|Share page||Visit Us On FB|
141 THE BABES IN THE WOODS
This ballad is an example of what Rollins in The Pepys Ballads, III, 57, note, refers to as "the godly ditties and pious warnings that make up the stock-in-trade of the ballad stalls," satirized in a ballad of about 1680. In the same note reference is made to "The Babes in the Wood," which was probably written at least as early as 1595 (Hyder Rollins, An Analytical Index to the Ballad-Entites, (z557ballads-songs - 0443.htmz7°9) [Chapel Hill, N. C, 1924], No 1962) and was a favorite of so great a modern poet as Wordsworth. In a footnote to an article by Tolman and Eddy, JAFL, XXXV, 348-350, Kittredge states that this ballad was often printed as a broadside in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the United States and England. For texts with minor variations from the Michigan version see Percy, III (1846), Book II, 155-160, "printed from two ancient copies, one of them in black-letter in the Pepys collection,'* and The Roxburghe Ballads, II, 216--221. For further references and a fragment see Sharp, I, 309. The present version is from the Gernsey manuscript.
1 Now ponder well, you parents dear, the words which I shall
write. A doleful story you shall hear which time brought forth to light. A gentleman of good account in Norfolk lived of late Whose wealth and riches did surmount most men of his estate.
2 Sore sick was he and like to die; no help his life could save. His wife by him as sick did lie, and both possessed one grave. No love between these two was lost, each to the other kind; In love they lived, in love they died and left two babes behind.
3 The one a fine and pretty boy not passing five years old; T'other a girl more young than he and made in beauty's mold. The father left his little son, as plainly doth appear,
When he to perfect age should come, three hundred pounds a year.
4 And to his little daughter Jane five hundred pounds in gold To be paid down on marriage day, which might not be controlled.
But if the children chanced to die e'er they to age should come, Their uncle should possess their wealth, for so the will did run.
5 "Now brother," said the dying man, "Look to my children dear. Be good unto my boy and girl, no friends else have I here.
To God and you I do commend my children night and day, But little while be sure we have within this world to stay.