Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Ballads
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
130. Sir Andrew Barton

AS it befel in midsummer-time,
  When birds singe sweetyle on every tree,
Our noble king, King Henry the Eighth,
  Over the river of Thames pass’d he.

He was no sooner over the river,
  Downe in a forest to take the ayre,
But eighty merchants of London citye
  Came kneeling before King Henry there.

‘O ye are welcome, rich merchànts,
  Good saylers, welcome unto me!’        10
They swore by the rood they were saylers good,
  But rich merchànts they co’ld not be.

‘To France nor Flanders dare we not passe,
  Nor Bourdeaux voyage we dare not fare,
All for a false robber that lyes on the seas,        15
  And robbs us of our merchants-ware.’

King Henry was stout, and he turned him about,
  And swore by the Lord that was mickle of might,
‘I thought he’d not been in the world throughout
  That durst have wrought England such unright.’        20

But ever they sighèd, and said, alas!
  Unto King Harry this answer againe:
‘He is a proud Scott that will robb us all
  Were we twenty shipps and he but one.’

The King looket over his left shouldèr,
  Amongst his lords and barrons so free:
‘Have I never a lord in all my realme
  Will fetch yond traitor unto me?’

‘Yes, that dare I!’ says my lord Charles Howard,
  Neere to the King wheras he did stand;        30
‘If that Your Grace will give me leave,
  My self will perform what you command.’

‘Thou shalt have six hundred men,’ saith our King,
  ‘And chuse them out of my realme so free;
[Moreover] mariners and ship boyes,        35
  To guide the great ship on the sea.’

‘I’le goe speake with Sir Andrew,’ says my Lord Howard;
  ‘Upon the sea, if he be there;
I will bring him and his ship to shore,
  Or before my prince I will ne’er come neere.’        40

The first of all my Lord did call,
  A noble gunner he was one;
This man was three score yeares and ten,
  And Peter Simon was his name.

‘Peter,’ says he, ‘I must sayle to the sea,
  To seek out an enemy; God be my speed!
Before all others I have chosen thee;
  Of a hundred gunners thou’st be my head.’

‘My lord,’ says he, ‘if you’ve chosen me
  Of a hundred gunners to be the head,        50
You may hang me at your maine-mast tree
  If I miss my mark past three pence bread.’

The next of all my lord he did call,
  A noble bowman he was one;
In Yorkshire was this gentleman borne,        55
  And William Horsley was his name.

‘Horsley,’ says he, ‘I must sayle to the sea,
  To seek out an enemy; God be my speede!
Before all others I have chosen thee;
  Of a hundred bowemen thou’st be my head.’        60

‘My lord,’ says he, ‘if you’ve chosen me
  Of a hundred bowemen to be the head,
Hang me at your main-mast tree
  If I miss my mark past twelve pence bread.’

With pikes, and gunnes, and bowmen bold,
  This noble Howard is gone to the sea
On the day before Midsummer-even,
  And out at Thames’ mouth saylèd they.

They had not saylèd dayès three
  Upon their journey they took in hand,        70
But there they met with a noble ship,
  And stoutely made it both stay and stand.

‘Thou must tell me thy name,’ says Charles my lord Howard,
  ‘Or who thou art, or from whence thou came,
Yea, and where thy dwelling is,        75
  To whom and where thy ship does belong.’

‘My name,’ says he, ‘is Henery Hunt,
  With a pure hart and a penitent mind;
I and my ship they doe belong
  Unto the New-castle that stands upon Tyne.’—        80

‘Now thou must tell me, Henery Hunt,
  As thou has saylèd by day and by night
Hast thou not heard of a stout robbèr?
  Men calls him Sir Andrew Barton, Knight.’

But ever he sighèd, and said, ‘Alas!’
  Full well, my lord, I know that wight;
He has robb’d me of my merchants-ware,
  And I was his pris’ner but yesternight.

‘As I was sayling upon the sea,
  And a Bourdeaux voyage as I did fare,        90
He claspèd me to his archèborde,
  And robb’d me of all my merchants-ware.

‘And I am a man both poor and bare,
  Every man will have his own of me;
And I am bound towards London to fare,        95
  To complain unto my prince Henrye.

‘That shall not need,’ says my Lord Howard;
  ‘If thou canst let me this robber see,
For every penny he hath taken thee fro’
  Thou shalt be rewarded a shilling,’ quoth he.        100

‘Now God forfend,’ says Henery Hunt,
  ‘My lord, you sho’ld work so far amisse!
God keep you out of that traitor’s hands!
  For you wot full little what man he is.

‘He is brasse within, and steele without,
  And beams he bears in his topcastle stronge;
His ship hath ordinance clean round about;
  Besides, my lord, he is very well mann’d.

‘He hath a pinnace is dearlye dight,
  Saint Andrew’s cross, that is his guide;        110
His pinnace bears nine-score men and more,
  With fifteen cannons on every side.

‘Were you twenty ships, and he but one,
  Either in archbord or in hall,
He wo’ld overcome you everye one,        115
  An if his beams they doe down fall.’

‘This is cold comfort,’ says my Lord Howard,
  ‘To welcome a stranger thus to the sea;
I’le bring him and his ship to shore,
  Or else into Scotland he shall carry me.’        120

‘Then, my lord, you must get a noble gunner;
  One that can set well with his e’e,
And sink his pinnace into the sea,
  And soon then overcome will he be.

‘And when that you have done all this,
  If you chance Sir Andrew for to board,
Let no man to his topcastle go;
  And I will give you a glass, my lord,

‘And then you need to fear no Scot,
  Whether you sayle by day or by night;        130
And to-morrow, by seven of the clocke,
  You shall meete with Sir Andrew Barton, Knight.

The merchant set Lord Howard a glass
  So well apparent in his sight
That on the morrow by seven of the clock        135
  He spy’d Sir Andrew Barton, Knight.

Lord Howard he swore a mighty oath
  When he saw his hache-bords dearly dight;
‘Now by my faith and by my troth,
  Yonder proud Scott is a worthy wight.        140

‘Take in your ancients and your standards,
  Yea, that no man shall them see,
And put me forth a white willow wand,
  As merchants use to sayle the sea.’

But they stirr’d neither top nor mast,
  But Sir Andrew they passèd by.—
‘What English are yonder,’ said Sir Andrew,
  ‘That can so little curtesye?

‘I have been admiral over the sea
  [Methinketh] more then these yeeres three;        150
There is never an English nor Portingall dog,
  Can pass this way without leave of me.

‘But now yonder pedlars, they are pass’d,
  Which is no little grief to me:
Fetch them backe,’ sayes Sir Andrew Barton,        155
  ‘They shall all hang at my maine-mast tree.’

With that the pinnace it shot off,
  That my Lord Howard might it well ken;
It strokè down my lord’s fore-màst,
  And kill’d fourteen of my lord his men.        160

‘Come hither, Simon!’ says my Lord Howard,
  ‘Look that thy words be true thou said;
I’le hang thee at my maine-mast tree
  If thou miss thy mark past three pence bread.’

Simon was old, but his hart it was bold;
  He tooke downe a piece, and laid it full low;
Chaine yeards nine he put therein,
  Besides other great shot less and moe.

With that he let his gun-shot go;
  So well he settled it with his e’e,        170
The first sight that Sir Andrew saw,
  He saw his pinnace sunk in the sea.

When Sir Andrew saw his pinnace sunk,
  Lord! in his heart he was not well!
‘Cut my ropes! it is time to be gone!        175
  I’le goe fetch yond pedlars back mysell!’

When my Lord Howard saw Sir Andrew loose,
  Lord! in his heart that he was faine!
‘Strike on your drums! spread out your ancients!
  Sound out your trumpets! sound out amain!’        180

‘Fight on, my men!’ says Sir Andrew Barton;
  ‘Weate, howsoever this geare will sway,
It is my Lord Admiral of England
  Is come to seek me on the sea.’

Simon had a sone; with shot of a gun—
  Well Sir Andrew might it ken—
He shot it in at the middle deck,
  And killed sixty more of Sir Andrew’s men.

[Bold] Hunt came in at the other side,
  And at Sir Andrew he shot then;        190
He drove down his fore-mast tree,
  And kill’d eighty more of Sir Andrew’s men.

‘I have done a good turne,’ sayes Henery Hunt;
  ‘Sir Andrew is not our King’s friend;
He hoped t’ have undone me yesternight,        195
  But I hope I have quit him well in the end.’

‘Ever alas!’ sayd Sir Andrew Barton,
  ‘What sho’ld a man either thinke or say?
Yonder false thief is my strongest enemy,
  Who was my prisoner but yesterday.        200

‘Come hither to me, thou Gourden good,
  And be thou ready at my call,
And I will give thee three hundred pound
  If thou wilt let my beames downe fall.’

With that hee swarm’d the main-mast tree,
  Soe did he it with might and maine;
But Horsley, with a bearing arrow,
  Stroke the Gourden through the braine.

And he fell into the hatches againe,
  And sore of his wound that he did bleed;        210
Then word went through Sir Andrew’s men,
  How that the Gourden he was dead.

‘Come hither to me, James Hamilton,
  Thou’rt my sister’s son, I have no more;
I will give thee six hundred pound        215
  If thou wilt let my beames downe fall.’

With that he swarm’d the main-mast tree,
  Soe did he it with might and main:
Horsley, with another broad arrow,
  Strake the yeaman thoro’ the brain.        220

That he fell downe to the hatches againe;
  Sore of his wound that hee did bleed;
Covetousness gets no gaine,
  It is very true, as the Welshman said.

But when he saw his nephew slaine,
  Lord! in his heart he was not well!
‘Go fetch me downe my armour of proof,
  For I will to the topcastle mysell.

‘Go fetch me downe my armour of proof,
  For it is gilded with gold so cleere;        230
God be with my brother, John of Barton!
  Amongst the Portingalls he did it weare.’

But when he had his armour of proof,
  And on his body he had it on,
Every man that lookèd at him        235
  Said, Gun nor arrow he need fear none.

‘Come hither, Horsley!’ says my Lord Howard,
  ‘And look your shaft that it goe right;
Shoot a good shoote in the time of need,
  And for thy shooting thou’st be made knight.’        240

‘I’le do my best,’ sayes Horsley then,
  ‘Your Honour shall see before I goe;
If I sho’ld be hang’d at your maine-mast tree,
  I have in my ship but arrows two.’

But at Sir Andrew he shot then;
  He made so sure to hit his mark;
Under the spole of his right arme
  He smote Sir Andrew quite thro’ the heart.

Yet from the tree he wo’ld not start,
  But he cling’d to it with might and main;        250
Under the collar then of his jacke,
  He stroke Sir Andrew thoro’ the brain.

‘Fight on, my men!’ says Sir Andrew Barton,
  ‘I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I’le lay me downe and bleed a-while,        255
  And then I’le rise and fight again.

‘Fight on, my men!’ says Sir Andrew Barton,
  ‘These English dogs they bite so lowe;
Fight on for Scotland and Saint Andrew
  While that you hear my whistle blowe!’        260

But when they co’ld not hear his whistle,
  Says Henery Hunt, ‘I’le lay my head
You may board yonder noble ship, my lord,
  For I know Sir Andrew he is dead.’

With that they boarded this noble ship,
  So did they it with might and main;
They found eighteen score Scots alive,
  Besides the rest were maim’d and slaine.

Lord Howard took a sword in his hand,
  And so smote off Sir Andrew’s head;        270
The Scots stood by did weepe and mourne,
  But never a word they spoke or sayd.

He caused his body to be taken downe,
  And over the hatch-bord cast into the sea,
And about his middle three hundred crownes:        275
  ‘Wheresoever thou lands, it will bury thee!’

With his head they sayl’d into England againe,
  With right good will and force and main,
And on the day before New-Year’s Even
  Into Thames’ mouth they came againe.        280

Lord Howard wrote to King Henry’s grace,
  With all the newes hee co’ld him bring:
‘Such a New Year’s gift I have brought to your Grace
  As never did subject to any King.

‘For merchandise, yea and manhood,
  The like is nowhere to be found;
The sight of these wo’ld do you good,
  For you have not the like in your English ground.’

When the King heard tell that they were come,
  Full royally he welcomed them home;        290
Sir Andrew’s ship was his New-Year’s gift;
  A braver ship you never saw none.

Now hath our King Sir Andrew’s ship,
  Beset with pearles and precyous stones;
And now hath England two ships of war,        295
  Two ships of war, before but one.

‘Who holpe to this?’ says King Henrye,
  ‘That I may reward him for his paine.’—
‘Henery Hunt, and Peter Simon,
  William Horsley, and I the same.’—        300

‘Harry Hunt shall have his whistle and chaine,
  And all his jewels whatsoe’er they be,
And other rich gifts that I will not name,
  For his good service he hath done me.

Horsley, right thou’st be a knight,
  Lands and livings thou shalt have store;
Howard shall be Earl of Nottingham,
  And so was never Howard before.

‘Now, Peter Simon, thou art old;
  I will maintaine thee and thy son;        310
Thou shalt have five hundred pound all in gold
  For the good service that thou hast done.’

With that King Henrye shifted his room;
  In came the Queene and ladyes bright;
Other arrands they had none        315
  But to see Sir Andrew Barton, Knight.

But when they saw his deadly face,
  His eyes were hollow in his head;
‘I wo’ld give a hundred pound,’ says his Grace,
  ‘The man were alive as he is dead!        320

‘Yet for the manful part he hath play’d,
  Both here at home and beyond the sea,
His men shall have half-a-crowne a day
  Till they come to my brother, King Jamie.’
GLOSS:  three pence bread] the breadth of a threepenny piece.  archèborde] hatch-board.  dearlye dight] expensively fitted, or ornamented.  guide] guidon, signal flag.  hall] hull.  glass] a lantern to guide the man-of-war’s course by the merchantman’s.  ancients] ensigns.  stirr’d] moved, lowered.  can] ken, know.  Weate] wit ye, know.  geare] business, fighting.  sway] go, turn out.  swarm’d] climbed.  bearing arrow] a long arrow for distant shooting.  spole] shoulder, épaule.  jacke] jacket, short coat of mail.


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