Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE BEGGAR'S DAUGHTER OF

BEDNALL-GREEN.

This popular old Ballad was written in the reign of Elizabeth, as appears not only from ver. 23,

where the arms of England are called the Queenes armes ;but from its tune's being quoted in other old pieces, written in her time. See the Ballad on MARY AMBREE in this volume.--The late Mr. GUTHRIE assured the Editor, that he had formerly seen another old song on the same subject, composed in a different measure from this; which was truly beautiful, if we may judge from the only stanza be remembered. In this it cvas said of the old Beggar, that down his neck

his reverend lockes
In comelye curles did wave;
And on his aged temples grewe

The blossomes of the grave.”

The following Ballad is chiefly given from the Editor's folio MS. compared with two ancient printed copies: the concluding stanzas, which contain the old Beggar's discovery of himself, are not however given from any of these, being very different from those of the vulgar Ballad. Nor yet does the Editor offer them as genuine, but as a modern at. tempt to remove the absurdities and inconsistencies, which fo remarkably prevailed in this part of the song, as it flood before : whereas by the alteration of a fer lines, the story is rendered much more affecting, and is reconciled to probability and true history. For this informs us, that at ibe decisive battle of Evesham, (fought Aug. 4, 1265.) when Simon de Montfort, the great Earl of Leicester, was sain at the head of the barons, his eldest son Henry fell by his

fide,

fide, and, in consequence of that defeat, his whole family funk for ever, the king bestowing their great honours and Polesions on his second fon Edmund earl of Lancaster,

PART THE FIRST.

[ocr errors]

TT was a blind beggar, had long lost his fight,

He had a faire daughter of bewty moft bright;
And many a gallant brave suiter had shee,
For none was soe comelye as pretty Beffee.

[ocr errors]

And though shee was of favor most faire,
Yett seeing thee was but a poor beggars heyre,
Of ancyent housekeepers despised was thee,
Whose fonnes came as suitors to prettye Bessee.

Wherefore in great forrow faire Besly did say,
Good father, and mother, let me goe away
To seeke out my fortune, whatever itt bee.
-This suite then they granted to prettye Bessee.

[ocr errors]

Then Bessy, that was of bewtye foe bright,
All cladd in gray russett, and late in the night
From father and mother alone parted shee;
Who sighed and sobbed for prettye Bessee.

15

Shee went till shee came to Stratford-le-Bow;
Then knew shee not whither, nor which way to goe:
With teares Mhee lamented her hard destinie,
So sadd and foe heavy was pretty Bessee.
M 2

Shee

20

Shee kept on her journey untill it was day,
And went unto Rumford along the hye way;
Where at the Queenes armes entertained was shee :
Soe faire and wel favoured was pretty Bessee.

25

Shee had not beene there a month to an end,
But master and mistres and all was her friend :
And every brave gallant, that once did her see,
Was straight-way enamourd of pretty Beffee.

30

Great gifts they did send her of silver and gold,
And in their fongs daylye her love was extold;
Her beawtye was blazed in every degree;
Soe faire and sue comelye was pretty Bessee.

The young men of Rumford in her had their joy;
Shee shewed herself curteous, and modestlye coye;
And at her conimandment still wold they bee;
Soe fayre and soe comlye was pretty Bessee.

35

Foure suitors att once unto her did goe;
They craved her favor, but still the fayd noe';
I wold not wish gentles to marry with nee.
Yett ever they honored prettye Bessee.

40

The first of them was a gallant young knight,
And he came unto her disguisde in the night :
The second a gentleman of good degree,
Who wooed and sued for prettye Lefiee.

A mer.

A merchant of London, whose wealth was not small, 45 He was the third suiter, and proper

withall : Her masters own sonne the fourth man must bee, Who swore he would dye for pretty Beffee.

And, if thou wilt marry with mee, quoth the knight,
Ile make thee a ladye with joy and delight;
My hart's so inthralled by thy bewtie,
That soone I shall dye for prettye Bessee,

50

The gentleman fayd, Come, marry with mee,
As fine as a ladye my Bessy shal bee:
My life is distressed: O heare me, quoth hee;
And grant me thy love, my prettye Bessee.

55

Let me bee thy husband, the merchant cold say,
Thou shalt live in London both gallant and gay ;
My shippes shall bring home rych jewells for thee,
And I will for ever love pretty Bessee.

60

Then Beffy shee fighed, and thus shee did say,
My father and mother I meane to obey ;
First gett their good will, and be faithfull to mee,
And you shall enjoye your prettye Beffee.

65

To every one this answer shee made,
Wherfore unto her they joyfullye fayd,
This thing to fulfill wee all doe agree;
But where dwells thy father, my prettye Bessee?

[ocr errors]

My father, shee said, is soone to be seene:
The feely blind beggar of Bednall-greene,
That daylye fits begging for charitie,
He is the good father of pretty Beffee.

His markes and his tokens are knowen very well;
He alwayes is led with a dogg and a bell:
A feely olde man, God knoweth, is hee,
Yett hee is the father of pretty Bessec.

75

Nay then, quoth the merchant, thou art not for mee :
Nor, quoth the innholder, my wiffe thou shalt bee;
I lothe, fayd the gentle, a beggars degree,
And therefore, adewe, my pretty Beflee!

[ocr errors]

Why then, quoth the knight, hap better or worse,
I waighe not true love by the waight of the purfre,
And bewtye is bewtye in every degree;
Then welcome unto mo, my pretty Bessee.

With thee to thy father forthwith I will goe.
Nay soft, quoth his kinímen, it must not be soe;
A poor beggars daughter noe ladye flial bee,
Then take thy adew of pretty Bessee,

But soone after this, by breake of the day
The knight had from Rumford stole Befly away. ga
The younge men of Rumford, as thicke might bee,
Rode after to feitch againę pretty Bessee.

A.

« PreviousContinue »