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"Well in worth I could endure extremity, 65 For I could find in heart to lose my life for thee."

"Courteous lady, be contented; Here comes all that breeds the strife; I in England have already A sweet woman to my wife: 70 I will not falsifie my vow for gold or gain, Nor yet for all the fairest dames that live in Spain."

"Oh how happy is that woman That enjoys so true a friend!

Many days of joy God send you! 75 Of my suit I'll make an end: On my knees I pardon crave for this offence, Which love and true affection did first commence.

"Commend me to thy loving lady; Bear to her this chain of gold, 80 And these bracelets for a token; Grieving that I was so bold.

All my jewels in like sort bear thou with thee, For these are fitting for thy wife, and not for me.

"I will spend my days in prayer, 85 Love and all her laws defie; In a nunnery will I shroud me, Far from other company: But ere my prayers have end, be sure of this, [To pray] for thee and for thy love I will not miss. 90

"Thus farewell, most gentle captain, And farewell my heart's content!

Count not Spanish ladies wanton, Though to thee my love was bent: Joy and true prosperity goe still with thee!" 95 "The like fall ever to thy share, most fair lady."


The story of Griselda was first told in the _Decameron_. Boccaccio derived the incidents from Petrarch, and Petrarch seems to have communicated them also to Chaucer, who (in his _Clerk of Oxenford's Tale_) first made known the tale to English readers. The theme was subsequently treated in a great variety of ways.[2] Two plays upon the subject are known to have been written, one of which (by Dekker, Chettle and Haughton) has been printed by the Shakespeare Society, while the other, an older production of the close of Henry VIII.'s reign, is lost. About the middle of the sixteenth century, (1565,) a _Song of Patient Grissell_ is entered in the Stationers' Registers, and a prose history the same year. The earliest edition of the popular prose history as yet recovered, dated 1619, has been reprinted in the third volume of the Percy Society's Publications.

The ballad here given is taken from Thomas Deloney's _Garland of Good Will_, a collection which was printed some time before 1596. It was circulated after that time, and probably even before the compilation of the Garland, as a broadside, in black-letter, and also, with the addition of a prose introduction and conclusion, as a tract or chap-book. In this last form it is printed in the above-mentioned volume of the Percy Society. The ballad in its proper simplicity is inserted in _A Collection of Old Ballads_, i. 252.

Percy's _Patient Countess_ (_Reliques_, i. 310) is extracted from _Albion's England_.

The title in _The Garland of Good Will_ is, _Of Patient Grissel and a Noble Marquess_. _To the tune of the Bride's Good Morrow._ Percy Society, vol. XXX. p. 82.

[2] For the bibliography see Grasse's _Sagenkreise_, p. 282. The story is also found, says some one, in the Swedish saga of _Hakon Borkenbart_.

A noble marquess, as he did ride a-hunting, Hard by a river side, A proper maiden, as she did sit a-spinning, His gentle eye espy'd: Most fair and lovely, and of comely grace was she, 5 Although in simple attire; She sang most sweetly, with pleasant voice melodiously, Which set the lord's heart on fire.

The more he lookt, the more he might; Beauty bred his hearts delight, 10 And to this damsel he went.

"God speed," quoth he, "thou famous flower, Fair mistress of this homely bower, Where love and vertue live with sweet content."

With comely gesture and modest mild behaviour 15 She bad him welcome then; She entertain'd him in a friendly manner, And all his gentlemen.

The noble marquess in his heart felt such flame Which set his senses all at strife; 20 Quoth he, "Fair maiden, shew soon what is thy name: I mean to take thee to my wife."

"Grissel is my name," quoth she, "Far unfit for your degree; A silly maiden, and of parents poor." 25 "Nay, Grissel, thou art rich," he said, "A vertuous, fair, and comely maid; Grant me thy love, and I will ask no more."

At length she consented, and being both contented, They married were with speed; 30 Her country russet was turn'd to silk and velvet, As to her state agreed: And when that she was trimly attired in the same, Her beauty shin'd most bright, Far staining every other brave and comely dame 35 That did appear in sight.[L36]

Many envied her therefore, Because she was of parents poor, And twixt her lord and her great strife did raise: Some said this, and some said that, 40 Some did call her beggar's brat, And to her lord they would her oft dispraise.

"O noble marquess," quoth they, "why do you wrong us, Thus basely for to wed, That might have got an honourable lady 45 Into your princely bed?

Who will not now your noble issue still deride, Which shall be hereafter born, That are of blood so base by the mother's side, The which will bring them to scorn? 50 Put her, therefore, quite away; Take to you a lady gay, Whereby your lineage may renowned be."

Thus every day they seem'd to prate At malic'd Grissel's good estate, 55 Who took all this most mild and patiently.

When that the marquess did see that they were bent thus Against his faithful wife, Whom most dearly, tenderly, and intirely He loved as his life; 60 Minding in secret for to prove her patient heart, Thereby her foes to disgrace; Thinking to play a hard discourteous part, That men might pity her case,-- Great with child this lady was, 65 And at length it came to pass, Two lovely children at one birth she had; A son and daughter God had sent, Which did their father well content, And which did make their mothers heart full glad. 70

Great royal feasting was at the childrens christ'ning, And princely triumph made; Six weeks together, all nobles that came thither Were entertain'd and staid.

And when that these pleasant sportings quite were done, 75 The marquess a messenger sent For his young daughter and his pretty smiling son, Declaring his full intent, How that the babes must murthered be, For so the marquess did decree. 80 "Come, let me have the children," he said: With that fair Grissel wept full sore, She wrung her hands, and said no more; "My gracious lord must have his will obey'd."

She took the babies from the nursing-ladies, 85 Between her tender arms; She often wishes, with many sorrowful kisses, That she might help their harms.

"Farewel," quoth she, "my children dear; Never shall I see you again; 90 'Tis long of me, your sad and woful mother dear, For whose sake you must be slain.

Had I been born of royal race, You might have liv'd in happy case; But now you must die for my unworthiness. 95 "Come, messenger of death," quoth she, "Take my despised babes to thee, And to their father my complaints express."

He took the children, and to his noble master He brought them forth with speed; 100 Who secretly sent them unto a noble lady, To be nurst up indeed.

Then to fair Grissel with a heavy heart he goes, Where she sat mildly all alone; A pleasant gesture and a lovely look she shows, 105 As if grief she had never known.

Quoth he, "My children now are slain; What thinks fair Grissel of the same?

Sweet Grissel, now declare thy mind to me."

"Since you, my lord, are pleas'd with it, 110 Poor Grissel thinks the action fit; Both I and mine at your command will be."

"The nobles murmur, fair Grissel, at thine honour, And I no joy can have Till thou be banisht from my court and presence, 115 As they unjustly crave.

Thou must be stript out of thy stately garments; And as thou camest to me, In homely gray, instead of silk and purest pall, Now all thy cloathing must be. 120 My lady thou must be no more, Nor I thy lord, which grieves me sore; The poorest life must now content thy mind: A groat to thee I may not give, Thee to maintain, while I do live; 125 'Gainst my Grissel such great foes I find."

When gentle Grissel heard these woful tidings, The tears stood in her eyes; She nothing said, no words of discontentment Did from her lips arise. 130 Her velvet gown most patiently she stript off, Her girdle of silk with the same; Her russet gown was brought again with many a scoff; To bear them all, herself [she] did frame.

When she was drest in this array, 135 And ready was to part away, "God send long life unto my lord," quoth she; "Let no offence be found in this, To give my lord a parting kiss."

With wat'ry eyes, "Farewel, my dear!" quoth he. 140

From stately palace, unto her father's cottage, Poor Grissel now is gone; Full fifteen winters she lived there contented, No wrong she thought upon; And at that time thro' all the land the speeches went, 145 The marquess should married be Unto a noble lady of high descent, And to the same all parties did agree.

The marquess sent for Grissel fair The bride's bed-chamber to prepare, 150 That nothing should therein be found awry; The bride was with her brother come, Which was great joy to all and some; And Grissel took all this most patiently.

And in the morning when that they should be wedded, 155 Her patience now was try'd; Grissel was charged in princely manner For to attire the bride.

Most willingly she gave consent unto the same; The bride in her bravery was drest, 160 And presently the noble marquess thither came, With all the ladies at his request.

"Oh Grissel, I would ask of thee If to this match thou wouldst agree?

Methinks thy looks are waxed wondrous coy." 165 With that they all began to smile, And Grissel she replies the while, "God send lord marquess many years of joy!"

The marquis was moved to see his best beloved Thus patient in distress; 170 He stept unto her, and by the hand he took her; These words he did express: "Thou art the bride, and all the brides I mean to have; These two thy own children be."

The youthful lady on her knees did blessing crave, 175 The brother as willing as she.

"And you that envy her estate, Whom I have made my loving mate, Now blush for shame, and honour vertuous life; The chronicles of lasting fame 180 Shall evermore extol the name Of patient Grissel, my most constant wife."

36, G. G. W., in her sight.


From Thomas Deloney's _Garland of Good Will_, as reprinted by the Percy Society, vol. xxx. p. 52. Other copies are in _Old Ballads_, (1723,) i. 181, Ritson's _Ancient Songs_, ii. 136, and Percy's _Reliques_, iii. 207,--the last altered by the editor.

In the days of old, When fair France did flourish, Stories plainly told Lovers felt annoy.

The king a daughter had, 5 Beauteous, fair, and lovely, Which made her father glad, She was his only joy.

A prince of England came, Whose deeds did merit fame, 10 He woo'd her long, and lo, at last, Look, what he did require,[L12]

She granted his desire, Their hearts in one were linked fast.

Which when her father proved, 15 Lord, how he was moved And tormented in his mind; He sought for to prevent them, And to discontent them,-- Fortune crosses lovers kind. 20

Whenas these princely twain Were thus debarr'd of pleasure, Through the king's disdain, Which their joys withstood, The lady lockt up close 25 Her jewels and her treasure, Having no remorse Of state or royal blood.

In homely poor array, She went from court away,[L30] 30 To meet her love and heart's delight; Who in a forest great, Had taken up his seat, To wait her coming in the night.

But lo, what sudden danger, 35 To this princely stranger, Chanced as he sat alone, By outlaws he was robbed, And with poinard stabbed, Uttering many a dying groan. 40

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