The Councillor (MacEdward Leach)

It's of a councillor, I declare,
He had one comely daughter,
And she was such a beauty bright,
Remark what followed after:
Her uncle left her, I declare,
Large heir to a position,
And for her father to take care
All at his own discretion.

Lords and knights of high renown
This fair one came a-courting,
But none of them her favour gained
Or so it is reported;
Till at length a squire's youngest son
Got her into a room,
And when he had her favour gained
I fear 'twill prove my ruin.

And then out spoke the young man,
Bold like a true politician,
Your father he's a councillor,
We'll tell him our condition;
Ten guineas bright will be his fee,
He'll think I'll be some stranger,
And for the gold he'll counsel us,
He'll free us from all dangers.

Early next morning the young man rose,
Went to the lawyer's chambers,
But sure the lawyer did not know
But that he was some stranger;
And when the councillor saw the gold
And himself to be the gainer,
He told to him a pleasant tale
And how he would obtain her.

Do you get a horse, the councillor said,
Do you get up behind her,
She'll bring you to some neighbour's house
Where none of her friends will find her;
'Twas she stole you, you may declare
Now to avoid all fury,
This is law I will maintain
Before all judge and jury.

And then out spoke the young man bold,
By you I am befriended,
It's to your house I'll bring my wife
When all this joke is ended.
Early next morning the young man rose,
Good news to his dear he carried,
And she her father's counsel took
And they were safely married;

They spent that night in merriment
And joy beyond expression,
And home next day she did return
To beg her father's blessing.
And then out spoke the young man bold,
I hope there's no indicting;
For this is law, if law there be,
For here is your handwriting.

Oh, thunder noun, the councillor said,
Were there ever a man so fitted,
Although I am a councillor,
By you I am outwitted;
She might get a lord or a duke, he said,
Of a higher blood descendence,
But then she is your Iawful wife,
How can I be offended?

And here's five thousand pounds in gold
Left her by my brother,
And when I die she must have all,
For a child I got no other.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, The Lawyer Outwitted [Laws N26] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of an 18th-century British broadside ballad, The Crafty Lover; or, The Lawyer Outwitted, published by W and C Dicey (London) sometime between 1736 and 1763, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Douce Ballads 3(14a) ....####

Collected in 1951 from John B Myrick [1904-1954] of St Shott's, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected by Maud Karpeles (1885-1976) and published as #37, The Councillor's Daughter, in Folk Songs From Newfoundland (Faber and Faber,,Oxford, 1934; also London, 1971.)


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