Husbandman and Servingman
Well met, my brother friend, all at this highway end,
So simple all alone, as you can,
I pray you tell to me, what may your calling be,
Are you not a servingman?
No, no, my brother dear, what makes you to inquire
Of any such a 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,
And quickly you shall see out of hand,
How in a little space I will help you to a place,
Where you may he a servingman.
Kind sir I turn you thanks for your intelligence,
These things I receive at your hand;
Put 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 does stand;
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 plowing 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,
So thriving all over my land;
And, therefore, I do mean, with my plowing 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 our wine,
That is living for the servingman.
Talk not of goose nor capon, give me good beef or bacon,
And good bread and cheese, now at hand;
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, and our stockings they are silk,
That is clothing for a servingman.
But I value not a hair your delicate fine wear,
Such as gold is laced upon;
Give me a good grey coat, and in my purse a groat,
That is clothing for the husbandman.
Kind sir I it would be bad if none could be had
Those tables for to wait upon;
There is no lord, duke, nor squire, nor member for the shire,
Can do without a servingman.
But, Jack it would be worse if there was none of us
To follow the plowing of the land;
There is neither king, lord, nor squire, nor member for the shire,
Can do without the husbandman.
Kind sir I must confess`t, and I humbly protest
I will give you the uppermost hand;
Although your labour's painful, and mine it 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 endeavor,
For to maintain the good husbandman.
This traditional version of the preceding ancient dialogue has long
been popular at country festivals. At a harvest-home feast at
Melborne, in Hampshire, in 1836, we heard it recited by two
countrymen, who gave it with considerable humor, and charismatic
effect. It was delivered in a sort of chant, or recitative. Davies Gilbert
published a very similar copy in his Ancient Christmas Carol. In
the modern printed editions, which are almost identical with ours, the
term "servantman" has been substituted for the more ancient
A Dialogue Between The Husbandman and Servingman.
Tunes(?): God Speed The Plow And Bless The Corn Mow
This ancient dialogue, though in a somewhat altered form (see the
ensuing poem), has long been used at country merry makings. It is
transcribed from a black-letter copy in the third volume of the
Foxburgh collection, apparently one of the imprints of Peter
Brooksby, which would make the composition at least as old as the
close of the fifteenth century. There are several dialogues of a
similar character. JY
The servingman the plowman would invite
To leave his calling and to take delight;
But he to that by no means will agree,
Lest he thereby should come to beggary,
He makes it plain appear a country life
Doth far excel: and so they end the strife.
My noble friends give ear, if mirth you love to hear,
I'll tell you as fast as I can,
A story very true, then mark what doth ensue,
Concerning of a husbandman,
A servingman did meet a husbandman in the street
And thus unto him began:
I pray you tell to me of what calling you he,
Or if you be a servingman?
Quoth he, my brother dear, the coast I mean to clear,
And the truth you shall understand
I do no one disdain, but this I tell you plain,
I am an honest husbandman.
If a husbandman you be, then come along with me,
I'll help you as soon as I can
Unto a gallant place, where in a little space,
You shall he a servingman.
Sir, for your diligence I give you many thanks,
These things I receive at your hand I pray you to me
Show, whereby that I might know,
What pleasures hath a servingman
A Servingman hath pleasure, which passeth time and measure
When the hawk on his fist cloth stand;
His hood, and his verrils brave, and other things, we have,
Which yield joy to a servingman
My pleasure's more than that to see my oxen fat,
And to prosper well under my hand;
And therefore I do mean, with my horse, and with my team,
To keep myself a husbandman.
0 `tis a gallant thing in the prime time of the spring,
To hear the huntsman now and than
His bugle for to blow, and the hounds run all a row:
This is pleasure for a servingman
To hear the beagle cry, and to see the falcon
By, And the hare trip over the plain,
And the huntsmen and the hound make hill and dale rebound:
This is pleasure for a servingman!
`Tis pleasure, too, you know, to see the corn to grow,
And to grow so well on the land;
The plowing and the sowing, the reaping and the mowing,
Yield pleasure to the husbandman.
At our table you may eat all sorts of dainty meat,
Pig, cony, goose, capon, and swan;
And with lords and ladies fine, you may drink beer, ale, and wine
This is pleasure for a servingman.
While you eat goose and capon, I'll feed on beef and bacon,
And piece of hard cheese now and than;
We pudding have, and souse, always ready in the house,
Which contents the honest husbandman.
At the court you may have your garments fine and brave,
And cloak with gold lace laid upon,
A shirt as white as milk, and wrought with finest silk :
That's pleasure for a servingman
Such proud and costly gear is not for us to wear;
Amongst the briers and brambles in any a one,
A good strong russet coat, and at your need a groat,
Will suffice the husbandman.
A proverb here I tell, which likes my humour well,
And remember it well I can,
If a courtier be too bold, he'll want when he is old.
Then farewell the servingman.
It needs must be confest that your calling is the best,
No longer discourse with you I can
But henceforth I will pray, by night and by day,
Heaven bless the honest husbandman.
Recorded by The Young Tradition