Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Captain Care or Edom o Gordon
Anonymous
 
IT 1 befell at Martynmas,
  When wether waxed colde,
Captaine Care said to his men,
  We must go take a holde.
 
Sycke, sike, and to-towe sike,        5
  And sike and like to die:
And sikest nighte that ever I abode,
  God lord have mercy on me!
 
‘Haille, master, and wether you will,
  And wether ye like it best;’        10
‘To the castle of Crecrynbroghe,
  And there we will take our restè.’
 
‘I knowe wher ia a gay castle,
  Is builded of lyme and stone;
Within their ia a gay ladie,        15
  Her lord is riden and gone.’
 
The ladie she lend on her castle-walle,
  She loked upp and downe;
There was she ware of an host of men,
  Come riding to the towne.        20
 
‘Se yow, my meri men all,
  And se yow what I see?
Yonder I see an host of men,
  I muse who they shold bee.’
 
She thought he had ben her wed lord,        25
  As he comd riding home;
Then was it traitur Captaine Care
  The lord of Ester-towne.
 
They wer no soner at supper sett,
  Then after said the grace,        30
Or Captaine Care and all his men
  Wer lighte aboute the place.
 
‘Gyve over thi howsse, thou lady gay,
  And I will make the a bande;
To-night thou shall ly within my armes,        35
  To-morrowe thou shall ere my lande.’
 
Then bespacke the eldest sonne,
  That was both whitt and redde:
‘O mother dere, geve over your howsse,
  Or elles we shalbe deade.’        40
 
‘I will not geve over my hous,’ she saith,
  ‘Not for feare of my lyffe;
It shalbe talked throughout the land,
  The slaughter of a wyffe.
 
‘Fetch me my pestilett,        45
  And charge me my gonne,
That I may shott at this bloddy butcher,
  The lord of Easter-towne.’
 
Styfly upon her wall she stode,
  And lett the pellettes flee;        50
But then she myst the blody bucher,
  And she slew other three.
 
‘I will not geve over my hous,’ she saithe,
  Netheir for lord nor lowne;
Nor yet for traitur Captaine Care,        55
  The lord of Easter-towne.
 
‘I desire of Captaine Care,
  And all his bloddye band,
That he would save my eldest sonne,
  The eare of all my lande.’        60
 
‘Lap him in a shete,’ he sayth,
  ‘And let him downe to me,
And I shall take him inmy armes,
  His waran shall I be.’
 
The captyne sayd unto him selfe;        65
  Wyth sped, before the rest,
He cut his tonge out of his head,
  His hart out of his brest.
 
He lapt them in a hankerchef,
  And knet it of knotes three,        70
And cast them over the castell-wall,
  At that gay layde.
 
‘Fye upon the, Captaine Care,
  And all thy bloddy band!
For thou hast slayne my eldest sonne,        75
  The ayre of all my land.’
 
Then bespake the youngest sonne,
  That sat on the nurse’s knee,
Syath, ‘Mother gay, geve over your house;
  For the smoake it smoothers me.’        80
 
Out then spake the Lady Magaret,
  As she stood on the stair;
The fire was at her goud garters,
  The lowe was at her hair.
 
‘I wold geve my gold,’ she saith,        85
  ‘And so I wolde my ffee,
For a blaste of the westryn wind,
  To dryve the smoke from thee.
 
‘Fy upon thee, John Hamleton,
  That ever I paid hyre!        90
For thou hast broken my castle-wall,
  And kyndled in the ffyre.’
 
The lady gate to her close parler,
  The fire fell aboute her head;
She toke up her children two,        95
  Seth, ‘Babes, we are all dead.’
 
Then bespake the hye steward,
  That is of hye degree;
Saith, ‘Ladie gay, you are in close,
  Wether ye fighte or flee.’        100
 
Lord Hamleton dremd in his dream.
  In Carvall where he laye,
His halle were all of fyre,
  His ladie slanye or daye.
 
‘Busk and bowne, 2 my mery men all,        105
  Even and go ye with me;
For I dremd that my hall was on fyre,
  My lady slayne or day.’
 
He buskt him and bownd hym,
  And like a worthi knighte;        110
And when he saw his hall burning,
  His harte was no dele lighte.
 
He sett a trumpet till his mouth,
  He blew as it plesd his grace;
Twenty score of Hamletons        115
  Was light aboute the place.
 
‘Had I knowne as much yesternighte
  As I do to-daye,
Captaine Care and all his men
  Should not have gone so quite.        120
 
‘Fye upon the, Captaine Care,
  And all thy blody bande!
Thou hast slain my lady gay,
  More wurth than all thy lande.
 
‘If thou had ought eny ill will,’ he saith,        125
  ‘Thou shoulde have taken my lyffe,
And have saved my children thre,
  All and my lovesome wyffe.’
 
Note 1. From Cotton MS of the last quarter of the sixteenth century. The ballad is founded on a real event taking place in the North of Scotland, in November, 1571. Adam Gordon of Auchindown, deputy-lieutenant to the Scottish Queen Mary, sent Captain Car or Ker, to reduce the house of Towie, belonging to one of the houses of the Forbeses, of which clan he was a bitter enemy. The house and its inmates, whose numbers are variously given, were burned, as related in the ballad. As Gordon was responsible for the act of his subordinate, he is made to figure in the ballad as the principal actor. [back]
Note 2. Busk and boun: i.e., up and prepare to go. [back]
 
 
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