Hermit of Warkworth

Hermit of Warkworth  (1846) 
by Thomas Percy






in three·parts.


Hermit of Warkworth - Title.png







Dark was the night, and wild the storm,
And loud the torrent’s roar;
And loud the sea was heard to dash
Against the distant shore.

Musing on man’s weak hapless state,
The lonely hermit lay;
When, lo! he heard a female voice
Lament in sore dismay.

With hospitable haste he rose,
And wak’d his sleeping fire;
And snatching up a lighted brand,
Forth hied the reverend sire.

All sad beneath a neighbouring tree,
A beauteous maid he found,
Who beat her breast, and with her tears
Bedew’d the mossy ground.

O weep not, lady, weep not so,
Nor let vain fears alarm;
My little eell shall shelter thee,
And keep thee safe from barm.

It is not for myself I weep,
Nor for myself I fear;
But for my dear and only friend,
Who lately left me here.

And while some sheltering bower he sought,
Within this lonely wood,
Ah! sore I fear his wandering feet
Have slipped in yonder flood.

O trust in Heaven, the hermit said,
And to my cell repair;
Doubt not but I shall find thy friend.
And ease thee of thy care.

Then climbing up his rocky stairs,
He scales the cliff so high,
And calls aloud, and waves his light
To guide the stranger's eye.

Among the thickets long he winds,
With careful steps and slow:
At length a voice returned his call,
Quick answering from below;

O tell me, father, tell me true,
If you have chanc’d to see
A gentle maid I lately left
Beneath some neighbouring tree.

But either I have lost the place,
Or she has gone astray:
And much I fear this fatal stream
Has snatch’d her hence away.

Praise Heaven, my son, the hermit said,
The lady’s safe and well:
And soon he join’d the wandering youth,
And brought him to his cell.

Then well was seen these gentle friends,
They lov’d each other dear:
The youth he press’d her to his heart;
The maid let fall a tear.

Ah! seldom had their host, I ween,
Beheld so sweet a pair:
The youth was tall, with manly bloom,
She, slender, soft, and fair.

The youth was clad in forest green,
With bugle-horn so bright:
She in a silken robe and scarf,
Snatch’d up in hasty flight.

Sit down, my children, says the sage;
Sweet rest your limbs require:
Then heaps fresh fuel on the hearth,
And mends his little fire.

Partake, he said, my simple store,
Dried fruits, and milk, and curds;
And spreading all upon the board,
Invites with kindly words.

Thanks, father, for thy bounteous fare,
The youthful couple say;
Then freely ate, and made good cheer,
And talk’d their cares away.

Now say, my children (for perchance
My counsel may avail)
What strange adventure brought you here
Within this lonely dale?

First tell me, father, said the youth,
Nor blame mine eager tongue)
What town is here? What lands are these
And to what lord belong?

Alas! my son, the hermit said,
Why do I live to say,
The rightful lord of these domains
Is banish'd far away!

Ten winters now have shed their snows
On this my lowly hall,
Since valiant Hotspur (so the North
Our youthful lord did eall)

Against fourth Henry Bolingbroke
Led up his northern powers,
And stoutly fighting lost his life
Near proud Salopia’s towers.

One son he left, a lovely boy,
His country’s hope and heir;
And oh! to save him from his foes
It was his grandsire’s eare.

In Scotland safe he plae’d the child
Beyond the reach of strife,
Not long before the brave old Earl
At Bramham lost his life.

And now the Percy name, so long
Our northern pride and boast,
Lies hid, alas! beneath a cloud;
Their honours reft and lost.

No chieftain of that noble house
Now leads our youth to arms;
The bordering Scots despoil our fields,
And ravage all our farms.

Their halls and castles, once so fair,
Now moulder in decay;
Proud strangers now usurp their lands.
And bear their wealth away.

Not far from hence, where yon full stream
Runs winding down the lea,
Fair Warkworth lifts her lofty towers,
And overlooks the sea.

These towers, alas! now stand forlorn,
With noisome weeds o’erspread;
Where feasted lords and courtly dames,
And where the poor were fed.

Meantime, far off, ’midst Scottish hills,
The Percy lives unknown:
On stranger’s bounty he depends,
And may not claim his own.

O might I with these aged eyes,
But live to see him here,
Then should my soul depart in bliss!—
He said, and dropt a tear.

And is the Percy still so lov’d
Of all his friends and thee?
Then bless me, father, said the youth,
For I, thy guest am he.

Silent he gaz’d, then turn’d aside
To wipe the tears he shed;
And lifting up his hands and eyes,
Pour’d blessings on his head.

Welcome, our dear and much lov’d lord,
Thy country’s hope and care;
But who may this young lady be,
That is so wonderous fair?

Now, father, listen to my tale,
And thou shalt know the truth,
And let thy sage advice direct
My inexperienc'd youth.

In Scotland I’ve been nobly bred
Beneath the Regent’s hand, (1)
In feats of arms and every lore
To fit me for command.

With fond impatience long I burn'd,
My native land to see;
At length I won my guardian friend
To yield that boon to me.

Then up and down in hunter’s garb
I wander’d as in chase,
Till in the noble Neville’s house (2)
I gain’d a hunter’s place.

Some time with him I liv’d unknown
Till I’d the hap so rare,
To please this young and gentle dame,
That baron’s daughter fair.

Now, Percy, said the blushing maid,
The truth I must reveal;
Souls great and generous, like to thine.
Their noble deeds conceal.

It happened on a summer's day,
Led by the fragrant breeze,
I wander’d forth to take the air
Among the green-wood trees.

Sudden a band of rugged Scots,
That near in ambush lay,
Moss-troopers from the border side,
There seiz’d me for their prey.

My shrieks had long been spent in vain,
But Heaven, that saw my grief,
Brought this brave youth within my call,
Who flew to my relief.

With nothing but his hunting-spear,
And dagger in his hand,
He sprung like lightning on my foes,
And caus’d them soon to stand.

He fought till more assistance came;
The Scots were overthrown;
Thus freed me captive from their bands
To make me more his own.

O happy day! the youth replied:
Bless’d were the wounds I bare!
From that fond hour she deign’d to smile,
And listen to my prayer.

And when she knew my name and birth
She vow’d to be my bride;
But oh! we fear’d (alas! the while)
Her princely mother’s pride:

Sister of haughty Bolingbroke, (3)
Our house’s ancient foe,
To me I thought a banish’d wight
Could ne’er such favour show.

Despairing then to gain consent
At length to fly with me,
I won this lovely timorous maid,
To Scotland bound are we.

This evening, as the night drew on,
Fearing we were pursued,
We turn’d adown the right hand path.
And gain’d this lonely wood;

Then lighting from our weary steeds
To shun the pelting shower.
We met thy kind conducting hand,
And reach’d this friendly bower.

Now rest ye both, the hermit said;
Awhile your cares forego:
Nor, lady, scorn my humble bed,
—We’ll pass the night below. (4)



Lovely smil’d the blushing morn,
And every storm was fled:
But lovelier far, with sweeter smile,
Fair Eleanor left her bed.

She found her Henry all alone,
And cheer’d him with her sight;
The youth consulting with his friend,
Had watch’d the livelong night.

What sweet surprise o’erpower’d her breast!
Her checks what blushes dy’d!
When fondly be besought her there
To yield to be his bride!

Within this lonely hermitage
There is a chapel meet:
Then grant, dear maid, my fond request,
And make my bliss complete.

O Henry! when thou deign’st to sue,
Can I thy suit withstand?
When thou, lov’d youth, hast won my heart,
Can I refuse my hand?

For thee I left a father’s smiles,
And mother’s tender care;
And whether weal or woe betide,
Thy lot I mean to share.

And wilt thou then, O generous maid!
Such matchless favour show,
To share with me, a banish’d wight,
My peril, pain, or woe?

Now Heaven, I trust, hath joys in store,
To crown thy constant breast;
For know, fond hope assures my heart
That we shall soon be blest.

Not far from hence stands Coquet Isle,
Surrounded by the sea, (5)
There dwells a holy friar, well known
To all thy friends and thee:

’Tis father Bernard, so revered
For every worthy deed,
To Raby Castle he shall go,
And for us kindly plead.

To fetch this good and holy man,
Our reverend host is gone
And soon, I trust, his pious hands
Will join us both in one.

Thus they in sweet and tender talk
The lingering hours beguile;
At length they see the hoary sage
Come from the neighbouring isle.

With pious joy and wonder mix’d,
He greets the noble pair.
And glad consents to join their hands,
With many a fervent prayer.

Then straight to Raby’s distant walls,
He kindly wends his way;
Meantime in love and dalliance sweet,
They spend the livelong day.

And now, attended by their host,
The hermitage they view'd,
Deep hewn within a craggy cliff,
And overhung with wood.

And near a flight of shapeless steps,
All cut with nicest skill,
And piercing through a stony arch,
Ran winding up the hill.

There deck’d with many a flower and herb,
His little garden stands;
With fruitful trees in shady rows,
All planted by his hands.

Then scoop’d within the solid rock,
Three sacred vaults he shows;
The chief a chapel neatly arch’d,
On branching columns rose.

Each proper ornament was there,
That should a chapel grace;
The lattice for confession fram’d,
And holy water vase.

O’er either door a sacred text
Invites to godly fear;
And in a little ’scutchcon hung
The cross, the crown, and spear.

Up to the altar’s ample breadth
Two easy steps ascend;
And near a glimmering solemn light
Two well-wrought windows lend.

Beside the altar rose a tomb
All in the living stone;
On which a young and beauteous maid
In goodly sculpture shone.

A kneeling angel, fairly carv’d,
Lean’d hov’ring o’er her breast;
A weeping warrior at her feet;
And near to these her crest. (6)

The cliff, the vault, but chief the tomb,
Attract the wond’ring pair:
Eager they ask what hapless dame
Lies sculptur’d here so fair.

The hermit sigh’d, the hermit wept,
For sorrow scarce could speak;
At length he wip’d the trickling tears
’That all bedew’d his cheek:

Alas! my children, human life
Is but a vale of woe;
And very mournful is the tale,
Which ye so fain would know.


Young lord, thy grandsire had a friend
In days of youthful fame;
Yon distant hills were his domains:
Sir Bertram was his name.

Where’er the noble Percy fought,
His friend was at his side;
And many a skirmish with the Scots
Their early valour tried.

Young Bertram lov’d a beauteous maid,
As fair as fair might be;
The dew-drop on the lily’s cheek
Was not so fair as she.

Fair Widdrington the maiden’s name,
Yon towers her dwelling-place; (7)
Her sire an old Northumbrian chief
Devoted to thy race.

Many a lord and many a knight,
To this fair damsel came:
But Bertram was her only choice,
For him she felt a flame.

Lord Percy pleaded for his friend,
Her father soon consents;
None but the beauteous maid herself
His wishes now prevents.

But she with studied fond delays
Defers the blissful hour;
And loves to try his constancy,
And prove her maiden power.

That heart, she said, is lightly priz’d,
Which is too lightly won;
And long shall rue that easy maid,
Who yields her love too soon.

Lord Percy made a solemn feast
In Alnwick’s princely hall;
And there came lords, and there came knights,
His chiefs and barons all.

With wassail, mirth, and revelry,
The castle rung around:
Lord Percy call’d for song and harp,
And pipes of martial sound.

The minstrels of thy noble house,
All clad in robes of blue,
With silver crescents on their arms,
Attend in order due.

The great achievements of thy race
They sung: their high command:
“How valiant Manifred o’er the seas
“First led his northern band.

“Brave Galfred next to Normandy
“With venturous Rolla camc;
“And from his Norman castles won,
“Assum’d thc Percy name. (8)

“They sung, how in the conqueror’s fleet
“Lord William shipp’d his powers,
“And gain’d a fair young Saxon bride
“With all her lands and towers.(9)

“Then journeying to the Holy Land,
“There bravely fought and died;
“But first the silver crescent wan,
“Some Paynim Soldan’s pride.

“They sung how Agnes, beauteous heir,
“The queen’s own brother wed,
“Lord Joceline, sprung from Charlemagne,
“In princely Brabant bred. (10)

How he the Percy name reviv’d,
“And how his noble line,
“Still foremost in their country’s cause,
“With godlike ardour shine!”

With loud acclaim the listening crowd
Applaud the master’s song,
And deeds of war and arms became
The theme of every tongue.

Now high heroic acts they tell,
Their perils past recall;
When, lo! a damsel, young and fair,
Stepp’d forward through the hall.

She Bertram courteously address’d;
And kneeling on her knee,—
Sir knight, the lady of thy love
Hath sent this gift to thee.

Then forth she drew a glitt’ring helm,
Well plated many a fold,
The easque was wrought of temper’d steel,
The crest of burnish’d gold.

Sir knight, thy lady sends thee this,
And yields to be thy bride,
When thou hast prov’d this maiden gift
Where sharpest blows are tried.

Young Bertram took the shining helme,
And thriee he kiss’d the same;
Trust me, I’ll prove this precious easque
With deeds of noblest fame.

Lord Perey and his barons bold
Then fix upon a day,
To secour the marches, late oppress’d,
And Scottish wrongs repay.

The knights assembled on the hills,
A thousand horse and more:
Brave Widdrington, tho’ sunk in years.
The Perey standard bore.

Tweed’s limpid eurrent soon they pass.
And range the borders round;
Down the green slopes of Tiviotdale
Their bugle-horns resound.

As when the liou in his den
Hath heard the hunter’s cries,
And rushes forth to meet his foes,
So did the Douglas rise.

Attendant on the ehief's eommand,
A thousand warriors wait;
And now the fatal hour drew on
Of eruel, keen debate.

A chosen troop of Scottish youths
Advanc’d before the rest;
Lord Percy mark’d their gallant mien,
And thus his friend address’d:

Now, Bertram, prove thy lady's helme,
Attack yon forward band;
Dead or alive I’ll rescue thee,
Or perish by their hand.

Young Bertram bow’d with glad assent
And spurr’d his eager steed,
And calling on his lady’s name,
Rush’d forth with whirlwind speed.

As when a grove of sapling oaks
The livid lightning rends;
So fiercely ’mid the opposing ranks,
Sir Bertram’s sword deseends.

This way and that he drives the steel
And keenly pierces through;
And many a tall and comely knight
With furious force he slew.

Now closing fast on every side,
They hem Sir Bertram round:
But dauntless he repels their rage,
And deals forth many a wound.

The vigour of his single arm
Had well nigh won the field;
When ponderous fell a Scottish axe,
And clove his lifted shield.

Another blow his temples took,
And reft his helme in twain;
That beauteous helme, his lady’s gift
---His blood bedew’d the plain.

Lord Percy saw his champion fall
Amid the unequal fight:
And now, my noble friends, he said,
Let’s save this gallant knight.

Then rushing in, with uplift shield,
He o’er the warrior hung;
As some fierce eagle spreads her wing
To guard her callow young.

Three times they strove to seize their prey,
Three times they quick retire:
What force could stand his furious stroke,
Or meet his martial fire!

Now gathering round on every part,
The battle rag’d amain;
And many a lady wept her lord,
That hour untimely slain.

Percy and Douglas, great in arms,
There all their courage showed;
And all the field was strew’d with dead,
And all with crimson flowed.

At length the glory of the day
The Scots reluctant yield;
And after wond’rous valour shown,
They slowly quit the field.

All pale extended on their shields,
And weltering in his gore.
Lord Percy’s knights their bleeding friend
To Wark’s fair castle bore.(ll)

Well hast thou earn’d my daughter’s love,
Her father kindly said:
And she herself shall dress thy wounds,
And tend thee in thy bed.

A message went; no maiden came;
Fair Isabel ne’er appears:
Beshrew me, said the aged chief,
Young maidens have their fears.

Cheer up, my son, thou shall her see,
So soon as thou canst ride:
And she shall nurse thee in her bower,
And she shall be thy bride.

Sir Bertram at her name reviv’d.
He bless’d the soothing sound;
Fond hope supply’d the nurse’s care,
And heal’d his ghastly wound.



One early morn, while dewy drops
Hung trembling on the tree,
Sir Bertram from his sick-bed rose,
His bride he would go see.

A brother he had in prime of youth,
Of courage firm and keen,
And he would tend him on the way,
Because his wounds were green.

All day o’er moss and moor they rode,
By many a lonely tower;
And ’twas the dew-fall of the night
Ere they drew near her bower.

Most drear and dark the castle seem'd,
That wont to shine so bright;
And long and loud Sir Bertram call’d
Ere he beheld a light.

At length her aged nurse arose,
With voice so shrill and clear;
What wight is this that calls so loud,
And knocks so boldly here?

’Tis Bertram calls, thy lady’s love,
Come from his bed of care:
All day I’ve ridden o’er moor- and moss
To see thy lady fair.

Now out, alas! (she loudly shriek’d)
Alas! how may this be?
For six long days are gone and past
Since she set out to thee.

Sad terror seiz’d Sir Bertram’s heart,
And ready was to fall;
When now the drawbridge was let down,
And gates were open’d all.

Six days, young knight, are past and gone
Since she set out to thee;
And sure, if no sad harm had happ’d,
Long since thou wouldst her see.

For when she heard thy grievous chance,
She tore her hair and cried,
Alas! I’ve slain the comeliest knight,
All through my foolish pride!

And now to atone for my sad fault,
And his dear health regain,
I’ll go myself, and nurse my love,
And soothe his bed of pain.

Then mounted she her milk-white steed
One morn at break of day;
And two tall yeomen went with her
To guard her on the way.

Sad terror smote Sir Bertram’s heart.
And grief o’erwhelm’d his mind;
Trust me, said he, I ne’er will rest
Till I thy lady find.

That night he spent in sorrow and care,
And with sad boding heart,
Or ere the dawning of the day,
His brother and he depart.

Now, brother, we’ll our ways divide
O’er Scottish hills to range:
Do thou go north, and I'll go west;
And all our dress we'll change.

Some Scottish carle hath seiz’d my love,
And borne her to his den;
And ne’er will I tread English ground
Till she’s restor’d again.

The brothers straight their paths divide
O’er Scottish hills to range;
And hide themselves in quaint disguise,
And oft their dress they change.

Sir Bertram clad in gown of grey,
Most like a palmer poor,
To halls and castles wanders round,
And begs from door to door.

Sometimes a minstrel’s garb he wears,
With pipes so sweet and shrill;
And wends to every tower and town,
O'er ev’ry dale and hill.

One day as he sat under a thorn,
All sunk in deep despair,
An aged pilgrim pass’d him by,
Who mark'd his face of care.

All minstrels yet that e’er I saw,
Are full of game and glee,
But thou art sad and woe-begone,
I marvel whence it be.

Father, I serve an aged lord,
Whose griefs afflict my mind,
His only child is stolen away,
And fain I would her find.

Cheer up, my son; perchance, he said,
Some tidings I may bear:
For oft when human hopes have fail’d,
Then heavenly comfort’s near.

Behind yon hills so steep and high,
Down in a lonely glen,
There stands a castle fair and strong,
Far from the abode of men.

As late I chanc'd to crave an alms,
About this evening hour,
Me-thought I heard a lady’s voice
Lamenting in the tower.

And when I asked what harm had happ’d
What lady sick there lay?
They rudely drove me from the gate,
And bade me wend away.

These tidings caught Sir Bertram’s ear,
He thank’d him for his tale;
And soon he hasten’d o’er the hills,
And soon he reach’d the vale.

Then drawing near those lonely towns,
Which stood in Dale so low,
And sitting down beside the gate,
His pipes he ’gan to blow.

Sir Porter, is thy lord at home,
To hear a minstrel’s song?
Or may I crave a lodging here,
Without offence or wrong?

My lord, he said, is not at home,
To hear a minstrel’s song:
And should I lend thee lodging here,
My life would not belong.

He play’d again so soft a strain,
Such power sweet sounds impart,
He won the churlish porter’s ear,
And mov’d his stubborn heart.

Minstrel, he said, thou play’st so sweet,
Fair entrance thou shouldst win;
But, alas! I’m sworn upon the rood,
To let no stranger in.

Yet, minstrel, in yon rising cliff,
Thou’lt find a sheltering cave;
And here thou shalt my supper share,
And there thy lodging have.

All day he sits beside the gate,
And pipes both loud and clear;
All night he watches round the walls,
In hope’s his love to hear.

The first night, as he silent watch’d,
All at the midnight hour,
He plainly heard his lady’s voice
Lamenting in the tower.

The second night the moon shone clear,
And gilt the spangled dew;
He saw his lady through the grate,
But ’twas a transient view.

The third night, wearied out, he slept
Till near the morning tide;
When, starting up, he seiz’d his sword
And to the castle hied.

When, lo! he saw a ladder of ropes
Depending from the wall;
And o’er the moat was newly laid
A poplar strong and tall.

And soon he saw his love descend,
Wrapt in a tartan plaid;
Assisted by a sturdy youth
In Highland garb yclad.

Amaz’d, confounded at the sight,
He lay unseen and still;
And soon he saw them cross the stream,
And mount the neighbouring hill.

Unheard, unknown to all within,
The youthful couple fly,
But what can ’scape the lover’s ken,
Or shun his piercing eye?

With silent step he follows close
Behind the flying pair,
And saw her hang upon his arm
With fond familiar air.

Thanks, gentle youth, she often said,
My thanks thou well hast won;
For me what wiles hast thou contriv’d!
For me what dangers run!

And ever shall my grateful heart
Thy services repay:—
Sir Bertram would no further hear,
But cried, “Vile traitor, stay!”

“Vile traitor, yield that lady up!”
And quick his sword he drew;
The stranger turn’d in sudden rage,
And at Sir Bertram flew.

With mortal hate their vigorous arms
Gave many a vengeful blow;
But Bertram’s stronger hand prevail'd,
And laid the stranger low.

Die, traitor, die!—A deadly thrust
Attends each furious word;
Ah! then fair Isabel knew his voice,
And rush’d beneath his sword.

O stop, she cried, O stop thy arm!
Thou dost thy brother slay!—
And here the hermit paus’d and wept;
His tongue no more could say.

At length he cried—Ye lovely pair,
How shall I tell the rest?
Ere I could stop my piercing sword,
It fell and stabb’d her breast!

Wert thou thyself that hapless youth?
Ah! cruel fate! they said—
The hermit wept, and so did they;
They sigh’d; he hung his head.

O blind and jealous rage, he cried,
What evils from thee flow!
The hermit paus’d; they silent mourn’d;
He wept, and they were woe.

Ah! when I heard my brother’s name,
I saw my lady bleed,
I rav’d, I wept, I curs’d my arm
That wrought the fatal deed.

In vain I clasp’d her to my breast,
And clos’d the ghastly wound;
In vain I press’d his bleeding corpse,
And rais’d it from the ground.

My brother, alas! spake never more;
His precious life was flown,
She kindly strove to soothe my pain,
Regardless of her own.

Bertram, she said, be comforted,
And live to think on me:
May we in heaven that union prove,
Which here was not to be!

Bertram, she said, I still was true!
Thou only hadst my heart:
May we hereafter meet in bliss!
We now, alas! must part.

For thee I left my father’s hall,
And flew to thy relief;
When, lo! near Cheviot’s fatal hills
I met a Scottish chief.

Lord Malcolm’s son, whose proffer’d love
I had refused with scorn;
He slew my guards and seiz’d on me
Upon that fatal morn;

And in these dreary, hated walls,
He kept me close confin’d;
And fondly sued and warmly press’d
To win me to his mind.

Each rising morn increas’d my pain,
Each night increas’d my fear;
When wand’ring in this northern garb
Thy brother found me here.

He quickly form’d his brave design,
To set me captive free;
And on the moor his horses wait,
Tied to a neighbouring tree.

Then haste, my love, escape away,
And for thyself provide;
And sometimes fondly think on her
Who should have been thy bride.

Thus pouring comfort on my soul,
Even with her latest breath,
She gave one parting fond embrace,
And clos’d her eyes in death.

In wild amaze, in speechless woe;
Devoid of sense I lay:—
Then sudden, all in frantic mood,
I meant myself to slay.

And rising up in furious haste,
I seiz’d the bloody brand;
A sturdy arm here interpos’d,
And wrench’d it from my hand.

A crowd that from the castle came,
Had miss’d their lovely ward:
And seizing me, to prison bare,
And deep in dungeon barr’d.

It chanc’d that on that very morn
Their chief was prisoner ta’en;
Lord Percy had us soon exchang’d,
And strove to soothe my pain.

And soon those honour’d dear remains
To England were convey’d;
And there within their silent tombs,
With holy rites were laid.

For me, I loath’d my wretched life
And long to end it thought;
Till time, and books, and holy men
Had better counsels taught.

They rais’d my heart to that pure source
Whence heavenly comfort flows:
They taught me to despise the world,
And calmly bear its woes.

No more the slave of human pride,
Vain hope, and sordid care;
I meekly vowed to spend my life
In penitence and prayer.

The bold Sir Bertram now no more,
Impetuous, haughty, wild;
But poor and humble Benedict,
Now lowly, patient, mild.

My lands I gave to feed the poor,
And sacred altars raise;
And here a lonely Anchorite,
I came to end my days.

This sweet sequester’d vale I chose,
These rocks and hanging grove,
For oft beside that murm’ring stream
My love was wont to rove.

My noble friend approv’d my choice;
This blest retreat he gave;
And here I carv’d her beauteous form,
And scoop’d this holy cave.

Full fifty winters, all forlorn
My life I’ve linger’d here;
And daily o’er this sculptur’d saint
I drop the pensive tear.

And thou, dear brother of my heart,
So faithful and so true,
The sad remembrance of thy fate
Still makes my bosom rue!

Yet not unpitied pass’d my life,
Forsaken or forgot,
The Percy and his noble sons
Would grace my lowly cot.

Oft the great Earl from toils of state,
And cumbrous pomp of power,
Would gladly seek my little cell
To spend the tranquil hour.

But length of life is length of woe,
I liv’d to mourn his fall:
I liv’d to mourn his godlike sons,
And friends and followers all.

But thou the honours of thy race,
Lov’d youth, shalt now restore,
And raise again the Percy name
More glorious than before.

He ceas’d, and on the lovely pair
His chosen blessings laid:
While they with thanks and pitying tears,
His mournful tale repaid.

And now what present course to take
They ask the good old sire;
And, guided by his sage advice,
To Scotland they retire.

Meantime their suit such favour found,
At Raby’s stately hall,
Earl Neville and his princely spouse
Now gladly pardon all.

She suppliant at her nephew’s throne,
The royal grace implor’d:
To all the honours of the race
The Percy was restor’d.

The youthful Earl still more and more
Admir’d the beauteous dame;
Nine noble sons to him she bore,
All worthy of their name.

Hermit of Warkworth - Endpiece.png


(1) Robert Stuart, Duke of Albany.

(2) Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmoreland, who chiefly resided at his two castles of Brancepeth and Raby, both in the bishopric of Durham.

(3) Joan, Countess of Westmoreland, mother of the young lady, was daughter of John of Gaunt, and half sister of King Henry IV.

(4) Adjoining to the cliff which contains the Chapel of the Hermitage, are the remains of a small building, in which the hermit dwelt. This consisted of one lower apartment, with a little bedchamber over it, and is now in ruins; whereas the Chapel, cut in the solid rock, is still entire and perfect.

(5) In the little island of Coquet, near Warkworth, are still seen the ruins of a Cell, which belonged to the Benedictine monks of Tynemouth Abbey.

(6) This is a Bull’s Head, the crest of the Widdrington family. All the figures, &e. here described are still visible, only somewhat effaced with length of time.

(7) Widdrington Castle, about five miles south of Warkworth.

(8) In Lower Normandy are three places of the name of Percy; whence the family took the surname De Percy.

(9) William de Percy, (fifth in descent from Galfred or Gaffrey de Percy, son of Mainfred) assisted in the conquest of England, and had given him the large possessions in Yorkshire of Emma de Porte, (so the Norman writers name her) whose father, a great Saxon Lord, had been slain fighting along with Harold. This young lady, William, from a principle of honour and generosity, married;— for having had all her lands bestowed on him by the Conqueror, “he,” to use the words of the old Whitby Chronicle, “wedded hyr that was very heire to them, in discharging of his conscience.” He died at Mountjoy, near Jerusalem, in the first Crusade.

(10) Agnes de Percy sole heiress of her house, married Josceline de Louvaine, youngest son of Godfrey Barbatus, duke of Brabant, and brother of Queen Adeliza, second wife of King Henry I, he took the name of Percy, and was ancestor of the Earls of Northumberland. His son, Lord Richard de Percy, was one of the twenty-six barons chosen to see the Magna Charta duly observed.

(11) Wark Castle, a fortress belonging to the English, and of great note in ancient times, stood on the southern bank of the river Tweed, a little to the east of Tiviotdale, and not far from Kelso. It is now entirely destroyed.


WARKWORTH CASTLE, in Northumberland, stands very boldly on a neck of land near the sea-shore, almost surrounded by the river Coquet (called by our old Latin historians Coqueda) which runs with a clear and rapid stream, but when swollen with rains becomes violent and dangerous.

About a mile from the Castle, in a deep romantic valley, are the remains of a Hermitage; of which the Chapel is still entire. This is hollowed with great elegance, in a cliff near the river; as are also two adjoining apartments, which probably served for the Sacristy and Vestry, or were appropriated to other sacred uses; for the former of these, which runs parallel with the Chapel, appears to have had an altar in it, for occasionally celebrating the mass.

Each of the apartments is extremely small; for the principal Chapel, in length, exceeds not 18 feet - and the breadth and height not more than 7 feet and a half. It is, however, very beautifully designed, and executed in the solid rock, and has all the decorations of a complete Gothic Cathedral in miniature.

But what principally distinguishes the Chapel, is a small tomb or monument on the south side of the altar; on the top of which lies a female figure, extended in the manner that effigies are usually exhibited praying on ancient tombs. The figure, which is very delicately designed, some have supposed to be the image of the Virgin Mary; but it has not the least resemblance to the manner in which she is represented in the Romish Churches, where she is usually erect, as the object of adoration, and never in a prostrate recumbent posture. Indeed, the real image of the blessed Virgin probably stood in a small niche, still visible, behind the alter; whereas the figure of a Bull’s Head, which is rudely carved at the Lady’s feet, the usual place for the Crest in old monuments, plainly proves her to have been a very different personage.—About the tomb are several other figures cut in the natural rock, like those before mentioned. What slight traditions are scattered through the country, concerning the origin and foundalion of the Hermitage, tomb, &c. are delivered to the reader in the following rhymes.

It is universally agreed, that the founder was one of the Bertram family, which had once considerable possessions in Northumberland, and were anciently Lords of Bothal Castle, which is 10 miles from Warkworth. He has been thought to be the same Bertram that endowed Brinkburn Priory, and built Brinkshaugh Chapel, which both stand in the same winding valley, higher up the river; bus Brinkburn Priory was founded in the reign of King Henry I. The style of the architecture of the Chapel of the Hermitage prevailed at a later period, about the reign of King Edward III.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


Thomas Percy