Percy's Reliques - Child Waters.

Child Waters.

            Child is frequently used by our old writers, as a title. It is repeatedly given to Prince Arthur in the Faerie Queen; and the son of a king is in the same poem called Child Tristram. (B. v. c. 11. st. 8. 13.-- B. vi. c. 2. st. 36.-- ibid. c. 8. st. 15.) In an old ballad, quoted in Shakspeare's King Lear, the hero of Ariosto is called Child Roland. Mr. Theobald supposes this use of the word was received along with their romances from the Spaniards, with whom Infante signifies a Prince. A more eminent critic tells us, that "in the old times of chivalry, the noble youth, who were candidates for knighthood, during the time of their probation, were called Infans, Varlets, Damoysels, Bacheliers. The most noble of the youth were particularly called Infans." (See Warb. Shaksp.) A late commentator on Spenser observes, that the Saxon word Cnihz, Knight, signifies also a Child. [See Upton's Gloss. to the Faerie Queen.]

            The Editor's folio manuscript, whence the following piece is taken, with some corrections, affords several other ballads, wherein the word Child occurs as a title: but in none of these it signifies Prince. See the song intitled Gil Morrice, in this volume.

            It ought to be observed, that the word Child or Chield is still used in North Britain to denominate a Man, commonly with some contemptuous character affixed to him, but sometimes to denote man in general.

CHYLDE WATERS in his stable stoode
And stroakt his milke white steede:
To him a fayre yonge ladye came
As ever ware womans weede.

Sayes, "Christ you save, good Childe Waters;"
Sayes, "Christ you save, and see:
My girdle of gold that was too longe,
Is now too short for mee.

"And all is with one chyld of yours,
I feel sturre att my side:
My gowne of greene it is too straighte;
Before, it was too wide."

"If the child be mine, faire Ellen," he sayd,
"Be mine, as you tell mee;
Then take you Cheshire and Lancashire both,
Take them your owne to bee.

"If the childe be mine, fair Ellen," he sayd,
"Be mine, as you doe sweare;
Then take you Cheshire and Lancashire both,
And make that child your heyre."

Shee sayes, "I had rather have one kisse,
Child Waters, of thy mouth;
Than I wolde have Cheshire and Lancashire both,
That lye by north and south.

"And I had rather have one twinkling,
Childe Waters, of thine ee;
Then I wolde have Cheshire and Lancashire both,
To take them mine owne to bee."

"To morrow, Ellen, I must forth ryde,
Farr into the north countrie;
The fairest lady that I can find,
Ellen, must goe with mee."

"Thoughe I am not that lady fayre,
Yet let me go with thee:
And ever I pray you, Child Waters,
Your foot-page let me bee."

"If you will my foot-page be, Ellen,
As you doe tell to mee;
Then you must cut your gowns of greene,
An inch above your knee:

"Soe must you doe your yellow lockes,
An inch above your ee:
You must tell no man what is my name;
My foot-page then you shall bee."

Shee, all the long day Child Waters rode,
Ran barefoote by his side;
Yett was he never soe courteous a knighte,
To say, "Ellen, will you ryde?"

Shee, all the long day Child Waters rode,
Ran barefoote thorow the broome;
Yett hee was never soe curteous a knighte,
To say, "put on your shoone."

"Ride softlye," shee sayd, "O Childe Waters,
Why doe you ryde soe fast?
The childe, which is no mans but thine,
My bodye itt will brast."

Hee sayth, "seeth thou yonder water, Ellen,
That flows from bank to brimme?"--
"I trust to God, O Child Waters,
You never will see[ 1] mee swimme."

But when shee came to the waters side,
Shee sayled to the chinne:
"Nowe the Lord of heaven be my speed,
Now must I learne to swimme."

The salt waters bare up her clothes;
Our Ladye bare upp her chinne:
Childe Waters was a woe man, good Lord,
To see faire Ellen swimme.

And when shee over the water was,
Shee then came to his knee:
He said, "Come hither, thou fair Ellen,
Loe yonder what I see.

"Seest thou not yonder hall, Ellen?
Of redd gold shines the yate;
Of twenty foure faire ladyes there,
The fairest is my mate.

"Seest thou not yonder hall, Ellen?
Of redd gold shines the towre:
There are twenty four fair ladyes there,
The fairest is my paramoure."

"I see the hall now, Child Waters,
Of redd golde shines the yate:
God give you good now of yourselfe,
And of your worthye mate.

"I see the hall now, Child Waters,
Of redd gold shines the towre:
God give you good now of yourselfe,
And of your paramoure."

There twenty four fayre ladyes were
A playing att the ball:
And Ellen the fairest ladye there,
Must bring his steed to the stall.

There twenty four fayre ladyes were
A playinge at the chesse;
And Ellen the fayrest ladye there,
Must bring his horse to gresse.

And then bespake Childe Waters sister,
These were the wordes said shee:
"You have the prettyest foot-page, brother,
That ever I did see."

"But that his bellye it is soe bigg,
His girdle goes wonderous hie:
And let him, I pray you, Childe Waters,
Goe into the chamber with mee."

"It is not fit for a little foot-page,
That has run throughe mosse and myre,
To go into the chamber with any ladye,
That weares soe riche attyre.

"It is more meete for a litle foot-page,
That has run throughe mosse and myre,
To take his supper upon his knee,
And sitt downe by the kitchen fyer."

But when they had supped every one,
To bedd they tooke theyr waye
He sayd, come hither, my little foot-page,
And hearken what I saye.

"Goe thee downe into yonder towne,
And low into the street;
The fayrest ladye that thou can finde,
Hyer her in mine armes to sleepe,

"And take her up in thine armes twaine,
For filinge[ 2] of her feete."
Ellen is gone into the towne,
And low into the streete:

The fairest ladye that she cold find,
Shee hyred in his armes to sleepe;
And tooke her up in her armes twayne,
For filing of her feete.

"I pray you nowe, good Childe Waters,
Let mee lye at your bedds feete:
For there is noe place about this house,
Where I may 'saye[ 3] a sleepe."

He gave her leave, and faire Ellen,
Down at his beds feet laye:
This done the nighte drove on apace,
And when it was neare the daye,

Hee sayd, "Rise up, my litle foot-page,
Give my steede corne and haye;
And soe doe thou the good black oats,
To carry mee better awaye."

Up then rose the faire Ellen,
And gave his steede corne and hay:
And soe shee did the good blacke oats,
To carry him the better away.

Shee leaned her backe to the manger side,
And grievouslye did groane:
Shee leaned her backe to the manger side,
And there shee made her moane.

And that beheard his mother deere,
Shee heard her there monand.[ 4]
Shee sayd, "Rise up, thou Childe Waters,
I think thee a cursed man.

"For in thy stable is a ghost,
That grievouslye doth grone:
Or else some woman laboures of childe,
She is soe woe-begone."

Up then rose Childe Waters soon,
And did on his shirte of silke;
And then he put on his other clothes,
On his body as white as milke.

And when he came to the stable dore,
Full still there hee did stand,
That hee mighte heare his fayre Ellen
Howe shee made her monand.

Shee sayd, "Lullabye, mine owne deere child,
Lullabye, dere child, dere;
I wold thy father were a king,
Thy mother layd on a biere."

"Peace now," he said, "good faire Ellen,"
"Be of good cheere, I praye;
And the bridal and the churching both
Shall bee upon one day."

NOTES

1. i.e. permit, suffer, &c.

2. i.e. defiling, See Warton's Observ. vol. ii. p. 158.

3. i.e. essay, attempt.

4. i.e. moaning, bemoaning, &c.

 

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