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Sayes, "Stable thy steede, thou proud harpér,
It doth not become a proud harpér,
"My ladde he is so lither," he sayd, "He will do nought that's meete,
And aye that I could but find the man,
Were able him to beate."
"Thou speakest proud wordes," sayd the paynim king, "Thou harper, here to me;
There is a man within this halle,
That will beate thy ladd and thee."
"O lett that man come down," he sayd,
And when he hath beaten well my ladd,
Downe then came the kemperye man,
For all the golde that was under heaven,
He durst not neigh him neare.
"And how nowe, kempe," sayd the Kyng of Spayn, "And now what aileth thee?"
"Now sell me thy harpe," said the Kyng of Spayn, "Thy harpe and stryngs eche one,
And as many gold nobles thou shalt have,
As there be stryngs thereon."
"And what wolde ye doe with my harpe ?" he sayd, "If I did sell it yee?"
To playe my wyfe and I a fitt,
When we together be."
"Nowe sell me, Sir Kyng, thy bryde soe gay,
As she sits laced in pall,
And as many gold nobles I will give,
As there be ryngs in the hall."
"And what wolde ye doe with my bryde soe gay, Iff I did sell her yee ?"
"More seemly it is for that fair ladye
To wed with me than thee."
He played agayne both loud and shrille,
"O ladye, this is thy owne true love,
"O ladye, this is thy owne true love,
The ladye lookt and the ladye blusht,
While Adler he hath drawn his brande,
Up then rose the kemperye men,
And loud they gan to crye:
"Ah, traytors! yee have slayne our kyng,
And therefore ye shall dye."
Kyng Estmere threwe the harpe asyde,
And swith he drew his brand;
And Estmere he, and Adler yonge,
And aye their swordes soe sore can byte,
Through help of gramarye,
That soon they have slayne the kemperye men,
Or forst them forth to flee.
Kyng Estmere took that fayre ladye,
And married her to his wyfe,
And brought her home to merry England,
I must not, however, attempt to quote more of those fine old ballads here; the feuds of the Percy and the Douglas would take up too much space; so would the loves of King Arthur's court, and the adventures of Robin Hood. Even the story of the Heir of Lynne must remain untold; and I must content myself with two of the shortest and least hackneyed poems in a book that for great and varied interest can hardly be surpassed. The "Lie," is said to have been written by Sir Walter Raleigh the night before his execution. That it was written at that exact time is pretty well disproved by the date of its publication in "Davison's Poems," before Sir Walter's death; it is even uncertain that Raleigh was the author; but that it is of that age is beyond all doubt; so is its extraordinary beauty-a beauty quite free from the conceits which deform too many of our finest old lyrics.
Go, Soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best,
The truth shall be thy warrant.
Go tell the Court it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Tell potentates they live
Acting by others' actions,
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by their factions:
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.
Tell men of high condition
Tell them that brave it most
Tell zeal it lacks devotion;
Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honor how it alters. Tell beauty how she blasteth; Tell favor how she falters; And as they shall reply, Give each of them the lie.
Tell wit how much it wrangles
Straight give them both the lie.
Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is pretension;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they dare reply,
Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming ;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming :
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.
Tell faith it's fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing,
Deserve no less than stabbing,
About the authorship of this beautiful address to conjugal love, there is also much uncertainty. Bishop Percy calls it a "Translation from the Antient British," probably to vail the real writer. We find it included among Gilbert Cooper's poems, a diamond among pebbles; he never could have written it. It has been claimed for Stevens, who did the world good service as one of the earliest restorers of Shakspeare's text; but who is almost as famous for his bitter and cynical temper, as for his acuteness as a verbal critic. Could this charming love-song, true in its tenderness as the gushing notes of a bird to his sitting mate, have been poured forth by a man whom the whole world agreed in hating? After all, we have no need to meddle with this vexed question. Let us be content to accept thankfully one of the very few purely English ballads which contradict the reproach of our Scottish and Irish neighbors, when they tell us that our love-songs are of the head, not of the heart. This poem, at least, may vie with those of Gerald Griffin in the high and rare merit of conveying the noblest sentiments in the simplest language.
Away! let naught to love displeasing,
What though no grant of royal donors