Yet one of them more hard of heart, Did vowe to do his charge, Because the wretch, that hired him, 95 Had paid him very large.
The other won't agree thereto, So here they fall to strife; With one another they did fight, About the childrens life: 100 And he that was of mildest mood, Did slaye the other there, Within an unfrequented wood; The babes did quake for feare!
He took the children by the hand, 105 Teares standing in their eye, And bad them straitwaye follow him, And look they did not crye: And two long miles he ledd them on, While they for food complaine: 110 "Staye here," quoth he, "I'll bring you bread, When I come back againe."
These pretty babes, with hand in hand, Went wandering up and downe; But never more could see the man 115 Approaching from the towne: Their prettye lippes with blackberries, Were all besmear'd and dyed, And when they sawe the darksome night, They sat them downe and cryed. 120
Thus wandered these poor innocents, Till deathe did end their grief, In one anothers armes they died, As wanting due relief: No burial this pretty pair[L125] 125 Of any man receives, Till Robin-red-breast piously Did cover them with leaves.
And now the heavy wrathe of God Upon their uncle fell; 130 Yea, fearfull fiends did haunt his house, His conscience felt an hell; His barnes were fir'd, his goodes consum'd, His landes were barren made, His cattle dyed within the field, 135 And nothing with him stayd.
And in the voyage of Portugal[L137]
Two of his sonnes did dye; And to conclude, himselfe was brought To want and miserye: 140 He pawn'd and mortgaged all his land Ere seven years came about, And now at length this wicked act Did by this meanes come out:
The fellowe, that did take in hand 145 These children for to kill, Was for a robbery judg'd to dye, Such was God's blessed will: Who did confess the very truth, As here hath been display'd: 150 Their uncle having dyed in gaol, Where he for debt was layd.
You that executors be made, And overseers eke Of children that be fatherless, 155 And infants mild and meek; Take you example by this thing, And yield to each his right, Lest God with such like miserye Your wicked minds requite.
125, these ... babes, PP.
137. "A. D. 1588. Dr. Percy, not knowing that the text alludes to a particular event, has altered it to _a_ voyage _to_ Portugal." RITSON.
HUGH OF LINCOLN.
In the year 1255, we are told by Matthew Paris, in his account of the reign of Henry III., the Jews of Lincoln stole a boy, named Hugh, of the age of eight years, whom, after torturing for ten days, they crucified before a large council of their people, in contempt of the death of the founder of Christianity. The boy was sought by his mother in the house of a Jew, which he had been seen to enter, and his body was found in a pit. The occupant of the house being seized, acknowledged the crime, and avowed, besides, that the like was committed nearly every year by his nation. Notwithstanding the promise of impunity by which this confession had been obtained, the wretch who made it was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged to the gallows, and after a judicial investigation, eighteen of the richest and most distinguished Jews in Lincoln were hanged for participation in the murder, while many more were detained as prisoners in the Tower of London. On the other hand, the body of the child was buried with the honors of a martyr in Lincoln Cathedral, where a construction, assumed without reason to be his tomb, is still shown.
The remains of a young person, found near this spot in 1791, were at once taken for granted to be those of the sainted infant, and drawings were made of the relics, which may be seen among the works of the artist Grimm in the British Museum.
Several stories of the same tenor are reported by the English chroniclers. It may be doubted whether there is a grain of truth in any of them, although it would be no wonder if the atrocious injuries inflicted on the Jews should, in an instance or two, have provoked a bloody retaliation, even from that tribe whose badge has always been sufferance. The annual sacrifice of a Christian child, in mockery of the crucifixion of Jesus, is on a par for credibility with the miracles which are said to have followed the death of those innocents.
The exquisite tale which Chaucer has put into the mouth of the Prioress exhibits nearly the same incidents as the following ballad. The legend of Hugh of Lincoln was widely famous. Michel has published an Anglo-Norman ballad, (_Hugo de Lincolnia_,) on the subject, which appears to be almost contemporary with the event recorded by Matthew Paris, and is certainly of the times of Henry III. The versions of the English ballad are quite numerous. We give here those of Percy, Herd, and Jamieson, and two others in the Appendix. Besides these, fragments have been printed in Sir Egerton Brydges's _Restituta_, i. 381, Halliwell's _Ballads and Poems respecting Hugh of Lincoln_, (1849,) and in _Notes and Queries_, vol. viii. 614, ix. 320, xii. 496. The most complete of all the versions is to be found in the new edition of the _Musical Museum_, vol. iv. p. 500; but that copy is evidently made up from others previously published. See, for a collection of most of the poetry, and of much curious information on the imputed cruelties of the Jews, Michel's _Hugues de Lincoln_, and Hume's _Sir Hugh of Lincoln_.
The whole subject is critically examined in the _London Athenaeum_ for Dec. 15, 1849.
"The text of the following edition has been given _verbatim_, as the editor took it down from Mrs. Brown's recitation; and in it two circumstances are preserved, which are neither to be found in any of the former editions, nor in any of the chronicles in which the transaction is recorded; but which are perfectly in the character of those times, and tend to enhance the miracles to which the discovery is attributed.
The first of these is, that, in order that the whole of this infamous sacrifice might be of a piece, and every possible outrage shown to Christianity, the Jews threw the child's body into a well dedicated to the Virgin Mary; and tradition says, that it was 'through the might of Our Ladie,' that the dead body was permitted to speak, and to reveal the horrid story to the disconsolate mother. The other is, the voluntary ringing of the bells, &c., at his funeral. The sound of consecrated bells was supposed to have a powerful effect in driving away evil spirits, appeasing storms, &c., and they were believed to be inspired with sentiments and perceptions which were often manifested in a very miraculous manner." JAMIESON'S _Popular Ballads_, i. 139-156.
Four and twenty bonny boys Were playing at the ba'; And by it came him, sweet Sir Hugh, And he play'd o'er them a'.
He kick'd the ba' with his right foot, 5 And catch'd it wi' his knee; And throuch-and-thro' the Jew's window, He gar'd the bonny ba' flee.
He's doen him to the Jew's castell, And walk'd it round about; 10 And there he saw the Jew's daughter At the window looking out.
"Throw down the ba', ye Jew's daughter, Throw down the ba' to me!"
"Never a bit," says the Jew's daughter, 15 "Till up to me come ye."
"How will I come up? How can I come up?
How can I come to thee?
For as ye did to my auld father, The same ye'll do to me." 20
She's gane till her father's garden, And pu'd an apple, red and green; 'Twas a' to wyle him, sweet Sir Hugh, And to entice him in.
She's led him in through ae dark door, 25 And sae has she thro' nine; She's laid him on a dressing table, And stickit him like a swine.
And first came out the thick, thick blood, And syne came out the thin; 30 And syne came out the bonny heart's blood; There was nae mair within.
She's row'd him in a cake o' lead, Bade him lie still and sleep; She's thrown him in Our Lady's draw well, 35 Was fifty fathom deep.
When bells were rung, and mass was sung, And a' the bairns came hame, When every lady gat hame her son, The Lady Maisry gat nane. 40
She's ta'en her mantle her about, Her coffer by the hand; And she's gane out to seek her son, And wander'd o'er the land.
She's doen her to the Jew's castell, 45 Where a' were fast asleep; "Gin ye be there, my sweet Sir Hugh, I pray you to me speak."
She's doen her to the Jew's garden, Thought he had been gathering fruit; 50 "Gin ye be there, my sweet Sir Hugh, I pray you to me speak."
She near'd Our Lady's deep draw-well, Was fifty fathom deep; "Whare'er ye be, my sweet Sir Hugh, 55 I pray you to me speak."
"Gae hame, gae hame, my mither dear; Prepare my winding sheet; And, at the back o' merry Lincoln, The morn I will you meet." 60
Now Lady Maisry is gane hame; Made him a winding sheet; And, at the back o' merry Lincoln, The dead corpse did her meet.
And a' the bells o' merry Lincoln, 65 Without men's hands were rung; And a' the books o' merry Lincoln, Were read without man's tongue; And ne'er was such a burial Sin Adam's days begun. 70
From Herd's _Scottish Songs_, i. 157.
A' the boys of merry Linkim War playing at the ba', An up it stands him sweet Sir Hugh, The flower among them a'.
He keppit the ba' than wi' his foot, 5 And catcht it wi' his knee, And even in at the Jew's window, He gart the bonny ba' flee.
"Cast out the ba' to me, fair maid, Cast out the ba' to me." 10 "Ah never a bit of it," she says, "Till ye come up to me.
"Come up, sweet Hugh, come up, dear Hugh, Come up and get the ba';"
"I winna come, I mayna come, 15 Without my bonny boys a'."
"Come up, sweet Hugh, come up, dear Hugh, Come up and speak to me;"
"I mayna come, I winna come, Without my bonny boys three." 20
She's taen her to the Jew's garden, Whar the grass grew lang and green, She's pu'd an apple red and white, To wyle the bonny boy in.
She's wyled him in through ae chamber, 25 She's wyled him in through twa, She's wyled him in till her ain chamber, The flower out owr them a'.