London Lickpenny

To London once my steps I bent,
Where truth in nowise should be faint;
To Westminster-ward I forthwith went,
To a man of law to make complaint,
I said, "For Mary's love, that holy saint,
Pity the poor that would proceed!"
But for lack of Money I could not speed.

And as I thrust the press among,
By froward chance my hood was gone,
Yet for all that I stayed not long
Till to the King's Bench I was come.
Before the judge I kneeled anon,
And prayed him for God's sake to take heed.
But for lack of Money I might not speed.

Beneath them sat clerks a great rout,
Which fast did write by one assent,
There stood up one and cried about,
"Richard, Robert, and John of Kent!"
I wist not well what this man meant,
He cried so thickly there indeed.
But he that lacked Money might not speed

Unto the Common Pleas I yode tho,
Where sat one with a silken hood;
I did him reverence, for I ought to do so,
And told my case as well as I could,
How my goods were defrauded me by falsehood.
I got not a mum of his mouth for my meed,
And for lack of Money I might not speed.

Unto the Rolls I gat me from thence,
Before the clerks of the Chancerie,
Where many I found earning of pence,
But none at all once regarded me.
I gave them my plaint upon my knee;
They liked it well when they had it read,
But lacking Money I could not be sped.

In Westminster Hall I found out one
Which went in a long gown of ray,
I crouched and kneeled before him anon,
For Mary's love of help I him pray.
"I wot not what thou mean'st," gan he say;
To get me thence he did me bede:
For lack of Money I could not speed.

Within this Hall, neither rich nor yet poor
Would do for me aught although I should die.
Which seeing, I got me out of the door
Where Flemings began on me for to cry,
"Master, what will you copen or buy?
Fine felt hats, or spectacles to read?
Lay down your silver, and here you may speed."

Then to Westminster Gate I presently went,
When the sun was at highe prime;
Cooks to me they took good intent,
And proffered me bread with ale and wine,
Ribs of beef, both fat and full fine;
A fair cloth they gan for to sprede,
But wanting Money I might not then speed.

Then unto London I did me hie,
Of all the land it beareth the prize.
"Hot peascods!" one began to cry,
"Strawberry ripe!" and "Cherries in the rise!"
One bade me come near and buy some spice,
Pepper and saffron they gan me bede,
But for lack of Money I might not speed.

Then to the Cheap I began me drawn,
Where much people I saw for to stand;
One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn,
Another he taketh me by the hand,
"Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land!"
I never was used to such things indeed,
And wanting Money I might not speed.

Then went I forth by London Stone,
Throughout all Can'wick Street.
Drapers much cloth me offered anon;
Then comes me one cried, "Hot sheep's feet!"
One cried, "Mackerel!" "Rushes green!" another gan greet;
One bade me buy a hood to cover my head,
But for want of Money I might not be sped,

Then I hied me into East Cheap;
One cries "Ribs of beef," and many a pie;
Pewter pots they clattered on a heap,
There was harp, pipe, and minstrelsie.
"Yea, by cock!" "Nay, by cock!" some began cry;
Some sung of Jenkin and Julian for their meed,
But for lack of Money I might not speed.

Then into Cornhill anon I yode,
Where was much stolen gear among;
I saw where hung mine owne hood
That I had lost among the throng:
To buy my own hood I thought it wrong;
I knew it well as I did my Creed,
But for lack of Money I could not speed.

The taverner took me by the sleeve,
"Sir," saith he, "will you our wine assay?"
I answered, "That cannot much me grieve,
A penny can do no more than it may."
I drank a pint, and for it I did pay.
Yet soon ahungered from thence I yede,
And wanting Money I could not speed.

Then hied I me to Billingsgate,
And one cried, "Hoo! Go we hence!"
I prayed a barge man, for God's sake,
That he would spare me my expence.
"Thou scrap'st not here," quoth he, "under two pence;
I list not yet bestow any alms deed."
Thus lacking Money I could not speed.

Then I conveyed me into Kent;
For of the law would I meddle no more,
Because no man to me took intent,
I dight me to do as I did before.
Now Jesus, that in Bethlehem was bore,
Save London, and send true lawyers their meed!
For whoso wants Money with them shall not speed.

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