Carles Edwin Benham.

Essex ballads : and other poems online

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(Third Edition.)

fficncljester :

Benham & Co., "Essex County Standard " Office.

1 90 1,


Printf.d at

'The Essex County Standard ' Office,



The continued demand for copies of the " Essex Ballads,"
the first edition of which has been out of print for some time,
has tempted me to republish this little volume, together with
two added poems in the Essex dialect. There will also be
found in the present edition a brief note upon the system of
spelling adopted to express the peculiar modifications of sound
met with in this County, but it must be understood that the
inflections of voice, which are perhaps the most distinguishing
feature of "broad Essex," cannot be rendered, or even sug-
gested, by letters or printed signs.

My special thanks are due to the publishers of several
Magazines, who have cordially allowed me to reprint here some
of my poems, which were accepted by them at various times.

To the Right Honourable the Countess of Warwick,
whose kind words are printed as a " prefatory note," I offer my
warmest thanks, knowing that her gracious expressions of en-
couragement must infallibly commend my little book to the

People of Essex.


September, 1897.


It is unnecessary to add any further forewords to the present
edition, beyond the statement that the verses are identical with
those of the previous edition.

C. E. B.
December, 1901.


B V Til

Right Honourable the Countess of Warwick.

Warwick Castle.
Dear Mr. Benham,

I gladly accede to your wish that I should write a
prefatory note to the new edition of your " ESSEX
Ballads."' Besides a very considerable skill in versifi-
cation, you have handled local dialect in such a way as
will tend helpfully to perpetuate many archaic and
interesting forms of folk speech. But, beyond this, the
poems " My Booy Jim," " These New-Fangled Ways,"
and the excellent parody "Another Psalm of Life " are
full of real humour and good fun. In "The Death of
Mike," "The Big Book." "The Dragon." and "The
Sphinx's Smile," another and a more serious chord is
successfully touched.

Throughout your book I have found what should, I think,
be in every local volume, a very welcome note of home-
liness, the love of home and the love of one's own county.

After reading "ESSEX Ballads" I am sure the book will
be of much use and great popularity in the county villages.
Believe me,

Yours very faithfully,


The method chosen for expressing the local pronunciation is
purposely simplified as far as possible, the correct spelling not
being altered more than was absolutely necessary. As a
general rule the introduction of the letter " a " (as in " sao,"
"knaow") signifies the sound of " ii " as in father — sak-o,
knak 6. Similarly the rendering of suck a word as "made,"
viz., "maide," means that it is pronounced mak-id. But if tke
word when properly spelt kas the " ai," as "laid," tke diaeresis
is used — " laid," signifying lak-id, "pray," prak-i.

Charles E. Bexham.


Essex Ballads : —


I. A Ballad of Astonishment . . . . i

II. A Ballad of Love . . . . . . 4

III. A Ballad of Wrath . . . . 7

IV. A Ballad of Politics . . .. .. 9

V. A Ballad of Warning .. .. ..12

VI. A Ballad of Persecution .. ., 15

VII. A Ballad of Jealousy .. .. .. [9

VII!. A Ballad of Pa ernal Pride .. .. 22

IX. A Ballad of Aitlulness .. .. ..26

X. A Ballad of Protest . . .. .. 29

XI. A Ballad of Logic .. .. 32

XII. A Ballad of the Tendring Hundred .. 3^

XIII. A Ballad of Mournfulness .. . . 38

The Legend of St. John's Abbey, Colchester 4

The Legend of the Essex Serpent



The Funny Man .. .. .. .. 55

The Professional Singer .. .. . . 57


Carlyle's "Greatest Fool in London"

Another of Life

Music Everywhere


A Flight of Fancy

The River and the Sea

The Big Book

The Dragon

The Sphinx's Smile

Jottings: — ..

New and Old . .
( 'neat and Small
Worth and Unworth

Points of View-
Divided Toil
The Unknowable


• 59

. 63

, 68


*- ->
/ o


• 70


• 85

. 87

. 90



[A Ballad of Astonishment.]

Master ha' gone to the Court ! An ; the farm an' the

stock to be sowd !
Well, I am whollv amaized. I was here at eleven vear

owd —
That'll be forty-two year, come Michaelmas next — an' you

Master ha' gone to the Court ! What, an' broke because

he earn pay ?


(&8&?x $3ciUab&

Things must be wunnerful bad, do master 'ad never ha'

Him as had olluz a sight o : good luck, why that seem like

a joke.
Master gone to the Court ? What an' filed his petition

an' that ?
Ten year agao I'd as soon ha' believed it as eaten my hat.

An' wha's go'n to come o' the land - three hund'd o'

acres an' more ?
Wha's go'n to come o' the land ? Tha's a go'n to be

sow'd ? But good lor,
Who is the fule of a chap tha's a goin' to buy it, I say?
Land that 'ont pay, to be sowd ? Yes, but who is a goin'

to buy ?

An' wha's go'n to come o' we chaps? Are we all goin'

straight to the House?
What, me an' Tom Hodge, an' Jack Wilson, an' Harry,

an' Sandy, an' Rous,
Alonj^ o' the master an' missus ? Good lor, man alive, if

we must
I knaow, when we git there, together, I knaow I shall larf

till I bust.

atib otljev ^Hocntd.

' The Ian' for the people !" Old Warty, he talk to 'em

wunnerful grand,
But wha's go'n to come o' the people, and wha's go'n to

come o' the land ?
V\ ell, that is the master bit I do think I ever was towd.
What is go'n to come o' this country if Master's a go'n to

be sowd ?


(£&&cx gallabB




[A Ballad of Love.]

I loike to watch har in the Parson's pew

A Sundays, me a settin' in the choir ;
She look jest wholly be'utiful, she do.

That fairly sim to set my heart a-fire.

Her gowden hair, a-glist'rin in the sun,
Them bright blew eyes —good lor, I see 'em now !

I earn abear it when the sarmon's done,
That fare to make me feel I dunner how.

Las' Saddy, I was 'long o' Tom and Bill,

Down on th' allotment, back o' Thompson's Farm,

When she come past us, walkin' tard the hill,
A basket of them paigles on her arm.

ttnfc otljev ^ilocuts.

' Nice evenin', John," she say as she goo by,
An' smiled — goodstruth, you mighter knock' me down.

" That is indeed, Miss," I was go'n to say,
But there, I couldn't, give me 'arf-a-crown.

Says Bill, a-larfin', as she tarned the lane,
" She's waiting for yer, roun' the corner, bor,"

I give 'ee sich a look, he larft again,
An' made me feel that mad I could a swore.

I carnt abide it when these bits o' chaps
Talk of Miss Julia, saime as if they might

If she was some bloke's gal, but lor, prehaps
I think too much o' har, a jolly sight.

That sim ridic'lous nons'nse this, I doubt,

A tellin' on yer how she make me feel,
But who's to help it when she walk about

More like a angel than a gal a deal ?

That made me wild to see that Lunnon chap,
What come down to the Hall las' Mon'ay week,

A-coaxin' o' the dawg there in her lap,
She settin' in the garden — dang his cheek.

<&&*ex girtUrtfcs

But there, Miss Julia ! Lawk a mussy me,
I didn't oughter think of har n' more.

That aint as if she knaow I faivour she,
And do I reckon she'd give me what for.

iinfr otljcv* ^Tocuts.



[A. BALL4D of Wrath.]

There's olluz summat. When tha's wet
The corn git laid, the hay git sp'iled,

And when tha's dry the Ian' git set.
That fare to make me wholly riled.

Look there, together, goodalive,
Them chick'ns send me fairly wild.

See them a-scrappin' in the drive?
That fare to make me wholly riled.

Why cam Tom shet gaites like he should?

He aint got no more sense 'n a child.
A-talkin' aint a mite o' good —

That fare to make me wholly riled

8 (&&&ex ^allrtbs

Now wha's that kid a-cryin' for ?

Look, Emma, carnt you hold that child ?
Here, drat this pipe, why 'ont it dror ?

That fare to make me wholly riled.

That rain agin. How that do riiin !

Here, Mary, aint them taters biled ?
You're olluz half an hour behin",

That fare to make me wholly riled.

Hark how that blaow ; jes what I thought,.

That barley field '11 all be sp'iled.
A Saddy's moon is good for nought —

That fare to make me wholly riled.

You want it wet, tha's olluz fine,
You want it cowd, tha's olluz mild,

You want it dry, there's nought but rain,
That fare to make me wholly riled.

There's olluz summat ; if 'taint that
Its tother — fare to drive yer wild.

Don' matter tuppence what yer at,
Things olluz make yer wholly riled.

mt£» otJjer ^loeuis.



[A Ballad of Politics.]

Warty, he talk to 'cm to-rights las' night—

I never h'ard a chap a talkin' sao.
He say the Inn' an' that is ourn by right,
But bless yer, / din knaow.

He say we're all a poor deown-troddcn lot,

A set o' slaives— tha's fact he towd us sao.
He say we oughter hev I dunner wot,
But bless yer, /din knaow.

Good night ! He give it to our Parson str'ight—

I reck'n if thas right he'll hev to gao.
The Charch an' taithe are ourn, he say, by right
But bless ver, / din knaow.

io (&&&cx fgaUaba

I olluz sorter liked our Parson ; thought
He wornt at all a bad un as the' gao,
Yet Mister Warty say I didn't ought,
But bless yer, / din knaow.

Las' winter, when my poor owd missus died,

Parson he come to see us through the snaow.
Old Warty say tha's on'y cos he's paid,
But bless yer, / din knaow.

He simd right kind to me and my booy Bob ;

He sent us meat and things -a reg'lar shaow.
<loodstruth, our Parson ! Who'd a thought he d rob ?
Well bless yer, / din knaow.

And Mister Warty, 'cordin' as it seems,

He bin our fri'n.d these years and years agao,
A warkin' out for everlastin' schemes,
But dang it, / din knaow.

The las' elecsh'n, when them yallers found

I wear'd a bit o' blew, they say " Hulloa,
You aint a go'n to wote for Mr. Round?"
But I says, / din knaow.

aub tftljetr ^ocms. n

Tlia's what I olluz tell 'em when they praite,

I earn abear these chaps wot cackle sao.
That fairly stop their jawin', don't 't maite ?
Jes tell em — You din knaow.


i2 03sscx £3aUa5>G



[A Ballad of Warning.]

Goo' mornin', sir, you minter say you bought them

housen there,
An' you're a-go'n ter live in one ? Well, that'll make

'em stare.
Them housen, sir, is harnted, an' was when 1's a lad,
An' anyone as sleep there, sir, is sartin to be had.

I wouldn't tell yer, but sure//V, I knaow as you'll repent.
Tek my adwice, sir, don't you gao, y'll on'y wish yer

Tha's no good you a-larfin, don't you sleep 'ithin that

Do to-night you'll be a-larfin on the wrong side o' yer


ant* tftljcv y cents. 13

There's jes one thing about it, you 'ont want to be there

Afore you say my vvahrd is right, though now you think

tha's wrong.
The rets ? Nao, sir, that ent the rets, n'r yet the moice,

I guess.
But tha's the Owd un, I believe, an' nothin' more n'r less.

Las' night I passed them housen by, along o' Tom an'

" There'll be a tempest, booy," I say, ''the moon lay on

her back."
The wind were nanny, an' the clouds come up as black as

An' soon that lightened crost the sky, an' thundered jes

to rights.

Vou oughter sin them winders, sir, all lit o' fire — good

luck !
And rattled - I sh'd think th' did— my stars, them winders

bhuk !
We didn't stop. I tell yer why, we felt that drefful bad,
Afear the Owd un sh'd come out, an' we sh'd a bin had.

i4 <&&&ex gtallabs

Ah, you can arf, but don't you lay your head 'ithin that

Do to-morrer you'll be larfin' on the wrong side o' yer

Them housen, sir, is harnted, an' was since I's a lad —
Tek my adwice, sir, don't you gao— yer sartin to be had.

rtitfc tftljei* cjttoem*.



[A Ballad of Persecution.]

'What, remember little Jimmy ? I should rather thinker

How we use ter plaigue his life out ! Why, I never

rightly knew.
But there, the booy was darft, yer knaow, an' olbut deaf

an' dumb,
An' we olluz use ter call him little Jimmy King'om-come.

He rowled off of a hay stack onst, acrost a iron bin,
An' that onsensed him for a week ; he ne'er was right

He simd a loikely child afore — a smart, quick-witted brat,
But arter that ere fall he got as pudden-brinedas that.

16 (!5saiw i3rtUab$

He'd set agahpin' on a gaite all by hisself for hours,
Or a-wandrin' 'long the hedge-raows, gath'rin' lots o' culch

an' flowers.
He was olluz up to sumfin, an' 'twas olluz sumfin rum,
Why,everybody knaowed him, little Jimmy King'om-come.

Little Jim was that soft-hearted that he wouldn't hart a

I've h'ard 'em say the sparrers wornt a mite afraid o' he ;
An' anyhow I sin the bards a feedin' from his hand —
Tha's fact, though why ihey wornt afeaied I ne'er could


I recollec' how me an' Bill, one Sunday, dinner time,
Found little Jimmy fas' asleep, his little basket by'm —
The little cob his mother olluz use ter let him taike,
With some bread and cheese inside it, or a bit of harvust

Well, me an' Bill, we et it all, without a-waikin he,

An' then Bill give the booy a shaike. That was a master

To see him lookin' for the caike. I p'inted to a shrub,
A maikin' signs to let him think a bard had et the grub.

anb oiljcv ^.Tocms. 17

At farst you should a sin him look, and harf begin to cry,
But when he saw the black-b'd there his faice was lit

O' j'y.
He din care then. He thought that bard had taiken

every crumb —
He was a caution, that ere booy, that Jimmy King'om-


I recollec', one evenin' time, we tied him to a tree,

An' maide belief the ghaost ud come at dark an' gobble

he ;
An' Jack come roun' at midnight with a sheet acrost his

An' olbut skeered him in a fit — a reglar tease was Jack.

We let him gao, all shaikin' horn,' an' olbut dead o'

A scamprin' long the laine there, in the middle o' the

Goodstruth, to see young Jimmy runnin' ! Lor, you

woulder larft.
" Onkoind ? " You talk like Parson, sir ; why lor, the booy

was darft !

18 (&$»ex ^allrtbs

You talk jest how our Parson talked ; yer maike me call

to mind
The times an' times he use to tell us " teasin' wasn't

'' Pray let em be," he used to say, but lor, we on'y larft—
A funny thing he didn't sim to see the booy was davit.

An' Jimmy's mother, too, my stars, we use ter maike

har riled.
She'd nilly cry her eyes out over that ere bloomin' child.
Them women ! Wha's the good o' talkin' to them ? Not

a mite.
But there, she shoolly mighter sin as how the booy warnt


But what was I a tellin' on yer ? - Ah, about the ghaost.
He died about a fortn't arter that— a month at maost.
We used ter give he beans, we did. Good night, you

woulder larft.
That do sim, as you say, a shaime, but there, the booy was-
darft !

anb otl)cv ^Tovnts. ig

vi r.

[A Ballad of Jealousy.]

Who's he got there ? Go d lawk, if that ain't Sal-
Har tha's at wark at Rob't Wilson's farm.

There's no mistaike, this time he's got a gal :
Jes see 'em, Mary, walkin' arm in arm.

Here, good alive, jes let me hev a come.

Git down my bonnet off o' that ere shelf.
Well, on my life, I never did ; by gum,

I reckon she's a fancyin' of harself.

Mary, here, Mary, jes you come an' look.

There come owd Sally — see her dress, the skart
A-hangin' down— that fare to want a hook —

See how tha's draggin' in the dust and dart.

2o (&&&CX gaUab*

Good graicious, Mary, jes to look at that !

Fancy young Jim a-walking out with har !
D'yer see them feathers sticking in her 'at?

Thev're limsy ? I should rather think the' are.

Jealous ? What me ? O' sech as har indeed !

Nao, that I know I ent, so there. Good lor',
Upon my life I think I never seed

A gal look sech a bag o' rags afore.

Me jealous ? Nao, I don't care that fur Jim ,

I towd him I was thankful to be rid.
You never h'ard me say I faivoured him,

Nao, Mary, that I knaow you never did.

I shouldn't like, not me. Hulloa, my eye,
I do believe they're comin' through the gaite.

Look, Mary, ent thay tarnin' down this wily ?
Do, I'll stand here, an' give it to 'em straight.

Mary, look sharp an' git yer bonnet on,

An' stand longside o' me here while they pass.

Come, look alive now, don't they ; ll soon be gone ;
Ah, now they've tarned the t'other side the grass.

rtiti> citljci* ^Tocms.


Tha's where they're gooin', are they ? Pas' the mill,
Along the fiel' path leadin' tard the woods ;

I'll give he what for some day, that I will,
For walkin' out 'ith that ere bit of goods.

J'yer hear him call " Good arternune " to me ?

He think he's doin' of it there some tune.
Next time I ketch him out along o' she,

Blest if I don' give he "good arternune."


22 (&8&CX grtllttfc*


[A Ballad of Paternal Pride.]

I FEEL that wholly daized, I do 'ndeed,
That I earn scarce believe it, tha's a fac' ;

Well, there, I knaow I never thought t'a seed
My Jim a swell like that when he come back.

He bin out forrin nigh on tv enty year.

You bin out forrin, sir, when you's a lad ?
You may a coined acrost my booy out theer,

But lor, you wou'nt a kaown him if yer had.

He come right up to our owd cott'ge door

Las' evenin' time. Good night ! he maide us stare,

" An' how's the dad ? " he say, " an' Missus ? " Lor,
You mighter knock me down, I do declare.

mtfc tftljer ^ftocma. 23

He got on one o' them there chimbley hats,
A pair of yaller gloves, a walkin' stick,

One o' them wotchercallums— them crawats —
I tell yer, he looked reg'lar up to Dick.

"• Well, there," I says, " You minter say you're Jim ?

" I do," he say. Says I, " Well, tha's a bit ! "
I couldn't scarce believe as that were him,

For when he left he worn't much more'n a chit.

You oughter sin th' owcl woman ! She was struck
All ot a heap, an' cou' n't tell what to say.

He come in an' set down, she olbut shruck
Till he jes died o' larfin, pretty nigh.

My, dint he larf ! He fairly shirk the stool
As we hep' gaphin at him there s' grand.

■"Father," he say, " you said I were a fool
When twenty year agao I lef ' the land."

Well, he kep' on a torkin' there, an' arst

All what had happened since he went away ;

But there, he torkt s' precious queer, at farst
You couldn't unnerstand a wahrd he say.

24 (£*&cx gJaUrtb4

But he set there as happy as yer please,
An' Missus laid the supper while he tork ;

A prahper set out. too, fat pork an' peas —
"Jim olluz was a mark," she say, " on pork."

He larft, but there, the way he took that pork !

" Tha's right enough," I says, " tha's Jim, I knaow ; "
But lor, he heft them peas up on his fork !

Two at a time, my stars, sir, somethin' slaow !

Well, I earn tell yer all he say las' night,
Y'll hev to hear him, sir, yerself, I doubt,

Y'll find him jest a master one to praite —
Nothin' alive that booy don't knaow about.

He bin to plaices where the sun don' set —
The tother side the warld I think it were.

Tha's very like, sir, you an' him ha' met,
He sim tb knaow 'most everyone out there.

He gone up to the Rect'ry, sir, to-day

To see our Parson — 'ont he maike him look ?

I reckon, sir, as my owdgal ud say,
Them two'll tork together like a book.

mtfc* otljev yc«cut$.


Wh', there he come, a walkin' 'ith them chaps,
There in the four-want- way, atween them carts.

Tha's my booy Jim, an' now y'll knaow, prehaps,
If you ha' sin him, sir. in forrin parts.

26 (Csse^e 43aUab«


[A Ballad of Artful?jess.]

OWD Bill ! Why everybody knaow owd Bill ;

He's olluz schemin', olluz at some gaime,
Olluz a actin', tha's what he is ; still

You carn't help likin' of him all the saime.

A rum un ? I sh'd rather think he were !

T'd taike yer all yer time to tackle he.
An' langwidge ? Lor, j'yer ever hear him swear ?

A mark on swearin' ? Ah, sir, that he be.

You might as lief be talkin' to a paost
As try to maike owd Bill amen' his ways.

He knaow his way about as well as maost —
I ne'er see sich a chap in my born days.

rtttb otljCV yoc»t0. 27

You on'y got to say " I bet yer don't,"
An' Bill '11 do it, don' care what it be.

He'll best yer, too, I'm bothered if he 'ont ;
There's no man livin' dussent tackle he.

Las' Michaelmas us fellers got him on

Down at the Anchor, Sunday dinner time.

There was a good few on us— me, an' John,

An' Steve, an' Tom, an' Sandy Wha's-his-naime.

I don't ezackly knaow how that began.

Several come in— along the rest was Mike.
" Ovvd Bill," he say, " I'll lay a tanner, man,

As you carn't eat a pound o' raw bif staike."

Owd Bill, o' course he took him like a shot,

Blest if he didn't do it, too, an' so !
A pound o' raw bif staike ! He et the lot,

An' taters, an' a dish of broccolo.

He never goo to Charch, a Sunday, Bill,
Excep' he keep a larkin' all the time.

A reglar bad un, tha's what he is ; still
You carn't help likin' of him all the saime.

28 (JBescv gtalUtbe

Why, up at Mis'ley — that there poachin' fray,
I'll lay yer tuppence Bill was in the spree,

But he can olluz faike the thing some way
Afore the Magistrates so he git free.

He done it, right enough. You woon believe
The times an' times I sin him arter hares.

I could a towd 'em thay was up his sleeve —
Nao, not the rabb'ts, sir, nao, nao, the snares.

Oo, he's the artfullest you ever knaowed ;

He never taike no hart, not anywhere.
There's nao mistake, Bill he's as owd as owd,

He'd best the very Owd-un, I declare.

Nowhere there ent a bad un t'ekal he—.

I knaow there ent a bigger liar livin',
Yet when the day of Judgmen' come you'll see,

He'll faike it somehow so he git to Hiven.

aui> tftljev ^loems. 29


[A Ballad of Protest.]

Me, nao, sir, I don't howd 'ith these Board Schools ;

They larn the booys too much, my thinkin, now.
An' what I see, there's jest as many fools

As when thay put the young uns to the plough.

I ent owd-fashn'd, nao, I loike to see
The young uns comin' on. But now-a-days

They say an' do sich things git over me,

An' I carnt howd 'ith these new fangled ways.

I howd 'ith larnin, mind, but let 'em larn
Saime way as I did, not that stuff o' theirs,

Larn 'em the proper way to thetch a barn,
Larn 'em the way to sao a field o' tares.

30 ("Bsscv ^itUabs

Geoggerfy ! Now what on arth's the sense
A larnin' of em' how the Moon go roun' ?

An' all about Ameriky an' Frence,

An' plaices tother side o' Lunnon town ?

My booy he come to me the tother night,

" D'yer knaow," he say, " the Warld an' you an' me

Ai*e tarnin' on our axles -sich a raite

You woon believe ? But there, tha's right," says he.

I tarned he on his axles, you beboun',

I cop he one. That maide me reg'lar riled,

That fairly did. The Warld a tarnin' roun' !
To hear sich stuff an' nons'nse from a child !

N' more I don't howd with them thingmibobs,
Them Parish Councils wot they started now.

There's Tom an' Harry think they're reg'lar nobs,
Cos thay goo there a kickin' up a row.

Look at that Council meetin' here las' week-
Why bless my saoul if Tom din taike the chair,

An' Parson settin' 'gin the door as meek

As some owd sheep, I tell yer ; that he were.

iinfc otljci* -poems. 31

An' what d'yer think they done ? wh' nought, o' course,
Cos there aint nothin' here want doin' to.

N' wonner Parson he look cross
Comin' away ; I see him, didn't you ?

An' I don't howd 'ith these ere ways at Charch —

A singin' o' the Scripters an' that ere,
Dressin' theirselves in nightgownds stiff wi' starch,

The Boible never tell 'em that, I swear.

They say A/imen instead o' Ai'men now ;

Tha's only jes to be contrairy like,
An' when that come the " Glory be " thay bow

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Online LibraryCarles Edwin BenhamEssex ballads : and other poems → online text (page 1 of 3)