The princess, armed by him, And by true desire, Wandering all that night, Without dread at all, Still unknown, she past 45 In her strange attire, Coming at the last Within echo's call.
"You fair woods," quoth she, "Honoured may you be, 50 Harbouring my heart's delight, Which doth encompass here, My joy and only dear, My trusty friend, and comely knight.
Sweet, I come unto thee, 55 Sweet, I come to wooe thee, That thou may'st not angry be; For my long delaying, And thy courteous staying, Amends for all I make to thee." 60
Passing thus alone Through the silent forest, Many a grievous groan Sounded in her ear; Where she heard a man 65 To lament the sorest Chance that ever came, Forc'd by deadly fear.
"Farewel, my dear!" quoth he, "Whom I shall never see, 70 For why, my life is at an end; For thy sweet sake I die, Through villain's cruelty, To shew I am a faithful friend.
Here lie I a-bleeding, 75 While my thoughts are feeding On the rarest beauty found; O hard hap that may be, Little knows my lady My heart-blood lies on the ground!" 80
With that he gave a groan That did break asunder All the tender strings Of his gentle heart: She, who knew his voice, 85 At his tale did wonder; All her former joys Did to grief convert.
Straight she ran to see Who this man should be, 90 That so like her love did speak; And found, whenas she came, Her lovely lord lay slain, Smeer'd in blood which life did break.
Which when that she espied, 95 Lord, how sore she cried!
Her sorrows could not counted be; Her eyes like fountains running, While she cryed out, "My darling, Would God that I had dy'd for thee!" 100
His pale lips, alas!
Twenty times she kissed, And his face did wash With her brinish tears; Every bleeding wound 105 Her fair face bedewed, Wiping off the blood With her golden hairs.
["Speak, my love," quoth she,][L109]
"Speak, fair prince, to me; 110 One sweet word of comfort give; Lift up thy fair eyes, Listen to my cries, Think in what great grief I live."
All in vain she sued, 115 All in vain she wooed, The prince's life was fled and gone; There stood she still mourning 'Till the sun's returning, And bright day was coming on. 120
In this great distress Quoth this royal lady, "Who can now express What will become of me?
To my father's court 125 Never will I wander, But some service seek Where I may placed be."
Whilst she thus made her moan, Weeping all alone, 130 In this deep and deadly fear, A forester all in green, Most comely to be seen, Ranging the wood did find her there, Round beset with sorrow. 135 "Maid," quoth he, "good morrow.
What hard hap hath brought you here?"
"Harder hap did never Chance to a maiden ever; Here lies slain my brother dear. 140
"Where might I be plac'd, Gentle forester tell me; Where might I procure A service in my need?
Pains I will not spare, 145 But will do my duty; Ease me of my care, Help my extream need."
The forester all amazed On her beauty gazed, 150 'Till his heart was set on fire: "If, fair maid," quoth he, "You will go with me, You shall have your heart's desire."
He brought her to his mother, 155 And above all other He set forth this maiden's praise: Long was his heart inflamed, At length her love he gained, So fortune did his glory raise. 160
Thus unknown he matcht With the king's fair daughter; Children seven he had, Ere she to him was known.
But when he understood 165 She was a royal princess, By this means at last He shewed forth her fame: He cloath'd his children then[L169]
Not like other men, 170 In party colours strange to see; The right side cloth of gold, The left side to behold Of woollen cloth still framed he.
Men thereat did wonder, 175 Golden fame did thunder This strange deed in every place; The king of France came thither[L178]
Being pleasant weather, In the woods the hart to chase. 180
The children there did stand, As their mother willed, Where the royal king Must of force come by; Their mother richly clad 185 In fair crimson velvet, Their father all in gray, Most comely to the eye.
When this famous king, Noting every thing, 190 Did ask him how he durst be so bold, To let his wife to wear, And deck his children there, In costly robes of pearl and gold,-- The forester bold replied, 195 And the cause descried, And to the king he thus did say: "Well may they by their mother Wear rich gold like other, Being by birth a princess gay." 200
The king upon these words More heedfully beheld them, Till a crimson blush His conceit did cross.
"The more I look," quoth he, 205 "Upon thy wife and children, The more I call to mind My daughter whom I lost."
"I am that Child," quoth she, Falling on her knee; 210 "Pardon me my soveraign liege!"
The king perceiving this His daughter dear did kiss, Till joyful tears did stop his speech.
With his train he turned, 215 And with her sojourned; Straight he dubb'd her husband knight; He made him Earl of Flanders, One of his chief commanders;-- Thus was their sorrow put to flight. 220
30, to court.
109, from _Old Ballads_, 1723.
169-174. "This will remind the reader of the livery and device of Charles Brandon, a private gentleman, who married the Queen Dowager of France, sister of Henry VIII. At a tournament which he held at his wedding, the trappings of his horse were half cloth of gold, and half frieze, with the following motto:
'Cloth of Gold, do not despise, Tho' thou art matcht with Cloth of Frize; Cloth of Frize, be not too bold, Tho' thou art matcht with Cloth of Gold.'
See Sir W. Temple's Misc. vol. iii. p. 356." PERCY.
178, king he coming.
CONSTANCE OF CLEVELAND.
From Collier's _Book of Roxburghe Ballads_, p. 163.
"This romantic ballad, in a somewhat plain and unpretending style, relates incidents that may remind the reader of the old story of Titus and Gisippus, which was told in English verse by Edw. Lewicke, as early as 1562: the ballad is not so ancient by, perhaps, thirty or forty years; and the printed copy that has come down to our day is at least fifty years more recent than the date when we believe the ballad to have been first published. The title the broadside ('Printed for F.
Coles, J. W., T. Vere, W. Gilbertson,') bears is, '_Constance of Cleveland: A very excellent Sonnet of the most fair Lady Constance of Cleveland, and her disloyal Knight_.' We conclude that the incidents are mere invention, but _Constance of Rome_ is the name of a play, by Drayton, Munday and Hathway, mentioned in Henslowe's Diary under the year 1600, (p. 171.) The tune of _Crimson Velvet_ was highly popular in the reigns of Elizabeth and her successor."
To the Tune of _Crimson Velvet_.
It was a youthfull knight Lov'd a gallant lady; Fair she was and bright, And of vertues rare: Herself she did behave 5 So courteously as may be; Wedded they were brave; Joy without compare.
Here began the grief, Pain without relief: 10 Her husband soon her love forsook, To women lewd of mind, Being bad inclin'd, He only lent a pleasant look.
The lady she sate weeping, 15 While that he was keeping Company with others moe: Her words, "My love, beleeve not, Come to me, and grieve not; Wantons will thee overthrow." 20
His fair Ladie's words Nothing he regarded; Wantonnesse affords Such delightfull sport.
While they dance and sing, 25 With great mirth prepared, She her hands did wring In most grievous sort.
"O what hap had I Thus to wail and cry, 30 Unrespected every day, Living in disdain, While that others gain All the right I should enjoy!
I am left forsaken, 35 Others they are taken: Ah my love! why dost thou so?
Her flatteries beleeve not, Come to me, and grieve not; Wantons will thee overthrow." 40
The Knight with his fair peece At length the Lady spied, Who did him daily fleece Of his wealth and store: Secretly she stood, 45 While she her fashions tryed, With a patient mind, While deep the strumpet swore.
"O Sir Knight, O Sir Knight," quoth she, "So dearly I love thee, 50 My life doth rest at thy dispose: By day, and eke by night, For thy sweet delight, Thou shalt me in thy arms inclose.
I am thine for ever; 55 Still I will persever True to thee, where ere I go."
"Her flatteries believe not, Come to me, and grieve not; Wantons will thee overthrow." 60
The vertuous Lady mild Enters then among them, Being big with child As ever she might be: With distilling tears 65 She looked then upon them; Filled full of fears, Thus replyed she: "Ah, my love and dear!
Wherefore stay you here, 70 Refusing me, your loving wife, For an harlot's sake, Which each one will take; Whose vile deeds provoke much strife?
Many can accuse her: 75 O my love, O my love, refuse her!
With thy lady home return.
Her flatteries beleeve not, Come to me, and grieve not; Wantons will thee overthrow." 80
All in a fury then The angry Knight up started, Very furious when He heard his Ladie's speech.
With many bitter terms 85 His wife he ever thwarted, Using hard extreams, While she did him beseech.
From her neck so white He took away in spite 90 Her curious chain of purest gold, Her jewels and her rings, And all such costly things As he about her did behold.
The harlot in her presence 95 He did gently reverence, And to her he gave them all: He sent away his Lady, Full of wo as may be, Who in a swound with grief did fall. 100
At the Ladie's wrong The harlot fleer'd and laughed; Enticements are so strong, They overcome the wise.
The Knight nothing regarded 105 To see the Lady scoffed: Thus was she rewarded For her enterprise.