Beautiful old ballad, of the babes in the wood
Stirling———Printed by M. Randall.
The Children in the Wood.
Now ponder well, ye parents dear,
the words which I shall write,
A dismal story you shall hear,
brought forth in time to light.
A merchant of no small account,
In England dwelt of late,
Who did in riches far surmount
most mea of his estate.
Yet sickness came and he must die,
no help his life could save,
In anguish his wife did lie,
death sent them to the grave.
No love between this pair was lost,
They both were mild and kind,
Together they gave up the ghost,
and left two babes behind.
The one a fine and pretty boy,
not passing six years old
A girl the next, the mother's joy,
and cast in beauty's mould.
The father left this little son,
as it doth plain appear,
When that his childish days were gone,
nine hundred pounds a-year.
And to his daughter we are told,
six thousand pounds to pay
In value full of British gold,
upon her marriage-day,
But if these children chanc’d to die,
as death might soon come on,
The uncle then, none can deny,
made all the wealth his own.
Pisarius call'd his brother then,
as on his bed he lay
Remember, O my brother dear,
remember what I say!
This life I quit, and to your care,
my little babes commend:
There youth in hopeful virtue rear,
their guardian, uncle, friend
Their parents both you must supply,
they do not know their loss.
And when you see the tear-swoln eye,
for pity be not cross.
Tis in your power now alone,
their greatest friend to be
Aad when that we are dead and gone,
give bliss, or misery.
If you direct their steps aright,
from God expect reward,
All actions are within his fight,
of which he takes regard.
With clay-cold Lips the babes they kiss’d,
and gave their last adieu!
A hear of stone would melt, I wist,
so sae a scene to view.
With tears, Androgus made reply,
dear brother do not fear;
Their every wish I will supply,
and be their uncle dear.
God never prosper me nor mine,
in whatsoe'er I have,
If e'er I hurt them with design,
when you are in the grave.
The parents being dead and gone,
the children home he takes,
And seems to soften all their moan,
and much of them makes:
But had not kept the little souls,
a twelvemonth and day,
But in his breast a scheme there rolls
to take their lives away.
He bargain'd with two ruffians strong,
who were of furious mood,
To take away these children young,
and slay them in the wood;
Then gave it out, both far and near,
that he them both did send
To town, for education there,
to one who was their friend.
Away the little babes were sent,
rejoicing at the tide;
Which gave them both no small content,
on horseback for to ride:
They prate and prattle pleasantly,
as they ride on the way,
To those who should their butchers be,
and work their lives decay.
The pretty speeches which they said,
made one rogue’s heart relent,
For though he undertook the deed,
he sorely did repent.
The other still more hard of heart,
was not at all agriev'd
And vow’d that he would do his part,
for what he had receive'd
The other won't agree there, o,
which caus’d no little strife:
To fight they go right suddenly,
about the children's life.
And he that was in midest mood,
did lay the other there,
Within an unfrequented wood,
the babes did quake with fear.
He took the children by the hand,
while tears were in their eyes;
And for a scheme which he had plan'd
he bid them make no noise.
Then two long miles he did them lead,
of hunger they complain,
Stay here says he I’ll bring you bread,
and soon be here again.
Then hand in hand they took their way,
and wander'd up and down;
But never more did they survey
the man come from the town.
Their pretty lips with blackberries
were all besmear'd and dy'd,
And when the shades of night arise,
they sat them down and cry'd.
There pretty babes thus wander'd long,
without the least relief,
The woods, the briars, and thorns among,
till death ended their grief.
There pretty babe from any man,
no funeral rite service,
But Robin Redbreast and the Wren,
did cover them with leaves.
But now the heavy wrath of God
upon the uncle fell
The furies haunt his curs'd abode,
his confidence felt an hell,
His barns consum'd his house was first,
his lands were barren made,
His cattle in the fields expired,
and nothing with him staid.
His ships, with both his sons on board,
were on their voyage left,
And fate did order him to be,
with wants and sorrows crost.
His lands all sold and pawned were,
ere seven years were out.
Attend, and you shall quickly hear,
how all things came about.
The fellow who did take in hand
the children for to kill,
To die was judged by the land,
for murder———by God's will.
The guilty secret in his breast,
he could no more contain,
So all the truth he did confess;
to ease him of his pain.
The uncle did in prison die:
unpity’d was his fate,
Ye guardians warning take hereby,
and never more ingrate.
To helpless infants still be kind,
and give to each his right.
For if you do not, soon you'll find,
God will your deeds requite.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.