Well met, friend, on the highway,
So simple all alone,
I pray now tell me what your calling be,
Are you a servant man?
No, no, my brother dear, who makes you enquire
Of any such thing at my hand;
Indeed I shall not feign, but I will tell you plain,
I am a downright husbandman.
If a husbandman you be, then go along with me,
Now quickly out of hand,
And in a little space I'll help you to a place,
Where you shall he a servant man.
As for your diligence I give you many thanks,
I require no such thing at your hand,
But something to me shew, therefore that I may know,
The pleasure of a servant man.
A servant man has pleasure, yea, in every measure,
With his hook and rake he doth stand,
The game that he doth keep, the meat that he doth eat,
Tis diet for a servant man.
My pleasure's more than that, to see my oxen fat,
And a good stack of hay by them stand,
My plowing and sowing, my reaping and mowing,
Is pleasure for a husbandman.
Kind sir, it is a fine thing to ride without asking,
Whether lord, duke, or any other man,
To hear the horn blow, and see the hounds in a row,
That's pleasure for a servant man.
My pleasure is more I know, to see the corn grow,
So thriving it grows on the land;
Therefore I do mean a ploughing with my team,
To keep myself a husbandman.
Kind sir, then you may eat most delicate fine meat,
Your pigs, capon, and your swan,
Your pasture meat so fine, drink sugar in your wine,
That's diet for a servant man.
Kind sir, it would be bad, if there could be had
None the table to wait upon,
There's neither lord nor king, nor any other man,
Can do without a servant man.
Kind sir it would be worse if there were none so just,
To follow the plowing of the land,
There's neither lord, nor king, nor any other man,
Can do without an husbandman.
Kind sir, then you must wear your clothes so fine and rare,
Your coat with gold lace quite around,
Your shirt as white as milk, your stockings made of silk,
That's habit for a servant man.
As for your grand array, give me shoes to wear,
The bushes to trample upon,
Give me a good great coat, and in my purse a groat,
That's all good for a husbandman.
Kind sir, I must confess, in granting your request,
I'd give you the uppermost hand,
Tho' your's is very painful and mine very gainful,
I wish I was a husbandman.
So now let us together call both great and small,
And pray for the grain of this land,
And let us for ever still make it our endeavour,
For to maintain the husbandman.
Peter Millington’s Notes:
This broadside dialogue ballad appears in the Mummers' play from Symonsbury, Dorset.
The electronic text was initially downloaded from http://www.mudcat.org/ and edited to match the Jennings broadside - Firth c.16(275) - in the Broadside Ballad Index of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The Bodleian collection has four editions, two published by J.Jennings [between 1790 and 1840], one by J.Pitts [between 1819 and 1844] and one by J.Catnach [between 1813 and 1838].