Percy's Reliques - The Spanish Lady's Love.

The Spanish Lady's Love.

††††††††††† This beautiful old ballad most probably took its rise from one of these descents made on the Spanish coasts in the time of Queen Elizabeth; and in all likelihood from that which is celebrated in the foregoing ballad.[ 1]

††††††††††† It was a tradition in the west of England, that the person admired by the Spanish lady was a gentleman of the Popham family, and that her picture, with the pearl necklace mentioned in the ballad, was not many years ago preserved at Littlecot, near Hungerford, Wilts, the seat of that respectable family.

††††††††††† Another tradition hath pointed out Sir Richard Levison, of Trentham, in Staffordshire, as the subject of this ballad; who married Margaret, daughter of Charles Earl of Nottingham; and was eminently distinguished as a naval officer and commander in all the expeditions against the Spaniards in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, particularly in that to Cadiz in 1596, when he was aged 27. He died in 1605, and has a monument, with his effigy in brass, in Wolverhampton church.

††††††††††† It is printed from an ancient black-letter copy, corrected in part by the Editor's folio MS.

WILL you hear a Spanish lady,
How shee wooed an English man? [ 2]
Garments gay and rich as may be
Decked with jewels she had on.
Of a comely countenance and grace was she,
And by birth and parentage of high degree.

As his prisoner there he kept her,
In his hands her life did lye!
Cupid's bands did tye them faster
By the liking of an eye.
In his courteous company was all her joy,
To favour him in any thing she was not coy.

But at last there came commandment
For to set the ladies free,
With their jewels still adorned,
None to do them injury.
Then said this lady mild, "Full woe is me;
O let me still sustain this kind captivity!

"Gallant captain, shew some pity
To a ladye in distresse;
Leave me not within this city,
For to dye in heavinesse:
Thou hast this present day my body free,
But my heart in prison still remains with thee."

"How should'st thou, fair lady, love me,
Whom thou knowest thy country's foe?
Thy fair wordes make me suspect thee:
Serpents lie where flowers grow."
"All the harme I wishe to thee, most courteous knight,
God grant the same upon my head may fully light!

"Blessed be the time and season,
That you came on Spanish ground;
If our foes you may be termed,
Gentle foes we have you found:
With our city, you have won our hearts eche one,
Then to your country bear away, that is your owne."

"Rest you still, most gallant lady;
Rest you still, and weep no more;
Of fair lovers there is plenty,
Spain doth yield a wonderous store."
"Spaniards fraught with jealousy we often find,
But Englishmen through all the world are counted kind."

"Leave me not unto a Spaniard,
You alone enjoy my heart:
I am lovely, young, and tender,
Love is likewise my desert:
Still to serve thee day and night my mind is prest;
The wife of every Englishman is counted blest."

"It wold be a shame, fair lady,
For to bear a woman hence;
English soldiers never carry
Any such without offence."
"I'll quickly change myself, if it be so,
And like a page Ile follow thee, where'er thou go."

"I have neither gold nor silver
To maintain thee in this case,
And to travel is great charges,
As you know in every place."
"My chains and jewels every one shal be thy own,
And eke five hundred pounds in gold that lies unknown."

"On the seas are many dangers,
Many storms do there arise,
Which wil be to ladies dreadful,
And force tears from watery eyes."
"Well in troth I shall endure extremity,
For I could find in heart to lose my life for thee."

"Courteous ladye, leave this fancy,
Here comes all that breeds the strife;
I in England have already
A sweet woman to my wife:
I will not falsify my vow for gold nor gain,
Nor yet for all the fairest dames that live in Spain."

"O how happy is that woman
That enjoys so true a friend!
Many happy days God send her;
Of my suit I make an end:
On my knees I pardon crave for my offence,
Which did from love and true affection first commence.

"Commend me to thy lovely lady,
Bear to her this chain of gold;
And these bracelets for a token;
Grieving that I was so bold:
All my jewels in like sort take thou with thee,
For they are fitting for thy wife, but not for me.

"I will spend my days in prayer,
Love and all her laws' defye;
In a nunnery will I shroud mee
Far from any companye:
But ere my prayers have an end, be sure of this,
To pray for thee and for thy love I will not miss.

"Thus farewell, most gallant captain!
Farewell too my heart's content
Count not Spanish ladies wanton,
Though to thee my love was bent:
Joy and true prosperity goe still with thee!"
"The like fall ever to thy share, most fair ladže."

NOTES

1. Both Shenstone and Wordsworth have employed this graceful romance as a model; the former in his Moral tale of Love and Honour; the latter in his Armenian Lady's Love.-- Editor.

2. Recent evidence, with good reason maintaines that Sir John Bolle, of Thorpe Hall, Lincolnshire, was the gallant hero of the romance.-- Editor

 

Previous Next