PEDIGREE: Mr. Furnivall refers to a collection by Joseph Ritson titled “Ancient Songs and Ballads, From the Reign of King Henry II to the Revolution”, for the surviving text of this ballad. Ritson’s entry for the ballad places it in a British Museum manuscript (Sloan MS 1584) believed to have been scribed by a canon named John Gysborn, a contemporary of Henry VIII. Furnivall describes the MS as “an odd mixture of recipes, hymns, songs, a tract (imperfect) on a priest’s duties, questions to be put at the confessional, etc. ” “The song is on leaf 45, between the recipe for ‘a souerayne laxatyffe’ and a Sermon for Easter-Day.”
SYNOPSIS: The text is short (17 lines), and also called “The Praise of Serving-Men”. Each line ends with “Trolly lolly”.
So well is me begon,
Of serving-men I will begyn,
For they go mynyon trym,
Of meat and drink and fair clothing,
By dere god, I want nothing,
His bonet is of fyne scarlet,
With here as black as gette,
Hys dublet is of fyne satyne,
Hys sherte well mayde and trym,
His cotte it is so trym and rounde,
His kysse is worth A Hundred Pound,
His hoysse of London black
In hyme ther ys no lack
Hys face it is so lyke a man,
Who cane butt love hym than?
Wher so ever he be, he hath my hert,
And shall to deth de part.
AVAILABILITY: There is a copy of Joseph Ritson’s “Ancient Songs and Ballads” online at Google Books:
A British Museum online record for Sloan MS 1584 is here: