Henry's Songbook

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The Beggar Wench

  • Trad

    Weel dae ye ken o' the merchant's son, tae the beggin' he has gone
    He's mounted on his noble steed and awa' for pleasure, man, he did ride
    La-di-right-fal-a, la-di-right-fal-ay

    A beggar wench he chanced tae meet, a beggar wench of low degree
    He's ta'en pity in her distress and he says, Ach lassie, ye've a bonnie face

    They baith incline'd tae tak' a drink, and tae a public hoose they went
    They're drinkin' ale and brandy too till the baith o' them they get roarin' fu'

    They baith incline'd tae gang tae bed, and under covers they soon was laid
    The ale and brandy went tae their heid till the baith o' them lay as they were deid

    A little while later the young maid rose, and she put on the merchant's claes
    Wi' his hat sae high and his linen sae clear, ay and she's awa' wi' the merchant's gear

    A little while later the young man rose, he looke'd round for tae find his claes
    There's nothing there intae the room but a ragged petticoat and a winsey goon

    Him being a stranger tae the toon he put on that tatty goon
    And doon the road he as strongly swore that he'll never lie wi' a beggar whoor

    As sung by Arthur Johnstone (tune: The Doffin' Mistress)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1968:] This fine racy song originally comes from England and even in Scottish versions English place names are used. Nevertheless it now seems most common in North East Scotland where few traditional singers lack a version.
    The earliest broadsides of it, such as that printed in 1723 in London, are rather long winded and diffuse, in the manner of these things, but the process of oral transmission has cut away the dead wood leaving a terse economical narrative. The melody used for the song in Aberdeenshire is very common in British folk song, being used for the ballad King Henry Fifth's Conquest of France and many others in both England and Scotland. (Peter Hall, notes Norman Kennedy, 'Scots Songs and Ballads')

    [1978:] A Scottish version of a song first printed in 1723 in 'A Collection of Old Ballads' (Vol. II, page 228). Its title there is The Merchant's Son and the Beggar Wench of Hull. An exceedingly beautiful fragment of this same song was recorded in 1952 from the late John Strachan of Crichie, near Fyvie, in Aberdeenshire. The tune is well known in Northern Ireland as that of The Doffin' Mistress. The liking of the travelling people for this song is very understandable. The "Gadgie's lowie" is travellers' cant for "the man's money". In Thomas Harman's 'A Caveat for Common Cursitors' - a book which contains a glossary of 16th century English thieves' slang - "lowie" appears as "lour". [...] The modern "lolly" is clearly related to both lowie and lour. (Hamish Henderson, notes 'Davie Stewart')

Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 02.04.2010, 08.09.99