Sunday, 22 January 2012

'A Song made of Nothing': 17thc Ballad

A Song made of Nothing.
Yet he that doth read, or heare it shall find,
Something of nothing to pleasure his mind.
To a dainty New tune.

Some men of nothing doe matters endite.
& some men of small things large volumes doe write,
But if you wilt give me leave I will recite

                                                         A song made of nothing.
He that has nothing may soonest spend all,
And he thats exalted may have a downe-fall,
And he that is weakest may goe to the wall,

                                                         But I will say nothing.
He that presumeth a Gallant to be,
And spends more in one yeare then he gets in three,
Shall beg having wasted his Patrimony,

                                                         But I will say nothing.
He that has nothing, no credit shall have,
Although he be vertuous, hes counted a knave,
Among roaring Gallants that goe fine and brave,

                                                         Cause he can spend nothing.
He that delights in Cards and in Dice,
And spends his revenues in such idle vice,
Shall meet with lewd company him to intice,

                                                         Till he be worth nothing.
He that hath nothing, with troubles beset,
Will steale or doe something a living to get.
But if he be caught in the hangmans net,

                                                         His life is worth nothing.
He that hath nothing, can nothing possesse,
And he that hath little may looke to have lesse,
But much want and sorrow doth daily oppresse

                                                         the man that hath nothing.
He that will be a good husband indeed,
That unto his businesse doth goe with good heed,
Shall still have sufficient to serve him at need,

                                                         And alwayes want nothing.
He that is maried unto a good wife,
Shall live in content all dayes of his life,But if man and woman be given to strife,

                                                         Theyll fall out for nothing.
He that is idle and will not take paines.
But honest industry and labour disdaines,
When others true labours are quitted with gaines,

                                                         Then he shall have nothing.

 The second part. To the same tune.

HE that in Drunkennes takes his delight.
To drinke and to swagger, to brabble and fight
He taketh the wrong, and leaveth the right,

                                                         But I wil say nothing.
He that in basenesse his time doth here spend,
That never regards himselfe nor his friend,
He standeth in danger to have a bad end,

                                                         But I wil say nothing.
He that takes pleasure to curse, ban and sweare,
With vaine execrations his Maker to teare,
The Lord in his wrath, if he doe not forbeare,

                                                         wil bring him to nothing.
He that doth ruffle it out in vaine pride
That weareth gay clothes a foule carcasse to hide,
And beares more ons backe then hes worth beside,

                                                         Ile trust him for nothing.
He that delighteth to goe to the Law,
To sue for a trifle thats scarce worth a straw,
May sue for a Woodcocke. and catch a Jack-Daw

                                                         For all comes to nothing.
He that his time stil carelesly spends,
And hopes to be rich by the death of his friends,
The piller whereon all his hope still depends,

                                                         Perhaps comes to nothing.
He that deferreth amendment to th last,
And seekes not to thrive till al remedies past,
If he through his folly behind hand be cast,

                                                         His hopes are worth no[thi]ng.
He that lives uprightly in his vocation,
And on the distressed hath commiseration,
That man rightly merits a good commendation

                                                         Hes guilty in nothing.
He that with usury doth money beget,
And loves that young spend-thrifts should be in his debt
The Devill at last wil drag him ins net

                                                         But I wil say nothing.
He that can craftily cozen and cheat,
To get a base living by fraud and deceit,
Shal stand on the Pillory to coole his heate,

                                                         But I wil say nothing.
He that is often enclined to quarrell,
Wil bring both himselfe & his friend in great perill
But that man is blest that can wisely forbeare ill,

                                                         And learne to say nothing.
Here you see something of nothing is made.
For of the word nothing, something is said,
That man who hath neither wealth, wit, nor trade,

                                                         Alas he gets nothing.
So free me being tedious, I now wil refraine,
And pray for King Charles that long he many raigne:
His foes and all traytors that wish Englands bane.

                                                         Good Lord bring to nothing

Printed at London for John Wright.

From the English Broadside Ballad Archive
There is no definate date for this but thought to have been printed around 1602-1646
Image 1:  Buytewech, Willem Pietersz.
'Merry Company', 1622-24, from The Web Gallery of Art
Image 2: Honthorst, Gerrit van
'The Happy Violinist with a Glass of Wine', c. 1624, from The Web Gallery of Art

Copyright © 2012 E.JH