Percy's Reliques - Sir Aldingar.

Sir Aldingar.

            This old fabulous legend is given from the Editor's folio manuscript with conjectural emendations, and the insertion of some additional stanzas to supply and complete the story.

            It has been suggested to the Editor that the author of this poem seems to have had in his eye the story of Gunhilda, who is sometimes called Eleanor, and was married to the Emperor (here called King) Henry.

Our king he kept a false stewŕrde,
Sir Aldingar they him call;
A falser steward than he was one,
Servde not in bower nor hall.

He wolde have layne by our comelye queene,
Her deere worshippe to betraye:
Our queene she was a good womŕn,
And evermore said him naye.

Sir Aldingar was wrothe in his mind,
With her hee was never content,
Till traiterous meanes he colde devyse,
In a fyer to have her brent.

There came a lazar to the kings gate,
A lazar both blinde and lame:
He tooke the lazar upon his backe,
Him on the queenes bed has layne.

"Lye still, lazar, wheras thou lyest,
Looke thou goe not hence away;
Ile make thee a whole man and a sound
In two howers of the day."[ 1]

Then went him forth Sir Aldingar,
And hyed him to our king:
"If I might have grace, as I have space,
Sad tydings I could bring."

"Say on, say on, Sir Aldingar,
Saye on the soothe to mee."
"Our queene hath chosen a new new love,
And shee will have none of thee.

"If shee had chosen a right good knight,
The lesse had beene her shame;
But she hath chose her a lazar man,
A lazar both blinde and lame."

"If this be true, thou Aldingar,
The tyding thou tellest to me,
Then will I make thee a rich rich knight,
Rich both of golde and fee.

"But if it be false, Sir Aldingar,
As God nowe grant it bee!
Thy body, I sweare by the holye rood,
Shall hang on the gallows tree."

He brought our king to the queenes chambčr,
And opend to him the dore.
"A lodlye love," King Harry says,
"For our queene dame Elinore!

"If thou were a man, as thou art none,
Here on my sword thoust dye;
But a payre of new gallowes shall be built,
And there shalt thou hang on hye."

Forth then hyed our king, I wysse,
And an angry man was hee;
And soone he found Queene Elinore,
That bride so bright of blee.

"Now God you save, our queene, madame,
And Christ you save and see;
Heere you have chosen a newe newe love,
And you will have none of mee.

"If you had chosen a right good knight,
The lesse had been your shame:
But you have chose you a lazar man,
A lazar both blinde and lame.

"Therfore a fyer there shalt be built,
And brent all shalt thou bee."
"Now out alacke!" said our comly queene,
"Sir Aldingar's false to mee.

"Now out alacke!" sayd our comlye queene,
"My heart with griefe will brast.
I had thought swevens had never been true
I have proved them true at last.

"I dreamt in my sweven on Thursday eve,
In my bed wheras I laye,
I dreamt a grype and a grimlie beast
Had carryed my crowne awaye;

"My gorgett and my kirtle of golde,
And all my faire head-geere:
And he wold worrye me with his tush
And to his nest y-beare

"Saving there came a little gray hawke,
A merlin him they call,
Which untill the grounde did strike the grype,
That dead he downe did fall.

"Giffe I were a man, as now I am none,
A battell wold I prove,
To fight with that traitor Aldingar,
Att him I cast my glove.

"But seeing Ime able noe battell to make,
My liege, grant me a knight
To fight with that traitor Sir Aldingar,
To maintaine me in my right."

"Now forty dayes I will give thee
To seeke thee a knight therin:
If thou find not a knight in forty dayes
Thy bodye it must brenn."

Then shee sent east, and shee sent west,
By north and south bedeene
But never a champion colde she find,
Wolde fight with that knight soe keene.

Now twenty dayes were spent and gone,
Noe helpe there might be had;
Many a teare shed our comelye queene
And aye her hart was sad.

Then came one of the queenes damsčlles,
And knelt upon her knee,
"Cheare up, cheare up, my gracious dame.
I trust yet helpe may be:

"And here I will make mine avowe,
And with the same me binde;
That never will I return to thee,
Till I some helpe may finde."

Then forth she rode on a faire palfraye
Oer hill and dale about:
But never a champion colde she finde,
Wolde fighte with that knight so stout.

And nowe the daye drewe on a pace,
When our good queene must dye
All woe-begone was that faire damselle,
When she found no helpe was nye.

All woe-begone was that faire damselle,
And the salt teares fell from her eye:
When lo! as she rode by a rivers side,
She met with a tinye boye.

A tinye boye she mette, God wot,
All clad in mantle of golde;
He seemed noe more in mans likenesse,
Then a childe of four yeere old.

"Why grieve you, damselle faire," he sayd,
"And what doth cause you moane?"
The damsell scant wolde deigne a looke,
But fast she pricked on.

"Yet turne againe, thou faire damselle
And greete thy queene from mee:
When bale is att hyest, boote is nyest,
Nowe helpe enoughe may bee.

"Bid her remember what she dreamt
In her bedd, wheras shee laye;
How when the grype and grimly beast
Wolde have carried her crowne awaye,

"Even then there came the little gray hawke,
And saved her from his clawes:
Then bidd the queene be merry at hart,
For heaven will fende her cause."

Back then rode that faire damselle,
And her hart it lept for glee:
And when she told her gracious dame
A gladd woman then was shee:

But when the appointed day was come,
No helpe appeared nye:
Then woeful, woeful was her hart,
And the teares stood in her eye.

And nowe a fyer was built of wood;
And a stake was made of tree;
And now Queene Elinor forth was led,
A sorrowful sight to see.

Three times the herault he waved his hand,
And three times spake on hye:
"Giff any good knight will fende this dame,
Come forth, or shee must dye."

No knight stood forth, no knight there came,
No helpe appeared nye:
And now the fyer was lighted up,
Queen Elinor she must dye.

And now the fyer was lighted up,
As hot as hot might bee;
When riding upon a little white steed,
The tinye boy they see.

"Away with that stake, away with those brands,
And loose our comelye queene:
I am come to fight with Sir Aldingar,
And prove him a traitor keene."

Forthe then stood Sir Aldingar,
But when he saw the chylde,
He laughed, and scoffed, and turned his backe,
And weened he had been beguylde.

"Now turne, now turne thee, Aldingar,
And eyther fighte or flee;
I trust that I shall avenge the wronge,
Thoughe I am so small to see."

The boy pulld forth a well good sworde
So gilt it dazzled the ee;
The first stroke stricken at Aldingar,
Smote off his leggs by the knee.

"Stand up, stand up, thou false traitňr,
And fight upon thy feete,
For and thou thrive, as thou begin'st,
Of height wee shall be meete."

"A priest, a priest", sayes Aldingar,
"While I am a man alive.
A priest, a priest," sayes Aldingar,
"Me for to houzle and shrive.

"I wolde have laine by our comlie queene,
Bot shee wolde never consent;
Then I thought to betraye her unto our kinge
In a fyer to have her brent.

"There came a lazar to the kings gates,
A lazar both blind and lame:
I tooke the lazar upon my backe,
And on her bedd had him layne.

"Then ranne I to our comlye king,
These tidings sore to tell.
But ever alacke! sayes Aldingar,
Falsing never doth well.

"Forgive, forgive me, queene, madame,
The short time I must live."
"Nowe Christ forgive thee, Aldingar,
As freely I forgive."

"Here take thy queene, our king Harrye,
And love her as thy life,
For never had a king in Christentye,
A truer and fairer wife."

King Henrye ran to claspe his queene,
And loosed her full sone:
Then turnd to look for the tinye boye;
--The boye was vanisht and gone.

But first he had touchd the lazar man,
And stroakt him with his hand:
The lazar under the gallowes tree
All whole and sounde did stand.

The lazar under the gallowes tree
Was comelye, straight and tall;
King Henrye made him his head stewarde
To wayte withinn his hall.

NOTES

1. He probably insinuates that the king should heal him by his power of touching for the King's Evil.

 

X.
The Gaberlunzie Man

A SCOTTISH BALLAD

            Tradition informs us that the author of this song was King James V. of Scotland. This prince (whose character for wit and libertinism bears a great resemblance to that of his gay successor Charles II.) was noted for strolling about his dominions in disguise,[1] and for his frequent gallantries with country girls. Two adventures of this kind he hath celebrated with his own pen, viz. in this ballad of "The Gaberlunzie Man;" and in another intitled "The Jolly Beggar," beginning thus:

"Thair was a jollie beggar, and a begging he was boun,
And he tuik up his quarters into a land'art toun.
Fa, la, la," &c.

            It seems to be the latter of these ballads (which was too licentious to be admitted into this collection) that is meant in the Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors,[ 2] where the ingenious writer remarks, That there is something very ludicrous in the young woman's distress when she thought her first favour had been thrown away upon a beggar.

            Bishop Tanner has attributed to James V. the celebrated ballad of Christ's Kirk on the Green, which is ascribed to King James I. in Bannatyne's manuscript written in 1561: and notwithstanding that authority, the Editor of this book is of opinion that Bishop Tanner was right.

            King James V. died Dec. 13th. 1542, aged 33.

THE pauky auld Carle come ovir the lee
Wi' mony good-eens and days to mee,
Saying, "Goodwife, for
zour courtesie,
Will
ze lodge a silly poor man?"
The night was cauld, the carte was wat,
And down a
zont the ingle he sat
My dochtors shoulders he gan to clap,
And cadgily ranted and sang.

"O wow!" quo he, "were I as free,
As first when I saw this countrie,
How blyth and merry wad I bee!
And I wad nevir think lang."
He grew canty, and she grew fain;
But little did her auld minny ken
What thir slee twa togither were say'n,
When wooing they were sa thrang.

"And O!" quo he, "ann ze were as black,
As evir the crown of your dadyes hat,
Tis I wad lay thee by my backe,
And awa wi' me thou sould gang."
"And O!" quoth she, "ann I were as white,
As evir the snaw lay on the dike,
Ild clead me brave, and lady-like,
And awa with thee Ild gang."

Between them twa was made a plot;
They raise a wee before the cock,
And wyliely they shot the lock,
And fast to the bent are they gane.
Up the morn the auld wife raise,
And at her leisure put on her claiths,
Syne to the servants bed she gaes
To speir for the silly poor man.

She gaed to the bed, whair the beggar lay,
The strae was cauld, he was away,
She clapt her hands, cryd, Dulefu' day
For some of our geir will be gane.
Some ran to coffer, and some to kist,
But nought was stown that could be mist.
She dancid her lane, cryd, "Praise be blest,
I have lodgd a leal poor man.

"Since naithings awa, as we can learn,
The kirns to kirn, and milk to earn,
Gae butt the house, lass, and waken my bairn,
And bid her come quickly ben."
The servant gaed where the dochter lay,
The sheets was cauld, she was away,
And fast to her goodwife can say,
"Shes aff with the gaberlun
zie-man."

"O fy gar ride, and fy gar rin,
And haste
ze, rind these traitors agen;
For shees be burnt, and bees be slein,
The wearyfou gaberlun
zie-man."
Some rade upo horse, some ran a fit
The wife was wood, and out o' her wit;
She could na gang, nor yet could sit,
But ay did curse and did ban.

Mean time far hind out owre the lee,
For snug in a glen, where nane could see,
The twa, with kindlie sport and glee
Cut frae a new cheese a whang.
The priving was gude, it pleas'd them baith,
To lo'e her for ay, he gae her his aith.
Quo she, to leave thee, I will be laith,
My winsome gaberlun
zie-man.

"O kend my minny I were wi' zou,
Illfardly wad she crook her mou,
Sic a poor man sheld nevir trow,
Aftir the gaberlun
zie-mon.
My dear, quo he,
zee're zet owre zonge;
And hae na learnt the beggars tonge,
To follow me frae toun to toun,
And carrie the gaberlun
zie on.

"Wi' kauk and keel, Ill win zour bread,
And spindles and whorles for them wha need,
Whilk is a gentil trade indeed
The gaberlun
zie to carrie--o.
Ill bow my leg and crook my knee,
And draw a black clout owre my ee,
A criple or blind they will cau me:
While we sall sing and be merrie--o."

NOTES

1 Sc. of a tinker, beggar, &c. Thus he used to visit a smith's daughter at Niddry, near Edinburgh.

2 Vol. ii. p. 203.

 

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