Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of England
Robert Bell

Part 4 out of 6

He swore he would sing the first song,
And one that was pleasant and jolly:
And that should be 'Hence, Melancholy!'
'Now give me a dance,' quoth Doll,
'Come, Jeffrery, play up Mad Moll,
'Tis time to be merry and frisky, -
But first I must have some more whiskey.'
'Oh! you're right,' says Arthur, 'my love!
My daffy-down-dilly! my dove!
My everything! my wife!
I ne'er was so pleased in my life,
Since my name it was Arthur O'Bradley!'
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Then the piper he screwed up his bags,
And the girls began shaking their rags;
First up jumped old Mother Crewe,
Two stockings, and never a shoe.
Her nose was crooked and long,
Which she could easily reach with her tongue;
And a hump on her back she did not lack,
But you should take no notice of that;
And her mouth stood all awry,
And she never was heard to lie,
For she had been dumb from her birth;
So she nodded consent to the mirth,
For honour of Arthur O'Bradley.
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Then the parson led off at the top,
Some danced, while others did hop;
While some ran foul of the wall,
And others down backwards did fall.
There was lead up and down, figure in,
Four hands across, then back again.
So in dancing they spent the whole night,
Till bright Phoebus appeared in their sight;
When each had a kiss of the bride,
And hopped home to his own fire-side:
Well pleased was Arthur O'Bradley!
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!


[This is one of our oldest agricultural ditties, and maintains its
popularity to the present hour. It is called for at merry-makings
and feasts in every part of the country. The tune is in the minor
key, and of a pleasing character.]

'Come, all you jolly ploughmen, of courage stout and bold,
That labour all the winter in stormy winds, and cold;
To clothe the fields with plenty, your farm-yards to renew,
To crown them with contentment, behold the painful plough!'

'Hold! ploughman,' said the gardener, 'don't count your trade with
Walk through the garden, and view the early flowers;
Also the curious border and pleasant walks go view, -
There's none such peace and plenty performed by the plough!'

'Hold! gardener,' said the ploughman, 'my calling don't despise,
Each man for his living upon his trade relies;
Were it not for the ploughman, both rich and poor would rue,
For we are all dependent upon the painful plough.

'Adam in the garden was sent to keep it right,
But the length of time he stayed there, I believe it was one night;
Yet of his own labour, I call it not his due,
Soon he lost his garden, and went to hold the plough.

'For Adam was a ploughman when ploughing first begun,
The next that did succeed him was Cain, the eldest son;
Some of the generation this calling now pursue;
That bread may not be wanting, remains the painful plough.

Samson was the strongest man, and Solomon was wise,
Alexander for to conquer 'twas all his daily prise;
King David was valiant, and many thousands slew,
Yet none of these brave heroes could live without the plough!

Behold the wealthy merchant, that trades in foreign seas,
And brings home gold and treasure for those who live at ease;
With fine silks and spices, and fruits also, too,
They are brought from the Indies by virtue of the plough.

'For they must have bread, biscuit, rice pudding, flour and peas,
To feed the jolly sailors as they sail o'er the seas;
And the man that brings them will own to what is true,
He cannot sail the ocean without the painful plough!

'I hope there's none offended at me for singing this,
For it is not intended for anything amiss.
If you consider rightly, you'll find what I say is true,
For all that you can mention depends upon the plough.'


[The common editions of this popular song inform us that it is
taken 'from an Old Ballad,' alluding probably to the dialogue given
at page 44. This song is quoted by Farquhar.]

A country life is sweet!
In moderate cold and heat,
To walk in the air, how pleasant and fair!
In every field of wheat,
The fairest of flowers adorning the bowers,
And every meadow's brow;
To that I say, no courtier may
Compare with they who clothe in grey,
And follow the useful plow.

They rise with the morning lark,
And labour till almost dark;
Then folding their sheep, they hasten to sleep;
While every pleasant park
Next morning is ringing with birds that are singing,
On each green, tender bough.
With what content, and merriment,
Their days are spent, whose minds are bent
To follow the useful plow.

The gallant that dresses fine,
And drinks his bottles of wine,
Were he to be tried, his feathers of pride,
Which deck and adorn his back,
Are tailors' and mercers', and other men dressers,
For which they do dun them now.
But Ralph and Will no compters fill
For tailor's bill, or garments still,
But follow the useful plow.

Their hundreds, without remorse,
Some spend to keep dogs and horse,
Who never would give, as long as they live,
Not two-pence to help the poor;
Their wives are neglected, and harlots respected;
This grieves the nation now;
But 'tis not so with us that go
Where pleasures flow, to reap and mow,
And follow the useful plow.


[This song, familiar to the dwellers in the dales of Yorkshire, was
published in 1729, in the Vocal Miscellany; a collection of about
four hundred celebrated songs. As the Miscellany was merely an
anthology of songs already well known, the date of this song must
have been sometime anterior to 1729. It was republished in the
British Musical Miscellany, or the Delightful Grove, 1796, and in a
few other old song books. It was evidently founded on an old
black-letter dialogue preserved in the Roxburgh collection, called
A Mad Kinde of Wooing; or, a Dialogue between Will the Simple and
Nan the Subtill, with their loving argument. To the tune of the
New Dance at the Red Bull Playhouse. Printed by the assignees of
Thomas Symcock.]

'Sweet Nelly! my heart's delight!
Be loving, and do not slight
The proffer I make, for modesty's sake:-
I honour your beauty bright.
For love, I profess, I can do no less,
Thou hast my favour won:
And since I see your modesty,
I pray agree, and fancy me,
Though I'm but a farmer's son.

'No! I am a lady gay,
'Tis very well known I may
Have men of renown, in country or town;
So! Roger, without delay,
Court Bridget or Sue, Kate, Nancy, or Prue,
Their loves will soon be won;
But don't you dare to speak me fair,
As if I were at my last prayer,
To marry a farmer's son.'

'My father has riches' store,
Two hundred a year, and more;
Beside sheep and cows, carts, harrows, and ploughs;
His age is above threescore.
And when he does die, then merrily I
Shall have what he has won;
Both land and kine, all shall be thine,
If thou'lt incline, and wilt be mine,
And marry a farmer's son.'

'A fig for your cattle and corn!
Your proffered love I scorn!
'Tis known very well, my name is Nell,
And you're but a bumpkin born.'
'Well! since it is so, away I will go, -
And I hope no harm is done;
Farewell, adieu!--I hope to woo
As good as you,--and win her, too,
Though I'm but a farmer's son.'

'Be not in such haste,' quoth she,
'Perhaps we may still agree;
For, man, I protest I was but in jest!
Come, prythee sit down by me;
For thou art the man that verily can
Win me, if e'er I'm won;
Both straight and tall, genteel withal;
Therefore, I shall be at your call,
To marry a farmer's son.'

'Dear lady! believe me now
I solemnly swear and vow,
No lords in their lives take pleasure in wives,
Like fellows that drive the plough:
For whatever they gain with labour and pain,
They don't with 't to harlots run,
As courtiers do. I never knew
A London beau that could outdo
A country farmer's son.'


[Mr Denham of Piersbridge, who communicates the following, says--
'there is no question that the Farmer's Boy is a very ancient song;
it is highly popular amongst the north country lads and lasses.'
The date of the composition may probably be referred to the
commencement of the last century, when there prevailed amongst the
ballad-mongers a great rage for Farmers' Sons, Plough Boys, Milk
Maids, Farmers' Boys, &c. &c. The song is popular all over the
country, and there are numerous printed copies, ancient and

The sun had set behind yon hills,
Across yon dreary moor,
Weary and lame, a boy there came
Up to a farmer's door:
'Can you tell me if any there be
That will give me employ,
To plow and sow, and reap and mow,
And be a farmer's boy?

'My father is dead, and mother is left
With five children, great and small;
And what is worse for mother still,
I'm the oldest of them all.
Though little, I'll work as hard as a Turk,
If you'll give me employ,
To plow and sow, and reap and mow,
And be a farmer's boy.

'And if that you won't me employ,
One favour I've to ask, -
Will you shelter me, till break of day,
From this cold winter's blast?
At break of day, I'll trudge away
Elsewhere to seek employ,
To plow and sow, and reap and mow,
And be a farmer's boy.'

'Come, try the lad,' the mistress said,
'Let him no further seek.'
'O, do, dear father!' the daughter cried,
While tears ran down her cheek:
'He'd work if he could, so 'tis hard to want food,
And wander for employ;
Don't turn him away, but let him stay,
And be a farmer's boy.'

And when the lad became a man,
The good old farmer died,
And left the lad the farm he had,
And his daughter for his bride.
The lad that was, the farm now has,
Oft smiles, and thinks with joy
Of the lucky day he came that way,
To be a farmer's boy.


[This song is very popular with the country people in every part of
England, but more particularly with the inhabitants of the counties
of Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. The chorus is peculiar to
country songs of the West of England. There are many different
versions. The following one, communicated by Mr. Sandys, was taken
down from the singing of an old blind fiddler, 'who,' says Mr.
Sandys, 'used to accompany it on his instrument in an original and
humorous manner; a representative of the old minstrels!' The air
is in Popular Music. In Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England
there is a version of this song, called Richard of Dalton Dale.

The popularity of this West-country song has extended even to
Ireland, as appears from two Irish versions, supplied by the late
Mr. T. Crofton Croker. One of them is entitled Last New-Year's
Day, and is printed by Haly, Hanover-street, Cork. It follows the
English song almost verbatim, with the exception of the first and
second verses, which we subjoin:-

'Last New-Year's day, as I heard say,
Dick mounted on his dapple gray;
He mounted high and he mounted low,
Until he came to SWEET RAPHOE!
Sing fal de dol de ree,
Fol de dol, righ fol dee.
'My buckskin does I did put on,
My spladdery clogs, TO SAVE MY BROGUES!
And in my pocket a lump of bread,
And round my hat a ribbon red.'

The other version is entitled Dicky of Ballyman, and a note informs
us that 'Dicky of Ballyman's sirname was Byrne!' As our readers
may like to hear how the Somersetshire bumpkin behaved after he had
located himself in the town of Ballyman, and taken the sirname of
Byrne, we give the whole of his amatory adventures in the sister-
island. We discover from them, inter alia, that he had found 'the
best of friends' in his 'Uncle,'--that he had made a grand
discovery in natural history, viz., that a rabbit is a FOWL!--that
he had taken the temperance pledge, which, however, his Mistress
Ann had certainly not done; and, moreover, that he had become an
enthusiast in potatoes!


'On New-Year's day, as I heard say,
Dicky he saddled his dapple gray;
He put on his Sunday clothes,
His scarlet vest, and his new made hose.
Diddle dum di, diddle dum do,
Diddle dum di, diddle dum do.

'He rode till he came to Wilson Hall,
There he rapped, and loud did call;
Mistress Ann came down straightway,
And asked him what he had to say?

''Don't you know me, Mistress Ann?
I am Dicky of Ballyman;
An honest lad, though I am poor, -
I never was in love before.

''I have an uncle, the best of friends,
Sometimes to me a fat rabbit he sends;
And many other dainty fowl,
To please my life, my joy, my soul.

''Sometimes I reap, sometimes I mow,
And to the market I do go,
To sell my father's corn and hay, -
I earn my sixpence every day!'

''Oh, Dicky! you go beneath your mark, -
You only wander in the dark;
Sixpence a day will never do,
I must have silks, and satins, too!

''Besides, Dicky, I must have tea
For my breakfast, every day;
And after dinner a bottle of wine, -
For without it I cannot dine.'

''If on fine clothes our money is spent,
Pray how shall my lord be paid his rent?
He'll expect it when 'tis due, -
Believe me, what I say is true.

''As for tea, good stirabout
Will do far better, I make no doubt;
And spring water, when you dine,
Is far wholesomer than wine.

''Potatoes, too, are very nice food, -
I don't know any half so good:
You may have them boiled or roast,
Whichever way you like them most.'

'This gave the company much delight,
And made them all to laugh outright;
So Dicky had no more to say,
But saddled his dapple and rode away.
Diddle dum di, &c.']

Last New-Year's day, as I've heerd say, {32}
Young Richard he mounted his dapple grey,
And he trotted along to Taunton Dean,
To court the parson's daughter, Jean.
Dumble dum deary, dumble dum deary,
Dumble dum deary, dumble dum dee.

With buckskin breeches, shoes and hose,
And Dicky put on his Sunday clothes;
Likewise a hat upon his head,
All bedaubed with ribbons red.

Young Richard he rode without dread or fear,
Till he came to the house where lived his sweet dear,
When he knocked, and shouted, and bellowed, 'Hallo!
Be the folks at home? say aye or no.'

A trusty servant let him in,
That he his courtship might begin;
Young Richard he walked along the great hall,
And loudly for mistress Jean did call.

Miss Jean she came without delay,
To hear what Dicky had got to say;
'I s'pose you knaw me, mistress Jean,
I'm honest Richard of Taunton Dean.

'I'm an honest fellow, although I be poor,
And I never was in love afore;
My mother she bid me come here for to woo,
And I can fancy none but you.'

'Suppose that I would be your bride,
Pray how would you for me provide?
For I can neither sew nor spin; -
Pray what will your day's work bring in?'

'Why, I can plough, and I can zow,
And zometimes to the market go
With Gaffer Johnson's straw or hay,
And yarn my ninepence every day!'

'Ninepence a-day will never do,
For I must have silks and satins too!
Ninepence a day won't buy us meat!'
'Adzooks!' says Dick, 'I've a zack of wheat;

'Besides, I have a house hard by,
'Tis all my awn, when mammy do die;
If thee and I were married now,
Ods! I'd feed thee as fat as my feyther's old zow.'

Dick's compliments did so delight,
They made the family laugh outright;
Young Richard took huff, and no more would say,
He kicked up old Dobbin, and trotted away,
Singing, dumble dum deary, &c.


[The following song is the original of a well-known and popular
Scottish song:-

'I hae laid a herring in saut;
Lass, 'gin ye lo'e me, tell me now!
I ha'e brewed a forpit o' maut,
An' I canna come ilka day to woo.'

There are modern copies of our Kentish Wooing Song, but the present
version is taken from Melismata, Musical phansies fitting the
court, citie, and countree. To 3, 4, and 5 voyces. London,
printed by William Stansby, for Thomas Adams, 1611. The tune will
be found in Popular Music, I., 90. The words are in the Kentish

Ich have house and land in Kent,
And if you'll love me, love me now;
Two-pence half-penny is my rent, -
Ich cannot come every day to woo.
Chorus. Two-pence half-penny is his rent,
And he cannot come every day to woo.

Ich am my vather's eldest zonne,
My mouther eke doth love me well!
For Ich can bravely clout my shoone,
And Ich full-well can ring a bell.
Cho. For he can bravely clout his shoone,
And he full well can ring a bell. {33}

My vather he gave me a hogge,
My mouther she gave me a zow;
Ich have a god-vather dwells there by,
And he on me bestowed a plow.
Cho. He has a god-vather dwells there by,
And he on him bestowed a plow.

One time Ich gave thee a paper of pins,
Anoder time a taudry lace;
And if thou wilt not grant me love,
In truth Ich die bevore thy vace.
Cho. And if thou wilt not grant his love,
In truth he'll die bevore thy vace.

Ich have been twice our Whitson Lord,
Ich have had ladies many vare;
And eke thou hast my heart in hold,
And in my minde zeemes passing rare.
Cho. And eke thou hast his heart in hold,
And in his minde zeemes passing rare.

Ich will put on my best white sloppe,
And Ich will weare my yellow hose;
And on my head a good gray hat,
And in't Ich sticke a lovely rose.
Cho. And on his head a good grey hat,
And in't he'll stick a lovely rose.

Wherefore cease off, make no delay,
And if you'll love me, love me now;
Or els Ich zeeke zome oder where, -
For Ich cannot come every day to woo.
Cho. Or else he'll zeeke zome oder where,
For he cannot come every day to woo. {34}


[This song, on the same subject as the preceding, is as old as the
reign of Henry VIII., the first verse, says Mr. Chappell, being
found elaborately set to music in a manuscript of that date. The
air is given in Popular Music, I., 87.]

Quoth John to Joan, wilt thou have me?
I prythee now, wilt? and I'ze marry with thee,
My cow, my calf, my house, my rents,
And all my lands and tenements:
Oh, say, my Joan, will not that do?
I cannot come every day to woo.

I've corn and hay in the barn hard by,
And three fat hogs pent up in the sty:
I have a mare, and she is coal black,
I ride on her tail to save my back.
Then say, &c.

I have a cheese upon the shelf,
And I cannot eat it all myself;
I've three good marks that lie in a rag,
In the nook of the chimney, instead of a bag.
Then say, &c.

To marry I would have thy consent,
But faith I never could compliment;
I can say nought but 'hoy, gee ho,'
Words that belong to the cart and the plow.
Then say, &c.


[This old ditty, in its incidents, bears a resemblance to Dumble-
dum-deary, see ante, p. 149. It used to be a popular song in the
Yorkshire dales. We have been obliged to supply an hiatus in the
second verse, and to make an alteration in the last, where we have
converted the 'red-nosed parson' of the original into a squire.]

Harry courted modest Mary,
Mary was always brisk and airy;
Harry was country neat as could be,
But his words were rough, and his duds were muddy.

Harry when he first bespoke her,
[Kept a dandling the kitchen poker;]
Mary spoke her words like Venus,
But said, 'There's something I fear between us.

'Have you got cups of China mettle,
Canister, cream-jug, tongs, or kettle?'
'Odzooks, I've bowls, and siles, and dishes,
Enow to supply any prudent wishes.

'I've got none o' your cups of Chaney,
Canister, cream-jug, I've not any;
I've a three-footed pot and a good brass kettle,
Pray what do you want with your Chaney mettle?

'A shippen full of rye for to fother,
A house full of goods, one mack or another;
I'll thrash in the lathe while you sit spinning,
O, Molly, I think that's a good beginning.'

'I'll not sit at my wheel a-spinning,
Or rise in the morn to wash your linen;
I'll lie in bed till the clock strikes eleven--'
'Oh, grant me patience gracious Heaven!

'Why then thou must marry some red-nosed squire,
[Who'll buy thee a settle to sit by the fire,]
For I'll to Margery in the valley,
She is my girl, so farewell Malley.'


[Our copy of this song is taken from one in the Roxburgh
Collection, where it is called, The Country Farmer's vain glory; in
a new song of Harvest Home, sung to a new tune much in request.
Licensed according to order. The tune is published in Popular
Music. A copy of this song, with the music, may be found in
D'Urfey's Pills to purge Melancholy. It varies from ours; but
D'Urfey is so loose and inaccurate in his texts, that any other
version is more likely to be correct. The broadside from which the
following is copied was 'Printed for P. Brooksby, J. Dencon
[Deacon], J. Blai[r], and J. Back.']

Our oats they are howed, and our barley's reaped,
Our hay is mowed, and our hovels heaped;
Harvest home! harvest home!
We'll merrily roar out our harvest home!
Harvest home! harvest home!
We'll merrily roar out our harvest home!
We'll merrily roar out our harvest home!

We cheated the parson, we'll cheat him again;
For why should the vicar have one in ten?
One in ten! one in ten!
For why should the vicar have one in ten?
For why should the vicar have one in ten?
For staying while dinner is cold and hot,
And pudding and dumpling's burnt to pot;
Burnt to pot! burnt to pot!
Till pudding and dumpling's burnt to pot,
Burnt to pot! burnt to pot!

We'll drink off the liquor while we can stand,
And hey for the honour of old England!
Old England! old England!
And hey for the honour of old England!
Old England! old England!


[From an old copy without printer's name or date.]

Come, Roger and Nell,
Come, Simpkin and Bell,
Each lad with his lass hither come;
With singing and dancing,
And pleasure advancing,
To celebrate harvest-home!

Chorus. 'Tis Ceres bids play,
And keep holiday,
To celebrate harvest-home!
To celebrate harvest-home!

Our labour is o'er,
Our barns, in full store,
Now swell with rich gifts of the land;
Let each man then take,
For the prong and the rake,
His can and his lass in his hand.
For Ceres, &c.

No courtier can be
So happy as we,
In innocence, pastime, and mirth;
While thus we carouse,
With our sweetheart or spouse,
And rejoice o'er the fruits of the earth.
For Ceres, &c.

Ballad: THE MOW. A HARVEST HOME SONG. Tune, Where the bee sucks.

[This favourite song, copied from a chap-book called The Whistling
Ploughman, published at the commencement of the present century, is
written in imitation of Ariel's song, in the Tempest. It is
probably taken from some defunct ballad-opera.]

Now our work's done, thus we feast,
After labour comes our rest;
Joy shall reign in every breast,
And right welcome is each guest:
After harvest merrily,
Merrily, merrily, will we sing now,
After the harvest that heaps up the mow.

Now the plowman he shall plow,
And shall whistle as he go,
Whether it be fair or blow,
For another barley mow,
O'er the furrow merrily:
Merrily, merrily, will we sing now,
After the harvest, the fruit of the plow.

Toil and plenty, toil and ease,
Still the husbandman he sees;
Whether when the winter freeze,
Or in summer's gentle breeze;
Still he labours merrily,
Merrily, merrily, after the plow,
He looks to the harvest, that gives us the mow.


[This song is sung at country meetings in Devon and Cornwall,
particularly on completing the carrying of the barley, when the
rick, or mow of barley, is finished. On putting up the last sheaf,
which is called the craw (or crow) sheaf, the man who has it cries
out 'I have it, I have it, I have it;' another demands, 'What have
'ee, what have 'ee, what have 'ee?' and the answer is, 'A craw! a
craw! a craw!' upon which there is some cheering, &c., and a supper
afterwards. The effect of the Barley-mow Song cannot be given in
words; it should be heard, to be appreciated properly,--
particularly with the West-country dialect.]

Here's a health to the barley-mow, my brave boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
We'll drink it out of the jolly brown bowl,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
Cho. Here's a health to the barley-mow, my brave boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!

We'll drink it out of the nipperkin, boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The nipperkin and the jolly brown bowl,
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the quarter-pint, boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The quarter-pint, nipperkin, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the half-a-pint, boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The half-a-pint, quarter-pint, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the pint, my brave boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The pint, the half-a-pint, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the quart, my brave boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The quart, the pint, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

Well drink it out of the pottle, my boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The pottle, the quart, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the gallon, my boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The gallon, the pottle, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the half-anker, boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The half-anker, gallon, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the anker, my boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The anker, the half-anker, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the half-hogshead, boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The half-hogshead, anker, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the hogshead, my boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The hogshead, the half-hogshead, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the pipe, my brave boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The pipe, the hogshead, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the well, my brave boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The well, the pipe, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the river, my boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The river, the well, &c.
Cho. Here's a health, &c.

We'll drink it out of the ocean, my boys,
Here's a health to the barley-mow!
The ocean, the river, the well, the pipe, the hogshead,
the half-hogshead, the anker, the half-anker,
the gallon, the pottle, the quart, the pint, the
half-a-pint, the quarter-pint, the nipperkin, and
the jolly brown bowl!
Cho. Here's a health to the barley-mow, my brave boys!
Here's a health to the barley-mow!

[The above verses are very much ad libitum, but always in the third
line repeating the whole of the previously-named measures; as we
have shown in the recapitulation at the close of the last verse.]


[The peasantry of Suffolk sing the following version of the Barley-
Mow Song.]

Here's a health to the barley mow!
Here's a health to the man
Who very well can
Both harrow and plow and sow!

When it is well sown
See it is well mown,
Both raked and gavelled clean,
And a barn to lay it in.
He's a health to the man
Who very well can
Both thrash and fan it clean!


[In some of the more remote dales of Craven it is customary at the
close of the hay-harvest for the farmers to give an entertainment
to their men; this is called the churn supper; a name which Eugene
Aram traces to 'the immemorial usage of producing at such suppers a
great quantity of cream in a churn, and circulating it in cups to
each of the rustic company, to be eaten with bread.' At these
churn-suppers the masters and their families attend the
entertainment, and share in the general mirth. The men mask
themselves, and dress in a grotesque manner, and are allowed the
privilege of playing harmless practical jokes on their employers,
&c. The churn-supper song varies in different dales, but the
following used to be the most popular version. In the third verse
there seems to be an allusion to the clergyman's taking tythe in
kind, on which occasions he is generally accompanied by two or
three men, and the parish clerk. The song has never before been
printed. There is a marked resemblance between it and a song of
the date of 1650, called A Cup of Old Stingo. See Popular Music of
the Olden Time, I., 308.]

God rest you, merry gentlemen!
Be not moved at my strain,
For nothing study shall my brain,
But for to make you laugh:
For I came here to this feast,
For to laugh, carouse, and jest,
And welcome shall be every guest,
To take his cup and quaff.
Cho. Be frolicsome, every one,
Melancholy none;
Drink about!
See it out,
And then we'll all go home,
And then we'll all go home!

This ale it is a gallant thing,
It cheers the spirits of a king;
It makes a dumb man strive to sing,
Aye, and a beggar play!
A cripple that is lame and halt,
And scarce a mile a day can walk,
When he feels the juice of malt,
Will throw his crutch away.
Cho. Be frolicsome, &c.

'Twill make the parson forget his men, -
'Twill make his clerk forget his pen;
'Twill turn a tailor's giddy brain,
And make him break his wand,
The blacksmith loves it as his life, -
It makes the tinkler bang his wife, -
Aye, and the butcher seek his knife
When he has it in his hand!
Cho. Be frolicsome, &c.

So now to conclude, my merry boys, all,
Let's with strong liquor take a fall,
Although the weakest goes to the wall,
The best is but a play!
For water it concludes in noise,
Good ale will cheer our hearts, brave boys;
Then put it round with a cheerful voice,
We meet not every day.
Cho. Be frolicsome, &c.


[The most correct copy of this song is that given in The
Westminster Drollery, Part II. p. 80. It is there called The Rural
Dance about the May-pole, the tune, the first-figure dance at Mr.
Young's ball, May, 1671. The tune is in Popular Music. The May-
pole, for so the song is called in modern collections, is a very
popular ditty at the present time. The common copies vary
considerably from the following version, which is much more correct
than any hitherto published.]

Come, lasses and lads, take leave of your dads,
And away to the may-pole hie;
For every he has got him a she,
And the minstrel's standing by;
For Willie has gotten his Jill,
And Johnny has got his Joan,
To jig it, jig it, jig it,
Jig it up and down.

'Strike up,' says Wat; 'Agreed,' says Kate,
'And I prithee, fiddler, play;'
'Content,' says Hodge, and so says Madge,
For this is a holiday.
Then every man did put
His hat off to his lass,
And every girl did curchy,
Curchy, curchy on the grass.

'Begin,' says Hall; 'Aye, aye,' says Mall,
'We'll lead up PACKINGTON'S POUND;'
'No, no,' says Noll, and so says Doll,
'We'll first have SELLENGER'S ROUND.' {35}
Then every man began
To foot it round about;
And every girl did jet it,
Jet it, jet it, in and out.

'You're out,' says Dick; ''Tis a lie,' says Nick,
'The fiddler played it false;'
''Tis true,' says Hugh, and so says Sue,
And so says nimble Alice.
The fiddler then began
To play the tune again;
And every girl did trip it, trip it,
Trip it to the men.

'Let's kiss,' says Jane, {36} 'Content,' says Nan,
And so says every she;
'How many?' says Batt; 'Why three,' says Matt,
'For that's a maiden's fee.'
But they, instead of three,
Did give them half a score,
And they in kindness gave 'em, gave 'em,
Gave 'em as many more.

Then after an hour, they went to a bower,
And played for ale and cakes;
And kisses, too;--until they were due,
The lasses kept the stakes:
The girls did then begin
To quarrel with the men;
And bid 'em take their kisses back,
And give them their own again.

Yet there they sate, until it was late,
And tired the fiddler quite,
With singing and playing, without any paying,
From morning unto night:
They told the fiddler then,
They'd pay him for his play;
And each a two-pence, two-pence,
Gave him, and went away.

'Good night,' says Harry; 'Good night,' says Mary;
'Good night,' says Dolly to John;
'Good night,' says Sue; 'Good night,' says Hugh;
'Good night,' says every one.
Some walked, and some did run,
Some loitered on the way;
And bound themselves with love-knots, love-knots,
To meet the next holiday.


[The following song is sung by the Mayers at Hitchin in the county
of Herts. For an account of the manner in which May-day is
observed at Hitchin, see Hone's Every-Day Book.]

Remember us poor Mayers all!
And thus do we begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.

We have been rambling all the night,
And almost all the day;
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.

A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is but a sprout,
But it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hand.

The hedges and trees they are so green,
As green as any leek;
Our heavenly Father he watered them
With his heavenly dew so sweet.

The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain;
And if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.

The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower;
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in an hour.

The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May!


[At Helstone, in Cornwall, the 8th of May is a day devoted to
revelry and gaiety. It is called the Furry-day, supposed to be a
corruption of Flora's day, from the garlands worn and carried in
procession during the festival. {37} A writer in the Gentleman's
Magazine for June, 1790, says, 'In the morning, very early, some
troublesome rogues go round the streets [of Helstone], with drums
and other noisy instruments, disturbing their sober neighbours, and
singing parts of a song, the whole of which nobody now re-collects,
and of which I know no more than that there is mention in it of the
'grey goose quill,' and of going 'to the green wood' to bring home
'the Summer and the May, O!'' During the festival, the gentry,
tradespeople, servants, &c., dance through the streets, and thread
through certain of the houses to a very old dance tune, given in
the appendix to Davies Gilbert's Christmas Carols, and which may
also be found in Chappell's Popular Music, and other collections.
The Furry-day Song possesses no literary merit whatever; but as a
part of an old and really interesting festival, it is worthy of
preservation. The dance-tune has been confounded with that of the
song, but Mr. Sandys, to whom we are indebted for this
communication, observes that 'the dance-tune is quite different.']

Robin Hood and Little John,
They both are gone to the fair, O!
And we will go to the merry green-wood,
To see what they do there, O!
And for to chase, O!
To chase the buck and doe.
With ha-lan-tow, rumble, O!
For we were up as soon as any day, O!
And for to fetch the summer home,
The summer and the may, O!
For summer is a-come, O!
And winter is a-gone, O!

Where are those Spaniards
That make so great a boast, O?
They shall eat the grey goose feather,
And we will eat the roast, O!
In every land, O!
The land where'er we go.
With ha-lan-tow, &c

As for Saint George, O!
Saint George he was a knight, O!
Of all the knights in Christendom,
Saint George is the right, O!
In every land, O!
The land where'er we go.
With ha-lan-tow, &c.


[The very ancient custom of lighting fires on Midsummer-eve, being
the vigil of St. John the Baptist, is still kept up in several
parts of Cornwall. On these occasions the fishermen and others
dance about the fires, and sing appropriate songs. The following
has been sung for a long series of years at Penzance and the
neighbourhood, and is taken down from the recitation of the leader
of a West-country choir. It is communicated to our pages by Mr.
Sandys. The origin of the Midsummer bonfires is fully explained in
Brand's Popular Antiquities. See Sir H. Ellis's edition of that
work, vol. i. pp. 166-186.]

The bonny month of June is crowned
With the sweet scarlet rose;
The groves and meadows all around
With lovely pleasure flows.

As I walked out to yonder green,
One evening so fair;
All where the fair maids may be seen
Playing at the bonfire.

Hail! lovely nymphs, be not too coy,
But freely yield your charms;
Let love inspire with mirth and joy,
In Cupid's lovely arms.

Bright Luna spreads its light around,
The gallants for to cheer;
As they lay sporting on the ground,
At the fair June bonfire.

All on the pleasant dewy mead,
They shared each other's charms;
Till Phoebus' beams began to spread,
And coming day alarms.

Whilst larks and linnets sing so sweet,
To cheer each lovely swain;
Let each prove true unto their love,
And so farewell the plain.


[In no part of England are the harvest-homes kept up with greater
spirit than in Suffolk. The following old song is a general
favourite on such occasions.]

Here's a health unto our master,
The founder of the feast!
I wish, with all my heart and soul,
In heaven he may find rest.
I hope all things may prosper,
That ever be takes in hand;
For we are all his servants,
And all at his command.

Drink, boys, drink, and see you do not spill,
For if you do, you must drink two,--it is your master's will.

Now our harvest is ended,
And supper is past;
Here's our mistress' good health,
In a full flowing glass!
She is a good woman, -
She prepared us good cheer;
Come, all my brave boys,
And drink off your beer.

Drink, my boys, drink till you come unto me,
The longer we sit, my boys, the merrier shall we be!

In yon green wood there lies an old fox,
Close by his den you may catch him, or no;
Ten thousand to one you catch him, or no.
His beard and his brush are all of one colour, -
[Takes the glass and empties it off.
I am sorry, kind sir, that your glass is no fuller.
'Tis down the red lane! 'tis down the red lane!
So merrily hunt the fox down the red lane! {38}


[An old and very favourite ditty sung in many parts of England at
merry-makings, especially at those which occur during the hay-
harvest. It is not in any collection.]

In the merry month of June,
In the prime time of the year;
Down in yonder meadows
There runs a river clear:
And many a little fish
Doth in that river play;
And many a lad, and many a lass,
Go abroad a-making hay.

In come the jolly mowers,
To mow the meadows down;
With budget and with bottle
Of ale, both stout and brown,
All labouring men of courage bold
Come here their strength to try;
They sweat and blow, and cut and mow,
For the grass cuts very dry.

Here's nimble Ben and Tom,
With pitchfork, and with rake;
Here's Molly, Liz, and Susan,
Come here their hay to make.
While sweet, jug, jug, jug!
The nightingale doth sing,
From morning unto even-song,
As they are hay-making.

And when that bright day faded,
And the sun was going down,
There was a merry piper
Approached from the town:
He pulled out his pipe and tabor,
So sweetly he did play,
Which made all lay down their rakes,
And leave off making hay.

Then joining in a dance,
They jig it o'er the green;
Though tired with their labour,
No one less was seen.
But sporting like some fairies,
Their dance they did pursue,
In leading up, and casting off,
Till morning was in view.

And when that bright daylight,
The morning it was come,
They lay down and rested
Till the rising of the sun:
Till the rising of the sun,
When the merry larks do sing,
And each lad did rise and take his lass,
And away to hay-making.


[Sword-dancing is not so common in the North of England as it was a
few years ago; but a troop of rustic practitioners of the art may
still be occasionally met with at Christmas time, in some of the
most secluded of the Yorkshire dales. The following is a copy of
the introductory song, as it used to be sung by the Wharfdale
sword-dancers. It has been transcribed from a MS. in the
possession of Mr. Holmes, surgeon, at Grassington, in Craven. At
the conclusion of the song a dance ensues, and sometimes a rustic
drama is performed. See post, p. 175. Jumping Joan, alluded to in
the last verse, is a well-known old country dance tune.]

The spectators being assembled, the CLOWN enters, and after drawing
a circle with his sword, walks round it, and calls in the actors in
the following lines, which are sung to the accompaniment of a
violin played outside, or behind the door.

The first that enters on the floor,
His name is Captain Brown;
I think he is as smart a youth
As any in this town:
In courting of the ladies gay,
He fixes his delight;
He will not stay from them all day,
And is with them all the night.

The next's a tailor by his trade,
Called Obadiah Trim;
You may quickly guess, by his plain dress,
And hat of broadest brim,
That he is of the Quaking sect,
Who would seem to act by merit
Of yeas and nays, and hums and hahs,
And motions of the spirit.

The next that enters on the floor,
He is a foppish knight;
The first to be in modish dress,
He studies day and night.
Observe his habit round about, -
Even from top to toe;
The fashion late from France was brought, -
He's finer than a beau!

Next I present unto your view
A very worthy man;
He is a vintner, by his trade,
And Love-ale is his name.
If gentlemen propose a glass,
He seldom says 'em nay,
But does always think it's right to drink,
While other people pay.

The next that enters on the floor,
It is my beauteous dame;
Most dearly I do her adore,
And Bridget is her name.
At needlework she does excel
All that e'er learnt to sew,
And when I choose, she'll ne'er refuse,
What I command her do.

And I myself am come long since,
And Thomas is my name;
Though some are pleased to call me Tom,
I think they're much to blame:
Folks should not use their betters thus,
But I value it not a groat,
Though the tailors, too, that botching crew,
Have patched it on my coat.

I pray who's this we've met with here,
That tickles his trunk wame? {39}
We've picked him up as here we came,
And cannot learn his name:
But sooner than he's go without,
I'll call him my son Tom;
And if he'll play, be it night or day,
We'll dance you JUMPING JOAN.


[The late Sir Cuthbert Sharp remarks, that 'It is still the
practice during the Christmas holidays for companies of fifteen to
perform a sort of play or dance, accompanied by song or music.'
The following version of the song, or interlude, has been
transcribed from Sir C. Sharp's Bishoprick Garland, corrected by
collation with a MS. copy recently remitted to the editor by a
countryman of Durham. The Devonshire peasants have a version
almost identical with this, but laths are used instead of swords,
and a few different characters are introduced to suit the locality.
The pageant called The Fool Plough, which consists of a number of
sword-dancers dragging a plough with music, was anciently observed
in the North of England, not only at Christmas time, but also in
the beginning of Lent. Wallis thinks that the Sword Dance is the
antic dance, or chorus armatus of the Romans. Brand supposes that
it is a composition made up of the gleaning of several obsolete
customs anciently followed in England and other countries. The
Germans still practise the Sword Dance at Christmas and Easter. We
once witnessed a Sword Dance in the Eifel mountains, which closely
resembled our own, but no interlude, or drama, was performed.]

Enter Dancers, decorated with swords and ribbons; the CAPTAIN of
the band wearing a cocked hat and a peacock's feather in it by way
of cockade, and the CLOWN, or 'BESSY,' who acts as treasurer, being
decorated with a hairy cap and a fox's brush dependent.

The CAPTAIN forms with his sword a circle, around which walks.

The BESSY opens the proceedings by singing -

Good gentlemen all, to our captain take heed,
And hear what he's got for to sing;
He's lived among music these forty long year,
And drunk of the elegant {40} spring.

The CAPTAIN then proceeds as follows, his song being accompanied by
a violin, generally played by the BESSY -

Six actors I have brought
Who were ne'er on a stage before;
But they will do their best,
And they can do no more.

The first that I call in
He is a squire's son;
He's like to lose his sweetheart
Because he is too young.

But though he is too young,
He has money for to rove,
And he will spend it all
Before he'll lose his love.

Chorus. Fal lal de ral, lal de dal, fal lal de ra ral da.

Followed by a symphony on the fiddle, during which the introduced
actor walks round the circle.

The CAPTAIN proceeds -

The next that I call in
He is a tailor fine;
What think you of his work?
He made this coat of mine!

Here the CAPTAIN turns round and exhibits his coat, which, of
course, is ragged, and full of holes.

So comes good master Snip,
His best respects to pay:
He joins us in our trip
To drive dull care away.

Chorus and symphony as above.
Here the TAILOR walks round, accompanied by the SQUIRE'S SON. This
form is observed after each subsequent introduction, all the new
comers taking apart.

The next I do call in,
The prodigal son is he;
By spending of his gold
He's come to poverty.

But though he all has spent,
Again he'll wield the plow,
And sing right merrily
As any of us now. {41}

Next comes a skipper bold,
He'll do his part right weel -
A clever blade I'm told
As ever pozed a keel.

He is a bonny lad,
As you must understand;
It's he can dance on deck,
And you'll see him dance on land.

To join us in this play
Here comes a jolly dog,
Who's sober all the day -
If he can get no grog.

But though he likes his grog,
As all his friends do say,
He always likes it best
When other people pay.

Last I come in myself,
The leader of this crew;
And if you'd know my name,
My name it is 'True Blue.'

Here the BESSY gives an account of himself.

My mother was burnt for a witch,
My father was hanged on a tree,
And it's because I'm a fool
There's nobody meddled wi' me.

The dance now commences. It is an ingenious performance, and the
swords of the actors are placed in a variety of graceful positions,
so as to form stars, hearts, squares, circles, &c. &c. The dance
is so elaborate that it requires frequent rehearsals, a quick eye,
and a strict adherence to time and tune. Before it concludes,
grace and elegance have given place to disorder, and at last all
the actors are seen fighting. The PARISH CLERGYMAN rushes in to
prevent bloodshed, and receives a death-blow. While on the ground,
the actors walk round the body, and sing as follows, to a slow,
psalm-like tune:-

Alas! our parson's dead,
And on the ground is laid;
Some of us will suffer for't,
Young men, I'm sore afraid.

I'm sure 'twas none of me,
I'm clear of THAT crime;
'Twas him that follows me
That drew his sword so fine.

I'm sure it was NOT me,
I'm clear of the fact;
'Twas him that follows me
That did this dreadful act.

I'm sure 'twas none of me,
Who say't be villains all;
For both my eyes were closed
When this good priest did fall.

The BESSY sings -

Cheer up, cheer up, my bonny lads,
And be of courage brave,
We'll take him to his church,
And bury him in the grave.

The CAPTAIN speaks in a sort of recitative -

Oh, for a doctor,
A ten pound doctor, oh.


Doctor. Here I am, I.
Captain. Doctor, what's your fee?
Doctor. Ten pounds is my fee!

But nine pounds nineteen shillings eleven pence three farthings I
will take from thee.

The Bessy. There's ge-ne-ro-si-ty!

The DOCTOR sings -

I'm a doctor, a doctor rare,
Who travels much at home;
My famous pills they cure all ills,
Past, present, and to come.

My famous pills who'd be without,
They cure the plague, the sickness {42} and gout,
Anything but a love-sick maid;
If YOU'RE one, my dear, you're beyond my aid!

Here the DOCTOR occasionally salutes one of the fair spectators; he
then takes out his snuff-box, which is always of very capacious
dimensions (a sort of miniature warming-pan), and empties the
contents (flour or meal) on the CLERGYMAN'S face, singing at the
time -

Take a little of my nif-naf,
Put it on your tif-taf;
Parson rise up and preach again,
The doctor says you are not slain.

The CLERGYMAN here sneezes several times, and gradually recovers,
and all shake him by the hand.

The ceremony terminates by the CAPTAIN singing -

Our play is at an end,
And now we'll taste your cheer;
We wish you a merry Christmas,
And a happy new year.
The Bessy. And your pockets full of brass,
And your cellars full of beer!

A general dance concludes the play.


[In the Yorkshire dales the young men are in the habit of going
about at Christmas time in grotesque masks, and of performing in
the farm-houses a sort of rude drama, accompanied by singing and
music. {43} The maskers have wooden swords, and the performance is
an evening one. The following version of their introductory song
was taken down literally from the recitation of a young besom-
maker, now residing at Linton in Craven, who for some years past
has himself been one of these rustic actors. From the allusion to
the pace, or paschal-egg, it is evident that the play was
originally an Easter pageant, which, in consequence of the decline
of the gorgeous rites formerly connected with that season, has been
transferred to Christmas, the only festival which, in the rural
districts of Protestant England, is observed after the olden
fashion. The maskers generally consist of five characters, one of
whom officiates in the threefold capacity of clown, fiddler, and
master of the ceremonies. The custom of masking at Christmas is
common to many parts of Europe, and is observed with especial zest
in the Swiss cantons, where the maskers are all children, and the
performances closely resemble those of England. In Switzerland,
however, more care is bestowed upon the costume, and the songs are
better sung.]

Enter CLOWN, who sings in a sort of chant, or recitative.

I open this door, I enter in,
I hope your favour for to win;
Whether we shall stand or fall,
We do endeavour to please you all.

A room! a room! a gallant room,
A room to let us ride!
We are not of the raggald sort,
But of the royal tribe:
Stir up the fire, and make a light,
To see the bloody act to-night!

Here another of the party introduces his companions by singing to a
violin accompaniment, as follows:

Here's two or three jolly boys, all in one mind;
We've come a pace-egging, {44} I hope you'll prove kind:
I hope you'll prove kind with your money and beer,
We shall come no more near you until the next year.
Fal de ral, lal de lal, &c.

The first that steps up is Lord [Nelson] {45} you'll see,
With a bunch of blue ribbons tied down to his knee;
With a star on his breast, like silver doth shine;
I hope you'll remember this pace-egging time.
Fal de ral, &c.

O! the next that steps up is a jolly Jack tar,
He sailed with Lord [Nelson], during last war:
He's right on the sea, Old England to view:
He's come a pace-egging with so jolly a crew.
Fal de ral, &c.

O! the next that steps up is old Toss-Pot, you'll see,
He's a valiant old man, in every degree,
He's a valiant old man, and he wears a pig-tail;
And all his delight is drinking mulled ale.
Fal de ral, &c.

O! the next that steps up is old Miser, you'll see;
She heaps up her white and her yellow money;
She wears her old rags till she starves and she begs;
And she's come here to ask for a dish of pace eggs.
Fal de ral, &a

The characters being thus duly introduced, the following lines are
sung in chorus by all the party.

Gentlemen and ladies, that sit by the fire,
Put your hand in your pocket, 'tis all we desire;
Put your hand in your pocket, and pull out your purse,
And give us a trifle,--you'll not be much worse.

Here follows a dance, and this is generally succeeded by a dialogue
of an ad libitum character, which varies in different districts,
being sometimes similar to the one performed by the sword-dancers.


[It is still customary in many parts of England to hand round the
wassail, or health-bowl, on New-Year's Eve. The custom is supposed
to be of Saxon origin, and to be derived from one of the
observances of the Feast of Yule. The tune of this song is given
in Popular Music. It is a universal favourite in Gloucestershire,
particularly in the neighbourhood of

'Stair on the wold,
Where the winds blow cold,'

as the old rhyme says.]

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white, and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl is made of a maplin tree;
We be good fellows all;--I drink to thee.

Here's to our horse, {46} and to his right ear,
God send our measter a happy new year:
A happy new year as e'er he did see, -
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.

Here's to our mare, and to her right eye,
God send our mistress a good Christmas pie;
A good Christmas pie as e'er I did see, -
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.

Here's to our cow, and to her long tail,
God send our measter us never may fail
Of a cup of good beer: I pray you draw near,
And our jolly wassail it's then you shall hear.

Be here any maids? I suppose here be some;
Sure they will not let young men stand on the cold stone!
Sing hey O, maids! come trole back the pin,
And the fairest maid in the house let us all in.

Come, butler, come, bring us a bowl of the best;
I hope your soul in heaven will rest;
But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
Then down fall butler, and bowl and all.


As sung by the Mummers in the Neighbourhood of Richmond, Yorkshire,
at the merrie time of Christmas.

[The rustic actor who sings the following song is dressed as an old
horse, and at the end of every verse the jaws are snapped in
chorus. It is a very old composition, and is now printed for the
first time. The 'old horse' is, probably, of Scandinavian origin,-
-a reminiscence of Odin's Sleipnor.]

You gentlemen and sportsmen,
And men of courage bold,
All you that's got a good horse,
Take care of him when he is old;
Then put him in your stable,
And keep him there so warm;
Give him good corn and hay,
Pray let him take no harm.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

Once I had my clothing
Of linsey-woolsey fine,
My tail and mane of length,
And my body it did shine;
But now I'm growing old,
And my nature does decay,
My master frowns upon me,
These words I heard him say, -
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

These pretty little shoulders,
That once were plump and round,
They are decayed and rotten, -
I'm afraid they are not sound.
Likewise these little nimble legs,
That have run many miles,
Over hedges, over ditches,
Over valleys, gates, and stiles.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

I used to be kept
On the best corn and hay
That in fields could be grown,
Or in any meadows gay;
But now, alas! it's not so, -
There's no such food at all!
I'm forced to nip the short grass
That grows beneath your wall.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

I used to be kept up
All in a stable warm,
To keep my tender body
From any cold or harm;
But now I'm turned out
In the open fields to go,
To face all kinds of weather,
The wind, cold, frost, and snow.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

My hide unto the huntsman
So freely I would give,
My body to the hounds,
For I'd rather die than live:
So shoot him, whip him, strip him,
To the huntsman let him go;
For he's neither fit to ride upon,
Nor in any team to draw.
Poor old horse! you must die!


As sung at Richmond, Yorkshire, on the eve of the New Year, by the
Corporation Pinder.

[The custom of singing Hagmena songs is observed in different parts
of both England and Scotland. The origin of the term is a matter
of dispute. Some derive it from 'au guy l'an neuf,' i.e., TO THE
MISLETOE THIS NEW YEAR, and a French Hagmena song still in use
seems to give some authority to such a derivation; others,
dissatisfied with a heathen source, find the term to be a
corruption of [Greek text which cannot be reproduced], i.e., THE
HOLY MONTH. The Hagmena songs are sometimes sung on Christmas Eve
and a few of the preceding nights, and sometimes, as at Richmond,
on the eve of the new year. For further information the reader is
referred to Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. i. 247-8, Sir H.
Ellis's edit. 1842.]

To-night it is the New-year's night, to-morrow is the day,
And we are come for our right, and for our ray,
As we used to do in old King Henry's day.
Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.

If you go to the bacon-flick, cut me a good bit;
Cut, cut and low, beware of your maw;
Cut, cut and round, beware of your thumb,
That me and my merry men may have some,
Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.

If you go to the black-ark, bring me X mark;
Ten mark, ten pound, throw it down upon the ground,
That me and my merry men may have some.
Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.


[The wakes, feasts, or tides of the North of England, were
originally religious festivals in honour of the saints to whom the
parish churches were dedicated. But now-a-days, even in Catholic
Lancashire, all traces of their pristine character have departed,
and the hymns and prayers by which their observance was once
hallowed have given place to dancing and merry-making. At
Greenside, near Manchester, during the wakes, two persons, dressed
in a grotesque manner, the one a male, the other a female, appear
in the village on horseback, with spinning-wheels before them; and
the following is the dialogue, or song, which they sing on these

''Tis Greenside wakes, we've come to the town
To show you some sport of great renown;
And if my old wife will let me begin,
I'll show you how fast and how well I can spin.
Tread the wheel, tread the wheel, den, don, dell O.'

'Thou brags of thyself, but I don't think it true,
For I will uphold thy faults are not a few;
For when thou hast done, and spun very hard,
Of this I'm well sure, thy work is ill marred.
Tread the wheel, tread the wheel, den, don, dell O.'

'Thou'rt a saucy old jade, and pray hold thy tongue,
Or I shall be thumping thee ere it be long;
And if that I do, I shall make thee to rue,
For I can have many a one as good as you.
Tread the wheel, tread the wheel, dan, don, dell O.'

'What is it to me who you can have?
I shall not be long ere I'm laid in my grave;
And when I am dead you may find if you can,
One that'll spin as hard as I've done.
Tread the wheel, tread the wheel, dan, don, dell O.'

'Come, come, my dear wife, here endeth my song,
I hope it has pleased this numerous throng;
But if it has missed, you need not to fear,
We'll do our endeavour to please them next year.
Tread the wheel, tread the wheel, dan, don, dell O.'


As formerly sung or said at Highgate, in the county of Middlesex.

[The proverb, 'He has been sworn at Highgate,' is more widely
circulated than understood. In its ordinary signification it is
applied to a 'knowing' fellow who is well acquainted with the 'good
things,' and always helps himself to the best; and it has its
origin in an old usage still kept up at Highgate, in Middlesex.
Grose, in his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, London,
1785, says, -

A ridiculous custom formerly prevailed at the public-houses of
Highgate, to administer a ludicrous oath to all the men of the
middling rank who stopped there. The party was sworn on a pair of
horns fastened on a stick; the substance of the oath was never to
kiss the maid when he could kiss the mistress, never to drink small
beer when be could get strong, with many other injunctions of the
like kind to all of which was added a saving clause--Unless you
like it best! The person administering the oath was always to be
called father by the juror, and he in return was to style him son,
under the penalty of a bottle.

From this extract it is evident that in 1786 the custom was
ancient, and had somewhat fallen into desuetude. Hone's Year-Book
contains a very complete account of the ceremony, with full
particulars of the mode in which the 'swearing-in' was then
performed in the 'Fox under the Hill.' Hone does not throw any
light on the origin of the practice, nor does he seem to have been
aware of its comparative antiquity. He treated the ceremony as a
piece of modern foolery, got up by some landlord for 'the good of
the house,' and adopted from the same interested motive by others
of the tribe. A subsequent correspondent of Mr. Hone, however,
points out the antiquity of the custom, and shows that it could be
traced back long before the year 1782, when it was introduced into
a pantomime called Harlequin Teague; or, the Giant's Causeway,
which was performed at the Haymarket on Saturday, August 17, 1782.
One of the scenes was Highgate, where, in the 'parlour' of a public
house, the ceremony was performed. Mr. Hone's correspondent sends
a copy of the old initiation song, which varies considerably from
our version, supplied to us in 1851 by a very old man (an ostler)
at Highgate. The reciter said that the COPY OF VERSES was not
often used now, as there was no landlord who could sing, and
gentlemen preferred the speech. He said, moreover, 'that the
verses were not always alike--some said one way, and some another--
some made them long, and some CUT 'EM SHORT.'

Grose was in error when he supposed that the ceremony was confined
to the inferior classes, for even in his day such was not the case.
In subsequent times the oath has been frequently taken by people of
rank, and also by several persons of the highest literary and
political celebrity. An inspection of any one of the register-
books will show that the jurors have belonged to all sorts of
classes, and that amongst them the Harrovians have always made a
conspicuous figure. When the stage-coaches ceased to pass through
the village in consequence of the opening of railways, the custom
declined, and was kept up only at three houses, which were called
the 'original house,' the 'old original,' and the 'real old
original.' Two of the above houses have latterly ceased to hold
courts, and the custom is now confined to the 'Fox under the Hill,'
where the rite is celebrated with every attention to ancient forms
and costume, and for a fee which, in deference to modern notions of
economy, is only one shilling.

Byron, in the first canto of Childe Harold, alludes to the custom
of Highgate:-

Some o'er thy Thamis row the ribboned fair,
Others along the safer turnpike fly;
Some Richmond-hill ascend, some wend to Wara
And many to the steep of Highgate hie.
Ask ye, Boeotian shades! the reason why?
'Tis to the worship of the solemn horn,
Grasped in the holy hand of mystery,
In whose dread name both men and maids {47} are sworn,
And consecrate the oath with draught, and dance till morn.

Canto I, stanza 70.]

Enter LANDLORD, dressed in a black gown and bands, and wearing an
antique-fashioned wig, followed by the CLERK OF THE COURT, also in
appropriate costume, and carrying the registry-book and the horns.

Landlord. Do you wish to be sworn at Highgate?
Candidate. I do, Father.
Clerk. Amen.

The LANDLORD then sings, or says, as follows:-

Silence! O, yes! you are my son!
Full to your old father turn, sir;
This is an oath you may take as you run,
So lay your hand thus on the horn, sir.

Here the CANDIDATE places his right hand on the horn.


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