Percy's Reliques - The Child of Elle.

The Child of Elle.

            This is given from a fragment in the Editor's folio manuscript: which, though extremely defective and mutilated, appeared to have so much merit, that it excited a strong desire to attempt a completion of the story. The reader will easily discover the supplemental stanzas by their inferiority, and at the same time be inclined to pardon it, when he considers how difficult it must be to imitate the affecting simplicity and artless beauties of the original. [ 1]

            Child was a title sometimes given to a knight. See Gloss.

ON yonder hill a castle standes
With walles and towres bedight,
And yonder lives the Child of Elle,
A younge and comely knighte.

The Child of Elle to his garden went,
And stood at his garden pale,
Whan, lo! he beheld fair Emmelines page
Come trippinge downe the dale.

The Child of Elle he hyed him thence,
Y-wis he stoode not stille,
And soone he mette faire Emmelines page
Come climbinge up the hille.

"Nowe Christe thee save, thou little foot-page,
Now Christe thee save and see!
Oh telle me how does thy ladye gaye,
And what may thy tydinges bee?"

"My ladye shee is all woe-begone,
And the teares they falle from her eyne;
And aye she laments the deadlye feude
Betweene her house and thine.

"And here shee sends thee a silken scarfe
Bedewde with many a teare,
And biddes thee sometimes thinke on her,
Who loved thee so deare.

"And here shee sends thee a ring of golde
The last boone thou mayst have,
And biddes thee weare it for her sake,
Whan she is layde in grave.

"For, ah! her gentle heart is broke,
And in grave soone must shee bee,
Sith her father hath chose her a new new love,
And forbidde her to think of thee.

Her father hath brought her a carlish knight,
Sir John of the north countràye,
And within three dayes she must him wedde,
Or he vowes he will her slaye."

"Nowe hye thee backe, thou little foot-page,
And greet thy ladye from mee,
And telle her that I her owne true love
Will dye, or sette her free.

"Nowe hye thee backe, thou little foot-page,
And let thy fair ladye know
This night will I bee at her bowre-windowe,
Betide me weale or woe."

The boye he tripped, the boye he ranne,
He neither stint ne stayd
Untill he came to fair Emmelines bowre,
Whan kneeling downe he sayd,

"O ladye, I've been with thine own true love,
And he greets thee well by mee;
This night will he bee at thy bowre-windòwe,
And dye or sett thee free."

Nowe daye was gone, and night was come,
And all were fast asleepe,
All save the Ladye Emmeline,
Who sate in her bowre to weepe:

And soone shee heard her true loves voice
Lowe whispering at the walle,
"Awake, awake, my deare ladyè,
'Tis I thy true love call.

"Awake, awake, my ladye deare,
Come, mount this faire palfraye:
This ladder of ropes will lette thee downe
Ile carrye thee hence awaye."

"Nowe nay, nowe nay, thou gentle knight,
Nowe nay, this may not bee;
For aye shold I tint my maiden fame,
If alone I should wend with thee."

"O ladye, thou with a knighte so true
Mayst safelye wend alone,
To my ladye mother I will thee bringe,
Where marriage shall make us one."

"My father he is a baron bolde,
Of lynage proude and hye;
And what would he saye if his daughtèr
Awaye with a knight should fly?

"Ah! well I wot, he never would rest,
Nor his meate should doe him no goode,
Until he hath slayne thee, Child of Elle,
And seene thy deare hearts bloode."

"O ladye, wert thou in thy saddle sette,
And a little space him fro,
I would not care for thy cruel fathèr,
Nor the worst that he could doe.

"O ladye, wert thou in thy saddle sette,
And once without this walle.
I would not care for thy cruel fathèr
Nor the worst that might befalle.

Faire Emmeline sighed, fair Emmeline wept,
And aye her heart was woe:
At length he seized her lilly-white hand,
And downe the ladder he drewe:

And thrice he clasped her to his breste,
And kist her tenderlìe:
The teares that fell from her fair eyes
Ranne like the fountayne free.

Hee mounted himselfe on his steede so talle,
And her on a fair palfràye,
And slung his bugle about his necke,
And roundlye they rode awaye.

All this beheard her owne damsèlle,
In her bed whereas shee ley,
Quoth shee, "My lord shall knowe of this,
Soe I shall have golde and fee.

"Awake, awake, thou baron bolde!
Awake, my noble dame!
Your daughter is fledde with the Child of Elle
To doe the deede of shame."

The baron he woke, the baron he rose,
And called his merrye men all:
"And come thou forth, Sir John the knighte,
Thy ladye is carried to thrall."

Faire Emmeline scant had ridden a mile,
A mile forth of the towne,
When she was aware of her fathers men
Come galloping over the downe:

And foremost came the carlish knight,
Sir John of the north countràye:
"Nowe stop, nowe stop, thou false traitòure,
Nor carry that ladye awaye.

"For she is come of hye lineàge,
And was of a ladye borne,
And ill it beseems thee, a false churl's sonne,
To carrye her hence to scorne."

"Nowe loud thou lyest, Sir John the knight,
Nowe thou doest lye of mee
A knight mee gott, and a ladye me bore,
Soe never did none by thee.

"But light nowe downe,my deare Ladyè,
Light downe, and hold my steed,
While I and this discourteous knighte
Doe trye this arduous deede.

"But light now downe, O my deare ladye,
Light downe, and hold my horse;
While I and this discourteous knight
Doe trye our valour's force."

Fair Emmeline sighed, fair Emmeline wept,
And aye her heart was woe,
While twixt her love and the carlish knight
Past many a baleful blowe.

The Child of Elle hee fought so well,
His his weapon he waved amaine,
That soone he had slaine the carlish knight,
And layd him upon the plaine.

And nowe the baron and all his men
Full fast approached nye:
Ah! what may ladye Emmeline doe?
Twere nowe no boote to flye.

Her lover he put his horne to his mouth,
And blew both loud and shrill,
And soone he saw his owne merry men
Come ryding over the hill.

"Nowe hold thy hand, thou bold baron,
I pray thee hold thy hand,
Nor ruthless rend two gentle hearts
Fast knit in true love's band.

"Thy daughter I have dearly loved
Full long and many a day;
But with such love as holy kirke
Hath freelye sayd wee may.

"O give consent, shee may be mine,
And blesse a faithfull paire
My lands and livings are not small,
My house and lineage faire:

"My mother she was an earl's daughter,
And a noble knyght my sire --"
The baron he frowned, and turn'd away
With mickle dole and ire.

Fair Emmeline sighed, faire Emmeline wept,
And did all tremblinge stand:
At lengthe she sprang upon her knee,
And held his lifted hand.

"Pardon, my lorde and father deare,
This faire yong knyght and mee:
Trust me, but for the carlish knyght,
I never had fled from thee.

"Oft have you called your Emmeline
Your darling and your joye;
O let not then your harsh resolves
Your Emmeline destroye."

The baron he stroakt his dark-brown cheeke,
And turned his heade asyde
To whipe awaye the starting teare
He proudly strave to hyde.

In deepe revolving thought he stoode,
And mused a little space;
Then raised faire Emmeline from the grounde,
With many a fond embrace.

"Here take her, Child of Elle, he sayd,
And gave her lillye white hand;
Here take my deare and only child,
And with her half my land:

"Thy father once mine honour wronged
In dayes of youthful pride;
Do thou the injurye repayre
In fondnesse for thy bride.

"And as thou love her, and hold her deare,
Heaven prosper thee and thine:
And nowe my blessing wend wi' thee,
My lovelye Emmeline."

*** From the word kirke in ver. 159, this hath been thought to be a Scottish ballad, but it must be acknowledged that the line referred to is among the additions supplied by the Editor: besides, in the northern counties of England, kirk is used in the common dialect for church, as well as beyond the Tweed.

NOTES

1. The fragment in the Folio MS. contains but thirty-nine verses, upon which Percy has founded two hundred; yet the corrections are, as Sir Walter Scott says, "in the true style of Gothic embellishment."-- Editor.

 

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