157. whose noble.
The celebrated mistress of Henry the Second was daughter to Walter Clifford, a baron of Herefordshire. She bore the king two sons, one of them while he was still Duke of Normandy. Before her death she retired to the convent of Godstow, and there she was buried; but Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, not courtly enough to distinguish between royal and vulgar immoralities, caused her body to be removed, and interred in the common cemetery, "lest Christian religion should grow in contempt."
The story of Queen Eleanor's poisoning her rival is not confirmed by the old writers, though they mention the labyrinth. All the romance in Rosamond's history appears to be the offspring of popular fancy. Percy has collected the principal passages from the chronicles in his preface to the ballad.
_Fair Rosamond_ is the work of Thomas Deloney, a well-known ballad-maker who died about 1600. Our copy is the earliest that is known, and is taken from Deloney's _Strange Histories_, ed. of 1607, as reprinted by the Percy Society, vol. iii. p. 54. The same is found in the _Crown Garland of Golden Roses_, ed. 1659 (Per. Soc. vol. vi.
p. 12), and in the _Garland of Good Will_, ed. 1678 (Per. Soc. vol.
xxx. p. 1.): and besides, with trifling variations, in _A Collection of Old Ballads_, i. 11, Percy's _Reliques_, ii. 151, and Ritson's _Ancient Songs_, ii. 120, from black-letter copies.
Another ballad with the title of the _Unfortunate Concubine, or, Rosamond's Overthrow_, is given in the collection of 1723, vol. i. p.
1. The story is also treated in the forty-first chapter of Warner's _Albion's England_. Warner has at least one good stanza, which is more than can be said of this wretched, but very popular, production.
Some corrections have been adopted from the _Crown Garland of Golden Roses_.
 With that she dasht her on the lips, So dyed double red; Hard was the heart that gave the blow, Soft were those lips that bled.
When as King Henrie rul'd this land,[L1]
The second of that name, Beside the Queene, he dearly loved A faire and princely dame.
Most peerelesse was her beautie found, 5 Her favour, and her face; A sweeter creature in this world Did never prince imbrace.
Her crisped locks like threades of gold Appeared to each mans sight; 10 Her comely eyes, like orient pearles, Did cast a heavenly light.
The blood within her cristall cheekes Did such a cullour drive, As though the lilly and the rose 15 For maistership did strive.
Yea Rosamond, fair Rosamond, Her name was called so, To whome dame Elinor, our queene, Was knowne a cruell foe. 20 The king therefore, for her defence Against the furious queene, At Woodstocke buylded such a bower, The like was never seene.
Most curiously that bower was buylt, 25 Of stone and timber strong; A hundred and fiftie doores Did to that bower belong: And they so cunningly contriv'd, With turning round about, 30 That none but by a clew of thread Could enter in or out.
And for his love and ladyes sake, That was so fair and bright, The keeping of this bower he gave 35 Unto a valiant knight.
But fortune, that doth often frowne Where she before did smile, The kinges delight, the ladyes joy Full soone she did beguile. 40
For why, the kings ungracious sonne, Whom he did high advance, Against his father raised warres Within the realme of France.
But yet before our comely king 45 The English land forsooke, Of Rosamond, his ladye faire, His farewell thus he tooke:
"My Rosamond, my onely Rose, That pleaseth best mine eye, 50 The fairest Rose in all the world To feed my fantasie,-- "The flower of my affected heart, Whose sweetness doth excell, My royall Rose, a hundred times 55 I bid thee now farewell!
"For I must leave my fairest flower, My sweetest Rose, a space, And crosse the seas to famous France, Proude rebels to abace. 60 "But yet, my Rose, be sure thou shalt My comming shortly see, And in my heart, while hence I am, Ile beare my Rose with mee."
When Rosamond, that lady bright, 65 Did heare the king say so, The sorrow of her greeved heart Her outward lookes did show.
And from her cleare and cristall eyes The teares gusht out apace, 70 Which, like the silver-pearled deaw, Ran downe her comely face.
Her lippes, like to a corrall red, Did waxe both wan and pale, And for the sorrow she conceived 75 Her vitall spirits did fayle.
And falling downe all in a swound[L77]
Before King Henries face, Full oft betweene his princely armes Her corpes he did imbrace. 80
And twenty times, with waterie eyes, He kist her tender cheeke, Untill she had received againe[L83]
Her senses milde and meeke.
"Why grieves my Rose, my sweetest Rose?" 85 The king did ever say: "Because," quoth she, "to bloody warres My lord must part away.
"But sithe your Grace in forraine coastes, Among your foes unkind, 90 Must go to hazard life and limme, Why should I stay behind?
"Nay, rather let me, like a page, Your sword and target beare;[L94]
That on my breast the blow may light, 95 Which should annoy you there.
"O let me, in your royall tent, Prepare your bed at night, And with sweet baths refresh your grace, At your returne from fight. 100 "So I your presence may enjoy, No toyle I will refuse;[L102]
But wanting you, my life is death: Which doth true love abuse."
"Content thy selfe, my dearest friend, 105 Thy rest at home shall bee, In England's sweete and pleasant soyle;[L107]
For travaile fits not thee.
"Faire ladyes brooke not bloody warres; Sweete peace their pleasures breede, 110 The nourisher of hearts content, Which fancie first doth feede.
"My Rose shall rest in Woodstocke bower, With musickes sweete delight, While I among the pierceing pikes 115 Against my foes do fight.
"My Rose in robes of pearl and gold,[L117]
With diamonds richly dight, Shall daunce the galliards of my love, While I my foes do smite. 120
"And you, Sir Thomas, whom I trust To be my loves defence,[L122]
Be carefull of my gallant Rose When I am parted hence."
And therewithall he fetcht a sigh, 125 As though his heart would breake: And Rosamond, for inward griefe, Not one plaine word could speake.
And at their parting well they might In heart be grieved sore: 130 After that day, faire Rosamond The King did see no more.
For when his Grace had past the seas, And into France was gone, Queene Elinor, with envious heart, 135 To Woodstocke came anone.
And foorth she cald this trusty knight Which kept the curious bower, Who, with his clew of twined threed, Came from that famous flower. 140 And when that they had wounded him, The queene his threed did get, And went where lady Rosamond Was like an angell set.
And when the queene with stedfast eye 145 Beheld her heavenly face, She was amazed in her minde At her exceeding grace.
"Cast off from thee thy robes," she sayd, "That rich and costly be; 150 And drinke thou up this deadly draught, Which I have brought for thee."
But presently upon her knees Sweet Rosamond did fall; And pardon of the queene she crav'd 155 For her offences all.
"Take pittie on my youthfull yeares,"
Faire Rosamond did cry; "And let me not with poyson strong Inforced be to die. 160
"I will renounce this sinfull life, And in a cloyster bide; Or else be banisht, if you please, To range the world so wide.
"And for the fault which I have done, 165 Though I was forst thereto, Preserve my life, and punish me As you thinke good to do."
And with these words, her lilly hands She wrang full often there; 170 And downe along her lovely cheekes Proceeded many a teare.
But nothing could this furious queene Therewith appeased bee; The cup of deadly poyson filld, 175 As she sat on her knee,
She gave the comely dame to drinke; Who tooke it in her hand, And from her bended knee arose, And on her feet did stand. 180 And casting up her eyes to heaven, She did for mercy call; And drinking up the poyson then, Her life she lost withall.
And when that death through every lim 185 Had done his greatest spite, Her chiefest foes did plaine confesse She was a glorious wight.
Her body then they did intombe, When life was fled away, 190 At Godstow, neere [to] Oxford towne, As may be seene this day.