The Mountebanks

Song Cycle by Martin Easthope (1882 - 1925)

1a. Preamble [sung text checked 1 time]

There was a troupe of mountebanks,
They came ‘way o’er the plain,
By Winchester & Wessex Weald,
In sun and wind and rain.

They were a merry company,
A quaint and motley company
As ever you could find
For Tom the piper marched before,
And Jock the fiddler, limping sore,
Came following behind.

And there was Hans who played the flute,
Another Orphy, with his lute,
Made folks to dance and play,
And join this merry company,
This quaint and motley company,
This rag-tag, bobtail company,
Oh, any time o’ day.

And there was Nell, a dainty dear,
Who trilled away both loud and clear,
A sweeter sound you ne’er would hear,
Upon a morn in May.
And there was Meg who followed soon
With voice that mock’d the the ring dove’s croon,
Oh, any time o’ day.

And then came youthful Romeo, Oh Romeo?
Who sang of love, both high and low,
No maid could ever say him nay,
For he would vow fidelity
To one, or two, or three,
(Oh no!), Yes, any time o’ day.

And Noll a heavy baritone ,
(A basso, e profundo tone,)
He’d roar you like a megaphone,
So loudly could he bray.
But when he did a tavern spy,
He stay’d his feet, nor passed it by,
Oh, any time o’ day.

There was a troupe of mountebanks,
They came ‘way o’er the plain,
By Winchester & Wessex Weald,
In sun and wind and rain.

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

1b. Episode [sung text checked 1 time]

And a the evening shadows longer grew, they found themselves in the village of Farthinhoe where they would spend the night.
Mine host of “The Barleymow,” a right good man and worthy,
seeing that their pockets were as light as their cares, essayed fair exchange. He would give them sustenance and shelter for the night, if they, in their turn, would ply their art before the company.

So now our purpose is to show
How Nell, Noll, Meg and Romeo
Earned board and bed in Farthinghoe,
One day at Farthinghoe.

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

2. Dusk of dreams [sung text checked 1 time]

There’s a swaying of branches where the white blossom swings,
There’s a drifting of petals and a folding of wings,
And a hush in the glade where the nightingale sings,
As we glide a-down the dusk of dreams.

Long ago the wind sang lullaby,
Rock’d the sleepy world to lullaby,
Calling us away, Oh, so far and far away,
Crooning down the dusk of dreams.

There’s a glowing of embers when the fire-flicker dies,
There’s a deep’ning of shadows and a closing of eyes,
And there’s one ray of sunlight where a drowsy bird lies,
As we glide a-down the dusk of dreams.

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

3. The quack doctor [sung text checked 1 time]

My name is Tom Shilling, the King of the Quacks,
For I heal all your aches and your ills,
The pains in your legs and the cricks in your backs
All give way to my potions and pills.
I’ve a wonderful cure, will you buy it?
A remedy sure, will you try it?
Walk up, there’s nothing to pay,
For a sample, there’s nothing to pay
It will drive all your aches and your pains and your ailments away.

Jack Pudding fell sick of a grievous complaint,
And he wouldn’t be tempted to eat,
He left the “Red Lion” so weary and faint
That he couldn’t stand up on his feet.
Then he had a most excellent notion,
To sample my wonderful lotion,
And now he’s jolly and gay,
Oh, so jaunty, jolly and gay,
He can walk twenty miles to the “Crown” or the “Dragon” today.

Dame Dawkins was cursed with a terrible cough,
And her voice was so feeble and weak,
The neighbours all said “It will carry her off,”
For she hardly could hear herself speak.
Then I gave her one dose of my lotion,
My staggering, life giving lotion,
And now she’s merry and gay,
Oh, so mirthful, merry and gay,
Her good mad can hear her the length of the village away!

My name is Tom Shilling, the King of the Quacks,
For I heal all your aches and your ills,
The pains in your legs and the cricks in your backs
All give way to my potions and pills.
I’ve a wonderful cure, will you buy it?
A remedy sure, will you try it?
Walk up, there’s nothing to pay,
For a sample, there’s nothing to pay
It will drive all your aches and your pains and your ailments away.

So if pain you’d be killing,
Just come to Tom Shilling
The King of the Quacks!

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

4. The heart-rending story [sung text checked 1 time]

'Tis of a lovely maiden the tale is told,
Her eyes were like the violet, her hair was of gold.
This tale of cruel beauty would melt the stones,
The heart-rending story of Barbara Jones.

‘Twas on a Sunday morning at half past eight,
They met the very first time, beside the church gate,
He asked if he might court her in manly tones,
But she turned from him coldly, did Barbara Jones.

‘Twas on a Monday morning at half past eight,
He begged her for to wed him, beside the church gate,
But she would only mock him in scornful tones,
And left him there a weeping, did Barbara Jones.

Hear now the tragic sorrow and cruel fate,
They met and, for the third time, beside the church gate,
So ends this tragic story in tears and groans
For she met him,
And she married him! 
Did Barbara Jones.

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

5. The minstrel [sung text checked 1 time]

To the birds at morn,
My song stirs the brook and the meadow
And the waving corn.
I sing to the banners of sunset
As day goes by.
I sing to the sisters seven,
And the moon in the sky.
But when thou lookest upon me,
O loved one of mine,
The song and the heart of the singer
Are thine, all thine.
To thee, to thee, O beloved,
All, all belong,
Life that is more than music,
Love that is more than song.

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

6. Jingle hat [sung text checked 1 time]

Whether you wish it or no,
You must dance when he comes,
To the tune of the panpipes, cymbals and drums
Sounded by Jingl-Hat Joe.
Bells on his head, bells on his toes,
Jingling he comes, jingling he goes.
Wedding or wake, market or fair,
Jingle-Hat Joe’s sure to be there,

Whether you wish it or no,
You must dance when he comes,
To the tune of the panpipes, cymbals and drums
Sounded by Jingl-Hat Joe.
Hornpipe or jig or saraband,
Played by the skill of the one-man band,
Now it’s a waltz, lilting and low,
Now a gavotte, stately and slow,
And now it’s a round or a reel
Or a mad tarantella,
Not a lad in the land can play it as well.

So whether you wish it or no,
You’ve all got to dance when he comes,
To the tune of the panpipes, cymbals and drums
When they’re played by the one-man band!

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson

7. Here to-day and gone to-morrow [sung text checked 1 time]

And so they passed from Farthinghoe
When morning broke across the plain,
And like the pilgrims of long ago,
They took the onward road again
To other hamlets far away
Where they might beg, or steal or borrow
For strolling mountebanks were they,
And here today and gone tomorrow.
And all the folk of kindly heart
Sped on their way the motley show,
Save one small maid who stole apart
To shed a tear for Romeo.
But comrades of so short a stay
Can part with but a fleeting sorrow,
For strolling mountebanks were they,
And here today and gone tomorrow.
Strolling mountebanks were they
Who halted here a day.
And so this troupe of mountebanks
They passed ‘way o’er the plain
By Winchester and Wessex Weald,
In sun, in wind and rain.

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Mike Pearson
Total word count: 1271