Lord Delaware

Melody -

Traditional Ballad, first published in Ancient Ballads and Songs, 1827

In the Parliament House, a great rout has been there,
Betwixt our good King and the Lord Delaware:
Says Lord Delaware to his Majesty full soon,
Will it please you, my liege, to grant me a boon?

2. What's your boon, says the King, now let me understand?
It's, give me all the poor men we've starving in this land;
And without delay, I'll hie me to Lincolnshire,
To sow hemp-seed and flax-seed, and hang them all there.

3. For with hempen cord it's better to stop each poor man's breath,
Than with famine you should see your subjects starve to death.
Up starts a Dutch Lord, who to Delaware did say,
Thou deserves to be stabbed! then he turned himself away;

4. Thou deserves to be stabbed, and the dogs have thine ears,
For insulting our King in this Parliament of peers.
Up sprang a Welsh Lord, the brave Duke of Devonshire,
In young Delaware's defence, I'll fight this Dutch Lord, my sire;

5. For he is in the right, and I'll make it so appear:
Him I dare to single combat, for insulting Delaware.
A stage was soon erected, and to combat they went,
For to kill, or to be killed, it was either's full intent.

6. But the very first flourish, when the heralds gave command,
The sword of brave Devonshire bent backward on his hand;
In suspense he paused awhile, scanned his foe before he strake,
Then against the King's armour, his bent sword he brake.

7. Then he sprang from the stage, to a soldier in the ring,
Saying, Lend your sword, that to an end this tragedy we bring:
Though he's fighting me in armour, while I am fighting bare,
Even more than this I'd venture for young Lord Delaware.

8. Leaping back on the stage, sword to buckler now resounds,
Till he left the Dutch Lord a bleeding in his wounds:
This seeing, cries the King to his guards without delay,
Call Devonshire down, - take the dead man away!

9. No, says brave Devonshire, I've fought him as a man,
Since he's dead, I will keep the trophies I have won;
For he fought me in your armour, while I fought him bare,
And the same you must win back, my liege, if ever you them wear.

10. God bless the Church of England, may it prosper on each hand,
And also every poor man now starving in this land;
And while I pray success may crown our King upon his throne,
I'll wish that every poor man may long enjoy his own.

The last verse has every appearance of being apocryphal; it looks like one of those benedictory verses with which minstrels were, and still are, in the habit of concluding their songs. - Thomas Lyle

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