Heir of Linne


Lithe and listen, gentlemen,
To sing a song I will begin:
It is of a lord of faire Scotland,
Which was the unthrifty heir 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 day with merry cheer,
To drinke and revell every night,
To card and dice from eve to morne,
It was, I ween, his heart's delight.

To ride, to run, to rant, to roar,
To alwaye spend and never spare,
I wot, an' it were the king himself,
Of gold and fee he mote be bare.

So fares the unthrifty lord of Linne
Till all his gold is gone and spent;
And he maun sell his lands so broad,
His house, and lands, and all his rent.

His father had a keen stewarde,
And John o' the Scales was called he:
But John is become a gentel-man,
And John has got both gold and fee.

Says, Welcome, welcome, lord of Linne,
Let nought disturb thy merry cheer;
If thou wilt sell thy lands soe broad,
Good store of gold I'll give thee here.

My gold is gone, my money is spent;
My land now take it unto thee:
Give me the gold, good John o' the Scales,
And thine for aye my land shall be.

Then John he did him to record draw,
And John he cast him a gods-pennie;
But for every pound that John agreed,
The land, I wis, was well worth three.

He told him the gold upon the bord,
He was right glad his land to win:
The gold is thine, the land is mine,
And now I 'll be the lord of Linne.

Thus he hath sold his land so broad,
Both hill and holt, and moore and fenns,
All but a poor and lonesome lodge,
That stood far off in a lonely glen.

For so he to his father hight.
My son, when I am gone, said he,
Then thou wilt spend thy land so broad,
And thou wilt spend thy gold so free:

But swear me now 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 heir of Linne is full of gold:
And come with me, my friends, said he,
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 thin;
And then his friends they slunk away;
They left the unthrifty heir 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.

Now well-aday, said the heir of Linne,
Now well-aday, and woe is me,
For when I was the lord of Linne,
I never wanted gold nor fee.

But many a trusty friend have I,
And why should I feel dole or care?
I'll borrow of them all by turns,
So 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 loon,
And bade him sharply wend his way.

Now well-aday, said the heir of Linne,
Now well-aday, and woe is me!
For when I had my lands so broad,
On me they liv'd right merrilee.

To beg my bread from door to door
I wis, it were a burning shame:
To rob and steal it were a sin:
To work my limbs I cannot frame.

Now I'll away to that lonesome lodge,
For there my father bade me wend;
When all the world should frown on me,
I there shold find a trusty friend.


Away then hied the heir of Linne
O'er hill and holt and moor and fen,
Untill he came to the lonesome lodge,
That stood so lowe in a lonely glenne,

He looked up, he looked down,
In hope some comfort for to win:
But bare and lothly were the walls.
Here's sorry cheer, quo' the heir of Linne.

The little window dim and dark
Was hung with ivy, brere, and yew;
No shimmering sun here ever shone;
No wholesome breeze here ever blew.

Nor chair, nor table he mote spy,
No cheerful hearth, no welcome bed,
Nought save a rope with a running noose,
That dangling hung up o'er his head.

And over it in broad letters,
These words were written so plain to see:
" Ah! graceless wretch, hast spent thine all,
And brought thyself to penurie?

" And this my boding mind misgave
I therefore left this trusty friend:
Let it now shield thy foule disgrace,
And all thy shame and sorrows end."

Sorely shent wi' this rebuke,
Sorely shent was the heir of Linne;
His heart, I wis, was near to burst
With guilt and sorrow, shame and sin.

Never a word spake the heir of Linne,
Never a word he spake but three:
" This is a trusty friend indeed,
And is right welcome unto me."

Then round his neck the cord he drew,
And sprang aloft with his bodie:
When lo! the ceiling burst in twaine,
And to the ground came tumbling he.

Astonished lay the heir of Linne,
Nor knewe if he were live or dead:
At length he looked, and saw a bill,
And in it a key of gold so redd.

He took the bill, and lookt it on,
Strait good comfort found he there:
It told him of a hole in the wall,
In which there stood three chests in-fere.

Two were full of the beaten gold,
The third was full of white money;
And over them in broad letters
These words were written so plain to see:

" Once more, my son, I set thee clear;
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 be," said the heir of Linne;
" And let it be, but if I amend:
For here I will make mine avow,
This read shall guide me to the end."

Away then went with a merry cheer,
Away then went the heir of Linne;
I wis, he neither ceas'd nor stayed,
Till John o' the Scales' house he did win.

And when he came to John o' the Scales,
Up at the window then looked he:
There sate three lords upon a row,
Were drinking of the wine so free.

And John himself sate at the bord-head,
Because now lord of Linne was he.
I pray thee, he said, good John o' the Scalee,
One forty pence for to lend me.

Away, away, thou thriftless loone;
Away, away, this may not be:
For a curse upon my head he said,
If ever I trust thee one pennie.

Then bespake the heir of Linne,
To John o' the Scales' wife then spake he:
Madame, some alms on me bestow,
I pray for sweet saint Charitie.

Away, away, thou thriftless loone,
I swear thou gettest no alms of me;
For if we shold hang any losel here,
The first we would begin with thee.

Then bespake a good fellowe,
Which sat at John o' the Scales his bord;
Sayd, Turn again, thou heir 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 I'll lend thee forty pence,
And other forty if need be.

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 hot he answered him againe:
Now a curse upon my head, he said,
But I did lose by that bargaine.

And here I proffer thee, heir of Linne,
Before these lords so fair and free,
Thou shalt have it back again better cheap,
By a hundred markes, than I had it of thee.

I draw you to record, lords, he said.
With that he cast him a god's pennie:
Now by my fay, sayd the heir of Linne,
And here, good John, is thy money.

And he pull'd forth three bags of gold,
And layd them down upon the board:
All woebegone was John o' the Scales,
Soe shent he could 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 I'm again the lord of Linne.

Sayes, Have thou here, thou good fellowe,
Forty pence thou didst lend me:
Now I am again the lord of Linne,
And forty pounds I will give thee.

I'll make thee keeper of my forest,
Both of the wild deere and the tame;
For unless I reward thy bounteous heart,
I wis, good fellowe, I were to blame.

Now well-aday! sayth John o' the Scales:
Now well-aday! and woe is my life!
Yesterday I was lady of Linne,
Now I'm but John o' the Scales his wife.

Now fare thee well, said the heir of Linne;
Farewell now, John o' the Scales, said he.
A curse light on me, if ever again
I bring my lands in jeopardy.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.