Page images
PDF
EPUB

Then to his grace I did replye,
I am a poore and friendlesse boye,
Though nobly borne, nowe forc'd to bee
A serving-man of lowe degree.

45

Stand up, faire youth, the king reply'd,
For thee a service I'll provyde :
But tell me first what thou canst do ;
Thou shalt be fitted thereunto.

50

Wilt thou be usher of my hall,
To wait upon my nobles all ?
Or wilt be taster of my wine,
To 'tend on me when I shall dine ?

Or wilt thou be my chamberlaine,
About my person to remaine?
Or wilt thou be one of my guard,
And I will give thee great reward ?

55

Chuse, gentle youth, said he, thy place.
Then I reply'd, If it please your grace
To shew such favour unto mee,
Your chamberlaine I faine would hee.

60

The king then smiling gave consent,
And straitwaye to his court I went ;
Where I behavde so faithfullìe,
That hee great favour showd to mee.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

65

Now marke what fortune did provide ;
The king he would a hunting ride
With all his lords and noble traine,
Sweet William must at home remaine.

50

Thus being left alone behind,
My former state came in my mind :
I wept to see my mans array ;
No longer now a ladye gay.

And meeting with a ladyes vest,
Within the same myself I drest;
With silken robes, and jewels rare,
I deckt me, as a ladye faire :

75

And taking up a lute straitwaye,
Upon the same I strove to play ;
And sweetly to the same did sing,
As made both hall and chamber ring.

80

My father was as brave a lord, As ever Europe might afford; “ My mother was a lady bright;

My husband was a valiant knight:

[ocr errors]

“ And I myself a ladye gay,
“ Bedeckt with gorgeous rich array ;
The happiest lady in the land
" Had not more pleasure at command.

or I had

90

“I had my musicke every day
“ Harmonious lessons for to play;
“I had my virgins fair and free

Continually to wait on mee.

" But now,

alas !

my

husband's dead, “ And all my friends are from me fled,

My former days are past and gone, “ And I am now a serving-man."

9

And fetching many a tender sigh,
As thinking no one then was nigh,
In pensive mood I laid me lowe,
My heart was full, the tears did flowe.

100

The king, who had a huntinge gone,
Grewe weary

of his sport anone, And leaving all his gallant traine, Turn’d on the sudden home againe :

105

And when he reach'd his statelye tower,
Hearing one sing within his bower,
He stopt to listen, and to see
Who
sung

there so melodiouslle.

Thus heard he everye word I sed,
And saw the pearlye teares I shod,
And found to his amazement there,
Sweete William was a ladye faire.

110

K 2

Thea

Then stepping in, Faire ladye, rise,
And dry, said he, those lovelye eyes,
For I have heard thy mournful tale,
The which shall turne to thy availe.

115

A crimson dye my face orespred,
I blusht for shame, and hung my head,
To find my sex and story knowne,
When as I thought I was alone.

120

But to be briefe, his royall grace
Grewe so enamour'd of my face,
The richest gifts he proffered mee,
His inistress if that I would bee.

125

Ah! no, my liege, I firmlye sayd,
I'll rather in my grave be layd,
And though your grace hath won my heart,
I ne'er will act soe base a part.

130

Faire ladye, pardon me, sayd hee,
Thy virtue shall rewarded bee,
And since it is soe fairly tryde
Thou shalt become my royal bride.

Then strait to end his amorous strife,
He tooke sweet William to his wife.
The like before was never seene,
A serving-man became a queene.

135 XVIII.

GIL MORRICE.

A SCOTTISH BALLAD.

The following piece hath run through two editions in Scotland : the second was printed at Glasgow in 1755, 8vo. Prefixed to them both is an advertisement, setting forth that the preservation of this poem was owing “ to a lady, who favoured the printers with a copy, as * it was carefully collected from the mouths of old wo“ men and nurses ;” and “ any reader that can render " it more correct or complete,” is desired to oblige the public with such improvements. In consequence of this advertisement, sixteen additional verses have been produced and handed about in manuscript, which are here inserted in their proper places : (these are from ver. 109 to ver. 121, and from ver. 124 to ver. 129, but are perhaps, after all, only an ingenious interpolation.)

As this poem lays claim to a pretty high antiquity, we have assigned it a place among our early pieces : though, after all, there is reason to believe it has received very considerable modern improvements : for in the Editor's ancient MS collection is a very old imperfect copy of the same ballad: wherein though the leading features of the story are the same, yet the colouring here is so much improved and heightened, and so many additional strokes are thrown in, that it is evident the whole has undergone a revisal.

N. B. The Editor's MS. instead of " lord Barnard,” has “ John Stewart;” and instead of “ Gil Morrice,” Child MAURICE, which last is probably the original title. See above, p. 95.

« PreviousContinue »