Verse 1: 'A Noble Man lived near a Village of late, / Hard by a poor T[h]resher, whose Charge it was great; / He had seven children and most of them small, / And none but his Labour to keep them withall.' The ballad was to be sung 'To an Excellent New Tune'. The top of the broadside is illustrated with woodcuts, the first showing one man extending the hand of friendship to another, the second showing an armed man on horseback.
The story of this ballad is summed up in a short prose preface: 'Giving a true account of a Nobleman, who taking Notice of the poor man's Industrious Care and Pains for the maintaining of his charge, which was Seven small Children, meeting with him upon a day, Discoursed with him, and invited him and his Wife, with his Children, Home to his House; and accordingly bestowed upon him a Farm of Thirty Aikers of Land, to be continued to him and his Heirs.' The ballad, in rhyming couplets, is narrated mainly in the third person but also contains verses of dialogue between the nobleman and the countryman.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable date of publication:
1701 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(040)
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