The Hunting of the Cheviot
No: 162; variant: 162B
- GOD prosper long our noble king,
our liffes and saftyes all!
A woefull hunting once there did
in Cheuy Chase befall.
- To driue the deere with hound and horne
Erle Pearcy took the way:
The child may rue that is vnborne
the hunting of that day!
- The stout Erle of Northumberland
a vow to God did make
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
three sommers days to take,
- The cheefest harts in Cheuy C[h]ase
to kill and beare away:
These tydings to Erle Douglas came
in Scottland, where he lay.
- Who sent Erle Pearcy present word
he wold prevent his sport;
The English erle, not fearing that,
did to the woods resort,
- With fifteen hundred bowmen bold,
all chosen men of might,
Who knew ffull well in time of neede
to ayme their shafts arright.
- The gallant greyhound[s] swiftly ran
to chase the fallow deere;
On Munday they began to hunt,
ere daylight did appeare.
- And long before high noone the had
a hundred fat buckes slaine;
Then hauing dined, the drouyers went
to rouze the deare againe.
- The bowmen mustered on the hills,
well able to endure;
Theire backsids all with speciall care
that day were guarded sure.
- The hounds ran swiftly through the woods
the nimble deere to take,
That with their cryes the hills and dales
an eccho shrill did make.
- Lord Pearcy to the querry went
to veiw the tender deere;
Quoth he, Erle Douglas promised once
this day to meete me heere;
- But if I thought he wold not come,
noe longer wold I stay.
With that a braue younge gentlman
thus to the erle did say:
- ‘Loe, yonder doth Erle Douglas come,
hys men in armour bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish speres
all marching in our sight.
- ‘All men of pleasant Tiuydale,
fast by the riuer Tweede:’
‘O ceaze your sportts!’ Erle Pearcy said,
aend take your bowes with speede.
- ‘And now with me, my countrymen,
your courage forth advance!
For there was neuer champion yett,
in Scottland nor in Ffrance,
- ‘That euer did on horsbacke come,
[but], and if my hap it were,
I durst encounter man for man,
with him to breake a spere.’
- Erle Douglas on his milke-white steede,
most like a baron bold,
Rode formost of his company,
whose armor shone like gold.
- ‘Shew me,’ sayd hee, ‘whose men you bee
that hunt soe boldly heere,
That without my consent doe chase
and kill my fallow deere.’
- The first man that did answer make
was noble Pearcy hee,
Who sayd, Wee list not to declare
nor shew whose men wee bee;
- ‘Yett wee will spend our deerest blood
thy cheefest harts to slay.’
Then Douglas swore a solempne oathe,
and thus in rage did say:
- ‘Ere thus I will outbraued bee,
one of vs tow shall dye;
I know thee well, an erle thou art;
Lord Pearcy, soe am I.
- ‘But trust me, Pearcye, pittye it were,
and great offence, to kill
Then any of these our guiltlesse men,
for they haue done none ill.
- ‘Let thou and I the battell trye,
and set our men aside:’
‘Accurst bee [he!]’ Erle Pearcye sayd,
‘By whome it is denyed.’
- Then stept a gallant squire forth–
Witherington was his name–
Who said, ‘I wold not haue it told
to Henery our king, for shame,
- ‘That ere my captaine fought on foote,
and I stand looking on.
You bee two Erles,’ quoth Witheringhton,
and I a squier alone;
- ‘I’le doe the best that doe I may,
while I haue power to stand;
While I haue power to weeld my sword,
I’le fight with hart and hand.’
- Our English archers bent their bowes;
their harts were good and trew;
Att the first flight of arrowes sent,
full foure score Scotts the slew.
- To driue the deere with hound and horne,
Dauglas bade on the bent;
Two captaines moued with mickle might,
their speres to shiuers went.
- They closed full fast on euerye side,
noe slacknes there was found,
But many a gallant gentleman
lay gasping on the ground.
- O Christ! it was great greeue to see
how eche man chose his spere,
And how the blood out of their brests
did gush like water cleare.
- At last these two stout erles did meet,
like captaines of great might;
Like lyons woode they layd on lode;
the made a cruell fight.
- The fought vntill they both did sweat,
with swords of tempered steele,
Till blood downe their cheekes like raine
the trickling downe did feele.
- ‘O yeeld thee, Pearcye!’ Douglas sayd,
aend in faith I will thee bringe
Where thou shall high advanced bee
by Iames our Scottish king.
- ‘Thy ransome I will freely giue,
and this report of thee,
Thou art the most couragious knight
[that ever I did see.]’
- ‘Noe, Douglas!’ quoth Erle Percy then,
‘Thy profer I doe scorne;
I will not yeelde to any Scott
that euer yett was borne!’
- With that there came an arrow keene,
out of an English bow,
Which stroke Erle Douglas on the brest
a deepe and deadlye blow.
- Who neuer sayd more words then these:
Fight on, my merry men all!
For why, my life is att [an] end,
lord Pearcy sees my fall.
- Then leauing liffe, Erle Pearcy tooke
the dead man by the hand;
Who said, ‘Erle Dowglas, for thy life,
wold I had lost my land!
- ‘O Christ! my verry hart doth bleed
for sorrow for thy sake,
For sure, a more redoubted knight
mischance cold neuer take.’
- A knight amongst the Scotts there was
which saw Erle Douglas dye,
Who streight in hart did vow revenge
vpon the Lord Pearcye.
- Sir Hugh Mountgomerye was he called,
who, with a spere full bright,
Well mounted on a gallant steed,
ran feircly through the fight,
- And past the English archers all,
without all dread or feare,
And through Erle Percyes body then
he thrust his hatfull spere.
- With such a vehement force and might
his body he did gore,
The staff ran through the other side
a large cloth-yard and more.
- Thus did both these nobles dye,
whose courage none cold staine;
An English archer then perceiued
the noble erle was slaine.
- He had [a] good bow in his hand,
made of a trusty tree;
An arrow of a cloth-yard long
to the hard head haled hee.
- Against Sir Hugh Mountgomerye
his shaft full right he sett;
The grey-goose-winge that was there-on
in his harts bloode was wett.
- This fight from breake of day did last
till setting of the sun,
For when the rung the euening-bell
the battele scarse was done.
- With stout Erle Percy there was slaine
Sir Iohn of Egerton,
Sir Robert Harcliffe and Sir William,
Sir Iames, that bold barron.
- And with Sir George and Sir Iames,
both knights of good account,
Good Sir Raphe Rebbye there was slaine,
whose prowesse did surmount.
- For Witherington needs must I wayle
as one in dolefull dumpes,
For when his leggs were smitten of,
he fought vpon his stumpes.
- And with Erle Dowglas there was slaine
Sir Hugh Mountgomerye,
And Sir Charles Morrell , that from feelde
one foote wold neuer flee;
- Sir Roger Heuer of Harcliffe tow,
his sisters sonne was hee;
Sir David Lambwell, well esteemed,
but saved he cold not bee.
- And the Lord Maxwell, in like case,
with Douglas he did dye;
Of twenty hundred Scottish speeres,
scarce fifty-fiue did flye.
- Of fifteen hundred Englishmen
went home but fifty-three;
The rest in Cheuy Chase were slaine,
vnder the greenwoode tree.
- Next day did many widdowes come
their husbands to bewayle;
They washt their wounds in brinish teares,
but all wold not prevayle.
- Theyr bodyes, bathed in purple blood,
the bore with them away;
They kist them dead a thousand times
ere the were cladd in clay.
- The newes was brought to Eddenborrow,
where Scottlands king did rayne,
That braue Erle Douglas soddainlye
was with an arrow slaine.
- ‘O heauy newes!’ King Iames can say;
‘Scottland may wittenesse bee
I haue not any captaine more
of such account as hee.’
- Like tydings to King Henery came,
within as short a space,
That Pearcy of Northumberland
was slaine in Cheuy Chase.
- ‘Now God be with him!’ said our king,
‘Sith it will noe better bee;
I trust I haue within my realme
fiue hundred as good as hee.
- ‘Yett shall not Scotts nor Scottland say
but I will vengeance take,
And be revenged on them all
for braue Erle Percyes sake.’
- This vow the king did well performe
after on Humble-downe;
In one day fifty knights were slayne,
with lords of great renowne.
- And of the rest, of small account,
did many hundreds dye:
Thus endeth the hunting in Cheuy Chase,
made by the Erle Pearcye.
- God saue our king, and blesse this land
with plentye, ioy, and peace,
And grant hencforth that foule debate
twixt noble men may ceaze!