Percy's Reliques - Old Robin of Portingale.

Old Robin of Portingale.

ááááááááááá From an ancient copy in the Editor's folio manuscript, which was judged to require considerable corrections.

ááááááááááá In the former Edition the hero of this piece had been called Sir Robin; but that title not being in the manuscript is now omitted.

LET never againe soe old a man
Marrye soe yonge a wife,
As did old Robin of Portingale;
Who may rue all the dayes of his life.

For the mayors daughter of Lin, god wott,
He chose her to his wife,
And thought with her to have lived in love
But they fell to hate and strife.

They scarce were in their wed-bed laid,
And scarce was hee asleepe,
But upp shee rose, and forth shee goes,
To the steward, and gan to weepe.

"Sleepe you, wake you, faire Sir Gyles?
Or be you not within?
Sleepe you, wake you, faire Sir Gyles?
Arise and let me inn."

"O, I am waking, sweete," he said,
"Sweete ladye, what is your will?
I have unbethought[ 1] me of a wile
How my wed-lord weell spill."

"Twenty-four good knights," shee sayes,
"That dwell about this towne,
Even twenty-four of my next cozens,
Will helpe to dinge him downe."

All that beheard his litle footepage,
As he watered his masters steed;
And for his masters sad perýlle
His verry heart did bleed.

He mourned still, and wept full sore;
I sweare by the holy roode
The teares he for his master wept
Were blent water and bloude.

And that beheard his deare master
As he stood at his garden pale:
Sayes, "Ever alacke, my litle foot-page,
What causes thee to wail?

"Hath any one done to thee wronge,
Any of thy fellowes here?
Or is any of thy good friends dead,
That thou shedst manye a teare?

"Or, if it be my head bookes-man,
Aggrieved he shal bee:
For no man here within my howse,
Shall doe wrong unto thee."

"O, it is not your head bookes-man,
Nor none of his degree:
But, on to-morrow, ere it be noone
All deemed to die are yee.

"And of that bethank your head stewÓrd,
And thank your gay ladye."
"If this be true, my litle foot-page,
The heyre of my land thoust bee."

"If it be not true, my dear master,
No good death let me die."
"If it be not true, thou litle foot-page,
A dead corse shalt thou lie.

"O call now downe my faire ladye,
O call her downe to mee:
And tell my ladye gay how sicke,
And like to die I bee."

Downe then came his ladye faire,
All clad in purple and pall:
The rings that were on her fingŔrs,
Cast light thorrow the hall.

"What is your will, my own wed-lord?
What is your will with mee?"
"O see, my ladye deere, how sicke,
And like to die I bee."

"And thou be sicke, my own wed-lord,
Soe sore it grieveth me:
But my five maydens and myselfe
Will watch thy bedde for thee.

"And at the waking of your first sleepe,
We will a hott drinke make:
And at the waking of your next sleepe,
Your sorrowes we will slake."

He put a silke cote on his backe,
And mail of manye a fold:
And hee putt a steele cap on his head,
Was gilt with good red gold.

He layd a bright browne sword by his side,
And another att his feete:
And twentye good-knights he placed at hand,
To watch him in his sleepe.

And about the middle time of the night,
Came twentye-four traitours inn:
Sir Giles he was the foremost man,
The leader of that ginn.

Old Robin with his bright browne sword,
Sir Gyles head soon did winn:
And scant of all those twenty-four,
Went out one quick agenn.

None save only a litle foot page,
Crept forth at a window of stone:
And he had two armes when he came in,
And he went back with one.

Upp then came that ladie gaye
With torches burning bright:
She thought to have brought Sir Gyles a drinke,
Butt she found her owne wedd knight.

The first thinge that she stumbled on
It was Sir Gyles his foote:
Sayes, "Ever alacke, and woe is mee!
Here lyes my sweet hart-roote."

"The next thinge that she stumbled on
It was Sir Gyles his heade:
Sayes, "Ever alacke, and woe is me!
Heere lyes my true love deade."

He cutt the pappes beside her brest,
And did her body spille;
He cutt the eares beside her heade,
And bade her love her fille.

He called then up his litle foot-page,
And made him there his heyre;
And sayd, "Henceforth my worldlye goodes
And countrye I forsweare."

He shope the crosse on his right shoulder,
Of the white clothe and the redde,[ 2]
And went him into the holy land,
Wheras Christ was quicke and dead.

C In the foregoing piece, Giles, steward to a rich old merchant trading to Portugal, is qualified with the title of "Sir," not as being a knight, but rather, I conceive, as having received an inferior order of priesthood.

NOTES

1. unbethought: [properly onbethought.] This word is still used in the midland counties in the same sense as bethought.

2. Every person, who went on a Croisade to the Holy Land, usually wore a cross on his upper garment, on the right shoulder, as a badge of his profession. Different nations were distinguished by crosses of different colours: the English wore white; the French red, &c. This circumstance seems to be confounded in the ballad. [V. Spelman, Gloss.]

 

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