Percy's Reliques - St. George for England.

St. George for England.

THE FIRST PART

            As the former song is in ridicule of the extravagant incidents in old ballads and metrical romances; so this is a burlesque of their style; particularly of the rambling transitions and wild accumulation of unconnected parts, so frequent in many of them.

            This ballad is given from an old black-letter copy in the Pepys Collection, "imprinted at London, 1612." It is more ancient than many of the preceding; but we place it here for the sake of connecting it with the SECOND PART.

WHY doe ye boast of Arthur and his knightes,
Knowing well how many men have endured fightes?
For besides King Arthur, and Lancelot du Lake,
Or Sir Tristram de Lionel, that fought for ladies sake;
Read in old histories, and there you shall see
How St. George, St. George the dragon made to flee.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Mark our father Abraham, when first he resckued Lot
Onely with his household, what conquest there he got.
David was elected a prophet and a king,
He slew the great Goliah, with a stone within a sling.
Yet these were not knightes of the table round;
Nor St. George, St. George who the dragon did confound.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Jephthah and Gideon did lead their men to fight,
They conquered the Amorites and put them all to flight.
Hercules his labours were on the plaines of Basse.
And Sampson slew a thousand with the jawbone of an asse,
And eke he threw a temple downe, and did a mighty spoyle.
But St. George, St. George he did the dragon foyle.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The warres of ancient monarchs it were too long to tell,
And likewise of the Romans, how farre they did excel.
Hannyball and Scipio in many a fielde did fighte
Orlando Furioso he was a worthy knighte.
Remus and Romulus, were they that Rome did builde,
But St. George, St. George the dragon made to yielde.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The noble Alphonso that was the Spanish king,
The order of the red scarffes and bandrolles in did bring;[ 1]
He had a troope of mighty knightes, when first he did begin,
Which sought adventures farre and neare that conquest they might win;
The ranks of the Pagans he often put to flight.
But St. George, St. George did with the dragon fight.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Many knights have fought with proud Tamberlaine;
Cutlax the Dane, great warres he did maintaine;
Rowland of Beame, and good Sir Olivere
In the forest of Acon slew both woolfe and beare,
Besides that noble Hollander, Sir Goward with the bill.
But St. George, St. George the dragon's blood did spill.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Valentine and Orson were of King Pepin's blood;
Alfride and Henry they were brave knightes and good;
The four sons of Aymon, that follow'd Charlemaine,
Sir Hughon of Burdeaux, and Godfrey of Bullaine,
These were all French knightes that lived in that age.
But St. George, St. George the dragon did assuage.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soil qui mal y yense.

Bevis conquered Ascapart, and after slew the boare,
And then he crost beyond the seas to combat with the Moore;
Sir Isenbras and Eglamore, they were knightes most bold;
And good Sir John Mandeville of travel much hath told;
There were many English knights that Pagans did convert.
But St. George, St. George pluckt out the dragon's heart.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The noble Earl of Warwick, that was call'd Sir Guy,
The infidels and pagans stoutlie did defie;
He slew the giant Brandimore, and after was the death
Of that most ghastly dun cowe, the divell of Dunsmore heath;
Besides his noble deeds all done beyond the seas.
But St. George, St. George the dragon did appease.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Richard Coeur-de-lion, erst king of this land,
He the lion gored with his naked hand;[ 2]
The false Duke of Austria nothing did he feare;
But his son he killed with a boxe on the eare;
Besides his famous actes done in the Holy Lande:
But St. George, St. George the dragon did withstande.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Henry the fifth he conquered all France,
And quartered their armes, his honour to advance;
He their cities razed, and threw their castles downe,
And his head he honoured with a double crowne;
He thumped the Frenchmen, and after home he came.
But St. George, St. George he did the dragon tame.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

St. David of Wales the Welsh-men much advance;
St. Jaques of Spaine, that never yet broke lance;
St. Patricke of Ireland, which was St. Georges boy,
Seven yeares he kept his horse, and then stole him away:
For which knavish act, as slaves they doe remaine.
But St. George, St. George the dragon he hath slaine.
St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France;
Sing, Honi soit qui mal y pense.

NOTES

1. This probably alludes to "an ancient order of knighthood, called the Order of the Band, instituted by Don Alphonsus, King of Spain . . . to wear a red riband of three fingers breadth," &c. See Ames, Typog. p. 327.

2. Alluding to the fabulous exploits attributed to this King in the old romances. See the dissertation prefixed to Book vii.

 

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