Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for the People

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: James Burns, 1843.

XI. The English Yeoman.

I am an English yeoman!
And my father's lands I hold;
For a hundred years, and more than that,
They have never been bought or sold!
I sit by the same old hearth as they,
I rest in the same old seat;
And storms, when they roar on a winter's day,
On the same old gables beat.

They never knew an empty house
When Christmas-tide drew near;
And they never knew an empty hand
At any time o' th' year:
They kept up good old customs,
As every month came round;
They paid their tithes at Easter,
And at Whitsun beat the bound.

I am an English yeoman!
And we yeomen know no change:
Though anti-corn-law lecturers
About the country range;
We laugh at them, and such-like rogues,
And let them have their way;
For we know the good old proverb--
"Give every dog his day!"

We never drive the hungry
From our hearth and from our door;
We never built the unions
Wherein they starve the poor:
We keep up good old customs,
And are never over-nice;
For while we have one loaf of bread,
The poor shall have a slice.

I am an English yeoman!
And I glory in the name,
That since old England was a state
Has ne'er been mark'd with shame.
They loved the Church for many a day,
Ay, and we love Her still;
So let who may be turn'd away,
We yeomen never will.

Though Baptists, Chartists, Infidels,
Have set upon Her sore;
Wesleyans, Independents,
And other sects a score;
Yet how can we forsake Her,
When She alone hath power
To guard and guide us while we live,
And bless our dying hour?

I've heard that English yeomanry
In battle-fields have stood,
And would not flinch a single inch,
Although the ground ran blood.
To find the thing they dare not do,
You'd think would want long search:
I'll tell you, and I'll tell you true,--
They dare not leave their Church!

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