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O laith' laith were our gude Scots lords

To weet their cork-heeled shoon !2
But lang or a' the play was played,

They wat their hats aboon.3

And mony was the feather-bed

That floated on the faem;
And mony was the gude lord's son

That never mair came hame.

The ladyes wrang their fingers white,

The maidens tore their hair;
A' for the sake of their true loves,

For them they'll see na mair.
O lang lang may the ladyes sit,

Wi' their fans into their hand,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens

Come sailing to the strand !

And lang lang may the maidens sit,

Wi' their gowd kaims in their hair,
Al waiting for their ain dear loves,

For them they'll see na mair.

O forty miles off Aberdeen

'Tis fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens

Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.


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One of the most celebrated of the English Ballads, is that of Chevy-Chase." Like one of the paintings of the old masters, the more it is read the more it is admired. Sir Philip Sidney, in his “ Defence of Poesy," says, “I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas, that I found not my heart more moved than with a trumpet.”4 Its subject is this. It was a regulation between those who lived near the borders of England and Scotland, that neither party should hunt in the other's domains without leave. There had long been a rivalship between the two martial families, Percy of Northumberland and Douglas of Scotland, and the former had vowed to hunt for three days in the Scottish border, without asking leave of Earl Douglas, who was lord of the soil. Douglas did not fail to resent the insult, and endeavor to repel the intruders by force, which brought on the sharp conflict which the ballad so graphically describes. It took place in the region of the Cheviot Hills, whence its name.

1 Loath.

9 Shoes. 3 Another reading is—"Their hair was wat aboon;" that is, they who were at first loath to wet their shoes, were entirely immersed in the sea and drowned. 1 The ballad of which Sidney here speaks is the ancient one, beginning

The Persè owt of Northombarlande,

And a vowe to God mayd he. Butthe spelling is so very antiquated that I have given the more modern one, the same that Addison pas criticised in numbers 70 and 74 of the Spectator.

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's 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 daylight did appear;
And long before high noon they had

An hundred fat bucks slain;
Then having dined, the drovers went

To rouse the deer again.
The bow-men muster'd 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 armor bright; Full twenty hundred Scottish spears

All marching in our sight; All men of pleasant Tivydale,

Fast by the river Tweed : O cease your sports, Earl Percy said,

And take your bows with speed:
And now with me, my countrymen,

Your courage forth advance;
For there was never 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 armor 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 first man that did answer make,

Was noble Percy he;
Who said, We list not to declare,

Nor show whose men we be:
Yet we will spend our dearest blood

Thy chiefest harts to slay. Then Douglas swore a solemn oath,.

And thus in rage did say,
Ere thus I will 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 it were,

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 stepp'd 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 ou 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 fourscore Scots they slew.

They closed full fast on every side,

No slackness there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman

Lay gasping on the ground.
O dear! it was a grief to see,

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

And scatter'd here and there.

This fight did last from break of day

Till setting of the sun;
For when they rung the evening-bell,

The battle scarce was done.
With stout Earl Percy, there was slain

Sir John of Egerton,
Sir Robert Rateliff, 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.

Of fifteen hundred Englishmen,

Went home but fifty-three;

Ile. "I, as one in deep concern, must lament." The construction here has generally been mis understood. The old MSS. read "woful dumps." The corresponding verse in the old ballad 18 as follow

" For Wetharryngton my harte was wo,

That ever he slayne shulde be;
For when both his leggis wear hewyne in to,

Yet he knyled and fought on hys kne."

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There were two corbies sat on a tree
Large and black as black might be;
And one the other gan say,
Where shall we go and dine to-day?
Shall we go dine by the wild salt sea?
Shall we go dine 'neath the greenwood tree?
As I sat on the deep sea sand,
I saw a fair ship nigh at land,
I waved my wings, I bent my beak,
The ship sunk, and I heard a shriek;
There they lie, one, two, and three,
I shall dine by the wild salt sea.
Come, I will show ye a sweeter sight,
A lonesome glen, and a new-slain knight;
His blood yet on the grass is hot,
His sword half-drawn, his shafts unshot,
And no one kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.
His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild fowl hame,
His lady's away with another mate,
So we shall make our dinner sweet;
Our dinner's sure, our feasting free,
Come, and dine by the greenwood tree.
Ye sball sit on his white hause-bane,2
I will pick out his bony blue een;
Ye'll take a tress of his yellow hair,
To theak yere nest when it grows bare;
The gowden3 down on his young chin
Will do to sewe my young ones in.

1 One of the most poetical and picturesque ballads existing. 2 The neck-bone--a phrase for the neck.

3 Golden.

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