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Arthur O'bradley's Wedding

Title:     Arthur O'bradley's Wedding
Author: Anonymous (Poetry's author) [More Titles by Anonymous (Poetry's author)]

[In the ballad called Robin Hood, his Birth, Breeding, Valour and Marriage, occurs the following line:-

And some singing Arthur-a-Bradley.

Antiquaries are by no means agreed as to what is the song of Arthur-a-Bradley, there alluded to, for it so happens that there are no less than three different songs about this same Arthur-a- Bradley. Ritson gives one of them in his Robin Hood, commencing thus:-

See you not Pierce the piper.

He took it from a black-letter copy in a private collection, compared with, and very much corrected by, a copy contained in An Antidote against Melancholy, made up in pills compounded of witty Ballads, jovial Songs, and merry Catches, 1661. Ritson quotes another, and apparently much more modern song on the same subject, and to the same tune, beginning, -

All in the merry month of May.

It is a miserable composition, as may be seen by referring to a copy preserved in the third volume of the Roxburgh Ballads. There is another song, the one given by us, which appears to be as ancient as any of those of which Arthur O'Bradley is the hero, and from its subject being a wedding, as also from its being the only Arthur O'Bradley song that we have been enabled to trace in broadside and chap-books of the last century, we are induced to believe that it may be the song mentioned in the old ballad, which is supposed to have been written in the reign of Charles I. An obscure music publisher, who about thirty years ago resided in the Metropolis, brought out an edition of Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding, with the prefix 'Written by Mr. Taylor.' This Mr. Taylor was, however, only a low comedian of the day, and the ascribed authorship was a mere trick on the publisher's part to increase the sale of the song. We are not able to give any account of the hero, but from his being alluded to by so many of our old writers, he was, perhaps, not altogether a fictitious personage. Ben Jonson names him in one of his plays, and he is also mentioned in Dekker's Honest Whore. Of one of the tunes mentioned in the song, viz., Hence, Melancholy! we can give no account; the other,--Mad Moll, may be found in Playford's Dancing-Master, 1698: it is the same tune as the one known by the names of Yellow Stockings and the Virgin Queen, the latter title seeming to connect it with Queen Elizabeth, as the name of Mad Moll does with the history of Mary, who was subject to mental aberration. The words of Mad Moll are not known to exist, but probably consisted of some fulsome panegyric on the virgin queen, at the expense of her unpopular sister. From the mention of Hence, Melancholy, and Mad Moll, it is presumed that they were both popular favourites when Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding was written. A good deal of vulgar grossness has been at different times introduced into this song, which seems in this respect to be as elastic as the French chanson, Cadet Rouselle, which is always being altered, and of which there are no two copies alike. The tune of Arthur O'Bradley is given by Mr. Chappell in his Popular Music.]

Come, neighbours, and listen awhile,
If ever you wished to smile,
Or hear a true story of old,
Attend to what I now unfold!
'Tis of a lad whose fame did resound
Through every village and town around,
For fun, for frolic, and for whim,
None ever was to equal him,
And his name was Arthur O'Bradley!
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Now, Arthur being stout and bold,
And near upon thirty years old,
He needs a wooing would go,
To get him a helpmate, you know.
So, gaining young Dolly's consent,
Next to be married they went;
And to make himself noble appear,
He mounted the old padded mare;
He chose her because she was blood,
And the prime of his old daddy's stud.
She was wind-galled, spavined, and blind,
And had lost a near leg behind;
She was cropped, and docked, and fired,
And seldom, if ever, was tired,
She had such an abundance of bone;
So he called her his high-bred roan,
A credit to Arthur O'Bradley!
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Then he packed up his drudgery hose,
And put on his holiday clothes;
His coat was of scarlet so fine,
Full trimmed with buttons behind;
Two sleeves it had it is true,
One yellow, the other was blue,
And the cuffs and the capes were of green,
And the longest that ever were seen;
His hat, though greasy and tore,
Cocked up with a feather before,
And under his chin it was tied,
With a strip from an old cow's hide;
His breeches three times had been turned,
And two holes through the left side were burned;
Two boots he had, but not kin,
One leather, the other was tin;
And for stirrups he had two patten rings,
Tied fast to the girth with two strings;
Yet he wanted a good saddle cloth,
Which long had been eat by the moth.
'Twas a sad misfortune, you'll say,
But still he looked gallant and gay,
And his name it was Arthur O'Bradley!
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Thus accoutred, away he did ride,
While Dolly she walked by his side;
Till coming up to the church door,
In the midst of five thousand or more,
Then from the old mare he did alight,
Which put the clerk in a fright;
And the parson so fumbled and shook,
That presently down dropped his book.
Then Arthur began for to sing,
And made the whole church to ring;
Crying, 'Dolly, my dear, come hither,
And let us be tacked together;
For the honour of Arthur O'Bradley!'
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Then the vicar discharged his duty,
Without either reward or fee,
Declaring no money he'd have;
And poor Arthur he'd none to give:
So, to make him a little amends,
He invited him home with his friends,
To have a sweet kiss at the bride,
And eat a good dinner beside.
The dishes, though few, were good,
And the sweetest of animal food:
First, a roast guinea-pig and a bantam,
A sheep's head stewed in a lanthorn, {1}
Two calves' feet, and a bull's trotter,
The fore and hind leg of an otter,
With craw-fish, cockles, and crabs,
Lump-fish, limpets, and dabs,
Red herrings and sprats, by dozens,
To feast all their uncles and cousins;
Who seemed well pleased with their treat,
And heartily they did all eat,
For the honour of Arthur O'Bradley!
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Now, the guests being well satisfied,
The fragments were laid on one side,
When Arthur, to make their hearts merry,
Brought ale, and parkin, {2} and perry;
When Timothy Twig stept in,
With his pipe, and a pipkin of gin.
A lad that was pleasant and jolly,
And scorned to meet melancholy;
He would chant and pipe so well,
No youth could him excel.
Not Pan the god of the swains,
Could ever produce such strains;
But Arthur, being first in the throng,
He swore he would sing the first song,
And one that was pleasant and jolly:
And that should be 'Hence, Melancholy!'
'Now give me a dance,' quoth Doll,
'Come, Jeffrery, play up Mad Moll,
'Tis time to be merry and frisky, -
But first I must have some more whiskey.'
'Oh! you're right,' says Arthur, 'my love!
My daffy-down-dilly! my dove!
My everything! my wife!
I ne'er was so pleased in my life,
Since my name it was Arthur O'Bradley!'
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Then the piper he screwed up his bags,
And the girls began shaking their rags;
First up jumped old Mother Crewe,
Two stockings, and never a shoe.
Her nose was crooked and long,
Which she could easily reach with her tongue;
And a hump on her back she did not lack,
But you should take no notice of that;
And her mouth stood all awry,
And she never was heard to lie,
For she had been dumb from her birth;
So she nodded consent to the mirth,
For honour of Arthur O'Bradley.
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Then the parson led off at the top,
Some danced, while others did hop;
While some ran foul of the wall,
And others down backwards did fall.
There was lead up and down, figure in,
Four hands across, then back again.
So in dancing they spent the whole night,
Till bright Phoebus appeared in their sight;
When each had a kiss of the bride,
And hopped home to his own fire-side:
Well pleased was Arthur O'Bradley!
O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley!
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O!

Footnote: {1}This appears to have been a cant saying in the reign of Charles II. It occurs in several novels, jest books and satires of the time, and was probably as unmeaning as such vulgarisms are in general.

Footnote: {2} A cake composed of oatmeal, caraway-seeds, and treacle. 'Ale and parkin' is a common morning meal in the north of England.

[The end]
Anonymous's poem: Arthur O'bradley's Wedding