Lord Dernwentwater

No: 208; variant: 208E

  1. THE king wrote a letter to my lord Derwentwater, And he sealed it with gold; He sent it to my Lord Derwentwater, To read it if he could.
  2. He sent it by no boy, He sent it by no slave, But he sent it by as true a knight As heart could wish or have.
  3. The very first line that he looked upon Made him for to laugh and to smile; The very next line that he looked upon, The tears from his eyes did fall.
  4. He called to his stable-boy To saddle his bonny grey steed, ‘That I unto loving London May ride away with speed.’
  5. ‘His wife heard him say so, In childbed as she lay; Says she, ‘My lord Derwentwater, Make thy will before thou goest away.’
  6. ‘It’s to my little son I give My houses and my land, And to my little daughter Ten thousand pounds in hand.
  7. ‘And unto thee, my lady gay, Who is my wedded wife, The third part of my estate thou shalt have, To maintain thee through thy life.’
  8. He set his foot in the level stirrup, And mounted his bonny grey steed; The gold rings from his fingers did break, And his nose began for to bleed.
  9. He had not ridden past a mile or two, When his horse stumbled over a stone; ‘These are tokens enough,’ said my lord Derwentwater, ‘That I shall never return.’
  10. He rode and he rode till he came to merry London, And near to that famous hall; The lords and knights of merry London, They did him a traitor call.
  11. ‘A traitor! a traitor! a traitor!’ he cried, ‘A traitor! how can that be, Unless it’s for keeping five hundred men For to fight for King Jamie?’
  12. It’s up yon steps there stands a good old man, With a broad axe in his hand; Says he, ‘Now, my lord Derwentwater, Thy life’s at my command.’
  13. ‘My life, my life, thou good old man, My life I’ll give to thee, And the green coat of velvet on my back Thou mayst take it for thy fee.
  14. ‘There’s fifty pounds and five in my right pocket, Give that unto the poor; There’s twenty pounds and five in my left pocket, Deal that from door to door.’
  15. Then he laid his head on the fatal block,