James Harris, (The Daemon Lover)
No: 243; variant: 243A
- THERE dwelt a fair maid in the West,
Of worthy birth and fame,
Neer unto Plimouth, stately town,
Jane Reynolds was her name.
- This damsel dearly was belovd
By many a proper youth,
And what of her is to be said
In known for very truth.
- Among the rest a seaman brave
Unto her a wooing came;
A comely proper youth he was,
James Harris calld by name.
- The maid and young man was agreed,
As time did them allow,
And to each other secretly
They made a solemn vow,
- That they would ever faithfull be
Whilst Heaven afforded life;
He was to be her husband kind,
And she his faithfull wife.
- A day appointed was also
When they was to be married;
But before these things were brought to pass
Matters were strangely carried.
- All you that faithfull lovers be
Give ear and hearken well,
And what of them became at last
I will directly tell.
- 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.
- And after he was from her gone
She three years for him staid,
Expecting of his comeing home,
And kept herself a maid.
- At last news came that he was dead
Within a forraign land,
And how that he was buried
She well did understand,
- For whose sweet sake the maiden she
Lamented many a day,
And never was she known at all
The wanton for to play.
- A carpenter that livd hard by,
When he heard of the same,
Like as the other had done before,
To her a wooing came.
- But when that he had gained her love
They married were with speed,
And four years space, being man and wife,
They loveingly agreed.
- Three pritty children in this time
This loving couple had,
Which made their father’s heart rejoyce,
And mother wondrous glad.
- But as occasion servd, one time
The good man took his way
Some three days journey from his home,
Intending not to stay.
- But, whilst that he was gone away,
A spirit in the night
Came to the window of his wife,
And did her sorely fright.
- Which spirit spake like to a man,
And unto her did say,
‘My dear and onely love,’ quoth he,
‘Prepare and come away.
- ‘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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘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?
- ‘My husband is a carpenter,
A carpenter of great fame;
I would not for five hundred pounds
That he should know the same.’
- ‘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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘If I forsake my husband and
My little children three,
What means hast thou to bring me to,
If I should go with thee?’
- ‘I have seven ships upon the sea;
When they are come to land,
Both marriners and marchandize
Shall be at thy command.
- ‘The ship wherein my love shall sail
Is glorious to behold;
The sails shall be of finest silk,
And the mast of shining gold.’
- When he had told her these fair tales,
To love him she began,
Because he was in human shape,
Much like unto a man.
- And so together away they went
From off the English shore,
And since that time the woman-kind
Was never seen no more.
- But when her husband he come home
And found his wife was gone,
And left her three sweet pretty babes
Within the house alone,
- 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.
- And in this sad distracted case
He hangd himself for woe
Upon a tree near to the place;
The truth of all is so.
- The children now are fatherless,
And left without a guide,
But yet no doubt the heavenly powers
Will for them well provide.