Page images

“ All men of pleasant Tivydale,

Fast by the river Tweede:” “O cease your sport,” Erle Percy said,

“And take your bowes with speede. “And now with me, my countrymen,

Your courage forth advance;
For never was there champion yett

In Scotland or in France,
“That ever did on horsebacke come,

But, if my hap it were,
I durst encounter man for man,

With him to breake a spere.”
Erle Douglas on his milke-white steede,

Most like a baron bold,
Rode formost of his company,

Whose armour shone like gold. “Show me," sayd hee, “whose men you bee,

That hunt soe boldly heere,
That, without my consent, doe chase

And kill my fallow-deere.”
The man that first did answer make

Was noble Percy hee;
Who sayd, “ Wee list not to declare,

Nor shew whose men wee bee.
“ Yet will wee spend our deerest blood,

Thy cheefest harts to slay;"
Then Douglas swore a solempne oathe,

And thus in rage did say;
“ Ere thus I will out-braved bee,

One of us two shall dye:
I know thee well, an erle thou art;

Lord Percy, soe am I.
“But trust me, Percy, pittye it were,

And great offence, to kill
Any of these our guiltlesse men,

For they have done no ill.

“Let thou and I the battell trye,

And set our men aside."
“ Accurst bee he," Erle Percy sayd,

“ By whome this is denyed.”
Then stept a gallant squier forth,

Witherington was his name,
Who said, “ I wold not have it told

To Henry our king for shame,
“ That ere my captaine fought on foote,

And I stood looking on:
You bee two erles,” sayd Witherington,

“And I a squier alone.



“ Ile doe the best that doe I may,

While I have power to stand;
While I have power to weeld my sword,

Ile fight with hart and hand."


Our English archers bent their bowes,

Their harts were good and trew;
Att the first flight of arrowes sent,

Full four-score Scots they slew.


5 [Yet bides Earl Douglas on the bent,

As Chieftain stout and good,
As valiant Captain, all unmov'd

The shock he firmly stood.

His host he parted had in three,

As Leader ware and try'd,
And soon his spearmen on their foes

Bare down on every side.


5 The four stanzas here inclosed in brackets, which are borrowed chiefly from the ancient copy, are offered to the reader instead of the following lines, which occur in the Editor's fol. MS.

" To drive the deere with hound and horne,

Douglas bade on the bent;
Two captaines moved with mickle might

Their speres to shivers went."




Throughout the English archery

They dealt full many a wound;
But still our valiant Englishmen

All firmly kept their ground.
And throwing strait their bows away,

They grasp'd their swords so bright:
And now sharp blows, a heavy shower,

On shields and helmets light.] They clos'd full fast on everye side,

Noe slacknes there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman

Lay gasping on the ground.
O Christ ! it was a griefe to see,

And likewise for to heare,
The cries of men lying in their gore,

And scattered here and there.
At last these two stout erles did meet,

Like captaines of great might;
Like lyons wood they layd on lode,

And made a cruell fight.
They fought, untill they both did sweat,

With swords of tempered steele;
Until the blood, like drops of rain,

They trickling downe did feele. “ Yeeld thee, Lord Percy," Douglas sayd;

" In faith I will thee bringe, Where thou shalt high advanced bee

By James our Scottish king.
66 Thy ransome I will freely give,

And thus report of thee,
Thou art the most couragious knight

That ever I did see.”
“ Noe, Douglas," quoth Erle Percy then,

« Thy proffer I doe scorne; I will not yeelde to any Scott,

That ever gett was borne.”




150 155




With that, there came an arrow keene

Out of an English bow,
Which strucke Erle Douglas to the heart,

A deepe and deadlye blow :
Who never spake more words than these,

“ Fight on, my merry men all; For why, my life is at an end :

Lord Percy sees my fall.”
Then leaving liffe, Erle Percy tooke

The dead man by the hand;
And said, “ Erle Douglas, for thy life

Wold I had lost my land !
“O Christ! my verry hart doth bleed

With sorrow for thy sake;
For sure, a more renowned knight

Mischance cold never take.”
A knight amongst the Scotts there was,

Which saw Erle Douglas dye,
Who streight in wrath did vow revenge

Upon the Lord Percye;
Sir Hugh Mountgomerye was he call'd,

Who, with a spere most bright,
Well-mounted on a gallant steed,

Ran fiercely through the fight;
And past the English archers all,

Without all dread or feare,
And through Earl Percyes body then

He thrust his hatefull spere
With such a vehement force and might

He did his body gore,
The speare ran through the other side

A large cloth-yard, and more.
So thus did both these nobles dye,

Whose courage none could staine;
An English archer then perceiv'd

The noble erle was slaine.




He had a bow bent in his hand,
Made of a trusty tree;

190 An arrow of a cloth-yard long

Up to the head drew hee.
Against Sir Hugh Mountgomerye,

So right the shaft he sett,
The grey goose-wing that was thereon

In his harts bloode was wett.
This fight did last from breake of day

Till setting of the sun;
For when they rung the evening bel1,6
The battel scarce was done.

200 With stout Erle Percy, there was slaine,

Sir John of Egerton,
Sir Robert Ratcliff, and Sir John,

Sir James, that bold Baròn.
And with Sir George and stout Sir James, 205

Both knights of good account,
Good Sir Ralph Rabby there was slaine,

Whose prowesse did surmount.
For Witherington needs must I wayle,
As one in doleful dumpes ;8

210 For when his legs were smitten off,

He fought upon his stumpes.
And with Erle Douglas, there was slaine

Sir Hugh Mountgomerye,
Sir Charles Murray, that from the feeld 215

One foote wold never flee.
Sir Charles Murray of Ratcliff, too,

His sisters sonne was hee;
Sir David Lamb, so well esteem'd,
Yet savèd cold not bee.

220 6 Sc. the Curfew-bell, usually rung at eight o'clock; to which the moderniser apparently alludes, instead of the Evensong-bell, or bell for vespers of the original author, before the Reformation.-Vide supra, p. 9, v. 97.

? For the surnames, see the Notes at the end of the ballad.

8 i. e. “I, as one in deep concern, must lament.” The construction here has generally been misunderstood. The old MS. reads wofull dumpes.

« PreviousContinue »