Page images
PDF
EPUB

Your wanton wyll for to fulfill,

In grene wode you to play ;
And that ye myght from your delyght

No longer make delay.
Rather than ye sholde thus for me

Be called an yll woman,
Yet wolde I to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.

SHE.
Though it be songe of old and yonge,

That I sholde be to blame,
Theyrs be the charge, that speke so large

In hurtynge of my name :
For I wyll prove, that faythfulle love

It is devoyd of shame;
In your dystresse, and hevynesse,

To part with you, the same :
And sure all tho, that do not so,

True lovers are they none;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

HE.

I counceyle you, remember howe,

It is no maydens lawe,
Nothynge to dout, but to renne out

To wode with an outlawe :
For ye must there in your hand bere

A bowe, redy to drawe;
And, as a thefe, thus must you lyve,

Ever in drede and awe;
Wherby to you grete harme myght growe:

Yet had I lever than,
That I had to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.

SHE.

I thinke nat nay, but as ye say,

It is no maydens lore:

But love may make me for your sake,

As I have sayd before
To come on fote, to hunt, and shote

To gete us mete in store;
For so that I your company

May have, I aske no more :
From which to part, it maketh my hart

As colde as ony stone:
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

НЕ. .

Yet take good hede; for ever I drede

That ye coude nat sustayne
The thornie wayes, the depe valèies,

The snowe, the frost, the rayne,
The colde, the hete: for dry, or wete,

We must lodge on the playne; And, us above, none other rofe

But a brake bush, or twayne :
Which sone sholde greve you, I beleve;

And ye wolde gladly than
That I had to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.

SHE.
Syth I have here bene partynère

With you of joy and blysse,
I must also parte of your wo

Endure, as reson is :
Yet am I sure of one plesure ;

And, shortely, it is this :
That, where ye be, me semeth, pardė,

I coude nat fare amysse.
Without more speche, I you beseche

That we were sone agone;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

HE.

If ye go thyder, ye must consyder,

Whan ye have lust to dyne,
There shall no mete be for you gete,

Nor drinke, bere, ale, ne wyne.
No shetès clene, to lye betwene,

Made of threde and twyne;
None other house, but leves and bowes,

To cover your hed and myne,
O myne harte swete, this evyll dyete

Sholde make you pale and wan;
Wherfore I wyll to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.

SHE
Amonge the wylde dere, such an archère,

As men say that ye be,
Ne may nat fayle of good vitayle,

Where is so grete plentè :
And water clere of the ryvère

Shall be full swete to me;
With which in hele I shall ryght wele

Endure, as ye shall see ;
And, or we go, a bedde or two

I can provyde anone;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde
I love but you alone.

* * *

The seeming harsh lover exacts many other com pliances, but cannot exhaust the boundless tenderness of the Nut-Brown Maid, who again replies,

SHE.
I shall as nowe do more for you

Than longeth to womanhede;
To shote my here, a bowe to bere,

To shote in tyme of nede,

O my swete mother, before all other

For you I have most drede:
But nowe, adue! I must ensue,

Where fortune doth me lede.
All this make ye: Now let us fle;

The day cometh fast upon ;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

*

The great and final trial follows, when the man says he has a mistress in the wood whom he loves far better than the Nut-Brown Maid, and that, as jealous quarrels might arise to disturb his quiet, he cannot suffer her to follow him. Even against this last shock her love is proof :

SHE,
Though in the wode I undyrstode

Ye had a paramour,
All this may nought remove my thought,

But that I wyll be your :
And she shall fynde me soft, and kynde,

And courteys every hour ;
Glad to fulfyll all that she wyll

Commaunde me to my power :
For had ye, lo, an hundred mo,

Of them I wolde be one;"
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

[blocks in formation]

The denouement of this little drama is happy. The lover, melted by this excess of tenderness, unfolds his rank and his purpose in this sharp trial; and the Nut-Brown Maid is an earl's bride, instead of the paramour of an outlawed murderer, whom she was happy to follow into exile, and whose affections she was content to share with an. other.

A splendid epoch in European history was evolved by the almost contemporary reigns of the Emperor Charles V., Francis I. of France, and Henry VIII. of England. Cruel, fickle, and brutally tyrannical as Henry was by nature, and monster as he became when corrupted by power, and a long course of unrestrained and vindictive indulgence, there were in early and middle life scattered traits in his charac. ter not unfavourable to the encouragement of letters. Literature has now outgrown royal or noble patronage; but even the savage smiles of Henry were of importance to the infant muse. If his education was not judicious, it was more regular and learned than had been usual with former princes. He wrote verses royally indeed--and he cultivated music as a science with a success that, had he been destined for a happy or a good man, might have entitled him to the place of organist in some obscure village of his kingdom. He had as much taste and accomplishment as gave zest and variety to the disguisings, mummings, masques, and

pageants of his magnificent, though semi-barbarous court; and his handsome person, ostentation, and splendour, attracted the nobility, and especially the female nobility, to court in greater numbers than

E

« PreviousContinue »