Sir Cawline [Child 61]

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Sir Cawline falls ill for love of the king's daughter; she attends him. He desires to prove himself worthy of her; she sends him to vanquish the elvish king. He then defeats a giant threatening to wed her, and survives a lion attack before marrying her.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy)
KEYWORDS: courting disease royalty knight battle marriage
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Child 61, "Sir Cawline" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Bronson 61, "Sir Cawline" (2 versions)
Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 61-81, "Sir Cauline" (1 text)
OBB 3, "Sir Cawline" (1 text)

Notes: The only copy of this that Child accepted as real is that in the Percy manuscript (which Percy thoroughly corrupted), though Child prints two texts ("Sir Colin" and "King Malcolm and Sir Colvin," from the Harris ms. and Buchan respectively) in an appendix.
Percy's modifications to the text are so thorough that the 210 lines of the Percy manuscript are made into 392 lines in his text.
Based on Child's notes, it would seem that this song was never traditional as we would define the term; all the later versions were derived from the literary text as reworked by Percy. Bronson, however, pointed out that the Harris version *was* found in tradition, even if the text was influenced by Percy (Bronson adds that the result is in many ways simpler and superior to the Percy text; it also has a different ending). It seems that there were folk revivals before The Folk Revival. - RBW
File: C061

Child 61: Sir Cawline

Percy MS., p. 368; Hales and Furnivall, III, 3.

* * * * *
61.1 AND in that land dwells a king
Which does beare the bell ouer all,
And with him there dwelled a curteous knight,
Sir Cawline men him call.
61.2 And he hath a ladye to his daughter,
Of ffashyon shee hath noe peer;
Knights and lordes they woed her both,
Trusted to haue beene her feere.
61.3 Sir Cawline loues her best of on?e,
But nothing durst hee say
To discreeue his councell to noe man,
But deerlye loued this may.
61.4 Till itt beffell vpon a day,
Great dill to him was dight;
The maydens loue remoued his mind,
To care-bed went the knight.
61.5 And one while he spread his armes him ffroe,
And cryed so pittyouslye:
‘Ffor the maydens loue that I haue most minde
This day may comfort mee,
Or else ere noone I shalbe dead!’
Thus can Sir Cawline say.
61.6 When our parish masse that itt was done,
And our king was bowne to dine,
He sayes, Where is Sir Cawline,
61.7 But then answered a curteous knight,
Ffast his hands wringinge:
‘Sir Cawline’s sicke, and like to be dead
Without and a good leedginge.’
61.8 ‘Ffeitch yee downe my daughter deere,
Shee is a leeche ffull ffine;
I, and take you doe and the baken bread,
And drinke he on the wine soe red,
And looke no daynti is ffor him to deare,
For ffull loth I wold him tine.’
61.9 This ladye is gone to his chamber,
Her maydens ffollowing nye;
‘O well,’ shee sayth, ‘how doth my lord?’
‘O sicke!’ againe saith hee.
61.10 ‘I, but rise vp wightlye, man, for shame!
Neuer lye here soe cowardlye!
Itt is told in my ffathers hall,
Ffor my loue you will dye.’
61.11 ‘Itt is ffor your loue, ffayre ladye,
that all this dill I drye;
Ffor if you wold comfort me with a kisse,
Then were I brought ffrom bale to blisse,
Noe longer here wold I lye.’
61.12 ‘Alas! soe well you know, Sir knight,’
. . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . .
61.13 . . . . . .
I cannott bee your peere:
‘Ffor some deeds of armes ffaine wold I doe,
To be your bacheeleere.’
61.14 ‘Vpon Eldrige Hill there growes a thorne,
Vpon the mores brodinge;
And wold you, sir knight, wake there all night
To day of the other morninge?
61.15 ‘Ffor the eldrige king, that is mickle of might,
Will examine you beforne;
And there was neuer man that bare his liffe away
Since the day that I was borne.’
61.16 ‘But I will ffor your sake, ffaire ladye,
Walke on the bents [soe] browne,
And Ile either bring you a readye token,
Or Ile neuer come to you againe.’
61.17 But this ladye is gone to her chamber,
Her maydens ffollowing bright,
And Sir Cawlin’s gone to the mores soe broad,
Ffor to wake there all night.
61.18 Vnto midnight [that] the moone did rise,
He walked vp and downe,
And a lightsome bugle then heard he blow,
Ouer the bents soe browne;
Saies hee, And if cryance come vntill my hart,
I am ffarr ffrom any good towne.
61.19 And he spyed, ene a litle him by,
A ffuryous king and a ffell,
And a ladye bright his brydle led,
that seemlye itt was to see.
61.20 And soe fast hee called vpon Sir Cawline,
Oh man, I redd the fflye!
Ffor if cryance come vntill thy hart,
I am a-feard least thou mun dye.
61.21 He sayes, [No] cryance comes to my hart,
Nor ifaith I ffeare not thee;
Ffor because thou minged not Christ before,
Thee lesse me dreadeth thee.
61.22 But Sir Cawline he shooke a speare;
The king was bold, and abode;
And the timber these two children bore
Soe soone in sunder slode;
Ffor they tooke and two good swords,
And they layden on good loade.
61.23 But the elridge king was mickle of might,
And stiffly to the ground did stand;
But Sir Cawline, with an aukeward stroke,
He brought ffrom him his hand,
I, and fflying ouer his head soe hye,
[It] ffell downe of that lay land.
61.24 And his lady stood a litle thereby,
Ffast ringing her hands:
‘For the maydens loue that you haue most minde,
Smyte you my lord no more.
61.25 ‘And hees neuer come vpon Eldrige [Hill],
Him to sport, gamon, or play,
And to meete noe man of middle-earth
And that liues on Christs his lay.’
61.26 But he then vp and that eldryge king,
Sett him in his sadle againe,
And that eldryge king and his ladye
To their castle are they gone.
61.27 And hee tooke then vp and that eldryge sword,
As hard as any fflynt,
And soe he did those ringes fiue,
Harder then ffyer, and brent.
61.28 Ffirst he presented to the kings daughter
The hand, and then the sword,
. . . . . .
. . . . .
’’ ’’ ’’ ’’ ’’
61.29 ‘But a serre buffett you haue him giuen,
The king and the crowne,’ shee sayd:
‘I, but four and thirty stripes
Comen beside the rood.’
61.30 And a gyant that was both stiffe [and] strong,
He lope now them amonge,
And vpon his squier fiue heads he bare,
Vnmackley made was hee.
61.31 And he dranke then on the kings wine,
And hee put the cup in his sleeue,
And all th?e trembled and were wan,
Ffor feare he shold them greeffe.
61.32 ‘Ill tell thee mine arrand, king,’ he sayes,
‘Mine errand what I doe heere;
Ffor I will bren thy temples hye,
Or Ile haue thy daughter deere;
Thou shalt ffind mee a ppeare.’
I, or else vpon yond more soe brood
61.33 The king he turned him round about,
Lord, in his heart he was woe!
Says, Is there noe knight of the Round Table
This matter will vndergoe?
61.34 ‘I, and hee shall haue my broad lands,
And keepe them well his liue;
I, and soe hee shall my daughter deere,
To be his weded wiffe.’
61.35 And then stood vp Sir Cawline,
His owne errand ffor to say:
‘Ifaith, I wold to God, Sir,’ sayd Sir Cawline,
‘that soldan I will assay.
61.36 ‘Goe ffeitch me downe my eldrige sword,
Ffor I woone itt att ffray:’
‘But away, away!’ sayd the hend soldan,
‘Thou tarryest mee here all day!’
61.37 But the hend soldan and Sir Cawline
Th?e ffought a summers day;
Now has hee slaine that hend soldan,
And brought his fiue heads away.
61.38 And the king has betaken him his broade lands,
And all his venison;
. . . . . .
. . . . .
61.39 ‘But take you doo and your lands [soe] broad,
And brooke them well your liffe;
Ffor you promised mee your daughter deere,
To be my weded wiffe.’
61.40 ‘Now by my ffaith,’ then sayes our king,
‘Ffor that wee will not striffe,
Ffor thou shalt haue my daughter dere,
To be thy weded wiffe.’
61.41 The other morninge Sir Cawline rose
By the dawning of the day,
And vntill a garden did he goe
His mattins ffor to say;
And that bespyed a ffalse steward,
A shames death that he might dye!
61.42 And he lett a lyon out of a bande,
Sir Cawline ffor to teare;
And he had noe wepon him vpon,
Nor noe wepon did weare.
61.43 But hee tooke then his mantle of greene,
Into the lyons mouth itt thrust;
He held the lyon soe sore to the wall
Till the lyons hart did burst.
61.44 And the watchmen cryed vpon the walls And sayd,
‘Sir Cawline’s slaine!
And with a beast is not ffull litle,
A lyon of mickle mayne:’
Then the kings daughter shee ffell downe,
‘For peerlesse is my payne!’
61.45 ‘O peace, my lady!’ sayes Sir Cawline,
‘I haue bought thy loue ffull deere;
O peace, my lady!’ sayes Sir Cawline,
‘Peace, lady, ffor I am heere!’
61.46 Then he did marry this kings daughter,
With gold and siluer bright,
And fiftene sonnes this ladye beere
To Sir Cawline the knight.

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. (1863–1944).  The Oxford Book of Ballads.  1910.
3. Sir Cawline

JESUS, Lord mickle of might,

  That dyed for us on roode,  
So maintaine us in all our right  
  That loves true English blood!  

Sir Cawline [was an English knight]

  Curteous and full hardye;  
[And our King has lent him] forth to fight,  
  Into Ireland over the sea.  

And in that land there dwells a King,

  Over all the bell does beare;         10
And he hath a ladye to his daughter,  
  Of fashion she hath no peere;  
Knights and lordes they woo’d her both,  
  Trusted to have been her feere.  

Sir Cawline loves her best of onie,

  But nothing durst he say  
To discreeve his councell to no man,  
  But dearlye loved this may.  

Till it befell upon a day,

  Great dill to him was dight;         20
The mayden’s love removed his mind,  
  To care-bed went the knight.  

One while he spread his armes him fro,

  And cryed so pittyouslye:  
‘For the mayden’s love that I have most minde         25
  This day shall comfort mee,  
Or else ere noone I shall be dead!’  
  Thus can Sir Cawline say.  

When the parish mass that itt was done,

  And the King was bowne to dine,         30
Says, ‘Where is Sir Cawline, that was wont  
  To serve me with ale and wine?’  

But then answer’d a curteous knight

  Fast his hands wringìnge:  
‘Sir Cawline’s sicke and like to be dead         35
  Without and a good leechìnge.’  

‘Feitch ye downe my daughter deere,

  She is a leeche full fine;  
Ay, and take you doe and the baken bread,  
  And [drinke he of] the wine soe red,         40
And looke no daynty’s for him too deare,  
  For full loth I wo’ld him tine.’  

This ladye is gone to his chamber,

  Her maydens following nye;  
‘O well,’ she saith, ‘how doth my lord?’         45
  ‘O sicke!’ againe saith hee.  

‘But rise up wightlye, man, for shame!

  Ne’er lie here soe cowardlye!  
Itt is told in my father’s hall  
  For my love you will dye.’—         50

‘Itt is for your love, fayre ladye,

  That all this dill I drie;  
For if you wo’ld comfort me with a kisse,  
Then were I brought from bale to bliss,  
  No longer here wo’ld I lye.’—         55

‘Alas! soe well you know, Sir Knight,

  I cannot be your feere.’—  
‘Yet some deeds of armes fain wo’ld I doe  
  To be your bacheleere.’—  

‘On Eldritch Hill there grows a thorn,

  Upon the mores brodinge;  
And wo’ld you, Sir Knight, wake there all night  
  To day of the other morninge?  

‘For the Eldritch King, that is mickle of might,

  Will examine you beforne:         65
There was never a man bare his life away  
  Since the day that I was born.’—  

‘But I will for your sake, ladye,

  Walk on the bents soe browne,  
And I’ll either bring you a readye token,         70
  Or I’ll ne’er come to you again.’  

But this ladye is gone to her chamber,

  Her maydens following bright;  
And Sir Cawline’s gone to the mores soe broad,  
  For to wake there all night.         75

Unto midnight that the moone did rise

  He walkèd up and downe,  
And a lightsome bugle then heard he blow  
  Over the bents so browne;  
Sayes he, ‘And if cryance come to my heart,         80
  I am farr from any good towne.’  

And he spyèd, e’en a little him by,

  A furyous king and a fell,  
And a ladye bright his brydle led  
  [More] seemlye [than onie can tell].         85

Soe fast he call’d on Sir Cawline,

  ‘O man, I rede thee flye!  
For if cryance come untill thy heart  
  I’m afeard lest thou maun dye!’—  

He sayes, ‘No cryance comes to my heart,

  Nor i’faith I fear not thee;  
For because thou ming’d not Christ before,  
  The lesse me dreadeth thee.’  

But Sir Cawline then he shooke a speare;

  The King was bold, and abode:         95
And the timber those two children bare  
  Soe soon in sunder slode:  
Forth they tooke and two good swords,  
  And they layden on good loade.  

The Eldritch King was mickle of might,

  And stiffly to the ground did stand;  
But Sir Cawline with an aukeward stroke  
  He brought from him his hand—  
Ay, and flying over his head so hye  
  It fell down of that lay land.         105

His ladye stood a little thereby,

  Fast her hands wringìnge:  
‘For the mayden’s love that you have most minde,  
  Smyte you noe more [this King].  

‘And he’s never come upon Eldritch Hill

  Him to sport, gammon or play,  
And to meet no man of middle-earth  
  That lives on Christ his lay.’  

But he then up, that Eldritch King,

  Set him in his sadle againe,         115
And that Eldritch King and his ladye  
  To their castle are they gone.  

Sir Cawline took up that eldritch sword

  As hard as any flynt,  
Soe did he [the hand with] ringès five         120
  Harder than fyer, and brent.  

The watchmen cryed upon the walls

  And sayd, ‘Sir Cawline’s slaine!’  
Then the King’s daughter she fell downe,  
  ‘For peerlesse is my payne!’—         125

‘O peace, my ladye!’ sayes Sir Cawline,

  ‘I have bought thy love full deare;  
O peace, my ladye!’ sayes Sir Cawline,  
  ‘Peace, ladye, for I am heere!’  

He’s presented to the King’s daughter

  The hand, and then the sword  
[And he has claimed the King’s daughter  
  According to her word].  

And the King has betaken him his broad lands

  And all his venison;         135
[Sayes] ‘Thou shalt have my daughter deare,  
  [And be my onelye son’].  
GLOSS:  fashion] form, beauty.  feere] mate, consort.  discreeve] discover.  may] maid.  dill] dole, grief.  dight] ordained.  care-bed] sick-bed.  bowne] made ready, gone.  without and, & c.] unless he have a good leech, or physician.  tine] lose.  wightlye] briskly, stoutly.  mores] moors.  brodinge] growing, sprouting.  examine] put to the test.  beforne] before (morning).  bents] rough grasses.  cryance] yielding, cowardice.  ming’d] mentioned, spoke the name of.  slode] split.  good loade] heavily  aukeward] back-handed.  lay land] lea, land not under cultivation; here = ground.  he’s never] he will never.  middle-earth] this earth, as midway between heaven and hell.  lay] law, faith.  brent] smooth.  betaken] given, made over.  venison] i.e. deer-forests.