Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
Sir Andrew Barton

WHEN Flora with her fragrant flowers
  Bedeckt the earth so trim and gaye,
And Neptune with his dainty showers
  Came to present the month of Maye,
King Henry rode to take the air,        5
  Over the River Thames past he;
When eighty merchants of London came,
  And down they knelt upon their knee.
“O ye are welcome, rich merchants,
  Good saylors, welcome unto me:”        10
They swore by the rood, they were saylors good,
  But rich merchants they could not be.
“To France nor Flanders dare we pass,
  Nor Bordeaux voyage dare we fare,
And all for a robber that lyes on the seas,        15
  Who robs us of our merchant ware.”
King Henry frowned, and turned him round,
  And swore by the Lord that was mickle of might,
“I thought he had not been in the world,
  Durst have wrought England such unright.”        20
The merchants sighed and said, “Alas!”
  And thus they did their answer frame;
“He is a proud Scot that robs on the seas,
  And Sir Andrew Barton is his name.”
The king looked over his left shoulder,        25
  And an angry look then lookèd he;
“Have I never a lord in all my realm
  Will fetch yond traitor unto me?”
“Yea, that dare I,” Lord Charles Howard says;
  “Yea, that dare I with heart and hand;        30
If it please your grace to give me leave,
  Myself will be the only man.”
“Thou art but young,” the king replied,
  “Yond Scot hath numbered many a year:”
“Trust me, my liege, I’ll make him quail,        35
  Or before my prince I’ll never appear.”
“Then bowmen and gunners thou shalt have,
  And chuse them over my realm so free;
Besides mariners and good sea-boys
  To guide the great ship on the sea.”        40
The first man that Lord Howard chose,
  Was the ablest gunner in all the realm,
Though he was threescore years and ten;
  Good Peter Simon was his name.
“Peter,” says he, “I must to the sea        45
  To bring home a traitor live or dead;
Before all others I have chosen thee,
  Of a hundred gunners to be the head.”
“If you, my lord, have chosen me
  Of a hundred gunners to be the head,        50
Then hang me up on your mainmast tree,
  If I miss my mark one shilling bread.” 1
My lord then chose a bowman rare,
  Whose active hands had gainèd fame;
In Yorkshire was this gentleman born,        55
  And William Horseley was his name.
“Horseley,” said he, “I must with speed
  Go seek a traitor on the sea,
And now of a hundred bowmen brave
  To be the head I have chosen thee.”        60
“If you,” quoth he, “have chosen me
  Of a hundred bowmen to be the head,
On your mainmast I’ll hangèd be,
  If I miss twelvescore one penny bread.”
With pikes, and guns, and bowmen bold,        65
  This noble Howard is gone to the sea;
With a valiant heart and a pleasant cheer,
  Out at Thamés mouth sailed he.
And days he scant had sailèd three,
  Upon the journey he took in hand,        70
But there he met with a noble ship,
  And stoutly made it stay and stand.
“Thou must tell me,” Lord Howard said,
  “Now who thou art, and what’s thy name;
And show me where thy dwelling is,        75
  And whither bound, and whence thou came.”
“My name is Henry Hunt,” quoth he,
  With a heavy heart and a careful mind;
“I and my ship do both belong
  To the Newcastle that stands upon Tyne.”        80
“Hast thou not heard, now, Henry Hunt,
  As thou hast sailed by day and by night,
Of a Scottish robber on the seas;
  Men call him Sir Andrew Barton, knight?”
Then ever he sighed, and said, “Alas!”        85
  With a grievèd mind and well-away,
“But over-well I know that wight;
  I was his prisoner yesterday.
“As I was sailing upon the sea,
  A Bordeaux voyage for to fare,        90
To his hachborde he claspèd me,
  And robbed me of all my merchant ware.
And mickle debts, God wot, I owe,
  And every man will have his own,
And I am now to London bound,        95
  Of our gracious king to beg a boon.”
“Thou shalt not need,” Lord Howard says;
  “Let me but once that robber see,
For every penny tane thee fro
  It shall be doubled shillings three.”        100
“Now God forfend,” the merchant said,
  “That you should seek so far amiss!
God keep you out of that traitor’s hands!
  Full little ye wot what a man he is.
“He is brass within, and steel without,        105
  With beams on his topcastle strong;
And eighteen pieces of ordinance
  He carries on each side along.
“And he hath a pinnace dearly dight,
  St. Andrew’s cross, that is his guide;        110
His pinnace beareth ninescore men,
  And fifteen cannons on each side.
“Were ye twenty ships, and he but one,
  I swear by kirk, and bower, and hall,
He would overcome them every one,        115
  If once his beams they do downfall.”
“This is cold comfort,” said my lord,
  “To welcome a stranger thus to the sea:
Yet I’ll bring him and his ship to the shore,
  Or to Scotland he shall carry me.”        120
“Then a noble gunner you must have,
  And he must aim well with his ee,
And sink his pinnace into the sea,
  Or else he never overcome will be.
And if you chance his ship to board,        125
  This counsell I must give withal,
Let no man to his topcastle go
  To strive to let his beams downfall.
“And seven pieces of ordinance,
  I pray your honor lend to me,        130
On each side of my ship along,
  And I will lead you on the sea.
A glass I’ll get, that may be seen,
  Whether you sail by day or night,
And to-morrow, I swear, by nine of the clock,        135
  You shall meet with Sir Andrew Barton, knight.”

The merchant sette my lord a glass,
  So well apparent in his sight,
And on the morrow, by nine of the clock,
  He showed him Sir Andrew Barton, knight.        140
His hacheborde it was hached with gold,
  So dearly dight it dazzled the ee;
“Now, by my faith,” Lord Howard said,
  “This is a gallant sight to see.
“Take in your ancients, standards eke,        145
  To close that no man may them see;
And put me forth a white willow wand,
  As merchants use to sail the sea.”
But they stirred neither top nor mast;
  Stoutly they passed Sir Andrew by;        150
“What English churls are yonder,” he said,
  “That can so little curtesie?
“Now by the rood, three years and more
  I have been admiral over the sea,
And never an English or Portugal,        155
  Without my leave can pass this way.”
Then called he forth his stout pinnace;
  “Fetch back yon peddlers now to me:
I swear by the mass, yon English churls
  Shall all hang at my mainmast tree.”        160
With that the pinnace it shot off:
  Full well Lord Howard might it ken;
For it stroke down my lord’s foremast,
  And killed fourteen of his men.
“Come hither, Simon,” says my lord,        165
  “Look that thy word be true, thou said:
For at the mainmast shalt thou hang,
  If thou miss thy mark one shilling bread.”
Simon was old, but his heart was bold:
  His ordinance he laid right low:        170
He put in chain full nine yards long,
  With other great shot less and moe,
And he let go his great gun’s shott;
  So well he settled it with his ee,
The first sight that Sir Andrew saw,        175
  He saw his pinnace sunk in the sea.
And when he saw his pinnace sunk,
  Lord, how his heart with rage did swell!
“Now, cut my ropes, it is time to be gone;
  I’ll fetch yon peddlers back mysell.”        180
When my lord saw Sir Andrew loose,
  Within his heart he was full fain;
“Now spread your ancients, strike up drums,
  Sound all your trumpets out amain.”
“Fight on, my men,” Sir Andrew says,        185
  “Weale, howsoever this gear will sway:
It is my lord admiral of England,
  Is come to seek me on the sea.”
Simon had a son who shot right well,
  That did Sir Andrew mickle scare;        190
In at his deck he gave a shot,
  Killed threescore of his men of war.
Then Henry Hunt, with vigor hot,
  Came bravely on the other side;
Soon he drove down his foremast tree,        195
  And killed fourscore men beside.
“Now, out alas!” Sir Andrew cried,
  “What may a man now think or say?
Yonder merchant thief that pierceth me,
  He was my prisoner yesterday.        200
“Come hither to me, thou Gordon good,
  That aye was ready at my call;
I will give thee three hundred pounds
  If thou wilt let my beams downfall.”
Lord Howard he then called in haste,        205
  “Horsely, see thou be true in stead;
For thou shalt at the mainmast hang,
  If thou miss twelvescore one penny bread.”
Then Gordon swarved the mainmast tree,
  He swarvèd it with might and main;        210
But Horsely with a bearing arrow
  Stroke the Gordon through the brain;
And he fell unto the haches again,
  And sore his deadly wound did bleed:
Then word went through Sir Andrew’s men,        215
  How that the Gordon he was dead.
“Come hither to me, James Hambilton,
  Thou art my only sister’s son;
If thou wilt let my beams downfall,
  Six hundred nobles thou hast won.”        220
With that he swarved the mainmast tree,
  He swarvèd it with nimble art;
But Horsely with a broad arrow
  Pierced the Hambilton through the heart;
And down he fell upon the deck,        225
  That with his blood did stream amain:
Then every Scot cried, “Walaway!
  Alas, a comely youth is slain!”
All wo begone was Sir Andrew then,
  With grief and rage his heart did swell;        230
“Go fetch me forth my armor of proof,
  For I will to the topcastle mysell.
“Go fetch me forth my armor of proof,
  That gilded is with gold so clear;
God be with my brother, John of Barton!        235
  Against the Portugalls he it ware.
And when he had on this armor of proof,
  He was a gallant sight to see;
Ah! ne’er didst thou meet with living wight,
  My dear brother, could cope with thee.”        240
“Come hither, Horsely,” says my lord,
  “And look your shaft that it go right;
Shoot a good shot in time of need,
  And for it thou shalt be made a knight.”
“I’ll shoot my best,” quoth Horsely then,        245
  “Your honor shall see, with might and main;
But if I were hanged at your mainmast,
  I have now left but arrows twain.”
Sir Andrew he did swarve the tree,
  With right goodwill he swarved it then,        250
Upon his breast did Horsely hitt,
  But the arrow bounded back again.
Then Horsely spied a private place,
  With a perfect eye, in a secret part;
Under the spole of his right arm        255
  He smote Sir Andrew to the heart.
“Fight on, my men,” Sir Andrew says,
  “A little I’m hurt, but yet not slain;
I’ll but lie down and bleed awhile,
  And then I’ll rise and fight again.        260
Fight on, my men,” Sir Andrew says,
  “And never flinch before the foe;
And stand fast by St. Andrew’s cross,
  Until you hear my whistle blow.”
They never heard his whistle blow,        265
  Which made their hearts wax sore adread:
Then Horsely said, “Aboard, my lord,
  For well I wot Sir Andrew’s dead.”
They boarded then his noble ship,
  They boarded it with might and main;        270
Eighteen score Scots alive they found,
  The rest were either maimed or slain.
Lord Howard took a sword in hand,
  And off he smote Sir Andrew’s head;
“I must have left England many a day,        275
  If thou wert alive as thou art dead.”
He caused his body to be cast
  Over the hatchbord into the sea,
And about his middle three hundred crowns:
  “Wherever thou land, this will bury thee.”        280
Thus from the wars Lord Howard came,
  And back he sailèd o’er the main;
With mickle joy and triumphing
  Into Thames’ mouth he came again.
Lord Howard then a letter wrote,        285
  And sealed it with seal and ring:
“Such a noble prize have I brought to your grace
  As never did subject to a king.
“Sir Andrew’s ship I bring with me,
  A braver ship was never none;        290
Now hath your grace two ships of war,
  Before in England was but one.”
King Henry’s grace with royal cheer
  Welcomed the noble Howard home;
“And where,” said he, “is this rover stout,        295
  That I myself may give the doom?”
“The rover, he is safe, my liege,
  Full many a fathom in the sea;
If he were alive as he is dead,
  I must have left England many a day.        300
And your grace may thank four men in the ship,
  For the victory we have won;
These are William Horsely, Henry Hunt,
  And Peter Simon, and his son.”
“To Henry Hunt,” the king then said,        305
  “In lieu of what was from thee taen,
A noble a day now thou shalt have,
  Sir Andrew’s jewels and his chain.
And Horsely thou shalt be a knight,
  And lands and livings shalt have store;        310
Howard shall be Earl Surry hight.
  As Howards erst have been before.
“Now Peter Simon, thou art old,
  I will maintain thee and thy son;
And the men shall have five hundred marks        315
  For the good service they have done.”
Then in came the queen with ladies fair,
  To see Sir Andrew Barton, knight;
They weened that he were brought on shore,
  And thought to have seen a gallant sight.        320
But when they see his deadly face,
  And eyes so hollow in his head,
“I would give,” quoth the king, “a thousand marks,
  This man were alive as he is dead.
Yet for the manful part he played,        325
  Which fought so well with heart and hand,
His men shall have twelvepence a day,
  Till they come to my brother king’s high land.”
Note 1. Broad. [back]

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