Ballads Of Robin Hood
Little John a Begging (Child Ballad 142)
Percy Folio ballad. Little John espies four men pretending to be beggars. For their treachery, he takes their ill-gotten gains
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. . . .
. . . .
. . beggar,’ he sayes,
‘With none such fellows as thee.’
‘I am not in iest,’ said Litle Iohn,
‘I sweare all by the roode;
Change with mee,’ said Little Iohn,
‘And I will giue thee some boote.’
But he has gotten on this old mans gowne,
It reacht not to his wrist;
‘Christ’s curse on’s hart,’ said Litle Iohn,
‘That thinkes my gowne amisse.’
But he has gotten on this old mans shoes,
Are clouted nine fold about;
‘Beshrew his hart,’ said Litle Iohn,
‘That bryer or thorne does doubt.
‘Wilt teach me some phrase of thy begging?’ says Iohn;
‘I pray thee, tell it mee,
How I may be as beggar-like
As any in my companie.’
‘Thou must goe two foote on a staffe,
The third upon a tree;
Full loud that thou must cry and fare,
When nothing ayleth thee.’
But Iohn he walket the hills soe high,
Soe did he the hills soe browne;
The ready way that he could take
Was towards Nottingham towne.
But as he was on the hills soe high,
He mett with palmers three;
Sayes, God you saue, my brethren all,
Now God you saue and see!
This seuen yeere I haue you sought;
Before I cold neuer you see!
Said they, Wee had leuer such a cankred carle
Were neuer in our companie.
But one of them tooke Litle Iohn on his head,
The blood ran over his eye;
Little Iohn turned him twise about
. . . .
* * * * *
‘If I . . . .
As I haue beene but one day,
I shold haue purcchased three of the best churches
That stands by any highway.’
ALL you that delight to spend some time
With a hey down down a down down
A merry song for to sing,
Vnto me draw neer, and you shall hear
How Little John went a begging.
As Robin Hood walked the forrest along,
And all his yeomandree,
Sayes Robin, Some of you must a begging go,
And, Little John, it must be thee.
Sayes John, If I must a begging go,
I will have a palmers weed,
With a staff and coat, and bags of all sort,
The better then I shall speed.
Come, give me now a bag for my bread,
And another for my cheese,
And one for a peny, when as I get any,
That nothing I may leese.
Now Little John he is a begging gone,
Seeking for some relief;
But of all the beggers he met on the way,
Little John he was the chief.
But as he was walking himself alone,
Four beggers he chanced to spy,
Some deaf, and some blind, and some came behind;
Says John, Here’s brave company!
‘Good-morrow,’ said John, ’My brethren dear,
Good fortune I had you to see;
Which way do you go? pray let me know,
For I want some company.
‘O what is here to do?’ then said Little John,
‘Why rings all these bells?’ said he;
‘What dog is a hanging? come, let us be ganging,
That we the truth may see.’
‘Here is no dog a hanging,’ then one of them said,
‘Good fellow, we tell unto thee;
But here is one dead wil give us cheese and bred,
And it may be one single peny.’
‘We have brethren in London,’ another he said,
‘So have we in Coventry,
In Barwick and Dover, and all the world over,
But nere a crookt carril like thee.
‘Therefore stand thee back, thou crooked carel,
And take that knock on the crown;’
‘Nay,’ said Little John, ‘I’le not yet be gone,
For a bout will I have with you round.
‘Now have at you all,’ then said Little John,
‘If you be so full of your blows;
Fight on, all four, and nere give ore,
Whether you be friends or foes.’
John nipped the dumb, and made him to rore,
And the blind that could not see,
And he that a cripple had been seven years,
He made him run faster then he.
And flinging them all against the wall,
With many a sturdie bang,
It made John sing, to hear the gold ring,
Which against the walls cryed twang.
Then he got out of the beggers cloak
Three hundred pound in gold;
‘Good fortune had I,’ then said Little John,
‘Such a good sight to behold.’
But what found he in a beggers bag,
But three hundred pound and three?
‘If I drink water while this doth last,
Then an ill death may I dye!
‘And my begging-trade I will now give ore,
My fortune hath bin so good;
Therefore I’le not stay, but I will away
To the forrest of merry Sherwood.’
And when to the forrest of Sherwood he came,
He quickly there did see
His master good, bold Robin Hood,
And all his company.
‘What news? What news?’ then said Robin Hood,
‘Come, Little John, tell unto me;
How hast thou sped with thy beggers trade?
For that I fain would see.’
‘No news but good,’ then said Little John,
‘With begging ful wel I have sped;
Six hundred and three I have here for thee,
In silver and gold so red.’
Then Robin took Little John by the hand,
And danced about the oak-tree:
‘If we drink water while this doth last,
Then an il death may we die!’
So to conclude my merry new song,
All you that delight it to sing,
‘Tis of Robin Hood, that archer good,
And how Little John went a begging.