Percy's Reliques - Northumberland Betrayed by Douglas.

Northumberland Betrayed by Douglas.

††††††††††† This ballad may be considered as the sequel of the preceding. After the unfortunate Earl of Northumberland had seen himself forsaken of his followers, he endeavoured to withdraw into Scotland, but falling into the hands of the thievish borderers, was stript and otherwise ill-treated by them. At length he reached the house of Hector of Harlow, an Armstrong, with whom he hoped to lie concealed: for Hector had engaged his honour to be true to him, and was under great obligations to this unhappy nobleman. But this faithless wretch betrayed his guest for a sum of money to Murray the Regent of Scotland, who sent him to the castle of Loughleven, then belonging to William Douglas. All the writers of that time assure us, that Hector, who was rich before, fell shortly after into poverty, and became so infamous, that to take Hector's cloak, grew into a proverb to express a man who betrays his friend. See Camden, Carleton, Holingshed, &c.

††††††††††† Lord Northumberland continued in the castle of Loughleven till the year 1572; when James Douglas Earl of Morton being elected Regent, he was given up to the Lord Hunsden at Berwick, and being carried to York suffered death. As Morton's party depended upon Elizabeth for protection, an elegant historian thinks "it was scarce possible for them to refuse putting into her hands a person who had taken up arms against her. But as a sum of money was paid on that account, and shared between Morton and his kinsman Douglas, the former of whom, during his exile in England, had been much indebted to Northumberland's friendship, the abandoning this unhappy nobleman to inevitable destruction, was deemed an ungrateful and mercenary act."-- Robertson's Hist.

††††††††††† So far history coincides with this ballad, which was apparently written by some Northern bard soon after the event. The interposal of the witch-lady (v. 53.) is probably his own invention: yet, even this hath some countenance from history; for, about 25 years before, the Lady Jane Douglas, Lady Glamis, sister of the Earl of Angus, and nearly related to Douglas of Loughleven, had suffered death for the pretended crime of witchcraft; who, it is presumed, is the witch-lady alluded to in verse 133.

††††††††††† The following is selected (like the former) from two copies, which contained great variations; one of them in the Editor's folio manuscript. In the other copy some of the stanzas at the beginning of this ballad are nearly the same with what in that manuscript are made to begin another ballad on the escape of the Earl of Westmoreland, who got safe into Flanders, and is feigned in the ballad to have undergone a great variety of adventures.

"How long shall fortune faile me nowe,
And harrowe me with feare and dread?
How long shall I in bale abide,
In misery my life to lead?

"To fall from my bliss, alas the while
It was my sore and heavye lott:
And I must leave my native land,
And I must live a man forgot.

"One gentle Armstrong I doe ken,
A Scot, he is much bound to mee:
He dwelleth on the border side,
To him I'll goe right privilže."

Thus did the noble Percy 'plaine,
With a heavy heart and wel-away,
When he with all his gallant men
On Bramham moor had lost the day.

But when he to the Armstrongs came,
They delt with him all treacherouslye;
For they did strip that noble earle:
And ever an ill death may they dye.

False Hector to Earl Murray sent,
To shew him where his guest did hide:
Who sent him to the Lough-leven,
With William Douglas to abide.

And when he to the Douglas came,
He halched him right curteouslie:
Say'd, "Welcome, welcome, noble earle,
Here thou shalt safelye bide with mee."

When he had in Lough-leven been
Many a month and many a day;
To the regent[ 1] the lord warden[ 2] sent,
That bannisht earle for to betray.

He offered him great store of gold,
And wrote a letter fair to see
Saying, "Good my lord, grant me my boon,
And yield that banisht man to mee."

Earle Percy at the supper sate
With many a goodly gentleman:
The wylie Douglas then bespake,
And thus to flyte with him began:

"What makes you be so sad, my lord,
And in your mind so sorrowfullye?
To-morrow a shooting will be held
Among the lords of the North countrye.

"The butts are sett, the shooting's made,
And there will be great royaltye:
And I am sworne into my bille,
Thither to bring my Lord Percye."

"I'll give thee my hand, thou gentle Douglas,
And here by my true faith," quoth hee,
"If thou wilt ryde to the worldes end,
I will ryde in thy companye."

And then bespake a lady faire,
Mary ŗ Douglas was her name:
"You shall byde here, good English lord,
My brother is a traiterous man.

"He is a traitor stout and stronge,
As I tell you in privitie:
For he hath tane liverance of the earle,[ 3]
Into England nowe to 'liver thee."

"Now nay, now nay, thou goodly lady,
The regent is a noble lord:
Ne for the gold in all England
The Douglas would not break his word."

"When the regent was a banisht man,
With me he did faire welcome find;
And whether weal or woe betide,
I still shall find him true and kind.

"Betweene England and Scotland it wold breake truce,
And friends againe they wold never bee,
If they shold 'liver a banisht erle
Was driven out of his own countrie."

"Alas! alas! my lord," she sayes,
"Nowe mickle is their traitorie;
Then lett my brother ryde his wayes,
And tell these English lords from thee,

"How that you cannot with him ryde,
Because you are in an ile of the sea,[ 4]
Then ere my brother come againe
To Edenborrow castle[ 5] Ile carry thee.

"To the Lord Hume I will thee bring,
He is well knowne a true Scots lord,
And he will lose both land and life,
Ere he with thee will break his word."

"Much is my woe," Lord Percy sayd,
"When I thinke on my own countrie,
When I thinke on the heavye happe
My friends have suffered there for mee.

"Much is my woe," Lord Percy sayd,
"And sore those wars my minde distresse;
Where many a widow lost her mate,
And many a child was fatherlesse.

"And now that I a banisht man
Shold bring such evil happe with mee,
To cause my faire and noble friends
To be suspect of treacherie

"This rives my heart with double woe;
And lever had I dye this day,
Than thinke a Douglas can he false,
Or ever he will his guest betray."

"If you'll give me no trust, my lord,
Nor unto mee no credence yield;
Yet step one moment here aside,
Ile showe you all your foes in field."

"Lady, I never loved witchcraft,
Never dealt in privy wyle;
But evermore held the high-waye
Of truth and honour, free from guile."

"If you'll not come yourselfe, my lorde,
Yet send your chamberlaine with mee;
Let me but speak three words with him,
And he shall come again to thee."

James Swynard with that lady went,
She showed him through the weme of her ring
How many English lords there were
Waiting for his master and him.

"And who walkes yonder, my good lady,
So royallyŤ on yonder greene?"
"O yonder is the Lord Hunsden:[ 6]
Alas! he'll doe you drie and teene."

"And who beth yonder, thou gay ladye,
That walkes so proudly him beside?"
"That is Sir William Drury,[ 7] shee sayd,
A keene captaine hee is and tryde."

"How many miles is itt, madame,
Betwixt yon English lords and mee?"
"Marry it is thrice fifty miles,
To saile to them upon the sea.

"I never was on English ground,
Ne never save it with mine eye,
But as my book it sheweth mee,
And through my ring I may descrye.

"My mother shee was a witch ladye,
And of her skille she learned mee:
She wold let me see out of Lough-leven
What they did in London citie."

"But who is yond, thou lady faire,
That looketh with sic an austerne face?"
"Yonder is Sir John Foster,"[ 8] quoth shee,
"Alas! he'll do ye sore disgrace."

He pulled his hatt down over his browe;
He wept; in his heart he was full of woe:
And he is gone to his noble Lord,
Those sorrowful tidings him to show.

"Now nay, now nay, good James Swynard,
I may not believe that witch ladže:
The Douglasses were ever true,
And they can ne'er prove false to mee.

"I have now in Lough-leven been
The most part of these years three,
Yett have I never had noe outrake,
Ne no good games that I cold see.

"Therefore I'll to yon shooting wend,
As to the Douglas I have hight:
Betide me weale, betide me woe,
He ne'er shall find my promise light."

He writhe a gold ring from his finger,
And gave itt to that gay ladže:
Sayes, "It was all that I cold save,
In Harley woods where I cold bee."[ 9]

"And wilt thou goe, thou noble lord,
Then farewell truth and honestže;
And farewell heart and farewell hand;
For never more I shall thee see."

The wind was faire, the boatmen call'd,
And all the saylors were on borde;
Then William Douglas took to his boat,
And with him went that noble lord.

Then he cast up a silver wand,
Says, "Gentle lady, fare thee well!"
That lady fett a sigh soe deep,
And in a dead swoone down shee fell.

"Now let us goe back," Douglas, he sayd,
"A sickness hath taken yond faire ladže
If ought befall yond lady but good,
Then blamed for ever I shall bee."

"Come on, come on, my lord," he sayes;
"Come on, come on, and let her bee:
There's ladyes enow in Lough-leven
For to cheere that gay ladže."

"If you'll not turne yourself," my lord,
"Let me goe with my chamberlaine;
We will but comfort that faire lady,
And wee will return to you againe."

"Come on, come on, my lord," he sayes,
"Come on, come on, and let her bee:
My sister is craftye, and wold beguile
A thousand such as you and mee."

When they had sayled[ 10] fifty myle,
Now fifty mile upon the sea;
Hee sent his man to ask the Douglas,
When they shold that shooting see.

"Faire words," quoth he, "they make fooles faine,
And that by thee and thy lord is seen:
You may hap to thinke itt soone enough,
Ere you that shooting reach, I ween."

Jamye his hatt pulled over his browe,
He thought his lord then was betray'd;
And he is to Erle Percy againe,
To tell him what the Douglas sayd.

"Hold upp thy head, man," quoth his lord;
"Nor therefore lett thy courage fayle,
He did it but to prove thy heart,
To see if he cold make it quail."

When they had other fifty sayld,
Other fifty mile upon the sea,
Lord Percy called to Douglas himselfe,
"Sayd, What wilt thou nowe doe with mee?"

"Looke that your brydle be wight, my lord,
And your horse goe swift as shipp att sea
Looke that your spurres be bright and sharpe,
That you may pricke her while she'll away."

"What needeth this, Douglas?" he sayth;
"What needest thou to flyte with mee?
For I was counted a horseman good
Before that ever I mett with thee.

"A false Hector hath my horse,
Who dealt with mee so treacherouslie:
A false Armstrong hath my spurres,
And all the geere belongs to mee."

When they had sayled other fifty mile,
Other fifty mile upon the sea;
They landed low by Berwicke side,
A deputed laird landed Lord Percye.

Then he at Yorke was doomde to dye,
It was, alas a sorrowfull sight
Thus they betrayed that noble earle,
Who ever was a gallant wight.


1. James Douglas Earl of Morton, elected Regent of Scotland, November 24, 1572.

2. Of one of the English Marches. Lord Hunsden.

3. Of the Earl of Morton, the Regent.

4. i.e. Lake of Leven, which hath communication with the sea..

5. At that time in the hands of the opposite faction.

6. The Lord Warden of the East Marches.

7. Governor of Berwick.

8. Warden of the Middle March.

9. i.e. where I was. An ancient idiom.

10. There is no navigable stream between Lough-leven and the sea: but a ballad maker is not obliged to understand geography.


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