Lord Dernwentwater

No: 208; variant: 208I

  1. KING GEORGE he did a letter write, And sealed it up with gold, And sent it to Lord Derwentwater, To read it if he could.
  2. He sent his letter by no post, He sent it by no page, But sent it by a gallant knight As eer did combat wage.
  3. The first line that my lord lookd on Struck him with strong surprise; The second, more alarming still, Made tears fall from his eyes.
  4. He called up his stable-groom, Saying, Saddle me well my steed, For I must up to London go, Of me there seems great need.
  5. His lady, hearing what he said, As she in child-bed lay, Cry’d, My dear lord, pray make your will Before you go away.
  6. ‘I’ll leave to thee, my eldest son, My houses and my land; I’ll leave to thee, my younger son, Ten thousand pounds in hand.
  7. ‘I’ll leave to thee, my lady gay, My lawful married wife, A third part of my whole estate, To keep thee a lady’s life.’
  8. He knelt him down by her bed-side, And kissed her lips so sweet; The words that passd, alas! presaged They never more should meet.
  9. Again he calld his stable-groom, Saying, Bring me out my steed, For I must up to London go, With instant haste and speed.
  10. He took the reins into his hand, Which shook with fear and dread; The rings from off his fingers dropt, His nose gushd out and bled.
  11. He had but ridden miles two or three When stumbling fell his steed; ‘Ill omens these,’ Derwentwater said, ‘That I for James must bleed.’
  12. As he rode up Westminster street, In sight of the White Hall, The lords and ladies of London town A traitor they did him call.
  13. ‘A traitor!’ Lord Derwentwater said, ‘A traitor how can I be, Unless for keeping five hundred men Fighting for King Jemmy?’
  14. Then started forth a grave old man, With a broad-mouthd axe in hand: ‘Thy head, thy head, Lord Derwentwater, Thy head’s at my command.’
  15. ‘My head, my head, thou grave old man, My head I will give thee; Here’s a coat of velvet on my back Will surely pay thy fee.
  16. ‘But give me leave,’ Derwentwater said, ‘To speak words two or three; Ye lords and ladies of London town, Be kind to my lady.
  17. ‘Here’s a purse of fifty sterling pounds, Pray give it to the poor; Here’s one of forty-five beside You may dole from door to door.’
  18. He laid his head upon the block, The axe was sharp and strong, . . . . . . .