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Well met my brother friend, all on the highway riding,
So simply all alone;
I pray you to tell me what may your calling be,
Or are you a servingman?

O why my brother dear, what makes you to enquire
Or any such thing at my hand?
But since you are so fain, then I will tell you plain
I am a downright husbandman.

If a husbandman you be, then go along with me,
And quickly you shall see out of hand;
Then in a little space, I will help you to a place
Where you may be a servingman.

Kind Sir, I 'turn you thanks for your intelligence
These things I receive at your hand;
But something pray now show, that first I may plainly know
The pleasures of a servingman.

Why, a servingman has pleasure beyond all sort of measure,
With his hawk on his fist as he stands,
For the game that he does kill and the meat that does him fill
Are pleasures for the servingman.

And my pleasure's more than that, to see my oxen fat,
And a good stock of hay by them stand;
My ploughing and my sowing, my reaping and my mowing,
Are pleasures for the husbandman.

Why, it is a gallant thing to ride out with a king,
With a lord, duke, or any such man;
To hear the horns to blow, and see the hounds all in a row,
That is pleasure for the servingman.

But my pleasure's more, I know, to see my corn to grow,
And so thriving all over my land;
And therefore do I mean, with my ploughing, with my team,
To keep myself a husbandman.

Why, the diet that we eat is the choicest of all meat,
Such as pig, goose, capon and swan;
Our pastry is so fine, we drink sugar in out wine,
That is living for a servingman.

Talk not of goose or capon, give me good beef or bacon,
And good bread and cheese now and then:
With pudding, brawn, and souse, all in a farmer's house,
That is living for the husbandman.

Why, the clothing that we wear is delicate and rare,
With our coat, lace, buckles and band;
Our shirts are white as milk, our stockings they are silk,
That is clothing for the hasbandman.

But I value not a hair for delicate fine wear
Such as gold is lac-ed upon;
Give me a good great coat and in my purse a groat,
That is clothing for the husbandman.

Kind Sir, it would be bad if none could be had
Those tables for to wait upon;
There is no lord, duke, or squire, nor ne'er a man of honour
Can do without a servingman.

But Jack, it would be worse if there was none of us,
The plough for to follow along;
There is neither lord nor king, nor any other one
Can do without the husbandman.

Kind Sir, I must confess and I humbly protest
I will give to you the uppermost hand;
Although your labour's painful it is so very gainful
I wish I were a husbandman.

So come now let us all both great as well as small
Pray for the grain of our land
And let us whatsoever do all our best endeavour
To maintain the good husbandman.

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Source: Lucy Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland. 1893, English County Songs, Leadenhall Press, London

Lucy Broadwood wrote:
The oldest printed version of this dialogue is in the Loyal Garland (Percy Society, vol xxix); the words are only slightly different from those given above, except that in the last verse, the second line runs "Pray for the peace of old England" in allusion to the Civil Wars, from which period the collection dates.  A version of the same tune is given in Sussex Songs, in wich, as in almost all other versions the servingman, in the part for two voices, repeats the words of the husbandman, instead of his own.  This may, of course, be done here, if preferred, and in any case, both voices must sing the husbandman's sentiment in the last verse.  In Davies Gilbert's version, here given, the third bar for the end is in unison for the voices; in this case we have taken the liberty of adopting the reading from the Sussex version.  A version, set to a much later tune is sent by Mrs Slingsby, Skipton, and there is no doubt that this dialogue isn some form or other is known in many parts of the country.  The tune is a variant of "I am the Duke of Norfolk."


Roud: 873 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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