Part the First
Lithe and listen, gentlemen,
To sing a song I will beginne:
It is of a lord of faire Scotland,
Which was the unthrifty heire of Linne.
His father was a right good lord,
His mother a lady of high degree;
But they, alas! were dead, him froe,
And he lov’d keeping companie.
To spend the daye with merry cheare,
To drinke and revell every night,
To card and dice from eve to morne,
It was, I ween, his hearts delighte.
To ride, to runne, to rant, to roare,
To alwaye spend and never spare,
I wott, an’ it were the king himselfe,
Of gold and fee he mote be bare.
Soe fares the unthrifty Lord of Linne
Till all his gold is gone and spent;
And he maun selle his landes so broad,
His house, and landes, and all his rent.
His father had a keen stewarde,
And John o’ the Scales was called hee:
But John is become a gentel-man,
And John has gott both gold and fee.
Sayes, ‘Welcome, welcome, Lord of Linne,
Let nought disturb thy merry cheere;
Iff thou wilt sell thy landes soe broad,
Good store of gold Ile give thee heere.’
‘My gold is gone, my money is spent;
My lande nowe take it unto thee:
Give me the golde, good John o’ the Scales,
And thine for aye my lande shall bee.’
Then John he did him to record draw,
And John he cast him a gods-pennie;
But for every pounde that John agreed,
The lande, I wis, was well worth three.
He told him the gold upon the borde,
He was right glad his land to winne;
‘The gold is thine, the land is mine,
And now Ile be the Lord of Linne.’
Thus he hath sold his land soe broad,
Both hill and holt, and moore and fenne,
All but a poore and lonesome lodge,
That stood far off in a lonely glenne.
For soe he to his father hight.
‘My sonne, when I am gonne,’ sayd hee,
‘Then thou wilt spend thy lande soe broad,
And thou wilt spend thy gold so free.
‘But sweare me nowe upon the roode,
That lonesome lodge thou’lt never spend!
For when all the world doth frown on thee,
Thou there shalt find a faithful friend.’
The heire of Linne is full of golde:
‘And come with me, my friends,’ sayd hee,
‘Let’s drinke, and rant, and merry make,
And he that spares, ne’er mote he thee.’
They ranted, drank, and merry made,
Till all his gold it waxed thinne;
And then his friendes they slunk away;
They left the unthrifty heire of Linne.
He had never a penny left in his purse,
Never a penny left but three,
And one was brass, another was lead,
And another it was white money.
‘Nowe well-aday,’ sayd the heire of Linne,
‘Nowe well-aday, and woe is mee,
For when I was the Lord of Linne,
I never wanted gold nor fee.
‘But many a trustye friend have I,
And why shold I feel dole or care?
Ile borrow of them all by turnes,
Soe need I not be never bare.’
But one, I wis, was not at home;
Another had payd his gold away;
Another call’d him thriftless loone,
And bade him sharpely wend his way.
‘Now well-aday,’ said the heire of Linne,
‘Now well-aday, and woe is me;
For when I had my landes so broad,
On me they liv’d right merrilee.
‘To bed my bread from door to door,
I wis, it were a brenning shame;
To rob and steal it were a sinne;
To worke, my limbs I cannot frame.
‘Now Ile away to lonesome lodge,
For there my father bade me wend:
When all the world should frown on mee
I there shold find a trusty friend.’
Part the Second
Away then hyed the heire of Linne,
Oer hill and holt, and moor and fenne,
Untill he came to lonesome lodge,
That stood so lowe in a lonely glenne.
He looked up, he looked downe,
In hope some comfort for to winne:
But bare and lothly were the walles:
‘Here’s sorry cheare,’ quo’ the heire of Linne.
The little windowe, dim and darke,
Was hung with ivy, brere, and yewe;
No shimmering sunn here ever shone,
No halesome breeze here ever blew.
No chair, ne table he mote spye,
No chearful hearth, ne welcome bed,
Nought save a rope with renning noose,
That dangling hung up o’er his head.
And over it in broad letters,
These words were written so plain to see:
‘Ah! gracelesse wretch, hast spent thine all,
And brought thyselfe to penurie?
‘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.’
Sorely shent wi’ this rebuke,
Sorely shent was the heire of Linne;
His heart, I wis, was near to brast
With gilt and sorrowe, shame and sinne.
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.’
Then round his necke the corde he drewe,
And sprang aloft with his bodie,
When lo! the ceiling burst in twaine,
And to the ground came tumbling hee.
Astonyed lay the heire of Linne,
Ne knewe if he were live or dead:
At length he looked, and sawe a bille,
And in it a key of gold so redd.
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.
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.
‘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.’
‘And let it bee,’ sayd the heire of Linne,
‘And let it bee, but if I amend:
For here I will make mine avow,
This reade shall guide me to the end.’
Away then went with a merry cheare,
Away then went the heire of Linne;
I wis, he neither ceas’d ne blanne,
Till John o’ the Scales house he did winne.
And when he came to John o’ the Scales,
Upp at the speere then looked hee;
There sate three lords upon a rowe,
Were drinking of the wine so free.
And John himself sate at the bordhead,
Because now Lord of Linne was hee;
‘I pray thee,’ he said, ‘good John o’ the Scales,
One forty pence for to lend mee.’
‘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.’
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.’
‘Away, away, thou thriftless loone,
I swear thou gettest no almes of mee;
For if we shold hang any losel heere,
The first we wold begin with thee.’
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.
‘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.
‘And ever I pray thee, John o’ the Scales,
To let him sit in thy companie:
For well I wot thou hadst his land,
And a good bargain it was to thee.’
Up then spake him John o’ the Scales,
All wood he answer’d him againe:
‘Now Christs curse on my head,’ he sayd,
‘But I did lose by that bargaine.
‘And here I proffer thee, heire of Linne,
Before these lords so faire and free,
Thou shalt have it backe again better cheape
By a hundred markes than I had it of thee.’
‘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.’
And he pull’d 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.
He told him forth the good red gold.
He told it forth with mickle dinne.
‘The gold is thine, the land is mine,
And now Ime againe the Lord of Linne.’
Sayes, ‘Have 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.
‘Ile make thee keeper of my forrest,
Both of the wild deere and the tame;
For but I reward thy bounteous heart,
I wis, good fellowe, I were to blame.’
‘Now well-aday!’ sayth Joan o’ the Scales;
‘Now well-aday, and woe is my life!
Yesterday I was Lady of Linne,
Now Ime but John o’ the Scales his wife.’
‘Now fare thee well,’ sayd the heire of Linne,
‘Farewell now, John o’ the Scales,’ said hee:
‘Christs curse light on me, if ever again
I bring my lands in jeopardy.’