; \ ,
The Baldwin Library
THE BOY'S PERCY.
Ir N kii
r(L vl / (/f\
"I~ / 7L.i/ 5, w
t :.U- .
I'o i th e, w
TIo drive the deer, with hound and horn, Earl Percy took his way.
THE BoY's PERCY
Old Ballads of War, Adventure and Love
FROM BISHOP THOMAS PERCY'S
Reliques of ancient english poetry
TOGETHER WITH AN APPENDIX CONTAINING TWO BALLADS FROM THE
ORIGINAL PERCY FOLIO MS.
EDITED FOR BOYS WITH AN INTRODUCTION
EDITOR OF "THE BOY'S FROISSART" AND "THE BOY'S KING ARTHUR'
WITH FIFTY ILLUSTRATIONS FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS
By E. B. Bensell
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS,
GRANT, FAIRES & RODGERS
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE, .............. 1
KING ESTMERE, ............................. 19
ADAM BELL, CLYM OF THE CLOUGH AND WILLIAM OF CLOUDESLY, 37
THE MORE MODERN BALLAD OF CHEVY CHACE, ..... ..77
THE ANCIENT BALLAD OF CHEVY CHACE, ............. .. 96
THE BATTLE OF OTTERBOURN, .................... 114
SIR CAULINE, ....... ...................... 133
EDWARD EDWARD, ........................... 156
THECHILDOFELLE,..... ............ ............ 170
THE FRIAR OF ORDERS GRAY, ......... ................ 182
THE RISING IN THE NORTH ......... ............ 189
NORTHUMBERLAND BETRAYED BY DOUGLAS, ........... 200
THE NUT-BROWN MAID, .......... .. .. ....... 214
KING EDWARD THE IV. AND THE TANNER OF TAMWORTH, 233
HARDYKNUTE, ....... ..... ............... 245
THE HEIR OF LINNE, ........... ... ........... 264
SIR ANDREW BARTON, .......................... 278
THE BONNY EARL OF MURRAY, ................. 297
YOUNG WATERS, .................... ........ 300
MARY AMBREE, .. ..... ......... ............ 304
THE WINNING OF CALES, ....................... 310
KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY, ........... 315
THE MARRIAGE OF SIR GAWAINE, .................. 322
KING RYENCE'S CHALLENGE, .......... .......... 340
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET, .............. .. 344
THE LEGEND OF SIR GUY, ....................... 351
GUY AND AMARANT, .......................... 360
SIR JOHN GREHME AND BARBARA ALLEN, ....... ...... 371
THE BAILIFF'S DAUGHTER OF ISLINGTON, .......... 373
THE KING AND MILLER OF MANSFIELD, ............ 377
ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON, .................. 391
VALENTINE AND URSINE, ....................... 404
DURHAM FIELD (Appendix.) ...................... 427
JOHN A SIDE (Appendix.) ..... . ..... ..... 436
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
FROM ORIGINAL DRAWINGS BY E. B. BENSELL
To drive the deer with hound and horn
Earl Percy took his way;- [Frontispiece.]
The woodweele sang, and would not cease,
Sitting upon the spraye. 2
Hearken, hearken, said the Sheriff- 12
As they were drinking ale and wine
Within King Estmere's hall- .19
Tidings, tidings, King Estmere!- 25
While Adler he hath drawn his brand
And hath the Sowdan slain .33
Fair Alice, like a lover true,
Took a pollaxe in her hand- 42
William shot so wondrous well- 45
He threw their keys at their heads,
And bad them evil to thrive- 57
I hold him an archer, said Cloudesley,
That yonder wand cleaveth in two. 69
'Show me,' said he, 'whose men you be'- 80
The Yngglishe men hade their boys yebent. 102
'Awaken, Douglas,' cried the Knight. 118.
iv THE BOY'S PERCY.
Fair Christabel to his chamber goes. 134
Unto midnight, that the moon did rise,
He walked up and down. 137
And now the giant and Knight be met,
Within the lists so broad-. 150
The lady stood on her castle wa',
Beheld baith dale and down. 160
But when the lady see the fire
Cum flaming owre her head. 166
And soon she heard her true love's voice
Low whispering at the wall. 173
Her lover he put his horn to his mouth
And blew both loud and shrill,
And soon he saw his own merry men
Come riding over the hill .. 178
0 weep not, lady, weep not so! 184
Eight of them did answer make. 192
And wilt thou go, thou noble lord
Then farewell truth and honesty- 208
The Nut Brown Maid. 214
Be not dismayed; whatsoever I said
To you when I began,
I will not to the green-wood go- 228
King Edward would a-hunting ride. 233
But when his steed saw the cow's tail wag
And eke the black cow-horn- 2 40
The tydings to our good Scots king
Came as he sat at dine. 247
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. v
Sair beat the heavy shower,
Mirk grew the night ere Hardyknute
Wan near his stately tower. .261
Then John he did him to record draw,
And John he cast him a god's-penny- 266
'I pray thee,' he said, 'good John o' the Scales,
One forty pence for to lend me.' 273
Simon was old, but his heart it was bold,
His ordinance he laid right low. .. 286
They hae slaine the Earl of Murray
And hae laid him on the green. .297
'My soldiers,' she saith, 'so valiant and bold'- 305
Damasks and satins and velvets full fair
Which soldiers measured out by the length of their swords. 313
Then home rode the abbot of comfort so cold,
And he met his shepherd going to fold. 317
Before them came a fair damsel
And knelt upon the ground. .323
He saw a lady, set,
Between an oak and a green holly
All clad in red scarlet. 327
Sir Gawaine scant could lift his head
For sorrow and for care,
When lo! instead of that loathely dame
lHe saw a young lady fair. 336
A doughty dwarf to the uppermost dais
Right pertly 'gan prick, kneeling on knee,- 340
Lord Thomas and fair Annet
Sate a' day on a hill- 344
vi THE BOY'S PERCY.
And here with Colbronde fell Ifought
An ugly giant,- 355
So takes his key and club, and cometh out. 361
And as she went along the high road,
The weather being hot and dry. 374
With a rude miller he met at the last. 378
In this most stately sort rode they unto the court.. 387
Then rose the people presently,
And to the King in rage they went. 394
Behold St. George came riding by 397
And soon he spies the savage youth.. 409
Down sank the giant gaping wide. 418
O one would be more amazed than the amiable Bishop
himself at the actual work which has been wrought in
the world by some of those Reliques of Ancient Eng-
lish Poetry" which he printed in the year 1765. A sincere
word has no end; and in spite of the weaknesses and affectations
which were the real outcome of Percy's labor in polishing away
the rudeness which he really believed would shock the elegant
tastes of his age, many honest stanzas of old balladry remain un-
touched, and quietly spread about through men's minds that vir-
tue of simple and vivid speech which every genuine ballad pos-
sesses over and above any thrill or stimulus of its special plot.
Nor is this all the overplus of the genuine ballad.
A story is told by Geoffrey of Monmouth which might easily be
turned into an allegory of its finer function. Somewhere about the
year 495,-during those long wars between King Arthur and Col-
grim the Saxon, which are so brightly detailed by the old poet
Layamon, whose work is described in the Introduction to The Boy's
King Arthur,--Colgrim had retreated to York with his army, and
was there held rigorously in siege by Arthur.
viii THE BOY'S PERCY.
Colgrim's brother, Baldulph, was outside, and having news of
reinforcement from home greatly desired to pass through King
Arthur's lines and get into the beleaguered city so as to hearten
his friends with good tidings. Practicing upon the custom of the
times, which allowed free passage everywhere to the musician, he
shaved his head and beard according to the habit of the musical
profession, put on the dress of a minstrel, and went playing his
harp about among King Arthur's warriors. He thus gradually
made his way towards the lines nearest the walls, until night
enabled him quietly to steal across and reveal himself to a watcher
on the walls, who presently caused him to be drawn up safely by a
Thus poetry in the disguise of a ballad or common minstrel
often steals through the hard battle of men's lives bringing subtle
news of reinforcement from unseen friends. This sense of name-
less comfort, of kinship with the rest of humanity, comes with the
ballad, even with a sad one.
But-as I was saying-this highly spiritual benefit, as well as
many more material ones, was far beyond the scope of the author's
thought in compiling the Beliques. If indeed we compare Percy's
own anticipations of what he hoped his book would accomplish
with the palpable blessings it has brought, not only to our litera-
ture but to our every day life, we find them pitiful enough. For
they seem to have been mainly confined to the belief that these old
poems would gratify that antiquarian curiosity which everyone
ought to have concerning remote ages, and particularly such remote
ages as were memorable through the deeds of one's own ancestors.
In his dedication of the Beliques to the Countess of Northumber-
land he apologizes with great humility for the fact that he has
"nothing better to offer than the rude songs of ancient minstrels,"
and for even the hope that "the barbarous productions of unpol-
ished ages can obtain the approbation or the notice of her who
adorns courts by her presence and diffuses elegance by her example;"
but he excuses his presumption by declaring that these poems are
presented to your Ladyship, not as labors of art, but as effusions
of nature, showing the first efforts of ancient genius, and exhibiting
the customs and opinions of remote ages,-of ages that had been
almost lost to memory, had not the gallant deeds of your illustrious
ancestors preserved them from oblivion."
But, passing far beyond the plane of these small antiquarian
pleasures, Percy's book immediately enriched our whole ordinary
existence by making common property of those golden figures,
which the undying ballad-maker had enameled into the solid tissue
of English life. Tall Robin Hood in the act of cleaving the slender
willow wand with his arrow at three hundred and thirty yards,
while his antagonist, stout Guy of Gisborne, clad in his horse-hide
suit, stands stricken with amazement; Widdrington, at Chevy
Chase, for whom
". needs must I wayle
As one in doleful dumpes;
For when his leggs were smitten off
He fought upon his stumpes;"
Percy and Douglas dealing great strokes upon each other at Otter-
bourn; bold King Estmere in the disguise of a harper out of the
North country, riding into King Adland's hall until the foam from
his horse's mouth flecks the beard of the King of Spain, who sat
x THE BOY'S PERCY.
at the board, and rescuing his beloved from the suit of that power-
ful paynim; dusky Sir Cauline, at midnight, on the Eldridge hill,
lifting up the great hand which he has just smitten off from the
arm of the Eldridge knight; Edom o' Gordon, regarding with
terror the lovely dead face of the girl who has been let down from
the burning castle upon the pitiless spears, and fleeing away, crying
Busk and bowne, my merry men a'
For ill dooms I do guess:
I canna' luik in that bonny face
As it lies on the grass,"
"Ye are the first that e'er
I wished alive again;"
William of Cloudesly, letting down his wife and three children
from his house, which the Sheriff has set on fire, and finally routing
that functionary and his whole posse, with the help of Adam Bell
and Clym of the Clough; Edward, with hideous face, cursing his
unworthy mother; the Nut-brown Maid, unconquerably clinging
to her supposed outlaw; the Tanner of Tansworth, tumbling from
the fiery hunting horse of the jolly King Edward IV; the Heir of
Lynne, in the act of killing himself at the lonesome lodge, and pull-
ing down his prudent father's note which reveals the surplus for-
tune laid away for him by the far-seeing parent; the Bonny Earl of
Murray; love lorn Mary Ambree, in full armor, leading the charge;
the supposed Abbot of Canterbury, overcoming the hard riddles of
King John; the lovely transformation of the loathsome wife of
Sir Gawaine; the birch and the brier growing out of the graves
of Lord Thomas and Fair Annet, and ever leaning towards each
other; Sir Andrew Barton, in the great sea-fight, climbing his
mainmast tree after two men have been shot in the attempt, and
calling out as he receives the fatal arrow:
"Fight on, fight on, my merry men a',
I am but hurt, I am not slain;
I'll just lie down and bleed awhile
And then I'll rise and fight again;"
these, and scores of other forms and events less prominent but all
either pleasant or pathetic, or in some way stimulating, emerged
and stood out like rich tapestry work wrought large as life upon
the arras which hangs about our common living-room.
On the other hand the influence of Percy's book upon our lite-
rature was probably even more beneficial than that just detailed
upon our everyday life. It is part of the healthy nature of boy-
hood to know and to properly scorn a dandy, and the young read-
ers of the following ballads will easily understand their effect upon
the thoughts of English writers in 1765, when it is recalled that
fashionable English poetry of that time was more silly, affected and
insincere than at any other period of its history, insomuch that it
had become dandy poetry, pure and simple. A single specimen of
this dandy poetry contrasted with the clear and healthy beauty of
a genuine ballad will be conclusive enough. Take, for example,
the following two stanzas from the Nut-brown Maid, in which the
simplest and least pretentious of English words are made to ex-
press ideas with a vividness and musical flow which very few of our
English artists, either ancient or modern, have been able to com-
pass. A supposed outlaw is testing the love which a high-born
maiden has conceived for him, by describing to her the hardships
xii THE BOY'S PERCY.
which she would undergo in the forest life which she wishes to
share with him. In the course of the dialogue (the whole of which
will, I hope, become familiar to many readers in the following
pages), the outlaw insists:
"Yet take good hede,' for ever I drede
That ye coude not sustayne
The thornie ways, the deep valleys2
The snow, the frost, the rayne,
The cold, the hete; for dry or wete
We must lodge on the playne;
And, us abofe4 none other rofe 5
But a brake-bush or twayne:
Which soon should grieve you I believe;
And ye would gladly than6
SThat I had to the greenwood gone
Alone, a banished man."
To which the maiden makes this most charming protestation of
"Sith I have here been partyneres
With you of joy and bliss
I must also part of your wo
Endure, as reason is;
Yet am I sure of one pleasure
11 preserve some of the older spelling for the sake of showing the rhyme between words which
were pronounced alike at that time, but which in the curious lawlessness of development have changed
both the vowel and the vowel sound.
2Accent on -leys, pronounced as if -lays -a characteristic change of accent in ballad-making, as
we shall hereafter see.
3 Wef. 4 Above. 6 Roof.
6 Then. Than is a common form for then quite through the sixteenth century.
7 Since. 8 Partner.
And shortly it is this:
That where ye be, meseemeth pardie1
I could not fare amiss.
Without more speche, I you beseche
That we were soon agone;
For, in my minde, of all mankinde
I love but you alone."
Now Matthew Prior-a poet who had much vogue in the earlier
part of the eighteenth century, and whom you may associate in
your minds with the time when Gulliver's Travels were written,
with Queen Anne and with Addison, Pope and that group-hap-
pened to come upon this old ballad of The Nut-brown 1Jfaid, and
conceived the idea of rescuing its pretty story from what he con-
sidered its barbarous setting by re-telling it in the elegant phrases
and pleasing versification of the period. This he did, calling his
version Henry and Emma, and here is his rendition of the two
stanzas just given:
But canst thou, tender maid, canst thou sustain
Afflictive want, or hunger's pressing pain ?
Those limbs in lawn and softest silk array'd,
From sun-beams guarded, and of winds afraid;
Can they bear angry Jove ? can they resist
The parching dog-star, and the bleak north-east?
When, chill'd by adverse snows and beating rain,
We tread with weary steps the longsome plain;
When with hard toil we seek our evening food,
SA corruption of par Dieu, by God One may almost say that in the Middle Ages everybody swore
horribly; but in the ballad use of pard;e the oath has quite lost its force as oath and become a mere
locution suitable for gentle emphasis, or even for a mere rhythmic convenience in filling out a line.
xiv BOY'S PERCY.
Berries and acorns from the neighboring wood;
And find among the cliffs no other house,
But the thin covert of some gathered boughs;
Wilt thou not then reluctant send thine eye
Around the dreary waste; and weeping try
(Though then, alas! that trial be too late)
To find thy father's hospitable gate,
And seats, where ease and plenty brooding sate ?
Those seats, whence long excluded thou must mourn;
That gate, for ever barr'd to thy return:
"Wilt thou not then bewail ill-fated love,
And hate a banished man, condemn'd in woods to rove ?
Thy rise of fortune did I only wed,
From its decline determined to recede;
Did I but purpose to embark with thee
On the smooth surface of a summer's sea;
While gentle Zephyrs play in prosperous gales,
And Fortune's favour fills the swelling sails;
But would forsake the ship, and make the shore,
When the winds whistle, and the tempests roar ?
No, Henry, no: one sacred oath has tied
Our loves; our destiny our life shall guide;
Nor wild nor deep our common way divide.
Of course this is artificial, insincere and altogether weakly stuff,-
in short, the most dandy poetry that could well be made; perhaps
therefore I cannot more vividly illustrate the truly remarkable per-
version of men's thought in this time than by saying that not only
was Prior's Henry and Emma currently regarded as a very beau-
tiful and pathetic product of genius, but Percy himself-a man
whose affection for the older ballads proves an underlying basis of
true poetic feeling somewhere within him-remarks in his Intro-
duction to The Nut-brown JMaid that "if it had no other merit
than the having afforded a groundwork to Prior's Henry and Emma,
this ought to preserve it from oblivion And if I quote a stanza
of Prior's in which his own attitude towards poetry is as irrever-
ent as that of those who preferred Barabbas to the Savior :
"What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shows
The difference there is betwixt nature and art;
I quote others in verse, but I love thee in prose;
And they have my whimsies, but thou hast my heart,"
no further explanation seems needed of the essential dandyism
which must pervade all verse which is matter of whimsy but not
of heart. Now the printing of Percy's Beliques is not only itself
an indication that the time was becoming conscious of its poetic
flippancy, but the genuine old ballads which the book contained
must have brought to many a mind wholly new ideas of the
strength, the tenderness, the life, the warmth, the vividness of
simple and manful words wrought into a simple and manful style.
At any rate, dandy poetry now disappears,, and the beautiful ear-
nest epoch of William Blake, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Tenny-
son, Emerson, now comes on when only the largest thoughts and
prayers, instead of the flippant whimsies of men, are uttered in
The origin of the book whose functions I have thus partly
hinted was a certain folio manuscript which still bears on the inside
of one of its covers the following memorandum in Percy's hand-
writing of the way in which he came by it:
xvi TIE BOY'S PERCY.
NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE, Nov. 7th, 1769.
Memorandum.-This very curious Old Manuscript in its present mutilated
state but unbound and sadly torn, &c., I rescued from destruction, and begged at
the hands of my worthy friend, Humphrey Pitt, Esq., then living at Sheffual in
Shropshire. .. I saw it lying dirty on the floor, under a Bureau in ye Par-
lour, being used by the Maids to light the fire. It was afterwards sent most un-
fortunately. to an ignorant bookbinder who pared the margin, when I put it into
boards in order to lend it to Dr. Johnson.
This T. (for Thomas) Percy, whom we find rescuing old IS. was
the son of a grocer at Bridgenorth in Shropshire on the banks of
the Severn; but appears to have cared not for trade and, after re-
siding at Oxford some seven years, where he had been admitted
upon an Exhibition in the gift of his native Grammar School, was
presented by Christ Church College with a living at Easton Maudit,
a quiet and picturesque village in the county of Northampton.
Here he lived for twenty-five years, faithfully discharging his pas-
toral duties, and diligently pursuing many studies. The nature of
these may be gathered from the books he began to publish. In
1761-after eight years of study in his quiet home seemed to have
made him a full man-he printed a Chinese novel in four volumes
called Hau Kiou Chooan, which he had translated from the Por-
tuguese; in the next year he prints two volumes of Miscellaneous
Pieces. Relating to the Chinese; in the next year he publishes
(anonymously) Five Pieces of Runic Poetry Translated from the
Icelandic, being incited thereto (as he himself remarks in the
Preface) by the success of Macpherson's first Ossian Poems, which
had appeared in 1760. In the next year he gives forth, also anony-
mously, A New Translation of the Song of Solomon, from the He-
brew, with a Commentary and Notes and A Key to the New Tes-
tament; in the next year he presents the world with the now fa-
mous Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, Consisting of Old He-
roic Ballads, Songs and Other Pieces of our Earlier Poets, To-
gether with Some Few of Later Date, and a Copious Glossary.
It was with some drag at first that the book became popular,
but no long time intervened before it brought much tribulation to
its author in the form of violent abuse from the great antiquary
Joseph Ritson. In the Preface to his book Percy had asserted that
"the greater part of its contents were "extracted from an ancient
folio manuscript, in the editor's possession, which contains near two
hundred Poems, Songs, and Metrical Romances," and which "was-
written about the middle of the last century, but contains compo-
sitions of all times and dates from the ages prior to Chaucer to the.
reign of Charles I." It was evident to Ritson-as indeed it has
been to every scholar since his time-that a large proportion of
what Percy put forth as ancient poems must have been written by
some modern hand; and upon this foundation Ritson did not hesi-
tate to declare that no such folio manuscript existed, and that the
whole matter was a forgery of Percy's. This charge was promptly
met by exhibiting the 1MS. itself, and Ritson was compelled to
acknowledge its existence publicly; but found solace in adding-
what was partly true-that at the same time it is a certain and
positive fact that in the elegant and refined work it gave occasion
to (the Beliques) "there is scarcely one single poem, song, or
ballad fairly or honestly printed; . many pieces also being
inserted as ancient and authentic which there is every reason to
believe never existed before its publication." This was, as I have
xviii THE BOY'S PERCY.
said, partly true; but the precise facts could never be ascertained
until quite recently. These form so instructive a chapter in the
history of literary conscience that I do not hesitate to mention
some brief details of them, even to young readers. For a long
time the original MS. remained in the possession of an English
family at Ecton Hall; but the owners would allow no one either
to buy it, print it, or even examine it for comparison with the
poems in Percy's Beliques which he said he had "extracted."
Various attempts to get at it in some way had been made without
success; but finally, about fifteen years ago, our own Professor F.
J. Child, of Harvard University, stirred up Mr. F. J. Furnivall,
who had already twice tried and failed, to a third attempt. Pro-
fessor Child contributed 50 and Mr. Furnivall 100, for which
sum they bought from the owners the privilege of making and
printing one copy of the MS., with the right of possession for six
months to that end. "The reason given," says Mr. Furnivall,
"for refusing all other applicants was, I am told, that some mem-
ber of the family might some day like to edit the book himself."
Accordingly, in the year 1868, Mr. Furnivall, in conjunction with
Mr. John W. Hales, printed the folio manuscript complete, and
without alteration of a single word, letter, punctuation mark, or
even the most palpable mistake, so that Percy's folio manuscript is
now accessible to all scholars. Comparison of this original with
such poems as Percy declared he had extracted from it resulted in
showing an attitude toward exact truth which every man of the
world will probably have met with once or twice through life in
certain genial but vaguely-conscienced natures. For example,
Percy had declared in his Preface that "the greater part" of his
Reliques were "extracted" from the folio manuscript: the fact
being that only forty-five out of the one hundred and seventy-six
Reliques-that is, about one-fourth instead of the greater part-
had been so extracted. But again-to show Percy's conception of
editorial duty in making extracts: the ballad of Sir Cauline (here-
inafter given) contains in the folio two hundred and one lines;
while, as extracted into the Reliques, it shows three hundred and
ninety-two lines, the additional hundred and ninety-one lines turning
out, upon inspection, to be the sole product of Percy's own poetic
gift. It is true that, in his Introduction to Sir Cauline, Percy
prepares us for some alteration by remarking, this old romantic
tale was preserved in the editor's folio MS., but in so very defec-
tive and mutilated a condition, . and the whole appeared so
far short of the perfection it seemed to deserve, that the editor was
tempted to add several stanzas in the first part, and still more in
the second, to connect and complete the story in the manner which
appeared to him the most interesting and affecting." But-pass-
ing by the looseness of statement involved in speaking of an addi-
tion to the poem, which nearly doubled its length as an addition
of several stanzas," merely, as well as in the declaration that he
had added "still more in the second part, when the fact is that
the original has no second part, the whole of Percy's second part
being his own invention, as well as the idea of any second part at
all-we come upon a graver trouble in the fact that instead of
going on to connect and complete the story, in the manner which
appeared to him the most interesting and affecting," Percy com-
pletely abandons the original story (which is very bright and ab-
solutely perfect in its old balladness) nearly at the middle of the
XX THE BOY'S PERCY.
original, and instead of its sunshiny termination-in which, after
various quaint and wonderful adventures, Sir Cauline did marry
the king's daughter, with gold and silver bright," and lived with
her at least so long as to solace himself with fifteen sons-Percy
rambles off into a comparatively maudlin and sentimental series of
combats and troubles, in the course of which Sir Cauline is finally
slain, and the lady, whom he has not married, dies of heart-break
upon his mutilated body.
Indeed, scores of even more palpable misstatements are revealed
by the printed folio; insomuch that one exasperated editor, finding
three leaves torn out of the MVS., which leaves had included the
noble old ballad of King Estmere, has not hesitated to assert that
Percy must have deliberately and unnecessarily torn three leaves
out of his MS. when preparing his fourth edition for the press,"
in order to prevent us "from knowing the extent of his large
changes in the version set forth by the Reliques; though a pen-
cil-note in Percy's handwriting, on a margin of the MS. at the
mutilated point, states that "this and two following leaves have
been "unfortunately torn out," &c.
But with all Percy's crimes this charge seems too bitter; and
certainly there are several possible methods of mutilation which
fairness would require us to exhaust before finally entertaining it.
Probably every middle-aged person has met with more than
one of these amiable and well-purposed souls whose relation to-
ward veracity is that, while they have no positive intention to
speak falsely, they have also no positive intention not to speak
falsely. It is as if the quality of such spirits was too fine for de-
liberate falsehood, yet too weak for laborious truth. And I find
still more reason for placing Bishop Percy in this class when I
recall the general insincerity of the times,-that very insincerity
of which the dandy-poetry just described was simply one phase.
I wish that this were the time to bring before my young read-
ers the clear advance in men's conscience as to literary relations
of this sort, which beautifully reveals itself when we contrast the
lawless piracies of fourteenth century writers, and the illegal ap-
propriations common even in the sixteenth century, with the per-
fect delicacy which is now the rule among men of letters, and par-
ticularly with the scrupulous fidelity of the editor to his text,
which is required as well by modern scholarship as by the general
refinement of men's conscience. One has but to compare with
Percy's loose renditions and flaccid accounts thereof the labor-
scorning accuracy of those perfectly-edited reprints of many of the
most charming sixteenth century books which Mr. Edward Arber,
of University College, London, has been sending forth at the aston-
ishing price of sixpence, or sometimes of one shilling, a copy,-or
any critical reproduction of old text by the Chaucer Society, the
Early English Text Society, and the like,-in order to see how
immeasurably higher are our conceptions of such matters than
those of even a hundred years ago. I think there can be no doubt
that we owe this inestimable uplifting of exact statement'and pure
truth in men's esteem to the same vigorous growth in the general
spirit of man which has flowed forth, among other directions, into
the wondrous modern development of physical science. Here the
minutest accuracy in observing and the utmost faithfulness in re-
porting having been found in the outset to be absolutely essential,
have created habits and requirements of conscience which extend
xxii THE BOY'S PERCY.
themselves into all other relations. Thus the world holds even
editors to most rigid requirements, and thus it is more difficult
now than ever before to forgive the undeniable crimes of Percy in
In spite of drawbacks and tribulations, however, Percy's book
presently grew into favor and brought him both money and pre-
ferment. He was successively made chaplain to the Duke of
Northumberland, chaplain to King George III., Dean of Carlisle,
and finally, in 1782, Bishop of Dromore in Ireland, a position
which brought him some 2000 a year of income and which had
been-one might almost say-sanctified by the circumstance that
a hundred years before it had been held by sweet, solacing, many-
thoughted Jeremy Taylor-the same who wrote the famous books,
Holy Living and Holy Dying, and who has been called by our own
Emerson "the Shakespere of divines."
It is evident though that Percy's works had already made him a
place among men of letters even before the Reliques were printed;
for we find the great Dr. Samuel Johnson visiting him at Easton
Maudit and spending there most of the summer of 1764. We may
reasonably enough fancy that the two discussed many points con-
nected with the forthcoming Reliques, which were printed in the
following year. We know too that the book had already been
sanctioned by many of the greatest literary celebrities in England
at that time. The idea of making it appears to have originated
with the poet Shenstone, and he was to have been co-editor with
Percy, but died in 1763. Moreover, Oliver Goldsmith, David
Garrick, Lord Hailes of Scotland, the great antiquary Dr. Birch,
Thomas Tyrwhitt, the ingenious editor of Chaucer, Warton, the
historian of English poetry, and many other literary men of less
note, contributed either material or valuable suggestions to the
work. It seems characteristic enough to mention that Dr. Johnson
gave the book but a cool reception after it appeared, although he
was one of those who had importuned Percy (according to the
latter's preface) to print it.
As to the name of that early ballad-fancier who was willing to
put himself at the pains of collecting and writing down the poems
composing Percy's folio, we are ignorant. Percy suggested Thomas
Blount, several of whose works are known about the middle of the
17th century; but upon grounds which have not satisfied modern
scholars. It would seem that an impetus towards making such
collections had in some way arisen about this time; for it was
nearly in these years that Samuel Pepys was getting together those
five folio volumes containing almost two thousand old English
ballads which still remain in the Pepysian library at Cambridge,
and from which Percy obtained several of his Reliques; while the
Ashmole library at Oxford contains a collection of over two hundred
ballads made by the famous Anthony Wood in 1676.
It seems hardly fair to end even so brief an account of
Thomas Percy's career without mentioning, two other works of his
which have been almost as useful as the Reliques, though on a some-
what lower plane. These were : his translation of Mallet's Northern
Antiquities, (published in 1770)-a work which directed the Eng-
lish mind upon the great Eddas and the powerful conceptions of
Scandinavian mythology, besides presenting a very learned and
interesting Preface of Percy's own, which removed many popular
misconceptions as to the difference between the Keltic (comprising
xxiv THE BOY'S PERCY.
the old British, Gaelic, Irish or Erse) and Teutonic, (that is, Ger-
man, English, Saxon) races; and The Household Book of the Earl
of Northumberland at His Castles of Wressle and Leconfile in
Yorkshire,-a work which showed the actual domestic expenses
and rules of a nobleman's house, three centuries and a half ago;
and which, with its curious and homely items, seemed to bring us
so near to the daily life of our ancestors, that it was soon followed
by a large number of similar publications, such as Privy Purse
Expenses of King Henry VII., &c., or Privy Purse Expenses of
.lzizabeth of York, &c., vividly familiarizing us with the ancient
homes of England.
In 1771 Percy's wife was nurse for Queen Victoria's father,
the then infant-prince Edward. Without mentioning Percy's
other and less important works, it must suffice here to close this
mere outline, by adding that he lived an industrious and useful
life as father, bishop, and man of letters; that he was noted for
his gentleness towards children; that it was his daily habit to
stroll down to the pond in the garden of his bishop's palace and
feed his swans, who would come sailing up at the well-known
sound of his voice, and that-although totally blind after 1806-
he survived his wife and most of his children, and died in 1811.
I have wished that this present work should bring before young
readers mostly the strong and idiomatic English ballads of earlier
date, and for that reason I have embodied herein none of the
Reliques, except those which bear at least the ballad form. By
the term ballad we now commonly understand a narrative poem
couched in homely words,-the narrative being mostly either of
war or simple love-adventure; but if there were room here to
trace its history, it would soon carry us among the most romantic
adventures of great kings and illustrious lovers. It would be
pleasant to show the relation of this poetic form to that long line
of fervent musicians and poets which begins with the ancient bards
of Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Kelt-land generally, and comes
down by lineal descent through the harp-playing gleemen of the
Anglo-Saxons and skalds of the Danes, to that numerous body of
singers and musicians known after the Norman invasion, 1066, as
minstrels, including the whole various tribes of Trouveres, Trou-
badours, Minnesingers, Joculators, Mimes, Cantators, Jongleurs, Jug-
glers, Gestours (every young reader should know that this word
comes from the Latin Gesta, meaning deeds or adventures, as well
great and noble deeds as little and funny ones; and it is only
recently that the Gestour, or teller of heroic tales, has disappeared,
giving way to the mere Jester or Joker). We should also have to
recall those ever-charming old stories of adventures like Baldulph's,
just related; of how King Alfred, disguised as a gleeman, with a
servant bearing his harp, penetrated into the Danish camp, charmed
the king with music, kept his keen eyes busy in reconnoitering the
enemy's position, and upon the knowledge thus gained, presently
planned an attack which routed his foes; of how, some sixty years
afterwards, Danish King Anlaff plays the same trick upon Saxon
King Athelstan, though with less final success; of how the valiant
Taillefer (a name now common in the Southern United States as
Taliaferro, pronounced Tolliver ") rushed far ahead of the whole
Norman army, and fell upon the English alone, chanting the
Chanson de Roland, or Song of Roland, until he was slain; of
how, a little more than a hundred years afterwards, the long-lost
xxvi THE BOY'S PERCY.
King Richard I. was found by his faithful minstrel, Blondel de
Nesle, who sang part of a song before a certain castle window,
and was rewarded by hearing the balance of the composition in
the well-known voice of the king; and many other fine adven-
tures of this kind. But we should also come, at last, to the six-
teenth century, when ballad-singer and wandering minstrel had
pitifully declined into characters of no more dignity than the
modern tramp, and when statutes were made against them as
rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars. At this time, too, a cor-
responding degeneracy has taken place in the ballad itself, which
now begins to deal greatly in silly ghost-stories, superstitious tales,
marvels, and themes too gross to mention. It is curious to note,
too, that-perhaps as multitudinous growths often attend corrup-
tion-the English ballad-makers were never so numerous and
never so prolific as at this same moment. England swarmed with
"broadsides," that is, ballads printed on one side of a sheet; and
I remember a testy old writer of Queen Elizabeth's time who
declares that every red-nosed rhymester of the period considers
himself inspired, and scarce a cat can look out of a gutter, but up
starts one of these gentry, and presently a ballet (the common
method of spelling ballad in the sixteenth century) of a strange
new sight is invented.
The word ballad is derived by many from the Italian ballare,
meaning to dance, the connection being that the original ballad was
a song composed to be danced to. Among the French poets of
Chaucer's time the form called the ballade had become quite
fixed, involving always three stanzas of a certain construction, fol-
lowed by a fourth called "l'envoi." It is curious to reflect upon
the difference between this highly artificial "ballade" and the
English ballads which we always associate peculiarly with freedom
of construction and homeliness of phrase. The art of ballad-making
in England has been lost since the sixteenth century. It is true
that many attempts-some by genuine poets-have been made to
give the world another ballad; but they are all easily recognizable
as second-hand,-mere products of imitation rather than of inspi-
In treating Percy's text the same end has been kept in view and
the same rules observed as in the preceding works of this series.-
The Boy's Froissart and The Boy's King Arthur. Each ballad is
given here exactly as it stands in the original except that the spell-
ing has been modernized and such parts cut away as cleanliness re-
quired. No change or interpolation of any kind has been made.
As in The Boy's King Arthur, every word between brackets, ital-
icized, is to be taken as the meaning of the word in the text imme-
diately preceding; while words in brackets, not italicized are always
comments of the present editor. All these have necessarily been
thrown into foot-notes here, in order to prevent interference with
the verse arrangement. It should be remarked that the moderni-
zation of the spelling, has in many cases destroyed the rhythm of the
line, by dropping the last syllable of words which were formerly
not only spelled, but pronounced in two syllables, though now only
in one. For example: in the second line of the first verse of Adam
Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley,
"Merry it was in the green forest
Among the leaves green,"
Percy's original intends the rhythm to be filled out by pronouncing
xxviii THE BOY'S PERCY.
"leaves in two syllables, leav-es. Relics of such pronunciation,
based on the Anglo-Saxon forms of our language, are to be found
as late as the sixteenth century: Spenser was so fond of these old
forms that the Faery Queen often seems written nearer the time of
King Edward III., than that of Queen Elizabeth; while Shakespere
has perhaps occasionally used the same device.
Let me also point out a frequent change in the accent of a word
which is peculiar to the old English ballad, and in which one who
loves them presently comes to find a certain dear and cunning charm
for which it is difficult to assign a reason. For instance: in the
beautiful ballad of King Estmere the third line of the third verse
requires that the word "brother should have the accent on the
last syllable instead of the first, as usual, in order to preserve the
When will ye marry a wife, brother,
A wife to glad us all ?"
again, the third line of the ninth verse requires the accent on the
last syllable of the name Adland," though in the first line of the
same verse, the same name has the accent on the first syllable, thus,
And when they came to King Adland's hall
Before the goodly gate,
There they found good King Adland
Rearing himself threat: "
similarly we have in the second verse,
"The one of them was Adler young,
The t'other was King Estmere,"
while the next verse gives us:
As they were drinking ale and wine
Within King Estmere's hall;"
so we have in the same ballad,
The King of Spain is a foul paynim
And 'lieveth on Mahound,
And pity it were that fair lady
Should marry a heathen hound,"
instead of paynim and lady; and so,
That sword is not in all England
Upon his coat will bite,"
"" Says Christ thee save thou proud porter,"
The lady laughed a loud laughter,"
and a score of like instances in this poem. Observe that this lib-
erty is not taken anywhere except at the end of a line, and is
further limited to throwing the accent on the last syllable of a word
terminating a line.
Very few of the following poems are entirely free from some
touch or other of Percy's well-meant polishing; I have neverthe-
less given them as they appear in the Beliques, for the reasons (1)
that several of them could otherwise have been presented only as
fragments, and (2) that a number of them would have been en-
cumbered with difficulties of old phraseology which many young
readers would not have cared to encounter.
It is pleasant to add, moreover, that Percy's long saturation
with ballad talk had really deposited a genuine knack for repro-
ducing the old ballad style, and some of his imitations are as happy
and effective as any imitations could be.
I ought also to repeat a warning given with the other books of
this series, that Percy's Reliques remains full of interesting matter
xxx THE BOY'S PERCY.
even after the present large cantle has been sliced out of it; and I
trust no reader, with the idea that the present work is even sub-
stantially exhaustive, will be deterred in maturer years from read-
ing the fascinating essays, On the Ancient Minstrels in England,"
On the Origin of the English Stage," and On the Ancient
Metrical Romances," together with a great number of short mod-
ern poems,-all of which are still there to be found.
I trust that these thoughts and forms of the old English harp-
ers and singers may bring you fresher and more real and ravishing
visions of the great early heroic souls that loved harp and song-
of King David, and King Solomon, and King Alfred, and King
Richard, and Hesiod on the hills receiving the Muses, that earnest
as well as flippant songs could be made, and Father Cedmon, blush-
ing that he played not the harp, yet bursting into fiery hymns
among the cows in the stable, and Abbot Aldhelm, on a Sunday
harpinrg sweet gospels to the people from the bridge wherever
they would too hastily cross from church back into the country,
and them that Chaucer
.. heard play on a harp
That sounded both well and sharp,
Him Orpheus full craftily,
And on this side fast by
Sat the harper Orion,
And Eacides Chirion
And other harpers many an one
And the Briton Glaskyrion."
However that may be, I know that he who walks in the way these fol-
lowing ballads point, will be manful in necessary fight, fair in trade,
loyal in love, generous to the poor, tender in the household,
prudent in living, plain in speech, merry upon occasion, simple
in behavior and honest in all things.
In this trust, and this knowledge, I now commend my young
countrymen to The Boy's Percy.
CAMP I10BIN', C., June, 1881.
THE BOY'S PERCY.
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE.
HIEN shaws' been sheen, and shradds2 full fair,
SAnd leaves both large and long,
It is merry walking in the forest
To hear the small bird's song.
The woodweele3 sang, and would not cease,
Sitting upon the spraye,
So loud, he wakened Robin Hood,
In the greenwood where he lay.
1 [The MS. from which Percy printed this ballad has" shales" instead of
"shaws," the latter word being probably a conjecture of the Bishop's. "Shales"
means-according to Halliwell, who gives old authority for it-the stalks of hemp.
" haws" is a common word for groves.]
3[Also called the woodwal," the witwal," and variously given as a name of
the golden ousel, the green finch, and the great spotted woodpecker.]
d4) .. / 'I
"Now, by my faye," said jolly Robin,
"A seven I had this night:
I dreamt me of two wighty2 yeomen,
That fast with me can fight.
thought they did me beat and bind,
And took my bow me fro0
If I be Robin alive in this land,
I'll be wroken on them two."
2 [ r.] [u, [ .]
,,.,^~ ... ",
t 17-" :" ", i;
",. ,', iy "t["z', "a e "
"'!~~~l~P ;'e'" <,
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 3
"Swevens are swift, master," quoth John,
"As the wind blows o'er the hill;
For if it be never so loud this night,
To-morrow it may be still."
"Buske ye, bowne ye,1 my merry men all,
And John shall go with me,
For I'll go seek yond wight yeomen,
In greenwood where they be."
Then they cast on their gowns of green,
And took their bows each one;
And they away to the green forest
A-shooting forth are gone;
Until they came to the merry greenwood,
Where they had gladdest to be;
There were they ware of a.wight yeoman,
His body leaned to a tree.
A sword and a dagger he wore by his side,
Of many a man the bane;
And he was clad in his capul-hide,2
Top and tail and mane.
S[" Buske ye, bowne ye," presently becomes very familiar to the ballad-reader
as a phrase used upon all occasions when quick saddling and arming are to be done;
dress and make ready.]
4 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Stand you still, master," quoth Little John,
"Under this tree so green,
And I will go to yonder wight yeoman
To know what he doth mean."
"Ah! John, by me thou settest no store,
And that I fairly find:
How oft send I my men before,
And tarry myself behind?
It is no cunning a knave to ken,
And a man but hear him speak :
And2 it were not for bursting of my bow,
John, I thy head would break."
As often words they breed3 bale,
So they parted Robin and John;
And John is gone-to Barnesdale;
The gates he knoweth each one.
But when he came to Barnesdale,
Great heaviness there he had,
For he found two of his own fellows
Were slain both in a slade.4
S[That is, It requires no cunning to ken (know) a knave, and (if) a man but hear
him speak.] 2[If.]
"3[The original has breeden," old verb-form, the en filling out the rhythm.]
4[An open space, between woods or fields.]
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 5
And Scarlet he was flying a-foot
Fast over stock and stone,
For the sheriff with seven score men
Fast after him is gone.
"One shoot now I will shoot," quoth John,
"With Christ his might and main;
I'll make yonder fellow that flies so fast,
To stop he shall be fain."
Then John bent up his long bend-lbo v.
And fetteled1 him to shoot:
The bow was made of tender bough,
And fell down to his foot.
"Woe worth, woe worth thee, wicked wood,
That ere thou grew on a tree;
For now this day thou art my bale,2
My boot3 when thou should be."
His shoot it was but loosely shot,
Yet flew not the arrow in vain,
For it met one of the sheriff's men,
Good William a Trent was slain.
1 [Made ready.] 2[Calamity, loss.] 3[Reward, gain.]
6 THE BOY'S PERCY.
It had been better of William a Trent
To have been abed with sorrow,
Than to be that day in the green-wood slade,
To meet with Little John's arrow.
But as it is said, when men be met
Five can do more than three,
The sheriff hath taken Little John,
And bound him fast to a tree.
"Thou shalt be drawn by lale and down,
And hanged high on a hill;"
"But thou mayest fail of thy purpose," quoth John,
"If it be Christ his will."
Let us leave talking of Little John,
And think of Robin Hood,
How he is gone to the wight yeoman,
Where under the leaves he stood.
"GGood morrow, good fellow," said Robin so fair,
"Good morrow, good fellow," quoth he.
""Methinks by this bow thou bears in thy hand,
A good archer thou shouldst be."
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 7
"I am willful' of my way," quo' the yeoman.
"And of my morning tide;"
"I'll lead thee through the wood," said Robin,
"Good fellow, I'll be thy guide."
I seek an outlaw," the stranger said,
"Men call him Robin Hood;
Rather I'd meet with that proud outlaw
Than forty pound so good."
"Now come with me, thou wight yeoman.
And Robin thou soon shalt see;
But first let us some pastime find
Under the green-wood tree.
First let us some mastery make
Among the woods so even;
We may chance to meet with Robin Hood
Here at some unset steven."2
They cut them down two summer shroggs3
That grew both under a brier,
And set them threescore rod in twain,4
To shoot the pricks5 y-fere.6
I [Doubtful.] 2 [" Unsett steven :" unexpected time; time not set or fixed.]
3 [Shrubs.] 4 [Apart.]
5 [Long-range targets, the short-range being "butts." It must be confessed, a
slim wand cut from a shrogg and set up at three hundred and thirty yards (three-
score rod) would look discouraging to the modern archer.] 6 [Together.]
8 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Lead on, good fellow," quoth Robin Hood.
"Lead on, I do bid thee."
"Nay, by my faith, good fellow," he said,
"My leader thou shalt be."
The first time Robin shot at the prick,
He missed but an inch it fro';
The yeoman he was an archer good,
But he could never shoot so.
The second shot had the wighty yeoman,
He shot within the garland;
But Robin he shot far better than he,
For he clave the good prick-wand.
"A blessing upon thy heart," he said.
"Good fellow, thy shooting is good;
For an thy heart be as good as thy hand,
Thou wert better than Robin Hood.
Now tell me thy name, good fellow," said he,
"Under the leaves of lyne." 2
"Nay, by my faith," quoth bold Robin,
"Till thou have told me thine."
"[ The ring within which the prick was set.] ? [ The linden tree.]
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 9
"I dwell by dale and down," quoth he,
"And Robin to take I'm sworn;
And when I am called by my right name,
I am Guy of good Gisborne."
"My dwelling is in this wood," says Robin,
"By thee I set right nought;
I am Robin Hood of Barnesdale;
Whom thou so long hast sought."
He that had neither been kith nor kin
Might have seen a full fair sight,
To see how'together these yeomen went
With blades both brown and bright:
To see how these yeomen together fought
Two hours of a summer's day,
Yet neither Robin Hood nor Sir Guy
Them fettled to fly away.
Robin was reckless1 on a root,
And stumbled at that tide ;2
And Guy was quick and nimble withal,
And hit him o'er the left side.
1 [Heedless, not aware of, not reeking of, a root: compare, But little he'll reck if
they'll let him sleep on, &c."]
2 [Time, moment.]
10 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Ah, dear Lady," said Robin Hood tho,1
"Thou art both mother and may ;
I think it was never man's destiny
To die before his day."
Robin thought on Our Lady dear,
And soon leapt up again,
And straight he came with a 'backward' stroke
And he Sir Guy hath slain.
He took Sir Guy's head by the hair,
And stuck it upon his bow's end:
"Thou hast been a traitor all thy life,
Which thing must have an end."
Robin pulled forth an Irish knife,
And nicked Sir Guy in the face,
That he was never on woman born
Could tell whose head it-was.
Says, Lie there, lie there now, Sir Guy,
And with me not be wroth;
1[ Then: tho from Anglo-Saxon form.] [Maid.]
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 11
If thou have had the worst strokes at my hand,
Thou shalt have the better cloth."1
Robin did off his gown of green,
And on Sir Guy did throw,
And he put on that capul-hide,
That clad him top to toe.
"The bow, the arrows, and little horn
Now with me I will bear;
For I will away to Barnesdale,
To see how my men do fare."
Robin Hood set Guy's horn to his mouth,
And a loud blast in it did blow:
That beheard the sheriff of Nottingham
As he leaned under a lowe.2
"Hearken, hearken," said the sheriff,
"I hear now tidings good,
For yonder I hear Sir Guy's horn blow,
And he hath slain Robin Hood.
1 [Robin says this as he proceeds to dress himself in Sir Guy's capul-hide, putting
his own better cloth on Sir Guy instead.]
12 THE BOY'S PERCY.
\n ,^- ..^^ ?, ^,^,^ ..
And yonder comes that weighty yeoman,
Clad in his capul-hide.
Ask what thou wilt of me."
But now I have slain the master," he says,
For this is all the reward I ask,
Nor no other will I have. blow,
For this is all the reward I ask,
Nor no other will I have."
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 13
"Thou art a madman," said the sheriff,
"Thou shouldst have had a knight's fee;
But seeing thy asking hath been so bad,
Well granted it shall be."
When Little John heard his master speak,
Well knew he it was his steven;'
"Now shall I be loosed," quoth Little John,
"With Christ his might in heaven."
Fast Robin he hied him to Little John,
He thought to loose him belive:2
The sheriff and all his company
Fast after him can3 drive.
"Stand aback, stand aback," said Robin;
Why draw you me so near?
It was never the use in our country,
One's shrift another should hear."
But Robin pulled forth an Irish knife,
And loosed John hand and foot,
And gave him Sir Guy's bow into his hand,
And bade it be his boot.4
S[V oice.] 2 [Im m ediately.] ['G a;, began .] 4 [R eliance, help .]
14 THE BOY'S PERCY.
Then John he took Guy's bow in his hand,
His bolts and arrows each one:
When the sheriff saw Little John bend his bow,
He fettled him to be gone.
Towards his house in Nottingham town
He fled full fast away,
And so did all the company;
Not one behind would stay.
But he could neither run so fast,
Nor away so fast could ride,
But Little John with an arrow so broad
He shot him into the side.
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 15
We have here a ballad of Robin Hood (from the Editor's folio
MS.) which was never before printed, and carries marks of much
greater antiquity than any of the common popular songs on this
The severity of those tyrannical forest-laws that were introduced
by our Norman kings, and the great temptation of breaking them
by such as lived near the royal forests, at a time when the yeo-
manry of this kingdom were everywhere trained up to the long-
bow, and excelled all other nations in the art of shooting, must
constantly have occasioned a great number of outlaws, and espe-
cially of such as were the best marksmen. These naturally fled to
the woods for shelter, and forming into troops, endeavoured by
their numbers to protect themselves from the dreadful penalties
of their delinquency. This will easily account for the troops of
banditti which formerly lurked in the royal forests, and from their
superior skill in archery, and knowledge of all the recesses of those
unfrequented solitudes, found it no difficult matter to resist or elude
the civil power.
Among all these, none was ever more famous than the hero of
this ballad, whose chief residence was in Shirewood Forest, in
Nottinghamshire, the heads of whose story, as collected by Stow,
are briefly these:
"In this time [about the year 1190, in the reign of Richard I.]
were many robbers, and outlawes, among the which Robin Hood
and Little John, renowned theeves, continued in woods, despoyling
and robbing the goods of the rich. They killed none but such as
would invade them: or by resistance for their own defence.
The said Robert entertained an hundred tall men and good
16 THE BOY'S PERCY.
archers with such spoiles and thefts as he got, upon whom four
hundred (were they ever so strong) durst not give the onset. He
suffered no woman to be oppressed, violated, or otherwise molested:
poore mens goods he spared, abundantlie relieving them with that
which by theft he got from abbeys and the houses of rich caries:
whom Maior (the historian) blameth for his rapine and theft, but
of all theeves he affirmeth him to be the prince and the most gentle
theefe."-Annals, p. 159.
The personal courage of this celebrated outlaw, his skill in
archery, his humanity, and especially his levelling principle of
taking from the rich and giving to the poor, have in all ages ren-
dered him the favourite of the common people: who, not content
to celebrate his memory by innumerable songs and stories, have
erected him, into the dignity of an earl. Indeed it is not impossible
but our hero, to gain the more respect from his followers, or they
to derive the more credit to their profession, may have given rise
to such a report themselves: for we find it recorded in an epitaph,
which, if genuine, must have been inscribed on his tombstone near
the nunnery of Kirk-lees in Yorkshire; where (as the story goes)
he was bled to death by a treacherous nun, to whom he applied for
,pear tberneaCb ti laiti #teau [Here underneath this little stone
lai3 robert earl of ltuntiutttll Lies Robert Earl of Huntington.
na areir tt r ait O e geuit No archer were as he so good,
ant ipt[ faulb imt Robitn otU And people called him Robin Hood.
Sicf nItlGat a3 Oi art is men Such outlaws as he and his men
bil Ottgtttinb itbir 1i agtt Will England never see again.
obiit 24 fat. befembri#, 1247.* Obiit (he died) 24 kalends of December, 1247 ]
ROBIN HOOD AND GUY OF GISBORNE. 17
This epitaph appears to me suspicious; however, a late Antiquary
has given a pedigree of Robin Hood, which, if genuine, shows that
he had real pretensions to the earldom of Huntington, and that his
true name was ROBERT FITZ-OOTH. Yet the most ancient poems
on Robin Hood make no mention of this earldom. He is expressly
asserted to have been a yeoman in a very old legend in verse, pre-
served in the archives of the public library at Cambridge, in eight
FYTrES or Parts, printed in black letter, quarto, thus inscribed:
" Here begynneth a lytell geste of Robyn hode and his meyne,
and of the proude sheryfe of Notyngham." The first lines are:
Lithe and lysten, gentylmen,
That be of fre-bore blode:
I shall you tell of a good YEMAN,
His name was Robyn hode.
Robyn was a proude out-lawe,
Whiles he walked on ground;
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one,
Was never none yfounde," &c.
I shall conclude these preliminary remarks with observing, that
the hero of this ballad was the famous subject of popular songs so
early as the time of K. Edward III. In the Visions of Pierce
Plowman, written in that reign, a monk says:
3 can rimte of Lobent ob, anu anbal of %ekster,
Sut of our Sorbe anb otr taba, Inrue uotiutg at all.
-Fol. 26, ed. 1550.
See also in Bp. Latimer's Sermons a very curious and charac-
18 THE BOY'S PERCY.
teristical story, which shows what respect was shown to the mem-
ory of our archer in the time of that prelate.
The curious reader will find many other particulars relating to
this celebrated outlaw in Sir John Hawkins's Hist. of Music, vol.
iii., p. 410, 4to.
For the catastrophe of Little John, who, it seems, was executed
for a robbery on Arbor-hill, Dublin (with some curious particulars
relating to his skill in archery), see Mr. J. C. Walker's ingenious
" Memoir on the Armour and Weapons of the Irish," p. 129, an-
nexed to his Historical Essay on the Dress of the Ancient and
Modern Irish." Dublin, 1788, 4to.
Some liberties were, by the Editor, taken with this ballad;
which, in this edition, hath been brought nearer to the folio MS.
EARKEN to me, gentlemen,
Come and you shall hear;
I'll tell you of two of the boldest brethren
That ever born y-were.
The one of them was Adler young,
The other was King Estmere;
They were as bold men in their deeds,
As any were, far and near.
20 THE BOY'S PERCY.
As they were drinking ale and wine
Within King Estmere's hall:
"When will ye marry a wife, brother,
A wife to glad us all ?"
Then bespake him King Estmere,
And answered him hastily:
"I know not that lady in any land,
That is able to marry with me."
"King Adland hath a daughter, brother,
Men call her bright and sheen ;1
If I were king here in your stead,
That lady should be queen."
Says, "Rede2 me, rede me, dear brother,
Throughout merry England,
Where we might find a messenger
Between us two to send."
Says, "You shall ride yourself, brother,
I'll bear you company;
Many through false messengers are deceived,
And I fear lest so should we."
1 [Beautiful: German, schon ] 2 [Advise.]
KING ESTMERE. 21
Thus they renisht1 them to ride
Of two good renisht steeds,
And when they came to King Adland's hall,
Of red gold shone their weeds.2
And when they came to King Adland's hall
Before the goodly gate,
There they found good King Adland
Rearing himself threat.
"Now Christ thee save, good King Adland,
Now Christ thee save and see."
Said, You be welcome, King Estmere,
Right heartily to me."
"You have a daughter," said Adler young,
"Men call her bright and sheen;
My brother would marry her to his wife,
Of England to be queen."
"Yesterday was at my dear daughter
Sir Bremor the King of Spain; 3
And then she nicked him of nay; 4
I fear she'll do you the same."
1 [Arrayed.] 2[Garments: we still say "in widow's weeds."]
3 [That is, Sir Bremor was besieging, or teasing, my dear daughter. The word
"at" is familiar in this sense throughout the Southern United States.]
S[" Nicked him of nay:" as much as to say, cut him with a "no."]
"22 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"The King of Spain is a foul paynim,
And 'lieveth on Mahound;
And pity it were that fair lady
Should marry a heathen hound."
"But grant to me," says King Estmere,
"For my love I you pray,
That I may see your daughter dear
Before I go hence away."
"Although it is seven year and more
Since my daughter was in the hall,
She shall come down once for your sake,
To gladden my guests all."
Down then came that maiden fair,
With ladies laced in pall,1
And half a hundred of bold knights,
To bring her from bower to hall,
And eke as many gentle squires,
To wait upon them all.
The talents of gold were on her head set,
Hung low down to her knee;
And every ring on her small finger
Shone of the crystal free.
KING ESTMERE. 23
Says, "Christ you save, my dear madam ;"
Says, "Christ you save and see;"
Says, "You be welcome, King Estmere,
Right welcome unto me.
And if you love me, as you say,
So well and heartily,
All that ever you are come about
Soon sped now it may be."
Then bespake her father dear:
"My daughter, I say nay;
Remember well the King of Spain,
What he said yesterday.
He would pull down my halls and castles,
And reavee' me of my life:
And ever I fear that paynim king,
If I reavee him of his wife."
"Your castles and your towers, father,
Are strongly built about;
And therefore of that foul paynim
We need not stand in doubt.
1 [Bereave: deprive.]
24 THE BOY'S PERCY.
Plight me your troth now, King Estmere,
By heaven and your right hand,
That you will marry me to your wife,
And make me queen of your land."
Then King Estmere he plight his troth
By heaven and his right hand,
That he would marry her to his wife,
And make her queen of his land.
And he took his leave of that lady fair,
To go to his own country,
To fetch him dukes and lords and knights,
That married they might be.
They had not ridden scant a mile,
A mile forth of the town,
But in did come the King of Spain,
With kempes1 many a one:
But in did come the King of Spain,
With many a grim baron,
One day to marry King Adland's daughter,
Tother day to carry her home.
S[" Kemp-es" (two syllables), warriors.]
KING ESTMERE. 25
Then she sent after King Estmere,
In all the speed might be,
That he must either return and fight,
Or go home and lose his lady.
-. -.-. .- -
One while then the page he went,
Another while he ran;
Till he had o'ertaken King Estmere,
I wis, he never blan.'
"Tidings, tidings, King Estmere!"
"What tidings now, my boy ? "
"O tidings I can tell to you,
That will you sore annoy.
26 THE. BOY'S PERCY.
You had not ridden scant a mile,
A mile out of the town,
But in did come the King of Spain
With kempes many a one:
But in did come the King of Spain
With many a grim baron,
One day to marry King Adland's daughter,
Tother day to carry her home.
That lady fair she greets you well,
And ever-more well by me:
You must either turn again and fight,
Or go home and lose your lady."
Says, "Rede me, rede me, dear brother,
My rede shall ride' at thee,
Which way we best may turn and fight,
To save this fair lady."
"Now hearken to me," says Adler young,
"And your rede must rise at me;
I quickly will devise a way
To set thy lady free.
1 [" Ride is commonly explained as a mistake for rise," and the whole line as
meaning My rede (or counsel) shall rise from thee; but this seems unsatisfactory.
Observe the same expression in the next verse.]
KING ESTMERE. 27
My mother was a western woman,
And learned in gramarye,
And when I learned at the school,
Something she taught it me.
There growth an herb within this field,
And if it were but known,
His2 color which is white and red,
It will make black and brown:
His color which is brown and black,
It will make red and white;
That sword is not in all England,
Upon his coat will bite.
And you shall be a harper, brother,
Out of the North country;
And I'll be your boy, so fain of fight,
To bear your harp by your knee.
And you shall be the best harper,
That ever took harp in hand;
And I will be the best singer,
That ever sung in this land.
1 [Magic.] 2[ Whoever's (color is white and red, it will make black and brown. ]
28 THE BOY'S PERCY.
It shall be written in our foreheads,
All and,1 in gramarye,
That we two are the boldest men
That are in all Christentye."2
And thus they renisht them to ride,
On two good renisht steeds;
And when they came to King Adland's hall,
Of red gold shone their weeds.
And when they came to King Adland's hall,
Unto the fair hall gate,
There they found a proud porter,
Rearing himself threat.
Says, Christ thee save, thou proud porter;"
Says, Christ thee save and see."
"Now you be welcome," said the porter,
"Of what land soever ye be."
"We be harpers," said Adler young,
"Come out of the North country;
We are come hither unto this place,
This proud wedding for to see."
1 [The old ballad-makers were rather fond of putting in an "and when the
rhythm was in need of a syllable.]
KING ESTMERE. 29
Said, And your color were white and red,
As it is black and brown,
I'd say King Estmere and his brother
Were come unto this town."
Then they pulled out a ring of gold.
Laid it on the porter's arm:
"And ever we will thee, proud porter,
Thou wilt say us no harm."
Sore he looked on King Estmere,
And sore he handled the ring,
Then opened to them the fair hall gates,
He let1 for no kind of thing.
King Estmere he light2 off his steed,
Up at the fair hall board;
The froth that came from his bridle bit
Light on King Bremor's beard.
2 [Alighted. But Percy's fourth edition of his book reads, instead of this:
King Estmero he stabled his steed
So fair at the hall board,"
etc., that is, rode right up to the table.]
30 THE BOY'S PERCY.
Says, "Stable thy steed, thou proud harper,
Go stable him in the stall;
It doth not beseem a proud harper
To stable him in a king's hall."
"My lad he is so lither,"1 he said,
"He will do nought that's meet;
And aye that I could but find the man,
Were able him to beat."
"Thou speakest proud words," said the paynim killng
"Thou harper here to me:
There is a man within this hall
That will beat thy lad and thee."
"0 let that man come down," he said,
"A sight of him would I see;
And when he hath beaten well my lad,
Then he shall beat of2 me."
Down then came the kemperye man,3
And looked him in the eare;
For all the gold that was under heaven,
He durst not nigh him near.
2[1" Of," put in for rhythm's sake, like the and a few stanzas before.]
3[," Kemperye man," fighting man, man accustomed to war.]
KING ESTMERE. 31
"And how now, kempe," said the King of Spain,
"And how what aileth thee?"
He says, It is written in his forehead
All and in gramarye,
That for all the gold that is under heaven,
I dare not nigh him nigh."
King Estmere then pulled forth his harp,
And played thereon so sweet:
Upstart the lady from the king,
As he sat at the meat.2
"Now stay thy harp, thou proud harper,
Now stay thy harp, I say;
For an thou playest as thou begin'st,
Thou'lt till3 my bride away."
He struck upon his harp again,
And played both fair and free;
The lady was so pleased threat,
She laughed loud laughters three.
1 [Kemp-e, two syllables.]
"2 [But instead of this, Percy's other edition reads:
Then King Estmere pulled forth his harp,
And played a pretty thing:
The lady upstart from the board
And would have gone from the King."]
32 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Now sell me thy harp," said the King of Spain,
"Thy harp and strings each one,
And as many gold nobles thou shalt have,
As there be strings thereon."
He played again both loud and shrill,
And Adler he did sing,
"0 lady, this is thy own true love;
No harper, but a king.
0 lady, this is thy own true love,
As plainly thou mayest see;
And I'll rid thee of that foul paynim,
Who parts thy love and thee."
The lady looked, the lady blushed,
And blushed and looked again,
While Adler he hath drawn his brand,
And hath the Sowdan slain.
Up then rose the kemperye men,
And loud they 'gan to cry;
"Ah! traitors, ye have slain our king,
And therefore ye shall die."
KING ESTMERE. 33
King Estmere threw the harp aside,
And swith' he drew his sword;
And Estmere he, and Adler young,
Right stiff in stour2 can3 stand.
S. .. ....... 7 ,\
S/ -- -
And aye their swords so sore can bite,
Through help of gramarye,
That soon they have slain the kemperye men
Or forced them forth to flee.
King Estmere took that fair lady,
And married her to his wife,
And brought her home to merry England
With her to lead his life.
1[" Swith," Anglo-Saxon, instantly.] [Fight.]
[" Can," much used in older ballads for gan," began.]
34 THE BOY'S PERCY.
This old romantic Legend (which is given from two copies, one
of them in the Editor's folio MS.,* but which contained very great
variations) bears marks of great antiquity. It should seem to have
been written while a great part of Spain was in the hands of the
Saracens or Moors, whose empire there was not fully extinguished
before the year 1491. The Mahometans are spoken of in v. 49,
&c., just in the same terms as in all other old romances. The
author of the ancient legend of Sir Bevis represents his hero, upon
all occasions, breathing out defiance against
"Mahound and Termagaunte;"
and so full of zeal for his religion, as to return the following polite
message to a Paynim king's fair daughter, who had fallen in love
with him, and sent two Saracen knights to invite him to her bow3r:
I wyll not ones stirre off this ground,
To speaker with an heathen hounde,
Unchristian houndes, I rede you fle,
Or I your harte bloud shall se."
Indeed, they return the compliment, by calling him elsewhere "a
"* [But the folio copy had been quite torn out when the MS. came to the hands
of Mr. Furnivall and his co-laborer Mr. Hales. One may, however, here express
the hope and belief that several explanations of this circumstance might be sug-
gested, which, with all the good Bishop's too evident sins in these matters, would
be less discreditable to him than Mr. Furnivall's suggestion (see Hales and Furni-
vall's reprint of Bishop Percy's Folio MS., vol. ii., p. 200, note 1) that Percy "must
have deliberately and unnecessarily torn three leaves out of his M.S. when pre-
paring his fourth edition for the press."] .
KING ESTMERE. 35
This was conformable to the real manners of the barbarous ages:
perhaps the same excuse will hardly serve our bard for the situa-
tions in which he has placed some of his royal personages. That
a youthful monarch should take a journey into another kingdom to
visit his mistress incog. was a piece of gallantry paralleled in our
own Charles I.; but that King Adland should be found lolling or
leaning at his gata (v. 35) may be thought, perchance, a little out
of character. And yet the great painter of manners, Homer, did
not think it inconsistent with decorum to represent a king of the
Taphians rearing himself at the gate of Ulysses to inquire for that
monarch, when he touched at Ithaca, as he was taking a voyage
with a ship's cargo of iron to dispose of in traffic. So little ought
we to judge of ancient manners by our own.
Before I conclude th's article, I cannot help observing that the
reader will see in this ballad the character of the old minstrels
(those successors of the bards) placed in a very respectable light:
here he will see one of them represented mounted on a fine horse,
accompanied with an attendant to bear his harp after him, and to
sing the poems of his composing. Here he will see him mixing in
the company of kings without ceremony; no mean proof of the
great antiquity of this poem. The farther we carry our inquiries
back, the greater respect we find paid to the professors of poetry
and music among all the Celtic and Gothic nations. Their character
was deemed so sacred, that under its sanction our famous King
Alfred (as we have already seen) made no scruple to enter the
Danish camp, and was at once admitted to the king's head-quarters.
Our poet has suggested the same expedient to the heroes of this
36 THE BOY'S PERCY.
ballad. All the histories of the North are full of the great rever-
ence paid to this order of men. Harold Harfagre, a celebrated king
of Norway, was wont to seat them at his table above all the officers
of his court: and we find another Norwegian king placing five of
them by his side in a day of battle, that they might be eye-witnesses
of the great exploits they were to celebrate. As to Estmere's
riding into the hall while the kings were at table, this was usual
in the ages of chivalry; and even to this day we see a relic of this
custom still kept up, in the Champion's riding into Westminster-
hall during the coronation dinner.
ADAM BELL, CLYM OF THE CLOUGH
WILLIAM OF CLOUDESLY.
ERRY it was in the green forest,
Among the leaves green,
SVWhereas men hunt east and west,
With bows and arrows keen,
To raise the deer out of their den,
Such sights hath oft been seen,
As by three yeomen of the north country,
aBy them it is I mean.
The one of them hight' Adam Bell,
The other Clym of the Clough,2
The third was William of Cloudesly,
An archer good enough.
1 [ Was named.] 2 [Pronounced Cluff]
38 THE BOY'S PERCY.
They were outlawed for venison,
These yeomen every one;
They swore them brethren upon a day,
To English-wood for to gon.1
Now lithe and listen, gentlemen,
That of mirths loveth to hear;
Two of them were single men,
The third had a wedded fere.2
William was the wedded man,
Much more then was his care:
He said to his brethren upon a day,
To Carlisle he would fare,
For to speak with fair Alice his wife,
And with his children three.
"By my troth," said Adam Bell,
"Not by the counsel of me.
For if ye go to Carlisle, brother,
And from this wild wood wend,
If the justice may you take,
Your life were at an end."
S[Go: gon is the old form of the verb.] 2 [Mate, companion.]
ADAM BELL. 39
"If that I come not to-morrow brother,
By prime1 to you again,
Trust you then that I am taken,
Or else that I am slain."
He took his leave of his brethren two,
And to Carlisle he is gone:
There he knocked at his own window,
Shortly and anon.
"Where be you, fair Alice," he said,
"My, wife and children three?
Lightly let in thine own husband,
William of Cloudesly."
"Alas!" then said fair Alice,
And sighed wondrous sore,
"This place hath been beset for you,
This half year and more."
"Now am I here," said Cloudesly,
"I would that in I were:
Now fetch us meat and drink enough,
And let us make good cheer."
1 [Four o'clock A.IM in summer, eight in winter.]
40 THE BOY'S PERCY.
She fetched him meat and drink plenty,
Like a true wedded wife,
And pleased him with that she had,
Whom she loved as her life.
There lay an old wife in that place,
A little beside the fire,
Which William had found, of charity,
More than seven year.
Up she rose and forth she goes,
Evil mote1 she speed therefore,
For she had set no foot on ground
In seven year before.
She went into the justice hall,
As fast as she could hie:
"This night," she said, "is come to town
William of Cloudesly."
Thereof the justice was full fain,
And so was the sheriff also;
"Thou shalt not toil hither, dame, for nought,
Thy meed thou shalt have e'er thou go."
ADAM BELL. 41
They gave to her a right good gown
Of scarlet, and of graine:
She took the gift and home she went,
And couched her down again.
They raised the town of merry Carlisle
In all the haste they can,
And came thronging to William's house,
As fast as they might gone.
There they beset that good yeoman,
Round about on every side;
William heard great noise of folks,
That thitherward fast hied.
Alice opened a back window
And looked all about,
She was ware of the justice and sheriff both,
With a full great route.'
"Alas! treason," cried Alice,
"Ever woe may thou be!
Go into my chamber, husband," she said,
"Sweet William of Cloudesly."
l[The Folio reads And with them a full great route," which is certainly not so
distressing in rhythm as Percy's line.]
42 THE BOY'S PERCY.
He took his sword and his buckler,
His bow and his children three,
And went into his strongest chamber,
Where he thought the surest to be.
Fair Alice, like a lover true,
Took a pollaxe in her hand:
Said, "He shall die that cometh in
This door, while I may stand."
ADAM BELL. 43
Cloudesly bent a right good bow,
That was of a trusty tree,
He smote the justice on the breast,
That his arrow burst in three.
"A curse on his heart," said William,
This day thy coat did on:
If it had been no better than mine,
It had gone near thy bone."
"Yield thee, Cloudesly," said the justice,
And thy bow and thy arrows thee fro'."
"A curse on his heart," said fair Alice,
"That my husband counselleth so."
"Set fire on the house," said the sheriff,
"Since it will no better be,
And burn we therein William," he said,
"His wife and children three."
They fired the house in many a place,
The fire flew up on high;
"Alas !" then cried fair Alice,
"I see we here shall die."
44 THE BOY'S PERCY.
William opened a back window,
That was in his chamber high,
And there with sheets he did let down
His wife and children three.
"Have here my treasure," said William,
"My wife and children three,
For Christ's love do them no harm,
But wreak you all on me."
William shot so wondrous well,
Till his arrows were all agoe,1
And the fire so fast upon him fell,
That his bowstrings burnt in two.
The sparkles brent2 and fell upon
Good William of Cloudesly;
Then was he woful man, and said,
"This is a coward's death to me."
"Liever3 had I," said William,
"With my sword in the route to run,
Than here among mine enemies wood,4
Thus cruelly to burn."
1[ Gone.] [Burnt.] 3 [Rather, more lief.] [Savage furious.]
ADAM BELL. 45
He took his sword and his buckler,
And among them all he ran:
: ; ), I.;'
He so / down -an a n
/ .1,' I,-
.., L '
A ,i I J
S.... // .-'/.'
~~ I;: II .
( irJ ,
/: L\ : .1
Where the people were most in press,
He smote down many a' man.
46 THE BOY'S PERCY.
There might no man abide his stroke,
So fiercely on them he ran;
Then they threw windows and doors on him,
And so took that good yeoman.
There they him bound both hand and foot,
And in deep dungeon him cast;
"Now Cloudesly," said the justice,
"Thou shalt be hanged in haste."
"A pair of new gallows," said the sheriff,
"Now shall I for thee make;
And the gates of Carlisle shall be shut:
No man shall come in threat.
Then shall not help Clym of the Clough,
Nor yet shall Adam Bell,
Though they came with a thousand mo,1
Nor all the devils in hell."
Early in the morning the justice uprose,
To the gates first 'gan he gon,
And commanded to be shut full close
Lightily every one.
1 [More: but the Folio has men."]
ADAM BELL. 47
Then went he to the market place,
As fast as he could hie;
"A pair of new gallows there he set up
Beside the pillory.
"A little boy 'among them asked,'
"What meaneth that gallow-tree?"
They said "to hang a good yeoman,
Called William of Cloudesly."
That little boy was the town swine-herd,
And kept fair Alice's swine;
Oft he had seen William in the wood,
And given him there to dine.
He went out at a crevice in the wall,
And lightly to the woods did gone;'
There met he with these wighty yeomen
Shortly and anon.
"Alas!" then said that little boy,
"Ye tarry here all too long;
Cloudesly is taken and damned to death,
All ready for to hang."
1 [Instead of" did gone," the Percy Folio has he run."]
48 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Alas!" then said good Adam Bell,
"That ever we see this day!
He had better with us have tarried,
So oft as we did him pray.
He might have dwelt in green forests,
Under the shadows green,
And have kept both him and us in rest,
Out of trouble and teen."
Adam bent a right good bow,
A great hart soon he had slain;
Take that, child," he said, "to thy dinner,
And bring me mine arrow again."
"Now go we hence," said these wighty yeomen,
"Tarry we no longer here;
We shall him borrow,2 by God his grace,
Though we bye3 it full dere."
To Carlisle went these two yeomen,
All in a morning of May.
Here is a part of Cloudesly,
And another is for to say.
1 [Anglo-Saxon, injury, harm.] 2 [Redeem.]
3 [Anglo-Saxon abye, pay for, suffer for.]
ADAM BELL. 49
PART THE SECOND.
And when they came to merry Carlisle,
All in the morning tide,
They found the gates shut them until'
About on every side.
"Alas!" then said good Adam Bell,
"That ever we were made men!
These gates be shut so wondrous fast,
We may not come therein."
Then bespake him Clym of the Clough,
"With a will we will us in bring;
Let us say we be messengers,
Straight come now from our king."
Adam said, "I have a letter written,
Now let us wisely work,
We will say we have the king's seal;
I hold the porter no clerk."
1 [ Unto.]
50 THE BOY'S PERCY.
Then Adam Bell beat on the gate,
With strokes great and strong;
The porter marveled who was threat,
And to the gate he throng.1
Who is there now," said the porter,
"That maketh all this knocking?"
"We be two messengers," quoth Clym of the Clough,
"Be come right from our king."
"We have a letter," said Adam Bell,
"To the justice we must it bring;
Let us in our message to do,
That we were again to the king."
"Here cometh none in," said the porter,
"By Him that died on a tree,
Till a false thief be hanged up,
Called William of Cloudesly."
Then spake the good yeoman Clym of the Clough,
And swore by Mary free,
"And if that we stand long without,
Like a thief hanged thou shalt be.
ADAM BELL. 51
Lo! here we have the king's seal;
What, lurden,7 art thou wood?"
The porter weened it had been so,
And lightly did off his hood.
"Welcome be my lord's seal," he said:
"For that ye shall come in."
He opened the gate full shortly,
An evil opening for him.
"Now are we in," said Adam Bell,
"Whereof we are full fain,
But Christ he knows, that harrowed hell,
How we shall come out again."
"Had we the keys," said Clym of the Clough,
"Right well then should we speed;
Then might we come out well enough
When we see time and need."
They called the porter to counsel,
And wrang his neck in two,
And cast him into a deep dungeon,
And took his keys him fro.
52 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Now am I porter," said Adam Bell,
"See brother, the keys are here;
The worst porter to merry Carlisle,
That ye had this hundred year.
And now will we our bows bend,
Into the town will we go,
For to deliver our brother dear,
That lieth in care and woe."
Then they bent their good yew bows,
And looked their strings were round;
The market place in merry Carlisle
They beset in that stound.'
And as they looked them beside,
A pair of new gallows -they see,
And the justice with a quest2 of squires,
Had judged William hanged to be.
And Cloudesly lay ready there in a cart,
Fast bound both foot and hand,
And a strong rope about his neck,
All ready for to hang.
1 [Hour.] 2 [Inquest.]
ADAM BELL. 53
The justice called to him a lad,
Cloudesly's clothes he should have,
To take the measure of that yeoman,
Thereafter to make his grave.
"I have seen as great marvel," said Cloudesly,
"As between this and prime,
He that maketh a grave for me,
Himself may lie therein."
"Thou speakest proudly," said the justice,
"I shall thee hang with my hand,"
Full well heard this his brethren two
There still as they did stand.
Then Cloudesly cast his eyen1 aside,
And saw his brethren twain
At a corner of the market place,
Ready the justice for to slain.2
"I see comfort," said Cloudesly,
"Yet hope I well to fare;
If I might have my hands at will,
Right little would I care."
1 [The Folio MS. has simple eye." 2 [Slay].
54 THE BOY'S PERCY.
Then spake good Adam Bell
To Clym of the Clough so free,
"Brother, see ye mark the justice well,
Lo, yonder you may him see.
And at the sheriff shoot I will,
Strongly with an arrow keen;
A better shot in merry Carlisle
This seven year was not seen."
They loosed their arrows both at once,
Of no man had they dread;
The one hit the justice, the other the sheriff,
That both their sides 'gan bleed,
All men vowed: that them stood nigh,
When the justice fell to the ground,
And the sheriff nigh him by,
Either had his death's wound.
All the citizens fast 'gan fly,
They durst no longer abide;
There lightly they loosed Cloudesly,
Where he with ropes lay tied.
ADAM BELL. 55
William start' to an officer of the town,
His axe out of his hand he wrung,
On each side he smote them down,
He thought he tarried too long.
William said to his brethren two,
"This day let us live and die;
If ever you have need as I have now,
The same shall you find by me."
They shot so well in that tide,
For their strings were of silk full sure,
That they kept the streets on every side:
That battle did long endure.
They fought together as brethren,
Like hardy men and bold;
Many a man to the ground they threw,
And many a heart made cold.
But when their arrows were all gone
Men pressed to them full fast;
They drew their swords then anon,
And their bows from them they cast.
56 THE BOY'S PERCY.
They went lightly on their way,
With swords and bucklers round;
By that it was mid of the day,
They made many a wound.
There was many an out-horn in Carlisle blown
And the bells backward did ring;
Many a woman said alas!
And many their hands did wring.
The mayor of Carlisle forth was come,
With him a full great route;
These yeomen dread him full sore,
Of their lives they stood in great doubt.
The mayor came armed a full great pace,
With a pollaxe.in his hand;
Many a strong man with him was,
There in that stour to stand.
The mayor smote at Cloudesly with his bill,
His buckler he brast1 in two;
Full many a yeoman with great evil,
"Alas! treason" they cried for woe,
"Keep we the gates fast," they bade,
"That these traitors thereout not go."
ADAM BELL. 57
But all for nought was that they wrought,
For so fast they down were laid,
Till they all three, that so manfully fought
Were gotten without at abraide.1
"Have here your keys," said Adam Bell,
"Mine office I here forsake;
If you do by my counsel,
A new porter do ye make."
He threw their keys at their heads,
And bad them evil to thrive;
58 THE BOY'S PERCY.
And all that letteth any good yeoman
To come and comfort his wife.
Thus be these good yeomen gone to the wood,
And lightly as leaf on lynde1
They laugh and be merry in their mood,
Their enemies were farr behind.
And when they came to English-wood,
Under the trusty tree,
There they found bows full good,
And arrows full great plenty.
"So God me help," said Adam Bell
And Clym of the Clough so free,
"I would we were in merry Carlisle,
Before that fair meinie."2
They set them down and made good cheer,
And eat and drank full well:
A second part of the wighty yeoman:
Another I will you tell.
1 [The linden tree.] 2 [ Company.]
ADAM BELL. 59
PART THE THIRD.
As they sat in English-wood,
Under the greenwood tree,
They thought they heard a woman weep,
But her they might not see.
Sore then sighed the fair Alice:
"That ever I saw this day!
For now is my dear husband slain,
Alas! and wel-a-way!
"Might I have spoken with his dear brethren,
Or with either of them twain,
To show to them what him befell,
My heart were out of pain."
Cloudesly walked a little beside,
He looked under the green-wood linde,
He was ware of his wife and his children three,
Full woe in heart and mind.
60 THE BOY'S PERCY.
"Welcome, wife," then said William,
"Under this trusty tree;
I had ween'd yesterday, by sweet Saint John,
Thou should'st me never have see."
"Now well is me that ye be here,
My heart is out of woe."
"Dame," he said, be merry and glad,
And thank my brethren two."
"Hereof to speak," said Adam Bell,
"I wis it is no boot;
The meat, that we must sup withal,
It runneth yet fast on foot."
Then went they down into a land,
These noble archers all three,
Each of them slew a hart of greece,'
The best that they could see.
"Have here the best, Alice, my wife,"
Said William of Cloudesly;
"Because ye so boldly stood by me,
When I was slain full nigh."
ADAM BELL. 61
Then went they to supper,
With such meat as they had,
And thanked God of their fortune;
They were both merry and glad.
And when they had supped well,
Certain without lease,'
Cloudesly said, "We will to our king,
To get us a charter of peace.
Alice shall be at sojourning
In a nunnery here beside;
My two sons shall with her go,
And there they shall abide.
My eldest son shall go with me,
For him have you no care,
And he shall bring you word again,
How that we do fare."
Thus be these yeomen to London gone,
As fast as they might hie,
Till they came to the king's palace,
Where they would needs be.
62 THE BOY'S PERCY.
And when they came to the king's court,
Unto the palace gate,
Of no man would they ask no leave,
But boldly went in threat.
They pressed prestly' into the hall,
Of no man had they dread;
The porter came after and did them call,
And with them 'gan to chide.
The usher said, "Yeomen, what would ye have ?
I pray you tell to me;
You might thus make officers shent:2
Good Sirs, of whence be ye?"
"Sir, we be outlaws of the forest,
Certain without lease,
And hither we be come to our king,
To get us a charter of peace."
And when they came before the king,
As it was the law of the land,
They kneeled down without letting,3
And each held up his hand.
S[Quickly.] 2 [Ruined.] 3 [Stopping.]