THE BERKSHIRE LADY

Batchelors of every station,
Mark this strange but true relation,
Which in brief I bring;
Never was a stranger thing.
You will find it worth your hearing,
Loyal love is most enduring,
When it takes the deepest root,
Yielding gold and charms to boot.
Some will wed for store of treasure,
But the greatest joy and pleasure,
Is in faithful love, you'll find
Graced with a noble mind.

Such a noble disposition
Had the lady with submission
Of whom I this ballad write,
Store of wealth and beauty bright.
She had left by an old Grandum,
Full five thousand pounds per annum,
Which she held without control,
Thus she did in riches roll.
Though she had vast store of riches,
Which some persons much bewitches,
Yet she had a courteous mind,
Not the least to pride inclined.

Many noble persons courted
This young lady, tis reported,
But their labour proved in vain,
They could not her love obtain.
Though she made a strong resistance,
Yet by Cupid's kind assistance,
She was conquered after all,
How it was, declare I shall.
Being at a noble wedding,
Near the famous town of Reading,
A young gentleman she saw
Who belonged to the law.

As she viewed his sweet behaviour,
Every noble action gave her,
New additions to her grief,
Forced she was to seek relief,
Privately she then enquired
About him she so admired;
Both his name, and where he dwelt,
Such was the hot flame she felt.
Then at night this youthful lady,
Called her coach, which, being ready,
Homeward then she did return,
But her heart with love did burn.

Night and morning for a season,
In her closet she did reason;
To herself she often said:
"He has my poor heart betrayed,
I that have so many slighted
Am at length as well requited,
For my griefs are not a few,
Now I find what love can do.
He that has my heart in keeping,
Though I for his sake lie weeping,
Little knows the grief I feel.

For I will a challenge send him,
And appoint where I'll attend him,
In a grove without delay,
By the dawning of the day.
He shan't in the least discover,
That I am a wounded lover,
By the challenge that I send;
He has caused me much distraction,
But for justice I'll contend,
And I will have satisfaction,
Which if he denies to give
One of us will cease to live."

Having thus her mind revealed,
She a letter signed and sealed,
Which when it came to his hand,
The young man was at a stand.
By the letter she confused him,
For to meet and well assured him,
Recompense he must afford,
Or dispute with the sword.
Having read this strange relation,
He was in a consternation
But advice sought with a friend,
Who persuaded him to attend.

"Be of courage and make ready,
Faint heart never won fair lady,
She requests it must be so,
I along with you will go."
Early on a summer morning,
When bright Phoebus was adorning
Every bower with his beams,
This young lady came, it seems,
To the bottom of a mountain,
Near a pleasant crystal fountain.
There she left her gilded coach,
While she did the grove approach.

Covered with a mask and walking,
There she met her lover talking,
With a friend whom he had brought,
So she asked him, whom he sought.
'I am challenged by a gallant,
And resolved to show my talent.
Who he is I cannot say,
But resolve to show him play"
Lady: "it was I who did invite you,
You shall wed me or I'll fight you,
Underneath these spreading trees,
Therefore now choose which you please.

You shall find I do not vapour,
For I have a trusty rapier.
So now take your choice", said she,
"Either fight or marry me".
Said he: "Madam, pray what mean ye,
Pray unmask, your visage show,
Then I'll answer Yes or No."
Lady: "I will not my face uncover,
Till the marriage rites are over.
Therefore take you which you will,
Wed me sir or try your skill.
Step within this pleasant bower,
With you friend one single hour.

Strive your mind to reconcile,
I will wander here awhile."
While the beauteous lady waited,
The young batchelor debated
What was best for to be done.
Said his friend: "The hazard run;
If my judgement may be trusted,
Wed her, sir, you can't be worsted.
If she's rich, you rise to fame;
If she's poor, you are the same."

He consented to be married,
all three in the coach were carried.
With the mask he took her thus,
Just for better of for worse.
With a courteous, kind behaviour,
She presents his friend with a favour.
Then she did dismiss him straight,
That he may no longer wait.
As the gilded coach stood ready,
The young lawyer and the lady,
Rode together till they came
To a house of state and fame.

Hand in hand they walked together
To a hall or parlour rather,
Which was beautiful and fair.
All alone she left him there.
Two long hours there he waited,
Her return at length he fretted,
And began to grieve at last,
For he had not broke his fast.
Still he sat like one amazed,
Round the spacious room he gazed,
Which was richly beautified,
But, alas, he'd lost his bride.

There was peeping, laughing, sneering,
All within the lawyer's hearing,
But his bride he could not see;
'Would I were at home" said he.
Whilst his heart was melancholy,
Said the steward, brisk and jolly,
"Tell me friend, why came you here?
You've some bad intent, I fear".
He replied: "Dear loving master,
You shall meet with no disaster,
Through my means in any case,
Madam brought me to this place."

Then the steward did retire,
Saying: "Sir, I must enquire,
Whether this be true or no".
Never love was hampered so,
Now the lady that had filled him
With these fears, full oft beheld him,
From her chamber as she drest,
Pleased at the merry jest.
When she had herself attired,
In rich robes to be admired
Like a moving, angel bright,
She appeared in his sight.

Lady: "Sir, my servants have related
That some hours you have waited
In my parlour. Tell me, who
In my house you ever knew?"

"Madam if I have offended,
It is no more than I intended.
A young lady brought me here".
"Ah, that is true" she said, "my dear
I will be no longer cruel,
To my joy and only jewel.
Thou art mine and I am thine,
Hand and heart I both resign.
Once I was a wounded lover,
But now all those fears are over.
By receiving what I gave,
Thou art lord of all I have."

Beauty, honour, love and treasure,
A rich golden stream of pleasure,
With his love he now enjoys,
Thanks to Cupid's kind decoys.
Now he's clothed in rich attire
And she is his heart's desire.
Beauty, riches, honour, store,
What can man desire the more?




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