Percy's Reliques - Gilderoy.

Gilderoy.

            Gilderoy was a famous robber, who lived about the middle of the last century, if we may credit the histories and story-books of highwaymen, which relate many improbable feats of him, as his robbing Cardinal Richelieu, Oliver Cromwell, &c. But these stories have probably no other authority than the records of Grub-street: at least the Gilderoy, who is the hero of Scottish songsters, seems to have lived in an earlier age; for, in Thompson's Orpheus Caledonius, vol. ii. 1733, 8vo., is a copy of this ballad, which, though corrupt and interpolated, contains some lines that appear to be of genuine antiquity: in these he is represented as contemporary with Mary Queen of Scots: ex. gr.

"The Queen of Scots possessed nought,
That my love let me want:
For cow and ew to me he brought,
And ein whan they were scant."

These lines perhaps might safely have been inserted among the following stanzas, which are given from a written copy, that appears to have received some modern corrections. Indeed the common popular ballad contained some indecent luxuriances that required the pruning-hook.

GILDEROY was a bonnie boy,
Had roses tull his shoone,
His stockings were of silken soy,
Wi' garters hanging doune
It was, I weene, a comelie sight,
To see sae trim a boy;
He was my jo and hearts delight,
My handsome Gilderoy.

Oh! sike twa charming een he had,
A breath as sweet as rose,
He never ware a Highland plaid,
But costly silken clothes;
He gain'd the luve of ladies gay,
Nane eir tull him was coy:
Ah! wae is mee! I mourn the day
For my dear Gilderoy.

My Gilderoy and I were born,
Baith in one toun together,
We scant were seven years beforn,
We gan to luve each other;
Our dadies and our mammies thay
Nere fill'd wi' mickle joy,
To think upon the bridal day,
Twixt me and Gilderoy.

For Gilderoy that luve of mine,
Gude faith, I freely bought
A wedding sark of holland fine,
Wi' silken flowers wrought:
And he gied me a wedding ring,
Which I receiv'd wi' joy,
Nae lad nor lassie eir could sing,
Like me and Gilderoy.

Wi' mickle joy we spent our prime,
Till we were baith sixteen,
And aft we past the langsome time,
Among the leaves sae green;
Aft on the banks we'd sit us thair,
And sweetly kiss and toy,
Wi' garlands gay wad deck my hair
My handsome Gilderoy.

Oh! that he still had been content,
Wi' me to lead his life;
But, ah! his manfu' heart was bent,
To stir in feates of strife:
And he in many a venturous deed,
His courage bauld wad try;
And now this gars mine heart to bleed,
For my dear Gilderoy.

And when of me his leave he tuik,
The tears they wat mine ee,
I gave tull him a parting luik,
"My benison gang wi' thee;
God speed thee weil, mine ain dear heart,
For gane is all my joy;
My heart is rent sith we maun part,
My handsome Gilderoy."

My Gilderoy, baith far and near,
Was fear'd in every toun,
And bauldly bare away the gear
Of many a lawland loun:
Nane eir durst meet him man to man,
He was sae brave a boy;
At length wi' numbers he was tane,
My winsome Gilderoy.

Wae worth the loun that made the laws,
To hang a man for gear
To reave of life for ox or ass,
For sheep, or horse, or mare:
Had not their laws been made sae strick,
I neir had lost my joy,
Wi' sorrow neir had wat my cheek,
For my dear Gilderoy.

Giff Gilderoy had done amisse,
He mought hae banisht been;
Ah! what sair cruelty is this,
To hang sike handsome men:
To hang the flower o' Scottish land,
Sae sweet and fair a boy;
Nae lady had sae white a hand
As thee, my Gilderoy.

Of Gilderoy sae fraid they were,
They bound him mickle strong,
Tull Edenburrow they led him thair,
And on a gallows hung:
They hung him high aboon the rest,
He was sae trim a boy;
Thair dyed the youth whom I lued best,
My handsome Gilderoy.

Thus having yielded up his breath,
I bare his corpse away,
Wi' tears, that trickled for his death,
I washt his comelye clay;
And siker in a grave sae deep,
I laid the dear-lued boy,
And now for evir maun I weep,
My winsome Gilderoy.

 

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