Verse 1: 'WHen I was young, as you are now, / I could have done, as ye can do: / I could have carri'd as high a Brow, / As any other young Man, I trow. / So bide you yet, so bide you yet, / So bide till yon be marri'd yet, / The Half of that will serve you yet, / If once that you were marri'd yet.' The ballad was to be sung 'To its own proper Tune'.
Most of this ballad is narrated by an old man warning a young man about the perils of marriage. The narrator's most urgent concern is the amount of hard-earned money wives and children demand. The last part of the ballad is, however, given over to 'The Maid's Reply', where a woman speaker mocks the original narrator for being a liar and 'void of sence', and claims that because he witholds money from his wife, she must 'gain her living at some Game'. The 'game' in question is left to the imagination.
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(042)
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