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Cope sent a challenge frae Dunbar, "Charlie meet me, an ye daur, And I'll learn you the airt of war, If you'll meet wi' me in the morning."

_Hey, Johnie Cope! are ye waking yet?

Or are your drums a-beating yet?

If ye were waking, I would wait To gang to the coals i' the morning._

When Charlie looked the letter upon, 5 He drew his sword the scabbard from, "Come, follow me, my merry men, And we'll meet Johnie Cope i' the morning."

_Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._

"Now, Johnie, be as good as your word, Come let us try baith fire and sword, 10 And dinna flee like a frighted bird, That's chased frae its nest i' the morning."

_Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._

When Johnie Cope he heard of this, He thought it wadna be amiss To hae a horse in readiness, 15 To flee awa i' the morning.

_Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._

"Fye now, Johnie, get up and rin, The Highland bagpipes mak a din; It's best to sleep in a hale skin, For 'twill be a bluddie morning." 20 _Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._

When Johnie Cope to Dunbar came They spear'd at him, "Where's a' your men?"

"The deil confound me gin I ken, For I left them a' i' the morning."

_Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._

"Now Johnie, troth, ye were na blate 25 To come wi' the news o' your ain defeat, And leave your men in sic a strait, So early in the morning."

_Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._

"In faith," quo Johnie, "I got sic flegs Wi' their claymores and filabegs, 30 If I face them [again], deil break my legs, So I wish you a' good morning."

_Hey, Johnie Cope! &c._


From _A Collection of Old Ballads_, ii. 8. The same, with one or two trifling verbal differences, in Percy's _Reliques_, i. 246.

This story was originally told by Geoffrey of Monmouth, _Historia Britonum_, lib. ii. c. 2. It occurs in two forms in the _Gesta Romanorum_: see Madden's _Old English Versions_, p. 44, p. 450.

Shakespeare's _King Lear_ was first printed in 1608, and is supposed to have been written between 1603 and 1605. Another drama on the subject was printed in 1605, called _The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella_.

This was probably only a new impression of a piece entered in the Stationers' Registers as early as 1594. The ballad which follows agrees with Shakespeare's play in several particulars in which Shakespeare varies from the older drama and from Holinshed, the authority of both dramas. The name Cordelia is also found in place of the Cordella of the _Chronicle History_; but, on the other hand, we have Ragan instead of Shakespeare's Regan. In the absence of a date, we are unable to determine whether the ballad was written prior to the play of _King Lear_, or was founded upon it.

King Leir once ruled in this land With princely power and peace, And had all things, with hearts content, That might his joys increase.

Amongst those things that nature gave, 5 Three daughters fair had he, So princely seeming beautiful, As fairer could not be.

So on a time it pleas'd the king A question thus to move, 10 Which of his daughters to his grace Could shew the dearest love: "For to my age you bring content,"

Quoth he, "then let me hear, Which of you three in plighted troth 15 The kindest will appear."

To whom the eldest thus began: "Dear father, mind," quoth she, "Before your face, to do you good, My blood shall rendred be. 20 And for your sake my bleeding heart Shall here be cut in twain, Ere that I see your reverend age The smallest grief sustain."

"And so will I," the second said; 25 "Dear father, for your sake, The worst of all extremities I'll gently undertake: And serve your highness night and day With diligence and love; 30 That sweet content and quietness Discomforts may remove."

"In doing so, you glad my soul,"

The aged king reply'd; "But what say'st thou, my youngest girl? 35 How is thy love ally'd?"

"My love," quoth young Cordelia then, "Which to your grace I owe, Shall be the duty of a child, And that is all I'll show." 40

"And wilt thou shew no more," quoth he, "Than doth thy duty bind?

I well perceive thy love is small, When as no more I find.

Henceforth I banish thee my court; 45 Thou art no child of mine; Nor any part of this my realm By favour shall be thine.

"Thy elder sisters' loves are more Than well I can demand; 50 To whom I equally bestow My kingdom and my land, My pompous state and all my goods, That lovingly I may With those thy sisters be maintain'd 55 Until my dying day."

Thus flattering speeches won renown, By these two sisters here; The third had causeless banishment, Yet was her love more dear. 60 For poor Cordelia patiently Went wandring up and down, Unhelp'd, unpitied, gentle maid, Through many an English town.

Until at last in famous France 65 She gentler fortunes found; Though poor and bare, yet she was deem'd The fairest on the ground: Where when the king her virtues heard, And this fair lady seen, 70 With full consent of all his court He made his wife and queen.

Her father, old King Leir, this while With his two daughters staid; Forgetful of their promis'd loves, 75 Full soon the same decay'd;[L76]

And living in Queen Ragan's court, The eldest of the twain, She took from him his chiefest means, And most of all his train. 80

For whereas twenty men were wont To wait with bended knee, She gave allowance but to ten, And after scarce to three, Nay, one she thought too much for him; 85 So took she all away, In hope that in her court, good king, He would no longer stay.

"Am I rewarded thus," quoth he, "In giving all I have 90 Unto my children, and to beg For what I lately gave?

I'll go unto my Gonorel: My second child, I know, Will be more kind and pitiful, 95 And will relieve my woe."

Full fast he hies then to her court; Where, when she hears his moan, Return'd him answer, that she griev'd That all his means were gone; 100 But no way could relieve his wants; Yet if that he would stay Within her kitchen, he should have What scullions gave away.

When he had heard, with bitter tears, 105 He made his answer then; "In what I did, let me be made Example to all men.

I will return again," quoth he, "Unto my Ragan's court; 110 She will not use me thus, I hope, But in a kinder sort."

Where when he came, she gave command To drive him thence away: When he was well within her court, 115 She said, he would not stay.

Then back again to Gonorell The woeful king did hie, That in her kitchen he might have What scullion boys set by. 120

But there of that he was deny'd Which she had promis'd late: For once refusing, he should not Come after to her gate.

Thus twixt his daughters for relief 125 He wandred up and down, Being glad to feed on beggars food, That lately wore a crown.

And calling to remembrance then His youngest daughter's words, 130 That said, the duty of a child Was all that love affords-- But doubting to repair to her, Whom he had banish'd so, Grew frantick mad; for in his mind 135 He bore the wounds of woe.

Which made him rend his milk-white locks And tresses from his head, And all with blood bestain his cheeks, With age and honour spread. 140 To hills and woods and watry founts He made his hourly moan, Till hills and woods and senseless things Did seem to sigh and groan.

Ev'n thus posses'd with discontents, 145 He passed o'er to France, In hopes from fair Cordelia there To find some gentler chance.

Most virtuous dame! which, when she heard Of this her father's grief, 150 As duty bound, she quickly sent Him comfort and relief.

And by a train of noble peers, In brave and gallant sort, She gave in charge he should be brought 155 To Aganippus' court; Whose royal king, with noble mind,[L157]

So freely gave consent To muster up his knights at arms, To fame and courage bent. 160

And so to England came with speed, To repossess King Leir, And drive his daughters from their thrones By his Cordelia dear.

Where she, true-hearted, noble queen, 165 Was in the battel slain; Yet he, good king, in his old days, Possess'd his crown again.

But when he heard Cordelia's death, Who died indeed for love 170 Of her dear father, in whose cause She did this battel move, He swooning fell upon her breast, From whence he never parted; But on her bosom left his life 175 That was so truly hearted.

The lords and nobles, when they saw The end of these events, The other sisters unto death They doomed by consents; 180 And being dead, their crowns they left Unto the next of kin: Thus have you seen the fall of pride, And disobedient sin.

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