Percy's Reliques - Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly.

Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly.

            These were three noted outlaws, whose skill in archery rendered them formerly as famous in the North of England, as Robin Hood and his fellows were in the midland counties. Their place of residence was in the forest of Englewood, not far from Carlisle (called corruptly in the ballad Englishwood, whereas Engle- or Ingle-wood, signifies wood for firing). At what time they lived does not appear. The author of the common ballad on "The Pedigree, Education, and Marriage of Robin Hood," makes them contemporary with Robin Hood's father, in order to give him the honour of beating them: viz.

The father of Robin a Forrester was,
And he shot in a lusty long-bow
Two north-country miles and an inch at a shot,
As the Pindar of Wakefield does know:

For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the Clough,
And William a Clowdéslee
To shoot with our Forester for forty mark;
And our Forester beat them all three.
                Collect. of Old Ballads, 1727, vol. i p. 67.

            This seems to prove that they were commonly thought to have lived before the popular Hero of Sherwood.

            Our northern archers were not unknown to their southern countrymen: their excellence at the long-bow is often alluded to by our ancient poets. Shakspeare, in his comedy of "Much Ado about Nothing," act i. makes Benedicke confirm his resolves of not yielding to love, by this protestation, "If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat,[ 1] and shoot at me, and he that hits me, let him be clapt on the shoulder, and called Adam:" meaning Adam Bell, as Theobald rightly observes, who refers to one or two other passages in our old poets wherein he is mentioned. The Oxford Editor has also well conjectured, that "Abraham Cupid" in Romeo and Juliet, act ii. sc. i. should be "Adam Cupid," in allusion to our archer. Ben Jonson has mentioned Clym o' the Clough in his Alchemist, act i. sc. 2. And Sir William Davenant, in a mock poem of his, called The long vacation in London, describes the attorneys and proctors as making matches to meet in Finsbury fields.

With loynes in canvas bow-case tyde:[ 2]
 Where arrowes stick with mickle pride; . . . .
Like ghosts of Adam Bell and Clymme.
Sol sets for fear they'l shoot at him."
                Works, 1673, fol. p. 291.

            I have only to add further concerning the principal hero of this ballad, that the Bells were noted rogues in the north so late as the time of Queen Elizabeth. See in Rymer's Foedera, a letter from Lord William Howard to some of the officers of state, wherein he mentions them.

            As for the following stanzas, which will be judged from the style, orthography, and numbers, to be of considerable antiquity, they were here given (corrected in some places by a MS. copy in the Editor's old folio) from a black-letter Quarto. Imprinted at London in Lothbury by Wyllyam Copland (no date). That old quarto edition seems to be exactly followed in "Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry, &c. Lond. 1791," 8vo., the variations from which, that occur in the following copy, are selected from many others in the folio MS. above mentioned.

            In the same MS. this ballad is followed by another, entitled Younge Cloudeslee, being a continuation of the present story, and reciting the adventures of William of Cloudesly's son: but greatly inferior to this both in merit and antiquity.


MERY it was in the grene forest
Amonge the leves grene,
Wheras men hunt east and west
Wyth bowes and arrowes kene;

To raise the dere out of theyr denne;
Suche sightes hath ofte bene sene;
As by thre yemen of the north countrèy,
By them it is I meane.

The one of them hight Adam Bel,
The other Clym of the Clough,[ 3]
The thyrd was William of Cloudesly,
And archer good ynough.

They were outlawed for venyson,
These yemen everychone;
They swore them brethren upon a day,
To Englyshe wood for to gone.

Now lith and lysten, gentylmen,
That of myrthes loveth to here:
Two of them were single men,
The third had a wedded fere.

Wyllyam was the wedded man,
Muche more then was hys care:
He sayde to hys brethren upon a day,
To Carleile he would fare,

For to speke with fayre Alyce his wife,
And with hys chyldren thre.
"By my trouth," sayde Adam Bel,
"Not by the counsell of me:"

"For if ye go to Carlile, brother,
And from thys wylde wode wende,
If that the justice may you take,
Your lyfe were at an ende."

"If that I come not to-morowe, brother,
By pryme to you agayne,
Truste you then that I am taken,
Or else that I am slayne."

He toke hys leave of hys brethren two,
And to Carlile he is gon
There he knocked at hys owne windòwe
Shortlye and anone.

"Wher be you, fayre Alyce," he sayd,
"My wife and chyldren three?
Lyghtly let in thyne owne husbànde,
Wyllyam of Cloudeslee."

"Alas!" then sayde fayre Alyce,
And syghed wonderous sore,
Thys place hath ben besette for you
Thys halfe a yere and more."

"Now am I here," sayde Cloudeslee,
"I would that in I were.
Now fetche us meate and drynke ynoughe,
And let us make good chere."

She fetched hym meate and drynke plentye,
Lyke a true wedded wyfe;
And pleased hym with that she had,
Whome she loved as her lyfe.

There lay an old wyfe in that place,
A lytle besyde the fyre,
Whych Wyllyam had found of charytye
More than seven yere.

Up she rose, and forth shee goes,
Evill mote shee speede therfore;
For she had sett no foote on ground
In seven yere before.

She went unto the justice hall,
As fast as she could hye:
"Thys night, shee sayd, is come to town
Wyllyam of Cloudeslye."

Thereof the justice was full fayne,
And so was the shirife also;
"Thou shalt not trauaile hither, dame, for nought,
Thy meed thou shalt have ere thou go."

They gave to her a ryght good goune,
Of scarlate, and of graine:
She toke the gyft, and home she wente
And couched her doune agayne.

They raysed the towne of mery Carleile
In all the haste they can;
And came thronging to Wyllyames house,
As fast as they might gone.

There they besette that good yeman
Round about on every syde:
Wyllyam hearde great noyse of folkes,
That thither-ward fast hyed.

Alyce opened a backe windòwe,
And loked all aboute,
She was ware of the justice and shirife bothe,
Wyth a full great route.

"Alas! treason," cryed Alyce,
"Ever wo may thou be!
Goe into my chamber, my husband," she sayd,
"Swete Wyllyam of Cloudeslee."

He toke hys sweard and hys bucler,
Hys bow and hys chyldren thre,
And wente into hys strongest chamber,
Where he thought surest to be.

Fayre Alyce, like a lover true,
Took a pollaxe in her hande
Said, "He shall dye that cometh in
Thys dore, whyle I may stande."

Cloudeslè bente a right good bowe,
That was of a trusty tre,
He smot the justise on the brest,
That hys arowe burst in three.

"A curse on his harte," saide William,
"Thys day thy cote dyd on;
If it had ben no better then myne,
It had gone nere thy bone."

"Yelde the Cloudeslè," sayd the justise,
"And thy bowe and thy arrowes the fro."
"A curse on hys hart," sayd fair Alyce,
That my husband councelleth so.

"Set fyre on the house," saide the sherife,
"Syth it wyll no better be,
"And brenne we therin William," he saide,
"Hys wyfe and chyldren thre."

They fyred the house in many a place,
The fyre flew up on hye:
"Alas!" then cryed fayre Alice,
"I se we here shall dy."

William openyd a backe wyindòw,
That was in hys chamber hie,
And there with sheetes he did let downe
His wyfe and children three.

"Have you here my treasure," sayde William,
My wyfe and my chyldren thre:
"For Christes love do them no harme,
But wreke you all on me."

Wyllyam shot so wonderous well,
Tyll hys arrowes were all agoe,
And the fyre so fast upon hym fell,
That hys bowstryng brent in two.

The sparkles brent and fell upon
Good Wyllyam of Cloudeslè:
Than was he a wofull man, and sayde,
"Thys is a cowardes death to me.

"Lever had I, sayde Wyllyam,
With my sworde in the route to renne,
Then here among myne enemyes wode
Thus cruelly to bren."

He toke hys sweard and hys buckler,
And among them all he ran,
Where the people were most in prece,
He smot downe many a man.

There myght no man abyde hys stroakes,
So fersly on them he ran:
Then they threw wyndowes and dores on him,
And so toke that good yeman.

There they hym bounde both hand and fote,
And in a deepe dungeon him cast:
Now, "Cloudeslè," sayd the justice,
"Thou shalt be hanged in hast."

"A payre of new gallowes," sayd the sherife,
"Now shal I for thee make;
And the gates of Carleil shal be shutte:
No man shal come in therat.

"Then shall not helpe Clym of the Cloughe,
Nor yet shall Adam Bell,
Though they came with a thousand mo,
Nor all the devels in hell."

Early in the mornynge the justice uprose,
To the gates first can he gone,
And commaunded to be shut full close
Lightilè everychone.

Then went he to the markett place,
As fast as he coulde hye;
There a payre of new gallowes he set up
Besyde the pyllorye.

A lytle boy among them asked,
"What meaneth that gallow-tre?"
They sayde "to hange a good yeman,
Called Wyllyam of Cloudeslè.

That lytle boye was the towne swyne-heard,
And kept fayre Alyces swyne;
Oft he had seene William in the wodde,
And geuen hym there to dyne.

He went out att a crevis of the wall,
And lightly to the woode dyd gone;
There met he with these wightye yemen
Shortly and anone.

"Alas!" then sayde the lytle boye,
"Ye tary here all too longe;
Cloudeslee is taken, and dampned to death,
And readye for to honge."

"Alas!" then sayd good Adam Bell,
"That ever we saw thys daye!
He had better have tarryed with us,
So ofte as we dyd him praye.

"He myght have dwelt in grene forèste,
Under the shadowes grene,
And have kepte both hym and us att reste,
Out of all trouble and teene."

Adam bent a ryght good bow,
A great hart sone hee had slayne:
"Take that, chylde," he sayde, to thy dynner,
"And bryng me myne arrowe agayne."

"Now go we hence," sayed these wightye yeomen,
Tarry we no longer here;
We shall hym borowe by God his grace,
Though we buy itt full dere."

To Caerleil wente these bold yemen,
All in a mornyng of maye.
Here is a FYT[ 4] of Cloudeslye,
And another is for to saye.


AND when they came to mery Carleile,
All in the mornyng tyde,
They founde the gates shut them untyll
About on every syde.

"Alas!" then sayd good Adam Bell,
"That ever we were made men!
These gates be shut so wonderous fast,
We may not come therein."

Then bespake him Clym of the Clough,
"Wyth a wyle we wyl us in bryng;
Let us saye we be messengers,
Streyght come nowe from our king."

Adam said, "I have a letter written,
Now let us wysely werke,
We wyl saye we have the kynges seale;
I holde the porter no clerke."

Then Adam Bell bete on the gates
With strokes great and stronge:
The porter marveiled, who was therat,
And to the gates he thronge.

"Who is there now," sayde the porter,
"That maketh all thys knockinge?"
"We be tow messengers," quoth Clim of the Clough,
"Be come ryght from our kyng."

"We have a letter," sayd Adam Bel,
"To the justice we must itt bryng;
Let us in our message to do,
That we were agayne to the kyng."

"Here commeth none in," sayd the porter,
"By hym that dyed on a tre,
Tyll a false thefe be hanged,
Called Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."

Then spake the good yeman Clym of the Clough,
And swore by Mary fre,
"And if that we stande long wythout,
Lyke a thefe hanged shalt thou be.

"Lo here we have the kyngès seale:
What, lurden, art thou wode?
The porter went[ 5] it had been so,
And lyghtly dyd off hys hode.

"Welcome is my lordes seale," he saide;
"For that ye shall come in."
He opened the gate full shortlye:
An euyl openyng for him.

"Now are we in," sayde Adam Bell,
"Wherof we are full faine;
But Christ he knowes, that harowed hell,
How we shall com out agayne."

"Had we the keys," said Clim of the Clough,
"Ryght wel then shoulde we spede,
Then might we come out wel ynough
When we se tyme and nede."

They called the porter to counsell,
And wrang his necke in two,
And caste hym in a depe dongeòn,
And toke hys keys hym fro.

"Now am I porter," sayd Adam Bel,
"Se brother, the keys are here,
The worst porter to merry Carleile
That ye had thys hundred yere.

"And now wyll we our bowes bend,
Into the towne wyll we go,
For to delyuer our dere brother,
That lyeth in care and wo."

Then they bent theyr good ewe bowes,
And loked theyr stringes were round,[ 6]
The markett place in mery Carleile
They beset that stound.

And, as they loked them besyde,
A paire of new galowes they see,
And the justice with a quest of squyers,
That judged William hanged to be.

And Cloudeslè lay redy there in a cart,
Fast bound both fote and hand;
And a stronge rop about hys necke,
All readye for to hange.

The justice called to him a ladde,
Cloudeslès clothes hee shold have,
To take the measure of that yemèn,
Therafter to make hys grave.

"I have sene as great mervaile," said Cloudesle,
"As betweyne thys and pryme,
He that maketh a grave for mee,
Hymselfe may lye therin."

"Thou speakest proudlye," said the justice,
"I will thee hange with my hande."
Full wel herd this his brethren two,
There styll as they dyd stande.

Then Cloudeslè cast his eyen asyde
And saw hys brethren twaine
At a corner of the market place,
Redy the justice for to slaine.

"I se comfort," sayd Cloudeslè,
"Yet hope I well to fare,
If I might have my handes at wyll
Ryght lytle wolde I care."

Then spake good Adam Bell
To Clym of the Clough so free,
"Brother, se you marke the justyce wel;
Lo yonder you may him se:

"And at the shyrife shote I wyll
Strongly wyth an arrowe kene;
A better shote in mery Carleile
Thys seven yere was not sene."

They loosed their arrowes both at once,
Of no man had they dread;
The one hyt the justice, the other the sheryfe,
That both theyr sides gan blede.

All men voyded, that them stode nye,
When the justice fell to the grounde,
And the sherife nye hym by;
Eyther had his deathes wounde.

All the citezens fast gan flye,
They durst no longer abyde:
There lyghtly they losed Cloudeslee,
Where he with ropes lay tyde.

Wyllyam start to an officer of the towne,
Hys axe from hys hand he wronge,
On eche syde he smote them downe,
Hee thought he taryed to long.

Wyllyam sayde to hys brethren two,
"Thys daye let us lyve and die,
If ever you have nede, as I have now,
The same shall you finde by me."

They shot so well in that tyde,
Theyr stringes were of silke ful sure,
That they kept the stretes on every side;
That batàyle did long endure.

They fought together as brethren true,
Lyke hardy men and bolde,
Many a man to the ground they threw,
And many a herte made colde.

But when their arrowes were all gon,
Men preced to them full fast,
They drew theyr swordès then anone,
And theyr bowes from them cast.

They went lyghtlye on theyr way,
Wyth swordes and buclers round;
By that it was the mydd of the day,
They made many a wound.

There was an out-horne[ 7] in Carleil blowen,
And the belles bacwàrd dyd ryng,
Many a woman sayde alas!
And many theyr handes dyd wryng.

The mayre of Carleile forth com was,
Wyth hym a ful great route:
These yemen dred hym full sore,
Of theyr lyves they stode in great doute.

The mayre came armed a full great pace,
With a pollaxe in hys hande;
Many a strong man wyth him was,
There in that stowre to stande.

The mayre smot at Cloudeslè with his bil,
Hys bucler he brast in two,
Full many a yeman with great evyll
"Alas! treason" they cryed for wo.
Kepe well the gates fast, they bad,
That these traytours therout not go.

But al for nought was that they wrought,
For so fast they downe were layde,
Tyll they all thre, that so manfulli fought,
Were gotten without at a braide.

"Have here your keys," sayd Adam Bel,
"Myne office I here forsake,
And yf you do by my counsell
A new porter do ye make."

He threw theyr keys at theyr heads,
And bad them evell to thryve,
And all that letteth any good yeman
To come and comfort his wyfe.

Thus be these good yeman gon to the wod,
As lyghtly as lefe on lynde;
The lough and be mery in theyr mode,
Theyr enemyes were ferr behynd.

When they came to Englyshe-wode,
Under the trusty tre,
There they found Bowes full good,
And arrowes full great plentye.

"So God me help," sayd Adam Bell,
And Clym of the Clough so fre,
"I wold we were in mery Carleile,
Before that fayre meynye."

They set them downe, and made good chere,
And eate and dranke full well.
A second FYT of the wightye yeomen:
Another I wyll you tell.


As they sat in Englyshe-wood,
Under the green-wode tre,
They thought they heard a woman wepe,
But her they mought not se.

Sore then syghed the fayre Alyce:
"That ever I sawe thys day!
For nowe is my dere husband slayne:
Alas! and wel-a-way!

"Myght I have spoken wyth hys dere brethren,
Or with eyther of them twayne,
To show them what him befell,
My hart were out of payne."

Cloudeslè walked a lytle beside,
He looked under the grene wood lynde,
He was ware of his wife, and chyldren three,
Full wo in harte and mynde.

"Welcome, wyfe," then sayde Wyllyam,
"Under this trusti tre:
I had wende yesterday, by sweete saynt John,
Thou sholdest me never have se."

"Now well is me that ye be here,
My harte is out of wo."
"Dame," he sayde, "be mery and glad,
And thanke my brethren two.

"Herof to speake," said Adam Bell,
"I-wis it is no bote:
The meate, that we must supp withall,
It runneth yet fast on fote."

Then went they downe ìnto a launde,
These noble archares all thre;
Eche of them slew a hart of greece,
The best that they cold se.

"Have here the best, Alyce, my wyfe,"
Sayde Wyllyam of Cloudeslye;
"By cause ye so bouldly stode by me
When I was slayne full nye."

Then went they to suppere
Wyth suche meate as they had;
And thanked God of ther fortune:
They were both mery and glad.

And when they had supped well,
Certayne withouten lease,
Cloudeslè sayd, "We wyll to our kyng,
To get us a charter of peace.

"Alyce shal be at our sojournyng
In a nunnery here besyde;
My tow sonnes shall wyth her go,
And there they shall abyde.

"Myne eldest son shall go wyth me;
For him have you no care:
And he shall bring you worde agayn,
How that we do fare.

Thus be these yemen to London gone,
As fast as they myght he,[ 8]
Tyll they came to the kynges pallace,
Where they woulde nedes be.

And whan they came to the kynges courte,
Unto the pallace gate,
Of no man wold they aske no leave,
But boldly went in therat.

They preced prestly into the hall,
Of no man had they dreade:
The porter came after, and dyd them call,
And with them began to chyde.

The usher sayde, "Yemen, what wold ye have?
I pray you tell to me:
You myght thus make offycers shent:
Good syrs, of whence be ye?"

"Syr, we be out-lawes of the forest
Certayne withouten lease;
And hether we be come to the kyng,
To get us a charter of peace."

And whan they came before the kyng,
As it was the lawe of the lande,
The kneled downe without lettyng,
And eche held up his hand.

The sayed, "Lord, we beseche the here,
That ye wyll graunt us grace;
For we have slayne your fat falow dere
In many a sondry place."

"What be your nams," then said our king,
"Anone that you tell me?"
They sayd, "Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough,
And Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."

"Be ye those theves," then sayd our kyng,
"That men have tolde of to me?
Here to God I make an avowe,
Ye shal be hanged al thre.

"Ye shal be dead without mercy,
As I am kynge of this lande."
He commanded his officers everichone,
Fast on them to lay hande.

There they toke these good yemen,
And arested them al thre:
"So may I thryve," sayd Adam Bell,
"Thys game lyketh not me.

"But, good lorde, we beseche you now,
That yee graunt us grace,
Insornuche as frely we be to you come,
As frely we may fro you passe.

"With such weapons, as we have here,
Tyll we be out of your place;
And yf we lyve this hundreth yere,
We wyll aske you no grace."

"Ye speake proudly," sayd the kynge;
"Ye shall be hanged all thre."
"That were great pitye," then sayd the quene,
"If any grace myght be."

"My lorde, whan I came fyrst into this lande
To be your wedded wyfe,
The fyrst boone that I wold aske,
Ye would graunt it me belyfe:

"And I asked you never none tyll now;
Therefore, good lorde, graunt it me."
"Now aske it," madam, sayd the kynge,
"And graunted it shal be."

"Then, good my lord, I you beseche,
These yemen graunt ye me."
"Madame, ye myght have asked a boone,
That shuld have been worth them all thre.

"Ye myght have asked towres, and townes,
Parkes and forestes plenté"
"None soe pleasant to my pay," shee sayd;
"Nor none so lefe to me."

"Madame, sith it is your desyre,
Your askyng graunted shal be;
But I had lever had given you
Good market townes thre."

The quene was a glad woman,
And sayde, "Lord, gramarcy;
"I dare undertake for them,
That true men shal they be."

But, good my lord, speke som mery word,
That comfort they might se."
"I graunt you grace," then sayd our king;
"Washe, felos, and to meate go ye."

They had not setten but a whyle
Certayne without lesynge,
There came messengers out of the north
With letters to our kyng.

And whan the came before our kynge,
They knelt downe on theyr kne;
And sayd, "Lord, your officers grete you well,
Of Carleile in the north cuntre."

"How fareth my justice," sayd the kyng,
"And my sherife also?
Syr, they be slayne without leasynge,
And many an officer mo."

"Who hath them slayne?" sayd the kyng;
"Anone that thou tell me."
"Adam Bell, and Clime of the Clough,
And Wyllyam of Cloudeslè."

"Alas for rewth!" then sayd our kynge:
"My hart is wonderous sore;
I had lever than a thousande pounde,
I had knowne of thys before:

"For I have graunted them grace,
And that forthynketh me:
But had I knowne of this before,
They had been hanged all thre."

The kyng he opened the letter anon;
Himselfe he red it thro,
And founde how these outlawes had slain
Thre hundred men and mo:

Fyrst the justice, and the sheryfe,
And the mayre of Carleile towne;
Of all the constables and catchipolles
Alyve were scant left one:

The baylyes, and the bedyls both,
And the sergeauntes of the law,
And forty fosters of the fe,
These outlawes had yslaw:

And broke his parks, and slayne his dere;
Of all they chose the best;
So perelous out-lawes, as they were,
Walked not by easte nor west.

When the kynge this letter had red,
In hys harte he syghed sore:
"Take up the tables anone," he bad,
"For I may eat no more."

The kyng called hys best archars
To the buttes wyth hym to go:
"I wyll se these felowes shote," he sayd,
"In the north have wrought this wo."

The kynges bowmen buske them blyve,
And the quenes archers also;
So dyd these thre wyghtye yemen
With them they thought to go.

There twyse, or thryse they shote about
For to assay theyr hande;
There was no shote these yemen shot,
That any prycke[ 9] myght stand.

Then spake Wyllyam of Cloudeslè;
"By Him that for me dyed,
I hold hym never a good archar,
That shoteth at buttes so wyde."

"At what a butte now wold ye shote?,
I pray thee tell to me?"
"At suche a but, Syr," he sayd,
"As men use in my countrè."

Wyllyam wente into a fyeld,
And with him his two brethren:
There they set up two hasell roddes
Twenty score paces betwene.

"I hold him an archar, said Cloudeslè,
That yonder wande cleveth in two."
"Here is none suche, sayd the kyng,
"Nor none that can so do."

"I shall assaye, Syr," sayd Cloudeslè,
"Or that I farther go."
Cloudesly with a bearyng arowe
Clave the wand in two.

"Thou art the best archer," then said the king,
"Forsothe that ever I se."
"And yet for your love," sayd Wyllyam,
I will do more maystery.

"I have a sonne is seven yere olde,
He is to me full deare;
I wyll hym tye to a stake;
All shall se, that be here;

And lay an apple upon his head,
And go syxe score paces hym fro,
And I my selfe with a brode aròw
Shall cleve the apple in two."

"Now haste the," then sayd the kyng,
"By Hym that dyed on a tre,
But if thou do not, as thou hest sayde
Hanged shalt thou be.

"And thou touche his head or gowne,
In syght that men may se,
By all the sayntes that be in heaven,
I shall hange you all thre."

"That I have promised," said Wyllyam,
"That I wyll never forsake."
And there even before the kynge
In the earth he drove a stake

And bound therto his eldest sonne,
And bad him stand styll thereat;
And turned the childes face him fro,
Because he should not start.

An apple upon his head he set,
And then his bowe he bent:
Syxe score paces they were meaten,
And thether Cloudeslè went.

There he drew out a fayr brode arrowe,
Hys bow was great and long;
He set that arrowe in his bowe,
That was both styffe and stronge.

He prayed the people, that wer there,
That they all still wold stand,
"For he that shoteth for suche a wager
Behoveth a stedfast hand."

Muche people prayed for Cloudeslè,
That his lyfe saved myght be,
And whan he made hym redy to shote,
There was many weeping ee.

But Cloudeslè he clefte the apple in two,
As many a man might see.
"Over Gods forbode," sayde the kinge,
"That thou shold shote at me.

"I geve thee eightene pence a day,
And my bowe shalt thou here,
And over all the north countrè
I make the chyfe rydère."

"And I thyrtene pence a day," said the quene,
By God, and by my fay;
Come feche thy payment when thou wylt,
No man shall say the nay."

"Wyllyam, I make the a gentleman
Of clothyng, and of fe:
And thy two brethren, yemen of my chambre,
For they are so semely to se.

"Your sonne, for he is tendre of age,
Of my wyne-seller he shall be;
And when he cometh to man's estate,
Better avaunced shall he be."

"And, Wyllyam, bringe me your wife," said the quene,
"Me longeth her sore to se:
She shall be my chefe gentlewoman,
To governe my nurserye."

The yemen thanked them all curteously.
"To some byshop wyl we wend,
Of all the synnes, that we have done,
To be assoyld at his hand."

So forth be gone these good yemen,
As fast as they might he;[ 8]
And after came and dwelled with the kynge,
And dyed good men all thre.

Thus endeth the lives of these good yemen;
God send them eternal blysse;
And all, that with a hand-bowe shoteth:
That of heven may never mysse. Amen.


1. Bottles formerly were of leather; though perhaps a wooden bottle might be here meant. It is still a diversion in Scotland to hang up a cat in a small cask, or firkin, half filled with soot: and then a parcel of clowns on horseback try to beat out the ends of it, in order to show their dexterity in escaping before the contents fall upon them.

2. i.e. Each with a canvas bow-case tied round his loins.

3. Clym of The Clough means Clem (Clement) of the Cliff: for so Clough signifies in the north.

4. See Gloss.

5. i.e. weened, thought, (which last is the reading of the folio manuscript,) Calais or Rouen, was taken from the English by showing the governor, who could not read, a letter with the king's seal, which was all he looked at.

6. So Ascham in his Toxophilus gives a precept: "The stringe must be rounde:" (p. 149, ed. 1761.) otherwise, we may conclude from mechanical principles, the arrow will not fly true.

7. Outhorne is an old term signifying calling forth of subjects to arms by the sound of a horn.-- See Cole's Lat. Dict., Bailey, &c.

8. i.e. hie, hasten.

9. i.e. mark.


Prev Next

Back to Introduction