The Nobleman's Generous Kindness

Melody - "The Two English Travellers"

Traditional ballad

A Nobleman lived in a village of late,
Hard by a poor thrasher, whose charge it was great;
For he had seven children, and most of them small,
And nought but his labour to support them withal.

2. He never was given to idle and lurk,
For this nobleman saw him go daily to work,
With his flail and his bag, and his bottle of beer,
As cheerful as those that have hundreds a year.

3. Thus careful, and constant, each morning he went,
Unto his daily labour with joy and content;
So jocular and jolly he'd whistle and sing,
As blithe and as brisk as the birds in the spring.

4. One morning, this nobleman taking a walk,
He met this poor man, and he freely did talk;
He asked him [at first] many questions at large,
And then began talking concerning his charge.

5. 'Thou hast many children, I very well know,
Thy labour is hard, and thy wages are low,
And yet thou art cheerful; I pray tell me true,
How can you maintain them as well as you do?'

6. 'I carefully carry home what I do earn,
My daily expenses by this I do learn;
And find it is possible, though we be poor,
To still keep the ravenous wolf from the door.

7. 'I reap and I mow, and I harrow and sow,
Sometimes a hedging and ditching I go;
No work comes amiss, for I thrash, and I plough,
Thus my bread I do earn by the sweat of my brow.

8. 'My wife she is willing to pull in a yoke,
We live like two lambs, nor each other provoke;
We both of us strive, like the labouring ant,
And do our endeavours to keep us from want.

9. 'And when I come home from my labour at night,
To my wife and my children, in whom I delight;
To see them come round me with prattling noise, -
Now these are the riches a poor man enjoys.

10. 'Though I am as weary as weary may be,
The youngest I commonly dance on my knee;
I find that content is a moderate feast,
I never repine at my lot in the least.'

11. Now the nobleman hearing what he did say,
Was pleased, and invited him home the next day;
His wife and his children he charged him to bring;
In token of favour he gave him a ring.

12. He thanked his honour, and taking his leave,
He went to his wife, who would hardly believe
But this same story himself he might raise;
Yet seeing the ring she was [lost] in amaze.

13. Betimes in the morning the good wife she arose,
And made them all fine, in the best of their clothes;
The good man with his good wife, and children small,
They all went to dine at the nobleman's hall.

14. But when they came there, as truth does report,
All things were prepared in a plentiful sort;
And they at the nobleman's table did dine,
With all kinds of dainties, and plenty of wine.

15. The feast being over, he soon let them know,
That he then intended on them to bestow
A farm-house, with thirty good acres of land;
And gave them the writings then, with his own hand.

16. 'Because thou art careful, and good to thy wife,
I'll make thy days happy the rest of thy life;
It shall be for ever, for thee and thy heirs,
Because I beheld thy industrious cares.'

17. No tongue then is able in full to express
The depth of their joy, and true thankfulness;
With many a curtsey, and bow to the ground, -
Such noblemen there are but few to be found.


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