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AN ancient story I'll tell you anon1

Of a notable prince, that was called King John;
And he ruled England with main3 and with might,
For he did great wrong and maintain'd1 little right.

And I'll tell you a story, a story so merry,
Concerning the Abbot of Canterbury;
How for his housekeeping and high renown,6
They rode post7 for him to fair London town.

An hundred men, the king did hear say,a
The abbot kept in his house every day;
And fifty gold chains, without any doubt,
In velvet coats waited the abbot about.8

"How now,
father abbot, I hear it of thee,
Thou keepest a far better house than me:
And for thy housekeeping and high renown,
I fear thou work'st treason against my crown."

"My liege, 10" quoth the
I never spend nothing
And I trust your grace
For spending of my own

abbot, "I would it were known,
but what is my own;
will do me no deere11
true gotten geere.12" b

"Yes, yes, father abbot, thy fault it is high,13
And now for the same thou needest must die;
For except thou canst answer me questions three,
Thy head shall be smitten from thy bodie."

"And first," quoth the king, "when I'm in this stead,14
With my crown of gold so fair on my head,
Among all my liegemen15 so noble of birth,

Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worth.



Secondly tell me, without any doubt,

How soon I may ride the whole world about ;
And at the third question thou must not shrink,
But tell me here truly what I do think."

"O these are hard questions for my shallow wit,16
Nor I cannot answer your grace17 as yet;
But if you will give me but three weeks' space,
I'll do my endeavours to answer your grace."

"Now three weeks space to
And that is the longest time
For if thou dost not answer
Thy lands and thy livings19


thee will I give, thou hast to live; my questions three, are forfeit to me."

Away rode the abbot all sad at that word,
And he rode to Cambridge and Oxenford;20
But never a doctor there was so wise,"
That could with his learning an answer devise.21

Then home rode the abbot of comfort so cold,22 And he met his shepherd a-going to fold. 23 "How now, my lord abbot, you are welcome home; What news do you bring us from good King John?" shepherd, I must give, more to live; questions three, from my bodie.

"Sad news,
sad news,
That I have but three days
For if I do not answer him
My head will be smitten
"The first is to tell him there in that stead,
With his crown of gold so fair on his head,
Among all his liege-men so noble of birth,
To within one penny of what he is worth.

"The second, to tell him without any doubt,
How soon he may ride this whole world about;
And at the third question I must not shrink,
But tell him there truly what he does think."

"Now cheer up, Sir Abbot, did you never hear yet
That a fool he may learn24 a wise man wit25 ?
Lend me horse, and serving men, and your apparel,26
And I'll ride to London to answer your quarrel.27

"Nay, frown not, if it hath been told unto me,
I am like your lordship as ever may be;
And if you will but lend me your gown
There is none shall know us in fair London town."

"Now horses and serving men thou shalt have,
With sumptuous array28 most gallant and brave,
With crozier,29 and mitre,30 and rochet,31 and cope,32
Fit to appear 'fore33 our father the Pope."

"Now welcome, Sir Abbot," the king he did say,
""Tis well thou'rt come back to keep thy day:
For an if thou canst answer my questions three,
Thy life and thy living both saved shall be.

"And first, when thou seest me here in this stead,
With my crown of gold so fair on my head,
Among all my liege-men so noble of birth,
Tell me to one penny what I am worth."


"For thirty pence our Saviour was sold

By His enemiés, as I have been told:
And twenty-nine is the worth of thee,

For I think thou art one penny worser than He.”

The king he laughed, and swore by St. Bittel,34
"I did not think I had been worth
so little!
Now secondly tell me, without any doubt,
How soon I may ride this whole world about.'

"You must rise with the sun, and ride with the same,
Until the next morning he riseth again;
And then your grace need not make any doubt
But in twenty-four hours you'll ride it about."

The king he laughed, and swore by St. Jone,
"I did not think it could be gone so soon.
Now from the third question thou must not shrink
But tell me here truly what I do think."

"Yea, that I shall do and make your grace merry;
You think I'm the Abbot of Canterbury;
But I'm his poor shepherd, as plain you may see,
That am come to beg pardon for him and for me."

The king he laughed, and swore by the mass,
"I'll make thee lord abbot this day in his place!"



Nay, nay, my liege, be not in such speed,3
For, alack! I can neither write nor read."


"Four nobles36 a week, then, I will give thee,
For this merry jest thou hast shewn unto me;
And tell the old Abbot, when thou comest home,
Thou hast brought him a pardon from good King John."
Old Ballad.

CAUTIONS: a. Many of the lines in this old ballad have not the proper number of syllables; and this defect must be hid by the style of reading. It will, on this account, be often necessary to make longer pauses at the points than usual, and also to read out each word and each syllable with the greatest distinctness. The tone throughout is that of dry level narrative. b. This is a very difficult line. It should be read in an easy conversational way:


my own true-gotten-geere. c. The accent must be put on the last syllable of bodie-in the old fashion. d. The danger is here of putting an accent upon thou, which would spoil the sense. The emphasis or sense-accent is on dost. e. The emphasis is on so. f. This line has not the sufficient number of syllables; but this can be made up for by the length of the pause after back.

MEANINGS: 1. Anon, at once. 2. Notable, well known. 3. Main, force. 4. Maintained, kept un. 5. Housekeeping, way of living. 6. Renown, fame. 7. Post, in haste. 8. And fifty gold chains, without any doubt, in velvet coats,

waited the abbot about, fifty men wearing velvet coats and gold chains waited upon the abbot. 9. Work'st treason, makest plots; treason is any attempt to overthrow the government of a country. 10. Liege, sovereign. 11. Deere, harm. 12. True gotten geere, wealth fairly come-by. 13. High, great. 14. Stead, place. 15. Liegemen, subjects. 16. Shallow wit, poor powers of mind. 17. Your grace, title of respect. 18. Do my endeavour, do my best. 19. Livings, church offices. 20. Oxenford, Oxford. 21. Devise, find out. 22. Of comfort so cold, without finding any comfort. 23. A-going to fold, going to put the sheep in the fold. 24. Learn, teach. 25. Wit, wisdom. 26. Apparel, clothes. 27. Answer your quarrel, make your peace with the king. 28. With sumptuous array, most gallant and brave, with a splendid retinue of attendants. 29. Crozier, the staff of a bishop or abbot. 30. Mitre, cap worn by a bishop or abbot. 31. Rochet, a surplice with narrow sleeves worn by bishops. 32. Cope, a short cloak. 33. 'Fore, before. 34. St. Bittel, old form of St. Botolph. 35. Speed, a hurry. 36. Nobles, an old coin worth 6s. 8d.



The Golden Bee, a ship in the China trade, sets sail with every prospect of a pleasant voyage; but fire breaks but, and her crew and passengers have to take to the boats.

LADEN with precious merchandise, the growth of Chinese soil,
And costly work of Chinese hands, the patient work of toil,
Over the wave with outspread sails, like white-winged bird at sea,
Swiftly, gaily, homeward bound, sped on the Golden Bee.

Blithe was the captain's gallant heart,

for things had prospered


Soon should he reach his home on shore tell;

with much good news to

Good news for his Parsee merchants, and for the fair young wife, Whose sweet affection made the joy and beauty of his life.

Soon should he kiss his bonny boy, and hold him on his knee,
Awhile he'd listen eager-eyed to stories of the sea;

Soon should he kiss his latest-born; and then the captain smiled,
Smiled father-like, to think of HER, his little unseen child.

(A long pause.)

of horror and affright,

Hark! what terrific cry was that
Which broke like some tempestuous sound the stillness of the


Rousing the crew from rest and sleep to tremble and dismay,
Waking the captain's sunny dreams of harbour far away!

Oh, captain, wake! 'Tis but a dream-the harbour is not won,
Thou dost not clasp thy Mary's hand, or kiss thy little son;
Thy baby sweetly sleeps ashore-that shore is far from thee-
Oh, captain, wake! for none but God can save thy Golden Bee!


on solitary seas,

"FIRE!"-'twas an awful sound to hear
With double danger in the breath of every fresh'ning breeze;
An awful sight it was to see the vessel all alight,
As if a blazing meteor dropped

into the darksome night.

the captain gave command,
to help with skilful hand,

Foremost and calm amid his crew
Nor backward in a moment's need
Awhile the courage in his voice and firmness on his brow
Imparted strength and hope to hearts which ne'er had drooped till


"Get out the boats!" with firm quick voice the short command was said,

And no man spoke, but straight and swift the order was obeyed; Then one by one the crew stepped forth—but all looked back with


Upon the bonny Golden Bee, their home of many years.


But first the captain snatched from flame, and pressed within his breast,

A relic1 of departed days, of all
A little Prayer-Book, well-worn
Sweet token from his early love


his heart loved best:
now, a gift in early life,
ere yet he called her wife.

Then out upon a lonely sea, six hundred miles from land,
The solitary boat sailed forth with that courageous band;
Sailed forth as drifts a withered leaf upon the surging tide,2
With only hope to be their strength, and only God as guide.
All the Year Round.

CAUTIONS: a. Beware of allowing the accent to touch the into. The only way to avoid this is to lengthen the pause after dropped. b. "Get out the boats!' This must be spoken with the short, earnest, and clear articulation of a military command.

MEANINGS: 1. Relic, something left. 2. Tide, poetic word for sea.


This is a short poem, by WORDSWORTH, recording a perfectly simple incident. Wordsworth meets one morning, on a country road, a woman who carries a cage in her hand. He feels sympathy with her and with a certain noble look which he observes in her, and stops to converse.

ONE morning (raw it was and wet-"
A foggy day in winter time)

A woman on the road I met,
Not old,
Majestic in her person, tall
And like a Roman matron's

though something past her prime:
and straight;

was her mien and gait."

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