Modern Street Ballads


To a village that skirted the sea,
An Exciseman, one midsummer, came,
But prudence, between you and me,
Forbids me to mention his name.
Soon Michael he chanced to espy,
A cask on his shoulder he wore,
With six gallons of brandy, or nigh,
And where is the man can bear more?

Says th’ Exciseman, let’s see your Permit,
Says Mike, ‘Tain’t convenient to show it,
T’other cried, Sir, I’m not to be bit,
For you’ve smugled that stuff, and you know it.
Your hogs to a fine market you’ve brought,
For seeing you’ve paid no excise,
As Custom has settled you ought,
I seize on your tub, as my prize.

Now, do not be hard, said poor Mike,
The Exciseman was deaf to complaint,
Why then, take it, said Mike, if you like,
For I’ve borne it till ready to faint.
For miles in hot sunshine they trudg’d,
Till on them, the scarce had a dry rag,
Th’ Exciseman his labour ne’er grudged,
But carefully carried his cag.

To the Custom House, in the next town,
’Twas yet some three furlongs or more,
Then says Michael, pray set your load down,
For this here, Sir, is my Cottage door.
‘Tother answered, I thank you, friend, No,
My burden, just yet, I shan’t quit,
Then, says Michael, before you do go
I’ll get you to read my permit.

Your Permit! Why not show it before?
Because it came into my nob,
By your watching for me on the shore,
That your worship was wanting a job.
Now, I’d need of a porter, d’ye see,
For that load made my bones for to crack,
And so, Sir, I thank you for me,
And wish you a pleasant walk back.

<< Vilikins and His Dinah   Giles Scroggin's Ghost >>

The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

Please visit for more information.