Percy's Reliques - Queen Dido.

Queen Dido.

            Such is the title given in the Editor's folio manuscript to this excellent old ballad, which, in the common printed copies, is inscribed, Eneas, wandering Prince of Troy. It is here given from that manuscript, collated with two different printed copies, both in black-letter, in the Pepys Collection.

            The reader will smile to observe with what natural and affecting simplicity our ancient ballad-maker has engrafted a Gothic conclusion on the classic story of Virgil, from whom, however, it is probable he had it not. Nor can it be denied but he has dealt out his poetical justice with a more impartial hand than that celebrated poet.

WHEN Troy towne had for ten yeeres past,
Withstood the Greekes in manfull wise,
Then did their foes encrease soe fast,
That to resist none could suffice:
Wast lye those walls, that were soe good,
And corne now growes where Troy towne stoode.

Aneas, wandering prince of Troy,
When he for land long time had sought,
At length arriving with great joy,
To mighty Carthage walls was brought;
Where Dido queene, with sumptuous feast,
Did entertaine that wandering guest.

And, as in hall at meate they sate,
The queene, desirous newes to heare,
Says, "of thy Troys unhappy fate
Declare to me thou Trojan deare
The heavy hap and chance soe bad,
That thou, poore wandering prince, hast had."

And then anon this comelye knight,
With words demure, as he cold well,
Of his unhappy ten year's fight,
Soe true a tale began to tell,
With words soe sweete, and sighes soe deep;
That oft he made them all to weepe.

And then a thousand sighes he fet,
And every sigh brought teares amaine;
That where he sate the place was wett,
As though he had seene those warrs againe
Soe that the queene, with ruth therfore,
Said worthy prince, enough, no more.

And then the darksome knight drew on,
And twinkling starres the skye bespred;
When he his dolefull tale had done,
And every one was layd in bedd:
Where they full sweetly tooke their rest,
Save only Dido's boyling brest.

This silly woman never slept,
But in her chamber, all alone,
As one unhappye, always wept,
And to the walls shee made her mone;
That she shold still desire in vaine
The thing, she never must obtaine.

And thus in grieffe she spent the night,
Till twinkling starres the skye were fled,
And Phoebus, with his glistering light,
Through misty cloudes appeared red;
Then tidings came to her anon,
That all the Trojan shipps were gone.

And then the queene, with bloody knife,
Did arme her hart as hard as stone,
Yet, something loth to loose her life,
In woefull wise she made her mone;
And, rowling on her carefull bed,
With sighes and sobbs, these words shee sayd:

"O wretched Dido queene!" quoth shee,
"I see thy end approacheth neare;
For hee is fled away from thee,
Whom thou didst love and hold so deare:
What! is he gone, and passed by?
O hart, prepare thyselfe to dye.

"Though reason says, thou shouldst forbeare,
And stay thy hand from bloudy stroke;
Yet fancy bids thee not to fear,
Which fetter'd thee in Cupids yoke.
Come death, quoth shee, resolve my smart!"--
And with those words shee pierced her hart.

When death had pierced the tender hart
Of Dido, Carthaginian queene;
Whose bloudy knife did end the smart,
Which shee sustain'd in mournfull teene;
Æneas being shipt and gone,
Whose flattery caused all her mone;

Her funerall most costly made,
And all things finisht mournfullye;
Her body fine in mold was laid,
Where itt consumed speedilye:
Her sisters teares her tombe bestrewde;
Her subjects griefe their kindnesse shewed.

Then was Æneas in an ile
In Grecya, where he stayd long space,
Wheras her sister in short while
Writt to him to his vile disgrace;
In speeches bitter to his mind
Shee told him plaine he was unkind.

"False-hearted wretch," quoth shee, "thou art;
And traiterouslye thou hast betraid
Unto thy lure a gentle hart,
Which unto thee much welcome made;
My sister deare, and Carthage' joy,
Whose folly bred her deere annoy.

"Yett on her death-bed when shee lay,
Shee prayd for thy prosperitye,
Beseeching God, that every day
Might breed thy great felicitye:
Thus by thy meanes I lost a friend;
Heavens send thee such untimely end."

When he these lines, full fraught with gall,
Perused had, and wayed them right,
His lofty courage then did fall;
And straight appeared in his sight
Queene Dido's ghost, both grim and pale:
Which made this valiant souldier quaile.

"Æneas," quoth this ghastly ghost,
"My whole delight when I did live,
Thee of all men I loved most;
My fancy and my will did give:
For entertainment I thee gave,
Unthankefully thou didst me grave.

"Therfore prepare thy flitting soule
To wander with me in the aire:
Where deadlye griefe shall make it howle,
Because of me thou tookst no care:
Delay not time, thy glasse is run,
Thy date is past, thy life is done."

"O stay a while, thou lovely sprite,
Be not soe hasty to convay
My soule into eternall night,
Where itt shall ne're behold bright day.
O doe not frowne; thy angry looke
Hath all my soule with horror shooke.

"But, woe is me! all is in vaine,
And bootless is my dismall crye;
Time will not be recalled againe,
Nor thou surcease before I dye.
O lett me live, and make amends
To some of thy most dearest friends.

"But seeing thou obdurate art,
And wilt no pittye on me show,
Because from thee I did depart,
And left unpaid what I did owe
I must content myselfe to take
What lott to me thou wilt partake."

And thus, as one being in a trance,
A multitude of uglye feinds
About this woffull prince did dance;
He had no helpe of any friends:
His body then they tooke away,
And no man knew his dying day.

 

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