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James Harris, (The Daemon Lover)

No: 243; variant: 243A

  1. THERE dwelt a fair maid in the West, Of worthy birth and fame, Neer unto Plimouth, stately town, Jane Reynolds was her name.
  2. This damsel dearly was belovd By many a proper youth, And what of her is to be said In known for very truth.
  3. Among the rest a seaman brave Unto her a wooing came; A comely proper youth he was, James Harris calld by name.
  4. The maid and young man was agreed, As time did them allow, And to each other secretly They made a solemn vow,
  5. That they would ever faithfull be Whilst Heaven afforded life; He was to be her husband kind, And she his faithfull wife.
  6. A day appointed was also When they was to be married; But before these things were brought to pass Matters were strangely carried.
  7. All you that faithfull lovers be Give ear and hearken well, And what of them became at last I will directly tell.
  8. The young man he was prest to sea, And force:d was to go; His sweet-heart she must stay behind, Whether she would or no.
  9. And after he was from her gone She three years for him staid, Expecting of his comeing home, And kept herself a maid.
  10. At last news came that he was dead Within a forraign land, And how that he was buried She well did understand,
  11. For whose sweet sake the maiden she Lamented many a day, And never was she known at all The wanton for to play.
  12. A carpenter that livd hard by, When he heard of the same, Like as the other had done before, To her a wooing came.
  13. But when that he had gained her love They married were with speed, And four years space, being man and wife, They loveingly agreed.
  14. Three pritty children in this time This loving couple had, Which made their father’s heart rejoyce, And mother wondrous glad.
  15. But as occasion servd, one time The good man took his way Some three days journey from his home, Intending not to stay.
  16. But, whilst that he was gone away, A spirit in the night Came to the window of his wife, And did her sorely fright.
  17. Which spirit spake like to a man, And unto her did say, ‘My dear and onely love,’ quoth he, ‘Prepare and come away.
  18. ‘James Harris is my name,’ quoth he, ‘Whom thou didst love so dear, And I have traveld for thy sake At least this seven year.
  19. ‘And now I am returnd again, To take thee to my wife, And thou with me shalt go to sea, To end all further strife.’
  20. ‘O tempt me not, sweet James,’ quoth she, ‘With thee away to go; If I should leave my children small, Alas! what would they do?
  21. ‘My husband is a carpenter, A carpenter of great fame; I would not for five hundred pounds That he should know the same.’
  22. ‘I might have had a king’s daughter, And she would have married me; But I forsook her golden crown, And for the love of thee.
  23. ‘Therefore, if thou’lt thy husband forsake, And thy children three also, I will forgive the[e] what is past, If thou wilt with me go.’
  24. ‘If I forsake my husband and My little children three, What means hast thou to bring me to, If I should go with thee?’
  25. ‘I have seven ships upon the sea; When they are come to land, Both marriners and marchandize Shall be at thy command.
  26. ‘The ship wherein my love shall sail Is glorious to behold; The sails shall be of finest silk, And the mast of shining gold.’
  27. When he had told her these fair tales, To love him she began, Because he was in human shape, Much like unto a man.
  28. And so together away they went From off the English shore, And since that time the woman-kind Was never seen no more.
  29. But when her husband he come home And found his wife was gone, And left her three sweet pretty babes Within the house alone,
  30. He beat his breast, he tore his hair, The tears fell from his eyes, And in the open streets he run With heavy doleful cries.
  31. And in this sad distracted case He hangd himself for woe Upon a tree near to the place; The truth of all is so.
  32. The children now are fatherless, And left without a guide, But yet no doubt the heavenly powers Will for them well provide.