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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Hunting of the Cheviot
Anonymous
 
THE PERSÈ 1 out of Northumberland,
  And a vow to God made he,
That he would hunt in the mountains
  Of Cheviot within days three,
In the magger 2 of doughtè Douglas,        5
  And all that ever with him be.
 
The fattest harts in all Cheviot
  He said he would kill, and carry them away:
‘By my faith,’ said the doughty Douglas again,
  ‘I will let that hunting if that I may.’        10
 
Then the Persè out of Banborowe came,
  With him a mighty meany;
With fifteen hundrith archers bold of blood and bone,
  They were chosen out of shires three.
 
This began on a Monday at morn,        15
  In Cheviot the hillys so he; 3
The child may rue that is un-born,
  It was the more pity.
 
The drivers thorow the woodès went,
  For to raise the deer;        20
Bowmen byckarte upon the bent 4
  With their broad arrows clear.
 
Then the wyld thorow the woodès went,
  On every sydë shear;
Greyhounds thorow the grevis glent, 5        25
  For to kill their deer.
 
Thus began in Cheviot the hills abone,
  Early on a Monnyn day;
By that it drew to the hour of noon,
  A hundrith fat harts dead there lay.        30
 
They blew a mort 6 upon the bent,
  They sembled on sydës shear; 7
To the quarry the Persè went,
  To see the brittling of the deer.
 
He said, ‘It was the Douglas promise        35
  This day to meet me here;
But I wist he would fail, verament:’
  A great oath the Persè swear.
 
At the last a squire of Northumberland
  Looked at his hand full nigh;        40
He was ware o’ the doughty Douglas coming,
  With him a mighty meany;
 
Both with spear, byllè, and brand;
  It was a mighty sight to see;
Hardier men, both of heart nor hand,        45
  Were not in Christiantè.
 
There were twenty hundrith spear-men good,
  Withowtè any fail;
They were born along the water o’ Twyde,
  Ith’ bounds of Tividale.        50
 
‘Leave of the brittling of the deer,’ he said,
  ‘And to your bows look ye take good heed;
For never sith ye were on your mothers born
  Had ye never so mickle need.’
 
The doughty Douglas on a steed        55
  He rode all his men beforne;
His armour glittered as did a glede; 8
  A bolder bairn was never born.
 
‘Tell me whose men ye are,’ he says,
  ‘Or whose men that ye be:        60
Who gave you leave to hunt in this Cheviot chase,
  In the spite of mine and me?’
 
The first man that ever him an answer made
  It was the good lord Persè:
‘We will not tell thee whose men we are,’ he says,        65
  ‘Nor whose men that we be;
But we will hunt here in this chase,
  In the spite of thine and thee.
 
‘The fattest harts in all Cheviot
  We have killed, and cast to carry them away:’ 9        70
‘Be my troth,’ said the doughty Douglas again,
  ‘Therefore the one of us shall die this day.’
 
Then said the doughty Douglas
  Unto the lord Persè:
‘To kill all these guiltless men,        75
  Alas, it were a great pity!
 
‘But, Persè, thou art a lord of land,
  I am an Earl called within my contrèe;
Let all our men upon a party stand,
  And do the battle of thee and of me.’        80
 
‘Now Cristes corpse on his crown,’ said the lord Persè,
  ‘Whosoever there-to says nay;
By my troth, doughty Douglas,’ he says,
  ‘Thou shalt never see that day.
 
‘Neither in England, Scotland, nor France,        85
  Nor for no man of a woman born,
But, and fortune be my chance,
  I dare meet him, one man for one.’
 
Then bespake a squire of Northumberland,
  Richard Wytharyngton was him name;        90
‘It shall never be told in South-England,’ he says,
  ‘To king Harry the fourth for shame.
 
‘I wot you bin great lordes twa,
  I am a poor squire of land;
I will never see my captain fight on a field,        95
  And stand myself, and lookè on,
But while I may my weapon wield,
  I will not fail both heart and hand.’
 
That day, that day, that dreadful day!
  The first fit here I find;        100
And you will hear any more a’ the hunting a’ the Cheviot,
  Yet is there more behind.
 
The English men had their bows yebent,
  Their hearts were good enough;
The first of arrows that they shot off,        105
  Seven score spear-men they slough.
 
Yet bides the Earl Douglas upon the bent,
  A captain good enough,
And that was seenè verament,
  For he wrought home both woe and wouche.        110
 
The Douglas parted his host in three,
  Like a cheffe chieftan of pride,
With sure spears of mighty tree, 10
  They come in on every side:
 
Through our English archery        115
  Gave many a wound full wide;
Many a doughty they gard to die,
  Which gained them no pride.
 
The English men let their bows be,
  And pulled out brands that were bright;        120
It was a heavy sight to see
  Bright swords on basnets light.
 
Thorow rich mail and maniple,
  Many sterne the stroke down straight;
Many a freyke that was full free,        125
  There under foot did light.
 
At last the Douglas and the Persè met,
  Like to captains of might and of main;
They swept together till they both swat,
  With swords that were of fine myllán.        130
 
These worthè freykes for to fight,
  There-to they were full fain,
Till the blood out of their basnets sprent,
  As ever did hail or rain.
 
‘Yield thee, Persè,’ said the Douglas,        135
  ‘And i’ faith I shall thee bring
Where thou shalt have a earl’s wages
  Of Jamy our Scottish king.
 
‘Thou shalt have thy ransom free,
  I hight thee here this thing,        140
For the manfullest man yet art thou,
  That ever I conquered in field fighting.’
 
‘Nay,’ said the lord Persè,
  ‘I told it thee beforne,
That I would never yielded be        145
  To no man of a woman born.’
 
With that there cam an arrow hastely,
  Forth of a mighty wane;
It hath striken the earl Douglas
  In at the breast bane.        150
 
Thorow liver and lungs, baith
  The sharp arrow is gane,
That never after in all his life-days,
  He spake mo words but ane:
That was, ‘Fight ye, my merry men, whiles ye may,        155
  For my life-days ben gane.’
 
The Persè leaned on his brand,
  And saw the Douglas dee;
He took the dead man by the hand,
  And said, ‘Woe is me for thee!        160
 
‘To have saved thy life, I would have parted with
  My landes for years three,
For a better man, of heart nor of hand,
  Was not in all the north centrè.’
 
Of all that see a Scottish knight,        165
  Was called Sir Hew the Monggombyrry;
He saw the Douglas to the death was dight,
  He spended a spear, a trusty tree:—
 
He rode upon a courser
  Through a hundrith archery:        170
He never stinted, nor never blane,
  Till he came to the good lord Persè.
 
He set upon the lord Persè
  A dint that was full sore;
With a sure spear of a mighty tree        175
  Clean thorow the body he the Persè bare,
 
A’the tother side that a man might see
  A large cloth yard and mair:
Two better captains were not in Christiantè,
  Than that day slain were there.        180
 
An archer of Northumberland
  Sae slain was the lord Persè;
He bare a bend-bow in his hand,
  Was made of trusty tree.
 
An arrow, that a cloth yard was lang,        185
  To th’ hard steel haled he;
A dint that was both sad and sore,
  He set on Sir Hewe the Monggomberry.
 
The dint it was both sad and sore,
  That he of Monggomberry set;        190
The swan-feathers, that his arrow bore,
  With his heart-blood they were wet.
 
There was never a freyke one foot would flee,
  But still in stour did stand,
Hewing on each other, while they might dree,        195
  With many a baleful brand.
 
This battle began in Cheviot
  An hour befor the noon,
And when even-song bell was rang,
  The battle was not half done.        200
 
They took … on eithar hand
  By the light of the moon;
Many had no strength for to stand,
  In Cheviot the hills aboun.
 
Of fifteen hundrith archers of England        205
  Went away but seventy and three;
Of twenty hundrith spear-men of Scotland,
  But even five and fifty:
 
But all were slain Cheviot within;
  They had no strength to stand on high;        210
The child may rue that is unborn,
  It was the more pity.
 
There was slain with the lord Persè,
  Sir John of Agerstone,
Sir Roger, the hind Hartly,        215
  Sir William, the bold Hearone.
 
Sir Jorg, the worthè Loumle,
  A knight of great renown,
Sir Raff, the rich Rugbè,
  With dints were beaten down.        220
 
For Wetharryngton my heart was woe,
  That ever he slain should be;
For when both his legs were hewn in two,
  Yet he kneeled and fought on his knee.
 
There was slain with the doughty Douglas,        225
  Sir Hew the Monggomberry,
Sir Davy Lydale, that worthy was,
  His sister’s son was he:
 
Sir Charls o’ Murrè in that place,
  That never a foot would flee;        230
Sir Hew Maxwell, a lord he was,
  With the Douglas did he dee.
 
So on the morrow they made them biers
  Of birch and hazel so grey;
Many widows with weeping tears        235
  Came to fetch their makes away.
 
Tivydale may carp of care,
  Northumberland may make great moan,
For two such captains as slain were there,
  On the March-party shall never be none.        240
 
Word is commen to Eddenburrow,
  To Jamy the Scottish king,
That doughty Douglas, lieu-tenant of the Merches
  He lay slain Cheviot with-in.
 
His handes did he weal and wring,        245
  He said, ‘Alas, and woe is me!’
Such an other captain Scotland within,
  He said, i-faith should never be.
 
Word is commen to lovely London,
  Till the fourth Harry our king,        250
That Lord Persè, lieu-tenant of the Marches
  He lay slain Cheviot within.
 
‘God have mercy on his soul,’ said king Harry,
  ‘Good lord, if thy will it be!
I have a hundrith captains in England,’ he said,        255
  ‘As good as ever was he:
But Persè, and I brook my life,
  Thy death well quit shall be.’
 
As our noble king made his a-vow,
  Like a noble prince of renown,        260
For the death of the lord Persè
  He did the battle of Hombyll-down:
 
Where six and thirty Scottish knights
  On a day were beaten down:
Glendale glittered on their armour bright,        265
  Over castle, tower, and town.
 
This was the Hunting of the Cheviot;
  That tear began this spurn:
Old men that knowen the ground well enough,
  Call it the battle of Otterburn.        270
 
At Otterburn began this spurn
  Upon a Monnyn day:
There was the doughty Douglas slain,
  The Persè never went away.
 
There was never a time on the March-partys        275
  Sen the Douglas and the Persè met,
But it was marvel, and the red blude ran not,
  As the rain does in the street.
 
Jesu Christ our balès bete, 11
  And to the bliss us bring!        280
Thus was the Hunting of the Cheviot:
  God send us all good ending!
 
Note 1. From Ms. Ashmole Bodleian Library, about 1550; reprinted by Professor Skeat in his Specimens of English Literature, 1394–1579, third edition, 1880. The ballad was printed by Percy, Reliques, 1765. The origin of this ballad in fact has many points of similarity to that of the Battle of Otterbourne, though a later version. Percy, however, believed it to be founded upon the battle of Piperden, 1435 or 1436. “The differences in the story of the two ballads,” says Professor Child, (Eng. and Scot. Pop. Bal., Part vi, p. 304), “though not trivial, are still not so material as to forbid us to hold that both may be founded upon the same occurrence, the Hunting of the Cheviot being of course the later version, and following in part its own tradition, though repeating some portions of the older ballad. According to this older ballad, Douglas invades Northumberland in an act of public war; according to the latter, Percy takes the initiative, by hunting in the Scottish hills without leave and in open defiance of Douglas, lieutenant of the Marches. Such trespasses, whether by English or the Scots, were not less common, we may believe, than hostile incursions, and the one would as naturally as the other, account for a bloody collision between the rival families of Percy and Douglas, to those who consulted “old men” instead of histories: cf. stanza 67. The older and the later ballad concur (and herein are in harmony with some chroniclers, though not with the best) as to Percy slaying Douglas. In the older ballad Percy is taken prisoner, an incident which history must record, but which is somewhat insipid, for which reason we might expect tradition to improve the tale by assigning a like fate to both of the heroic antagonists.” [back]
Note 2. In the magger: in the maugre, i.e., in spite of. [back]
Note 3. So he: so high. [back]
Note 4. Byckarte upon the bent: hurried upon the plain. [back]
Note 5. Grevis glent: groves glanced, i.e., they glanced through the groves. [back]
Note 6. Blew a mort: sounded a horn for the dead. [back]
Note 7. Sembled … shear: assembled together. [back]
Note 8. Armour glittered as did a glede: i.e., as did burning gold. [back]
Note 9. Cast … away: i.e., intend to carry them away. [back]
Note 10. Spears of mighty tree: of the woods. [back]
Note 11. Balès bete: sufferings better, i.e., better our sufferings. [back]
 
 
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