[From Manx Soc vol 16]
THE LAMENTABLE FALL OF THE GREAT DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER, the WIFE of DUKE HUMPHREY How she did Penance in London Streets, barefooted, with a Wax Candle in her hand : and how at last she was banished the land, where in exile in the Isle of Man, she ended her days, in woe. [Unlikely - she got as far as Chester but not the Island]
To the Tune of Fortune my Foe.
From the Crown Garland of Golden Roses London, 1659; Percy Society's Reprint 1845.
I once a Duchess was of great renown,
My husband near allied to England's crown:
The good Duke Humphrey titled was his name,
Till Fortune frowned upon his glorious fame.
Henry the Fifth, that king of gallant grace,
Of whom my husband claim'd a brother's place,
And was protector made of his young son,
When princely Henry's thread of life was spun.
Henry the Sixth, a child of, nine months old,
Then ruled this land, with all our barons bold;
And in brave Paris crown~d king of France,
Fair England with more honour to advance.
Then sway'd Duke Humphrey like a glorious king,
And was protector over every thing,
Even as he would to please his heart's desire
But envy soon extinguished all his fire.
In height of all his pompal majesty
From Cobham House with speed he married me
Fair Ellinor, " the pride of ladies all,"
In court and city people did me call,
Then flaunted I in Greenwich's stately towers,
My winter's mansions, and my summer's bowers;
Which gallant house now since those days bath been
The palace brave of many a king and queen.
The silver Thames, that sweetly pleas'd mine eye,
Procur'd me golden thoughts of majesty;
The kind contents and murmur of the water
Made me forget the woes that would come after.
No gallant dame nor lady in this land
But much desired in my love to stand;
My golden pride encreased day by day,
As though such. pleasures never would decay.
On gold and silver looms my garments fair
Were woven still by women strange and rare,
Embroidered curiously with Median silk,
More white than thistle-down, or morning's milk.
My coaches, and my stately pamper'd steeds
Well furnisyd in their gold-betrapped weeds,
With gentle gildings in the summer nights,
Still yielded me the evening's sweet delights.
A hundred gentlemen in purple chains,
As many virgin-maids were still in trains
The Queen of Egypt with her pomp and glory
For pleasure could not equal this my story.
But at last my golden sun declined,
And England's court at these my joys repined;
For soon my husband, in his honoured place
Amongst the barons reaped some disgrace.
Which grudge being grown and sprung up to that height
Unto his charge they laid some crime of weight;
And then in prison cast, good royal duke,
Without misdeed he suitered vile rebuke.
They took from him his great protector's name,
Through causes which those peers did falsely frame,
And after, overcome with malice deep, ,
My noble lord they murdered in his sleep.
The kind young king, having thus his uncle lost,
Was day by day with troubles vext and crost
For such ambition in the land then bred,
That from the factious house of York took head.
O Kingly Lancaster I my husband's line,
His death began his fall as well as mine
For being dead, his livings and his lands
They seized all into King Henrys hands.
And after turn'd me, friendless, out of door,
To spend my days like to a woman poor,
Discharging me from all my Pompal train,
But Elenor would a lady still remain.
The noble spirit of a woman's will,
Within my breast did burn in fury still,
And raging so in my revengeful mind,
Till I the murderers of my lord did find.
But little knowing them to be of power and might,
Of whom no justice could by law take right,
But yet, to nourish up my thoughts in evil,
I crav'd the help of hell, and of the devil.
To practise witchcraft then was my intent,
And therefore for the witch of Ely sent,
And for old Bolingbroke of Lancashire,
Of whom, for charms, the land stood much in fear.
We slept by day, and walked by midnight hours,
(The time the spells have force and greatest power's)
The twilights and the dawning of the morns,
When elves and fairies take their gliding forms.
Red streaming blood fell down my azured veins,
To make characters in round circled strains;
With dead mens sculls, by brimstone burned quite,
To raise the dreadful shadows of the night.
All this, by black enchanting arts, to spill
Their hated bloods, that did Duke Humphrey kill:
My royal lord ! untimely ta'en from me,
Yet no revengement for him could I see.
For by the hand of justful-dooming heaven,
We were prevented all, and notice given,
How we, by witchcraft, sought the spoil of those
That secretly had been Duke Humphrey's foes.
Wherefore, my two companions for this crime
Did suffer death, ere nature spent their time Poor Elenor, !
I, because of noble birth,
Endur'd a stranger punishment than death.
It pleased so the council of my king
Me to disrobe of every gorgeous thing,
My chains, my rings, and jewels of such prize,
Were changed to rags more base than rugged frieze.
And, by command, along each London street,
To go in penance, wrapped in a sheet,
Barefooted, with a taper in my hand;
The like did never lady in this land.
My feet, that lately trod the steps of pleasure,
Now flinty stones so sharp were forced to measure
Yet none alive, where I did come or go,
Durst shed one trickling tear at this my woe.
Break heart, and die! here ended not my pain,
I judged was an exile to remain,
And go a banisyd lady from this place,
Where, in my blooming youth, I livd in grace.
The remnant of those years which God me gave,
Poor banish'd Elenor spent to find her grave;
And left this lmd, where she was bred and born,
In foreign soils for her misdeeds to mourn.
The Isle of Man, encompassd by the sea,
To England named so unto this day,
Imprisoned me within the watry round,
Till time and death found me a burying-ground.
Full nineteen years in sorrow thus I spent,
Without one hour or minute of content,
Rememb'ring former joys of modest life, ye
Whilst I bore name of good Duke Humphrey's wife.
The loss of Greenwich towers did grieve me sore,
But death of my dear love ten thousand more;
Yea, all the joys, once in my bower and hall,
Are darts of grief to wound me now withal.
Farewell, dear friends ! farewell, my courtly trains!
My late renown is turn'd to ling'ring pains;
My melody of musick's silver sound,
Are snakes and adders hissing on the ground.
The downy bed whereon I lay full oft,
Are sunburnt heaps of moss, now seeming soft;
And waxen tapen lighting me to bed,
Be stars about the silver moon bespread.
Instead of wine I now drink waters clear,
Which pays for my delightful banquets dear;
Thus changeth stately pomp and courtly joys,
When pleasure endeth with such deep annoys.
My beauteous cheeks, where Cupid danced and play'd,
Are wrinkled grown, and quite with grief decayed;
My hair turned white, my yellow eyes stark blind,
And all my body altered from her kind.
Ring out my knell, you birds in top of sky!
Quite tired with woes, here Elenor needs must die!
Receive me, earth, into thy gentle womb,
A banishd lady craves no other tomb!
Thus died the famous duchess of our land,
Controll'd by changing fortune's stern command;
Let those that sit in place of high degree
Think on their ends, that like to hers may be.
see p. 191