Gentle heardsman, tell to me, Of curtesy I thee pray, Unto the towne of Walsingham Which is the right and ready way.
"Unto the towne of Walsingham 5 The way is hard for to be gon; And verry crooked are those pathes For you to find out all alone."
Weere the miles doubled thrise, And the way never soe ill, 10 Itt were not enough for mine offence, Itt is soe grievous and soe ill.
"Thy yeeares are young, thy face is faire, Thy witts are weake, thy thoughts are greene; Time hath not given thee leave, as yett, 15 For to committ so great a sinne."
Yes, heardsman, yes, soe woldest thou say, If thou knewest soe much as I; My witts, and thoughts, and all the rest, Have well deserved for to dye. 20
I am not what I seeme to bee, My clothes and sexe doe differ farr: I am a woman, woe is me!
_Born_ to greeffe and irksome care.
_For_ my beloved, and well-beloved, 25 _My wayward cruelty could kill: And though my teares will nought avail, Most dearely I bewail him_ still.
_He was the flower of n_oble wights, _None ever more sincere colde_ bee; 30 _Of comely mien and shape_ hee was, _And tenderlye he_e loved mee.
_When thus I saw he lo_ved me well, _I grewe so proud his pa_ine to see, _That I, who did not_ know myselfe, 35 _Thought scorne_ of _such a youth_ as hee.
And grew soe coy and nice to please, As women's lookes are often soe, He might not kisse, nor hand forsooth, Unlesse I willed him soe to doe. 40
Thus being wearyed with delayes[L41]
To see I pittyed not his greeffe, He gott him to a secrett place, And there he dyed without releeffe.
And for his sake these weeds I weare, 45 And sacriffice my tender age; And every day Ile begg my bread, To undergoe this pilgrimage.
Thus every day I fast and pray, And ever will doe till I dye; 50 And gett me to some secrett place, For soe did hee, and soe will I.
Now, gentle heardsman, aske no more, But keepe my secretts I thee pray: Unto the towne of Walsingham 55 Show me the right and readye way.
"Now goe thy wayes, and God before!
For he must ever guide thee still: Turne downe that dale, the right hand path, And soe, faire pilgrim, fare thee well!" 60
41-52. Stanzas 11, 12, 13, have been paraphrased by Goldsmith in his ballad of _Edwin and Emma_.
AS I CAME FROM WALSINGHAM.
From _The Garland of Good Will_, as reprinted by the Percy Society, vol. XXX. p. 111. Percy's copy was communicated to him by Shenstone, and was retouched by that poet.
"The pilgrimage to Walsingham," remarks the Bishop, "suggested the plan of many popular pieces. In the Pepys collection, vol. i. p. 226, is a kind of interlude in the old ballad style, of which the first stanza alone is worth reprinting.
As I went to Walsingham, To the shrine with speede, Met I with a jolly palmer In a pilgrimes weede.
'Now God you save, you jolly palmer!'
'Welcome, lady gay!
Oft have I sued to thee for love.'
'Oft have I said you nay.'
The pilgrimages undertaken on pretence of religion were often productive of affairs of gallantry, and led the votaries to no other shrine than that of Venus."
"The following ballad was once very popular; it is quoted in Fletcher's '_Knight of the Burning Pestle_,' Act ii. sc. ult., and in another old play, called "_Hans Beer-pot, his invisible Comedy_, &c.
4to 1618, Act i."
"_As I went to Walsingham_ is quoted in Nashe's _Have with you to Saffron-Walden_, 1596, sign. L."
'Hermets on a heape, with hoked staves, Wenten to Walsingham, and her wenches after.'
_Visions of Pierce Plowman_, fo. i.
"As you came from the holy-land Of Walsingham, Met you not with my true love By the way as you came?"
"How should I know your true love, 5 That have met many a one, As I came from the holy-land, That have come, that have gone?"
"She is neither white nor brown, But as the heavens fair; 10 There is none hath a form so divine, On the earth, in the air."
"Such a one did I meet, good sir, With angellike face, Who like a queen did appear 15 In her gait, in her grace."
"She hath left me here all alone, All alone and unknown, Who sometime lov'd me as her life, And call'd me her own." 20
"What's the cause she hath left thee alone, And a new way doth take, That sometime did love thee as her life, And her joy did thee make?"
"I loved her all my youth, 25 But now am old, as you see; Love liketh not the fallen fruit, Nor the withered tree.
"For love is a careless child, And forgets promise past; 30 He is blind, he is deaf, when he list, And in faith never fast.
"For love is a great delight, And yet a trustless joy; He is won with a word of despair, 35 And is lost with a toy.
"Such is the love of womankind, Or the word abus'd, Under which many childish desires And conceits are excus'd. 40
"But love is a durable fire, In the mind ever burning; Never sick, never dead, never cold, From itself never turning."
KING COPHETUA AND THE BEGGAR-MAID.
From Richard Johnson's _Crowne-Garland of Goulden Roses_, (1612,) as reprinted by the Percy Society, vi. 45. It is there simply entitled _A Song of a Beggar and a King_. Given in Percy's _Reliques_, i. 202, "corrected by another copy."
This story, and it would appear this very ballad, is alluded to by Shakespeare and others of the dramatists.