Thus, the 13th verse is partly quoted in _Romeo and Juliet_, A. ii.
"Young Adam Cupid, he that shot so trim, When King Cophetua loved the beggar-maid."
Again in _Love's Labour's Lost_, (printed in 1598,) A. i. sc. 2.
_Arm._ Is there not a ballad, boy, of the King and the Beggar?
_Moth._ The world was very guilty of such a ballad some three ages since, but, I think, now 'tis not to be found.
See also _Henry Fourth_, P. ii. A. v. sc. 3, _Richard Second_, A. v.
sc. 3, and Ben Jonson's _Every Man in his Humour_, A. iii. sc. 4,--all these cited by Percy.
In _A Collection of Old Ballads_, i. 138, is a _rifacimento_ of this piece, in a different stanza, but following the story closely and preserving much of the diction. It is also printed in Evans's _Old Ballads_, ii. 361.
I read that once in Affrica A prince that there did raine, Who had to name Cophetua, As poets they did faine.
From natures workes he did incline, 5 For sure he was not of my minde, He cared not for women-kind, But did them all disdain.
But marke what happen'd by the way; As he out of his window lay, 10 He saw a beggar all in grey, Which did increase his paine.
The blinded boy that shootes so trim From heaven downe so high, He drew a dart and shot at him, 15 In place where he did lye: Which soone did pierce him to the quick, For when he felt the arrow prick, Which in his tender heart did stick, He looketh as he would dye. 20 "What sudden change is this," quoth he, "That I to love must subject be, Which never thereto would agree, But still did it defie?"
Then from his window he did come, 25 And laid him on his bed; A thousand heapes of care did runne Within his troubled head.
For now he means to crave her love, And now he seeks which way to proove 30 How he his fancie might remove, And not this beggar wed.
But Cupid had him so in snare, That this poore beggar must prepare A salve to cure him of his care, 35 Or els he would be dead.
And as he musing thus did lie, He thought for to devise How he might have her company, That so did maze his eyes. 40 "In thee," quoth he, "doth rest my life; For surely thou shalt be my wife, Or else this hand with bloody knife, The gods shall sure suffice."
Then from his bed he 'soon' arose, 45 And to his pallace gate he goes; Full little then this beggar knowes When she the king espies[L48].
"The gods preserve your majesty,"
The beggars all gan cry; 50 "Vouchsafe to give your charity, Our childrens food to buy!"
The king to them his purse did cast, And they to part it made great haste; This silly woman was the last 55 That after them did hye.
The king he cal'd her back again, And unto her he gave his chaine; And said, "With us you shall remain Till such time as we dye. 60
"For thou," quoth he, "shalt be my wife, And honoured like the queene; With thee I meane to lead my life, As shortly shall be seene: Our wedding day shall appointed be, 65 And every thing in their degree; Come on," quoth he, "and follow me, Thou shalt go shift thee cleane.
What is thy name?--go on," quoth he.
"Penelophon, O King!" quoth she; 70 With that she made a lowe courtsey; A trim one as I weene.
Thus hand in hand along they walke Unto the kings palace: The king with courteous, comly talke 75 This beggar doth embrace.
The beggar blusheth scarlet read, And straight againe as pale as lead, But not a word at all she said, She was in such amaze. 80 At last she spake with trembling voyce, And said, "O King, I do rejoyce That you will take me for your choice, And my degree so base!"
And when the wedding day was come, 85 The king commanded straight The noblemen, both all and some, Upon the queene to waight.
And she behavd herself that day As if she had never walkt the way; 90 She had forgot her gowne of gray, Which she did wear of late.
The proverb old is come to passe, The priest, when he begins the masse, Forgets that ever clarke he was; 95 He knowth not his estate.
Here you may read Cophetua, Through fancie long time fed, Compelled by the blinded boy The beggar for to wed: 100 He that did lovers lookes disdaine, To do the same was glad and fain, Or else he would himself have slaine, In stories as we read.
Disdaine no whit, O lady deere, 105 But pitty now thy servant heere, Lest that it hap to thee this yeare, As to the king it did.
And thus they lead a quiet life During their princely raigne, 110 And in a tombe were buried both, As writers shew us plaine.
The lords they tooke it grievously, The ladies tooke it heavily, The commons cryed pittiously, 115 Their death to them was pain.
Their fame did sound so passingly, That it did pierce the starry sky, And throughout all the world did flye To every princes realme. 120
THE SPANISH LADY'S LOVE.
From _The Garland of Good-Will_, as reprinted by the Percy Society, xxx. 125. Other copies, slightly different, in _A Collection of Old Ballads_, ii. 191, and in Percy's _Reliques_, ii. 246.
Percy conjectures that this ballad "took its rise from one of those descents made on the Spanish coasts in the time of Queen Elizabeth."
The weight of tradition is decidedly, perhaps entirely, in favor of the hero's having been one of Essex's comrades in the Cadiz expedition, but _which_ of his gallant captains achieved the double conquest of the Spanish Lady is by no means satisfactorily determined.
Among the candidates put forth are Sir Richard Levison of Trentham, Staffordshire, Sir John Popham of Littlecot, Wilts, Sir Urias Legh of Adlington, Cheshire, and Sir John Bolle of Thorpe Hall, Lincolnshire.
The right of the last to this distinction has been recently warmly contended for, and, as is usual in similar cases, strong circumstantial evidence is urged in his favor. The reader will judge for himself of its probable authenticity.
"On Sir John Bolle's departure from Cadiz," it is said, "the Spanish Lady sent as presents to his wife a profusion of jewels and other valuables, among which was her portrait drawn in green; plate, money, and other treasures." Some of these articles are maintained to be still in possession of the family, and also a portrait of Sir John, drawn in 1596, at the age of thirty-six, in which he wears the gold chain given him by his enamored prisoner. See _The Times_ newspaper of April 30 and May 1, 1846, (the latter article cited in _Notes and Queries_, ix. 573,) and the _Quarterly Review_, Sept. 1846, Art. III.
The literary merits of the ballad are also considered in the _Edinburgh Review_, of April, 1846.
Shenstone has essayed in his _Moral Tale of Love and Honour_ to bring out "the Spanish Ladye and her Knight in less grovelling accents than the simple guise of ancient record," while Wordsworth, in a more reverential spirit, has taken this noble old romance as the model of his _Armenian Lady's Love_.
Will you hear a Spanish lady, How she woo'd an English man?
Garments gay as rich as may be, Decked with jewels, had she on; Of a comely countenance and grace was she, 5 And by birth and parentage of high degree.
As his prisoner there he kept her, In his hands her life did lie; Cupid's bands did tie her faster, By the liking of an eye; 10 In his courteous company was all her joy, To favour him in any thing she was not coy.
At the last there came commandment For to set the ladies free, With their jewels still adorned, 15 None to do them injury: "Alas," then said this lady gay, "full woe is me; O let me still sustain this kind captivity!
"O gallant captain, shew some pity To a lady in distress; 20 Leave me not within the city, For to die in heaviness; Thou hast set this present day my body free, But my heart in prison strong remains with thee."
"How should'st thou, fair lady, love me, 25 Whom thou know'st thy country's foe?
Thy fair words make me suspect thee; Serpents are where flowers grow."
"All the evil I think to thee, most gracious knight, God grant unto myself the same may fully light! 30
"Blessed be the time and season, That you came on Spanish ground; If you may our foes be termed, Gentle foes we have you found.
With our city, you have won our hearts each one; 35 Then to your country bear away that is your own."
"Rest you still, most gallant lady, Rest you still, and weep no more; Of fair lovers there are plenty; Spain doth yield a wondrous store." 40 "Spaniards fraught with jealousie we often find; But English men throughout the world are counted kind.
"Leave me not unto a Spaniard; You alone enjoy my heart; I am lovely, young, and tender, 45 And so love is my desert.
Still to serve thee day and night my mind is prest; The wife of every English man is counted blest."
"It would be a shame, fair lady, For to bear a woman hence; 50 English soldiers never carry Any such without offence."
"I will quickly change myself, if it be so, And like a page I'll follow thee, where'er thou go."
"I have neither gold nor silver 55 To maintain thee in this case, And to travel, 'tis great charges, As you know, in every place."
"My chains and jewels every one shall be thine own, And eke ten thousand pounds in gold that lies unknown." 60
"On the seas are many dangers; Many storms do there arise, Which will be to ladies dreadful, And force tears from wat'ry eyes."