The Oxford Book of Ballads - online book

A Selection Of The Best English Lyric Ballads Chosen & Edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch

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172. King John and the Abbot of Canterbury
AN ancient story I'll 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 I'll tell you a story, a story so merrye, Concerning the Abbot of Canterburye ; 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 renowne, 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.'
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