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NARRATIVE.

TAKE THY OLD CLOAK ABOUT THEE.

(OLD BALLAD, QUOTED BY SHAKSPEARE, IN OTHELLO.)

PERCY RELIQUES.
This winters weather itt waxeth cold,

And frost doth freese on every hill,
And Boreas blowes his blasts soe bold,

That all our cattell are like to spill;
Bell, my wiffe, who loves noe strife,

Shee sayd unto me quietlye,
Rise up, and save cow Cambockes liffe,

Man, put thine old cloake about thee.

HE,
O Bell, why dost thou flyte and scorne?

Thou kenst my cloak is very thin :
Itt is soe bare and overworne

A cricke he theron cannot renn:
Then Ile no longer borrowe nor lend,

For once Ile new appareld bee,
To-morrow Ile to towne and spend,

For Ile have a new cloake about mee.

SHE.
Cow Crumbocke is a very gooil cowe,

Shee ha beene alwayes true to the payle,
She has helpt us to butter and cheese, I trow,

And other things shee will not fayle;
I wold be loth to see her pine,

Good husband councell take of mee,
It is not for us to go soe fine,

Man, take thine old cloake about thee.

HE.
My cloake it was a very good cloake

Itt hath been alwayes true to the weare,
But now it is not worth a groat;

I have had it four and forty yeere; Sometime itt was of cloth in graine,

'Tis now but a sigh clout as you may see, It will neither hold out winde nor raine;

And Ile have a new cloake about mee.

Sue
It is four and fortye yeeres agoe

Since the one of us the other did ken,
And we have had betwixt us towe

Of children either nine or ten; Wee have brought them up to women and men;

In the feare of God I trow they bee ; And why wilt thou thyselfe misken?

Man, take thine old cloake about thee.

He.
O Bell, my wifle, why dost thou floute !

Now is nowe, and then was then:
Secke now all the world throughout,

Thou ke not clownes from gentlemen. They are cladd in blacke, greene, yellowe, or gray,

Soe far above their owne degree: Once in my life Ile doe as they,

For Ile have a new cloake about mee.

SHE.

King Stephen was a worthy peere,

His breeches cost him but a crowne, He held them sixpence all too deere;

Therefore he called the taylor Lowne.
He was a wight of high renowne,

And thouse but of a low degree:
Itt's pride that putts this countrye downe,

Man, take thine old cloake about thee.

He.

“Bell, my wife, she loves not strife,

Yet she will lead me if she can;
And oft, to live a quiet life,

I am forced to yield, though Ime good-man;"
Itt 's not for a man with a woman to threape,

Unlesse he first gave oer the plea:
As wee began wee now will leave,

And Ile take mine old cloake about mee.

KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT.

[AN OLD ENGLISII BALLAD-LONG VERY POPULAR.]

PERCY RELIQUES. An ancient story Ile tell you anon Of a notable prince, that was called King John; And he ruled England with maine and with might, For he did great wrong, and maintein'd little right.

And Ile tell you a story, a story so merrye,
Concerning the Abbot of Canterbùrye;
How for his house-keeping, and high renowne,
They rode poste for him to fair London towne.

An hundred men, the king did heare say,
The abbot kept in his house every day;
And fifty golde chaynes, without any doubt,
In velvet coates waited the abbot about.

How now, father abbot, I heare it of thee,
Thou keepest a farre better house than mee,
And for thy house-keeping and high renown«,
I feare thou work'st treason against my crown.

My liege, quo' the abbot, I would it were knowne,
I never spend nothing but what is my owne;
And I trust your grace will doe me no deere
For spending of my owne true-gotten geere.

Yes, yes, father abbot, thy fault it is highe,
And now for the same thou needest must dye;
For except thou canst answer me questions three,
Thy head shall be smitten from thy bodie.

And first, quo' the king, when I'm in this stead,
With my crowne of golde so faire on my head,
Among all my liege-men, so noble of birthe,
Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worthe.

Secondlye, tell me, without any doubt,
How soone I may ride the whole world about,
And at the third question thou must not shrink,
But tell me here truly what I do think.
O, these are hard questions for my shallow witt,
Nor I cannot answer your grace as yet;
But if you will give me but three weekes space,
Ile do my endeavour to answer your grace.
Now three weeks space to thee will I give,
And that is the longest time thou hast to live;
For if thou dost not answer my questions three,
Thy lands and thy livings are forfeit to mee.
Away rode the abbot, all sad at that word,
And he rode to Cambridge and Oxenford;
But never a doctor there was so wise,
That could with his learning an answer devise.
Then home rode the abbot, of comfort so cold,
And he mett his shepheard agoing to fold :
How now, my lord abbot, you are welcome home,
What newes do you bring us from good King John ?
Sad newes, sad newes, shepheard, I must give:
That I have but three days more to live;
For if I do not answer him questions three,
My head will be smitten from my bodie.
The first is to tell him there in that stead,
With his crowne of golde so fair on his head,
Among all his liege-men so noble of birth,
To within one penny of what he is worth.

The seconde, to tell him, without any doubt,
How soone he may ride this whole world about:
And at the third question I must not shrinke,
But tell him there truly what he does thinke.

Now cheare up, sire abbot, did you never hear yet,
That a fool he may learne a wise man witt?
Lend me horse, and serving-men, and your apparel,
And I'll ride to London to answere your quarrel.

Nay frowne not, if it hath bin told unto mee,
I am like your lordship, as ever may bee:
And if you will but lend me your gowne,
There is none shall knowe us in fair London towne.

Now horses and serviny-men thou shalt have,
With sumptuous array most gallant and brave;
With crozier, and miter, and rochet, and cope,
Fit to appeare 'fore our fader the pope.
Now welcome, sire abbot, the king he did say,
'Tis well thou 'rt come back to keepe thy day;
For and if thou canst answer my questions three,
Thy life and thy living both saved shall bee.

And first, when thou seest me here in this stead,
With my crown of golde so fair on my head,
Among all my liege-men so noble of birthe,
Tell me to one penny what I am worth.
For thirty pence our Saivour was sold
Among the false Jewes, as I have bin told:
And twenty-nine is the worth of thee,
For I thinke, thou art one penny worser than hee.
The king he laughed, and swore by St. Bittel,
I did not think I had been worth so littel!
-Now secondly tell me, without any doubt,
How soone I may ride this whole world about.
You must rise with the sun, and ride with the same,
Until the next morning he riseth againe;
And then your grace need not make any doubt
But in twenty-four hours you'll ride it about.

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