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What a playground was that orchard ! and what playfellows were mine ! Nancy, with her trim prettiness, my own dear father, handsomest and cheerfullest of men, and the great Newfoundland dog Coe, who used to lie down at my feet, as if to invite me to mount him, and then to prance off with his burthen, as if he enjoyed the fun as much as we did. Happy, happy days! It is good to have the memory of such a childhood ! to be able to call up past delights by the mere sight and sound of Chevy Chase or the Battle of Otterbourne.
And as time wore on the fine ballad of “King Estmere,” according to Bishop Percy, one of the most ancient in the collection, got to be amongst our prime favourites. Absorbed by the magic of the story, the old English never troubled us. I hope it will not trouble my readers. We, a little child, and a young country maiden, the daughter of a respectable Hampshire farmer, were no bad representatives in point of cultivation of the noble dames and their attendant damsels who had so often listened with delight to wandering minstrels in bower and hall. In one point, we had probably the advantage of them; we could read, and it is most likely that they could not. · For the rest every age has its own amusements; and these metrical romances, whether said or sung, may be regarded as equivalent in their day to the novels and operas of ours.
Hearken to me, gentlemen,
Come, and you shall heare ;
That ever born y-were.
The tone of them was Adler yonge,
The tother was King Estmere;
Within Kyng Estmere's halle;
A wyfe to gladd us alle ?”
And answered him hastilee:
That is able to marry with me." “King Adland hath a daughter, brother, ...
Men call her bright and sheene ;
That ladye sholde be queen.”
Throughout merry England ;
Betweene us two to send ?”
I'll bear you companée ;
And I feare lest soe sholde we.”
Of twoe good renisht steedes,
Before the goodlye yate
Rearing himself thereatt.
Nowe Christe thee save and see !”
Right heartily unto me,”
“ You have a daughter,” said Adler yonge,
“Men call her bright and sheene,
Of England to be queene.”
Syr Bremor the Kyng of Spayne :
I feare she'll do you the same.”
And 'lieveth on Mahound;
Shold marry a heathen hound.”
“For my love I you praye,
Before I goe hence awaye.”
Syth my daughter was in halle,
To glad my guestés all.”
With ladyes laced in pall,
To bring her from bowre to halle;
To waite upon them all. [Scott has almost literally copied the four last lines of this stanza in the first canto of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.” One of the many obligations that we owe to these old unknown poets, is the inspiration that Sir Walter drew from them, an inspiration to be traced almost aş frequently in his prose, as in his verse.]
The talents of golde were on her head sette
Hung lowe down to her knee ;
Shone of the chrystall free.
Sayes, “ Christ you save, my deare madáme;"
Sayes, “Christ you save and see !”
Right welcome unto me.
So well and heartilée;
Soone sped now itt may bee."
“My daughter, I saye naye;
What he sayd yesterdaye.
And reeve me of my lyfe;
If I reeve hinı of his wyfe.”
Are stronglye built aboute;
Wee neede not stande in doubte. “ Plyghte me your troth nowe, Kyng Estmere,
By Heaven and your righte hande, That you will marrye me to your wyfe,
And make me queen of your lande.”
By Heaven and his right hand,
And make her queen of his lande.
To go to his own contree;
That marryed they might be.
A myle forthe of the towne,
With kem pés many a one.
But in did come the Kyng of Spayne,
With many a grimm baròné Tone day to marrye Kyng Adland's daughter,
Tother day to carrye her home.
In all the spede might bee,
Or goe home and lose his ladye.
Another whyle he ranne ;
I wis he never blanne.
“ What tydinges nowe, my boye ?” “Oh, tydinges I can tell to you,
That will you sore annoye.
A myle out of the towne,
With kempés many a one.
With many a bold baròne Tone day to marrye Kyng Adland's daughter,
Tother day to carry her home.
And evermore well, by me :
Or goe home and lose your ladye.”
My reade shall ryde at thee,
To save this fayre ladye ?”
And your reade must rise at me, I quicklye will devise a waye,
To sette thy ladye free.