No: 208; variant: 208E
- THE king wrote a letter to my lord Derwentwater,
And he sealed it with gold;
He sent it to my Lord Derwentwater,
To read it if he could.
- He sent it by no boy,
He sent it by no slave,
But he sent it by as true a knight
As heart could wish or have.
- The very first line that he looked upon
Made him for to laugh and to smile;
The very next line that he looked upon,
The tears from his eyes did fall.
- He called to his stable-boy
To saddle his bonny grey steed,
‘That I unto loving London
May ride away with speed.’
- ‘His wife heard him say so,
In childbed as she lay;
Says she, ‘My lord Derwentwater,
Make thy will before thou goest away.’
- ‘It’s to my little son I give
My houses and my land,
And to my little daughter
Ten thousand pounds in hand.
- ‘And unto thee, my lady gay,
Who is my wedded wife,
The third part of my estate thou shalt have,
To maintain thee through thy life.’
- He set his foot in the level stirrup,
And mounted his bonny grey steed;
The gold rings from his fingers did break,
And his nose began for to bleed.
- He had not ridden past a mile or two,
When his horse stumbled over a stone;
‘These are tokens enough,’ said my lord Derwentwater,
‘That I shall never return.’
- He rode and he rode till he came to merry London,
And near to that famous hall;
The lords and knights of merry London,
They did him a traitor call.
- ‘A traitor! a traitor! a traitor!’ he cried,
‘A traitor! how can that be,
Unless it’s for keeping five hundred men
For to fight for King Jamie?’
- It’s up yon steps there stands a good old man,
With a broad axe in his hand;
Says he, ‘Now, my lord Derwentwater,
Thy life’s at my command.’
- ‘My life, my life, thou good old man,
My life I’ll give to thee,
And the green coat of velvet on my back
Thou mayst take it for thy fee.
- ‘There’s fifty pounds and five in my right pocket,
Give that unto the poor;
There’s twenty pounds and five in my left pocket,
Deal that from door to door.’
- Then he laid his head on the fatal block,