The Second Fytte


O F a blind beggar's daughter most bright,
That late was betrothed unto a young knight;
All the discourse thereof you did see;
But now comes the wedding of pretty Bessee.

Within a gorgeous palace most brave,
Adorned with all the cost they could have,
This wedding was kept most sumptuouslie,
And all for the credit of pretty Bessee.

All kind of dainties, and delicates sweet
Were bought for the banquet, as it was most meet;
Partridge, and plover, and venison most free,
Against the brave wedding of pretty Bessee.

This marriage through England was spread by report,
So that a great number thereto did resort
Of nobles and gentles in every degree;
And all for the fame of pretty Bessee.

To church then went this gallant young knight,
His bride followed after, an angel most bright,
With gay troops of ladies, the like ne'er was seen
As went with sweet Bessy of Bethnal Green.

This marriage being solemnized then,
With music performed by the skilfullest men,
The nobles and gentles sate down at that tide,
Each one admiring the beautiful bride.

Now, after the sumptuous dinner was done,
To talk and to reason a number begun;
They talked of the blind beggar's daughter most bright,
And what with his daughter he gave to the knight.

Then spake the nobles, " Much marvel have we,
This jolly blind beggar we cannot here see. "
" My lords, " quoth the bride, " my father's so base,
He is loth with his presence these states to disgrace. "

" The praise of a woman in question to bring
Before her own face, were a flattering thing;
But we think thy father's baseness, " quoth they,
" Might by thy beauty be clean put away. "

They had no sooner these pleasant words spoke,
But in comes the beggar clad in a silk cloak;
A fair velvet cap and a feather had he,
And now a musician forsooth he would be.

He had a dainty lute under his arm,
He touched the strings, which made such a charm,
Says, " Please you to hear any music of me,
I'll sing you a song of pretty Bessee. "

With that his lute he twanged straightway,
And thereon began most sweetly to play;
And after that lessons were played two or three,
He strained out this song most delicatelfe.

" A poor beggar's daughter did dwell on a green,
Who for her fairness might well be a queen:
A blithe bonny lass, and a dainty was she,
And many one called her pretty Bessee.

" Her father he had no goods, nor no land,
But begged for a penny all day with his hand,
And yet to her marriage he gave thou sands three,
And still he hath somewhat for pretty Bessee.

" And if any one here her birth do disdain,
Her father is ready, with might and with main,
To prove she is come of a noble degree,
Therefore never flout at pretty Bessee. "

With that the lords and the company round
With hearty laughter were ready to swound.
At last said the lords, " Full well we may see,
The bride and the beggar's beholden to thee. "

On this the bride all blushing did rise,
The pearly drops standing within her fair eyes.
" O pardon my father, grave nobles, " quoth she,
" That through blind affection thus doteth on me. "

" If this be thy father, " the nobles did say,
" Well may he be proud of this happy day;
Yet by his countenance well may we see,
His birth and his fortune did never agree:

" And therefore, blind man, we bid thee bewray,
(And look that the truth thou to us do say)
Thy birth and thy parentage, what it may be;
For the love that thou bearest to pretty Bessee. "

" Then give me leave, nobles and gentles, each one,
One song more to sing, and then I have done;
And if that it may not win good report,
Then do not give me a groat for my sport.

" Sir Simon de Montfort my subject shall be;
Once chief of all the great barons was he,
Yet fortune so cruel this lord did abase,
Now lost and forgotten are he and his race.

" When the barons is arms did King Henry oppose,
Sir Simon de Montfort their leader they chose,
A leader of courage undaunted was he,
And oft-times he made their bold enemies flee.

" At length in the battle on Evesham plain,
The barons were routed, and Montfort was slain,
Most fatal that battle did prove unto thee,
Though thou wast not born then, my pretty Bessee!

" Along with the nobles, that fell at that tide,
His eldest son Henry, who fought by his side,
Was felled by a blow he received in the fight
A blow that deprived him for ever of sight.

" Among the dead bodies all lifeless he lay,
Till evening drew on of the following day,
When by a young lady discovered was he;
And this was thy mother, my pretty Bessee!

" A baron's fair daughter stept forth in the night
To search for her father, who fell in the fight,
And seeing young Montfort, where gasping he lay,
Was moved with pity, and brought him away.

" In secret she nursed him, and swaged his pain,
While he through the realm was believed to be slain.
At length his fair bride she consented to be,
And made him glad father of pretty Bessee.

" And now, lest our foes our lives should betray,
We clothed ourselves in beggar's array;
Her jewels she sold, and hither came we;
All our comfort and care was our pretty Bessee.

" And here have we lived in fortune's despite,
Though poor, yet contented with humble delight:
Full forty winters thus have I been
A silly blind beggar of Bethnal Green.

" And here noble lordes, is ended the song
Of one that once to your own rank did belong.
And thus have you learned a secret from me,
That ne'er had been known but for pretty Bessee. "

Now when the fair company every one,
Had heard the strange tale in the song he had shown,
They all were amazed, as well they might be,
Both at the blind beggar, and pretty Bessee.

With that the fair bride they all did embrace,
Saying, " Sure thou art come of an honourable race,
Thy father likewise is of noble degree,
And thou art well worthy a lady to be. "

Thus was the feast ended with joy and delight,
A bridegroom most happy then was the young knight,
In joy and felicity long lived he,
All with his fair lady, the pretty Bessee.
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