Percy's Reliques - The Knight and Shepherd's Daughter.

The Knight and Shepherd's Daughter.

            This ballad, given from an old black-letter copy, with some corrections, was popular in the time of Queen Elizabeth, being usually printed with her picture before it, as Hearne informs us in his preface to Gul. Newbrig, Hist. Oxon. 1719, 8vo. vol. i. p. lxx. It is quoted in Fletcher's comedy of The Pilgrim, Act iv. sc. 1. [ 1]

THERE was a shepherds daughter
Came tripping on the waye;
And there by chance a knighte shee mett,
Which caused her to staye.

"Good morrowe to you, beauteous maide,"
These words pronounced hee
"O I shall dye this daye," he sayd,
"If Ive not my wille of thee."

"The Lord forbid," the maide replyde,
That you shold waxe so wode!"
But for all that shee could do or saye,
He wold not be withstood.

"Sith you have had your wille of mee,
And put me to open shame,
Now, if you are a courteous knighte,
Tell me what is your name?"

"Some do call mee Jacke, sweet heart,
And some do call mee Jille;
But when I come to the kings faire courte
They call me Wilfulle Wille."

He sett his foot into the stirrup,
And awaye then he did ride;
She tuckt her girdle about her middle,
And ranne close by his side.

But when she came to the brode water,
She sett her brest and swamme;
And when she was got out againe,
She tooke to her heels and ranne.

He never was the courteous knighte,
To saye, "faire maide, will ye ride?"
And she was ever too loving a maide
To saye, "Sir knighte, abide."

When she came to the kings faire courte,
She knocked at the ring;
So readye was the king himself
To let this faire maide in.

"Now Christ you save, my gracious liege,
Now Christ you save and see,
You have a knighte within your courte,
This daye hath robbed mee."

"What hath he robbed thee of, sweet heart?
Of purple or of pall?
Or hath he took thy gaye gold ring
From off thy finger small?"

"He hath not robbed mee, my liege,
Of purple nor of pall:
But he hath gotten my maiden-head,
Which grieves mee worst of all."

"Now if he be a batchelor,
His bodye Ile give to thee;[ 2]
But if he be a married man,
High hanged he shall bee.

He called downe his merrye men all,
By one, by two, by three;
Sir William used to bee the first,
But nowe the last came hee.

He brought her downe full fortye pounde,
Tyed up withinne a glove:
"Faire maide, Ile give the same to thee;
Go, seeke thee another love."

"O Ile have none of your gold, she sayde,
Nor Ile have none of your fee;
But your faire bodye I must have,
The king hath granted mee."

"Sir William ranne and fetchd her then
Five hundred pound in golde,
Saying, faire maide, take this to thee,
Thy fault will never be tolde."

"Tis not the gold that shall mee tempt,
These words then answered shee,
But your own bodye I must have,
The king hath granted mee."

"Would I had dranke the water cleare,
When I did drinke the wine,
Rather than any shepherds brat
Shold bee a ladye of mine!

"Would I had drank the puddle foule,
When I did drink the ale,
Rather than ever a shepherds brat
Shold tell me such a tale!"

"A shepherds brat even as I was,
You mote have let me bee,
I never had come to the kings faire courte,
To crave any love of thee."

He sett her on a milk-white steede,
And himself upon a graye;
He hung a bugle about his necke,
And soe they rode awaye.

But when they came unto the place,
Where marriage-rites were done,
She proved herself a dukes daughter,
And he but a squires sonne.

"Now marrye me, or not, sir knight,
Your pleasure shall be free:
If you make me ladye of one good towne,
Ile make you lord of three."

"Ah! cursed bee the gold," he sayd,
"If thou hadst not been trewe,
I shold have forsaken my sweet love,
And have changed her for a newe."

And now their hearts being linked fast,
They joyned hand in hande:
Thus he had both purse, and person too,
And all at his commande.

NOTES

1. Earl Richard and Earl are the titles of the Scottish versions of this poem, which professor Child considers superior to the English in every respect.-- Editor.

2. This was agreeable to the feudal customs: the lord had a right to give a wife to his vassals. See Shakspeare's All's well that ends well.

 

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