William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of instructive & entertaining tracts (Volume 4) online

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Who for her fairness might well be a queen ;
A blithe bonny lassie, and a dainty was she,
And many one called her pretty Bessie.

Her father he had no goods nor no land,
But begged for a penny all day with his hand ;
And yet to her marriage he gave thousands three,
And still he hath somewhat for pretty Bessie.

And if any one here her birth do disdain,
Her father is ready, with might and with main,
To prove she is come of noble degree ;
Therefore never flout at pretty Bessie.'


With that the lords and the company round
With hearty laughter were ready to swound ;
At last said the lords : ' Full well we may see
The bride and the beggar 's beholden to thee.'

On this the bride all blushing did rise,
The pearly drops standing within her fair eyes ;
' Oh pardon my father, brave nobles,' saith she,
'That through blind affection thus doteth on me.'

' If this be thy father,' the nobles did say,
' Well may he be proud of this happy day ;
Yet by his countenance well may we see,
His birth and his fortune did never agree ;

And therefore, blind man, we pray thee beware
(And look that the truth thou to us do declare),
Thy birth and thy parentage, what it may be,
For the love that thou bearest to pretty Bessie.'

' Then give me leave, nobles and gentles each one,
One song more to sing, and then I have done ;
And if that it may not win good report,
Then do not give me a groat for my sport.

[Sir Simon de Montfort my subject shall be,
Once chief of all the great barons was he ;
Yet fortune so cruel this lord did abase,
Now lost and forgotten are he and his race.

When the barons in arms did King Henry oppose,
Sir Simon de Montfort their leader they chose ;
A leader of courage undaunted was he,
And ofttimes he made their enemies flee.

At length in the battle on Evesham plain,
The barons were routed, and Montfort was slain ;
Most fatal that battle did prove unto thee,
Though thou was not born then, my pretty Bessie !

Along with the nobles that fell at that tide,
His eldest son Henry, who fought by his side,
Was felled by a blow he received in the fight,
A blow that deprived him for ever of sight.



Among the dead bodies all lifeless he lay,
Till evening drew on of the following day,
When by a young lady discovered was he,
And this was thy mother, my pretty Bessie.

A baron's fair daughter stepped forth in the night
To search for her father, who fell in the fight,
And seeing young Montfort, where gasping he lay,
Was moved with pity, and brought him away.

In secret she nursed him, and 'suaged his pain,
While he through the realm was believed to be slain ;
At length his fair bride she consented to be,
And made him glad father of pretty Bessie.

And now lest our foes our lives should betray,
We clothed ourselves in beggar's array ;
Her jewels she sold, and hither came we,
All our comfort and care was our pretty Bessie.

And here have we lived in fortune's despite,
Though poor, yet contented with humble delight;
Full forty winters thus have I been
A silly blind beggar of Bethnal- Green.]

And here, noble lords, is ended the song
Of one that once to your own rank did belong ;
And thus have you learned a secret from me,
That ne'er had been known but for pretty Bessie.'

Now when the fair company every one,
Had heard the strange tale in the song he had shewn,
They all were amazed, as well they might be,
Both at the blind beggar and pretty Bessie.

With that the fair bride they all did embrace,
Saying : 'Sure thou art come of an honourable race ;
Thy father likewise is of noble degree,
And thou art well worthy a lady to be.'

Thus was the feast ended with joy and delight ;

A bridegroom most happy then was the young knight j

In joy and felicity long lived he

All with his fair lady, the pretty Bessie.


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Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of instructive & entertaining tracts (Volume 4) → online text (page 58 of 58)