Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
The Heir of Linne
Percy’s Reliques

LITHE and listen, gentlemen,
To sing a song I will beginne:
It is of a lord of faire Scotlánd,
Which was the unthrifty heire of Linne.
His father was a right good lord,        5
His mother a lady of high degree;
But they, alas! were dead him froe,
And he lov’d keeping companie.
To spend the day with merry cheer,
To drink and revell every night,        10
To card and dice from eve to morn,
It was, I ween, his heart’s delight.
To ride, to run, to rant, to roar,
To alway spend and never spare,
I wott, an’ it were the king himself,        15
Of gold and fee he mote be bare.
So fares the unthrifty lord of Linne,
Till all his gold is gone and spent:
And he maun sell his landes so broad,
His house, and landes, and all his rent.        20
His father had a keen stewárde,
And John o’ the Scales was callèd he:
But John is become a gentel-man,
And John has gott both gold and fee.
Sayes “Welcome, welcome, Lord of Linne,        25
Let nought disturb thy merry cheer:
If thou wilt sell thy landes so broad,
Good store of gold I’ll give thee here.”
“My gold is gone, my money is spent;
My lande nowe take it unto thee:        30
Give me the golde, good John o’ the Scales,
And thine for aye my lande shall be.”
Then John he did him to record draw,
And John he cast him a gods-pennie;
But for every pound that John agreed,        35
The lande, I wis, was well worth three.
He told him the gold upon the borde,
He was right glad his land to winne;
“The gold is thine, the land is mine,
And now I’ll be the lord of Linne.”        40
Thus he hath sold his land so broad,
Both hill and holt, and moor and fen,
All but a poor and lonesome lodge,
That stood far off in a lonely glen.
For so he to his father hight.        45
“My son, when I am gone,” said he,
“Then thou wilt spend thy land so broad,
And thou wilt spend thy gold so free.
“But swear me now upon the rood,
That lonesome lodge thou’lt never spend;        50
For when all the world doth frown on thee,
Thou there shalt find a faithful friend.”
The heir of Linne is full of gold:
“And come with me, my friends,” said he,
“Let’s drink, and rant, and merry make,        55
And he that spares, ne’er mote be thee.”
They ranted, drank, and merry made,
Till all his gold it waxèd thin;
And then his friends they slunk away;
They left the unthrifty heir of Linne.        60
He had never a penny left in his purse,
Never a penny left but three,
And one was brass, another was lead,
And another it was white monéy.
“Now well-a-day,” said the heir of Linne,        65
“Now well-a-day, and woe is me,
For when I was the lord of Linne,
I never wanted gold nor fee.
“But many a trusty friend have I,
And why should I feel dole or care?        70
I’ll borrow of them all by turns,
So need I not be never bare.”
But one I wis, was not at home;
Another had paid his gold away;
Another called him thriftless loon,        75
And bade him sharply wend his way.
“Now well-a-day,” said the heir of Linne,
“Now well-a-day, and woe is me;
For when I had my landes so broad,
On me they lived right merrily.        80
“To beg my bread from door to door,
I wis, it were a burning shame;
To rob and steal it were a sin;
To work, my limbs I cannot frame.
“Now I’ll away to the lonesome lodge,        85
For there my father bade me wend:
When all the world should frown on me
I there should find a trusty friend.”

Away then hied the heir of Linne,
O’er hill and holt, and moor and fen,        90
Until he came to the lonesome lodge,
That stood so low in a lonely glen.
He lookèd up, he lookèd down,
In hope some comfort for to win;
But bare and lothly were the walls;        95
“Here’s sorry cheer,” quo’ the heir of Linne.
The little window, dim and dark,
Was hung with ivy, brere and yew;
No shimmering sun here ever shone,
No halesome breeze here ever blew.        100
No chair, ne table he mote spy,
No cheerful hearth, ne welcome bed,
Nought save a rope with renning noose,
That dangling hung up o’er his head.
And over it in broad letters        105
These words were written so plain to see:
“Ah! gracelesse wretch, hast spent thine all,
And brought thyself to penurie?
“All this my boding mind misgave,
I therefore left this trusty friend:        110
Let it now shield thy foul disgrace,
And all thy shame and sorrows end.”
Sorely shent wi’ this rebuke,
Sorely shent was the heire of Linne:
His heart I wis, was near to brast        115
With guilt and sorrow, shame and sin.
Never a word spake the heir of Linne,
Never a word he spake but three:
“This is a trusty friend indeed,
And is right welcome unto me.”        120
Then round his neck the cord he drew,
And sprang aloft with his bodie,
When lo! the ceiling burst in twain,
And to the ground came tumbling he.
Astonyed lay the heir of Linne,        125
He knew if he were live or dead:
At length he looked, and sawe a bille,
And in it a key of gold so red.
He took the bill, and lookt it on,
Straight good comfort found he there:        130
It told him of a hole in the wall,
In which there stood three chests infere.
Two were full of the beaten golde,
The third was full of white monéy;
And over them in broad lettérs        135
These words were written so plain to see.
“Once more, my sonne, I set thee clere;
Amend thy life and follies past;
For but thou amend thee of thy life,
That rope must be thy end at last.”        140
“And let it be,” said the heire of Linne,
“And let it be, but if I amend:
For here I will make mine avow,
This reade shall guide me to the end.”
Away then went with a merry cheare,        145
Away then went the heire of Linne;
I wis, he neither ceased ne blanne,
Till John o’ the Scales house he did winne.
And when he came to John o’ the Scales,
Up at the speere then lookèd he:        150
There sate three lords upon a rowe,
Were drinking of the wine so free.
And John himself sate at the bord-head,
Because now lord of Linne was he;
“I pray thee,” he said, “good John o’ the Scales,        155
One forty pence for to lend me.”
“Away, away, thou thriftless loone;
Away, away, this may not be:
For Christ’s curse on my head,” he said,
“If ever I trust thee one pennie.”        160
Then bespake the heir of Linne,
To John o’ the Scales’ wife then spake he:
“Madame, some almes on me bestowe,
I pray for sweet saint Charitie.”
“Away, away, thou thriftless loone,        165
I sweare thou gettest no almes of me;
For if we should hang any losel here,
The first we wold begin with thee.”
Then bespake a good fellówe,
Which sat at John o’ the Scales his bord;        170
Said, “Turn again, thou heir of Linne;
Some time thou wast a well good lord.
“Some time a good fellow thou hast been,
And sparedst not thy gold and fee;
Therefore I’ll lend thee forty pence,        175
And other forty if need be.
“And ever I pray thee, John o’ the Scales,
To let him sit in thy companie:
For well I wot thou hadst his land,
And a good bargain it was to thee.”        180
Up then spake him John o’ the Scales,
All wood he answered him againe:
“Now Christ’s curse on my head,” he said,
“But I did lose by that bargáine.
And here I proffer thee, heir of Linne,        185
Before these lords so faire and free,
Thou shalt have it backe again better cheape
By a hundred markes than I had it of thee.”
“I draw you to record, lords,” he said,
With that he cast him a gods-pennie:        190
“Now by my fay,” said the heire of Linne,
“And here, good John, is thy monéy.”
And he pulled forth three bagges of gold,
And laid them down upon the bord;
All woe begone was John o’ the Scales,        195
So shent he could say never a word.
He told him forth the good red gold.
He told it forth with mickle dinne.
“The gold is thine, the land is mine,
And now Ime againe the lord of Linne.”        200
Says, “Have thou here, thou good fellówe,
Forty pence thou didst lend me:
Now I am again the lord of Linne,
And forty pounds I will give thee.
“Ile make thee keeper of my forrest,        205
Both of the wild deere and the tame;
For but I reward thy bounteous heart,
I wis, good fellowe, I were to blame.”
“Now welladay!” sayth Joan o’ the Scales;
“Now welladay, and woe is my life!        210
Yesterday I was lady of Linne,
Now Ime but John o’ the Scales his wife.”
“Now fare thee well,” said the heire of Linne,
“Farewell now, John o’ the Scales,” said he:
“Christ’s curse light on me, if ever again        215
I bring my lands in jeopardy.”

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