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7. The Jardines were a clan of hardy West-Border men. Their chief was Jardine of Applegirth. Their refusal to ride with Douglas was, probably, the result of one of those perpetual feuds, which usually rent to pieces a Scottish army.--S.

35. Douglas insinuates that Percy was rescued by his soldiers.--S.

140. Douglas was really buried in Melrose Abbey, where his tomb is still to be seen.


In _the Battle of Otterbourne_ the story is told with all the usual accuracy of tradition, and the usual fairness of partizans. Not so with the following ballad, which is founded on the same event. "That which is commonly sung of the _Hunting of Cheviot_," says Hume of Godscroft truly, "seemeth indeed poetical, and a mere fiction, perhaps to stir up virtue; yet a fiction whereof there is no mention either in the Scottish or English chronicle." When this ballad arose we do not know, but we may suppose that a considerable time would elapse before a minstrel would venture to treat an historical event with so much freedom.

We must, however, allow some force to these remarks of Percy: "With regard to the subject of this ballad, although it has no countenance from history, there is room to think it had originally some foundation in fact. It was one of the laws of the Marches, frequently renewed between the nations, that neither party should hunt in the other's borders, without leave from the proprietors or their deputies. There had long been a rivalship between the two martial families of Percy and Douglas, which, heightened by the national quarrel, must have produced frequent challenges and struggles for superiority, petty invasions of their respective domains, and sharp contests for the point of honour; which would not always be recorded in history.

Something of this kind, we may suppose, gave rise to the ancient ballad of the _Hunting a' the Cheviat_. Percy Earl of Northumberland had vowed to hunt for three days in the Scottish border, without condescending to ask leave from Earl Douglas, who was either lord of the soil, or lord warden of the Marches. Douglas would not fail to resent the insult, and endeavour to repel the intruders by force: this would naturally produce a sharp conflict between the two parties; something of which, it is probable, did really happen, though not attended with the tragical circumstances recorded in the ballad: for these are evidently borrowed from the Battle of Otterbourn, a very different event, but which aftertimes would easily confound with it."[1]

The ballad as here printed is of the same age as the preceding. It is extracted from Hearne's Preface to the _History_ of Guilielmus Neubrigensis, p. lxxxii. Hearne derived his copy from a manuscript in the Ashmolean collection at Oxford, and printed the text in long lines, which, according to custom, are now broken up into two.

The manuscript copy is subscribed at the end "Expliceth quoth Rychard Sheale." Richard Sheale (it has been shown by a writer in the _British Bibliographer_, vol. iv. p. 97-105) was a minstrel by profession, and several other pieces in the same MS. have a like signature with this.

On this ground it has been very strangely concluded that Sheale was not, as Percy and Ritson supposed, the transcriber, but the actual author of this noble ballad. The glaring objection of the antiquity of the language has been met, first, by the supposition that the author belonged to the north of England, and afterwards, when it appeared that Sheale lived at Tamworth, about a hundred miles from London, by the allegation that the language of a person in humble life in Warwickshire or Staffordshire would be very far behind the current speech of the metropolis. It happens, however, that the language of the ballad is very much older than the other compositions of Sheale, as a moment's inspection will show. Besides, Sheale's poetical abilities were manifestly of the lowest order, and although he styles himself "minstrel," we have no reason to think that he ever composed ballads. He speaks of his memory being at one time so decayed that he "could neither sing nor talk." Being a mere ballad-_singer_ and story-teller, he would naturally be dependent on that faculty. The fact is very obvious, that Richard Sheale was a mere reciter of songs and tales; at any rate, that all we have to thank him for in the matter of _Chevy Chase_ is for committing to paper the only old copy that has come down to our times.[2]

The _Hunting of the Cheviot_ is mentioned in the _Complaynt of Scotland_ with other, very ancient, ballads. It was consequently popular in Scotland in 1548, ten years before the time that we _know_ Sheale to have written anything. The mention of James the Scottish King forbids us to assign this piece an earlier date than the reign of Henry VI.

It has been customary to understand Sidney's saying of the "old song of Percy and Douglas"--that it moved his heart more than a trumpet--exclusively of _Chevy Chase_. There is no question which ballad would stand higher in the estimation of the gentle knight, but the terms by which the war-song he admired is described are of course equally applicable to _The Battle of Otterbourne_. By the way we may remark that if we do understand Sidney to have meant _Chevy Chase_, then, whatever opinion writers of our day may have of its antiquity, and however probable it may seem to them that _Chevy Chase_ was written by a contemporary of Sir Philip, it appeared to the author of the _Defence of Poetry_ to be "evil apparelled in the dust and cobweb of an uncivil age"!

[1] The Editor of the _Reliques_ afterwards met with the following passage in Collins's _Peerage_, which he thought might throw some light on the question of the origin of the ballad.

"In this ... year, 1436, according to Hector Boethius, was fought the battle of Pepperden, not far from the Cheviot Hills, between the Earl of Northumberland [IId Earl, son of Hotspur], and Earl William Douglas, of Angus, with a small army of about four thousand men each, in which the latter had the advantage. As this seems to have been a private conflict between these two great Chieftains of the Borders, rather than a national war, it has been thought to have given rise to the celebrated old ballad of Chevy-Chase; which to render it more pathetic and interesting, has been heightened with tragical incidents wholly fictitious."

[2] We regret that even Dr. Rimbault has hastily sanctioned this ascription of _Chevy-Chase_ to the "sely" minstrel of Tamworth.


The Perse owt off Northombarlande, And a vowe to God mayd he, That he wold hunte in the mountayns Off Chyviat within days thre, In the mauger of doughte Dogles,[L5] 5 And all that ever with him be.

The fattiste hartes in all Cheviat He sayd he wold kill, and cary them away: "Be my feth," sayd the dougheti Doglas agayn, "I wyll let that hontyng yf that I may." 10

Then the Perse owt of Banborowe cam,[L11]

With him a myghtee meany; With fifteen hondrith archares bold off blood and bone,[L13]

The wear chosen owt of shyars thre.[L14]

This begane on a Monday at morn, 15 In Cheviat the hillys so he; The chyld may rue that ys un-born, It was the mor pitte.

The dryvars throrowe the woodes went, For to reas the dear; 20 Bomen byckarte uppone the bent With ther browd aras cleare.

Then the wyld thorowe the woodes went, On every syde shear; Grea-hondes thorowe the grevis glent, 25 For to kyll thear dear.

The begane in Chyviat the hyls above, Yerly on a Monnyn day; Be that it drewe to the oware off none, A hondrith fat hartes ded ther lay. 30

The blewe a mort uppone the bent,[L31]

The semblyd on sydis shear; To the quyrry then the Perse went, To se the bryttlynge off the deare.

He sayd, "It was the Duglas promys 35 This day to met me hear; But I wyste he wold faylle, verament:"

A great oth the Perse swear.

At the laste a squyar of Northombelonde Lokyde at his hand full ny; 40 He was war a' the doughetie Doglas comynge,[L41]

With him a myghtte meany;

Both with spear, byll, and brande;[L43]

Yt was a myghti sight to se; Hardyar men, both off hart nar hande, 45 Wear not in Christiante.

The wear twenty hondrith spear-men good, Withowte any feale; The wear borne along be the watter a Twyde, Yth' bowndes of Tividale. 50

"Leave of the brytlyng of the dear," he sayde, "And to your bowys lock ye tayk good heed;[L52]

For never sithe ye wear on your mothars borne Had ye never so mickle ned."

The dougheti Dogglas on a stede 55 He rode att his men beforne; His armor glytteryde as dyd a glede; A bolder barne was never born.

"Tell me whos men ye ar," he says, "Or whos men that ye be: 60 Who gave youe leave to hunte in this Chyviat chays, In the spyt of me?"

The first mane that ever him an answear mayd, Yt was the good lord Perse: "We wyll not tell the whoys men we ar," he says, 65 "Nor whos men that we be; But we wyll hount hear in this chays, In the spyt of thyne and of the.

"The fattiste hartes in all Chyviat We have kyld, and cast to carry them a-way:" 70 "Be my troth," sayd the doughte Dogglas agayn,[L71]

"Ther-for the ton of us shall de this day."

Then sayd the doughte Doglas Unto the lord Perse: "To kyll all thes giltles men, 75 Alas, it wear great pitte!

"But, Perse, thowe art a lord of lande, I am a yerle callyd within my contre; Let all our men uppone a parti stande, And do the battell off the and of me." 80

"Nowe Cristes cors on his crowne," sayd the lord Perse,[L81]

"Whosoever ther-to says nay; Be my troth, doughtte Doglas," he says, "Thow shalt never se that day.

"Nethar in Ynglonde, Skottlonde, nar France, 85 Nor for no man of a woman born, But, and fortune be my chance, I dar met him, on man for on."

Then bespayke a squyar off Northombarlonde, Richard Wytharyngton was him nam; 90 "It shall never be told in Sothe-Ynglonde," he says, "To kyng Herry the fourth for sham.

"I wat youe byn great lordes twaw, I am a poor squyar of lande; I wyll never se my captayne fyght on a fylde, 95 And stande myselffe, and loocke on, But whyll I may my weppone welde, I wyll not [fayl] both hart and hande."

That day, that day, that dredfull day![L99]

The first fit here I fynde; 100 And youe wyll here any mor a' the hountyng a' the Chyviat, Yet ys ther mor behynd.

5. magger.

11. The the.

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