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The Berkshire Lady
Frances Kendrick of Calcot
Bachelors of ev'ry
Mark this strange but true relation,
Which to you in brief I bring;
Never was a stranger thing.
You shall find it worth your hearing;
Loyal love is most endearing
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 sonnet write,
Store of wealth and beauty bright.
She had left by an old gran'um
Full five thousand pounds per annum,
Which she held without control
Thus she did in riches roll.
Tho' she had vast store of riches,
Which some people much bewitches,
Yet she bore a virtuous mind,
Not in the least to pride inclin'd.
Many noble persons courted
This young lady, 'tis reported,
But their labour prov'd in vain,
They could not her love obtain.
Tho' she made a strong resistance,
Yet, by Cupid's kind assistance,
She was conquer'd 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 view'd his sweet behaviour,
Every courteous carriage gave her
New addition to her grief
Forc'd she was to seek relief.
Privately she then enquir'd
About him she so admir'd,
Both his name and where he dwelt;
Such were the hot flames she felt.
Then at night this youthful lady
Call'd her coach, which being ready,
Homewards then she did return,
But her heart with flames did burn.
Night and morning for a season,
In her closet she would reason
With herself, and often said,
He has my poor heart betray'd.
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 what grief does feel,
But we'll try it out with steel:
For I will a challenge send him,
And appoint where to attend him;
In a grove, without delay,
By the dawning of the day.
He shall not in the least discover
That I am a wounded lover,
By the challenge which I send,
But for justice I contend.
He has caused sad distraction,
And I will have satisfaction;
Which, if he denies to give,
One of us shall cease to live.
Having thus her mind revealed,
She a letter sign'd and sealed:
Which, when it came to his hand,
The young man was at a stand.
In the letter she conjur'd him
For to meet, and well assur'd him,
Recompense he must afford,
Or dispute it with his sword.
Having read this strange relation,
He was in a consternation;
But advising with a friend,
He persuades him to attend.
Be of courage, and make ready,
Faint heart never won fair lady
In regard it must be so,
I along with you will go.
Early on a summer's morning,
When bright Phoebus was adorning
Ev'ry bower with his beams,
This young lady came, it seems.
At the bottom of a mountain,
Near a pleasant crystal fountain,
There she left her gilded coach,
While she did the grove approach.
Cover'd with a mask, and walking,
There she met her lover talking
With a friend that he had brought,
So she ask'd him whom he sought.
I am challeng'd by a gallant,
And resolve to show my talent;
Who he is I cannot say,
But resolve to show him play.
(Lady) It was I that did invite you,
You shall wed me, or I'll fight you,
Underneath these spreading trees
Therefore choose you which you please
You shall find I do not waver,
For here is a trusty rapier,
So now take your choice, said she,
Either fight or marry me!
Said he, madam, pray what mean ye,
In my life I ne'er have seen ye;
Pray unmask, your visage show,
Then I'll tell you aye 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 your friend, one single hour;
Strive your mind to reconcile;
I will wander here the while.
While the beauteous lady waited,
The young bachelor debated
What was best for to be done
Said his friend, the hazard run
If my judgment 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 a coach were carried
To the church without delay,
Where he weds the lady gay.
Those sweet little cupids hover'd
Round her eyes, her face was cover'd
With a mask: he took her thus,
just for better or for worse.
With a courteous kind behaviour
She presents his friend a favour;
Then she did dismiss him straight,
That he might no longer wait.
As the gilded coach stood ready,
The young lawyer and the lady
Rode together, till they came
Unto a house of state and fame
Which appeared like a castle,
Where you might behold a parcel
Of young cedars, tall and straight,
just before the palace gate.
Hand in hand they walk'd 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 a 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.
While his heart was melancholy,
Said the steward, brisk and jolly,
Tell me, friend, how came you here?
You've some bad design 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 is true or no:
Ne'er was lover hamper'd so.
Now the lady that had fill'd him
With this fear, full oft beheld him,
From her chamber, as she dress'd,
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 more than I intended;
A young lady brought me here.
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 do 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 cloth'd in rich attire,
Not inferior to a 'squire;
Beauty, honour, riches store
What can man desire more?