Aw! Come now, I'll sing you a song,
'Tis a song of right merry intent,
Concerning a silly old man,
Who went for to pay his rent,
And as this here silly old man,
Was riding along the lane,
A Gentleman thief overtook him,
Saying 'Well over-taken old man.'
'What well over-taken, do'y say?'
'Yes well over-taken' quoth he.
'No, no' said the silly old man
'I don't want thy company.'
'I am only a silly old man,
I farm but a parcel of ground,
And I am going to the landlord to pay,
My rent which is just forty pound.'
'But supposing a highway-man stopped you?
For the rascals are many, men say,
And take all the money from off you
As you ride on the king's highway?'
'What! supposing some fellow should stop me?
Why badly the thief would be sped.
For the money I carry about me
In the quilt o'my saddle is hid.'
And as they were riding along,
Along and along the green lane,
The Gentleman thief rode afore him
And summoned the old man to stand.
But the old man was crafty and cunning,
As, I wot, in the world there be many,
Pitched his saddle clean over the hedge,
Saying,' Fetch'n if thou woulds't have any'
Then the thief being thirsty for gold,
And eager to get at his bags,
He dra'ed out his rusty old sword,
And chopped up the saddle to rags.
The old man slipped off his old mare,
And mounted the thief's horse astride,
Clapp'd spur, and put him in a gallop,
Saying, 'I, without teaching, can ride.'
When he to his landlord's had come,
That old man was almost a-spent,
Says he, 'Landlord, provide me a room.
I be come for to pay up my rent.'
He opened the thief, his portmantle
And there was a sight to behold,
There were five hundred pounds in silver,
And five hundred pounds in gold.
And as he was on his way home,
And riding along the same lane,
He seed his silly old mare,
Tied up to the hedge by the mane.
He loosed his old mare from the hedge,
As she of the grass there did crib,
He gi'ed her a whack o' the broad o' the back,
Saying 'Follow me home, Old Tib.'
Aw! When to his home he were come
His daughter he dress'd like a duchess,
And his ol' woman kicked and she capered for joy,
And at Christmas danced jigs on her crutches.
Songs of the West by S. Baring-Gould.
Abridged from S. Baring-Gould.
A ballad that was sung by the late Rev. G. Luscombe something over half a century ago. He was curate at Bickleigh, and by ancestry belonged to a good old Devonshire family, he was paticularly fond of ancient West of England songs. Miss Mason in her 'Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs,' 1877, gives a slight variant.
The ballad is in Dixon's 'Songs of the English Peasantry,' 1846, as taken down from him in Yorkshire in 1845. In Yorkshire the song goes by the name of 'Saddle to Rags'; there and elsewhere in Northern England, it is sung to the tune of 'The Rant,' better known as 'How happy I could be with either.' It has been published as a Scottish Ballad in Maidment's 'Ballads and Songs,' Edinburgh, 1859. It is given in Kidson's 'Traditional Tunes.' The words also are in 'A Pedlar's Pack,' by Logan, Edinburgh, 1849.
The tune to which the ballad is sung in Devonshire is quite distinct.
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six