The Book of Brave Old Ballads
Author: Unknown
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Illustrated with Sixteen Coloured Engravings,


"I never heard the old song of Percie and Douglas, that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet."—SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.








Part the First 30 Part the Second 43 Part the Third 55






Part the First 118 Part the Second 124


Part the First 133 Part the Second 142






Part the First 188 Part the Second 198


Part the First 214 Part the Second 222




He took Sir Guy's head by the hair, And stuck it upon his bow's end 11


Pardon, my lord and father dear, This fair young knight and me 28


Cloudesly bent a right good bow, That was of a trusty tree 36

4. They kneeled down without hindrance, And each held up his hand 60


She brought him to a river side And also to a tree 76

6. THE FROLICKSOME DUKE. (Frontispiece.)

Now he lay something late, in his rich bed of state, Till at last knights and squires, they on him did wait 84


Then leaving life, Earl Percy took The dead man by the hand 99


The tanner he pull'd, the tanner he sweat, And held by the pummel fast 114


And he pull'd forth three bags of gold, And laid them down upon the board 130


They boarded then his noble ship, They boarded it with might and main 150


They kneeled on the ground, And praised God devoutly 157


Then home rode the abbot of comfort so cold, And he met his shepherd a going to fold 165


The friar took Robin Hood on his back, Deep water he did bestride 174


He ask'd them seven times in the church, Lest three times should not be enough 187


And kneeling down upon his knee, Presents him to the king 197


Well, quo' the miller's wife, young man, ye're welcome here; And, though I say it, well lodged shall be 218



When shaws[1] be sheen,[2] and swards full fair, And leaves both large and long, It is merry walking in the fair forest To hear the small birds' song.

The woodweel[3] sang, and would not cease, Sitting upon the spray, So loud, he wakened Robin Hood, In the greenwood where he lay.

Now by my faith, said jolly Robin, A sweaven[4] I had this night; I dreamt me of two wight[5] yeomen That fast with me can fight.

Methought they did me beat and bind, And took my bow me fro'; If I be Robin alive in this land, I'll be wroken[6] on them two.

Sweavens are swift, master, quoth John, As the wind that blows o'er a hill; For if it be never so loud this night, To-morrow it may be still.

Busk ye, bowne[7] ye, my merry men all, And John shall go with me, For I'll go seek yon wight yeomen, In the 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 be, There were they aware 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 capull[8] hide Top and tail and mane.

Stand you still, master, quoth Little John, Under this tree so green, And I will go to yon 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, An[9] a man but hear him speak; An it were not for bursting of my bow, John, I thy head would break.

As often words they breeden bale,[10] So they parted, Robin and John; And John is gone to Barnesdale: The gates[11] 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 glade.

And Scarlett he was flying a-foot Fast over stock and stone, For the proud sheriff with seven score men Fast after him is gone.

One shot now I will shoot, quoth John, (With Christe his might and main;) I'll make yon fellow that flies so fast, To stop he shall be fain.

Then John bent up his long bende-bow, And fettled[12] 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, My boote[13] when thou shouldst 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.

It had been better for William-a-Trent To have been a-bed with sorrow, Than to be that day in the greenwood glade 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 dale and down, And hang'd high on a hill. But thou mayst fail of thy purpose, quoth John, If it be Christe 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.

Good morrow, good fellow, said Robin so fair, Good morrow, good fellow, quoth he: Methinks by this bow thou bear'st in thy hand, A good archer thou shouldst be.

I am wilful[14] 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 pounds so good.

Now come with me, thou wighty yeoman, And Robin thou soon shalt see: But first let us some pastime find Under the greenwood tree.

First let us some mastery make Among the woods so even, We may chance to meet with Robin Hood Here at some unset[15] steven.

They cut them down two summer shoggs,[16] That grew both under a briar, And set them threescore rod, in twain, To shoot the pricks[17] y-fere.[18]

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 miss'd but an inch it fro'; The yeoman he was an archer good, But he could never shoot so.

The second shoot had the wighty yeoman, He shot within the garland;[19] 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.[20] Nay, by my faith, quoth bold Robin, Till thou have told me thine.

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 they fought Two hours of a summer's day: Yet neither Robin Hood nor sir Guy Them fettled to fly away.

Robin was reachles[21] of a root, And stumbled at that tide; And Guy was quick and nimble withal, And hit him o'er the left side.

Ah dear Lady, said Robin Hood, thou, Thou art both mother and may',[22] 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 pull'd forth an Irish knife, And nick'd sir Guy in the face, That he was never o' woman born, Could tell whose head it was.

Says, Lie there, lie there now, sir Guy, And with me be not wroth; If thou have had the worst strokes at my hand, Thou shalt have the better cloth.

Robin did off his gown of green, And on sir Guy did throw, And he put on that capull 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.[23]

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.

Yonder I hear sir Guy's horn blow, It blows so well in tide, And yonder comes that wighty yeoman, Clad in his capull hide.

Come hither, come hither, thou good sir Guy, Ask what thou wilt of me. O I will none of thy gold, said Robin, Nor I will none of thy fee.

But now I have slain the master, he says, Let me go strike the knave; For this is all the reward I ask; Nor no other will I have.

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:[24] Now shall I be loosed, quoth Little John, With Christe his might in heaven.

Fast Robin he hied him to Little John, He thought to loose him belive;[25] The sheriff and all his company Fast after him did drive.

Stand back, stand back, said Robin; Why draw you me so near? It was never the use in our country, One's shrift another should hear.

But Robin pull'd 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 boote.

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 back-side.


[1] Woods.

[2] Shining.

[3] A kind of thrush.

[4] Dream.

[5] Strong.

[6] Revenged.

[7] Make ready.

[8] Horse-hide.

[9] If.

[10] Mischief.

[11] Ways.

[12] Made ready.

[13] Help.

[14] Missing.

[15] Unexpectedly.

[16] Twigs.

[17] Marks.

[18] Together.

[19] A ring round the prick.

[20] Lime.

[21] Careless.

[22] Maid.

[23] Little hill.

[24] Voice.

[25] Immediately.


On yonder hill a castle stands, With walls and towers bedight,[27] And yonder lives the Childe of Elle, A young and comely knight.

The Childe of Elle to his garden went, And stood at his garden-pale, When, lo! he beheld fair Emmeline's page Come tripping down the dale.

The Childe of Elle he hied him thence, I wist he stood not still, And soon he met fair Emmeline's page Come climbing up the hill.

Now Christe thee save, thou little foot-page, Now Christe thee save and see! Oh tell me how does thy lady gay, And what may thy tidings be?

My lady she is all woe-begone, And the tears they fall from her eyne;[28] And aye she laments the deadly feud Between her house and thine.

And here she sends thee a silken scarf Bedewed with many a tear, And bids thee sometimes think on her, Who loved thee so dear.

And here she sends thee a ring of gold, The last boon thou may'st have, And bids thee wear it for her sake, When she is laid in grave.

For, ah! her gentle heart is broke, And in grave soon must she be, For her father hath chose her a new love, And forbid her to think of thee.

Her father hath brought her a carlish[29] knight, Sir John of the north countrey, And within three days she must him wed, Or he vows he will her slay.

Now hie thee back, thou little foot-page, And greet thy lady from me, And tell her that I, her own true love, Will die, or set her free.

Now hie thee back, thou little foot-page, And let thy fair lady know, This night will I be at her bower-window, Betide me weal or woe.

The boy he tripped, the boy he ran, He neither stint[30] nor stay'd Until he came to fair Emmeline's bower, When, kneeling down, he said,

O lady, I've been with thine own true love, And he greets thee well by me; This night will he be at thy bower-window, And die or set thee free.

Now day was gone, and night was come, And all were fast asleep, All save the lady Emmeline, Who sate in her bower to weep:

And soon she heard her true love's voice Low whispering at the wall; Awake, awake, my dear lady, 'Tis I, thy true love, call.

Awake, awake, my lady dear, Come, mount this fair palfrey: This ladder of ropes will let thee down, I'll carry thee hence away.

Now nay, now nay, thou gentle knight, Now nay, this may not be; For aye should I tint[31] my maiden fame, If alone I should wend[32] with thee.

O lady, thou with a knight so true May'st safely wend alone; To my lady mother I will thee bring, Where marriage shall make us one.

My father he is a baron bold, Of lineage proud and high; And what would he say if his daughter Away with a knight should fly?

Ah! well I wot, he never would rest, Nor his meat should do him no good, Till he had slain thee, Childe of Elle, And seen thy dear heart's blood.

O lady, wert thou in thy saddle set, And a little space him fro', I would not care for thy cruel father, Nor the worst that he could do.

O lady, wert thou in thy saddle set, And once without this wall, I would not care for thy cruel father, Nor the worst that might befall.

Fair Emmeline sighed, fair Emmeline wept, And aye her heart was woe: At length he seized her lily-white hand, And down the ladder he drew:

And thrice he clasped her to his breast, And kissed her tenderly: The tears that fell from her fair eyes, Ran like the fountain free.

He mounted himself on his steed so tall, And her on a fair palfrey, And slung his bugle about his neck, And roundly they rode away.

All this beheard her own damsel, In her bed wherein she lay; Quoth she, My lord shall know of this, So I shall have gold and fee.

Awake, awake, thou baron bold! Awake, my noble dame! Your daughter is fled with the Childe of Elle, To do the deed of shame.

The baron he woke, the baron he rose, And called his merry men all: And come thou forth, Sir John the knight, Thy lady is carried to thrall.

Fair Emmeline scarce had ridden a mile, A mile forth of the town, When she was aware of her father's men Come galloping over the down:

And foremost came the carlish knight, Sir John of the north countrey: Now stop, now stop, thou false traitor, Nor carry that lady away.

For she is come of high lineage, And was of a lady born, And ill it beseems thee, a false churl's son, To carry her hence to scorn.

Now loud thou liest, Sir John the knight, Now thou dost lie of me; A knight me got, and a lady me bore, So never did none by thee.

But light now down, my lady fair, Light down, and hold my steed, While I and this discourteous knight Do try this arduous deed.

But light now down, my dear lady, Light down, and hold my horse; While I and this discourteous knight Do try our valour's force.

Fair Emmeline sighed, fair Emmeline And aye her heart was woe, While 'twixt her love and the carlish knight Past many a baleful blow.

The Childe of Elle he fought so well, As his weapon he waved amain, That soon he had slain the carlish knight, And laid him upon the plain.

And now the baron and all his men Full fast approached nigh: Ah! what may lady Emmeline do! 'Twere now no boote[33] to fly.

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.

Now hold thy hand, thou bold baron, I pray thee, hold thy hand, Nor ruthless rend two gentle hearts, Fast knit in true love's band.

Thy daughter I have dearly loved Full long and many a day; But with such love as holy kirk Hath freely said we may.

O give consent she may be mine, And bless a faithful pair: My lands and livings are not small, My house and lineage fair:

My mother she was an earl's daughter, And a noble knight my sire— The baron he frowned, and turned away With mickle[34] dole and ire.

Fair Emmeline sighed, fair Emmeline wept, And did all trembling stand: At length she sprang upon her knee, And held his lifted hand.

Pardon, my lord and father dear, This fair young knight and me: Trust me, but for the carlish knight, I never had fled from thee.

Oft have you called your Emmeline Your darling and your joy; O let not then your harsh resolves Your Emmeline destroy.

The baron he stroked his dark-brown cheek, And turned his head aside To wipe away the starting tear He proudly strove to hide.

In deep revolving thought he stood, And mused a little space: Then raised fair Emmeline from the ground, With many a fond embrace.

Here, take her, Childe of Elle, he said, And gave her lily hand; Here, take my dear and only child, And with her half my land:

Thy father once mine honour wronged In days of youthful pride; Do thou the injury repair In fondness for thy bride.

And as thou love her, and hold her dear, Heaven prosper thee and thine: And now my blessing wend wi' thee, My lovely Emmeline.


[26] Knight.

[27] Bedeck'd.

[28] Eyes.

[29] Churlish.

[30] Stopped.

[31] Lose.

[32] Go.

[33] Good.

[34] Much grief.



Merry it was in the green forest Among the leaves green, Wherein 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 countrey, By them it is I mean.

The one of them hight[36] Adam Bell, The other Clym of the Clough, The third was William of Cloudesly, An archer good enough.

They were outlawed for venison, These yeomen everyone; They swore together upon a day, To English wood to be gone.

Now lithe and listen, gentlemen, That of mirth loveth to hear: Two of them were single men, The third had a wedded fere.[37]

William was the wedded man, Much more then was his care: He said to his brethren upon a day, To Carlisle he would fare,[38]

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 that the justice should you take, Your life were at an end.

If that I come not to-morrow, brother, By pryme[39] 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 knock'd 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 a 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.

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 may she speed therefore; For she had set no foot on ground In seven year before.

She went unto the justice hall, As fast as she could hie: This night, she said, is come to town William of Cloudesly.

Thereat the justice was full fayne,[40] And so was the sheriff also: Thou shalt not travel hither, dame, for nought; Thy meed thou shalt have ere thou go.

They gave to her a right good gown Of scarlet, and of grain:[41] 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 ran.

There they beset that good yeoman Round about on every side: William heard great noise of folks That thither-ward fast hied.

Alice opened a back window And looked all about, She was 'ware of the justice and sheriff both, And with them a great rout.

Alas! treason, cried Alice, Ever woe may thou be! Go into my chamber, husband, she said, Sweet William of Cloudesly.

He took his sword and his buckler, His bow and his children three, And went into his strongest chamber, Where he thought 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.

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 put on! If it had been no better than mine, That 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.

William opened a back window, That was in his chamber hi', And there with sheets he did let down His wife and children three.

Have you here my treasure, said William, My wife and my 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 ago', And the fire so fast upon him fell That his bowstring burnt in two.

The sparkles burnt and fell upon Good William of Cloudesly: Then was he a woeful man, and said, This is a coward's death to me.

Liever had I, said William, With my sword in the route to run, Than here among mine enemies wode[42] Thus cruelly to burn.

He took his sword and his buckler, And among them all he ran: Where the people were most in prece,[43] He smote down many a man.

There might no man abide his strokes, 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 thereat.

Then shall not help Clym of the Clough, Nor yet shall Adam Bell, Though they came with a thousand more, Nor all the devils in hell.

Early in the morning the justice uprose, To the gates first gan he to gon', And commanded to be shut full close Lightly every one.

Then went he to the market place, As fast as he could hie; There a pair of new gallows he set up Beside the pillory.

A little boy among them asked, What meaneth that gallows-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 wood did gon'; There met he with these wight yeomen Shortly and anon.

Alas! then said that little boy, Ye tarry here all too long; Cloudesly is taken, and dampned[44] to death, All ready for to hong.[45]

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 forest, Under the shadows green, And have kept both him and us at rest, Out of all trouble and teen.[46]

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 wight yeomen, Tarry we no longer here; We shall him borrow[47] by God his grace, Though we buy it full dear.

To Carlisle went these bold yeomen, All in the morning of May. Here is a FYT[48] of Cloudesly, And another is for to say.


And when they came to merry Carlisle, All in the morning tide, They found the gates shut them against About on every side.

Alas! then said good Adam Bell, That ever we were made men! These gates he shut so wondrous fast, We may not come therein.

Then bespake him Clym of the Clough, With a wile 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.

Then Adam Bell beat on the gates With strokes great and strong, The porter marvelled who was there, And to the gates he throng.[49]

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 may 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.

Lo! here we have the king's seal: What, Lurden,[50] art thou wood?[51] The porter thought it had been so, And lightly did off his hood.

Welcome is 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 knowes, 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 wrung his neck in two, And cast him in a deep dungeon, And took his keys him fro'.

Now am I porter, said Adam Bell, See, brother, the keys are here, The worst porter to merry Carlisle That they had this hundred year.

And now will we our bows bend, Into the town will we go, For to deliver our dear brother, That lyeth 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 that stound.[52]

And, as they looked them beside, A pair of new gallows they see, And the justice with a quest 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.

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 pryme,[53] He that maketh a grave for me Himself may lie therein.

Thou speakest proudly, said the justice, I will thee hang with my hand. Full well heard this his brethren two, There still as they did stand.

Then Cloudesly cast his eyes aside, And saw his brethren twain At a corner of the market place, Ready the justice for to slain.

I see comfort, said Cloudesly, Yet hope I well to fare, If I might have my hands at will Right little would I care.

Then spake good Adam Bell To Clym of the Clough so free, Brother, see you mark the justice well; Lo! yonder you may him see:

And at the sheriff shoot I will Strongly with 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 'voided, 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 began to fly, They durst no longer abide: There lightly they loosed Cloudesly, Where he with ropes lay tied.

William start to an officer of the town, His axe from 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, 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 true, 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 cast.

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[54] 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 rout: These yeomen dreaded him full sore, Of their lives they stood in doubt.

The mayor came armed at full great pace, With a pollaxe in his hand; Many a strong man with him was, There in that stowre[55] to stand.

The mayor smote at Cloudesly with his bill, His buckler he burst in two, Full many a yeoman with great evil, Alas! Treason they cried for woe. Keep well the gates fast, they bade, That these traitors thereout not go.

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, abroad.

Have here your keys, said Adam Bell, Mine office I here forsake, And if you do by my counsel A new porter do ye make.

He threw their keys at their heads, And bade them well to thrive, And all that letteth[56] any good yeoman To come and comfort his wife.

Thus be these good yeomen gone to the wood, And lightly, as leaf on lynde;[57] To laugh and be merry in their mood, Their enemies were far 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 meynye.[58]

They sate them down, and made good cheer, And ate and drank full well. A second FYT of the wighty yeomen, Another I will you tell.


As they sat in the merry green wood, Under the green-wood tree, They thought they heard a woman weep, But her they mought[59] not see.

Sore then sighed the fair Alice: That ever I saw this day! For now is my dear husband slain: Alas! and well-a-way!

Might I have spoken to 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 lynde; He was aware of his wife, and children three, Full woe in heart and mind.

Welcome, wife, then said William, Under this trusty tree: I had ween'd yesterday, by sweet saint John, Thou shouldst 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 think it is no boot: The meat, that we must sup withal, It runneth yet fast on foot.

Then went they down into a lawn, These noble archers all three; Each of them slew a hart of grease,[60] 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.

Then went they all into supper With such meat as they had; And thanked God of their fortune: They were both merry and glad.

And when they all had supped well, Certainly without lease,[61] Cloudesly said, We will to our king, To get us a charter of peace.

Alice shall be at our sojourning In a nunnery here beside; My two sons shall with her go, And there they shall abide.

Mine 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.

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 thereat.

They pressed prestly[62] into the hall, Of no man had they dread: The porter came after, and did them call, And with them began to chide.

The usher said, Yeoman, what would ye have? I pray you tell to me: You might thus make officers shent:[63] Good sirs, of whence be ye?

Sir, we be outlaws of the forest Certainly 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 hindrance, And each held up his hand.

They said, Lord, we beseech thee here, That you will grant us grace; For we have slain your fat fallow deer In many a sundry place.

What be your names, then said our king, Anon that you tell me? They said, Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, And William of Cloudesly.

Be ye those thieves, then said our king, That men have told of to me? Here to God I make a vow, Ye shall be hanged all three.

Ye shall be dead without mercy, As I am king of this land. He commanded his officers everyone, Fast on them to lay hand.

There they took these good yeomen, And arrested them all three: So may I thrive, said Adam Bell, This game liketh not me.

But, good lord, we beseech you now, That ye grant us grace, Insomuch as freely to you we come, As freely we may from you pass,

With such weapons as we have here, Till we be out of your place; And if we live this hundred year, We will ask you no grace.

Ye speak proudly, said the king; Ye shall be hanged all three. That were great pity, then said the queen, If any grace might be.

My lord, when I came first into this land To be your wedded wife, The first boon that I would ask, Ye would grant it me belyfe:[64]

And I never asked none till now; Therefore, good lord, grant it me. Now ask it, madam, said the king, And granted it shall be.

Then, good my lord, I you beseech, These yeomen grant ye me. Madame, ye might have asked a boon, That should have been worth them all three.

Ye might have asked towers and towns, Parks and forests plenty. None so pleasant to my liking, she said; Nor none so lefe[65] to me.

Madame, since it is your desire, Your asking granted shall be; But I had lever[66] have given you Good market towns three.

The queen she was a glad woman, And said, Lord, gramercy: I dare undertake for them, That true men shall they be.

But, good my lord, speak some merry word, That comfort they may see. I grant you grace, then said our king; Wash, fellows, and to meat go ye.

They had not setten but a while Certain, without lesynge,[67] There came messengers out of the north With letters to our king.

And when they came before the king, They knelt down on their knee: And said, Lord, your officers greet you well, Of Carlisle, in the north country.

How fareth my justice, said the king, And my sheriff also? Sir, they be slain, without lesynge, And many an officer mo'.

Who hath them slain, said the king; Anon thou tell to me? Adam Bell, and Clym of the Clough, And William of Cloudesly.

Alas for ruth! then said our king: My heart is wondrous sore; I had rather than a thousand pound, I had known of this before;

For I have granted them grace, And that forthinketh me: But had I known all this before, They had been hanged all three.

The king he opened the letter anon, Himself he read it thro', And found how these outlaws had slain Three hundred men and mo':

First the justice, and the sheriff, And the mayor of Carlisle town; Of all the constables and catchpolls Alive were scarce left one:

The baillies, and the beadles both, And the sergeants of the law, And forty foresters of the fee,[68] These outlaws had yslaw.[69]

And broke his parks, and slain his deer; Of all they chose the best; Such perilous outlaws, as they were, Walked not by east nor west.

When the king this letter had read, In his heart he sighed sore: Take up the tables anon he said, For I may eat no more.

The king called his best archers To the butts with him to go: I will see these fellows shoot, he said, In the north have wrought this woe.

The king's bowmen buske[70] them blyve,[71] And the queen's archers also; So did these three wighty yeomen; With them they thought to go.

There twice or thrice they shot about For to assay their hand; There was no shot these yeomen shot, That any prick might stand.

Then spake William of Cloudesly; By Him that for me died, I hold him never no good archer, That shooteth at butts so wide.

At what a butt now would you shoot, I pray thee tell to me? At such a butt, sir, he said, As men use in my country.

William went into a field, And with him his two brethren: There they set up two hazel rods Twenty score paces between.

I hold him an archer, said Cloudesly, That yonder wand cleaveth in two. Here is none such, said the king, Nor none that can so do.

I shall assay, sir, said Cloudesly, Or that I farther go. Cloudesly with a bearyng[72] arrow Clave the wand in two.

Thou art the best archer, then said the king, For sooth that ever I see. And yet for your love, said William, I will do more mastery.

I have a son is seven year old, He is to me full dear; I will him tie to a stake; All shall see, that be here;

And lay an apple upon his head, And go six score pace him fro', And I myself with a broad arrow Shall cleave the apple in two.

Now haste thee, then said the king, By Him that died on a tree, But if thou do not as thou hast said, Hanged shalt thou be.

An thou touch his head or gown, In sight that men may see, By all the saints that be in heaven, I shall hang you all three.

That I have promised, said William, That I will never forsake. And there even before the king In the earth he drove a stake:

And bound thereto his eldest son, And bade him stand still thereat; And turned the child's face him from, Because he should not start.

An apple upon his head he set, And then his bow he bent: Six score paces they were meaten,[73] And thither Cloudesly went.

There he drew out a fair broad arrow, His bow was great and long, He set that arrow in his bow, That was both stiff and strong.

He prayed the people that were there, That they all still would stand, For he that shooteth for such a wager, Behoveth a stedfast hand.

Much people prayed for Cloudesly, That his life saved might be, And when he made him ready to shoot, There was many a weeping ee.

But Cloudesly cleft the apple in two, His son he did not nee.[74] Over Gods forebode,[75] said the king, That thou should shoot at me.

I give thee eighteen pence a day, And my bow shalt thou bear, And over all the north country I make thee chief ranger.

And I thirteen pence a day, said the queen, By God, and by my fa'; Come fetch thy payment when thou wilt, No man shall say thee nay.

William, I make thee a gentleman Of clothing, and of fee: And thy two brethren, yeomen of my chamber, For they are so seemly to see.

Your son, for he is tender of age, Of my wine-cellar he shall be; And when he cometh to man's estate, Better advanced shall he be.

And, William, bring to me your wife, said the queen, Me longeth her sore to see: She shall be my chief gentlewoman, To govern my nursery.

The yeomen thanked them courteously. To some bishop will we wend, Of all the sins that we have done, To be assoyld[76] at his hand.

So forth be gone these good yeomen, As fast as they might he;[77] And after came and dwelled with the king, And died good men all three.

Thus ended the lives of these good yeomen; God send them eternal bliss. And all, that with a hand-bow shooteth, That of heaven they never miss. Amen.


[35] Clem (Clement) of the cliff.

[36] Called.

[37] Mate.

[38] Pass.

[39] Noon.

[40] Glad.

[41] Red.

[42] Wild.

[43] Pressed.

[44] Condemned.

[45] Hang.

[46] Sorrow.

[47] Redeem.

[48] Part of a song.

[49] Hastened.

[50] Sluggard.

[51] Mad.

[52] Time.

[53] Noon.

[54] Summons to arms.

[55] Fight.

[56] Hindereth.

[57] Lime-tree.

[58] Company.

[59] Might for could.

[60] Fat hart.

[61] Lies.

[62] Quickly.

[63] Disgraced.

[64] Immediately.

[65] Dear.

[66] Rather.

[67] Lies.

[68] The King's foresters.

[69] Slain.

[70] Dress.

[71] Instantly.

[72] An arrow that flies well.

[73] Measured.

[74] Nigh.

[75] God forbid.

[76] Absolved.

[77] Hie.


When Arthur first in court began, And was approved king, By force of arms great victories won, And conquest home did bring.

Then into England straight he came With fifty good and able Knights, that resorted unto him, And were of his round table:

And he had jousts and tournaments, Whereto were many prest, Wherein some knights did far excell And far surmount the rest.

But one, Sir Lancelot du Lake, Who was approved well, He for his deeds and feats of arms, All others did excell.

When he had rested him a while, In play, and game, and sport, He said he would go prove himself In some adventurous sort.

He armed rode in forest wide, And met a damsel fair, Who told him of adventures great, Whereto he gave good ear.

Such would I find, quoth Lancelot: For that cause came I hither. Thou seem'st, quoth she, a knight full good, And I will bring thee thither,

Whereas a mighty knight doth dwell, That now is of great fame: Therefore tell me what wight thou art, And what may be thy name.

My name is Lancelot du Lake. Quoth she, it likes me then: Here dwells a knight who never was Yet matcht with any man:

Who has in prison threescore knights And four, that he did wound; Knights of king Arthur's court they be, And of his table round.

She brought him to a river side, And also to a tree, Whereon a copper bason hung, And many shields to see.

He struck so hard, the bason broke; And Tarquin soon he spied: Who drove a horse before him fast, Whereon a knight lay tied.

Sir knight, then said Sir Lancelot, Bring me that horse-load hither, And lay him down, and let him rest; We'll try our force together:

For, as I understand, thou hast, So far as thou art able, Done great despite and shame unto The knights of the Round Table.

If thou be of the Table Round, Quoth Tarquin speedily, Both thee and all thy fellowship I utterly defy.

That's over much, quoth Lancelot, though, Defend thee by and by. They set their spears unto their steeds, And each at other fly.

They couched their spears, (their horses ran, As though there had been thunder) And struck them each immidst their shields, Wherewith they broke in sunder.

Their horses' backs brake under them, The knights were both astound: To avoid their horses they make haste And light upon the ground.

They took them to their shields full fast, Their swords they drew out then, With mighty strokes most eagerly Each at the other ran.

They wounded were, and bled full sore, For both for breath did stand, And leaning on their swords awhile, Quoth Tarquin, Hold thy hand,

And tell to me what I shall ask. Say on, quoth Lancelot tho.[78] Thou art, quoth Tarquin, the best knight That ever I did know;

And like a knight, that I did hate: So that thou be not he, I will deliver all the rest, And eke accord with thee.

That is well said, quoth Lancelot; But since it must be so, What knight is that thou hatest thus? I pray thee to me show.

His name is Lancelot du Lake, He slew my brother dear; Him I suspect of all the rest: I would I had him here.

Thy wish thou hast, but yet unknown, I am Lancelot du Lake, Now knight of Arthur's Table Round; King Haud's son, of Schuwake;

And I desire thee do thy worst. Ho, ho, quoth Tarquin tho, One of us two shall end our lives Before that we do go.

If thou be Lancelot du Lake, Then welcome shalt thou be; Wherefore see thou thyself defend, For now defy I thee.

They buckled then together so, Like unto wild boars rashing, And with their swords and shields they ran At one another slashing:

The ground besprinkled was with blood: Tarquin began to yield; For he gave back for weariness, And low did bear his shield.

This soon Sir Lancelot espied, He leapt upon him then, He pull'd him down upon his knee, And rushing[79] off his helm,

Forthwith he struck his neck in two, And, when he had so done, From prison threescore knights and four Delivered every one.


[78] Then.

[79] Tearing.


Now as fame does report, a young duke keeps a court, One that pleases his fancy with frolicksome sport: But amongst all the rest, here is one I protest, Which will make you to smile when you hear the true jest: A poor tinker he found, lying drunk on the ground, As secure in a sleep as if laid in a swound.

The duke said to his men, William, Richard, and Ben, Take him home to my palace, we'll sport with him then. O'er a horse he was laid, and with care soon convey'd To the palace, altho' he was poorly array'd: Then they stript off his clothes, both his shirt, shoes, and hose, And they put him to bed for to take his repose.

Having pull'd off his shirt, which was all over dirt, They did give him clean holland, this was no great hurt: On a bed of soft down, like a lord of renown, They did lay him to sleep the drink out of his crown. In the morning when day, then admiring he lay, For to see the rich chamber both gaudy and gay.

Now he lay something late, in his rich bed of state, Till at last knights and squires, they on him did wait; And the chamberlain bare,[80] then did likewise declare, He desir'd to know what apparel he'd wear: The poor tinker amaz'd, on the gentleman gaz'd, And admired[81] how he to this honour was rais'd.

Tho' he seem'd something mute, yet he chose a rich suit, Which he straitways put on without longer dispute; With a star on his side, which the tinker oft ey'd, And it seem'd for to swell him no little with pride; For he said to himself, Where is Joan my sweet wife? Sure she never did see me so fine in her life.

From a convenient place, the right duke his good grace Did observe his behaviour in every case. To a garden of state, on the tinker they wait, Trumpet sounding before him: thought he, this is great: Where an hour or two, pleasant walks he did view, With commanders and squires in scarlet and blue.

A fine dinner was drest, both for him and his guests, He was plac'd at the table above all the rest, In a rich chair or bed, lin'd with fine crimson red, With a rich golden canopy over his head: As he sat at his meat, the music play'd sweet, With the choicest of singing his joys to complete.

While the tinker did dine, he had plenty of wine, Rich canary with sherry and tent superfine. Like a right honest soul, faith, he took off his bowl, Till at last he began for to tumble and roll From his chair to the floor, where he sleeping did snore, Being seven times drunker than ever before.

Then the duke did ordain, they should strip him amain, And restore him his old leather garments again: Twas a point next the worst, yet perform it they must, And they carried him strait, where they found him at first; Then he slept all the night, as indeed well he might; But when he did waken, his joys took their flight.

For his glory to him so pleasant did seem, That he thought it to be but a mere golden dream; Till at length he was brought to the duke, where he sought For a pardon, as fearing he had set him at nought; But his highness he said, Thou'rt a jolly bold blade, Such a frolic before I think never was play'd.

Then his highness bespoke him a new suit and cloak, Which he gave for the sake of this frolicksome joke; Nay, and five hundred pound, with ten acres of ground, Thou shalt never, said he, range the countries around, Crying "old brass to mend," for I'll be thy good friend, Nay, and Joan thy sweet wife shall my duchess attend.

Then the tinker reply'd, What! must Joan my sweet bride Be a lady in chariots of pleasure to ride? Must we have gold and land ev'ry day at command? Then I shall be a squire I well understand: Well I thank your good grace, and your love I embrace, I was never before in so happy a case.


[80] Bare-headed.

[81] Wondered.


God prosper long our noble king, Our lives and safeties all; A woful hunting once there did In Chevy Chase befall;

To drive the deer with hound and horn, Earl Percy took his way; The child may rue that is unborn The hunting of that day.

The stout Earl of Northumberland A vow to God did make, His pleasure in the Scottish woods Three summer days to take;

The chiefest harts in Chevy Chase To kill and bear away. These tidings to Earl Douglas came, In Scotland where he lay:

Who sent Earl Percy present word, He would prevent his sport. The English earl, 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 need To aim their shafts aright.

The gallant greyhounds swiftly ran, To chase the fallow deer: On Monday they began to hunt, Ere day-light did appear;

And long before high noon they had An hundred fat bucks slain; Then having din'd, the drovers went To rouse the deer again.

The bow-men mustered on the hills, Well able to endure; Their backsides all, with special care, That day were guarded sure.

The hounds ran swiftly through the woods, The nimble deer to take, That with their cries the hills and dales An echo shrill did make.

Lord Percy to the quarry went, To view the slaughter'd deer; Quoth he, Earl Douglas promised This day to meet me here:

But if I thought he would not come, No longer would I stay. With that, a brave young gentleman Thus to the earl did say:

Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come, His men in armour bright; Full twenty hundred Scottish spears All marching in our sight;

All men of pleasant Teviotdale, Fast by the river Tweed: O cease your sport, Earl Percy said, And take your bows with speed:

And now with me, my countrymen, Your courage forth advance; For never was there champion yet In Scotland or in France,

That ever did on horseback come, But if my hap it were, I durst encounter man for man, With him to break a spear.

Earl Douglas on his milk-white steed, Most like a baron bold, Rode foremost of his company, Whose armour shone like gold.

Show me, said he, whose men you be, That hunt so boldly here, That, without my consent, do chase And kill my fallow-deer?

The man that first did answer make, Was noble Percy he; Who said, We list not to declare, Nor show whose men we be:

Yet will we spend our dearest blood, Thy chiefest harts to slay. Then Douglas swore a solemn oath, And thus in rage did say,

Ere thus will I out-braved be, One of us two shall die: I know thee well, an earl thou art, Lord Percy; so am I.

But trust me, Percy, pity 'twere, And great offence to kill Any of these our guiltless men, For they have done no ill.

Let thou and I the battle try, And set our men aside. Accurst be he, Earl Percy said, By whom this is denied.

Then stept a gallant squire forth, Witherington was his name, Who said, I would not have it told To Henry our king for shame,

That e'er my captain fought on foot, And I stood looking on. You be two earls, said Witherington, And I a squire alone:

I'll do the best that do I may, While I have power to stand: While I have power to wield my sword, I'll fight with heart and hand.

Our English archers bent their bows, Their hearts were good and true; At the first flight of arrows sent, Full four-score Scots they slew.

Yet bides Earl Douglas on the bent[82] 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 Bore 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 straight 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 every side, No slackness there was found; And many a gallant gentleman Lay gasping on the ground.

O Christ! it was a grief to see, And likewise for to hear, The cries of men lying in their gore, And scattered here and there.

At last these two stout earls did meet, Like captains of great might: Like lions wood,[83] they laid on loud, And made a cruel fight:

They fought until they both did sweat, With swords of tempered steel; Until the blood, like drops of rain, They trickling down did feel.

Yield thee, Lord Percy, Douglas said; In faith I will thee bring, Where thou shalt high advanced be By James our Scottish king:

Thy ransom I will freely give, And thus report of thee, Thou art the most courageous knight, That ever I did see.

No, Douglas, quoth Earl Percy then, Thy proffer I do scorn; I will not yield to any Scot, That ever yet was born.

With that, there came an arrow keen Out of an English bow, Which struck Earl Douglas to the heart, A deep and deadly 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 life, Earl Percy took The dead man by the hand; And said, Earl Douglas, for thy life Would I had lost my land.

O Christ! my very heart doth bleed With sorrow for thy sake; For sure, a more renowned knight Mischance could never take.

A knight amongst the Scots there was, Which saw Earl Douglas die, Who straight in wrath did vow revenge Upon the Lord Percy:

Sir Hugh Montgomery was he call'd Who, with a spear most bright, Well-mounted on a gallant steed, Ran fiercely through the fight;

And past the English archers all, Without all dread or fear; And through Earl Percy's body then He thrust his hateful spear;

With such a vehement force and might He did his body gore, The staff went through the other side A large cloth-yard, and more.

So thus did both these nobles die, Whose courage none could stain; An English archer then perceiv'd The noble earl was slain;

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 he:

Against Sir Hugh Montgomery, So right the shaft he set, The grey goose-wing that was thereon In his heart's blood was wet.

This fight did last from break of day Till setting of the sun; For when they rung the evening bell,[84] The battle scarce was done.

With brave Earl Percy, there was slain Sir John of Egerton, Sir Robert Ratcliff, and Sir John, Sir James that bold Baron:

And with Sir George and stout Sir James, Both knights of good account, Good Sir Ralph Raby there was slain, Whose prowess did surmount.

For Witherington needs must I wail, As one in doleful dumps; For when his legs were smitten off, He fought upon his stumps.

And with Earl Douglas, there was slain Sir Hugh Montgomery, Sir Charles Murray, that from the field One foot would never flee.

Sir Charles Murray, of Ratcliff, too, His sister's son was he; Sir David Lamb, so well esteem'd, Yet saved could not be.

And the Lord Maxwell in like case Did with Earl Douglas die: Of twenty hundred Scottish spears, Scarce fifty-five did fly.

Of fifteen hundred Englishmen, Went home but fifty-three; The rest were slain in Chevy Chase, Under the greenwood tree.

Next day did many widows come, Their husbands to bewail; They washed their wounds in brinish tears, But all would not prevail.

Their bodies, bathed in purple gore, They bare with them away: They kiss'd them dead a thousand times, Ere they were clad in clay.

This news was brought to Edinburgh, Where Scotland's king did reign, That brave Earl Douglas suddenly Was with an arrow slain:

O heavy news, King James did say, Scotland can witness be, I have not any captain more Of such account as he.

Like tidings to King Henry came, Within as short a space, That Percy of Northumberland Was slain in Chevy Chase:

Now God be with him, said our king, Since it will no better be; I trust I have, within my realm, Five hundred as good as he:

Yet shall not Scots nor Scotland say, But I will vengeance take: I'll be revenged on them all, For brave Earl Percy's sake.

This vow full well the king perform'd After, at Humbledown; In one day, fifty knights were slain, With lords of great renown:

And of the rest, of small account, Did many thousands die: Thus endeth the hunting of Chevy Chase, Made by the Earl Percy.

God save our king, and bless this land In plenty, joy, and peace; And grant henceforth, that foul debate 'Twixt noblemen may cease.


[82] Field.

[83] Wild.

[84] The curfew.


In summer time, when leaves grow green, And blossoms bedeck the tree, King Edward would a hunting ride, Some pastime for to see.

With hawk and hound he made him bowne,[85] With horn, and eke with bow; To Drayton Basset he took his way, With all his lords in a row.

And he had ridden o'er dale and down By eight of clock in the day, When he was 'ware of a bold tanner, Come riding along the way.

A fair russet coat the tanner had on Fast buttoned under his chin, And under him a good cow-hide, And a mare of four shilling.[86]

Now stand you still, my good lords all, Under the greenwood spray; And I will wend to yonder fellow, To weet[87] what he will say.

God speed, God speed thee, said our king. Thou art welcome, sir, said he. The readiest way to Drayton Basset I pray thee to show to me.

To Drayton Basset wouldst thou go, Fro' the place where thou dost stand? The next pair of gallows thou comest unto, Turn in upon thy right hand.

That is an unready way, said our king, Thou dost but jest I see; Now show me out the nearest way, And I pray thee wend with me.

Away with a vengeance! quoth the tanner: I hold thee out of thy wit: All day have I ridden on Brock my mare, And I am fasting yet.

Go with me down to Drayton Basset, No dainties we will spare; All day shalt thou eat and drink of the best, And I will pay thy fare.

Gramercy for nothing, the tanner replied, Thou payest no fare of mine: I trow I've more nobles in my purse, Than thou hast pence in thine.

God give thee joy of them, said the king, And send them well to priefe.[88] The tanner would fain have been away, For he weened he had been a thief.

Who art thou, he said, thou fine fellow, Of thee I am in great fear, For the clothes thou wearest upon thy back, Might beseem a lord to wear.

I never stole them, quoth our king, I tell you, sir, by the rood, Then thou playest, as many an unthrift doth And standest in midst of thy good.[89]

What tidings hear you, said the king, As you ride far and near? I hear no tidings, sir, by the mass, But that cow-hides are dear.

Cow-hides! cow-hides! what things are those? I marvel what they be! What art thou a fool? the tanner replied; I carry one under me.

What craftsman art thou? said the king, I pray thee tell me true. I am a barker,[90] sir, by my trade; Now tell me what art thou?

I am a poor courtier, sir, quoth he, That am forth of service worn; And fain I would thy prentice be, Thy cunning for to learn.

Marry heaven forfend, the tanner replied, That thou my prentice were: Thou wouldst spend more good than I should win By forty shilling a year.

Yet one thing would I, said our king, If thou wilt not seem strange: Though my horse be better than thy mare, Yet with thee I fain would change.

Why if with me thou fain wilt change, As change full well may we, By the faith of my body, thou proud fellow, I will have some boot of thee.

That were against reason, said the king, I swear, so mote I thee:[91] My horse is better than thy mare, And that thou well mayst see.

Yea, sir, but Brock is gentle and mild, And softly she will fare: Thy horse is unruly and wild, I wiss; Aye skipping here and there.

What boot wilt thou have? our king replied, Now tell me in this stound. No pence, nor half-pence, by my faith, But a noble in gold so round.

Here's twenty groats of white money, Sith thou will have it of me. I would have sworn now, quoth the tanner, Thou hadst not had one penny.

But since we two have made a change, A change we must abide, Although thou hast gotten Brock my mare, Thou gettest not my cow-hide.

I will not have it, said the king, I swear, so mote I thee; Thy foul cow-hide I would not bear, If thou wouldst give it to me.

The tanner he took his good cow-hide, That of the cow was hilt;[92] And threw it upon the king's saddle, That was so fairly gilt.

Now help me up, thou fine fellow, 'Tis time that I were gone; When I come home to Gyllian my wife, She'll say I am a gentleman.

When the tanner he was in the king's saddle, And his foot in the stirrup was; He marvelled greatly in his mind, Whether it were gold or brass.

But when his steed saw the cow's tail wag, And eke the black cow-horn; He stamped, and stared, and away he ran, As the devil had him borne.

The tanner he pulled, the tanner he sweat, And held by the pummel fast, At length the tanner came tumbling down; His neck he had well-nigh brast.[93]

Take thy horse again with a vengeance, he said, With me he shall not bide. My horse would have borne thee well enough, But he knew not of thy cow-hide.

Yet if again thou fain wouldst change, As change full well may we, By the faith of my body, thou jolly tanner, I will have some boot of thee.

What boot wilt thou have, the tanner replied, Now tell me in this stound?[94] No pence, nor half-pence, sir, by my faith, But I will have twenty pound.

Here's twenty groats out of my purse; And twenty I have of thine: And I have one more, which we will spend Together at the wine.

The king set a bugle horn to his mouth, And blew both loud and shrill: And soon came lords, and soon came knights, Fast riding over the hill.

Now, out alas! the tanner he cried, That ever I saw this day! Thou art a strong thief, yon come thy fellows Will bear my cow-hide away.

They are no thieves, the king replied, I swear, so mote I thee: But they are the lords of the north country, Here come to hunt with me.

And soon before our king they came, And knelt down on the ground: Then might the tanner have been away, He had lever[95] than twenty pound.

A collar, a collar, here: said the king, A collar he loud 'gan cry: Then would he lever than twenty pound, He had not been so nigh.

A collar, a collar, the tanner he said, I trow it will breed sorrow: After a collar cometh a halter, I trow I shall be hang'd to-morrow.

Be not afraid, tanner, said our king; I tell thee, so mote I thee, Lo here I make thee the best esquire That is in the north country.

For Plumpton-park I will give thee, With tenements fair beside: 'Tis worth three hundred marks by the year, To maintain thy good cow-hide.

Gramercy, my liege, the tanner replied, For the favour thou hast me shown: If ever thou comest to merry Tamworth, Neat's[96] leather shall clout thy shoen.[97]


[85] Ready.

[86] A shilling was a large sum in those days.

[87] Know.

[88] Prove.

[89] i.e. Hast no other wealth but what thou carriest about thee.

[90] A dealer in bark.

[91] May I thrive.

[92] Flayed.

[93] Broken.

[94] Time.

[95] Rather.

[96] Cow's.

[97] Mend thy shoes.



Lithe[98] and listen, gentlemen, To sing a song I will begin: It is of a lord of fair Scotland, Which was the unthrifty heir of Linne.

His father was a right good lord, His mother a lady of high degree; But they, alas! were dead, him fro', And he lov'd keeping company.

To spend the day with merry cheer, To drink and revel every night, To card and dice from eve to morn, It was, I ween, his heart's delight.

To ride, to run, to rant, to roar, To alway spend and never spare, I know, an' it were the king himself, Of gold and fee he might be bare.

So fares the unthrifty lord of Linne Till all his gold is gone and spent; And he maun sell his lands so broad, His house, and lands, and all his rent.

His father had a keen steward, And John o' the Scales was called he: But John is become a gentleman, And John has got both gold and fee.

Says, Welcome, welcome, lord of Linne, Let nought disturb thy merry cheer; If thou wilt sell thy lands so broad, Good store of gold I'll give thee here.

My gold is gone, my money is spent; My land now take it unto thee: Give me the gold, good John o' the Scales, And thine for aye my land shall be.

Then John he did him to record draw, And John he cast him a gods-pennie;[99] But for every pound that John agreed, The land, I wis, was well worth three.

He told him the gold upon the board, He was right glad his land to win; The gold is thine, the land is mine, And now I'll be the lord of Linne.

Thus he hath sold his land so broad, Both hill and holt,[100] and moor and fen, All but a poor and lonesome lodge, That stood far off in a lonely glen.

For so he to his father hight,[101] My son, when I am gone, said he, Then thou wilt spend thy land so broad, And thou wilt spend thy gold so free:

But swear me now upon the cross, That lonesome lodge thou'lt never spend; For when all the world doth frown on thee, Thou there shalt find a faithful friend.

The heir of Linne is full of gold: And come with me, my friends, said he, Let's drink, and rant, and merry make, And he that spares, ne'er mote he thee.[102]

They ranted, drank, and merry made, Till all his gold it waxed thin; And then his friends they slunk away; They left the unthrifty heir of Linne.

He had never a penny left in his purse, Never a penny left but three, And one was brass, another was lead, And another it was white money.

Now well-a-day, said the heir of Linne, Now well-a-day, and woe is me, For when I was the lord of Linne, I never wanted gold nor fee.

But many a trusty friend have I, And why should I feel grief or care? I'll borrow of them all by turns, So need I not be never bare.

But one, I wis, was not at home; Another had paid his gold away; Another called him thriftless loon, And bade him sharply wend his way.

Now well-a-day, said the heir of Linne, Now well-a-day, and woe is me; For when I had my lands so broad, On me they liv'd right merrily.

To beg my bread from door to door I wis, it were a burning shame: To rob and steal it were a sin: To work my limbs I cannot frame.

Now I'll away to lonesome lodge, For there my father bade me wend; When all the world should frown on me, I there should find a trusty friend.


Away then hied the heir of Linne O'er hill and holt, and moor and fen, Until he came to lonesome lodge, That stood so low in a lonely glen.

He looked up, he looked down, In hope some comfort for to win: But bare and loathly were the walls. Here's sorry cheer, quo' the heir of Linne.

The little window dim and dark Was hung with ivy, brier, and yew; No shimmering sun here ever shone; No wholesome breeze here ever blew.

No chair nor table he mote spy, No cheerful hearth, no welcome bed, Nought save a rope with running noose That dangling hung up o'er his head.

And over it in broad letters, These words were written plain to see: "Ah! graceless wretch, hast spent thine all, And brought thyself to penury?

"All this my boding mind misgave, I therefore left this trusty friend: Let it now shield thy foul disgrace, And all thy shame and sorrows end."

Sorely shent[103] wi' this rebuke, Sorely shent was the heir of Linne; His heart, I wis, was near to burst With guilt and sorrow, shame and sin.

Never a word spake the heir of Linne, Never a word he spake but three: This is a trusty friend indeed, And is right welcome unto me.

Then round his neck the cord he drew, And sprang aloft with his body: When lo! the ceiling burst in twain, And to the ground came tumbling he.

Astonished lay the heir of Linne, Nor knew if he were live or dead: At length he looked, and saw a bill,[104] And in it a key of gold so red.

He took the bill, and looked it on, Straight good comfort found he there: It told him of a hole in the wall, In which there stood three chests in-fere.[105]

Two were full of the beaten gold, The third was full of white money; And over them in broad letters These words were written so plain to see:

"Once more, my son, I set thee clear; Amend thy life and follies past; For but thou amend thee of thy life, That rope must be thy end at last."

And let it be, said the heir of Linne; And let it be, but[106] if I amend: For here I will make my vow, This reade[107] shall guide me to the end.

Away then went with a merry cheer, Away then went the heir of Linne; I wis, he neither ceas'd nor blanne,[108] Till John o' the Scales' house he did win.

And when he came to John o' the Scales, Up at the speere[109] then looked he; There sat three lords upon a row, Were drinking of the wine so free.

And John himself sat at the board-head, Because now lord of Linne was he. I pray thee, he said, good John o' the Scales, One forty pence, for to lend me.

Away, away, thou thriftless loon; Away, away, this may not be; For Christ's curse on my head, he said, If ever I trust thee one pennie.

Then bespake the heir of Linne, To John o' the Scales' wife then spake he: Madame, some alms on me bestow, I pray for sweet saint Charity.

Away, away, thou thriftless loon, I swear thou gettest no alms of me; For if we should hang any losel[110] here, The first we would begin with thee.

Then bespake a good fellow, Which sat at John o' the Scales his board; Said, Turn again, thou heir of Linne; Some time thou wast a well good lord:

Some time a good fellow thou hast been, And sparedst not thy gold and fee; Therefore I'll lend thee forty pence, And other forty if need be.

And ever, I pray thee, John o' the Scales, To let him sit in thy company: For well I wot thou hadst his land, And a good bargain it was to thee.

Up then spake him John o' the Scales, All wood[111] he answer'd him again: Now Christ's curse on my head, he said, But I did lose by that bargain.

And here I proffer thee, heir of Linne, Before these lords so fair and free, Thou shalt have it back again better cheap, By a hundred marks, than I had it of thee.

I draw you to record, lords, he said. With that he cast him a gods-pennie: Now by my fay, said the heir of Linne, And here, good John, is thy money.

And he pull'd forth three bags of gold, And laid them down upon the board: All woe begone was John o' the Scales, So shent[112] he could say never a word.

He told him forth the good red gold, He told it forth with mickle din. The gold is thine, the land is mine, And now again I'm the lord of Linne.

Says, Have thou here, thou good fellow, Forty pence thou didst lend me: Now I am again the lord of Linne, And forty pounds I will give thee.

I'll make thee keeper of my forest, Both of the wild deer and the tame; For but I reward thy bounteous heart, I wis, good fellow, I were to blame.

Now well-a-day! saith Joan o' the Scales: Now well-a-day! and woe is my life! Yesterday I was lady of Linne, Now I'm but John o' the Scales his wife.

Now fare thee well, said the heir of Linne; Farewell now, John o' the Scales, said he: Christ's curse light on me, if ever again I bring my lands in jeopardy.


[98] Attend.

[99] Earnest-money.

[100] Wood.

[101] Promised.

[102] May he thrive.

[103] Disgraced.

[104] Writing.

[105] Together.

[106] Unless.

[107] Counsel.

[108] Lingered.

[109] Hole in the window.

[110] Worthless fellow.

[111] Wild.

[112] Disgraced.



When Flora with her fragrant flowers Bedecked the earth so trim and gay, And Neptune with his dainty showers Came to present the month of May, King Henry rode to take the air, Over the river Thames past he; When eighty merchants of London came, And down they knelt upon their knee.

O ye are welcome, rich merchants; Good sailors, welcome unto me. They swore by the rood, they were sailors good, But rich merchants they could not be: To France nor Flanders dare we pass, Nor Bordeaux voyage dare we fare;[113] And all for a rover that lies on the seas, Who robs us of our merchant ware.

King Henry frowned, and turned him round, And swore by the Lord, that was mickle of might, I thought he had not been in the world, Durst have wrought England such unright. The merchants sighed, and said, alas! And thus they did their answer frame, He is a proud Scot, that robs on the seas, And Sir Andrew Barton is his name.

The king looked over his left shoulder, And an angry look then looked he: Have I never a lord in all my realm, Will fetch yon traitor unto me? Yea, that dare I, lord Howard says; Yea, that dare I with heart and hand; If it please your grace to give me leave, Myself will be the only man.

Thou art but young, the king replied; Yon Scot hath numbered many a year. Trust me, my liege, I'll make him quail, Or before my prince I will never appear. Then bowmen and gunners thou shalt have, And choose them over my realm so free; Besides good mariners, and ship-boys, To guide the great ship on the sea.

The first man that lord Howard chose Was the ablest gunner in all the realm, Though he was threescore years and ten; Good Peter Simon was his name. Peter, says he, I must to the sea, To bring home a traitor live or dead; Before all others I have chosen thee, Of a hundred gunners to be the head.

If you, my lord, have chosen me Of a hundred gunners to be the head, Then hang me up on your main-mast tree, If I miss my mark one shilling bread.[114] My lord then chose a bowman rare, Whose active hands had gained fame; In Yorkshire was this gentleman born, And William Horseley was his name.

Horseley, said he, I must with speed Go seek a traitor on the sea, And now of a hundred bowmen brave To be the head I have chosen thee. If you, quoth he, have chosen me Of a hundred bowmen to be the head, On your main-mast I'll hanged be, If I miss, twelvescore,[115] one penny bread.

With pikes and guns, and bowmen bold, This noble Howard is gone to the sea; With a valiant heart and a pleasant cheer, Out at Thames mouth sailed he. And days he scant had sailed three Upon the voyage he took in hand, But there he met with a noble ship, And stoutly made it stay and stand.

Thou must tell me, lord Howard said, Now who thou art and what's thy name, And show me where thy dwelling is, And whither bound, and whence thou came. My name is Henry Hunt, quoth he With a heavy heart, and a careful mind; I and my ship do both belong To the Newcastle that stands upon Tyne.

Hast thou not heard, now, Henry Hunt, As thou hast sailed by day and by night, Of a Scottish rover on the seas; Men call him sir Andrew Barton, knight? Then ever he sighed, and said alas! With a grieved mind, and well away! But over-well I know that wight, I was his prisoner yesterday.

As I was sailing upon the sea, A Bordeaux voyage for to fare; To his hatchboard[116] he clasped me, And robbed me of all my merchant ware: And mickle debts, God wot, I owe, And every man will have his own, And I am now to London bound, Of our gracious king to beg a boon.

Thou shalt not need, lord Howard says; Let me but once that robber see, For every penny ta'en thee fro' It shall be doubled shillings three. Now God forefend, the merchant said, That you should seek so far amiss! God keep you out of that traitor's hands! Full little ye wot what a man he is.

He is brass within, and steel without, With beams on his topcastle strong; And eighteen pieces of ordinance He carries on each side along: And he hath a pinnace dearly dight,[117] St. Andrew's cross that is his guide; His pinnace beareth ninescore men, And fifteen cannons on each side.

Were ye twenty ships, and he but one, I swear by kirk, and bower, and hall, He would overcome them every one, If once his beams they do down fall. This is cold comfort, says my lord, To welcome a stranger thus to the sea: Yet I'll bring him and his ship to shore, Or to Scotland he shall carry me.

Then a noble gunner you must have, And he must aim well with his ee, And sink his pinnace into the sea, Or else he ne'er o'ercome will be: And if you chance his ship to board, This counsel I must give withal, Let no man to his topcastle go To strive to let his beams down fall.

And seven pieces of ordinance, I pray your honour lend to me, On each side of my ship along, And I will lead you on the sea. A glass I'll set, that may be seen, Whether you sail by day or night; And to-morrow, I swear, by nine of the clock You shall meet with Sir Andrew Barton, knight.


The merchant set my lord a glass So well apparent in his sight, And on the morrow, by nine of the clock, He showed him Sir Andrew Barton, knight. His hatchboard it was gilt with gold, So dearly dight it dazzled the ee: Now by my faith, lord Howard says, This is a gallant sight to see.

Take in your ancients,[118] standards eke, So close that no man may them see; And put me forth a white willow wand, As merchants use to sail the sea. But they stirred neither top, nor mast;[119] Stoutly they passed Sir Andrew by. What English churls are yonder, he said, That can so little courtesy?

Now by the rood, three years and more, I have been admiral over the sea; And never an English nor Portingall[120] Without my leave can pass this way. Then called he forth his stout pinnace; Fetch back yon pedlars now to me: I swear by the mass, yon English churls Shall all hang at my main-mast tree.

With that the pinnace it shot off, Full well lord Howard might it ken; For it stroke down my lord's fore mast, And killed fourteen of his men. Come hither, Simon, says my lord, Look that thy word be true, thou said; For at my main-mast thou shalt hang, If thou miss thy mark one shilling bread.

Simon was old, but his heart it was bold, His ordinance he laid right low; He put in chain full nine yards long, With other great shot less, and moe; And he let go his great gun's shot: So well he settled it with his ee, The first sight that Sir Andrew saw, He saw his pinnace sunk in the sea.

And when he saw his pinnace sunk, Lord, how his heart with rage did swell! Now cut my ropes, it is time to be gone; I'll fetch yon pedlars back mysel'. When my lord saw Sir Andrew loose, Within his heart he was full fain: Now spread your ancients, strike up drums, Sound all your trumpets out amain.

Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew says, Well howsoever this gear will sway;[121] It is my lord admiral of England, Is come to seek me on the sea. Simon had a son, who shot right well, That did Sir Andrew mickle scare; In at his deck he gave a shot, Killed threescore of his men of war.

Then Henry Hunt with rigour hot Came bravely on the other side, Soon he drove down his fore-mast tree, And killed fourscore men beside. Now, out alas! Sir Andrew cried, What may a man now think, or say? Yonder merchant thief, that pierceth me, He was my prisoner yesterday.

Come hither to me, thou Gordon good, That aye wast ready at my call; I will give thee three hundred marks, If thou wilt let my beams down fall. Lord Howard he then call'd in haste, Horseley see thou be true instead; For thou shalt at the main-mast hang, If thou miss, twelvescore, one penny bread.

Then Gordon swarved[122] the main-mast tree, He swarved it with might and main; But Horseley with a bearing arrow, Stroke the Gordon through the brain; And he fell into the hatches again, And sore his deadly wound did bleed: Then word went through Sir Andrew's men, How that the Gordon he was dead.

Come hither to me, James Hambilton, Thou art my only sister's son, If thou wilt let my beams down fall, Six hundred nobles thou hast won. With that he swarved the main-mast tree, He swarved it with nimble art; But Horseley with a broad arrow Pierced the Hambilton through the heart:

And down he fell upon the deck, That with his blood did stream amain: Then every Scot cried, Well-away! Alas, a comely youth is slain! All woe begone was Sir Andrew then, With grief and rage his heart did swell: Go fetch me forth my armour of proof, For I will to the topcastle mysel'.

Go fetch me forth my armour of proof; That gilded is with gold so clear: God be with my brother John of Barton! Against the Portingalls he it ware: And when he had on this armour of proof, He was a gallant sight to see: Ah! ne'er didst thou meet with living wight, My dear brother, could cope with thee.

Come hither Horseley, says my lord, And look your shaft that it go right, Shoot a good shot in time of need, And for it thou shalt be made a knight. I'll shoot my best, quoth Horseley then, Your honour shall see, with might and main; But if I was hanged at your main-mast, I have now left but arrows twain.

Sir Andrew he did swarve the tree, With right good will he swarved then: Upon his breast did Horseley hit, But the arrow bounded back again. Then Horseley spied a privy place With a perfect eye in a secret part; Under the spole[123] of his right arm He smote Sir Andrew to the heart.

Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew says, A little I'm hurt, but yet not slain; I'll but lie down and bleed awhile, And then I'll rise and fight again. Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew says, And never flinch before the foe; And stand fast by St. Andrew's cross Until you hear my whistle blow.

They never heard his whistle blow,—— Which made their hearts wax sore adread: Then Horseley said, Aboard, my lord, For well I wot, Sir Andrew's dead. They boarded then his noble ship, They boarded it with might and main; Eighteen score Scots alive they found, The rest were either maimed or slain.

Lord Howard took a sword in hand, And off he smote Sir Andrew's head, I must have left England many a day, If thou wert alive as thou art dead. He caused his body to be cast Over the hatchboard into the sea, And about his middle three hundred crowns: Wherever thou land this will bury thee.

Thus from the wars lord Howard came, And back he sailed o'er the main, With mickle joy and triumphing Into Thames mouth he came again. Lord Howard then a letter wrote, And sealed it with seal and ring; Such a noble prize have I brought to your grace, As never did subject to a king:

Sir Andrew's ship I bring with me; A braver ship was never none: Now hath your grace two ships of war, Before in England was but one. King Henry's grace with royal cheer Welcomed the noble Howard home, And where, said he, is this rover stout, That I myself may give the doom?

The rover, he is safe, my liege, Full many a fathom in the sea; If he were alive as he is dead, I must have left England many a day: And your grace may thank four men i' the ship For the victory which we have won, These are William Horseley, Henry Hunt, And Peter Simon, and his son.

To Henry Hunt, the king then said, In lieu of what was from thee ta'en, A noble a-day now thou shalt have, Sir Andrew's jewels and his chain. And Horseley thou shalt be a knight, And lands and livings shalt have store; Howard shall be earl of Surrey hight, As Howards erst have been before.

Now, Peter Simon, thou art old, I will maintain thee and thy son: And the men shall have five hundred marks For the good service they have done. Then in came the queen with ladies fair To see Sir Andrew Barton knight: They ween'd that he were brought on shore, And thought to have seen a gallant sight.

But when they saw his deadly face, And eyes so hollow in his head, I would give, quoth the king, a thousand marks, This man were alive as he is dead: Yet for the manful part he played, Which fought so well with heart and hand, His men shall have twelvepence a day, Till they come to my brother king's high land.


[113] Travel.

[114] Breadth.

[115] Twelvescore paces off.

[116] Part of the side of the ship.

[117] Fitted out.

[118] Flags.

[119] i.e. Did not salute.

[120] Portuguese.

[121] However this affair will end.

[122] Climbed.

[123] The arm-pit.


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