The Ballad - An Ancient Morality Tale in Two Parts

"In the present edition of this ballad several ancient readings are restored from the folio MS." ~ Percy

Part the Second

Away then hied the heire of Linne
Oer hill and holt
,1 and moor and fenne,
Untill he came to lonesome lodge,
That stood so lowe in a lonely glenne.

And John himself sate at the bord-head,
Because now lord of Linne was hee.
"I pray thee", he said, "good John o the Scales,
One forty pence for to lend mee."

He looked up, he looked downe,
In hope some comfort for to winne,
But bare and lothly were the walls:
Heres sorry cheare, quo the heire of Linne

"Away, away thou thriftless loone,
Away, away, this may not bee:
For Christs curse on my head, he sayd,
If ever I trust thee one pennie."

The little windowe dim and darke
Was hung with ivy, brere2 and yewe;
No shimmering sunn here ever shone;
No halesome breeze here ever blew.

Then bespake the heire of Linne,
To John o the Scales wife then spake he:
"Madame, some almes on me bestowe,
I pray for sweet saint Charitie."

No chair, ne table he mote spye,
No cheerful hearth, ne welcome bed,
Nought save a rope with renning3 noose,
That dangling hung up oer his head.

"Away, away thou thriftless loone,
I swear thou gettest no almes of mee;
For if we shold hang any losel9 here,
The first we wold begin with thee."

And over it in broad letters,
These words were written so plain to see:
Ah! graceless wretch, hast spent thine all,
And brought thyselfe to penurie?

Then bespake a good fellowe,
Which sat at John o the Scales his bord;

Sayd, "Turn againe, thou heire of Linne,
Some time thou wast a well good lord:

"All this my boding mind misgave,
I therefore left this trusty friend:
Let it now sheeld thy foule disgrace,
And all thy shame and sorrows end.

"Some time a good fellow thou hast been,
And sparedst not thy gold and fee;
Therefore Ile lend thee forty pence,

And other forty if need bee.

Sorely shent wi this rebuke,
Sorely shent was the heire of Linne;
His heart, I wis, was near to brast4
With guilt and sorrowe, shame and sinne.

"And ever, I pray thee, John o the Scales,
o let him sit in thy companie:
For well I wot thou hadst his land,
And a good bargain it was to thee."

Never a word spake the heire of Linne,
Never a word he spake but three:
This is a trusty friend indeed,
And is right welcome unto mee.

Up then spake him John o the Scales,
All wood he answerd him againe:
"Now Christs curse on my head", he sayd,
"But I did lose by that bargaine.

Then round his necke the cord he drewe,
And sprang aloft with his bodie:
When lo! the ceiling burst in twaine,
And to the ground came tumbling hee.

"And here I proffer thee, heire of Linne,
Before these lords so faire and free,
hou shalt have it backe again better cheape,
By a hundred markes, than I had it of thee.

Astonyed lay the heire of Linne,
Ne knewe if he were live or dead;
At length he looked and saw a bille,5
And in it a key of gold so redd.

"I drawe you to record, lords", he said.
With that he cast him a gods pennie.
"Now by my fay", sayd the heire of Linne,
"And here, good John, is thy money."

He took the bill and lookt it on,
Strait good comfort found he there:
Itt told him of a hole in the wall,
In which there stood three chests in-fere.6

And he pulld forth three bagges of gold,
And layd them down upon the bord:
All woe begone was John o the Scales,
Soe shent he cold say never a word.

Two were full of the beaten golde,
The third was full of white money,
And over them in broad letters
These words were written so plaine to see.

He told him forth the good red gold,
He told it forth mickle dinne.10
"The gold is thine, the land is mine,

And now Ime againe the lord of Linne."

Once more, my sonne, I sette thee clere;
Amend thy life and follies past;
For but thou amend thee of thy life,
That rope must be thy end at last.

Sayes, "Haye thou here, thou good fellowe,
Forty pence thou didst lend mee:
Now I am againe the lord of Linne,
And forty pounds I will give thee.

"And let it bee", sayd the heire of Linne;
"And let it be, but if I amend:
For here I will make mine avow,
This reade
7 shall guide me to the end."

"Ile make the[e] keeper of my forest,
Both of the wild deere and the tame;
For but I reward thy bounteous heart,
I wis, good fellowe, I were to blame."

Away then went with a merry cheare;
Away then went the heire of Linne;
I wis, he neither ceasd ne blanne[?],
Till John o' the Scales house he did winne.

"Now welladay!" sayth Joan o the Scales:
"Now welladay! and woe is my life!
Yesterday I was lady of Linne,
Now Ime but John o the Scales his wife."

And when he came to John o the Scales,
Upp at the speere8 then looked hee;
There sate three lords upon a rowe,
Were drinking of the wine so free.

"Now fare thee well", sayd the heire of Linne;
"Farewell now, John o the Scales", said hee:
ts curse light on me, if ever again
I bring my lands in jeopardy."












holt : a wood or copse; a wooded stretch of ground
brere : briar
renning : running; i.e., a slipknot noose
brast : burst
bille : casket; coffer
in-fere : together
reade : advice or counsel
speere : unclear, but possibly an opening in a door or window
losel : loafer; scoundrel; good-for-nothing
mickle dinne : with much fuss