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EBBA 34005

National Library of Scotland - Crawford
Ballad XSLT Template
The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green;
Shewing how his Daughter was Married to a Knight, and had
3,000 l. to her Portion.

THIS song's of a beggar, who long lost his sight,
And had a fair daughter most pleasant and bright,
And many a gallant brave suitor had she,
And none was so comely as pretty Betty.

And though she was of a complexion most fair,
And seeing she was a poor beggar's heir,
Of ancient housekeepers despised was she,
Whose sons came as suitors to pretty Betty.

Wherefore in great sorrow fair Betty did say,
Good father and mother let me now go away,
To seek out my fortune, whatever it be.
This suit was granted to pretty Betty.

This Betty, that was of a beauty most bright,
They clad in gay russet, and late in the night
From father and mother alone parted she,
Who sighed and sobbed for pretty Betty.

She travell'd till she came to Stamford, at Bow,
Then she knew not whither or which way to go:
With tears she lamented her sad destiny,
So sad and so heavy was pretty Betty.

She kept on her journey until it was day,
And went unto Rumford along the highway,
And at the Kings' arms entertained was she,
So fair and well-favour'd was pretty Betty.

She had not been there one month at an end,
But master and mistress and all was her friend;
And every brave gallant that once did her see,
Was straightway in love with pretty Betty.

Great gifts they did send her of silver and gold,
And in their songs their love daily they extoll'd;
Her beauty was blaz'd in every degree,
So fair and so comely was pretty Betty.

The young men of Rumford in her had their joy,
She shew'd herself courteous, but never too coy;
And at their commandment still she would be,
So fair and comely was pretty Betty.

Four suitors at once unto her did go,
They craved her favour, but she said, No:
I would not have gentlemen marry with me,
Yet ever they honour'd pretty Betty.

Now one of them was a gallant young knight,
And he came to her disguis'd in the night;
The second a gentleman of high degree,
Who wooed and sued for pretty Betty.

A merchant of London whose wealth was not small,
Was then the third suiter, and proper withal;
Her master's own son the fourth man must be,
Who swore he would die for pretty Betty.

If that you will marry me, quoth the knight,
I'll make thee a lady with joy and delight;
My heart is enthrall'd in thy beauty,
Then grant me thy favour, my pretty Betty.

The gentleman said, Come marry with me,
In silks and in velvet my Betty shall be;
My heart lies distracted, Oh! quoth he,
And grant me thy love, my dear pietty Betty.

Let me be thy husband, the merchant did say,
Thou shalt live in London most gallant and gay,
My ships shall bring rich jewels for thee,
And I will forever love pretty Betty.

Then Betty she sigh'd, and thus she did say,
My father and mother I mean to obey,

First get their good will, and be faithful to me,
And you shall enjoy your pretty Betty,

To every one of them that answer she made,
Therefore unto her they joyful said,
This thing to fulfill we all now agree,
But where dwells thy father my pretty Betty.

My father, quoth she, is soon to be seen,
The silly blind beggar of Bethnal Green;
That daily sits begging for charity,
He is the kind father of pretty Betty.

His marks and his tokens are known full well,
He always is led by a dog and a bell;
A poor silly old man, God knows, it is he,
Yet he is the true father of pretty Betty.

Nay, nay, quoth the merchant thou art not for me,
She, quoth the inholder, my wife shall not be;
I loath, said the gentleman, a beggar's degree,
Therefore now fare you well, my pretty Betty.

Why then, quoth the knight, happen it better or worse,
I weigh not true love by the weight of the purse;
And beauty is beauty in every degree:
Then welcome to me my dear pretty Betty.

With thee to thy father forthwith I will go,
Nay, forbear, quoth his kinsman it must not be so.
A poor beggar's daughter no lady shall be:
Then take thy adieu of thy pretty Betty.

As soon then as it was break of day,
The knight had from Rumford stole Betty away;
The young men of Rumford, so sick as may be,
Rode after to fetch again pretty Betty.

As swift as the wind to ride they were seen,
Untill they came near unto Bethnal Green,
And the knight alighted most courteously,
They fought against him for pretty Betty.

But rescue came presently over the plain,
Or else the knight there for his love had been slain.
The fray being ended, they straightway did see
His kinsman come railing at pretty Betty.

Then bespoke the blind beggar. Although I be poor,
Rail not against my child at my own door;
Though she be not decked in velvet and pearl,
Yet will I drop angels with thee for my girl.

And then, if my gold should better her birth,
And equal the gold you lay on the earth,
Then neither rail you, nor gudge you to see
The blind beggar's daughter a lady to be.

But first I will hear, and have it well known,
The gold you drop shall be all your own.
With that they replied, contented we be:
Then here's, quoth the beggar, for pretty Betty.

With that an angel he drop'd on the ground,
And drop'd in angels full three thousand pound,
And oftentimes it prov'd most plain,
For the gentleman's one the beggar dropp'd twain.

So that the whole place whereon they did sit,
With the finest gold was cover'd every whit;
The gentleman having dropt all his store,
Said, beggar, hold your hand, for I have no more.

Thou hast fulfiill'd thy promise aright.
Then marry my girl, quoth he, to the knight;
And then, quoth he, I will throw you down
An hundred pound more to buy her a gown.

The gentleman all, who his treasure had seen,
Admired the beggar of Bethnal Green.
And those that had been her suitors before,
Their tender flesh for anger they tore.

Thus was the fair Betty match'd to a knight,
And many a lady in others despite;
A fairer lady they never was seen,
Then the beggar's daughter of Bethnal Green.

But of her sumptuous marriage and feast,
And what fine lords and ladies thither prest,
The second part shall set forth to your sight,
With marvellous pleasure, and wished for delight.

Of a blind beggar's daughter so bright,
That late was bethroth'd to a young knight,
All the whole discourse therefore you may see---
But now comes the wedding of pretty Betty.

IT was within a gallant place most brave,
Adorned with all the cost they could have,
This wedding it was kept most sumptuously,
And all for the love of pretty Betty.

And all kind of dainties and delicates sweet,
Was brought to their banquet as it was thought meet,
Patridge, plover, and venison most free,
Against the brave wedding of pretty Betty.

The wedding thro' England was spread by report,
So that a great number thereto did resort,
Of nobles and gentlemen of every degree,
And all of the fame of pretty Betty.

To church then away went this gallant young knight,
His bride followed after like a lady bright,
With troops of ladies, the like was ne'er seen,
As went with sweet Betty of Bethnal Green.

This wedding being solemnized then,
With music performed by skilful men;
The nobles and gentlemen down at the side,
Each one beholding the beautiful bride.

But after the sumptuous dinner was done,
To talk and reason a number begun,
And of the blind beggar's daughter most bright,
And what with his daughter he gave to the knight.

Then spake the nobles, Much marvel have we,
This jolly blind beggar we cannot yet see
My lords, quoth the bride, my father's abash'd,
And would not with his presence have his state disgrac'd.

The praise of a woman in question to bring,
Before her own face is a flattering thing;
We think thy father's business. quoth they,
Might by thy beauty be quite put away.

They no sooner this pleasant word spoke,
But in comes the beggar in a silken cloak;
A velvet cap and a feather had he,
And now a musician, forsooth he would be.

And being led in from catching of harm,
He had a dainty lute under his arm,
Said, please you to hear any music of me?
A song I will give you of pretty Betty.

With that his lute he twanged straightway,
And thereupon begun most sweetly to play;
And after a lesson was play'd two or three,
He strain'd out this song most delicately.

A BEGGAR's daughter did dwell on a green,
Who for her beauty may well be a queen;
A blithe bonny lass and dainty was she,
And many one called her pretty Betty.

Her father had no goods nor any lands,
But begg'd for a penny all day with his hands;

And yet for her marriage gave thousands three,
Yet still he hath somewhat for pretty Betty.

And if anyone her birth do disdain,
Her father is ready with might and main,
To prove she is come of noble degree,
Therefore let none flout at at my pretty Betty.

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

With that the fair bride all blushing did rise,
With chrystal water all in her fair eyes.
Pardon my father, brave nobles, said she,
That through kind affection thus doats upon 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 with his fortune could never agree.

And therefore, blind beggar, to thee I do pray,
And look to us then the truth thou dost say;
Thy birth and thy parentage what it be,
E'en for the love thou bearest to pretty Betty.

Then give me leave ye gentles each one,
A song more to to sing, and I'll begone,
And if that I do not win a good report.
Then do not give me one groat for my sport.

WHEN first our king his fame did advance,
And sought his title in delicate France;
In many place great perils past he,
But then was not born my pretty Betty.

And at those wars went over to fight,
Many a brave duke, a lord, and a knight,
And with them young Munford of courage so free.
But then was not born my pretty Betty.

And there did young Munford with a blow on his face
Loose both his eyes in a very short space;
His life had been gone away with his sight,
Had not a young woman gone forth in the night.

Among the said men her fancy did move,
To search and to look for her own truelove;
Who seeing young Munford there gasping to die,
She saved his life through charity.

And then all our victuals, in beggars attire,
At the hands of good people we then did require;
At last in England, as now it is seen,
We came and remained in Bethnal Green.

And thus we have liv'd in Fortune's despite,
Though poor yet contented with humble delight.
And in my old years a comfort to be,
God sent me a daughter called pretty Betty.

And thus ye nobles, my song I do end,
Hoping by the same no man to offend;
Full forty long winters thus have I been,
A silly blind beggar of Bethnal Green.

Now when the company every one,
Did hear the strange tale he told in his song,
They were amazed as well as they may be,
Both at the blind beggar and pretty Betty.

With that the fair bride they did embrace,
Saying you are of an honourable race,
Thy father likewise of high degree,
And thou art worthy a lady to be.

Thus was the feast ended with joy and delight,
A happy bridegroom was made the young knight
Who liv'd in great joy and felicity,
With his fair lady dear pretty Betty.


Printed and sold by Jennings, Water-lane, Fleet-street, London.
Price One Penny.

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