A Bundle of Ballads by Henry Morley

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  • 1891
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This etext was prepared from the 1891 George Routledge & Sons edition by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.


by Henry Morley


CHEVY CHASE (the later version)


Recitation with dramatic energy by men whose business it was to travel from one great house to another and delight the people by the way, was usual among us from the first. The scop invented and the glee-man recited heroic legends and other tales to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. These were followed by the minstrels and other tellers of tales written for the people. They frequented fairs and merrymakings, spreading the knowledge not only of tales in prose or ballad form, but of appeals also to public sympathy from social reformers.

As late as the year 1822, Allan Cunningham, in publishing a collection of “Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry,” spoke from his own recollection of itinerant story-tellers who were welcomed in the houses of the peasantry and earned a living by their craft.

The earliest story-telling was in recitative. When the old alliteration passed on into rhyme, and the crowd or rustic fiddle took the place of the old “gleebeam” for accentuation of the measure and the meaning of the song, we come to the ballad-singer as Philip Sidney knew him. Sidney said, in his “Defence of Poesy,” that he never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas, that he found not his heart moved more than with a trumpet; and yet, he said, “it is sung but by some blind crowder, with no rougher voice than rude style; which being so evil apparelled in the dust and cobweb of that uncivil age, what would it work trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar?” Many an old ballad, instinct with natural feeling, has been more or less corrupted, by bad ear or memory, among the people upon whose lips it has lived. It is to be considered, however, that the old broader pronunciation of some letters developed some syllables and the swiftness of speech slurred over others, which will account for many an apparent halt in the music of what was actually, on the lips of the ballad-singer, a good metrical line.

“Chevy Chase” is, most likely, a corruption of the French word chevauchee, which meant a dash over the border for destruction and plunder within the English pale. Chevauchee was the French equivalent to the Scottish border raid. Close relations between France and Scotland arose out of their common interest in checking movements towards their conquest by the kings of England, and many French words were used with a homely turn in Scottish common speech. Even that national source of joy, “great chieftain of the pudding-race,” the haggis, has its name from the French hachis. At the end of the old ballad of “Chevy Chase,” which reads the corrupted word into a new sense, as the Hunting on the Cheviot Hills, there is an identifying of the Hunting of the Cheviot with the Battle of Otterburn:–

“Old men that knowen the ground well enough call it the Battle of Otterburn.
At Otterburn began this spurn upon a Monenday; There was the doughty Douglas slain, the Percy never went away.”

The Battle of Otterburn was fought on the 19th of August 1388. The Scots were to muster at Jedburgh for a raid into England. The Earl of Northumberland and his sons, learning the strength of the Scottish gathering, resolved not to oppose it, but to make a counter raid into Scotland. The Scots heard of this and divided their force. The main body, under Archibald Douglas and others, rode for Carlisle. A detachment of three or four hundred men-at-arms and two thousand combatants, partly archers, rode for Newcastle and Durham, with James Earl of Douglas for one of their leaders. These were already pillaging and burning in Durham when the Earl of Northumberland first heard of them, and sent against them his sons Henry and Ralph Percy. In a hand-to-hand fight between Douglas and Henry Percy, Douglas took Percy’s pennon. At Otterburn the Scots overcame the English but Douglas fell, struck by three spears at once, and Henry was captured in fight by Lord Montgomery. There was a Scots ballad on the Battle of Otterburn quoted in 1549 in a book–“The Complaynt of Scotland”– that also referred to the Hunttis of Chevet. The older version of “Chevy Chase” is in an Ashmole MS. in the Bodleian, from which it was first printed in 1719 by Thomas Hearne in his edition of William of Newbury’s History. Its author turns the tables on the Scots with the suggestion of the comparative wealth of England and Scotland in men of the stamp of Douglas and Percy. The later version, which was once known more widely, is probably not older than the time of James I., and is the version praised by Addison in Nos. 70 and 74 of “The Spectator.”

“The Nut-Brown Maid,” in which we can hardly doubt that a woman pleads for women, was first printed in 1502 in Richard Arnold’s Chronicle. Nut-brown was the old word for brunette. There was an old saying that “a nut-brown girl is neat and blithe by nature.”

“Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudeslie” was first printed by Copland about 1550. A fragment has been found of an earlier impression. Laneham, in 1575, in his Kenilworth Letter, included “Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudeslie” among the light reading of Captain Cox. In the books of the Stationers’ Company (for the printing and editing of which we are deeply indebted to Professor Arber), there is an entry between July 1557 and July 1558, “To John kynge to prynte this boke Called Adam Bell etc. and for his lycense he giveth to the howse.” On the 15th of January 1581-2 “Adam Bell” is included in a list of forty or more copyrights transferred from Sampson Awdeley to John Charlewood; “A Hundred Merry Tales” and Gower’s “Confessio Amantis” being among the other transfers. On the 16th of August 1586 the Company of Stationers “Alowed vnto Edward white for his copies these fyve ballades so that they be tollerable:” four only are named, one being “A ballad of William Clowdisley, never printed before.” Drayton wrote in the “Shepheard’s Garland” in 1593:–

“Come sit we down under this hawthorn tree, The morrow’s light shall lend us day enough– And tell a tale of Gawain or Sir Guy, Of Robin Hood, or of good Clem of the Clough.”

Ben Jonson, in his “Alchemist,” acted in 1610, also indicates the current popularity of this tale, when Face, the housekeeper, brings Dapper, the lawyer’s clerk, to Subtle, and recommends him with–

“‘slight, I bring you
No cheating Clim o’ the Clough or Claribel.”

“Binnorie,” or “The Two Sisters,” is a ballad on an old theme popular in Scandinavia as well as in this country. There have been many versions of it. Dr. Rimbault published it from a broadside dated 1656. The version here given is Sir Walter Scott’s, from his “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” with a few touches from other versions given in Professor Francis James Child’s noble edition of “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads,” which, when complete, will be the chief storehouse of our ballad lore.

“King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid” is referred to by Shakespeare in “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Act iv. sc I; in “Romeo and Juliet,” Act ii. sc. I; and in “II. Henry IV.,” Act iii. sc. 4. It was first printed in 1612 in Richard Johnson’s “Crown Garland of Goulden Roses gathered out of England’s Royall Garden. Being the Lives and Strange Fortunes of many Great Personages of this Land, set forth in many pleasant new Songs and Sonnets never before imprinted.”

“Take thy Old Cloak about thee,” was published in 1719 by Allan Ramsay in his “Tea-Table Miscellany,” and was probably a sixteenth century piece retouched by him. Iago sings the last stanza but one–“King Stephen was a worthy peer,” etc.–in “Othello,” Act ii. sc. 3.

In “Othello,” Act iv. sc. 3, there is also reference to the old ballad of “Willow, willow, willow.”

“The Little Wee Man” is a wee ballad that is found in many forms with a little variation. It improves what was best in the opening of a longer piece which introduced popular prophecies, and is to be found in Cotton MS. Julius A. v. It was printed by Thomas Wright in his edition of Langtoft’s Chronicle (ii. 452).

“The Spanish Lady’s Love” was printed by Thomas Deloney in “The Garland of Goodwill,” published in the latter half of the sixteenth century. The hero of this ballad was probably one of Essex’s companions in the Cadiz expedition, and various attempts have been made to identify him, especially with a Sir John Bolle of Thorpe Hall, Lincolnshire.

“Edward, Edward,” is from Percy’s “Reliques.” Percy had it from Lord Hailes.

“Robin Hood” is the “Lytell Geste of Robyn Hood,” printed in London by Wynken de Worde, and again in Edinburgh by Chepman and Myllar in 15O8, in the first year of the establishment of a printing-press in Scotland.

“King Edward IV. and the Tanner of Tamworth” is a ballad of a kind once popular; there were “King Alfred and the Neatherd,” “King Henry and the Miller,” “King James I. and the Tinker,” “King Henry VII. and the Cobbler,” with a dozen more. “The Tanner of Tamworth” in another, perhaps older, form, as “The King and the Barker,” was printed by Joseph Ritson in his “Ancient Popular Poetry.”

“Sir Patrick Spens” was first published by Percy in his “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” (1757). It was given by Sir Walter Scott in his “Minstrelsy of the Border,” and with more detail by Peter Buchan in his “Ancient Ballads of the North.” Buchan took it from an old blind ballad-singer who had recited it for fifty years, and learnt it in youth from another very old man. The ballad is upon an event in Scottish history of the thirteenth century, touching marriage of a Margaret, daughter of the King of Scotland, to Haningo, son of the King of Norway. The perils of a winter sea-passage in ships of the olden time were recognised by an Act of the reign of James III. of Scotland, prohibiting all navigation “frae the feast of St. Simon’s Day and Jude unto the feast of the Purification of our Lady, called Candlemas.”

“Edom o’ Gordon” was first printed at Glasgow by Robert and Andrew Foulis in 1755. Percy ascribed its preservation to Sir David Dalrymple, who gave it from the memory of a lady. The incident was transferred to the border from the North of Scotland. Edom o’ Gordon was Sir Adam Gordon of Auchindown, Lieutenant-Depute for Queen Mary in the North in 1571. He sent Captain Ker with soldiers against the Castle of Towie, which was set on fire, and the Lady of Towie, with twenty-six other persons, “was cruelly brint to the death.” Other forms of the ballad ascribe the deed, with incidents of greater cruelty, to Captain Carr, the Lord of Estertowne.

“The Children in the Wood” was entered in the books of the Stationers’ Company on the 15th of October 1595 to Thomas Millington as, “for his Copie vnder th[e h]andes of bothe the wardens a ballad intituled, The Norfolk gent his will and Testament and how he Commytted the keepinge of his Children to his owne brother whoe delte moste wickedly with them and howe God plagued him for it.” It was printed as a black-letter ballad in 167O. Addison wrote a paper on it in “The Spectator” (No. 85), praising it as “one of the darling songs of the common people.”

“The Blind Beggar of Bednall Green” is in many collections, and was known in Elizabeth’s time, another Elizabethan ballad having been set to the tune of it. “This very house,” wrote Samuel Pepys in June 1663 of Sir William Rider’s house at Bethnal Green, “was built by the blind beggar of Bednall Green, so much talked of and sung in ballads; but they say it was only some outhouses of it.” The Angels that abounded in the Beggar’s stores were gold coins, so named from the figure on one side of the Archangel Michael overcoming the Dragon. This coin was first struck in 1466, and it was used until the time of Charles the First.

“The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington,” or “True Love Requited,” is a ballad in Pepys’s collection, now in the Bodleian. The Islington of the Ballad is supposed to be an Islington in Norfolk.

“Barbara Allen’s Cruelty” was referred to by Pepys in his Diary, January 2, 1665-6 as “the little Scotch song of Barbary Allen.” It was first printed by Allan Ramsay (in 1724) in his “Tea-Table Miscellany.” In the same work Allan Ramsay was also the first printer of “Sweet William’s Ghost.”

Fragments of “The Braes o’ Yarrow” are in old collections. The ballad has been given by Scott in his “Minstrelsy of the Border,” and another version is in Peter Buchan’s “Ancient Ballads of the North.”

“Kemp Owyne” is here given from Buchan’s “Ballads of the North of Scotland.” Here also Professor F. J. Child has pointed to many Icelandic, Danish, and German analogies. Allied to “Kemp Owyne” is the modern ballad of “The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heughs,” written before 1778 by the Rev. Mr. Lamb of Norham; but the “Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea” is an older cousin to “Kemp Owyne.”

“O’er the Water to Charlie” is given by Buchan as the original form of this one of the many songs made when Prince Charles Edward made his attempt in 1745-6. The songs worked scraps of lively old tunes, with some old words of ballad, into declaration of goodwill to the Pretender.

“Admiral Hosier’s Ghost” was written by Richard Glover in 174O to rouse national feeling. Vice-Admiral Vernon with only six men-of-war had taken the town of Portobello, and levelled its fortifications. The place has so dangerous a climate that it is now almost deserted. Admiral Hosier in 1726 had been, in the same port, with twenty ships, restrained from attack, while he and his men were dying of fever. He was to blockade the Spanish ports in the West Indies and capture any Spanish galleons that came out. He left Porto Bello for Carthagena, where he cruised about while his men were being swept away by disease. His ships were made powerless through death of his best officers and men. He himself at last died, it was said, of a broken heart. Dyer’s ballad pointed the contrast as a reproach to the Government for half-hearted support of the war, and was meant for suggestion of the success that would reward vigorous action.

“Jemmy Dawson” was a ballad written by William Shenstone on a young officer of Manchester volunteers who was hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1746 on Kennington Common for having served the Pretender. He was engaged to a young lady, who came to the execution, and when it was over fell back dead in her coach.

“William and Margaret,” by David Mallet, published in 1727, is another example of the tendency to the revival of the ballad in the eighteenth century.

“Elfinland Wood,” by the Scottish poet William Motherwell, who died in 1835, aged thirty-seven, is a modern imitation of the ancient Scottish ballad. Mrs. Hemans, who wrote “Casabianca,” died also in 1835. But the last ballad in this bundle, Lady Anne Barnard’s “Auld Robin Gray,” was written in 1771, and owes its place to a desire that this volume, which begins with the best of the old ballads, should end with the best of the new. Lady Anne, eldest daughter of the fifth Earl of Balcarres, married Sir Andrew Barnard, librarian to George III., and survived her husband eighteen years. While the authorship of the piece remained a secret there were some who attributed it to Rizzio, the favourite of Mary Queen of Scots. Lady Anne Barnard acknowledged the authorship to Walter Scott in 1823, and told how she came to write it to an old air of which she was passionately fond, “Bridegroom grat when the sun gaed down.” When she had heaped many troubles on her heroine, and called to a little sister to suggest another, the suggestion came promptly, “Steal the cow, sister Anne.” And the cow was stolen.

H. M.


The Percy out of Northumberland, and avow to God made he That he would hunt in the mountains of Cheviot within days three, In the maugre of doughty Douglas and all that ever with him be, The fattest harts in all Cheviot he said he would kill and carry them away.
“By my faith,” said the doughty Douglas again, “I will let that hunting if that I may!”
Then the Percy out of Bamborough came, with him a mighty mean-y; With fifteen hundred archers, bold of blood and bone, they were chosen out of shires three.
This began on a Monday, at morn, in Cheviot, the hillis so hie, The child may rue that is unborn, it was the more pitie. The drivers thorough the wood-es went for to raise the deer; Bowmen bickered upon the bent with their broad arrows clear, Then the wild thorough the wood-es went on every sid-e shear; Greyhounds thorough the grov-es glent for to kill their deer. This began in Cheviot, the hills abone, early on a Monnynday; By that it drew to the hour of noon a hundred fat harts dead there lay.
They blew a mort upon the bent; they sembled on sidis shear, To the quarry then the Percy went, to see the brittling of the deer. He said, “It was the Douglas’ promise this day to meet me here; But I wist he would fail, verament”–a great oath the Percy sware. At the last a squire of Northumberland looked, at his hand full nigh He was ware of the doughty Douglas coming, with him a mighty mean-y, Both with spear, bill, and brand, it was a mighty sight to see. Hardier men both of heart nor hand were not in Christiant-e. They were twenty hundred spearmen good without any fail; They were borne along by the water of Tweed, i’th’ bounds of Tividale. “Leave off the brittling of the deer,” he said, “and to your bows look ye take good heed,
For never sith ye were of your mothers born had ye never so mickle need.”
The doughty Douglas on a steed he rode all his men beforn, His armour glittered as did a glede, a bolder barn was never born. “Tell me whose men ye are,” he says, “or whose men that ye be; Who gave you leave to hunt in this Cheviot Chase in the spite of mine and of me?”
The first man that ever him an answer made, it was the good Lord Perc- y,
“We will not tell thee whose men we are,” he says, “nor whose men that we be;
But we will hunt here in this Chase in the spite of thine and of thee. The fattest harts in all Cheviot we have killed, and cast to carry them away.”
“By my troth,” said the doughty Douglas again, “therefore the tone of us shall die this day.”
Then said the doughty Douglas unto the Lord Perc-y, “To kill all these guiltless men, alas! it were great pit-y. But, Percy, thou art a lord of land, I am an earl called within my countr-y.
Let all our men upon a parti stand, and do the battle of thee and of me.”
“Now Christ’s curse on his crown,” said the Lord Percy, “whosoever thereto says nay!
By my troth, doughty Douglas,” he says, “thou shalt never see that day!
Neither in England, Scotland, nor France, nor for no man of a woman born,
But and fortune be my chance, I dare meet him, one man for one.” Then bespake a squire of Northumberland, Richard Witherington was his name,
“It shall never be told in South England,” he says, “to King Harry the Fourth, for shame.
I wot you ben great lord-es two, I am a poor squire of land; I will never see my captain fight on a field, and stand myself and look on;
But while I may my weapon wield I will fight both heart and hand.” That day, that day, that dreadful day: the first fytte here I find, An you will hear any more of the hunting of the Cheviot, yet is there more behind.


The English men had their bows ybent, their hearts were good enow; The first of arrows that they shot off, sevenscore spearmen they slowe.
Yet bides the Earl Douglas upon the bent, a captain good enow, And that was seene verament, for he wrought them both wo and wough. The Douglas parted his host in three like a chief chieftain of pride, With suar spears of mighty tree they come in on every side, Through our English archery gave many a wound full wide; Many a doughty they gard to die, which gain-ed them no pride. The Englishmen let their bows be, and pulled out brands that were bright;
It was a heavy sight to see bright swords on basnets light. Thorough rich mail and manople many stern they struck down straight, Many a freke that was full free there under foot did light. At last the Douglas and the Percy met, like to captains of might and of main;
They swapt together till they both swat, with swords that were of fine Milan.
These worthy frekis for to fight thereto they were full fain, Till the blood out of their basnets sprent as ever did hail or rain. “Yield thee, Percy,” said the Douglas, “and in faith I shall thee bring
Where thou shalt have an earl’s wagis of Jamy our Scottish king. Thou shalt have thy ransom free, I hight thee here this thing, For the manfullest man yet art thou that ever I conquered in field fighting.”
“Nay,” said the Lord Percy, “I told it thee beforn, That I would never yielded be to no man of a woman born.” With that there came an arrow hastily forth of a mighty wone; It hath stricken the Earl Douglas in at the breastbone. Through liver and lung-es both the sharp arrow is gone, That never after in all his life-days he spake mo word-es but one, That was, “Fight ye, my merry men, whilis ye may, for my life-days ben gone!”
The Percy lean-ed on his brand and saw the Douglas dee; He took the dead man by the hand, and said, “Wo is me for thee! To have saved thy life I would have parted with my lands for years three,
For a better man of heart nor of hand was not in all the north countree.”
Of all that see, a Scottish knight, was called Sir Hugh the Montgomer- y,
He saw the Douglas to the death was dight, he spended a spear a trusty tree,
He rode upon a coursiere through a hundred archer-y, He never stinted nor never blane till he came to the good Lord Perc-y. He set upon the Lord Percy a dint that was full sore; With a suar spear of a mighty tree clean thorough the body he the Percy bore
On the tother side that a man might see a large cloth yard and more. Two better captains were not in Christiant-e than that day slain were there.
An archer of Northumberland saw slain was the Lord Perc-y, He bare a bent bow in his hand was made of trusty tree, An arrow that a cloth yard was long to the hard steel hal-ed he, A dint that was both sad and sore he sat on Sir Hugh the Montgomer-y. The dint it was both sad and sore that he on Montgomery set, The swan-feathers that his arrow bare, with his heart-blood they were wet.
There was never a freke one foot would flee, but still in stour did stand,
Hewing on each other while they might dree with many a baleful brand. This battle began in Cheviot an hour before the noon, And when evensong bell was rang the battle was not half done. They took on either hand by the light of the moon, Many had no strength for to stand in Cheviot the hillis aboon. Of fifteen hundred archers of England went away but seventy and three, Of twenty hundred spearmen of Scotland but even five and fift-y; But all were slain Cheviot within, they had no strength to stand on hy:
The child may rue that is unborn, it was the more pity. There was slain with the Lord Percy Sir John of Agerstone, Sir Roger the hinde Hartley, Sir William the bold Herone, Sir George the worthy Lumley, a knight of great renown, Sir Ralph the rich Rugby, with dints were beaten down; For Witherington my heart was wo, that ever he slain should be, For when both his leggis were hewen in two, yet he kneeled and fought on his knee.
There was slain with the doughty Douglas Sir Hugh the Montgomer-y; Sir Davy Lewdale, that worthy was, his sister’s son was he; Sir Charles of Murray in that place that never a foot would flee; Sir Hugh Maxwell, a lord he was, with the Douglas did he dee. So on the morrow they made them biers of birch and hazel so gay; Many widows with weeping tears came to fetch their makis away. Tivydale may carp of care, Northumberland may make great moan, For two such captains as slain were there on the March parti shall never be none.
Word is comen to Edinborough to Jamy the Scottish king, That doughty Douglas, lieutenant of the Marches, he lay slain Cheviot within.
His hand-es did he weal and wring; he said, “Alas! and woe is me: Such another captain Scotland within,” he said, “yea faith should never be.”
Word is comen to lovely London, to the fourth Harry our king, That Lord Perc-y, lieutenant of the Marches, he lay slain Cheviot within.
“God have mercy on his soul,” said King Harry, “good Lord, if thy will it be,
I have a hundred captains in England,” he said, “as good as ever was he;
But Percy, an I brook my life, thy death well quite shall be.” As our noble king made his avow, like a noble prince of renown, For the death of the Lord Perc-y he did the battle of Homildoun, Where six and thirty Scottish knights on a day were beaten down; Glendale glittered on their armour bright, over castle, tower, and town.
This was the hunting of the Cheviot; that tear began this spurn; Old men that knowen the ground well enough call it the battle of Otterburn.
At Otterburn began this spurn upon a Monenday; There was the doughty Douglas slain, the Percy never went away. There was never a time on the March part-es sen the Douglas and the Percy met,
But it is marvel an the red blood run not as the rain does in the stret.
Jesu Christ our balis bete, and to the bliss us bring! Thus was the hunting of the Cheviot. God send us all good ending!

CHEVY CHASE (the later version.)

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

To drive the deer with hound and horn Earl Piercy took the 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 summers’ 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 Piercy present word
He would prevent his sport.
The English Earl, not fearing that, Did to the woods resort,

With fifteen hundred bowmen 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
A hundred fat bucks slain.
Then having dined, the drivers went To rouse the deer again.

The bowmen 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 Piercy to the quarry went
To view the tender deer;
Quoth he, “Earl Douglas promised once 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 Tividale
Fast by the river Tweed.”
“O cease your sports!” Earl Piercy 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 nor 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 first man that did answer make
Was noble Piercy, 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 outbrav-ed be,
One of us two shall die!
I know thee well! an earl thou art, Lord Piercy! so am I.

“But trust me, Piercy, 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 Piercy said,
“By whom it is denied.”

Then stepped 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 stand looking on:
You be two Earls,” quoth 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.

To drive the deer with hound and horn, Douglas bade on the bent;
Two captains moved with mickle might, Their spears to shivers went.

They closed full fast on every side,
No slackness there was found,
But many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground.

O Christ! it was great grief to see
How each man chose his spear,
And how the blood out of their breasts Did gush like water clear!

At last these two stout Earls did meet Like captains of great might;
Like lions wood they laid on load,
They made a cruel fight.

They fought, until they both did sweat, With swords of tempered steel,
Till blood adown their cheeks like rain They trickling down did feel.

“O yield thee, Piercy!” Douglas said, “And in faith I will thee bring
Where thou shalt high advanc-ed be
By James our Scottish king;

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

“No, Douglas!” quoth Earl Piercy 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 said more words than these, “Fight on; my merry men all!
For why? my life is at an end,
Lord Piercy sees my fall.”

Then leaving life, Earl Piercy took
The dead man by the hand;
Who said, “Earl Douglas! for thy life Would I had lost my land!

“O Christ! my very heart doth bleed
For sorrow for thy sake!
For sure, a more redoubted knight
Mischance could never take!”

A knight amongst the Scots there was, Which saw Earl Douglas die,
Who straight in heart did vow revenge Upon the Lord Pierc-y;

Sir Hugh Montgomery he was called,
Who, with a spear full 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 Piercy’s body then He thrust his hateful spear.

With such a vehement force and might
His body he did gore,
The staff ran through the other side A large cloth yard and more.

So thus did both those nobles die,
Whose courage none could stain.
An English archer then perceived
The noble Earl was slain;

He had a good bow in his hand
Made of a trusty tree;
An arrow of a cloth yard long
To the hard head hal-ed he,

Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
His shaft full right he set;
The grey goose-wing that was thereon, In his heart’s blood was wet.

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

With stout Earl Piercy there was slain Sir John of Egerton,
Sir Robert Harcliffe and Sir William, Sir James that bold bar-on;

And with Sir George and 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,
And Sir Charles Morrel that from the field One foot would never fly;

Sir Roger Hever of Harcliffe too,–
His sister’s son was he,–
Sir David Lambwell, well esteemed,
But saved he could not be;

And the Lord Maxwell in like case
With Douglas he did die;
Of twenty hundred Scottish spears,
Scarce fifty-five did fly.

Of fifteen hundred Englishmen
Went home but fifty-three;
The rest in Chevy Chase were slain, 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 blood, They bore with them away;
They kissed 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 may 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 Piercy of Northumberland
Was slain in Chevy Chase.

“Now God be with him!” said our king, “Sith ’twill 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,
And be reveng-ed on them all
For brave Earl Piercy’s sake.”

This vow the king did well perform
After on Humble Down;
In one day fifty knights were slain, With lords of great renown,

And of the rest of small account,
Did many hundreds die:
Thus ended the hunting in Chevy Chase Made by the Earl Piercy.

God save our king, and bless this land With plenty, joy, and peace,
And grant henceforth that foul debate Twixt noble men may cease!


Be it right or wrong, these men among On women do complain;
Affirming this, how that it is
A labour spent in vain
To love them wele; for never a dele They love a man again:
For let a man do what he can,
Their favour to attain,
Yet, if a new to them pursue,
Their first true lover than
Laboureth for naught; and from her thought He is a banished man.

I say not nay, but that all day
It is both writ and said
That woman’s faith is, as who saith, All utterly decayed;
But nevertheless, right good witn-ess In this case might be laid.
That they love true, and contin-ue, Record the Nut-brown Maid:
Which from her love, when her to prove He came to make his moan,
Would not depart; for in her heart
She loved but him alone.

Then between us let us discuss
What was all the manere
Between them two: we will also
Tell all the pain in fere
That she was in. Now I begin,
So that ye me answere:
Wher-efore, ye, that present be
I pray you give an ear.
I am the knight. I come by night,
As secret as I can;
Saying, “Alas! thus standeth the case, I am a banished man.”

And I your will for to fulfil
In this will not refuse;
Trusting to shew, in word-es few,
That men have an ill use
(To their own shame) women to blame, And causeless them accuse:
Therefore to you I answer now,
All women to excuse,–
“Mine own heart dear, with you what cheer? I pray you, tell anone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“It standeth so: a deed is do
Whereof much harm shall grow;
My destiny is for to die
A shameful death, I trow;
Or else to flee. The one must be.
None other way I know,
But to withdraw as an out-law,
And take me to my bow.
Wherefore, adieu, my own heart true! None other rede I can:
For I must to the green wood go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“O Lord, what is this world-es bliss, That changeth as the moon!
My summer’s day in lusty May
Is darked before the noon.
I hear you say, farewell: Nay, nay! We de-part not so soon.
Why say ye so? whither will ye go?
Alas! what have ye done?
All my welf-are to sorrow and care
Should change, if ye were gone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“I can believe, it shall you grieve, And somewhat you distrain;
But, afterward, your pain-es hard
Within a day or twain
Shall soon aslake; and ye shall take Com-fort to you again.
Why should ye nought? for, to make thought, Your labour were in vain.
And thus I do; and pray you, lo,
As heartily as I can:
For I must to the green wood go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Now, sith that ye have shewed to me The secret of your mind,
I shall be plain to you again,
Like as ye shall me find.
Sith it is so, that ye will go,
I will not leave behind.
Shall never be said, the Nut-brown Maid Was to her love unkind:
Make you read-y, for so am I,
Although it were anone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“Yet I you re-de, take good heed
When men will think and say:
Of young, of old, it shall be told, That ye be gone away
Your wanton will for to fulfil,
In green wood you to play;
And that ye might from your delight No longer make delay.
Rather than ye should thus for me
Be called an ill wom-an,
Yet would I to the green wood go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Though it be sung of old and young, That I should be to blame,
Theirs be the charge that speak so large In hurting of my name:
For I will prove, that faithful love It is devoid of shame
In your distress and heaviness
To part with you the same:
And sure all tho that do not so,
True lovers are they none:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“I counsel you, Remember how
It is no maiden’s law
Nothing to doubt, but to run out
To wood with an out-law;
For ye must there in your hand bear A bow to bear and draw;
And, as a thief, thus must ye live, Ever in dread and awe;
By which to you great harm might grow: Yet had I liever than
That I had to the green wood go
Alone, a banished man.”

“I think not nay, but as ye say,
It is no maiden’s lore;
But love may make me for your sake, As ye have said before,
To come on foot, to hunt and shoot
To get us meat and store;
For so that I your company
May have, I ask no more;
From which to part, it maketh mine heart As cold as any stone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“For an out-law, this is the law,
That men him take and bind;
Without pit-ie, hang-ed to be,
And waver with the wind.
If I had nede (as God forbede!)
What rescues could ye find?
Forsooth, I trow, you and your bow
Should draw for fear behind.
And no mervayle: for little avail
Were in your counsel than:
Wherefore I to the wood will go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Full well know ye, that women be
Full feeble for to fight;
No womanhede it is indeed
To be bold as a knight;
Yet, in such fear if that ye were
Among enemies day and night,
I would withstand, with bow in hand, To grieve them as I might,
And you to save; as women have
From death many a one:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“Yet take good hede; for ever I drede That ye could not sustain
The thorny ways, the deep vall-eys, The snow, the frost, the rain,
The cold, the heat: for dry or wet, We must lodge on the plain;
And, us above, none other roof
But a brake bush or twain:
Which soon should grieve you, I believe: And ye would gladly than
That I had to the green wood go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Sith I have here been partynere
With you of joy and bliss,
I must al-so part of your woe
Endure, as reason is:
Yet am I sure of one pleas-ure;
And, shortly, it is this:
That, where ye be, me seemeth, perde, I could not fare amiss.
Without more speech, I you beseech
That we were soon agone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“If ye go thyder, ye must consider, When ye have lust to dine,
There shall no meat be for to gete, Nor drink, beer, ale, ne wine.
Ne sheet-es clean, to lie between,
Ymade of thread and twine;
None other house, but leaves and boughs, To cover your head and mine;
Lo mine heart sweet, this ill di-ete Should make you pale and wan:
Wherefore I to the wood will go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Among the wild deer, such an archere, As men say that ye be,
Ne may not fail of good vitayle,
Where is so great plent-y:
And water clear of the rivere
Shall be full sweet to me;
With which in hele I shall right wele Endure, as ye shall see;
And, ere we go, a bed or two
I can provide anone;
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“Lo yet, before, ye must do more,
If ye will go with me:
As cut your hair up by your ear,
Your kirtle by the knee,
With bow in hand, for to withstand
Your enemies, if need be:
And this same night, before daylight, To woodward will I flee.
An ye will all this fulfil,
Do it shortly as ye can:
Else will I to the green wood go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“I shall as now do more for you
Than ‘longeth to womanhede;
To short my hair, a bow to bear,
To shoot in time of need.
O my sweet mother! before all other For you have I most drede!
But now, adieu! I must ensue,
Where fortune doth me lead.
All this make ye. Now let us flee;
The day comes fast upon:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“Nay, nay, not so; ye shall not go, And I shall tell you why,–
Your appetite is to be light
Of love, I well espy:
For, right as ye have said to me,
In like wise hardily
Ye would answere whosoever it were, In way of company,
It is said of old, Soon hot, soon cold; And so is a wom-an:
Wherefore I to the wood will go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“If ye take heed, it is no need
Such words to say by me;
For oft ye prayed, and long assayed, Or I you loved, pard-e;
And though that I of ancestry
A baron’s daughter be,
Yet have you proved how I you loved. A squire of low degree;
And ever shall, whatso befall;
To die therefore anone;
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“A baron’s child to be beguiled!
It were a curs-ed dede;
To be fel-aw with an out-law
Almighty God forbede!
Yet better were, the poor squyere
Alone to forest yede,
Than ye shall say another day,
That by my wicked dede
Ye were betrayed: Wherefore, good maid, The best rede that I can,
Is, that I to the green wood go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Whatsoever befall, I never shall
Of this thing you upbraid:
But if ye go, and leave me so,
Then have ye me betrayed.
Remember you wele, how that ye dele, For if ye, as ye said,
Be so unkind to leave behind
Your love, the Nut-brown Maid,
Trust me tru-ly, that I shall die
Soon after ye be gone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“If that ye went, ye should repent; For in the forest now
I have purveyed me of a maid,
Whom I love more than you;
Another fairer than ever ye were,
I dare it well avow;
And of you both, each should be wroth With other, as I trow:
It were mine ease to live in peace; So will I, if I can:
Wherefore I to the wood will go,
Alone, a banished man.”

“Though in the wood I understood
Ye had a paramour,
All this may nought remove my thought, But that I will be your:
And she shall find me soft and kind, And courteis every hour;
Glad to fulfil all that she will
Command me, to my power:
For had ye, lo! an hundred mo,
Yet would I be that one:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“Mine own dear love, I see the proof That ye be kind and true;
Of maid, and wife, in all my life,
The best that ever I knew.
Be merry and glad; be no more sad;
The case is chang-ed new;
For it were ruth that for your truth You should have cause to rue.
Be not dismayed, whatsoever I said
To you, when I began:
I will not to the green wood go;
I am no banished man.”

“These tidings be more glad to me,
Than to be made a queen,
If I were sure they should endure:
But it is often seen,
When men will break promise they speak The wordis on the spleen.
Ye shape some wile me to beguile,
And steal from me, I ween:
Then were the case worse than it was And I more wo-begone:
For, in my mind, of all mankind
I love but you alone.”

“Ye shall not nede further to drede: I will not dispar-age
You (God defend!), sith you descend Of so great a lin-age.
Now understand: to Westmoreland,
Which is my heritage,
I will you bring; and with a ring
By way of marri-age
I will you take, and lady make,
As shortly as I can:
Thus have ye won an earl-es son
And not a banished man.”

Here may ye see, that women be
In love, meek, kind, and stable;
Let never man reprove them than,
Or call them vari-able;
But, rather, pray God that we may
To them be comfort-able,
Which sometime proveth such as he loveth, If they be charit-able.
For sith men would that women should Be meek to them each one;
Much more ought they to God obey,
And serve but Him alone.



Merry it was in green for-est,
Among the leav-es green,
Where that men walk both east and west With bows and arrows keen,
To raise the deer out of their den, Such sights as hath oft been seen;
As by three yeomen of the North Countrey: By them is as I mean.

The one of them hight Adam Bell,
The other Clym of the Clough,
The third was William of Cloudeslie, An archer good enough.
They were outlawed for venison,
These three yeomen every one;
They swore them brethren upon a day, To Ingle wood for to gone.

Now lith and listen, gentlemen,
And that of mirths love to hear:
Two of them were single men,
The third had a wedded fere.
William was the wedded man,
Much more then was his care;
He said to his brethren upon a day, To Carlisle he would fare,

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 the Justice may you take,
Your life were at an end.”–

“If that I come not to-morrow, brother, By prime to you again,
Trust not else but that I am take,
Or else that I am slain.”–
He took his leave of his brethren two, And to Carlisle he is gone.
There he knocked at his own wind-ow Shortly and anon.

“Where be you, fair Alice, my wife?
And my children three?
Lightly let in thine husb-and,
William of Cloudeslie.”–
“Alas,” then saide fair Al-ice,
And sigh-ed wondrous sore,
“This place hath been beset for you, This half-e year and more.”

“Now am I here,” said Cloudeslie,
“I would that I in were;–
Now fetch us meat and drink enough, And let us make good cheer.”
She fetched him meat and drink plent-y, Like a true wedded wife,
And pleas-ed 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
Mor-e than seven year;
Up she rose, and walked full still, Evil mote she speed therefore:
For she had not set no foot on ground In seven year before.

She went unto the justice hall,
As fast as she could hie:
“This night is come unto this town
William of Cloudeslie.”
Thereof the Justice was full fain,
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 it was, as I heard sain; She took the gift and home she went,
And couched her down again.
They raised the town of merry Carlisle, In all the haste that they can,
And came throng-ing to William’s house, As fast as they might gan.

There they beset that good yeo-man,
Round about on every side;
William heard great noise of folks, That hitherward hied.
Alice opened a shot wind-ow,
And look-ed all about
She was ware of the Justice and the Sheriff both, With a full great rout.

“Alas, treason!” cried Alice,
“Ever woe may thou be!–
Go into my chamber, my husband,” she said, “Sweet William of Cloudeslie.”
He took his sword and his buckl-er, His bow and his children three,
And went into his strongest chamber, Where he thought surest to be.

Fair Al-ice followed him as a lover true, With a poleaxe in her hand:
“He shall be dead that here cometh in This door, while I may stand.”
Cloudeslie bent a well-good bow,
That was of trusty tree,
He smote the Justice on the breast, That his arrow burst in three.

“God’s curse on his heart!” said William, “This day thy coat did on,
If it had been no better than mine, It had gone near thy bone!”
“Yield thee, Cloudeslie,” said the Justice, “And thy bow and thy arrows thee fro!”
“God’s curse on his heart,” said fair Al-ice, “That my husband counselleth so!”

“Set fire on the house,” said the Sheriff, “Sith it will no better be,
And burn we therein William,” he said, “His wife and his children three!”
They fired the house in many a place, The fire flew up on high;
“Alas,” then cried fair Al-ice,
“I see we shall here die!”

William opened his back wind-ow,
That was in his chamber on high,
And with shet-es let his wif-e down, And his children three.
“Have here my treasure,” said Willi-am, “My wife and my children three;
For Christ-es love do them no harm, But wreak you all on me.”

William shot so wondrous well,
Till his arrows were all gone,
And the fire so fast upon him fell, That his bowstring burnt in two.
The sparkles burnt, and fell upon,
Good William of Cloudeslie!
But then was he a woeful man, and said, “This is a coward’s death to me.

“Liever I had,” said Willi-am,
“With my sword in the rout to run,
Than here among mine enemies’ wood, Thus cruelly to burn.”
He took his sword and his buckler then, And among them all he ran,
Where the people were most in press, He smote down many a man.

There might no man abide his stroke,
So fiercely on them he ran;
Then they threw windows and doors on him, And so took that good yeom-an.
There they bound him hand and foot, And in a deep dungeon him cast:
“Now, Cloudeslie,” said the high Just-ice, “Thou shalt be hanged in haste!”

“One vow shall I make,” said the Sheriff, “A pair of new gallows shall I for thee make, And all the gates of Carlisle shall be shut, There shall no man come in thereat.
Then shall not help Clym of the Clough Nor yet Adam Bell,
Though they came with a thousand mo, Nor all the devils in hell.”

Early in the morning the Justice uprose, To the gates fast gan he gone,
And commanded to shut close
Lightly every one;
Then went he to the market-place,
As fast as he could hie,
A pair of new gallows there he set up, Beside the pillor-y.

A little boy stood them among,
And asked what meant that gallows tree; They said-e, “To hang a good yeoman,
Called William of Cloudeslie.”
That little boy was the town swineherd, And kept fair Alice’ swine,
Full 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 gone;
There met he with these wight yeomen, Shortly and anon.
“Alas!” then said that little boy,
“Ye tarry here all too long!
Cloudeslie is taken and damned to death, And ready for to hong.”

“Alas!” then said good Adam Bell,
“That ever we see this day!
He might here with us have dwelled, So oft as we did him pray.
He might have tarried in green for-est, Under the shadows sheen,
And have kept both him and us at rest, Out of all trouble and teen.”

Adam bent a right good bow,
A great hart soon had he 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, by God’s grace, Though we abye it full dear.”

To Carlisle went these good yeom-en
On a merry morning of May.
Here is a fytte of Cloudeslie,
And another is for to say.


And when they came to merry Carlisle, All in a morning tide,
They found the gates shut them until, Round about on every side.
“Alas,” then said good Adam Bell,
“That ever we were made men!
These gates be shut so wonderly well, That we may not come here in.”

Then spake him Clym of the Clough:
“With a wile we will us in bring;
Let us say we be messengers,
Straight comen from our King.”
Adam said: “I have a letter written well, Now let us wisely werk;
We will say we have the King-e’s seal, I hold the porter no clerk.”

Then Adam Bell beat on the gate,
With strok-es great and strong;
The porter heard such noise thereat, And to the gate he throng.
“Who is there now,” said the porter, “That maketh all this knocking?”
“We be two messengers,” said Clym of the Clough, “Be comen straight 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 were again to our King.”
“Here cometh no man in,” said the porter, “By him that died on a tree,
Till that a false thief be hanged,
Called William of Cloudeslie!”

Then spake the good yeoman Clym of the Clough, And swore by Mary free,
“If that we stand-e long without,
Like a thief hanged shalt thou be.
Lo here we have the King-es seal;
What, lourdain, art thou wood?”
The porter weened it had been so,
And lightly did off his hood.

“Welcome be my lord’s seal,” said he, “For that shall ye come in.”
He opened the gate right shortelie, An evil open-ing for him.
“Now are we in,” said Adam Bell,
“Thereof we are full fain,
But Christ he knoweth, 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 a couns-el, And wrung his neck in two,
And cast him in a deep dunge-on,
And took the keys him fro.

“Now am I porter,” said Adam Bell;
“See, brother, the keys have we here; The worst port-er to merry Carlisle
They have had this hundred year:
And now will we our bow-es bend,
Into the town will we go,
For to deliver our dear broth-er,
That lieth in care and woe.”

They bent their good yew bow-es,
And looked their strings were round, The market-place of merry Carlisle
They beset in that stound;
And as they look-ed them beside,
A pair of new gallows there they see, And the Justice with a quest of squires, That judged William hang-ed to be.

And Cloudeslie lay ready there in a cart, Fast bound both foot and hand,
And a strong rope about his neck,
All ready for to be hanged.
The Justice called to him a lad,
Cloudeslie’s clothes should he have To take the measure of that yeom-an,
Thereafter to make his grave.

“I have seen as great marvel,” said Cloudeslie, “As between this and prime;
He that maketh this grave for me,
Himself may lie therein.”–
“Thou speakest proudly,” said the Justice; “I shall hang thee with my hand.”
Full well that heard his brethren two, There still as they did stand.

Then Cloudeslie cast his eyen aside,
And saw his two brethren
At a corner of the market-place,
Ready the Justice to slain.
“I see good comfort,” said Cloudeslie, “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 ye mark the Justice well; Lo, yonder ye 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 drede;
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 fell nigh him by,
Either had his death’s wound.

All the citizens fast gan flee,
They durst no longer abide;
Then lightly they loos-ed Cloudeslie, Where he with ropes lay tied.
William stert to an officer of the town, His axe out of his hand he wrong,
On each-e side he smote them down,
Him thought he tarried too long.

William said to his brethren two:
“Together let us live and dee;
If e’er you have need, as I have now, The same shall ye find by me.”
They shot so well in that tide,
For 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 an heart made cold.
But when their arrows were all gone, Men pressed to them full fast;
They drew their sword-es then anon, And their bow-es from them cast.

They went lightly on their way,
With swords and bucklers round;
By that it was the middes of the day, They had made many a wound.
There was many a neat-horn in Carlisle blown, And the bells back-ward did ring;
Many a woman said “Alas!”
And many their hands did wring.

The Mayor of Carlisle forth come was, And with him a full great rout;
These three yeomen dread him full sore, For their lives stood in doubt.
The Mayor came armed a full great pace, With a poleaxe in his hand;
Many a strong man with him was,
There in that stour to stand.

The Mayor smote Cloudeslie with his bill, His buckler he burst in two;
Full many a yeoman with great ill,
“Alas! treason!” they cried for woe. “Keep we the gat-es 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 at a braid.
“Have here your keys,” said Adam Bell, “Mine office I here forsake;
If you do by my coun-sel,
A new port-er do ye make.”

He threw the keys there at their heads, And bade them evil to thrive,
And all that letteth any good yeo-man To come and comfort his wife.
Thus be these good yeomen gone to the wood, As light as leaf on linde;
They laugh and be merry in their mood, Their en’mies were far behind.

When they came to Inglewood,
Under their trysting tree,
There they found bow-es full good,
And arrows great plent-y.
“So help me God,” said Adam Bell,
And Clym of the Clough so free,
“I would we were now in merry Carlisle, Before that fair meynie!”

They sit them down and make good cheer, And eat and drink full well.–
Here is a fytte of these wight yeomen, And another I shall you tell.


As they sat in Inglewood
Under their trysting tree,
They thought they heard a woman weep, But her they might not see.
Sore there sigh-ed fair Al-ice,
And said, “Alas that e’er I see this day! For now is my dear husband slain:
Alas, and well away!

“Might I have spoken with his dear brethren, With either of them twain,
To show-e them what him befell,
My heart were out of pain.”
Cloudeslie walked a little beside,
And looked under the greenwood linde; He was ware of his wife and his children three, Full woe in heart and mind.

“Welcome, wife,” then said Willi-am,
“Under this trysting tree!
I had weened yesterday, by sweet Saint John, Thou should me never have see.”
“Now well is me,” she said, “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,
“Iwis it is no boot;
The meat that we must sup withal
It runneth yet fast on foot.”
Then went they down into the launde, These noble archers all three;
Each of them slew a hart of grease, The best that they could see.

“Have here the best, Al-ice, my wife,” Said William of Cloudeslie,
“Because ye so boldly stood me by
When I was slain full nie.”
And then they went to their supp-er With such meat as they had,
And thanked God of their fort-une;
They were both merry and glad.

And when that they had supp-ed well,
Certain withouten lease,
Cloudeslie said: “We will to our King, To get us a charter of peace;
Al-ice shall be at our sojourning,
In a nunnery here beside,
And my two sons shall with her go,
And there they shall abide.

“Mine eldest son shall go with me,
For him have I 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 may hie,
Till they came to the King’s pal-ace, Where they would needs be.

And when they came to the King-es court, Unto the palace gate,
Of no man would they ask no leave,
But boldly went in thereat.
They press-ed prestly into the hall, Of no man had they dread;
The porter came after, and did them call, And with them gan to chide.

The usher said: “Yeomen, what would ye have? I pray you tell to me;
You might thus make officers shent, Good sirs, of whence be ye?”
“Sir, we be outlaws of the for-est, Certain without any 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 kneel-ed down without lett-ing, And each held up his hand.
They said: “Lord, we beseech thee here, That ye 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 Cloudeslie.”–
“Be ye those thieves,” then said our King, “That men have told of to me?
Here to God I make avowe
Ye shall be hanged all three!

“Ye shall be dead without merc-y,
As I am King of this land.”
He commanded his officers every one 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 will grant us grace,
Insomuch as we be to you comen;
Or else that we may fro you pace
With such weapons as we have here,
Till we be out of your place;
And if we live this hundred year,
Of you we will ask 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,
Ye said the first boon that I would ask, Ye would grant it me belife.

“And I asked never none till now:
Therefore, good lord, grant it me.” “Now ask it, madam,” said the King,
“And granted shall it be.”–
“Then, good my lord, I you beseech, These yeomen grant ye me.”–
“Madam, ye might have asked a boon, That should have been worth them all three:

“Ye might have ask-ed towers and towns, Parks and for-ests plent-y.”–
“None so pleasant to my pay,” she said, “Nor none so lief to me.”–
“Madam, sith it is your desire,
Your asking granted shall be;
But I had liever have given you
Good market town-es three.”

The Queen she was a glad wom-an,
And said: “Lord, gramerc-y,
I dare well undertake for them
That true men shall they be.
But, good 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 sitten but a while,
Certain, without leas-ing,
There came two messengers out of the north, With letters to our King.
And when they came before the King, They kneeled down upon their knee,
And said: “Lord, your officers greet you well Of Carlisle in the north countree.”–

“How fareth my Justice?” said the King, “And my Sheriff also?”–
“Sir, they be slain, without leas-ing, And many an officer mo.”–
“Who hath them slain?” then said the King, “Anon thou tell-e me.”–
“Adam Bell, and Clym of the Clough, And William of Cloudeslie.”–

“Alas, for ruth!” then said our King, “My heart is wondrous sore;
I had liever than a thousand pound
I had known of this before;
For I have y-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 tho,
And found how these three outlaws had slain Three hundred men and mo;
First the Justice and the Sheriff,
And the Mayor of Carlisle town,
Of all the const-ables and catchipolls Alive were left but one;

The bailiffs and the bedels both,
And the serjeants of the law,
And forty fosters of the fee,
These outlaws have they slaw;
And broken his parks, and slain his deer, Over all they chose the best,
So perilous outlaws as they were,
Walked not by east nor west.

When the King this letter had read,
In his heart he sigh-ed sore:
“Take up the table,” anon he bade:
“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, “That in the north have wrought this woe.”

The King-es bowmen busk them blive,
And the Queen’s archers also,
So did these three wight 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 them stand.

Then spake William of Cloudeslie:
“By Him that for me died,
I hold him never no good archer,
That shooteth at butts so wide.”–
“Whereat, then?” said our King,
“I pray thee tell to me.”–
“At such a butt, sir,” he said,
“As men use in my countree.”–

William went into the field,
And his two brothers with him,
There they set up two hazel rods,
Twenty score paces between.
“I hold him an archer,” said Cloudeslie, “That yonder wand cleaveth in two.”–
“Here is none such,” said the King, “For no man that can so do.”

“I shall assay, sir,” said Cloudeslie, “Ere that I farther go.”
Cloudeslie with a bearing arrow
Clave the wand in two.
“Thou art the best archer,” said the King, “Forsooth that ever I see.”–
“And yet for your love,” said William, “I will do more mastrie.

“I have a son is seven year old;
He is to me full dear;
I will tie him to a stake,
All shall see him that be here,
And lay an apple upon his head,
And go six score paces 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, Hang-ed 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 you hang all three.”–

“That I have promised,” said William,