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The Squier of Low Degree, Percy Folio


1 He was harassed so much that he crossed the sea

2 Lines 53-54: And in the first place I will consider you the best of all, / And next my father will think of you so as well

3 I have remained in bed a little too long


ABBREVIATIONS: P = the Percy Folio Manuscript; K = Kittredge readings suggested in M (1904); M = Mead edition (1904).

5 see. P: fome, which is probably due to the fome of line 7; it was emended to see by Percy himself.

16 setter. The household officer responsible for the table arrangement; usually this was not the usher but the marshal (see Squire of Low Degree, lines 7-8).

17 curteous. P: Curterous; this looks like a contamination of courtier and curteous.

52 an other wise knight. A mix-up, M suggests, of"You must dress you otherwise" and"You must dress you like any other knight."

an. M; P: and.

64 pound. P: li (for Latin libra).

68 A verb describing the action of the men is missing here.

69 It is left to the reader to find out that lines 69-70 are said by the squire, there being of course no quotation marks, or any such signs, in the MS. Apart from that, it is incomprehensible that the lady refuses to open the door to the squire whom she had just been talking with and had given a hundred pounds.

76 stone. K; P: from.

79 They. P: the.

82 The. P: they.

94 virgin. P: virgins.

96 grave. P; M suggests lawe (as in Squire of Low Degree, line 686).

101 tree. M; P: stree, which in the context makes no sense.

118 The lady does not mean that her sorrow is for someone who is not a Christian, but, as the next lines make clear, for a man who is dead.

121 The knife no doubt has phallic overtones here. M, following K, prints a parallel in which a knight has lost his lady and complains:
. . . I've lost my knife
I loved as dear almost as my own life.
But I have lost a far better thing,
I lost the sheath that the knife was in.
("Leesome Brand," in English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1.177)
126 can. M; omitted in P.

137 the. P: they.

138 fustyan. A kind of cloth made of cotton, flax, or wool, and especially used for the coverlet of a bed. See the explanatory note to line 841 of The Squire of Low Degree.

139 Father. P: fathe.

142 torches. P: torchers.

153 The face of perfect beauty combined white (for the brow) and red (for the cheeks).

157 stane. K; P: frane.

158 a whales bone. M suggests the reading"white as whales bone," which certainly must come close to the original (unless much more text has been lost).

161 Through. M; P: Throug.



































It was a squier of England borne,
He wrought a forffett against the crowne,
Against the crowne and against the fee;
In England tarry no longer durst hee,
For hee was vexed beyond the see1
Into the kings land of Hungarye.
He was no sooner beyond the fome
But into a service he was done.
Such a service he cold him gett,
He served the kings daughter in her seate;
Such a service he was put in,
He served the kings daughter with bread and wine.
He served this lady att table and chesse
Till hee had woone her love to his.
He was made usher of the hall,
The setter of the lords both great and small.
The squier was soe curteous and kind,
Every man loved him and was his freind.
And alwaies when the squier was woe
Into his arbour he wold goe:
The maple trees were faire and round,
The filbert hangs downe to the ground,
The jay jangles them amonge,
The marttin song many a faire songe,
The sparrow spread upon her spray,
The throstle song both night and day,
The swallow swooped too and froe.
The squires hart was never soe woe;
He leaned his backe untill a thorne
And said: "Alacke that ever I was borne!
That I had gold, soe had I fee,
Marry I might yond faire ladye.
O, that I were borne of soe hye a kin
The ladyes love that I might win!"
The lady lay in her chamber hind,
And heard the squier still mourning.
Shee pulled forth a pin of ivorye,
Like the sun itt shone by and by.
Shee opened the casement of a glasse,
Shee saw the squier well where hee was.
"Squier," shee sayes, "for whose sake
Is that mourning that thou dost make?"
"Ladye," he sayes, "as I doe see,
Of my mourninge I dare not tell yee,
For you wold complaine unto our king,
And hinder me of my livinge."
"Squier," shee sais, "as I doe thrive,
Never while I am woman alive!
Squier," shee sais, "if you will my love have,
Another fashion you must itt crave,
For you must to the feild and fight,
And dresse you like an other wise knight;
And ever the formost I hold you first,
And ever my father hold you next.2
And hee will take such favor to yee,
Soone marryed together wee shal bee."
"Lady," he saies, "that is soone said:
How shold a man to the feild was never arraid?
Lady," he said, "itt were great shame
A naked man shold ryde from home."
"Thou shalt have gold, thou shalt have fee,
Strenght of men and royaltye."
Shee went to a chest of ivorye,
And feitcht out a hundred pound and three.
"Squier," shee saies, "put this in good lore.
When this is done, come feitch thee more."
Shee had no sooner these words all said
But men about her chamber her father had laid.
"Open your doore, my lady alone,
Heere is twenty, I am but one."
"I will never my dore undoe
For noe man that comes me to,
Nor I will never my dore unsteake
Until I heare my father speake."
Then they tooke the squier alone,
And put him into a chamber of stone;
And to the gallow tree they be gone,
And feitched downe a hanged man.
They leaned him to her chamber dore,
The dead might fall upon the floore.
They mangled him soe in the face,
The lady might not know who he was.
Shee harde the swords ding and crye;
The lady rose upp by and by,
Naked as ever shee was borne,
Saving a mantle her beforne.
Shee opened the chamber dore,
The dead man fell upon the flore.
"Alacke," shee saith, "and woe is aye!
Something to long that I have lay.3
Alacke," shee sais, "that ever I was borne!
Squier, now thy liffe dayes are forlorne!
I will take thy fingars and thy flax,
I will throwe them well in virgin wax;
I will thy bowells out drawe,
And bury them in Christyan grave;
I will wrapp thee in a wrapp of lead,
And reare thee att my beds head.
Squier," shee sayes, "in powder thoust lye,
Longer kept thou cannott bee.
I will chest thee in a chest of tree,
And spice thee well with spicerye,
And bury thee under a marble stone,
And every day say my praiers thee upon.
And every day, whiles I am woman alive,
For thy sake gett masses five."
Through the praying of our Lady alone,
Saved may be the soule of the hanged man.
"Squier," shee sais, "now for thy sake
I will never weare no clothing but blacke.
Squier," shee sais, "Ile never looke att other thing,
Nor never weare mantle nor ringe."
Her father stood under an easing bore,
And heard his daughter mourning ever more.
"Daughter," he sais, "for whose sake
Is that sorrow that still thou makes?"
"Father," shee sayes, "as I doe see,
Itt is for no man in Christentye.
Father," shee sayes, "as I doe thrive,
Itt is for noe man this day alive.
For yesterday I lost my kniffe,
Much rather had I have lost my liffe!"
"My daughter," he sayes, "if itt be but a blade,
I can gett another as good made."
"Father," shee sais, "there is never a smith but one
That can smith you such a one."
"Daughter," hee sais, "to-morrow I will a hunting fare,
And thou shalt ryde uppon thy chaire.
And thou shalt stand in such a place
And see thirty harts come all in a chase."
"Father," shee sayes, "godamercye,
But all this will not comfort mee."
"Daughter," he sais, "thou shalt sitt att thy meate,
And see the fishes in the floud leape."
"Father," shee sais, "godamercy,
But all this will not comfort mee."
"Thy sheetes they shall be of the Lawne,
Thy blanketts of the fine fustyan."
"Father," shee sais, "godamercy,
But all this will not comfort mee."
"And to thy bed I will thee bring
Many torches faire burninge."
"Father," shee sais, "godamercy,
But all this will not comfort mee."
"If thou cannott sleepe, nor rest take,
Thou shalt have minstrells with thee to wake."
"Father," shee sais, "godamercy,
But all this will not comfort mee."
"Peper and cloves shall be burninge,
That thou maist feele the sweet smellinge."
"Father," shee sais, "godamercy,
But all this will not comfort mee."
"Daughter, thou had wont to have been bothe white and red,
Now thou art as pale as beaten leade.
I have him in my keeping
That is both thy love and likinge."
He went to a chamber of stane,
And feitcht forth the squier, a whales bone.
When shee looked the squier upon
In a dead swoone shee fell anon.
Through kissing of that worthye wight
Uprisse that lady bright.
"Father," shee sayes, "how might you for sinn
Have kept us two lovers in twin?"
"Daughter," he said, "I did for no other thinge
But thought to have marryed thee to a king."
To her marriage came kings out of Spaine,
And kings out of Almaigne,
And kings out of Normandye,
Att this ladyes wedding for to bee.
A long month and dayes three,
Soe long lasted this mangerye.
Thirty winters and some deale moe,
Soe longe lived these lovers too.


committed an offense

(see note)

foam (i.e., sea)
Than that; position; appointed


server; (see note)
so; (see note)

martin (a kind of swallow) sang
spread her wings; twig

against a thornbush

If only; as well as property
high; family

beautiful chamber


as I see it

make my life difficult for me

In a different way
must go; battlefield
any other knight; (see note)

[who] was; equipped [for that]

[If] a

Forces; splendor

fetched; (see note)
set; to sound instruction

her father had stationed; (see note)
(see note)



(see note)

(see note)

(see note)
heard; clang; clamor
at once

Except for


cast; pure; (see note)

(see note)

dust; thou shalt

put; coffin; wood; (see note)
aromatic spices

have read
(i.e., Mary)

I will; at anything else
Nor ever; or
shelter formed by the eaves

as I see it
Christendom; (see note)

(see note)

forge; (see note)
go hunting

may God reward you

many thanks

[fine linen of] Laon; (see note)
fustian; (see note)
(see note)

(see note)


(see note)

stone; (see note)
(see note)

at once
creature; (see note)
Up rose


Than that I thought


a little more


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