Modern Street Ballads


O, the jolly angler’s life is the best of any,
It is a fancy void of strife, and will be lov’d of many.
It is no crime at any time, but a harmless pleasure,
It is a bliss of lawfulness; it is a joy, ’tis not a toy;
It is a skill that breeds no ill; it is sweet and complete;
Adornation to our mind; it’s witty, pretty, decent, pleasant;
Pastime we shall sweetly find, if the weather prove but kind,
            We will have our pleasure.

In the morning we start, as soon as daylight’s peeping,
We take a cup to cheer the heart, and leave the sluggard sleeping,
Forth we walk, with merry talk to some pleasant river,
Near the Thames’ silver streams; there we stand, rod in hand,
Fixing right, for a bite; but if the bait the fish allure,
They come bobbing, nipping, biting, skipping,
Dangling on our hooks secure; with such a pastime sweet and pure.
            We could fish for ever.

Various objects to be seen, O, what pleasure there is,
Can there be a purer joy—if so—tell me, where is?
Birds they sing, and flowers spring; full of delectation,
A whistling breeze runs through the trees, there we meet meadows sweet;
Flowers sweet, the mind unbent; here is scent, of sweet content.
Living, giving, easing, pleasing; by those sweet refreshing bowers,
Vitals from those herbs and flowers, rais’d up by those falling showers,
            For man’s recreation.

As thro’ the shady forest, where echo there is sounding,
Hounds and huntsmen roving there, in their sports abounding;
Hideous noise, in all their joys, not to be admired;
Whilst we fish, to gain a dish; with a hook, in the brook,
Watch our float, spare our throat, while they’re sult’ring to and fro;
Twivy, Twivy, Twivy, hark the horn does sweetly blow,
Hounds and huntsmen all in a row,
            With their pastime tired.

We have gentles in our horns, we have worms and paste, too;
Landing net and floats we have, with hooks of all sizes;
We have line and choice of twine, fitting for the angle;
If they don’t show, away we’ll go, seeking out chub or trout,
Eel or pike, or the like, dace or bleak, these we seek,
Barbel, jack, and many more, gudgeons, perches, tenches, roaches;
Here’s the jolly angler’s store; we have choice of fish galore,
            We will have our angle.

If the sun’s excessive heat, should our bodies sulter,
To some house or hedge retreat, for some friendly shelter:
But, if we spy a shower nigh, or the day uncertain,
Then we flee beneath a tree; then we eat our victuals sweet,
Take a coke, smoke and soak; then again, to the same,
But, if we can no longer stay, we come laughing, joking, quaffing, smoking,
So delightful all the way; thus we do conclude the day,
            With a cup at parting.

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