the imagination of
the people; they drew their life as directly from the general
experience, the common memory, the universal feelings, as did the
Greek dramas in those primitive times, when they were part of rustic
festivity and worship. The popular ballads have passed away with
the conditions which produced them. Modern poets have, in several
instances, written ballads of striking picturesqueness and power,
but as unlike the ballad of popular origin as the world of to-day is
unlike the world in which "Chevy Chase" was first sung. These
modern ballads are not necessarily better or worse than their
predecessors; but they are necessarily different. It is idle to
exalt the wild flower at the expense of the garden flower; each has
its fragrance, its beauty, its sentiment; and the world is wide!
In the selection of the ballads which appear in this volume, no
attempt has been made to follow a chronological order or to enforce a
rigid principle of selection of any kind. The aim has been to bring
within moderate compass a collection of these songs of the people
which should fairly represent the range, the descriptive felicity,
the dramatic power, and the genuine poetic feeling of a body of verse
which is still, it is to be feared, unfamiliar to a large number of
those to whom it would bring refreshment and delight.
HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE
God prosper long our noble king,
Our liffes and safetyes all;
A woefull hunting once there did
In Chevy-Chace befall.
To drive the deere with hound and horne,
Erle Percy took his way;
The child may rue that is unborne
The hunting of that day.
The stout Erle of Northumberland
A vow to God did make,
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three summers days to take;
The cheefest harts in Chevy-Chace
To kill and beare away:
These tydings to Erle Douglas came,
In Scotland where he lay.
Who sent Erie Percy present word,
He wold prevent his sport;
The English Erle not fearing that,
Did to the woods resort,
With fifteen hundred bow-men bold,
All chosen men of might,
Who knew full well in time of neede
To ayme their shafts arright.
The gallant greyhounds swiftly ran,
To chase the fallow deere;
On Munday they began to hunt,
Ere day-light did appeare;
And long before high noone they had
An hundred fat buckes slaine;
Then having din'd, the drovyers went
To rouze the deare againe.
The bow-men mustered on the hills,
Well able to endure;
Theire backsides all, with speciall care,
That day were guarded sure.
The hounds ran swiftly through the woods,
The nimble deere to take,
That with their cryes the hills and dales
An eccho shrill did make.
Lord Percy to the quarry went,
To view the tender deere;
Quoth he, "Erle Douglas promised
This day to meet me heere;
"But if I thought he wold not come,
Noe longer wold I stay."
With that, a brave younge gentleman
Thus to the Erle did say:
"Loe, yonder doth Erle Douglas come,
His men in armour bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish speres,
All marching in our sight.
"All men of pleasant Tivydale,
Fast by the river Tweede:"
"O cease your sport," Erle Percy said,
"And take your bowes with speede.
"And now with me, my countrymen,
Your courage forth advance;
For never was there champion yett
In Scotland or in France,
"That ever did on horsebacke come,
But, if my hap it were,
I durst encounter man for man,
With him to breake a spere."
Erle Douglas on his milke-white steede,
Most like a baron bold,
Rode formost of his company,
Whose armour shone like gold.
"Show me," sayd hee, "whose men you bee,
That hunt soe boldly heere,
That, without my consent, doe chase
And kill my fallow-deere."
The man that first did answer make
Was noble Percy hee;
Who sayd, "Wee list not to declare,
Nor shew whose men wee bee.
"Yet will wee spend our deerest blood,
Thy cheefest harts to slay;"
Then Douglas swore a solempne oathe,
And thus in rage did say;
"Ere thus I will out-braved bee,
One of us two shall dye:
I know thee well, an erle thou art;
Lord Percy, soe am I.
"But trust me, Percy, pittye it were,
And great offence, to kill
Any of these our guiltlesse men,
For they have done no ill.
"Let thou and I the battell trye,
And set our men aside."
"Accurst bee he," Erle Percy sayd,
"By whome this is denyed."
Then stept a gallant squier forth,
Witherington was his name,
Who said, "I wold not have it told
To Henry our king for shame,
"That ere my captaine fought on foote,
And I stood looking on:
You bee two erles," sayd Witherington,
"And I a squier alone.
"Ile doe the best that doe I may,
While I have power to stand;
While I have power to weeld my sword,
Ile fight with hart and hand."
Our English archers bent their bowes,
Their harts were good and trew;
Att the first flight of arrowes sent,
Full four-score Scots they slew.
[Yet bides Earl Douglas on the bent,
As Chieftain stout and good,
As valiant Captain, all unmov'd
The shock he firmly stood.
His host he parted had in three,
As Leader ware and try'd,
And soon his spearmen on their foes
Bare down on every side.
Throughout the English archery
They dealt full many a wound;
But still our valiant Englishmen
All firmly kept their ground.
And throwing strait their bows away,
They grasp'd their swords so bright:
And now sharp blows, a heavy shower,
On shields and helmets light.]
They clos'd full fast on everye side,
Noe slacknes there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground.
O Christ! it was a griefe to see,
And likewise for to heare,
The cries of men lying in their gore,
And scattered here and there.
At last these two stout erles did meet,
Like captaines of great might;
Like lyons wood they layd on lode,
And made a cruell fight.
They fought, untill they both did sweat,
With swords of tempered steele;
Until the blood, like drops of rain,
They trickling downe did feele.
"Yeeld thee, Lord Percy," Douglas sayd
"In faith I will thee bringe,
Where thou shalt high advanced bee
By James our Scottish king.
"Thy ransom I will freely give,
And thus report of thee,
Thou art the most couragious knight
That ever I did see."
"Noe, Douglas," quoth Erle Percy then,
"Thy proffer I doe scorne
I will not yeelde to any Scott,
That ever yett was borne."
With that, there came an arrow keene
Out of an English bow,
Which struck Erle Douglas to the heart,
A deepe and deadlye blow:
Who never spake more words than these,
"Fight on, my merry men all;
For why, my life is at an end:
Lord Percy sees my fall."
Then leaving liffe, Erle Percy tooke
The dead man by the hand;
And said, "Erle Douglas, for thy life
Wold I had lost my land!
"O Christ! my verry hart doth bleed
With sorrow for thy sake;
For sure, a more renowned knight
Mischance cold never take."
A knight amongst the Scotts there was,
Which saw Erle Douglas dye,
Who streight in wrath did vow revenge
Upon the Lord Percye;
Sir Hugh Mountgomerye was he call'd,
Who, with a spere most bright,
Well-mounted on a gallant steed,
Ran fiercely through the fight;
And past the English archers all,
Without all dread or feare,
And through Earl Percyes body then
He thrust his hatefull spere
With such a vehement force and might
He did his body gore,
The speare ran through the other side
A large cloth-yard, and more.
So thus did both these nobles dye,
Whose courage none could staine;
An English archer then perceiv'd
The noble erle was slaine.
He had a bow bent in his hand,
Made of a trusty tree;
An arrow of a cloth-yard long
Up to the head drew hee.
Against Sir Hugh Mountgomerye,
So right the shaft he sett,
The grey goose-wing that was thereon
In his harts bloode was wett.
This fight did last from breake of day
Till setting of the sun;
For when they rung the evening bell,
The battel scarce was done.
With stout Erle Percy, there was slaine,
Sir John of Egerton,
Sir Robert Ratcliff, and Sir John,
Sir James, that bold Bar n.
And with Sir George and stout Sir James,
Both knights of good account,
Good Sir Ralph Rabby there was slaine,
Whose prowesse did surmount.
For Witherington needs must I wayle,
As one in doleful dumpes;
For when his legs were smitten off,
He fought upon his stumpes.
And with Erle Douglas, there was slaine
Sir Hugh Mountgomerye,
Sir Charles Murray, that from the feeld
One foote wold never flee.
Sir Charles Murray of Ratcliff, too,
His sisters sonne was hee;
Sir David Lamb, so well esteem'd,
Yet saved cold not bee.
And the Lord Maxwell in like case
Did with Erle Douglas dye;
Of twenty hundred Scottish speres,
Scarce fifty-five did flye.
Of fifteen hundred Englishmen,
Went home but fifty-three;
The rest were slaine in Chevy-Chace,
Under the greene wood tree.
Next day did many widowes come,
Their husbands to bewayle;
They washt their wounds in brinish teares,
But all wold not prevayle.
Theyr bodyes, bathed in purple blood,
They bore with them away:
They kist them dead a thousand times,
Ere they were cladd in clay.
This newes was brought to Eddenborrow,
Where Scotlands king did raigne,
That brave Erle Douglas suddenlye
Was with an arrow slaine.
"O heavy newes," King James did say;
"Scottland can witnesse bee,
I have not any captaine more
Of such account as hee."
Like tydings to King Henry came,
Within as short a space,
That Percy of Northumberland
Was slaine in Chevy-Chace.
"Now God be with him," said our king,
"Sith it will noe better bee;
I trust I have, within my realme,
Five hundred as good as hee.
"Yett shall not Scotts nor Scotland say,
But I will vengeance take,
I'll be revenged on them all,
For brave Erle Percyes sake."
This vow full well the king perform'd
After, at Humbledowne;
In one day, fifty knights were slayne,
With lordes of great renowne.
And of the rest, of small account,
Did many thousands dye:
Thus endeth the hunting in Chevy-Chace,
Made by the Erle Percy.
God save our king, and bless this land
In plentye, joy, and peace;
And grant henceforth, that foule debate
'Twixt noblemen may cease!
King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid
I read that once in Affrica
A princely wight did raine,
Who had to name Cophetua,
As poets they did faine.
From natures lawes he did decline,
For sure he was not of my minde,
He cared not for women-kind
But did them all disdaine.
But marke what hapned on a day;
As he out of his window lay,
He saw a beggar all in gray.
The which did cause his paine.
The blinded boy that shootes so trim
From heaven downe did hie,
He drew a dart and shot at him,
In place where he did lye:
Which soone did pierse him to the quicke,
And when he felt the arrow pricke,
Which in his tender heart did sticke,
He looketh as he would dye.
"What sudden chance is this," quoth he,
"That I to love must subject be,
Which never thereto would agree,
But still did it defie?"
Then from the window he did come,
And laid him on his bed;
A thousand heapes of care did runne
Within his troubled head.
For now he meanes to crave her love,
And now he seekes which way to proove
How he his fancie might remoove,
And not this beggar wed.
But Cupid had him so in snare,
That this poor begger must prepare
A salve to cure him of his care,
Or els he would be dead.
And as he musing thus did lye,
He thought for to devise
How he might have her companye,
That so did 'maze his eyes.
"In thee," quoth he, "doth rest my life;
For surely thou shalt be my wife,
Or else this hand with bloody knife,
The Gods shall sure suffice."
Then from his bed he soon arose,
And to his pallace gate he goes;
Full little then this begger knowes
When she the king espies.
"The gods preserve your majesty,"
The beggers all gan cry;
"Vouchsafe to give your charity,
Our childrens food to buy."
The king to them his purse did cast,
And they to part it made great haste;
This silly woman was the last
That after them did hye.
The king he cal'd her back againe,
And unto her he gave his chaine;
And said, "With us you shal remaine
Till such time as we dye.
"For thou," quoth he, "shalt be my wife,
And honoured for my queene;
With thee I meane to lead my life,
As shortly shall be seene:
Our wedding shall appointed be,
And every thing in its degree;
Come on," quoth he, "and follow me,
Thou shalt go shift thee cleane.
What is thy name, faire maid?" quoth he.
"Penelophon, O King," quoth she;
With that she made a lowe courtsey;
A trim one as I weene.
Thus hand in hand along they walke
Unto the king's pallace:
The king with courteous, comly talke
This begger doth embrace.
The begger blusheth scarlet red,
And straight againe as pale as lead,
But not a word at all she said,
She was in such amaze.
At last she spake with trembling voyce,
And said, "O King, I doe rejoyce
That you wil take me for your choyce,
And my degree so base."
And when the wedding day was come,
The king commanded strait
The noblemen, both all and some,
Upon the queene to wait.
And she behaved herself that day
As if she had never walkt the way;
She had forgot her gowne of gray,
Which she did weare of late.
The proverbe old is come to passe,
The priest, when he begins his masse,
Forgets that ever clerke he was
He knowth not his estate.
Here you may read Cophetua,
Through long time fancie-fed,
Compelled by the blinded boy
The begger for to wed:
He that did lovers lookes disdaine,
To do the same was glad and faine,
Or else he would himselfe have slaine,
In storie, as we read.
Disdaine no whit, O lady deere,
But pitty now thy servant heere,
Least that it hap to thee this yeare,
As to that king it did.
And thus they led a quiet life
During their princely raine,
And in a tombe were buried both,
As writers sheweth plaine.
The lords they tooke it grievously,
The ladies tooke it heavily,
The commons cryed pitiously,
Their death to them was paine.
Their fame did sound so passingly,
That it did pierce the starry sky,
And throughout all the world did flye
To every princes realme.
King Leir and his Three Daughters
King Leir once ruled in this land
With princely power and peace,
And had all things with hearts content,
That might his joys increase.
Amongst those things that nature gave,
Three daughters fair had he,
So princely seeming beautiful,
As fairer could not be.
So on a time it pleas'd the king
A question thus to move,
Which of his daughters to his grace
Could shew the dearest love:
"For to my age you bring content,"
Quoth he, "then let me hear,
Which of you three in plighted troth
The kindest will appear."
To whom the eldest thus began:
"Dear father, mind," quoth she,
"Before your face, to do you good,
My blood shall render'd be.
And for your sake my bleeding heart
Shall here be cut in twain,
Ere that I see your reverend age
The smallest grief sustain."
"And so will I," the second said;
"Dear father, for your sake,
The worst of all extremities
I'll gently undertake:
And serve your highness night and day
With diligence and love;
That sweet content and quietness
Discomforts may remove."
"In doing so, you glad my soul,"
The aged king reply'd;
"But what sayst thou, my youngest girl,
How is thy love ally'd?"
"My love" (quoth young Cordelia then),
"Which to your grace I owe,
Shall be the duty of a child,
And that is all I'll show."
"And wilt thou shew no more," quoth he,
"Than doth thy duty bind?
I well perceive thy love is small,
When as no more I find.
Henceforth I banish thee my court;
Thou art no child of mine;
Nor any part of this my realm
By favour shall be thine.
"Thy elder sisters' loves are more
Than well I can demand;
To whom I equally bestow
My kingdome and my land,
My pompal state and all my goods,
That lovingly I may
With those thy sisters be maintain'd
Until my dying day."
Thus flattering speeches won renown,
By these two sisters here;
The third had causeless banishment,
Yet was her love more dear.
For poor Cordelia patiently
Went wandring up and down,
Unhelp'd, unpity'd, gentle maid,
Through many an English town:
Untill at last in famous France
She gentler fortunes found;
Though poor and bare, yet she was deem'd
The fairest on the ground:
Where when the king her virtues heard,
And this fair lady seen,
With full consent of all his court
He made his wife and queen.
Her father, old King Leir, this while
With his two daughters staid;
Forgetful of their promis'd loves,
Full soon the same decay'd;
And living in Queen Ragan's court,
The eldest of the twain,
She took from him his chiefest means,
And most of all his train.
For whereas twenty men were wont
To wait with bended knee,
She gave allowance but to ten,
And after scarce to three,
Nay, one she thought too much for him;
So took she all away,
In hope that in her court, good king,
He would no longer stay.
"Am I rewarded thus," quoth he,
"In giving all I have
Unto my children, and to beg
For what I lately gave?
I'll go unto my Gonorell:
My second child, I know,
Will be more kind and pitiful,
And will relieve my woe."
Full fast he hies then to her court;
Where when she heard his moan,
Return'd him answer, that she griev'd
That all his means were gone,
But no way could relieve his wants;
Yet if that he would stay
Within her kitchen, he should have
What scullions gave away.
When he had heard, with bitter tears,
He made his answer then;
"In what I did, let me be made
Example to all men.
I will return again," quoth he,
"Unto my Ragan's court;
She will not use me thus, I hope,
But in a kinder sort."
Where when he came, she gave command
To drive him thence away:
When he was well within her court,
(She said) he would not stay.
Then back again to Gonorel
The woeful king did hie,
That in her kitchen he might have
What scullion boys set by.
But there of that he was deny'd
Which she had promis'd late
For once refusing, he should not,
Come after to her gate.
Thus twixt his daughters for relief
He wandred up and down,
Being glad to feed on beggars' food
That lately wore a crown.
And calling to remembrance then
His youngest daughters words,
That said, the duty of a child
Was all that love affords--
But doubting to repair to her,
Whom he had ban'sh'd so,
Grew frantic mad; for in his mind
He bore the wounds of woe.
Which made him rend his milk-white locks
And tresses from his head,
And all with blood bestain his cheeks,
With age and honour spread.
To hills and woods and watry founts,
He made his hourly moan,
Till hills and woods and senseless things
Did seem to sigh and groan.
Even thus possest with discontents,
He passed o'er to France,
In hopes from fair Cordelia there
To find some gentler chance.
Most virtuous dame! which, when she heard
Of this her father's grief,
As duty bound, she quickly sent
Him comfort and relief.
And by a train of noble peers,
In brave and gallant sort,
She gave in charge he should be brought
To Aganippus' court;
Whose royal king, with noble mind,
So freely gave consent
To muster up his knights at arms,
To fame and courage bent.
And so to England came with speed,
To repossesse King Leir,
And drive his daughters from their thrones
By his Cordelia dear.
Where she, true-hearted, noble queen,
Was in the battel stain;
Yet he, good king, in his old days,
Possest his crown again.
But when he heard Cordelia's death,
Who died indeed for love
Of her dear father, in whose cause
She did this battle move,
He swooning fell upon her breast,
From whence he never parted;
But on her bosom left his life
That was so truly hearted.
The lords and nobles, when they saw
The end of these events,
The other sisters unto death
They doomed by consents;
And being dead, their crowns they left
Unto the next of kin:
Thus have you seen the fall of pride,
And disobedient sin.
When as King Henry rulde this land,
The second of that name,
Besides the queene, he dearly lovde
A faire and comely dame.
Most peerlesse was her beautye founde,
Her favour, and her face;
A sweeter creature in this worlde
Could never prince embrace.
Her crisped lockes like threads of golde,
Appeard to each man's sight;
Her sparkling eyes, like Orient pearles,
Did cast a heavenlye light.
The blood within her crystal cheekes
Did such a colour drive,
As though the lillye and the rose
For mastership did strive.
Yea Rosamonde, fair Rosamonde,
Her name was called so,
To whom our queene, Dame Ellinor,
Was known a deadlye foe.
The king therefore, for her defence
Against the furious queene,
At Woodstocke builded such a bower,
The like was never seene.
Most curiously that bower was built,
Of stone and timber strong;
An hundered and fifty doors
Did to this bower belong:
And they so cunninglye contriv'd,
With turnings round about,
That none but with a clue of thread
Could enter in or out.
And for his love and ladyes sake,
That was so faire and brighte,
The keeping of this bower he gave
Unto a valiant knighte.
But fortune, that doth often frowne
Where she before did smile,
The kinges delighte and ladyes joy
Full soon shee did beguile:
For why, the kinges ungracious sonne,
Whom he did high advance,
Against his father raised warres
Within the realme of France.
But yet before our comelye king
The English land forsooke,
Of Rosamond, his lady faire,
His farewelle thus he tooke:
"My Rosamonde, my only Rose,
That pleasest best mine eye,
The fairest flower in all the worlde
To feed my fantasye,--
"The flower of mine affected heart,
Whose sweetness doth excelle,
My royal Rose, a thousand times
I bid thee nowe farwelle!
"For I must leave my fairest flower,
My sweetest Rose, a space,
And cross the seas to famous France,
Proud rebelles to abase.
"But yet, my Rose, be sure thou shalt
My coming shortlye see,
And in my heart, when hence I am,
Ile beare my Rose with mee."
When Rosamond, that ladye brighte,
Did heare the king saye soe,
The sorrowe of her grieved heart
Her outward lookes did showe.
And from her cleare and crystall eyes
The teares gusht out apace,
Which, like the silver-pearled dewe,
Ranne downe her comely face.
Her lippes, erst like the corall redde,
Did waxe both wan and pale,
And for the sorrow she conceivde
Her vitall spirits faile.
And falling downe all in a swoone
Before King Henryes face,
Full oft he in his princelye armes
Her bodye did embrace.
And twentye times, with watery eyes,
He kist her tender cheeke,
Untill he had revivde againe
Her senses milde and meeke.
"Why grieves my Rose, my sweetest Rose?"
The king did often say:
"Because," quoth shee, "to bloodye warres
My lord must part awaye.
"But since your Grace on forrayne coastes,
Amonge your foes unkinde,
Must goe to hazard life and limbe,
Why should I staye behinde?
"Nay, rather let me, like a page,
Your sworde and target beare;
That on my breast the blowes may lighte,
Which would offend you there.
"Or lett mee, in your royal tent,
Prepare your bed at nighte,
And with sweete baths refresh your grace,
At your returne from fighte.
"So I your presence may enjoye
No toil I will refuse;
But wanting you, my life is death:
Nay, death Ild rather chuse."
"Content thy self, my dearest love,
Thy rest at home shall bee,
In Englandes sweet and pleasant isle;
For travell fits not thee.
"Faire ladies brooke not bloodye warres;
Soft peace their sexe delightes;
Not rugged campes, but courtlye bowers;
Gay feastes, not cruell fightes.
"My Rose shall safely here abide,
With musicke passe the daye,
Whilst I amonge the piercing pikes
My foes seeke far awaye.
"My Rose shall shine in pearle and golde,
Whilst Ime in armour dighte;
Gay galliards here my love shall dance,
Whilst I my foes goe fighte.
"And you, Sir Thomas, whom I truste
To bee my loves defence,
Be carefull of my gallant Rose
When I am parted hence."
And therewithall he fetcht a sigh,
As though his heart would breake;
And Rosamonde, for very griefe,
Not one plaine word could speake.
And at their parting well they mighte
In heart be grieved sore:
After that daye, faire Rosamonde
The king did see no more.
For when his Grace had past the seas,
And into France was gone,
With envious heart, Queene Ellinor
To Woodstocke came anone.
And forth she calls this trustye knighte
In an unhappy houre,
Who, with his clue of twined-thread,
Came from this famous bower.
And when that they had wounded him,
The queene this thread did gette,
And wente where Ladye Rosamonde
Was like an angell sette.
But when the queene with stedfast eye
Beheld her beauteous face,
She was amazed in her minde
At her exceeding grace.
"Cast off from thee those robes," she said,
"That riche and costlye bee;
And drinke thou up this deadlye draught
Which I have brought to thee."
Then presentlye upon her knees
Sweet Rosamonde did falle;
And pardon of the queene she crav'd
For her offences all.
"Take pitty on my youthfull yeares,"
Faire Rosamonde did crye;
"And lett mee not with poison stronge
Enforced bee to dye.
"I will renounce my sinfull life,
And in some cloyster bide;
Or else be banisht, if you please,
To range the world soe wide.
"And for the fault which I have done,
Though I was forc'd theretoe,
Preserve my life, and punish mee
As you thinke meet to doe."
And with these words, her lillie handes
She wrunge full often there;
And downe along her lovely face
Did trickle many a teare.
But nothing could this furious queene
Therewith appeased bee;
The cup of deadlye poyson stronge,
As she knelt on her knee,
She gave this comelye dame to drinke;
Who tooke it in her hand,
And from her bended knee arose,
And on her feet did stand,
And casting up her eyes to heaven,
Shee did for mercye calle;
And drinking up the poison stronge,
Her life she lost withalle.
And when that death through everye limbe
Had showde its greatest spite,
Her chiefest foes did plain confesse
Shee was a glorious wight.
Her body then they did entomb,
When life was fled away,
At Godstowe, neare to Oxford towne,
As may be seene this day.
Phillida and Corydon
In the merrie moneth of Maye,
In a morne by break of daye,
With a troope of damselles playing
Forthe 'I yode' forsooth a maying;
When anon by a wood side,
Where that Maye was in his pride,
I espied all alone
Phillida and Corydon.
Much adoe there was, God wot:
He wold love, and she wold not.
She sayde, "Never man was trewe;"
He sayes, "None was false to you."
He sayde, hee had lovde her longe;
She sayes, love should have no wronge.
Corydon wold kisse her then;
She sayes, "Maydes must kisse no men,
"Tyll they doe for good and all."
When she made the shepperde call
All the heavens to wytnes truthe,
Never loved a truer youthe.
Then with manie a prettie othe,
Yea and nay, and faithe and trothe,
Suche as seelie shepperdes use
When they will not love abuse,
Love, that had bene long deluded,
Was with kisses sweete concluded;
And Phillida with garlands gaye
Was made the lady of the Maye.
Fair Margaret and Sweet William
As it fell out on a long summer's day,
Two lovers they sat on a hill;
They sat together that long summer's day,
And could not talk their fill.
"I see no harm by you, Margaret,
And you see none by mee;
Before to-morrow at eight o' the clock
A rich wedding you shall see."
Fair Margaret sat in her bower-wind w,
Combing her yellow hair;
There she spyed sweet William and his bride,
As they were a riding near.
Then down she layd her ivory combe,
And braided her hair in twain:
She went alive out of her bower,
But ne'er came alive in't again.
When day was gone, and night was come,
And all men fast asleep,
Then came the spirit of Fair Marg'ret,
And stood at William's feet.
"Are you awake, sweet William?" shee said,
"Or, sweet William, are you asleep?
God give you joy of your gay bride-bed,
And me of my winding sheet."
When day was come, and night was gone,
And all men wak'd from sleep,
Sweet William to his lady sayd,
"My dear, I have cause to weep.
"I dreamt a dream, my dear ladye,
Such dreames are never good:
I dreamt my bower was full of red 'wine,'
And my bride-bed full of blood."
"Such dreams, such dreams, my honoured sir,
They never do prove good;
To dream thy bower was full of red 'wine,'
And thy bride-bed full of blood."
He called up his merry men all,
By one, by two, and by three;
Saying, "I'll away to fair Marg'ret's bower,
By the leave of my ladie."
And when he came to fair Marg'ret's bower,
He knocked at the ring;
And who so ready as her seven brethren
To let sweet William in.
Then he turned up the covering-sheet;
"Pray let me see the dead;
Methinks she looks all pale and wan.
She hath lost her cherry red.
"I'll do more for thee, Margaret,
Than any of thy kin:
For I will kiss thy pale wan lips,
Though a smile I cannot win."
With that bespake the seven brethren,
Making most piteous mone,
"You may go kiss your jolly brown bride,
And let our sister alone."
"If I do kiss my jolly brown bride,
I do but what is right;
I ne'er made a vow to yonder poor corpse,
By day, nor yet by night.
"Deal on, deal on, my merry men all,
Deal on your cake and your wine:
For whatever is dealt at her funeral to-day,
Shall be dealt to-morrow at mine."
Fair Margaret dyed to-day, to-day,
Sweet William dyed the morrow:
Fair Margaret dyed for pure true love,
Sweet William dyed for sorrow.
Margaret was buryed in the lower chancel,
And William in the higher:
Out of her brest there sprang a rose,
And out of his a briar.
They grew till they grew unto the church top,
And then they could grow no higher;
And there they tyed in a true lover's knot,
Which made all the people admire.
Then came the clerk of the parish,
As you the truth shall hear,
And by misfortune cut them down,
Or they had now been there.
"Annan Water's wading deep,
And my love Annie's wondrous bonny;
I will keep my tryst to-night,
And win the heart o' lovely Annie."
He's loupen on his bonny grey,
He rade the right gate and the ready',
For a' the storm he wadna stay,
For seeking o' his bonny lady.
And he has ridden o'er field and fell,
Through muir and moss, and stones and mire;
His spurs o' steel were sair to bide,
And frae her four feet flew the fire.
"My bonny grey, noo play your part!
Gin ye be the steed that wins my dearie,
Wi' corn and hay ye'se be fed for aye,
And never spur sail mak' you wearie."
The grey was a mare, and a right gude mare:
But when she wan the Annan Water,
She couldna hae found the ford that night
Had a thousand merks been wadded at her.
"O boatman, boatman, put off your boat,
Put off your boat for gouden money!"
But for a' the goud in fair Scotland,
He dared na tak' him through to Annie.
"O I was sworn sae late yestreen,
Not by a single aith, but mony.
I'll cross the drumly stream to-night,
Or never could I face my honey."
The side was stey, and the bottom deep,
Frae bank to brae the water pouring;
The bonny grey mare she swat for fear,
For she heard the water-kelpy roaring.
He spurred her forth into the flood,
I wot she swam both strong and steady;
But the stream was broad, her strength did fail,
And he never saw his bonny lady.
O wae betide the frush saugh wand!
And wae betide the bush of brier!
That bent and brake into his hand,
When strength of man and horse did tire.
And wae betide ye, Annan Water!
This night ye are a drumly river;
But over thee we'll build a brig,
That ye nae mair true love may sever.
The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington
There was a youthe, and a well-beloved youthe,
And he was a squire's son;
He loved the bayliffe's daughter deare,
That lived in Islington.
Yet she was coye, and would not believe
That he did love her soe,
Noe nor at any time would she
Any countenance to him showe.
But when his friendes did understand
His fond and foolish minde,
They sent him up to faire London,
An apprentice for to binde.
And when he had been seven long yeares,
And never his love could see,--
"Many a teare have I shed for her sake,
When she little thought of mee."
Then all the maids of Islington
Went forth to sport and playe,
All but the bayliffe's daughter deare;
She secretly stole awaye.
She pulled off her gowne of greene,
And put on ragged attire,
And to faire London she would go
Her true love to enquire.
And as she went along the high road,
The weather being hot and drye,
She sat her downe upon a green bank,
And her true love came riding bye.
She started up, with a colour soe redd,
Catching hold of his bridle-reine;
"One penny, one penny, kind sir," she sayd,
"Will ease me of much paine."
"Before I give you one penny, sweet-heart,
Praye tell me where you were borne."
"At Islington, kind sir," sayd shee,
"Where I have had many a scorne."
"I prythee, sweet-heart, then tell to mee,
O tell me, whether you knowe
The bayliffes daughter of Islington."
"She is dead, sir, long agoe."
"If she be dead, then take my horse,
My saddle and bridle also;
For I will into some farr countrye,
Where noe man shall me knowe."
"O staye, O staye, thou goodlye youthe,
She standeth by thy side;
She is here alive, she is not dead,
And readye to be thy bride."
"O farewell griefe, and welcome joye,
Ten thousand times therefore;
For nowe I have founde mine owne true love,
Whom I thought I should never see more."
Barbara Allen's Cruelty
All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swelling,
Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay
For love o' Barbara Allen.
He sent his man unto her then,
To the town where she was dwelling:
"O haste and come to my master dear,
If your name be Barbara Allen."
Slowly, slowly rase she up,
And she cam' where he was lying;
And when she drew the curtain by,
Says, "Young man, I think you're dying."
"O it's I am sick, and very, very sick,
And it's a' for Barbara Allen."
"O the better for me ye'se never be,
Tho' your heart's blude were a-spilling!
"O dinna ye min', young man," she says,
"When the red wine ye were filling,
That ye made the healths gae round and round
And ye slighted Barbara Allen?"
He turn'd his face unto the wa',
And death was wi' him dealing:
"Adieu, adieu, my dear friends a';
Be kind to Barbara Allen."
As she was walking o'er the fields,
She heard the dead-bell knelling;
And every jow the dead-bell gave,
It cried, "Woe to Barbara Allen!"
"O mother, mother, mak' my bed,
To lay me down in sorrow.
My love has died for me to-day,
I'll die for him to-morrow."
The Douglas Tragedy
"Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas," she says,
"And put on your armour so bright;
Sweet William will hae Lady Margaret awi'
Before that it be light.
"Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,
And put on your armour so bright,
And take better care of your youngest sister,
For your eldest's awa' the last night."
He's mounted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a buglet horn hung down by his side
And lightly they rode away.
Lord William lookit o'er his left shoulder,
To see what he could see,
And there he spied her seven brethren bold
Come riding o'er the lea.
"Light down, light down, Lady Margaret," he said,
"And hold my steed in your hand,
Until that against your seven brethren bold,
And your father I make a stand."
She held his steed in her milk-white hand,
And never shed one tear,
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa'
And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear.
"O hold your hand, Lord William!" she said,
"For your strokes they are wondrous sair;
True lovers I can get many a ane,
But a father I can never get mair."
O, she's ta'en out her handkerchief,
It was o' the holland sae fine,
And aye she dighted her father's bloody wounds,
That were redder than the wine.
"O chuse, O chuse, Lady Margaret," he said,
"O whether will ye gang or bide?"
"I'll gang, I'll gang, Lord William," she said,
"For you have left me nae other guide."
He's lifted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a buglet horn hung down by his side,
And slowly they baith rade away.
O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they came to yon wan water,
And there they lighted down.
They lighted down to tak a drink
Of the spring that ran sae clear;
And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood,
And sair she 'gan to fear.
"Hold up, hold up, Lord William," she says,
"For I fear that you are slain!"
"'Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak,
That shines in the water sae plain."
O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they came to his mother's ha' door,
And there they lighted down.
"Get up, get up, lady mother," he says,
"Get up, and let me in!
Get up, get up, lady mother," he says,
"For this night my fair lady I've win.
"O mak my bed, lady mother," he says,
"O mak it braid and deep!
And lay Lady Margaret close at my back,
And the sounder I will sleep."
Lord William was dead lang ere midnight,
Lady Margaret lang ere day:
And all true lovers that go thegither,
May they have mair luck than they!
Lord William was buried in St. Marie's kirk,
Lady Margaret in Marie's quire;
Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose,
And out o' the knight's a brier.
And they twa met, and they twa plat
And fain they wad be near;
And a' the world might ken right weel,
They were twa lovers dear.
But bye and rade the black Douglas
And wow but he was rough!
For he pulled up the bonny brier,
And flanged in St. Marie's Loch.
About Yule, when the wind blew cool;
And the round tables began,
A' there is come to our king's court
Mony a well-favoured man.
The queen looked o'er the castle wa',
Beheld baith dale and down,
And then she saw young Waters
Come riding to the town.
His footmen they did rin before,
His horsemen rade behind;
Ane mantle of the burning gowd
Did keep him frae the wind.
Gowden graith'd[FN#1] his horse before,
And siller shod behind;
The horse young Waters rade upon
Was fleeter than the wind.
[FN#1] Graitih'd, girthed.
Out then spake a wily lord,
Unto the queen said he:
"O tell me wha's the fairest face
Rides in the company?"
"I've seen lord, and I've seen laird,
And knights of high degree,
But a fairer face than young Waters
Mine eyen did never see."
Out then spake the jealous king
And an angry man was he:
"O if he had been twice as fair,
You might have excepted me."
"You're neither laird nor lord," she says,
"But the king that wears the crown;
There is not a knight in fair Scotland,
But to thee maun bow down."
For a' that she could do or say,
Appeased he wad nae be;
But for the words which she had said,
Young Waters he maun dee.
They hae ta'en young Waters,
And put fetters to his feet;
They hae ta'en young Waters,
And thrown him in dungeon deep.
"Aft I have ridden thro' Stirling town,
In the wind but and the weet;
But I ne'er rade thro' Stirling town
Wi' fetters at my feet.
"Aft have I ridden thro' Stirling town,
In the wind but and the rain;
But I ne'er rade thro' Stirling town
Ne'er to return again."
They hae ta'en to the heading-hill
His young son in his cradle;
And they hae ta'en to the heading-hill
His horse but and his saddle.
They hae ta'en to the heading-hill
His lady fair to see;
And for the words the queen had spoke
Young Waters he did dee.
King Jamie hath made a vow,
Keepe it well if he may:
That he will be at lovely London
Upon Saint James his day.
Upon Saint James his day at noone,
At faire London will I be,
And all the lords in merrie Scotland,
They shall dine there with me.
"March out, march out, my merry men,
Of hie or low degree;
I'le weare the crowne in London towne,
And that you soon shall be."
Then bespake good Queene Margaret,
The teares fell from her eye:
"Leave off these warres, most noble King,
Keepe your fidelitie.
"The water runnes swift, and wondrous deepe,
From bottome unto the brimme;
My brother Henry hath men good enough;
England is hard to winne."
"Away" quoth he "with this silly foole!
In prison fast let her lie:
For she is come of the English bloud,
And for these words she shall dye."
With that bespake Lord Thomas Howard,
The Queenes chamberlaine that day:
"If that you put Queene Margaret to death,
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