Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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166                                   ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
EXCISEMAN.
A writt to take mee up ! excuse mee, sir, You doe mistake, I am an officer In publick service, for my private wealth; My bus'ness is, if any seeke by stealth To undermine the states, I doe discover Their falsehood; therefore hold your hand,— give over.
DEATH.
Nay, fair and soft! 'tis not so quickly done As you conceive it is: I am not gone A jott the sooner, for your hastie chat Nor bragging language; for I tell you flat 'Tis more than so, though fortune seeme to
thwart us, Such easie terms I don't intend shall part us. With this impartial arme I'll make you feele My fingers first, and with this shaft of Steele I'le peck thy hones! as thou alive wert hated, So dead, to doggs thou shalt be segregated.
EXCISEMAN.
I'de laugh at that; I would thou didst but dare To lay thy fingers on me; I'de not spare To hack thy carkass till my sword was broken, I'de make thee eat the wordes which thou hast
spoken; All men should warning take by thy trans­gression, How they molested men of my profession. My service to the states is so welle known, ■ That I should but complaine, they'd quickly
owne My publicke grievances; and give mee right To cut your eares, before to-morrow night.
DEATH.
Well said, indeed! but bootless all, for I Am well acquainted with thy villanie; I know thy office, and thy trade is such, Thy service little, and thy gaines are much: Thy braggs are many; but 'tis vaine to swagger, And thinke to fighte mee with thy guilded
dagger: As I abhor thy person, place, and threate, So now I'le bring thee to the judgement seate.
EXCISEMAN.
The judgement seate! I must confess that
word Doth cut my heart, like any sharpned sword : What! come t' account! methinks the dreadful
sound Of every word doth make a mortal wound, Which sticks not only in my outward skin, But penetrates my very soule within. 'Twas least of all my thoughts that ever Death Would once attempt to stop excisemen's breath. But since 'tis so, that now I doe perceive You are in earnest, then I must relieve Myself another way : come, wee'l be friends, If I have wronged thee, I'le make th' amendes. Let's joyne toge'ther; I'le pass my word this night ' Shall yield us grub, before the morning light. Or otherwise (to mitigate my sorrow), Stay here, I'le bring you gold enough to­morrow.
DEATH.
To-morrow's gold I will not have; and thou Shalt have no gold upon to-morrow : now My final writt shall to th' execution have thee, All earthly treasure cannot help or save thee.
EXCISEMAN.
Then woe is mee! ah ! how was I befool'd! I thought that gold (which answereth all
things) could Have stood my friend at any time to baile mee! But griefe growes great, and now my trust doth
faile me. Oh! that my conscience were but clear within, Which now is racked with my former sin; With horror I behold my secret stealing, My bribes, oppression, and my graceless deal-
r ing;
My office-sins, which I had clean forgotten, Will gnaw my soul when all my bones are
rotten: I must confess it, very griefe doth force mee, Dead or alive, both God and man doth curse
mee, Let all excisemen hereby warning take, To shun their practice for their conscience sake.
Of all the ballads on the subject of Death, the most popular, however, was Death and the Lady. In Mr. George Daniel's Collection there is a ballad "imprinted at London by Alexander Lacy" (about 1572), at the end of which is a still older woodcut, representing Death and the Lady. It has been used as an ornament to fill up a blank in one to which it bears no reference; but was, in all probability, engraved for this, or one on the same subject. The tune is in