Popular Ballads of the Olden Time
The following is from Popular Ballads of the Olden Time: Third Series -
Ballads of Scottish Tradition and Romance Selected and Edited by Frank
The Text is from the Percy Folio, the spelling being
modernised. Percy printed it (with alterations) in the Reliques.
The Story of the ballad represents that Darnley was
murdered by way of revenge for his participation in the murder of Riccio; that
Mary sent for Darnley to come to Scotland, and that she was finally banished by
the Regent. All of these statements, and several minor ones, contain as much
truth as may be expected in a ballad of this kind.
Mary escaped from Lochleven Castle on May 2, 1568, and
found refuge in England on the 16th. The ballad was doubtless written shortly
afterwards. On March 24, 1579, a 'ballad concerninge the murder of the late
Kinge of Scottes' was licensed to Thomas Gosson, a well-known printer of
Woe worth thee, woe worth thee, false Scotland!
For thou hast ever wrought by a sleight; ['sleight,'
For the worthiest prince that ever was born
You hanged under a cloud by night.
The Queen of France a letter wrote,
And sealed it with heart and ring,
And bade him come Scotland within,
And she would marry him and crown him king.
To be a king, it is a pleasant thing,
To be a prince unto a peer;
But you have heard, and so have I too,
A man may well buy gold too dear.
[A popular proverb; see The Lord of Learne, 39.3,4
(Second Series, p. 190)]
There was an Italian in that place
Was as well beloved as ever was he;
Lord David was his name,
Chamberlain unto the queen was he.
For if the king had risen forth of his place,
He would have sit him down in the chair,
And tho' it beseemed him not so well,
Altho' the king had been present there.
Some lords in Scotland waxed wonderous worth,
And quarrell'd with him for the nonce;
I shall you tell how it befell;
Twelve daggers were in him all at once.
When this queen see the chamberlain was slain,
For him her cheeks she did weet,
And made a vow for a twelvemonth and a day
The king and she would not come in one sheet.
Then some of the lords of Scotland waxed wroth,
And made their vow vehemently;
'For death of the queen's chamberlain
The king himself he shall die.'
They strowed his chamber over with gun powder,
And laid green rushes in his way;
For the traitors thought that night
The worthy king for to betray.
To bed the worthy king made him boun; ['made him
boun,' prepared himself]
To take his rest, that was his desire;
He was no sooner cast on sleep
But his chamber was on a blazing fire.
Up he lope, and a glass window broke,
He had thirty foot for to fall;
Lord Bodwell kept a privy watch
Underneath his castle wall.
'Who have we here?' said Lord Bodwell;
'Answer me, now I do call.'
'King Henry the Eighth my uncle was;
Some pity show for his sweet sake!
Ah, Lord Bodwell, I know thee well;
Some pity on me I pray thee take!'
'I'll pity thee as much,' he said,
'And as much favour I'll show to thee,
As thou had on the queen's chamberlain
That day thou deemedst him to die.'
Through halls and towers this king they led,
Through castles and towers that were high,
Through an arbour into an orchard,
And there hanged him in a pear tree.
When the governor of Scotland he heard tell
That the worthy king he was slain,
He hath banished the queen so bitterly
That in Scotland she dare not remain.
But she is fled into merry England,
And Scotland too aside hath lain,
And through the Queen of England's good grace
Now in England she doth remain.