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Poem by Martin Parker
When this old cap was new, ’Tis since two hundred year; No malice then he knew, But all things plenty were: All friendship now decays (Believe me, this is true); Which was not in those days When this old cap was new. The nobles of our land Were much delighted then To have at their command A crew of lusty men, Which by their coats were known, Of tawny, red, or blue, With crests on their sleeves shewn, When this old cap was new. Now pride hath banished all, Unto our land’s reproach, When he whose means is small, Maintains both horse and coach: Instead of a hundred men, The coach allows but two; This was not thought on then, When this old cap was new. Good hospitality Was cherished then of many; Now poor men starve and die, And are not helped by any: For charity waxeth cold, And love is found in few; This was not in time of old, When this old cap was new. Where’er you travelled then, You might meet on the way Brave knights and gentle men, Clad in their country gray; That courteous would appear, And kindly welcome you; No Puritans then were, When this old cap was new. Our ladies on those days In civil habit went; Broad cloth was then worth praise, And gave the best content, French fashions then were scorned; Fond fangles then none knew; Then modesty women adorned, When this old cap was new. A man might then behold, At Christmas, in each hall, Good fires to curb the cold, And meat for great and small: The neighbours were friendly bidden, And all had welcome true; The poor from the gates were not chidden, When this old cap was new. Black jacks to every man Were filled with wine and bear; No pewter pot nor can In those days did appear: Good cheer in nobleman’s house Was counted a seemly show; We wanted no brawn nor souse, When this old cap was new. We took not such delight In cups of silver fine; None under the degree of knight In plate drank beer or wine: Now each mechanical man Hath a cupboard of plate for a show; Which was a rare thing then, When this old cap was new. Then bribery was unborn, No simony men did use; Christians did usury scorn, Devised among the Jews. The Lawyers to be fee’d At that time hardly knew; For man with man agreed, When this old cap was new. No captain then caroused, Nor spent poor soldiers’ pay; They were not so abused As they are at this day: Of seven days they make eight, To keep from them their due; Poor soldiers had their right, When this old cap was new: Which made them forward still To go, although not prest; And going with good-will, Their fortunes were the best. Our English then in fight Did foreign foes subdue, And forced them all to flight, When this old cap was new. God save our gracious king, And send him long to live: Lord, mischief on them bring That will not their alms give, But seek to rob the poor Of that which is their due: This was not in time of yore, When this old cap was new.
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