Percy's Reliques - Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard.

Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard.

            This ballad is ancient, and has been popular; We find it quoted in many old plays.-- See Beaum. and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle, 4to. 1613, Act 5. The Varietie, a comedy, 12mo. 1649, Act iv. &c. In Sir William Davenant's play, The Witts, Act iii. a gallant thus boasts of himself:

"Limber and sound! besides I sing Musgrave,
And for Chevy-chace no lark comes near me."

            In the Pepys Collection, vol. iii. p. 314, is an imitation of this old song, in thirty-three stanzas, by a more modern pen, with many alterations, but evidently for the worse.

            This is given from an old printed copy in the British Museum, with corrections; some of which are from a fragment in the Editor's folio manuscript. It is also printed in Dryden's Collection of Miscellanous Poems.

As it fell out on a highe holye daye,
As many bee in the yeare,
When young men and maides together do goe,
Their masses and mattins to heare,

Little Musgrave came to the church door,
The priest was at the mass;
But he had more mind of the fine women,
Then he had of our Ladyes grace.

And some of them were clad in greene,
And others were clad in pall;
And then came in my Lord Barnardes wife,
The fairest among them all.

Shee cast an eye on little Musgrave,
As bright as the summer sunne:
O then bethought him little Musgrave,
"This ladyes heart I have wonne."

Quoth she, "I have loved thee, little Musgrave,
Fulle long and manye a daye."
"So have I loved you, ladye faire,
Yet word I never durst saye."

"I have a bower at Bucklesford-Bury,
Full daintilye bedight,
If thoult wend thither, my little Musgrāve,
Thoust lig in mine armes all night."

Quoth hee, "I thanke yee, ladye faire,
This kindness yee shew to mee;
And whether it be to my weale or woe,
This night will I lig with thee."

All this beheard a litle foot-page,
By his ladyes coach as he ranne:
Quoth he, "Thoughe I am my ladyes page,
Yet Ime my Lord Barnardes manne.

"My Lord Barnard shall knowe of this,
Although I lose a limbe."
And ever whereas the bridges were broke,
He layd him downe to swimme.

"Asleep or awake, thou Lord Barnard,
As thou art a man of life,
Lo! this same night at Bucklesford-Bury
Little Musgrave's in bed with thy wife."

"If it be trew, thou title foote-page,
This tale thou hast told to mee,
Then all my lands in Bucklesford-Bury
I freelye will give to thee.

"But and it be a lye, thou litle foot-page,
This tale thou hast told to mee,
On the highest tree in Bucklesford-Bury
All hanged shalt thou bee.

"Rise up, rise up, my merry men all,
And saddle me my good steede;
This night must I to Bucklesford-Bury;
God wott, I had never more neede."

Then some they whistled, and some they sang,
And some did loudlye saye,
Whenever Lord Barnardes horne it blewe,
"Awaye, Musgrave, away."

"Methinkes I heare the throstle cocke,
Methinkes I heare the jay,
Methinkes I heare Lord Barnards horne;
I would I were awaye."

"Lye still, lye still, thou little Musgrave,
And huggle me from the cold;
For it is but some shephardes boye
A whistling his sheepe to the fold.

"Is not thy hawke upon the pearche,
Thy horse eating corne and haye?
And thou a gay lady within thine armes,
And wouldst thou be awaye?"

By this, Lord Barnard was come to the dore,
And lighted upon a stone:
And he pulled out three silver keyes,
And opened the dores eche one.

He lifted up the coverlett,
He lifted up the sheete;
"How now, how now, thou little Musgrave,
Dost find my gaye ladye sweete?"

"I find her sweete, quoth little Musgrave,
The more is my griefe and paine;
Ide gladlye give three hundred poundes
That I were on yonder plaine."

"Arise, arise, thou little Musgrave,
And put thy cloathes nowe on,
It shall never be said in my countree,
That I killed a naked man.

"I have two swordes in one scabbards,
Full deare they cost my purse;
And thou shalt have the best of them,
And I will have the worst."

The first stroke that little Musgrave strucke,
He hurt Lord Barnard sore;
The next stroke that Lord Barnard strucke,
Little Musgrave never strucke more.

With that bespake the ladye faire,
In bed whereas she laye,
"Althoughe thou art dead, my little Musgrave,
Yet for thee I will praye:

"And wishe well to thy soule will I,
So long as I have life;
So will I not do for thee, Barnard,
Thoughe I am thy wedded wife."

He cut her pappes from off her brest;
Great pitye it was to see
The drops of this fair ladyes bloode
Run trickling down her knee.

"Wo worth, wo worth ye, my merry men all,
You never were borne for my goode:
Why did you not offer to staye my hande,
When you sawe me wax so woode?

"For I have slaine the fairest sir knighte,
That ever rode on a steede;
So have I done the fairest lady,
That ever ware womans weede.

"A grave, a grave," Lord Barnard cryde,
To putt these lovers in;
"But lay my ladye o' the upper hande,
For shee comes o' the better kin."

C That the more modern copy is to be dated about the middle of the last century, will be readily conceived from the tenor of the concluding stanza, viz.

This sad Mischief by Lust was wrought;
Then let us call for Grace,
That we may shun the wicked vice
And fly from Sin a-pace.

 

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