Ye Lads and ye Lasses that live at Long-Leat


Being an Excellent Ballad the Occasion of which said to have been from an Accident that happen'd at Ld Weymouth at Long- Leat of a Gentleman's setting down upon a Fiddle that a Lady had just before been playing upon & breaking it.

Primary Text:

MS Additional 28101 (Ashley Cowper's Family Miscellany), 116-8.

Ye Lads and ye Lasses that live at Long-Leat
Where they say there's no end of good Drink and good Meat
Where the Poor fill their Bellies, the Rich receive honour;
So great and so good is the Lord of the manour.
                Derry, down, down, down


Ye Nymphs and ye Swains that inhabit the Place,
Give Ear to my Song, a Fiddles hard Case;
For it is of a Fiddle, a sweet Fiddle I sing,
A sweet and softer did never wear String.
                Derry, down, down, down


Melpomene lend me the aid of thy Art,
Whilst I the sad Fate of this Fiddle impart;
For never good fiddle had fortune so bad,
Which proves the best Things the worst Fortune have had.
                Derry, down, down down


But first I must sing of this Fiddle's Country:
'Twas born and 'twas bred in fair Italy.
In a Place where a marshal of France had the hap
(Fortune de la guerre) to be caught in a Trap.
                Derry, down, down, down


But to sing out my Ditty in praise of the Fiddle
That I may not be said to break off in the middle
I'll next gentle Reader the Virtues explain
Then sigh to decay with great Sorrow & Pain
                Derry, down, down, down


This Fiddle of Fiddles, when it came to be tri'd,
Was as sweet as the Lark, and as soft as a Bride;
But, oh! when I shall its catastrophe sing,
Your heart it will bleed, and your Hands you will wring.
                Derry, down, down, down


Having told you the truth of this fiddle's high Birth,
I shou'd sing of the Fingers that made so much Mirth;
The Fingers so swift, so strait, and so small,
Shou'd be sung by a Poet, or not sung at all.
                Derry, down, down, down


For I am, God wot, but a poor Country Swain,
And cannot indite in so lofty a Strain;
For the best I can say which I'll you once more,
I ne'er saw such Hands & such Fingers before.
                Derry, down, down, down


For the Hands, & the Fingers & the Fiddle together
Cou'd make heavy Heart as Light as a Feather
Such Light for to see, such Musick to hear
Gave delight to the Eye, while it ravish'd the Ear
                Derry, down, down, down


Having sung of the Fingers & Fiddle, I trow,
I hold it fair to sing of the bow
The Bow it was Ebon, whose Virtue was such,
That it wounded your hearts, while our Ears it did touch.
                Derry, down, down, down


Cupid fain wou'd have chang'd with this Bow for a while;
To which the Coy nymph to reply with a smile,
Quoth she mine is far better than your's, I'll appeal
For yours only can kill, mine can both kill and heal.
                Derry, down, down, down


My Bow does produce such a ravishing Sound
As can cure all Diseaes & heal ev'ry Wound
Lends a Crutch to the Cripple makes the Deaf for to hear
Such Wonders it works that it hath not its Pear.
                Derry, down, down, down

[censored 12a]

This fiddle was laid on a soft easy chair
Taking all for its friends its sweet musick did hear;
When strait there came in a huge masculine bum
I wish the de'el had it to make him a drum.
                [Derry, down, down, down


Now Woe to this Bum that this Fiddle demolish'd,
That it has all our Joys and Pastime abolish'd;
Let it never want Birch, to be swing'd and be slash'd,
Forever be itching, & never be scratch'd.
                Derry, down, down, down


Let it never break wind in the Cholick so grievous,
A Penance too small for a Crime so mischievous;
Mount on horseback without loss of Leather,
Which brings me almost to the end of my tether.
                Derry, down, down, down


Of other Bums scapes may it still bear the blame,
Ne'er shew its bare Face without Sorrow or Shame:
Ne'er find a soft Cushion its anguish to ease,
While all is too little my Wrath to appease.
                Derry, down, down, down


And now, shou'd some critick of deep penetration,
Attack our poor ballad with grave Annotation,
The Fop must be told, without speaking in Riddle,
He shou'd first make a better--or kiss my Bum-fiddle.
                Derry, down, down, down


1724 Hive, II, 262-4 (titled: "On a Gentleman's sitting upon a lady's Cremona fiddle").


Possible attribution to Finch as the 16th of 18 poems by Anne Finch in this volume. None of these are attributed to her, but several occur near one another although an attempt has clearly been made to separate out her songs to fit the themes and moods the editor of the book wants us to concentrate upon ("Ombre and Basset" first set to be followed by "Persuade me not ... " and "Cosmelia's Charms," which occurs with ""Cupid, one day, ask'd his mother," 1720, Nos. 267-8). This ballad precedes "Cupid, one day, ask'd his mother," above 1709, No. 158.

In mood and "countrified" diction this recalls Anne Finch's other late ballads, particularly the playful one to Catherine Fleming in the MS Wellesley (1719 early, No. 250); in the scene described it fits with "A New Ballad to the Tune of All You Ladies" (1718, No. 249). We have Cupid: "Cupid fain wou'd have chang'd with this bow for a while;/To which the coy nymph thus reply'd ... My bow is far better than your's ... " in the same slightly salacious manner of Anne Finch's other Prior-like anacreontics. The point of view and details are like those we find in Finch's other private poems to her family and friends, e.g., idea that aristocrats should not stint fires, food, and meat, that the best the worst fortune have, that the poet is lowly and hopes to be ignored by the malice of critics."

If by Anne Finch, the ballad Poem shows that Anne was never without her sense of humor and periods of cheer, even during the years she was very ill and writing the later melancholy religious verse.

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