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The Poore Man Payes for All As I lay musing all alone Upon my resting bed, Full many a cogitation Did come into my head: And, waking from my sleepe, I My dreame to mind did call: Me thought I saw before mine eyes, How poore men payes for all. Me thought I saw how wealthy men Did grind the poore men's faces, And greedily did prey on them, Not pittying their cases: They make them toyle and labour sore For wages too-too small; The rich men in the tavernes rore, But poore men pay for all. Me thought I saw an usurer old Walke in his fox-fur'd gowne, Whose wealth and eminence controld The most men in the towne; His wealth he by extortion got, And rose by others' fall; He had what his hands earned not, But poore men pay for all. Me thought I saw a courtier proud Come swaggering along, That unto any scarce allow'd The office of his tongue: Me thought, wert not for bribery, His peacock's plumes would fall; He ruffles out in bravery, But poore men pay for all. Me thought I was i' th' countrey, Where poore men take great paines, And labour hard continually, Onely for rich men's gaines: Like th' Israelitcs in Egypt, The poore are kept in thrall; The task-masters are playing kept, But poore men pay for all. Me thought I saw poore tradesmen, I' th' city and else-where, Whom rich men keepe as beads-men, In bondage, care and feare: Thei'l have them worke for what they list- Thus weakest go to the wall: The rich men eate and drinke the best, But poore men pay for all. Me thought I saw two lawyers base One to another say, "We have had in hand this poor man's case A twelvemonth and a day: And yet wee'l not contented be To let the matter fall; Beare thou with me, & Ile beare with thee, While poore men pay for all. Me thought I saw a red-nose host, As fat as he could wallow; Whose carkasse, if it should be roast, Would drop seven stone of tallow: He growes rich out of measure With filling measure small; He lives in mirth and pleasure, But poore men pay for all. And so likewise the brewer stout, The chandler and the baker, The mault-mon also, without doubt, And the tobacco-taker: Though they be proud, and stately growne. And beare themselves so tall ; Yet to the world it is well knowne That poore men pay for all. Even as the mighty fishes still Doe feed upon the lesse; So rich men, might they have their will, Would on the poore men cess: It is a proverbe old and true- That weakest goe to th' wall; Rich men can drink till th' sky looke blue, But poore men pay for all. But now, as I before did say, This is but a dreame indeed; Though all dreames prove not true, some may Hap right as I doe reade: And if that any come to passe, I doubt this my dreame shall; For till 'tis found too true a case- That poore men pay for all. From A Ballad History of England, Palmer Printed 1630 Note: Beads-men: suppliants See also Farmer is the Man, Dodger Song, Hard Times of Old England etc. RG
Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!