The Hunting Of The Cheviot

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text here given is that of a MS. in the Bodleian Library (Ashmole 48) of about the latter half of the sixteenth century. It was printed by Hearne, and by Percy in the Reliques, and the whole MS. was edited by Thomas Wright for the Roxburghe Club in 1860. In this MS. The Hunting of the Cheviot is No. viii., and is subscribed 'Expliceth, quod Rychard Sheale.' Sheale is known to have been a minstrel of Tamworth, and it would appear that much of this MS. (including certain poems, no doubt his own) is in his handwriting--probably the book belonged to him. But the supposition that he was author of the Hunting of the Cheviot, Child dismisses as 'preposterous in the extreme.'

The other version, far better known as Chevy Chase, is that of the Percy Folio, published in the Reliques, and among the Pepys, Douce, Roxburghe, and Bagford collections of ballads. For the sake of differentiation this may be called the broadside form of the ballad, as it forms a striking example of the impairment of a traditional ballad when re-written for the broadside press. Doubtless it is the one known and commented on by Addison in his famous papers (Nos. 70 and 74) in the Spectator (1711), but it is not the one referred to by Sir Philip Sidney in his Apologie. Professor Child doubts if Sidney's ballad, 'being so evill apparelled in the dust and cobwebbes of that uncivill age,' is the traditional one here printed, which is scarcely the product of an uncivil age; more probably Sidney had heard it in a rough and ancient form, 'sung,' as he says, 'but by some blind crouder, with no rougher voyce than rude stile.' 'The Hunttis of the Chevet' is mentioned as one of the 'sangis of natural music of the antiquite' sung by the shepherds in The Complaynt of Scotland, a book assigned to 1549.

The Story.--The Hunting of the Cheviot is a later version of the Battle of Otterburn, and a less conscientious account thereof. Attempts have been made to identify the Hunting with the Battle of Piperden (or Pepperden) fought in 1436 between a Percy and a Douglas. But the present ballad is rather an unauthenticated account of an historical event, which made a great impression on the public mind. Of that, its unfailing popularity on both sides of the Border, its constant appearance in broadside form, and its inclusion in every ballad-book, give the best witness.

The notable deed of Witherington (stanza 54) has many parallels. All will remember the warrior who

'... when his legs were smitten off
He fought upon his stumps.'

Tradition tells an identical story of 'fair maiden Lilliard' at the Battle of Ancrum Muir in 1545. Seneca mentions the feat. It occurs in the Percy Folio, Sir Graysteel (in Eger and Grine) fighting on one leg. Johnie Armstrong and Sir Andrew Barton both retire to 'bleed awhile' after being transfixed through the body. Finally, in an early saga, King Starkathr (Starkad) fights on after his head is cut off.


The Persë owt off Northombarlonde,
and avowe to God mayd he
That he wold hunte in the mowntayns
off Chyviat within days thre,
In the magger of doughtë Dogles,
and all that ever with him be.

The fattiste hartes in all Cheviat
he sayd he wold kyll, and cary them away:
'Be my feth,' sayd the dougheti Doglas agayn,
'I wyll let that hontyng yf that I may.'

Then the Persë owt off Banborowe cam,
with him a myghtee meany,
With fifteen hondrith archares bold off blood and bone;
the wear chosen owt of shyars thre.

This begane on a Monday at morn,
in Cheviat the hillys so he;
The chylde may rue that ys vn-born,
it wos the mor pittë.

The dryvars thorowe the woodës went,
for to reas the dear;
Bomen byckarte vppone the bent
with ther browd aros cleare.

Then the wyld thorowe the woodës went,
on every sydë shear;
Greahondës thorowe the grevis glent,
for to kyll thear dear.

This begane in Chyviat the hyls abone,
yerly on a Monnyn-day;
Be that it drewe to the oware off none,
a hondrith fat hartës ded ther lay.

The blewe a mort vppone the bent,
the semblyde on sydis shear;
To the quyrry then the Persë went,
to se the bryttlynge off the deare.

He sayd, 'It was the Duglas promys
this day to met me hear;
But I wyste he wolde faylle, verament;'
a great oth the Persë swear.

At the laste a squyar off Northomberlonde
lokyde at his hand full ny;
He was war a the doughetie Doglas commynge,
with him a myghttë meany.

Both with spear, bylle, and brande,
yt was a myghtti sight to se;
Hardyar men, both off hart nor hande,
wear not in Cristiantë.

The wear twenti hondrith spear-men good,
withoute any feale;
The wear borne along be the watter a Twyde,
yth bowndës of Tividale.

'Leave of the brytlyng of the dear,' he sayd,
'and to your boÿs lock ye tayk good hede;
For never sithe ye wear on your mothars borne
had ye never so mickle nede.'

The dougheti Dogglas on a stede,
he rode alle his men beforne;
His armor glytteryde as dyd a glede;
a boldar barne was never born.

'Tell me whos men ye ar,' he says,
'or whos men that ye be:
Who gave youe leave to hunte in this Chyviat chays,
in the spyt of myn and of me.'

The first mane that ever him an answear mayd,
yt was the good lord Persë:
'We wyll not tell the whoys men we ar,' he says,
'nor whos men that we be;
But we wyll hounte hear in this chays,
in the spyt of thyne and of the.

'The fattiste hartës in all Chyviat
we have kyld, and cast to carry them away:'
'Be my troth,' sayd the doughetë Dogglas agayn,
'therfor the ton of us shall de this day.'

Then sayd the doughtë Doglas
unto the lord Persë:
'To kyll alle thes giltles men,
alas, it wear great pittë!

'But, Persë, thowe art a lord of lande,
I am a yerle callyd within my contrë;
Let all our men vppone a parti stande,
and do the battell off the and of me.'

'Nowe Cristes cors on his crowne,' sayd the lord Persë,
'who-so-ever ther-to says nay!
Be my troth, doughttë Doglas,' he says,
'thow shalt never se that day.

'Nethar in Ynglonde, Skottlonde, nar France,
nor for no man of a woman born,
But, and fortune be my chance,
I dar met him, on man for on.'

Then bespayke a squyar off Northombarlonde,
Richard Wytharyngton was his nam:
'It shall never be told in Sothe-Ynglonde,' he says,
'to Kyng Herry the Fourth for sham.

'I wat youe byn great lordës twaw,
I am a poor squyar of lande:
I wylle never se my captayne fyght on a fylde,
and stande my selffe and loocke on,
But whylle I may my weppone welde,
I wylle not fayle both hart and hande.'

That day, that day, that dredfull day!
the first fit here I fynde;
And youe wyll here any mor a the hountyng a the Chyviat,
yet ys ther mor behynde.

... ... ...

The Yngglyshe men hade ther bowys yebent,
ther hartes wer good yenoughe;
The first off arros that the shote off,
seven skore spear-men the sloughe.

Yet byddys the yerle Doglas vppon the bent,
a captayne good yenoughe,
And that was sene verament,
for he wrought hom both woo and wouche.

The Dogglas partyd his ost in thre,
lyk a cheffe cheften off pryde;
With suar spears off myghttë tre,
the cum in on every syde:

Thrughe our Yngglyshe archery
gave many a wounde fulle wyde;
Many a doughetë the garde to dy,
which ganyde them no pryde.

The Ynglyshe men let ther boÿs be,
and pulde owt brandes that wer brighte;
It was a hevy syght to se
bryght swordes on basnites lyght.

Thorowe ryche male and myneyeple,
many sterne the strocke done streght;
Many a freyke that was fulle fre,
ther undar foot dyd lyght.

At last the Duglas and the Persë met,
lyk to captayns of myght and of mayne;
The swapte togethar tylle the both swat
with swordes that wear of fyn myllan.

Thes worthë freckys for to fyght,
ther-to the wear fulle fayne,
Tylle the bloode owte off thear basnetes sprente,
as ever dyd heal or rayn.

'Yelde the, Persë,' sayde the Doglas,
'and i feth I shalle the brynge
Wher thowe shalte have a yerls wagis
of Jamy our Skottish kynge.

'Thou shalte have thy ransom fre,
I hight the hear this thinge;
For the manfullyste man yet art thowe
that ever I conqueryd in filde fighttynge.'

'Nay,' sayd the lord Persë,
'I tolde it the beforne,
That I wolde never yeldyde be
to no man of a woman born.'

With that ther cam an arrowe hastely,
forthe off a myghttë wane;
Hit hathe strekene the yerle Duglas
in at the brest-bane.

Thorowe lyvar and longës bathe
the sharpe arrowe ys gane,
That never after in all his lyffe-days
he spayke mo wordës but ane:
That was, 'Fyghte ye, my myrry men, whyllys ye may,
for my lyff-days ben gan.'

The Persë leanyde on his brande,
and sawe the Duglas de;
He tooke the dede mane by the hande,
and sayd, 'Wo ys me for the!

'To have savyde thy lyffe, I wolde have partyde with
my landes for years thre,
For a better man, of hart nare of hande,
was nat in all the north contrë.'

Off all that se a Skottishe knyght,
was callyd Ser Hewe the Monggombyrry;
He sawe the Duglas to the deth was dyght,
he spendyd a spear, a trusti tre.

He rod uppone a corsiare
throughe a hondrith archery:
He never stynttyde, nar never blane,
tylle he cam to the good lord Persë.

He set uppone the lorde Persë
a dynte that was full soare;
With a suar spear of a myghttë tre
clean thorow the body he the Persë ber,

A the tothar syde that a man myght se
a large cloth-yard and mare:
Towe bettar captayns wear nat in Cristiantë
then that day slan wear ther.

An archar off Northomberlonde
say slean was the lord Persë;
He bar a bende bowe in his hand,
was made off trusti tre.

An arow, that a cloth-yarde was lang,
to the harde stele halyde he;
A dynt that was both sad and soar
he sat on Ser Hewe the Monggombyrry.

The dynt yt was both sad and sar,
that he of Monggomberry sete;
The swane-fethars that his arrowe bar
with his hart-blood the wear wete.

Ther was never a freake wone foot wolde fle,
but still in stour dyd stand,
Heawyng on yche othar, whylle the myghte dre,
with many a balfull brande.

This battell begane in Chyviat
an owar befor the none.
And when even-songe bell was rang,
the battell was nat half done.

The tocke ... on ethar hande
be the lyght off the mone;
Many hade no strenght for to stande,
in Chyviat the hillys abon.

Of fifteen hondrith archars of Ynglonde
went away but seventi and thre;
Of twenti hondrith spear-men of Skotlonde,
but even five and fifti.

But all wear slayne Cheviat within;
the hade no strengthe to stand on hy;
The chylde may rue that ys unborne,
it was the mor pittë.

Thear was slayne, withe the lord Persë,
Sir Johan of Agerstone,
Ser Rogar, the hinde Hartly,
Ser Wyllyam, the bolde Hearone.

Ser Jorg, the worthë Loumle,
a knyghte of great renowen,
Ser Raff, the ryche Rugbe,
with dyntes wear beaten dowene.

For Wetharryngton my harte was wo,
that ever he slayne shulde be;
For when both his leggis wear hewyne in to,
yet he knyled and fought on hys kny.

Ther was slayne, with the dougheti Duglas,
Ser Hewe the Monggombyrry,
Ser Davy Lwdale, that worthë was,
his sistar's son was he.

Ser Charls a Murrë in that place,
that never a foot wolde fle;
Ser Hewe Maxwelle, a lorde he was,
with the Doglas dyd he dey.

So on the morrowe the mayde them byears
off birch and hasell so gray;
Many wedous, with wepyng tears,
cam to fache ther makys away.

Tivydale may carpe off care,
Northombarlond may mayk great mon,
For towe such captayns as slayne wear thear
on the March-parti shall never be non.

Word ys commen to Eddenburrowe,
to Jamy the Skottishe kynge,
That dougheti Duglas, lyff-tenant of the Marches,
he lay slean Chyviot within.

His handdës dyd he weal and wryng,
he sayd, 'Alas, and woe ys me!
Such an othar captayn Skotland within,'
he seyd, 'ye-feth shuld never be.'

Worde ys commyn to lovly Londone,
till the fourth Harry our kynge,
That lord Persë, leyff-tenante of the Marchis,
he lay slayne Chyviat within.

'God have merci on his solle,' sayde Kyng Harry,
'good lord, yf thy will it be!
I have a hondrith captayns in Ynglonde,' he sayd,
'as good as ever was he:
But, Persë, and I brook my lyffe,
thy deth well quyte shall be.'

As our noble kynge mayd his avowe,
lyke a noble prince of renowen,
For the deth of the lord Persë
he dyde the battell of Hombyll-down;

Wher syx and thrittë Skottishe knyghtes
on a day wear beaten down:
Glendale glytteryde on ther armor bryght,
over castille, towar, and town.

This was the hontynge off the Cheviat,
that tear begane this spurn;
Old men that knowen the grownde well yenoughe
call it the battell of Otterburn.

At Otterburn begane this spurne
uppone a Monnynday;
Ther was the doughtë Doglas slean,
the Persë never went away.

Ther was never a tym on the Marche-partës
sen the Doglas and the Persë met,
But yt ys mervele and the rede blude ronne not,
as the reane doys in the stret.

Ihesue Crist our balys bete,
and to the blys vs brynge!
Thus was the hountynge of the Chivyat:
God send vs alle good endyng!

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