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K, JOHN AND THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY.
The common popular ballad of KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT seems to have been abridged and modernized about the time of James I. from one much older, intitled, “ KING
JOHN AND THE Bishop of CANTERBURY.” The Edi. tor's folio MS. contains a copy of this laft, but in too corrupt 4 ftate to be reprinted; it however afforded many lines werth revising, which will be found inserted in the ensuing ftanzas.
The archness of the following questions and anfwers bath been much admired by our old ballad-makers : for befides the two copies abovementioued, there is extant another ballad or the same subject, (but of no great antiguity or merit) intitled “ KING OLFREY AND THE ABBOT. Lalily, about the time of the civil wars, when the
ran against the bifretis fome Puritan worked up the same story into a very doleful ditt, to a solemn tune, concerning
- KING HENRY AND A BiSHOP," with this fringing moral,
- Unlearned men hard matters out can find,
The following is chiefly printed from an ancient black-letter coty, “ To the tune of Derry down.”
N ancient story Ile tell
you anon Of a notable prince, that was called king John ; And he ruled England with maine and with might, For he did great wrong, and maintein'd little right.
And Ile tell you a story, a story so mcrrye,
An hundred men, the king did heare say,
now, father abbot, I heare it of thee,
My liege, quo' the abbot, I would it were knowne,
Yes, yes, father abbot, thy fault it is highe,
thou canst answer me questions three, Thy head shall be smitten from thy bodie.
And first, quo' the king, when I'm in this stead,
my crowne of golde fo faire on my head, Among all my liege-men so noble of birthe Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worthe.
Sccondlye, tell me, without any doubt,
O, these are hard questions for my shallow witt;
Now three weeks space to thee will I give,
Away rode the abbot all fad at that word;
Then home rode the abbot of comfort fo cold,
Sad newes, fad newes, shepheard, I must give;
smitten from my bodie.
The first is to tell him there in that stead,
The seconde, to tell him; without any doubt,
Now cheare up, fire abbot, did you never hear yet,
learn a wise man witt? Lend me horse, and serving men, and your apparel, And I'll ride to London to answere your quarrel.
Nay frowne not, if it hath bin told unto mee,
will but lend me your gowne, There is none shall knowe us at fair London towne.
Now horses, and serving-men thou shalt have,
Now welcome, fire abbot, the king did say,
And first, when thou seest me here in this stead,
For thirty pence our Saviour was fold
The king he laughed, and swore by St. Bittel*,
You must rise with the sun, and ride with the same,
doubt, But in twenty four hours you'll ride it about.
The king be laughed, and swore by St. Jone,
so soone! --Now from the third question thou must not shrinke, But tell me here truly what I do thinke.
Yea, that shall I do, and make your grace merry:
• Meaning probably St. Botolph.