Page images

And you, sir Thomas, whom I truste

To bee my loves defence;
Be carefull of my gallant Rose

When I am parted hence.'


And therewithall he fetcht a sigh,

As though his heart would breake; And Rosamonde, for very griefe,

Not one plaine word could speake.


And at their parting well they mighte

In heart he grieved sore:
After that daye faire Rosamonde

The king did see no more.

For when his grace had past the seas,

And into France was gone;
With envious heart, queene Ellinor,

To Woodstocke came anone.

[blocks in formation]

And forth she calles this trustye knighte,

In an unhappy houre;
Who with his clue of twined thread,

Came from this famous bower.


And when that they had wounded him,

The queene this thread did gette, And went where ladye Rosamonde

Was like an angell sette.

[blocks in formation]

But when the queene with stedfast eye

Beheld her beauteous face, She was amazed in her minde

At her exceeding grace.


• Cast off from thee those robes,' she said,

•That riche and costlye bee;
And drinke thou up this deadlye draught,

Which I have brought to thee.'


Then presentlye upon her knees

Sweet Rosamonde did falle;
And pardon of the queene she crav'd

For her offences all.

[blocks in formation]

* Take pitty on my youthfull yeares,

Faire Rosamonde did crye; * And lett mee not with poison stronge

Enforced bee to dye.


I will renounce my sinfull life,

And in some cloyster bide;
Or else be banisht, if you please,

To range the world soe wide.

[blocks in formation]

And for the fault which I have done,

Though I was forc'd theretoe, Preserve my life, and punish mee

As you thinke meet to doe.'


And with these words, her lillie handes

She wrunge full often there; And downe along her lovely face

Did trickle many a teare.

But nothing could this furious quoene

Therewith appeased bee;
The cup of deadlye poyson stronge,

As she knelt on her knee,


Shee gave this comelye dame to drinke;

Who tooke it in her hand,
And from her bended knee arose,

And on her feet did stand:


And casting up her eyes to heaven,

Shee did for mercye calle;
And drinking up the poison stronge,

Her life she lost withalle.


And when that death through everye limbe

Had showde its greatest spite,
Her chiefest foes did plaine confesse

Shee was a glorious wight.

Her body then they did entomb,

When life was fled away,
At Godstowe, neare to Oxford towne,

As may be seene this day.




Eleanor, the daughter and heiress of William duke of Guienne, and count of Poictou, had been married sixteen years to Louis VII. king of France, and had attended him in a croisade, which that monarch commanded against the infidels; but having lost the affections of her husband, and even fallen under some suspicions of gallantry with a handsome Saracen, Louis, more delicate than politic, procured a divorce from her, and restored her those rich provinces, which by her marriage she had annexed to the crown of France. The young count of Anjou, afterwards Henry II. king of England, tho' at that time but in his nineteenth year, neither discouraged by the disparity of age, nor by the reports of Eleanor's gallantry, made such successful courtship to that princess, that he married her six weeks after her divorce, and got possession of all her dominions as a dowery. A marriage thus founded upon interest was not likely to be very happy: it happened accordingly. Eleanor, who had disgusted her first husband by her gallantries, was no less offensive to her second by her jealousy: thus carrying to extremity, in the different parts of her life, every circumstance of female weakness. She had several sons by Henry, whom she spirited up to rebel against him; and endeavouring to escape to them disguised in man's appearel in 1173, she was discovered and thrown into a confinement, which seems to have continued till the death of her husband in 1189. She however survived him many years : dying in 1204, in the sixth year of the reign of her youngest son, John.' See Hume's Hist. 4to. Vol. I. pp. 260, 307. Speed, Stow, &c.

It is needless to observe, that the following ballad (given, with same corrections, from an old printed copy) is altogether fabulous ; whatever gallantries Eleanor encouraged in the time of her first husband, none are imputed to her in that of her second.

QUEENE Elianor was a sicke womàn,

And afraid that she should dye:
Then she sent for two fryars of France

To speke with her speedilye.

The king calld downe his nobles all,

By one, by two, by three;
Earl marshall, Ile goe shrive the queene,
And thou shalt wend with mee.'

• A boone, a boone;' quoth earl marshall,

And fell on his bended knee;
That whatsoever queene Elianor saye,
No harme therof may bee.'

* Ile pawne my landes,' the king then cryd,

“My sceptre, crowne, and all, That whatsoere queen Elianor sayes

No harme thereof shall fall.

[blocks in formation]

Do thou put on a fryars coat,

And Ile put on another;
And we will to queen Elianor goe

Like fryar and his brother.'


Thus both attired then they goe:

When they came to Whitehall,
The bells did ring, and the quiristers sing,

And the torches did lighte them all.

[blocks in formation]

When that they came before the queene

They fell on their bended knee; • A boone, a boone, our gracious queene,

That you sent so hastilee.'


*Are you two fryars of France,' she sayd,

“As I suppose you bee? But if you are two Englishe fryars,

You shall hang on the gallowes tree.'

We are two fryars of France, they sayd,

‘As you suppose we bee, We have not been at any masse

Sith we came from the sea.'

[ocr errors]

The first vile thing that ever I did

I will to you unfolde;
Earl marshall had my maidenhed,

Beneath this cloth of golde.'


* Thats a vile sinne,' then sayd the king;

May God forgive it thee! * Amen, amen,' quoth earl marshall;

With a heavye heart spake hee.

[ocr errors]

*The next vile thing that ever I did,

To you Ile not denye,
I made a boxe of poyson strong,

To poison king Henrye.'

« PreviousContinue »